UL-Lafayette censors internationally acclaimed professor for politically incorrect views

ADF files suit in federal court to defend professor’s academic freedom
Thursday, January 05, 2012

ADF attorney sound bites:  David Hacker #1  |  David Hacker #2

LAFAYETTE, La. — Alliance Defense Fund attorneys have filed a lawsuit on behalf of an award-winning and internationally recognized professor at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette who has been repeatedly discriminated against for his public lectures and published works on communicative disorders, autism causation, and intelligent design.

“Professors don’t have academic freedom if they are forced to parrot the politically correct party line,” said ADF Legal Counsel David Hacker. “Despite his stellar academic record, this professor has found himself exiled from participating in the instruction of any department students simply because he holds views that some university officials don’t favor. As a result, he has no other recourse but to file this lawsuit to protect his academic freedom.”

Dr. John Oller, Jr., is a tenured professor in the Communicative Disorders department and an internationally recognized expert in theoretical semiotics and associated research. He has lectured around the world and has been acknowledged with numerous national and international awards and hundreds of published articles and citations.

In addition to being published widely on the association of toxins and disease agents with autism spectrum disorders, Oller has lectured and published works since 1981 on creation and intelligent design, arguing that linguistic and genetic complexities cannot happen by chance. In 2005, Oller started to receive criticism from his professional colleagues about his views, resulting in progressive elimination of his instruction opportunities within the department, including total removal from classroom instruction of department Ph.D., masters, and undergraduate students. His textbooks were also censored despite the fact that he continued to be published in significant outlets, receive academic awards, and obtain positive evaluations from his students.

At one point, one of Oller’s colleagues allegedly wrote to a student, “Personally, I have found him (Oller) to be quite uninformed and biased in his ideas. Remember, as someone told you, he is also someone who believes in Creationism, in the fact that the world is only several thousand years old and in the inerrant truth of every word of the Bible….”

The complaint in Oller v. Roussel, filed with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana, Lafayette Division, explains that the university penalized Oller for his speech and denied him opportunities to instruct students and share the content of his scholarship, in violation of the First Amendment, the university’s own Academic Freedom Policy, and its rules governing faculty assignments.

“Universities, which are supposed to be a ‘marketplace of ideas,’ are increasingly censoring views that challenge campus orthodoxy,” said Hacker. “It’s our hope that this lawsuit will vindicate Dr. Oller’s academic freedom while demonstrating the right of professors to pursue the truth without censorship when their academic conclusions don’t match the fashionable consensus.”

John B. Wells, one of nearly 2,100 attorneys in the ADF alliance, is serving as local counsel in the case.
ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.