Think Progress pointed out this little Washington Post story about Laurie David trying to donate 50,000 DVD copies of An Inconvenient Truth to the National Science Teachers’ Association. They refused to take the DVDs, ostensibly because other special interests might also ask them to distribute materials. This is a fair enough objection, at least at first blush. After all, I certainly wouldn’t want to see the NSTA accepting donations of anti-evolutionary theory DVDs from the Intelligent Design people, nor would most science teachers.

But Laurie David points out one troubling thing: the rejection e-mail also apparently expressed concern that by accepting the DVDs, the NSTA might be risking major sources of financial support, which according to Laurie David includes major donors like Exxon Mobil Corp.

That’s right. They can’t accept this donation, because it’s message conflicts with the message that another donor prefers to have before the public — the message that global warming is nothing but a myth spread by scary liberals who don’t want anyone to have any fun at all.

Now, I will support the NTSA’s right not to be used as a mouthpiece for political viewpoints. That is their right. But they should be consistent about it. Don’t want to accept DVDs that talk about the dangers of global warming because they are too “political”? That’s fine. But don’t then turn around and accept what could be construed as hush money from an organization that has a vested interest in silencing public debate about global warming. That is conflict of interest, and one that should be clearly disclosed to your members, the public, and the students you teach.

Because, after all, how can students (or teachers, or the public) evaluate any of the arguments about global warming if they don’t have all the facts?

jane doe

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