Actor, comedian, and commentator Ben Stein is stirring controversy with his new documentary, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. In it, Stein investigates the way intelligent design is handled in American schools, but some critics feel that he is too biased to provide an objective point of view. Recent screenings of the movie, which is set to open in theaters on April 18th, have been open to lawmakers but not to members of the press or public.
What the commentators said
Stein’s “deeply rightwing political opinions haven’t shifted one iota since he was a speechwriter for Richard Nixon,” said John Patterson in the Guardian. In his new documentary, he “berates in overheated, lachrymose and rhetorically manipulative ways the American academic establishment’s reluctance to recognize intelligent design, the pseudoscientific, inbred second-cousin of biblical creationism, for which Expelled offers straightforward propaganda.” Stein should stick with “TV comedy, where his talents really lie.”
Expelled “should be rated R,” said Marvin Olasky in World, “not for sex or violence but for being reasonable, radical, risible, and right.” Stein's documentary “rightly equates Darwinian stifling of free speech with the Communist attempt to enslave millions behind the Berlin Wall.” And Stein plays fair, “giving the Darwinists he interviews plenty of time to make their case.”
Then why has the film’s producer, Mark Mathis, been “banning people whom he disagrees with from seeing it”? said the blog Daylight Atheism. There’s a certain amount of “hypocrisy” in “making a film which asserts that dissenters are being unfairly shut out of scientific discourse,” and then turning around and shutting people out. Not to mention the fact that Expelled has been “marketed directly to churches and homeschoolers.”