Professor James L. Sherley is losing weight on his hunger strike, but Fox News and Reuters are the only mainstream media outlets to take notice. It seems that racial discrimination, storming the Administration building of a university and even extreme measures of weight loss are not newsworthy if you’re critical of embryonic stem cell research and cloning.
It doesn’t matter that Dr. Sherley reported a break-through on the secret to inducing adult stem cells to divide and how and why these cells can form cancers (here and here). It is of no consequence whatever that he won an award from the NIH, and millions of dollars in research money to go with it. Unfortunately, he also criticized embryonic destruction and cloning in public, with letters to the editors in Science, Nature, and The Boston Globe.
Dr. Sherley has shown rare conscience and integrity by confronting and exposing the bias and prejudice within academia encountered by those who believe that human beings should not be killed in experiments, and most certainly should not be created for the purpose of killing.
He has been a vocal critic – albeit one who is rarely quoted in the media – of embryonic stem cell research, creating embryos for the purpose of killing for research, and of cloning in order to obtain embryos for research and killing in research.
He is using the tools – the legitimate, legal and ethical tools using current law and endangering no one other than himself – that have been provided by the law, the media and his own intellectual and moral adversaries. But, don’t expect to see his story in the National news.
In the United States, the law protects those discriminated against because of their race and Dr. Sherley has charged that he is a victim of racial discrimination at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. According to this article (from a conservative news service begun by Brent Bozell – one of the very few reporting at all on the story) points out that Dr. Sherley is “he first and only black faculty member of MIT’s Division of Biological Engineering, and he was awarded a $2.5 million research grant last year from the National Institutes of Health.” Colleagues support the conflict of interest demonstrated by the choice of the lead tenure reviewer – who is married to someone who was a prior critic of Dr. Sherley:
From the Boston Globe,
Some MIT professors are circulating a letter that asks for further investigation into the process that denied Sherley tenure. The letter states that a head of Sherley’s department is married to a senior faculty member whose relationship with Sherley has been “openly contentious.” That division head should have recused himself from deciding Sherley’s case, rather than soliciting an internal letter from his wife to include in Sherley’s tenure file, the letter said.
“We checked to see whether that influenced the decision, and we are confident that it did not,” Clay said.
Of 740 tenured faculty members at MIT, 27 are African-American or Hispanic. Three minority faculty members have earned tenure since Sherley was denied, according to the school.
The mainstream media have not given Dr. Sherley the same publicity that they would if he would just advocate for the killing of a few embryos. Even his hunger strike is not very successful at gaining national attention.
Could it be that no one at UPI, any of the big 3 television networks, Time, Newsweek, or CNN cares about racial discrimination at MIT? There’s nothing from any of these as of this morning – not one little note – according to my Google News search at about 7:30 AM CST.
Or could it be that no one cares about the discrimination against a man who has had a letter published in Nature criticizing embryonic stem cell research?