The Gonzalez tenure issue has bothered me considerably, and not for the reasons that the Discovery Institute would like. There seems to be a bias that suggests that academic freedom must mean that there are no constraints whatsoever on what a professor may teach or do, before or after hiring and before or after tenure.
It seems to me that this attitude would mean that one can’t evaluate the academic quality of a candidate, because to do so might reveal that he hold ideas that are truly stupid, and thus would disqualify him as a professor. I thought this was the purpose of tenure–you determined that someone could and did produce good work over a substantial period of time, and then protect them after that.
I personally even question the tenure system to some extent, simply because it can put a person in a position to produce less quality and nonetheless be assured of a job. But the protection given to freedom through the system is probably well worth it.
Mike Dunford of The Questionable Authority has written an analysis of the Discovery Institutes recent complaints in this case, and I think he is absolutely right. His post is titled The Discovery Institute and the Gonzalez Tenure Issue: Why Should Intelligent Design be Privileged?. Indeed why should it be privileged? It’s another case of the ID community wanting to get the respect without doing the work.
Go read and enjoy!