July 10, 2010
Exclusive rhetorical questions about "university standards of inclusivity"
To what extent are college professors entitled to voice opinions without being fired for them? I recently learned about an Illinois professor who stated his religious and personal opinion that homosexuality is immoral. Predictably, this caused a student to complain about "hate speech" -- which led to the professor being fired:
URBANA, Ill. -- The University of Illinois has fired an adjunct professor who taught courses on Catholicism after a student accused the instructor of engaging in hate speech by saying he agrees with the church's teaching that homosexual sex is immoral.I think it does violate academic freedom -- and the fact that I disagree with the professor is irrelevant. I would feel the same way if a university fired a professor for saying that homosexuality is natural and moral.
However, I don't think the fact that the professor's views reflect his religious opinion really changes anything. (As I have explained, I see no reason that religious opinions should afforded more protection than non-religious opinions.)
Howell, who taught Introduction to Catholicism and Modern Catholic Thought, says he was fired at the end of the spring semester after sending an e-mail explaining some Catholic beliefs to his students preparing for an exam.Well, good for him! By not requiring his students to agree with him, he is showing more consideration for their intellectual freedom than most of the leftie professors.
Howell also said he makes clear to his students that he's Catholic and that he believes the church views that he teaches.Standards of inclusivity? What the hell does that mean? It's not as if he threw gay students out of his class; what he did was merely to state his opinion, and explain why he thinks what he thinks, leaving students free to disagree without penalty of any kind. How does that exclude anyone? Are students considered so delicate that the slightest mention of something with which they feel uncomfortable is now to be considered a form of "exclusion"? Hmmm... Perhaps I can return to school and complain that I am being "excluded" every time a professor says something I disagree with.
"Your statement that libertarianism is a selfish and materialistic doctrine makes me feel excluded!"
Or suppose another hypothetical student who shared the view of Howell that homosexuality violates "Natural Law" were to take a class in which the professor stated just the opposite (based, say, on studies of Bonobo chimp behavior).
Wouldn't such a student have just much right to make the claim that he too was "excluded"?
This leads me to wonder about something else. How about a Muslim professor who said that the Koran condemned homosexuality, and that he agreed with the Koran's position. Would he too, be fired by the University of Illinois?
(Yeah, I know the answer. So do you. It's just another rhetorical question....)
UPDATE: My thanks to Sean Kinsell for linking this post in a typically thoughtful discussion based on his personal experience.
posted by Eric on 07.10.10 at 01:51 PM
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