Saturday, July 17, 2010

University Officials Act Like Kindergarteners

Just when I think academic idiocy, political correctness, and group-victimology can't get any sillier or more destructive to free thinking, they do. The University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign has relieved a professor of his duties for teaching the Catholic view on homosexuality, in a course on Catholic teaching. Well--what can we expect from a University system which would hire Obama buddy William Ayers?

Dr. Kenneth Howell may or may not subscribe to the Catholic teaching on homosexuality, and to his credit has never expressed his personal view on the matter. But he was paid by the university to teach about Catholic doctrine, and it would have been academically dishonest of him to lie about Catholic teaching on homosexuality. And an issue so much in front of the public certainly couldn't be ignored in a university course about Catholicism either. So without making judgments or expressing his approval or disapproval, the professor proceeded to state the doctrinal facts.

In an e-mail to all his students expanding on the theme, again expressing neither approval nor disapproval, Howell restated the Catholic position in response to a student question. One student apparently was asleep or listening to his I-Pod during the in-class lecture, so when he got the e-mail he was so stricken with horror, fear and loathing that he immediately reported the professor to school officials. Says this young budding academic genius: "Allowing this hate speech at a public university is entirely unacceptable." Hate speech my arse. I'm assuming he hasn't yet taken the uncensored course on Islam.

Howell wasn't even solely discussing, and therefore wasn't specifically emphasizing, the Catholic view. He had been asked to compare the utilitarian and natural moral law views on homosexuality as they relate to Catholic doctrine. That is a very intelligent question which calls for careful analysis and discussion, which Dr. Howell provided. But it may also have been a setup. Perhaps the ultrasensitive homosexuals and their supporters didn't have enough hard evidence against this horrible homophobe and simply wanted some kind of documentation. On the other hand, it could just be that a really stupid student missed the lecture and didn't know his tender lily soul had been attacked until he read the e-mail. Who knows? Who cares?

Ya know, when you sign up for a course on natural fertilizer, you should be prepared for someone to talk shit. And when you sign up for a course on Catholicism, you should be prepared to hear a viewpoint on homosexuality that differs from those of your fellow liberals. You should also be prepared to accept the concept that giving the facts about a viewpoint is hardly the same thing as advocating that viewpoint. But try to explain that to college students who have heard only the left wing revisionist version of pretty much everything their entire lives.

Where Howell went wrong was in actually presenting an adult, intelligent, serious, and accurate description of one point of debate among the utilitarians and natural moral law advocates. But these students are used to nothing more complicated or intellectually challenging than professorial grunts such as "Marxism good, capitalism bad." Natural moral law, properly analyzed, says that morality must be a response to reality. "In other words, sexual acts are only appropriate for people who are complementary, not the same. How do we know this? By looking at reality. Men and women are complementary in their anatomy, physiology, and psychology. Men and women are not interchangeable. So, a moral sexual act has to be between persons who are fitted for that final act."

That is not an expression of Howell's opinion (though outside the academic arena he may or may not agree with it). It is an entirely accurate description of natural moral law as announced by the Catholic Church. How refreshing to have a professor who can intelligently discuss an actual point of view held by millions (billions?) of people and most religious institutions in direct answer to a question posed without adding his own editorial comments on the truth or falsity of the position.

Catholic doctrine and natural moral law also posit that there must be a connection between sex and procreation. Is that my opinion? Is that Dr. Howell's opinion? What difference does it make in an academic setting? It's an accurate description of Catholic doctrine, the course is about Catholic doctrine, and the question posed was about Catholic doctrine. For once, we actually have a professor who simply gives an accurate answer rather than a predigested opinion of a subject that he may or may not agree with.

University president Michael Hogan responded to inquiries about the dismissal with the usual academic gobbledygook about academic freedom and the free exchange of ideas. In other words, he did the exact opposite of what professor Howell did. He dodged the question and left nobody knowing more after his speechifying baloney than they did before it. He also paraphrased the UI Handbook, which says: "Academic freedom is essential to the functioning of a university. It applies to its teaching, research, and public service and involves both faculty and students."

Of course he neglected to mention that the professor who is now not allowed to teach anything at UI had received the plaudits of his students and an academic award from the faculty and administration for teaching exactly the same subject in exactly the same way just the previous semester. The most effusive words of praise for Howell had come from the entire faculty of the UI Department of Religion.

These tender reeds who can't survive the statement of facts without opinion should all be kicked out on their sensitive butts and the professor should be reinstated immediately with an open public apology from all the cowards and bullies involved in his dismissal. I'm not holding my breath for that. However, the Alliance Defense Fund has already sent a demand letter to the school demanding reinstatement for professor Howell no later than July 16 (yesterday, by the time of this publication) or face a lawsuit. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education has also indicated an interest in the matter, but has made no formal statement or taken any action thus far.

I am alternately annoyed and infuriated by liberals who can't get it through their heads that there are actually people who don't hold the same point of view. But even that's not the issue here. Howell didn't state either his view or his opinion. He gave a yeoman's answer to a direct question about a subject that he was hired to teach openly, honestly and accurately. Try to get that out of a lefty professor. These nervous nellies who go to the university to have their own opinions validated are going to be the death of genuine university learning. University administrators who act on these complaints from silly students with heads full of Jell-O without even considering that a dismissal of a highly qualified professor could be seriously injurious to academic freedom and solid thought should be tossed out along with the students too weak to handle the truth.


AndrewPrice said...

This is so typical for the left. They believe that if they can squelch all views but their own, then everyone will be free to finally think like they do -- no longer distracted by the few mentally ill or corrupt who stand in their way. I talked about this phenomenon in THIS ARTICLE.

Joel Farnham said...


This sounds exactly like what China did when it partially re-introduced capitalism.

Let a little bit in, get aghast at the results, shut it down fast before others actually look, condemn it, and then claim it is against Communism.

Let a little religion in, get aghast at the actual teachings, shut it down fast before others get interested, condemn it, and then claim it violates free-thought which the University is promoting.

On it's face, it is ridiculous because most of America is Judeo/Christian and aren't suprised at the course's actual teachings. Dig a little deeper, and you find that it goes against the teachings of the University. Heretical at the very least. The University is just burning another heretic. Nothing to see here, move along.

What I am surprised at, given that University are intolerant towards Religions except ones that bash the United States, is that it actually was offered.

Question is, do you think it will be offered next semester? Or will it go away?

Another question, did the course come about because a rich alumni requested it?

Tennessee Jed said...

Hawk - the other day I mentioned to Andrew how I had come to grips with the old media's bias since I felt their influence is waning. I am somewhat more concerned over the liberal's seeming death grip on the teaching profession. Unless one home school's their children, it seems inevitable they will receive more than their fair share of liberal, socialist propaganda.

Now I will admit liberals are hardly the only people guilty of hypocrisy. If we are honest, we all have been a little guilty, but these people seem to live and breath it as the normal course of things. We all know liberals who are both intelligent and educated. The question then becomes, I suppose, whether they are actually that blind to objective thinking, or knowingly espouse such hypocrisy as part of their "end justifies the means" agenda.

Unknown said...

Andrew: I agree, and in this case I also see the invidious addition of the other facet of liberal fascism--the ultrasensitive "victim." The wolves of liberalism are a small but effective pack hunting down freedom of speech and thought. The sheep of liberalism are many, providing willing accomplices who don't know they're going to be eaten next.

Unknown said...

Joel: It's even worse than that. In this case, it's not as if a Catholic professor shoved orthodox theology down the unwilling throats of helpless students (which the Marxist professors do on a daily basis). He was teaching about Catholic theology, in a course entitled Introduction to Catholic Thought. And unlike the Marxist professors, Howell knew that he couldn't teach that in a vacuum. It requires discussing and analyzing other thought in order to put Catholic thought into perspective and context. That's exactly what a university is supposed to do in general, and what the university specifically paid this professor to do.

I'm waiting for the first university professor to get fired for teaching Greek mythology and daring to offend the tender sensibilities of one of the student wusses who is horrified by the discussion of cannibalism and warfare between gods and men.

Unknown said...

Tennessee: My first act as Supreme Dictator of America would be to close all university schools of education. Those schools do nothing more that to teach future teachers how to teach subjects about which they know absolutely nothing. Then they imbue them with leftist, liberal thought, and send them forth to teach helpless children how to think like a good liberal. By the time they get to the university level (comparable to my junior high school back in the dark ages), it's too late for the students to learn how to think for themselves. They are told what they should believe, and what should offend them (such as a course on Catholic theology that doesn't promote homosexuality), and like good little automatons, they march in lockstep, but only when their masters tell them it's time to march.

Worst of all, these mindless acolytes of liberalism then go forth into the world to become good Democrats, Marxists and liberal fascists.

But I don't despair. The army of darkness that controls education is a formidable opponent. But as Victor Hugo said, "no army is so powerful as an idea whose time has come." It's our time. Recent events have given me hope. And that hope was voiced by Winston Churchill at an early stage of victories in WW II. "This is not the end, nor is it the beginning of the end. But I believe that this is the end of the beginning." With patience, fortitude and dedication, we will win this long war against the First Amendment.

HamiltonsGhost said...

Lawhawk--It's funny how when the shoe's on the other foot, the left just can't seem to bring itself to take any action, quick, slow or medium. This professor was teaching his subject in an approved curriculum and got fired for doing his job. But when three students at two different universities had documented proof that their MATHEMATICS professors were spending classroom time lauding socialism and organizing anti-Bush rallies, the universities did absolutely nothing until forced to after losing lawsuits.

Unknown said...

HamiltonsGhost: I'm familiar with the cases. And it's not entirely true that the schools did nothing about the complaints. They brought the complaining students before disciplinary boards for disrupting the classes. So the administrations punished the students for wanting to learn mathematics in a mathematics class, but UI punished a professor for teaching Catholic doctrine in a course on Catholicism. I'm lost. Can somebody please explain this logic to me?

Joel Farnham said...


Your question must be rhetorical, otherwise I would answer that the logic is protection of theology of liberalism and protection of adherents and purveyors of liberalism. If you approach viewing liberalism as a cult and the cult must be protected then it is logical for the University Admin to allow a math teacher to prosletyze liberalism during math class and to stop a professor of Catholicism from teaching Catholic doctrine which challenges liberalism.

Other than that, I have no clue as to any logic being used by the University Admin.

Unknown said...

Joel: The first time I heard a professor of mathematics use the expression "fuzzy logic," I was sure he was describing liberal philosophy.

Unknown said...

LawHawk. What are they going to do next? Fire a professor of history who dares to mention slavery in a course on the Civil War?

Unknown said...

CalFed: Only if the professor fails to spend half the course explaining why it is imperative that we pay reparations.

HamiltonsGhost said...

I have an idea. Southern Methodist University should retaliate by firing a professor who discusses Martin Luther King, Jr. because he was a Baptist.

Unknown said...

HamiltonsGhost: Notre Dame and Loyola-Marymount should join in the fun and fire any professor who mentions Martin Luther. Oh, wait, I'm Lutheran. Never mind.

Brendeis University should immediately fire any professor who even considers discussing Germany and World War II. Whew, that's better.

John said...

For up to date and additional information please go to:

"Save Dr. Ken"

Unknown said...

John: Thanks. For those who want to follow the progress of the matter and get some background, here is the actual link to the FaceBook page:
Save Dr. Ken.

Anonymous said...

FIRE did intervene on Friday:

Unknown said...

Anon: Thanks for the update. You beat me to it. Here's the clickable link: FIRE Joins in UI Free Speech/Academic Freedom Fight.

StanH said...

Wow! …Lawhawk, it seems we are creating a generation of feeling imbeciles. Why would anyone so delicate get involved with the study of Catholic doctrine, and be surprised when they find that, it’s doctrinaire.

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