The American Progressive!
Here is the full text of a wonderful editorial by the Daily Herald Editorial Board
concerning the oafish and hypocritical firing of "admitted" Catholic Professor Kenneth Howell over an ambush e-mail complaint by the friend of a one of Howell's students.
This Progressive Witchunt of Catholics will continue unabated so long as marriage continues to be between a man and a woman and abortion is fought at every turn,
Great to see one newspaper taking a stab at common sense and heroic defense of the facts.
It may be too early in the debate to condemn the University of Illinois for firing an adjunct professor whose orthodox Catholic views on homosexuality deeply offended some of his students. But the university's action against religion professor Kenneth Howell certainly bears more, and careful, scrutiny.
The principle of academic freedom is one of the critical underpinnings of a strong and intellectually vital university - especially a public university that purports to serve the society in all its rich diversity. So, there's a darkly Orwellian irony in the U of I's firing of Howell for violating the school's policy of "inclusivity."
"Inclusivity" at the University of Illinois, it would appear, does not apply to devout Catholics describing their points of view on morality.
It must be said that freedom of speech in general and academic freedom in particular do not justify dangerously irresponsible statements. One is not free, nor should one be free, to shout "Fire!" in a crowded theater, as the U.S. Supreme Court has famously determined. Similarly, we cannot tolerate in the name of free speech those who advocate the violent overthrow of the government nor those who call for violence against any individual or group.
But from the early reports, it's hard to see what Howell said that could rise to that standard, Indisputably, he argued in an e-mail that homosexual acts are a violation of what the Catholic Church and he himself regard as "Natural Moral Law." He also stated that students "are not ready to make judgments about moral truth in this matter" if they have not adequately studied it, perhaps implying that the grade they could expect on a pending exam might depend on their adherence to his own prejudices though he insists he would not penalize students for holding views different from his.
If the definition of "hate speech" stoops to the level of such expressions, it's not just academic freedom but all speech freedom that is in trouble. For on such grounds, the assessment of almost any statement is reduced not to its inherent logic or lack thereof, but to the whim of the people in authority.
The people in authority at the University of Illinois wisely have agreed to examine this situation more thoroughly, and they are right to go about that business with the notion of protecting the rights and dignity of all individuals and groups in the university community. Yet, they must also keep in mind that - at a university, of all places - offensive statements are not necessarily dangerous statements. The prospects of firing a professor for teaching and defending the point of view of one of the world's dominant religious denominations are in themselves an act of intimidation that surely would send shudders of fear through any professor whose pronouncements could be construed to offend the powers that be.
In such an environment, it is not Howell's ideas but the intolerance of them that truly threatens the doctrine and practice of inclusivity.