July 10, 2010

Academic freedom

I'm gonna go ahead and guess that this guy won't get a tenth of the support that Ward Churchill got form his colleagues, if even that much:

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.

The professor, Ken Howell of Champaign, said his firing violates his academic freedom. He also lost his job at an on-campus Catholic center.

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.

"Natural Moral Law says that Morality must be a response to REALITY," he wrote in the e-mail. "In other words, sexual acts are only appropriate for people who are complementary, not the same."

An unidentified student sent an e-mail to religion department head Robert McKim on May 13, calling Howell's e-mail "hate speech." The student claimed to be a friend of the offended student. The writer said in the e-mail that his friend wanted to remain anonymous.
Now, my dad is a Catholic, but I'm not—in fact, I consider myself an agnostic—and I don't much care what consenting adults do with their naughty bits behind closed doors, but from what I understand, the official policy of the church (and it's hardly the only Christian denomination to take such a line) that homosexuality is a sin.
Speaking of which...
Howell said he was teaching his students about the Catholic understanding of natural moral law.

"My responsibility on teaching a class on Catholicism is to teach what the Catholic Church teaches," Howell said in an interview with The News-Gazette in Champaign. "I have always made it very, very clear to my students they are never required to believe what I'm teaching and they'll never be judged on that."

Howell also said he makes clear to his students that he's Catholic and that he believes the church views that he teaches.
So, here we have a guy who's an avowed Catholic, teaching students about Catholic doctrine, and he gets fired for doing so? All because a student (who's not brave enough to show his or her face in public) thinks that his teaching of that church doctrine is "hate speech." Did the student know about these teachings before enrolling in the course? Hard to say, but I would guess so.

There's much more at the link, including a statement from a U of I official that Howell's e-mails "violate university standards of inclusivity," thus justifying his dismissal.

To borrow something from Allahpundit, Exit Question: If this had been a Muslim prof discussing his religion's attitudes toward homosexuality, would we be discussing the same outcome?

I think we all know the answer.


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