Friday, July 9, 2010

Say what you mean, don't say it mean.

A friend of mine brought an interesting story to my attention today. It seems a professor of religion at the University of Illinois was fired over comments regarding the Catholic Church's view on homosexuality being immoral, after a student complained on behalf of an anonymous friend. The comments were labeled as 'hate speech'.

The first reaction many people had to my friend's post was along the lines of 'Erm.. you're taking a course on Catholicism, why are you surprised at being taught as Catholic doctrine??' However, I asked.. was the professor in question teaching doctrine, or stating his own opinion? As it turns out according to the article above, he did state that this was an opinion he shared.

What we have here, is a political hot potato (at least, for the University of Illinois). A situation vague enough that it can be easily manipulated by a number of factions.. the uber-PC folks who use terms like 'hate speech' to quell opinions that don't match their own, and the ultra-right-wing conservatives who use the concept of free speech to perpetuate hate and ignorance.

Either way, it doesn't do anything constructive for the case of critical thinking.

The way I see it, the difference between 'personal opinion' and 'hate speech' is this:

Opinion: "I don't agree with or like {marginalized group of people}"
Hate Speech: "I don't agree with or like {marginalized group of people}. They should be wiped out/imprisoned/beat up/poked with sticks/otherwise tormented and degraded"

The funny thing is, in both the liberal and conservative media I have seen on this story, there's a lack of any direct quote or context. Was this dude going off on a diatribe about 'the gays' and fire and brimstone in the middle of a lecture? Was perhaps the complainant a gay student who felt that this may be held against him? Did the prof know this? Then yeah, I would say disciplinary action would be in order (even if he didn't know).

However, suppose he was teaching the Catholic view (as is his prerogative in a class on Catholicism - durr) and a student inquired "What do you think, sir? Do you agree?" As a professor in a post-secondary institution, should he be bound by political correctness to keep his mouth shut? or would he be compelled to be open with his students by giving his honest opinion? Should a professor be maligned and disciplined for giving his honest opinion (even if others, this author included, may find them to be ignorant and archaic?)

No, that's silly, of course not. Right?

Let's play a little devils advocate here. What if this was a history professor.. or specifically a 20th century history professor.. even more specifically, a 20th Century European History professor, teaching on WWII and the Holocaust. The professor states that to this day, some people still do not believe that the Holocaust really occurred. A student asks 'Do you agree with this belief?' and the professor honestly states that no, he does NOT believe the Holocaust occurred.

THIS professor is now a holocaust denier, and guilty of hate crimes under our laws*. Kind of muddies the waters there, doesn't it?

So this begs the question.. in an post-secondary setting, should professors have complete academic freedom in their lectures? It's not so much a black and white answer.

On one hand, no student should feel maligned in a lecture or that their religion/race/gender/orientation etc may be held against them in regards to their academic performance.

On the other hand, academic professors have been known to express controversial opinions and arguments on a variety of topics. One of the major tenets of academia is the ability to think critically, and form cohesive arguments. How do you learn to think and argue critically when you agree with everything you're been told? In my first year of schooling, I'd come out of some of my classes almost in tears in anger and confusion, because I was forced to face ideas that I was less-than-comfortable with. However, as time rolled on, these were the classes that taught me to really look at all sides of an argument, until I either A) was able to rebut with a cohesive argument or B) was more open to views that I hadn't considered before.

In one article on the subject the Alliance Defense Fund, which is looking into the situation stated:

"A university cannot censor professors' speech – including classroom speech related to the topic of the class – merely because some students find that speech 'offensive.' Professors have the freedom to challenge students and to educate them by exposing them to different views"

Do you agree?

*Yes, I suck. Holocaust Denial is not covered under Canadian Hate Speech laws. Oops.

2 comments:

  1. TAM 8:

    let them know if the MDC continues more people will die...

    the WORLD TRADE CENTER PROPHECY - THE DANCE OF
    DEATH

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X0Hez25fFrg

    FLUSH ATHEISM!

    Actually it is a ROYAL FLUSH!!!

    Let me show you how ATHEISTS were partially responsible for 911

    These ATHEISTS NEED TO BE ON THE TERRORIST WATCH LIST!

    You don’t even have SCIENCE on your side…

    You’re a perfect example of when PHILOSOPHY becomes an ENEMY OF LIFE...

    http://stephenlaw.blogspot.com/2010/06/playing-mystery-card.html

    not quite samantha with her *supernatural spit*, eh?

    _________________
    you were at the WRONG PLACE at the WRONG TIME...
    _____________________
    this isn't one of your little WORD GAMES...

    blasphemy is a DEATH SENTENCE

    you people actually BELIEVE the BS you preach!

    GOD 1 - atheists 0

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQcNiD0Z3MU


    Atheists,
    you are ENEMIES OF GOD AND ARE GOING TO BE ANNIHILATED...

    Repent and turn to God or be destroyed...

    YOU HAVE NO CHOICE...

    my interpretation of the STATUE FIRE... it symbolizes the SPIRITUAL DEATH of atheism...

    http://www.latimes.com/news/custom/topofthetimes/national/la-naw-0616-jesus-statue-lightning-20100616,0,4295974.story

    http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2010/6/16/1276680110544/The-King-of-Kings-statue--005.jpg

    http://www.latimes.com/media/photo/2010-06/54332292.jpg


    http://friendlyatheist.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/butterjesus-1.jpg

    PRINCESS DI IS WEARING A NEW DRESS!

    http://www.princeofwales.gov.uk/speechesandarticles/a_speech_by_hrh_the_prince_of_wales_titled_islam_and_the_env_252516346.html
    ______________________________
    http://skepticblog.org/2010/04/06/would-i-ever-pray-for-a-miracle/

    Shermer, I WANT TO SEE YOU BEG FOR A MIRACLE...
    ___________________
    we do like your music Lady Gaga, but...

    The B**BQUAKE - 911

    Let me show you the FATE OF TRAITORS...

    http://www.loiterink.com/photos/products/182_3424_500x500.jpg

    they are incapable of telling the difference between SCIENTIFIC *FACT* AND
    RELIGIOUS AND PHILOSOPHICAL *TRUTH*... FATAL ERROR!

    they also preach a *VALUE FREE SCIENCE* called *POSITIVISM* that ignores the
    inequalities of wealth and power in capitalist civilization...

    for a sample taste of PZ Myers' GARBAGE...

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2010/06/sunday_sacrilege_imagine_no_he.php

    HIJACKING IN PROGRESS!!!

    http://hawaiiwebgroup.com/maui-design/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/website-hijacking.jpg

    HIJACKING IN PROGRESS!!!

    how can these HEADLESS IDIOTS BET AGAINST GOD!!!
    ________________________________________
    what happens when you LOSE Pascal's Wager...

    http://www.peterkreeft.com/topics/pascals-wager.htm
    ____________
    you FIGHT PAPER MONSTERS...

    the blood and bodies of the atheist movement...

    you mofos killed MICKEY MOUSE!!!!

    this has more TRUTH then what Dawkins, Randi, Harris, Myers, and Shermer
    combined have said in their entire lives...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch#!v=5R2wE8Sduhs&playnext_from=TL&videos=hht1U_19anc&feature=rec-LGOUT-exp_fresh%2Bdiv-1r-3-HM

    they tried to BULLDOZE the entire METAPHYSICAL DIMENSION...
    they LOST THE WAR......

    you have FORFEIT YOUR SOUL, shermer... you have become an object in the material world, as you WISHED...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eUB4j0n2UDU

    http://farm1.static.flickr.com/7/11792994_ffaaee87fa.jpg

    we're gonna smash that TV...

    They had become ENEMIES OF THE PEOPLE AND OF GOD...

    you pushed too much and *CROSSED THE LINE*

    degenerates (PZ) or children (HEMANT) - ATHEISTS!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bRRg2tWGDSY

    do you have anything to say, you STUPID LITTLE F*CKER?


    THE BOOBQUAKE - 911!
    ****************************************************
    http://dissidentphilosophy.lifediscussion.net/philosophy-f1/the-boobquake-911-t1310.htm

    ReplyDelete
  2. Uhm.. thanks for reading?

    Oh wait. I'm pretty sure you DIDN'T.

    Good job on randomly picking commenters from other blogs. *slow clap*

    ReplyDelete

Engaging in discussion and/or general sucking up.. that's where it's at!

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