The Destructive Power of Hate Speech Censorship

Some might remember the complaints against my political science campus bulletin board. I was forced to remove a Chuck DeVore “Bounce Boxer” bumper sticker because posting it apparently violated obscure Ed Code rules for non-political advocacy on public displays, a rule that had never been enforced during my entire ten-year tenure at LBCC. I had the bumper sticker in the upper corner of this picture at top. I’ve since created a full-blown politically incorrect bulletin board that I hopes pisses off the PC ayatollahs who filed the complaint. Since then as well, I filed an equal protection claim against the college alleging that the administration employs a double standard whereby left-wing advocacy, indoctrination, and political speech is not just defended/supported but actively promoted in the classrooms and in publicly-funded events. The subsequent investigation got so testy that Human Resources hired an outside investigator to prepare a civil rights report for the district’s attorneys. While all of this was going on, I received another complaint against the bulletin board — and to stress the point, this was while the initial complaint against a political bumper sticker had devolved into a full blown investigation of my college’s Business and Social Science Division — alleging that this Bosch Fawstin cartoon below should be taken down from my new board because it was “hate speech”:

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So folks can probably understand why I’m especially disturbed by reports of campus enforcement of hate speech codes around the country. For example, here’s this at Fox News, “University of Illinois Instructor Fired Over Catholic Beliefs.” It turns out that Professor Ken Howell has been fired from the university’s Department of Religion for including his personal views on the morality of homosexuality as part of his courses on Catholicism. Howell’s biographical page is still available at the university’s website. It notes there that:

Kenneth J. Howell is Adjunct Associate Professor of Religious Studies. He concentrates in the history, philosophy, and theology of Catholicism. He has taught at universities in Indiana and Mississippi prior to his appointment at UIUC. He is concurrently Director and Senior Fellow of the Institute of Catholic Thought. He has published four books on religion including an extensive study of science and religion in the Scientific Revolution.

It’s obvious that Professor Howell is eminently qualified to discuss the religious morality of homosexuality, and why in fact should it be surprising that questions of this nature would arise in classes on the Introduction to Catholicism and Modern Catholic Thought? The man was doing his job. The Champaign News-Gazette has a story as well, where Professor Howell is interviewed:

Howell said he disagrees with the idea that a professor must present lessons without even hinting at his own beliefs on a subject.

“It doesn’t seem to me to be particularly honest or fair to a student. If you believe something, you can tell the student that,” he said. “Where it becomes problematic is if it becomes injurious to a student by penalizing them for their beliefs. I always tried to be fair and honest and upfront with my students, and engage them on questions of human reason.”

In his e-mail to students, Howell wrote: “All I ask as your teacher is that you approach these questions as a thinking adult. That implies questioning what you have heard around you. Unless you have done extensive research into homosexuality and are cognizant of the history of moral thought, you are not ready to make judgments about moral truth in this matter. All I encourage is to make informed decisions.”

Howell said he’s often had students who disagree with him, but “that’s always been done with courtesy and respect on both our parts. This semester the students were the most negative and vociferous and critical that I’ve ever seen.”

I highlighted that last sentence. I don’t know if it’s simply the creeping invidiousness of political correctness on campus, or if things have gotten worse during the Obama interregnum, but the heightened intensity of the anti-intellectualism in academe today is certainly a warning sign for conservatives to redouble their efforts.

Warner Todd Huston writes on this at Right Wing News:

So much for schools that foster intellectual exploration and truth.

But that is the left-wing educational system we’ve been saddled with since the turn of the last century, isn’t it? Only atheism, socialism, leftism, communism, anti-Americanism, feminism, homoerotica and a fascistic quashing of free speech… only these are acceptable doctrines for our schools to disseminate, of course.

And just remember, “There Is No Such Thing as ‘Hate Speech’.”

That fact makes all of this even more reprehensible.

Also Blogging: Neptunus Lex and Weasel Zippers (via Memeorandum).

Cartoon Credit: Bosch Fawstin.

Cross-posted from American Power.

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