An adjunct professor of religion has been fired from one of our great public institutions of higher learning here in Lincolnland after students claimed his remarks about homosexuality were “offensive” and “hate speech”. After reading the story my thoughts about this are three fold.
First, when you’re an adjunct professor you have no protections, no recourse, and no guarantee of continued employment. If the person in charge doesn’t like your socks, you can be fired. Now this is a statement of fact and does not condone the misuse and abuse of adjunct faculty who should only be used to replace faculty on leave as a stop-gap measure. Maybe this particular fellow was a pain or pissed someone off and they were just waiting for an excuse to come along, and this back story has yet to come out.
Second, students these days cry about being offended when they find out the world isn’t flat and other insults to their fragile dignities, and we have way to many admini-wimps who, rather than defending academic rigor, react by trying to dismiss the faculty member as the offending party. If you’re not offending the delicate sensibilities of students, if you’re not making them think about uncomfortable ideas and concepts, then you’re probably not teaching anything meaningful at the university level. According to someone who should know, the Phactor actually still holds one record for our institution having been accused of being a sexist, a racist, and a Christian proselytizer by students all in the same course all in the same semester! The trifecta of improprieties! And all while teaching economic botany. Imagine though, a Unitarian botanist accused of being a Christian proselytizer! Must have been that reference book Plants of the Bible.
Third, when you sign up for a course called Catholicism and Catholic Thought you pretty much expect to be offended, the more so if you expected logical, rational reasons for believing the things Catholics must do. Although no expert surely, the Phactor has heard enough about “natural moral laws” to understand that the Catholic reasons for castigating homosexuality can quite readily be called offensive, but what did you expect from Catholic thought? Part of the problem, and probably the best reason for firing this professor, is that you’re going to get nothing but a one-sided presentation when the presenter is also an adherent of the religion. You’re not going to get any rigorous debate about basic tenets out of people like that, so if you want your religion classes to have all of the rigor of the religious instruction of your youth, then you hire professors like this.
So when you get down to basics, the firing sounds unjustified especially since the university approved a course like this and this fellow has been teaching it for 9 years without prior complaint. But it sounds like an awful class and the university could hardly do worse.
A new kind of problem
4 hours ago in RRResearch