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  • Academic Freedom, for Some: The Hounding of Dr. Howell

    Officials at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana have sparked controversy over their decision not to extend the hiring of Adjunct Professor Kenneth Howell, a highly rated instructor who has taught electives at the university since 2001 on the history and tenets of Catholicism. Howell’s apparent “offense” is that he accurately rendered those teachings in an e-mail distributed to students in one of his classes.

    According to a local newspaper, the trouble began when a friend of an unidentified student sent the chairman of IU’s Religion Department a copy of an e-mail Howell wrote to students in his Introduction to Catholicism class. The e-mail contained a detailed explication by Howell of the idea of “natural moral law” and utilitarianism as applied to the Catholic understanding of the morality of homosexual acts. Howell intended his e-mail, he wrote, to assist students in addressing a “question on the final exam about utilitarianism.”

    The complaining student wrote that Howell’s e-mail amounted to “hate speech” that should be “entirely unacceptable” at a public university. A faculty member who agreed with the complainant reportedly wrote that Howell’s e-mail “violate[d] university standards of inclusivity, which would then entitle us to have him discontinue his teaching arrangement with us.” The department chairman, Robert McKim, stated that he would send university students a note “dissociating our department, College, and university” from Howell’s views.

    Attorneys for the Alliance Defense Fund have challenged the university’s action and are demanding a reply by July 16. They note Howell’s strong evaluations from the students who take his courses as well as the fact that he makes clear to his students that their work is graded on its quality and knowledge of the subject matter—and not on the extent to which they agree or disagree with the religious and moral tenets of Catholicism.

    Interestingly, the views of the anonymous student that were related to McKim did not include any contention that Howell’s e-mail misrepresented Catholic teaching. In other words, the objection was based on the content of that teaching and not on Howell’s ability as an educator to faithfully communicate the subject matter of a university course offering. For now it’s fair to say that in June 2010 political correctness has triumphed over academic freedom at a major public university.

    Posted in Culture [slideshow_deploy]

    15 Responses to Academic Freedom, for Some: The Hounding of Dr. Howell

    1. Tony, USA says:

      This ludicrous turn of events should surprise no one. The Bible is full of "hate speech" (as defined by those whose goal it is to undermine and destroy the traditional moral fabric of our nation). Indeed, the Scriptures are full of statements that offend the sensibilities of modern man. That's why hell will be SRO.

      The student's semi-literate email that started this debacle reaches its ironic zenith when it states:

      "The courses at this institution should be geared to contribute to the public discourse and promote independent thought…"

      Apparently the only independent thought that can be allowed is that which looks, tastes and smells identical to the thought of all the other liberal. tolerant multiculturists on campus. Christians and others with opposing views need not apply.

      So much for discourse, intellectual honesty and common sense.

      Oh, and when the offended student says, "I didn't go to Notre Dame for a reason," I suspect the real reason would be GPA.

    2. Ron Cade, Fort Worth says:

      So much for the First Amendment. You know, those parts which gives us free speech, the right to practice our religion(nor the free exercise thereof). What about all the tolerance spoken of in the last thirty to forty years. So we are not allowed to express our opinions nowdays. Let's all weep together and mourn the loss of the greatest society ever known among men. God bless what's left of America, open the eyes of all who want freedom. We are not given a spirit if timidity. Speak out freedom lovers. Cheers to all….

    3. Dr. Thomas Farley says:

      the facts, if as presented. leave no room for equification, the faculty rep and the university are WRONG !! I find it puzzling, though, that they would not KNOW they are wrong, unless the facts are not as presented. I would love to hear, or read, a follow up on the issue.

    4. Andy Shallman, Highl says:

      Academic review of Catholic doctrine, of any church or religion for that matter, is fair game for any legitimate academic institution. The Qur'an is rather more hateful of gay men than the Catholic Church, I think:

      "Of all the creatures in the world, will ye approach males, And leave those whom Allah has created for you to be your mates? Nay, ye are a people transgressing (all limits)! They said: "If thou desist not, O Lut! thou wilt assuredly be cast out!" He said: "I do detest your doings:" "O my Lord! deliver me and my family from such things as they do!" So We delivered him and his family,- all Except an old woman who lingered behind. But the rest We destroyed utterly. We rained down on them a shower (of brimstone): and evil was the shower on those who were admonished (but heeded not)! Verily in this is a Sign: but most of them do not believe. And verily thy Lord is He, the Exalted in Might, Most Merciful." (Qur'an 26:165-175)

    5. Don Harper, Lubbock, says:

      They know they are wrong. They are afraid to buck the trend of political correctness that now controls our public (and private) institutions of education.

      "Political correctness is a doctrine, fostered by a delusional,

      illogical minority, and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media,

      which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a

      turd by the clean end."

    6. Dennis Georgia says:

      The Constitution is dead and gone, being politically correct is nopw the norm for this country. We as citizens are not entitled to have an opinion or form any tghoughts that do not meet the terms of those in charge. We the people lead by ignorant have been brain washed to believe any tghing told to us. May GOD have mercy on this country. YES I DID TYPE THE WORD "GOD", AND AM PROUD TO SAY THAT HE IS ALIVE AND WELL TO ME.

    7. Craig Shoemaker, Aub says:

      I thought a university was a place to open students minds to all of the ideas this world is full of. If I was a student why would I want the university to think for me by limiting what I hear and how I would react to it? Does not sound like Dr. Howell was teaching a course to indoctrinate but to inform others of Catholic doctrine and most religions address moral issues from their traditional perspective and that should be elucidated in such a course. Catholicism has always been opposed to homosexuality on moral grounds, should that not be discussed?

      Mr. Shoemaker

    8. Tim AZ says:

      Religion has always been a danger and a contradiction to the ideology of liberalism therefore religion must be cleansed from society. Another option would be to create revisionist religion that would remove the principles that unveil the true face of liberalism, resulting in a religion of the state. Any supporters for this fundamental transformation?

    9. Gordon K. Daily, Her says:

      Maybe my daughter is right. It's time to pack up and leave and start over someplace else where freedom can be reborn. The United States, the last bastion of freedom in the world, is no longer a nation of free people. It makes me weep.

    10. Tony, USA says:

      Where's my comment? Perhaps one need not travel to Illinois to experience censorship.

    11. Pingback: Financial Freedom – Goal Setting

    12. Richard L MacDonald says:

      Interesting story on page three, the whole top half of the page in The Virginia Pilot, Norfolk Va. Title: FCC can't fine a dirty mouth. subtitle;IT'S {FIRST AMENDMENT 1, CENSORSHIP 0} AFTER A FEDERAL COURT STRIKES DOWNAN FCC POLICY BANNING THE AIRING OF "PATENTLY OFFENSIVE" MATERIAL. Seems like freedom of speech is only available if it agrees with liberal view, but not if it has anything to do with religon.

      What happened to …."Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press…..I guess congress can't but our centers of learning CAN. The world is upside down.

    13. Johann Wolfgang von says:

      Through this site one can email all 3 of the parties responsible for Dr. Howell's termination. Please consider sending several successive emails to get beyond the form letter email responses and make these people defend their behavior.

      U of I President, Michael J. Hogan,

      the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences: Ruth V. Watkins, and

      Department of Religion Head, Robert McKim.


    14. Kevin O'Donovan says:

      This is the same university system that employs Bill Ayers,an outspoken, unrepentant,anti-American bomb thrower.

    15. Billie says:

      Was that Thurston Howell, the third?

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