Monday, July 12, 2010

Fired University of Illinois professor accused gays of 'dangerous sex acts'

The blogsphere is all a flutter today about a University of Illinois adjunct professor who got fired for comments he said about homosexuality. Now the spin seems to be - including unfortunately in the Huffington Post - that the professor in question, Kenneth Howell, got fired for merely stating the Catholic position against homosexuality:

An adjunct professor who taught courses on Catholicism at the University of Illinois has lost his teaching job there, and he claims it is a violation of his academic freedom.

Kenneth Howell was told after the spring semester ended that he would no longer be teaching in the UI's Department of Religion. The decision came after a student complained about a discussion of homosexuality in the class in which Howell taught that the Catholic Church believes homosexual acts are morally wrong.

Howell has been an adjunct lecturer in the department for nine years, during which he taught two courses, Introduction to Catholicism and Modern Catholic Thought. He was also director of the Institute of Catholic Thought, part of St. John's Catholic Newman Center on campus and the Catholic Diocese of Peoria. Funding for his salary came from the Institute of Catholic Thought.

One of his lectures in the introductory class on Catholicism focuses on the application of natural law theory to a social issue. In early May, Howell wrote a lengthy e-mail to his students, in preparation for an exam, in which he discusses how the theory of utilitarianism and natural law theory would judge the morality of homosexual acts.

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

He went on to write there has been a disassociation of sexual activity from morality and procreation, in contradiction of Natural Moral Theory.

The student complaint came in a May 13 e-mail to Robert McKim, head of the religion department. The author of the e-mail said he was writing on behalf of a friend – a student in Howell's class, who wanted to remain anonymous. The e-mail complained about Howell's statements about homosexuality, which the student called "hate speech.

Now the argument could made - and will be - that the university overreacted. Howell has retained the services of the Alliance Defense Fund, so I imagine we will hear ad naseum about the so-called gay agenda.

But there seems to be another side of this that no one is discussing.

Granted, I am not defending anyone but I would like to refer everyone to the email in question; the reason Howell was fired after a student complained. There seems to be more in it than simply stating a religious position against homosexuality. Particularly this passage:

One example applicable to homosexual acts illustrates the problem. To the best of my knowledge, in a sexual relationship between two men, one of them tends to act as the "woman" while the other acts as the "man." In this scenario, homosexual men have been known to engage in certain types of actions for which their bodies are not fitted. I don't want to be too graphic so I won't go into details but a physician has told me that these acts are deleterious to the health of one or possibly both of the men. Yet, if the morality of the act is judged only by mutual consent, then there are clearly homosexual acts which are injurious to their health but which are consented to. Why are they injurious? Because they violate the meaning, structure, and (sometimes) health of the human body.

Again, maybe the university overreacted.

But then again, what if Howell had made negative generalizations regarding the African-American community or the Latino community or the Jewish community?

Maybe he shouldn't have been fired. But it seems to me that this isn't a case about a man who was fired merely for stating his religious beliefs. Howell crossed the line when he began making comments - inaccurate generalizations - about gay sex.

But who cares about delving behind the story to get the facts when there is a "hot angle" to exploit.

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National Organization for Marriage continues hypocrisy tour and other Monday midday news briefs

NOM's stock-photo-collection-on-wheels finds one incredibly off-message driver - The National Organization for Marriage insists that they are not bigots while at the same time teaming up with a guy who thinks that lgbts for the most part are pedophiles. Talk about trying to have it both ways.

Gay-to-straight camp run by local man praised, panned - I read the article and I didn't find it accurate either.

Mel Gibson's Long, Hateful History - Mel Gibson has slurred lgbts, African-Americans, women, and Latinos. I hear that he is going after Native Americans next so they don't feel left out.

Tough Love For State's Transgender Inmates
- A story that needs to be told.

Why Is the Military Polling the Troops About Gays?
- An excellent piece by Time magazine.

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Robert Knight cites nonexistent poll to make case against DADT repeal

Maybe Coral Ridge Ministries writer (and perennial anti-gay activist) Robert Knight is getting jealous of Peter LaBarbera, Matt Barber, Andrea Lafferty, and the rest of that bunch.

He seems to be using the issue of Don't Ask, Don't Tell to move himself back into the spotlight where he had been plaguing the lgbt community for over 30 years during sojourns with the Family Research Council, Concerned Women for America, and the Media Research Center.

Last week, Knight made the incredibly wild accusation that allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military would lead to "forced abortions."

This week, he tries to top that accusation with one attacking the Log Cabin Republicans. He is accusing them of not being Republicans, but a group of "infiltrators" out to weaken the Republican party. I kid you not. Those are his inferences:

"It's important to understand that the Log Cabin Republicans aren't really a Republican group; they're a group of homosexual activists who are inside the Republican Party, trying to neutralize the party on the issue of homosexual activism," he explains. "It's sort of a voluntary disarmament that they're advising the Republicans to undertake."

He thinks it is clear that lifting the ban on homosexual service would be extremely detrimental to America's armed forces.

"This would destroy the volunteer military as we know it, because 25 percent of people in the military have said they'll either resign or they wouldn't re-enlist," Knight reports. "It would hurt recruitment because the military draws from traditional populations that have very traditional values. It would hurt unit cohesion."

Knight isn't skipping a beat when it comes to misleading folks. The 25 percent figure he refers to is a lie.

According to Media Matters, the 25 percent claim came from a World Net Daily column by conservative black activist Mychal Massie. Here is the exact quote:

A reader who is in a position to know told me that the "last survey among military folks [revealed] that 25 percent won't re-up if this happens. This means that to allow [the] 2 percent of those out there who choose this lifestyle into the military, we'd lose 25 percent of the experienced military folks who have morals."

You got that? Massie never cited a specific poll or gave the name of "the reader" who told him about the poll. For all we know, Massie could have thought up the 25 percent figure and the mysterious "reader" out of thin air.

And from what we know about World Net Daily (or as it is called in some circles -World Nut Daily due in part to its constant inferences that President Obama isn't a United States citizen), the idea that its columnists push false facts and figures isn't totally implausible.

As for Knight, a man who freely cited the discredited work of Paul Cameron, exploiting a nonexistent poll is par for the course.

Related posts:

Robert Knight gets too homophobic even for me

'Porno Pete' LaBarbera wants to instruct the next generation

Why doesn't Robert Knight want to talk about Paul Cameron?

Robert Knight: Obama and gays are trying to destroy American values!

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