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more equal than others

By Diogenes (articles ) | Mar 18, 2004

Academic freedom takes a licking in Ohio (from today's WSJ Opinion Journal):

In March of last year, philosophy professor James Tuttle received a complaint that had been forwarded by his superior at Lakeland Community College in Ohio. The student letter-writer charged that Prof. Tuttle had made comments she deemed offensive to women and gays, and that he'd also shown signs of hostility to Muslim women. "I feel," she wrote, "as if I have been crushed, and forced to endure views that I do not agree with . . . we are supposed to be learning philosophy." But the main problem, the letter stressed, was the professor's excessive reference to his religion -- Catholicism. How, she wondered, would non-Catholic, liberal students "be able to defend themselves or even be able to learn in such a hostile learning environment?" The philosophy professor needed the separation of church and state explained to him; furthermore, the student said, his classes should be monitored and he should undergo counseling.

Pretty foul. Thankfully, the Catholic Theological Society of America immediately weighed in with a stirring defense of personal and intellectual liberty of a responsible scholar:

To grasp the special nature of the treatment accorded Prof. Tuttle here, it's only necessary to consider what would have happened if the accused had been a feminist professor rather than a Catholic philosopher -- if, an Evangelical Christian student, offended by criticisms of Christianity, the church as subjugator of women and the like, were to file complaint charging bias and a hostile learning environment. Can one imagine -- the mind reels -- administrators warning this professor to cease offending and seek counseling?

Sorry, did I mention the CTSA? My mistake. Prof. Tuttle's defender is Dorothy Rabinowitz.

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Show 5 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: - Mar. 20, 2004 2:50 PM ET USA

    When I took a liberal arts class at the UW almost 70 years ago, the professor was a convert to Catholicism and a drunk - the butt of many jokes. I had been to Mass, but I didn't understand a thing until I took this class and had the great pleasure of hearing him explain the Consecration, among other things. His words still ring in my ears.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 18, 2004 8:23 PM ET USA

    At Assumption College in Worcester a philosophy professor was called before a dean and interrogated because he had spoken critically of homosexual marriage in class. The dean agreed with the student who had complained that such comments were 'offensive' and 'hurtful' to homosexuals. This happens all around the country. One might also check the letters in today's Journal, some of which seriously argue that few college professors are conservatives because conservatives are generally stupid.

  • Posted by: Gil125 - Mar. 18, 2004 7:03 PM ET USA

    As somebody who has read her stuff for years I can attest: Dorothy Rabinowitz would make a better bishop than 90% of the bishops we have. Save for two diriment impediments, alas.

  • Posted by: - Mar. 18, 2004 4:21 PM ET USA

    For a hopeful take on the situation today see the piece by Wendy McElroy (ifeminist) on Fox. I used to think that the phrase "chilling atmosphere" was just liberal cant. But I can't imagine teaching at a school where professors are Mau-Maued like they are in this place.

  • Posted by: Pseudodionysius - Mar. 18, 2004 10:45 AM ET USA

    I feel," she wrote, "as if I have been crushed, and forced to endure views that I do not agree with . . . we are supposed to be learning philosophy." This is truly a parody. Philosophy, of course, has nothing to do with arguing truth, and refuting or supporting points of view. Learning philosophy? You don't LEARN philosophy. You DO philosophy. You PURSUE wisdom. You ARGUE for the truth. The Emotivism course is 3rd door on the left. Have a nice day. See you at the Counsellor's office.

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