Liberals are selective when discussing academic freedom. The Galileo affair figures prominently among liberal academics. They praise Galileo because he challenged the accepted science of the day. The Aristotelian scientists, astronomers, philosophers, and ethicists had adopted Aristotle’s claim that the earth was the center of the cosmos. Galileo disagreed and offered contrary evidence in an attempt to prove his case.
As a result, Galileo is praised as a champion of scientific investigation, the patron saint of challenging the status quo. A robotic NASA spacecraft which studied the planet Jupiter and its moons was named after the intrepid astronomer. There’s a website devoted to things named after Galileo.
When dogmatists insist that the “debate is over” on a particular subject, they are going against the spirit of Galileo. In science, the debate is never over. There’s always something new to discover even in areas where scientists thought they knew everything.
On climate change, we’ve heard “the debate is over.” The same is true of those who call into question the premise of evolution that inanimate matter evolved without design or purpose into the world we see all around us. To question these claimed absolutist fields of study will put you in the same category as a holocaust denier. Am I exaggerating? Boston Globe columnist Ellen Goodman made just that comparison: “Let’s just say that global warming deniers are now on a par with Holocaust deniers . . .”
The new untouchable topic is same-sex sexuality. To even raise the question that same-sex sexuality is a debatable topic will get the questioner an appointment with the liberal inquisition.
Here’s the latest example of liberal intolerance and anti-Galileo investigatory educational policies at Marquette University:
“Fox News’ Todd Starnes reported on a Marquette University student’s encounter with his ethics instructor. The professor, Cheryl Abbate, was leading her ‘Theory of Ethics’ class in a discussion about the application of philosophical theories to controversial political issues.
“Among the issues listed on the blackboard were gay rights, gun rights and the death penalty. Professor Abbate removed gay rights from the list before the discussion began, with the summary explanation, ‘We all agree on this.’”
The university classroom is a place where sometimes heated and unpopular discussions are supposed to take place. The possibility of progress is mitigated if debate is curtailed. The study of homosexuality is not like the study of gravity where the effect can be demonstrated in numerous ways. A child doesn’t need a Ph.D. to know how gravity works.
There is, however, a scientific side to the discussion of same-sex sexuality. Biology and anatomy come into play, and children learn very early that there’s a difference. “Only girls have babies,” our grandchildren are learning as a new baby brother is about to be born.
The claim that “we all agree on this” puzzled a student so much that “he approached Abbate after class and expressed his opinion that the class should have been allowed to discuss gay rights.”
Wanting to get an accurate record of the conversation, the student recorded it.
“The student asked, ‘Are you saying if I don’t agree with gays not being allowed to get married that I’m homophobic?’
“The teacher said, ‘I’m saying it would come off as a homophobic comment in this class.’
“After further discussion, Abbate said, ‘You don’t have a right in this class (an ethics class) especially to make homophobic comments.’”
Anybody familiar with logic — is it still taught in college? — would note that the operating assumption that questioning same-sex sexuality is by definition “homophobic” is the very thing that should be under discussion in an ethics class. The premise is assumed to be true by the professor without any chance to investigate its validity. By what standard? By whose standard?
In Ms. Abbate’s class the students will never get to debate the unproven assumption, and that’s the way she wants it. She’s afraid of backlash form homosexuals and strong arguments against the pro-homosexual worldview.
The professor did not relent. The student dropped the class.
Then things escalated.
“Marquette professor John McAdams learned about the incident and expressed his strong disapproval on his blog, Marquette Warrior. McAdams wrote: ‘Like the rest of academia, Marquette is less and less a real university. And when gay marriage cannot be discussed, certainly not a Catholic university.’”
Soon after, Professor McAdams, a tenured professor, “received a letter from the dean relieving him of his teaching duties, saying he was under investigation and banned from campus.”
So much for academic freedom; the university is living up to a twisted version of its designation – “The University, Where One (Uni) and Only One Opinion is Permitted.”