What does academic intolerance of real debate mean for free speech?


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ACADEMIC INTOLERANCE OF DEBATE 

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, today I’d like to take you to an op-ed piece written by George Will. It has to do with a situation that took place back in 2014 at Marquette University, which is a Jesuit school in Milwaukee. On October 28th of that year, an undergraduate course that Cheryl Abbate was teaching on ethics, when the subject of same-sex marriage arose, there was no debate because the students said the graduate student teacher insisted that there could be no defensible opposition to same-sex marriage.

This particular situation was recorded by this student and it was elevated to a gentleman named John McAdams, who was head over the department.  He encouraged that there be debate on this issue. Although he, himself, took no particular position, his comments were then labeled as “hate speech” and then he was told he would be suspended for two semesters without pay.

COURT CASE: DEFERENCE OR DERELICTION?

DR. REEDER: He went to the court system. First of all, his contract on academic freedom which, by the way, included a statement by the university that no professor could have their constitutional rights abridged which is, by the way, freedom of speech and the free practice of religion.

The appeals court punted because they said, “Well, this is a private school so an academic institution can determine its own interpretation of its contract.” Well, certainly, elements of that are true, but you cannot abandon a contract and that’s why the court system is there to see have they abandoned their contract, not can they interpret it so that it becomes meaningless. And so they then deferred any consideration of the case.

Well, George Will did an editorial on it, Tom, and he made the point, “This was not judicial deference; this was judicial dereliction of duty.” That this is the kind of thing the court exists to do and his appeal was that the Wisconsin Supreme Court will not let this go unaddressed and that the appeal to the Supreme Court will be heard.

WHAT THIS MEAN FOR CHRISTIANS

What we want to do, of course, is take a look at this news event from a Christian world and life view which, first of all, this graduate student tells this tenured professor that he is a right-wing homophobe because he believes the issue of same-sex marriage ought to be debated. Basically, what you’re saying is anyone who has held to traditional marriage – which, by the way, for thousands of years, is what western civilization has built its entire civilization upon, a monogamous, covenantal, heterosexual marital foundation from which families are established and from which culture is upheld and culture is nurtured from generation to generation – so her position is that’s thousands of years of right-wing homophobic bigotry. That’s her position.

This professor is simply saying, “Wait just a minute. This is worthy of debate. Free speech ought to debate these things in a free society where sexual ethics are now being revolutionized to allow what would once have been unthinkable and declare it not only thinkable, but doable and normal, acceptable, and affirmed.

And now, anyone who opposes it can no longer be tolerated in the public square and so that certainly ought to be a matter of debate. And the court did not address the freedoms that would support that debate within this institution.

Now, let me first of all just say that this is a private institution. If they do not want anyone in their institution who represents traditional marriage, that’s their business.

I would only point out to people that Marquette is a Jesuit school which historically, by the way, was the most conservative order among the Roman Catholic priests and that the Jesuit school, by the dogma of the church, affirms marriage as one man, one woman for one life.

Therefore, it’s simply a university in which a professor is at least asking for a debate concerning the opposition to the Church’s position so you have both the freedom of speech and the free practice of religion at stake in this situation.

What we need to see is the sexual revolution is not going to take any prisoners. Even in a “religious” institution, they are demanding that anyone who holds to the historic Christian view of marriage – that is, again, covenantal, monogamous, heterosexual, conjugal relationship –  is now not to be tolerated. Their view, it’s not that it is destroyed in debate – it is it can’t be a part of the debate.

CHRISTIANS, PREPARE TO DEBATE, NOT HIDE

Now what does that reveal? Well, that reveals that, folks, you’re not going to be able to hide in this sexual revolution – nobody is – and you’re going to have to make a determination if you are going to have a world and life view imposed upon you that is irrational and nonsensical or will you call for at least the debate of this sexual revolution in the public square and insist on the debate in the public square?

And the alternative is that we will return to the anarchy of pagan sexuality, which is what the same-sex marriage proposal is built upon and that is a society that recognizes no God-ordained distinctions in the society of male and female that is accommodated and embraced in the very definition of marriage.

ARE INSTITUTIONS UPHOLDING THEIR FOUNDATIONAL STANDARDS?

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, yesterday, we talked about the need for the federal government to bring together a Blue-Ribbon Panel to make wise financial decisions. What does this situation say about the Catholic Church and Marquette University hiring people to lead classes on ethics that totally go against the foundational mandates of the Catholic Church?

DR. REEDER: Should Marquette University, if they embrace the dogma of the Roman Catholic Church concerning marriage, should they hire people that support that or should they hire people that do not support that? Well, it’s clear that they ought to be hiring people that support that.

Can they have forums to debate their position? Yes. Can they invite people to debate it? Yes. But they ought to hire according to the framework of their world and life view.

Do you think Green Peace is going to hire people who believe that climate change is a hoax? Of course they’re not. Green Peace is not going to hire people who believe that climate change is a hoax – they’re going to hire people that believe climate change is a reality and that’s part of what we’re laboring for.

Well, part of Marquette, if it’s a Roman Catholic institution, should be to affirm its position on marriage. For instance, the PCA has a college, Covenant College, and I would expect them to hire people in that college that support our confessional standards.

And I also expect them to have people in to debate those things, but I would expect our faculty and administration to be able to uphold it in the debate and, of course, hire toward those standards. I would not expect us to hire an atheist. I would not expect us to hire a Mormon. I would expect us to hire within our standards that we have established the university to uphold and to propagate. That’s where Marquette is: They have hired outside of their standards and now they’re paying the price.

However, the point is the government ought to uphold the Constitutional standards that would protect this professor who is attempting, with freedom of speech and freedom of religion, to uphold the very standards of the university where he teaches.

Dr. Harry L. Reeder III is the Senior Pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham.

This podcast was transcribed by Jessica Havin. Jessica is editorial assistant for Yellowhammer News. Jessica has transcribed some of the top podcasts in the country and her work has been featured in a New York Times Bestseller.

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11 hours ago

Conservatives should stop using the phrase ‘fake news’

Liberals have overused the word “racist” so much that the adjective now lacks any commonly agreed upon definition, and that’s a shame because we need words — especially that word — to mean something.

Conservatives have now done the same thing with the phrase “fake news.”

And we need to stop.

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Are there racists? Of course, and where they are found, the label should indeed apply. The Alt-Right’s Richard Spencer is a racist. So is Jared Taylor.

But you’re not a racist if you believe our country should have borders. Or if you support law enforcement. Or if you believe in school choice.

Calling you a racist for supporting those things is the left’s attempt at shutting off debate and banishing those who advocate for such ideas.

Is there fake news? Of course, and just like the word “racist,” when it’s found, the label should apply. Dan Rather’s infamous story about George W. Bush’s record in the Air National Guard is a perfect example. It wasn’t true.

But news isn’t fake if it’s simply something you don’t like or would rather not hear. Or if it challenges your perspectives. Or if it, heaven forbid, says something unflattering about the president.

A racist is someone who actually hates people of another color and wishes them ill. Most people called ‘racist’ today are nothing of the sort.

Fake news means the story is a total fabrication. A lie. Complete fiction. Most stories called ‘fake news’ are also nothing of the sort.

In both cases, people making the charge simply want to delegitimize their opponent’s argument rather than make the mental and emotional effort to challenge their ideas.

The casualty of such total weakness is not just words, but thought itself.

As our fellow Alabamian Helen Keller wrote in her memoir, she wasn’t able to really think until words entered her mind that day at the water pump.

Words opened Helen Keller’s mind.

Don’t allow words to close yours.

12 hours ago

Grand jury considers Alabama woman’s stabbing of husband with sword

A grand jury in Alabama will hear the case of a woman accused of fatally stabbing her husband with a sword.

Authorities say 50-year-old Jeannette Hale stabbed her husband, Mark, in the chest while he played a guitar in their home on April 2.

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Lawrence County Sheriff Gene Mitchell tells AL.com that responding deputies found Mark Hale bleeding on their front porch. The sword was in the yard.

Mitchell says the husband later died at a hospital. An autopsy released Wednesday said the cause was complications of being stabbed.

The sheriff says Jeanette Hale was arrested on charges involving domestic violence and drugs.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

13 hours ago

Poly Sci 101: Gov. Ivey’s monument ad is a prime case of political framing

“Special interests” and “politically correct nonsense” are responsible for efforts to remove Confederate monuments from public spaces, Gov. Kay Ivey says in a recent campaign ad.

At a campaign appearance earlier this week in Foley, Ivey made similar statements on the issue.

“We must learn from our history. And we don’t need folks in Washington or out of state liberals telling us what to do in Alabama,” she said, according to Fox 10 News. “I believe it’s more important that if we want to get where we want to go, we’ve got to understand where we’ve been. And I believe that the people of Alabama agree with that decision and support protecting all of our historical monuments.”

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The conversation about Confederate monuments raises some intellectually and morally stimulating questions: What is their function? Do they function as objects of praise or as objects of historical memory? Who ought to determine whether they stay or go?

I’ll leave those questions aside for now because I want to address how Gov. Ivey has articulated the monuments issue.

George Lakoff is a cognitive scientist who has done a lot of research examining how politics and language intersect, particularly how language is used by individuals and groups to present their opponents in ways that welcome easy refutation. Usually, this means the misrepresentation of those ideas or opponents or, at the very least, a simplistic representation of them.

Lakoff refers to this as the act of “framing,” calling “frames” the arguments or scenarios set up by framing.

Here are a few assumptions that Ivey’s frame makes: Monuments are not only a way to learn from our history, but they are central to learning from our history; non-Alabamians and political enemies are trying to tell us what to do in advocating for monuments’ removal; monuments are a way to ensure that Alabama gets “where it wants to go,” politically, socially, culturally; that Alabamians are opposed to monument removal.

There are obvious political benefits to framing the issue this way. Knowing our history is clearly important. Who could argue that? Alabama is a sovereign state. Nobody wants outsiders tampering with decision-making.

What the frame excludes is an argument demonstrating why monuments are central to learning from our history, and how their removal would prevent us from learning from our history. It also excludes names of individuals or groups who have come from afar to tell us what to do.

It’s undeniable that folks from all around the country want Confederate monuments removed all around the country, and some may even be funding that effort from afar, but the major weakness of Ivey’s frame is a failure to acknowledge the Alabamians who are arguing for monument removal.

Birmingham City officials have advocated their removal.

Tuskegee Mayor Tony Haygood said the city has considered the removal of a Confederate soldier monument in the middle of town.

A Tuskegee graduate wrote a petition last year to the have the same monument removed. The petition garnered more than 1,000 signatures.

City officials in Selma have shown a similar resolve over the years, if not to have a monument removed then to cease the city’s contribution to its maintenance.  

Obviously, Ivey doesn’t have time in a 30-second ad to deconstruct the monument debate’s complexity, and I understand that, but her frame doesn’t accurately articulate who is representing the monument removal view in Alabama.

@jeremywbeaman is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News

13 hours ago

Alabama legislators should follow Iowa’s lead in protecting the unborn

“If we conservatives truly believe abortion is what we say it is — the butchering of an unborn person — then ending the practice must be our top priority.”

Those were the words of Yellowhammer’s very own J. Pepper Bryars last week in an article he wrote after Congress failed, once again, to ban Planned Parenthood from receiving federal dollars.

Bryars couldn’t have been more accurate in his criticism, but I believe his words are also an indictment of the entire pro-life movement. For far too long we have played defense on the issue of abortion, attempting to hold the status quo while never really producing any substantial legislation on the issue. Not since Casey in June of 1992 have we attempted to make any real challenge to Roe v. Wade.

It’s for that reason that Alabama should follow in the footsteps of the lawmakers from our sister state of Iowa, who last month passed one of the strongest pro-life bills we have seen in decades.

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Iowa Senate bill 2281 (the text of which can be found here), known as the Heartbeat Billwould legally prevent all abortions after the first detectable fetal heartbeat has been discovered, except in the very rare case of a medical emergency.

In other words, only when it is concluded by medical personnel that the life of the mother is in danger can an abortion be performed. Not only does it not make the exception for rape and incest as pro-choice legislators like to commonly reference, but it would also charge any doctor that performs an abortion after a fetal heartbeat has been detected with a Class D felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison.

Why this matters: The earliest fetal heartbeats can be detected is 5-6 weeks after conception, which is right about the time most women are initially discovering they are pregnant. However, new research from the University of Oxford suggests that a fetal heartbeat may be detected as early as 16 days after conception. With the risk of women dying during childbirth decreasing significantly since the 1970s and the recent trends in fetal research, it is clear that a bill such as this could effectively end 99% of abortions statewide.

Also, by creating legislation that defines life as beginning the moment the first detectable heartbeat is discovered we will be using the same red line that is already in use by most professionals in the medical community.

If I were driving home from work one night and had a terrible car accident, medical personnel after arriving on scene and finding me unconscious would immediately check for a pulse indicating whether I had a detectable heartbeat. If a detectable heartbeat is found, I would be considered a living person. If a heartbeat can be used by the medical community as a means of declaring when a person is living after birth, then it makes no sense why we wouldn’t use the same scientifically backed means of declaring life prior to birth.

For far too long the pro-life movement has focused on arguments surrounding fetal viability and gestational timelines, allowing our opponents on the issue the opportunity to define the terms of the debate for us.

Finally, simply passing a bill such as Iowa’s heartbeat bill would only be the beginning of the fight. There is no doubt that the ACLU, SPLC, and every pro-choice organization in the country would descend upon our state capital like locust filing every legal challenge to the bill imaginable. They would organize large protests where people in hats resembling female genitalia will gnash their teeth, but the resulting legal challenge would finally give us the opportunity to eventually stand before the Supreme Court and reargue the merits of the worst decision it has produced since Plessy v. Ferguson.

So, it is incumbent upon our legislators to truly reflect on the very pointed philosophical question Bryars raised regarding what we truly believe as conservatives on the issue of protecting unborn life.

Do you, Governor Kay Ivey, believe as you so eloquently stated that “fighting for our freedoms means fighting for the unborn”?

Do the members of our State Legislature and the pro-life community believe this as well?

If so, then the time has long since passed for us to stand by our words and attack Roe at its very core.

@dannybritton256 is a veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and lives in Athens.

13 hours ago

Alabama forward Braxton Key says he will transfer

Alabama sophomore forward Braxton Key is leaving the team and plans to transfer.

Crimson Tide coach Avery Johnson said Friday Key has been granted his release. He says Key “certainly has a bright future, but he has to do what’s best for him.”

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Key started 17 games last season after missing the first 10 with a knee injury. He averaged 7.0 points and 5.3 rebounds per game.

He led the Tide in scoring his first season and was named to the Southeastern Conference’s all-freshman team. Key averaged 12 points and 5.7 rebounds as a freshman while ranking second on the team in assists.

He says it wasn’t an easy decision to make.

The Tide is also expected to lose point guard Collin Sexton, who declared for the draft.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)