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.

3 mins ago

State Sen. Whatley predicts Auburn, Alabama football ‘will go on as originally planned’ despite COVID-19 spike

With 37 days to go until Auburn and Alabama both kick off the 2021 football season, COVID-19 is creeping back into the picture of everyday American life.

However, State Sen. Tom Whatley (R-Auburn), whose district includes Auburn University and an economy that relies in some part on the annual football season, said he was not expecting any disruptions resulting from COVID-19.

During an interview with Mobile radio FM Talk 106.5, Whatley said he expected all of Alabama’s Division I colleges to play as planned and touted the vaccine passport ban passed by the legislature and signed into law by Gov. Kay Ivey earlier this year.

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“Back to Senator Orr’s bill that I supported, I think that one puts it into perspective — you know, you can’t do that,” he said. “You can’t require a vaccine passport. And I think that the football will go on as originally planned. Auburn and Alabama said they are both planning on full open tailgating and full open football season. I’m looking forward to that and I’m looking forward to that economic boost that will hit Lee County, hit East Alabama, hit the whole state of Alabama once you pour in all the colleges and universities that play Division I football.”

Whatley also predicted it was a “foregone conclusion” Auburn would go 12-0, play for the SEC Championship and play in the college football playoff on the way to winning the national championship under new head football coach Bryan Harsin.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.

13 hours ago

Birmingham-Southern College to impose fee on unvaccinated students

Unless students of Birmingham-Southern College are vaccinated against COVID-19, those who attend the private liberal arts school will be forced to pay a $500 fee “to offset continual weekly antigen testing and quarantining.”

In an email sent to students, the college announced its pandemic protocols for those returning to campus for the fall semester. In what appears to be an effort to encourage students to receive the vaccine, BSC told students it will levy a monetary charge against those who are unvaccinated. The school cited the need for funding to be applied toward COVID-related mitigation measures as a reason for the charge.

The email reads in part, “Due to the lack of federal funds for pandemic precautions this term, all students will initially be charged $500 for the fall term to offset continual weekly antigen testing and quarantining. Students who are fully vaccinated prior to the beginning of fall term will receive an immediate $500 rebate.”

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The college announced in the email that it has also set separate move-in dates for vaccinated and unvaccinated students.

The College Republican Federation of Alabama (CRFA) has condemned the move as discriminatory against students who have chosen not to receive the vaccine.

“The College Republican Federation of Alabama condemns this obvious attack on students who are not vaccinated,” says CRFA chairman Clint Reid. “While vaccines are an important tool in the fight against COVID-19 we are still a free society where one should not be held at ransom to the tune of $500 if they do not feel the vaccine is the best course of action for them. We call on Birmingham-Southern College to drop this outrageous fee.”

The college’s email goes on to direct students who have been immunized against the virus to complete a “Vaccination Report Form.” BSC stated that the school’s goal is to achieve an 85% vaccination rate among students, faculty and staff.

Portion of the email sent to BSC students as follows obtained by Yellowhammer News: 

Birmingham-Southern College did not respond to a request for comment. Yellowhammer News has inquired with the Attorney General’s Office regarding the legality of BSC’s guidelines and will provide updates accordingly.

Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL

14 hours ago

Tim James: A house divided against itself cannot stand

Last week the discussion of COVID vaccination burst into the news and ripped the scab right off the wound exposing the divide among Alabamians about whether to vaccinate or not. We all know there can be tense moments among friends and family when the vaccine topic comes up especially when there are differing opinions in the room.

Well, last week the discussion hit a fever pitch on a grand scale and landed on the front pages of the national news outlets. According to news reports, in Alabama, there are about 2.5 to 3 million people that have CHOSEN NOT to take the vaccine out of the state’s population of 5.1 million. Approximately 60% of all Alabamians have made this their personal health choice.

I am writing this letter today to express my distaste for those bent on shaming people in which they disagree on the vaccine issue. They divide Alabamians into two classes: the vaccinated and the unvaccinated. The media’s contempt is in overdrive for anyone that dares to disagree and not blindly follow the government directives. So, they shame by spewing their poison proclaiming the unvaccinated are the problem. Their assertion of “Blame” by extension means the unvaccinated are responsible for the spread of COVID. If you want to blame someone or something, blame the virus and the makers of it. As everybody knows, it was not the bats.

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The problem is not the unvaccinated, but rather those spawning division among the population. It’s the BLAME GAME.

They shake their fingers in the face of millions of Alabama citizens for refusing to take the vaccine and are beside themselves when everyone does not fall in line like sheep. I guess the unvaccinated are the “New Deplorables.”

I’ve listened to their shaming long enough and felt it was time to stand up for millions of Alabamians that have made their decision, over the many months, NOT to take the vaccine. I fall into this category; however, like most families I have family members that have chosen TO take the vaccine. Alabamians know full well what is going on in their communities, local hospitals, nursing homes and churches. They are not ignorant to the medical realities and associated risks. Neither are they reckless or selfish.

Every unvaccinated person has considered whether to take the vaccine for months. They have discussed the matter with others, prayed about it and even may have tolled back and forth on the decision. In the end, their “call” was to not take the vaccine for their own personal reasons. I can’t help but wonder why so many vaccinated people lecture everyone else when they themselves have marginal health risk as they are the vaccinated class.

Has it occurred to them that their shaming is certain to follow children into the classroom in the form of bullying? Do they care about young women in childbearing years who are rightfully cautious about what goes into their bodies? It’s ironic that people that CHOOSE NOT to take the vaccine are labeled dissenters even though they are the majority in Alabama and cross all races and political lines.

Going forward I want to encourage people to take a deep breath and stand back from the situation. COVID, of course can be lethal, but at the same time the odds of fatality are extremely low. This is one of those times when we must not succumb to fear. Fear is the root from which anxiety and worry bud.

Fear is a weapon used to manipulate the public, and the press is its enabler. The Lord speaks to the issue of fear through the Apostle Paul. “For God hath not given a spirit of fear but of power and sound mind” – 2 Timothy 1:7

I also would like to take this opportunity to say something about Governor Ivey’s statement last week concerning unvaccinated Alabamians. She said, “It’s time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks, not the regular folks. It’s the unvaccinated folks that are letting us down.”

The unvaccinated people represent approximately 60% of the population in our state. The Governor’s comments triggered uncontrollable elation and gaiety from politicians and news anchors at CNN, NBC and others. As one could expect, President Biden and Dr. Fauci were ecstatic at Alabamians being scolded by their Governor over this issue. I believe the Governor’s comments were off-base. I also believe she likely misspoke in the heat of the moment; something any of us could do. As we navigate forward, we need to lower the tone and not take the bait of those whose goal is to sow seeds of division amongst Alabamians.

I have a message for the American press corps concerning their hysterical, fear-based coverage of the pandemic.

It’s a quote from Edward R. Murrow, the great broadcast journalist during the first half of the 20th century.

He effectively warned his fellow journalists what would happen if the free press became compromised. He wrote: “No one can terrorize a whole nation unless we are his accomplices.”

Tim James, the son of former Gov. Fob James, is a Greenville, Alabama businessman. He was a 2010 GOP candidate for governor.

14 hours ago

Regions names Jason Isbell senior vice president of state government affairs and economic development

Regions Bank has tapped one of the state’s foremost experts on banking law and government affairs to serve as senior vice president of state government affairs and economic development.

Jason Isbell comes to the Birmingham-based bank brandishing nearly two decades of legal and government affairs experience in the public and private sectors.

Elizabeth Taylor, head of government affairs and economic development for Regions, highlighted Isbell’s depth of knowledge and relationships throughout the industry.

“Regions Bank has a strong history of working with government leaders and other stakeholder groups on issues impacting our associates, customers and communities,” Taylor said in a statement to Yellowhammer News. “Jason Isbell brings a wealth of knowledge and experience on a variety of financial services matters to this role. His work building relationships and navigating a myriad of legislative issues will serve us well. We look forward to his service advancing economic development opportunities that move our communities forward while also building on the strong relationships we have in the areas Regions serves.”

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Isbell most recently worked with Maynard Cooper & Gale where he represented a wide array of clients, including Regions, as an attorney and lobbyist in the firm’s Government Solutions Group.

Prior to his time at Maynard Cooper, he held the position of vice president for legal and governmental affairs at the Alabama Bankers Association (ABA). Isbell was charged with implementing ABA’s legislative and regulatory agendas at both the state and federal levels. He honed his skills in public policy during his 11 years in state government, first as a fiscal analyst for the Alabama Legislative Fiscal Office and then as general counsel to the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Isbell is a member of the Faulkner University board of trustees and is a graduate of the school’s Thomas Goode Jones School of Law.

Regions Financial Corporation recently reported $748 million in second quarter earnings. The company cited strategic decisions in high-growth areas, such as Florida, Texas and Tennessee, as contributing to those earnings.

Isbell noted the momentum of the bank’s growth and influence throughout its footprint as he prepares for this new endeavor.

“I’m excited to represent an institution with such a rich history and stellar reputation,” he told Yellowhammer News. “Regions Bank is poised to continue making a positive impact on communities in Alabama and beyond. I’m grateful for this opportunity and look forward to being part of the Regions team.”

Isbell is set to officially join the bank in mid-August.

RELATED: Joia M. Johnson appointed to Regions board of directors

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

15 hours ago

State Rep. Wes Allen: Biden administration’s mixed message on COVID shows he doesn’t put Americans first

The Biden administration is issuing warnings to Americans regarding the increasing number of COVID cases across the country. Calls for a return to mask-wearing and social distancing are becoming more frequent from the President and his advisors.

Businesses, large and small, fear the possibility of mandated shutdowns that plagued our nation last year. Parents are wondering if they will be forced to face the inadequacies and challenges of remote schooling again. These are all worries that are being forced upon law-abiding, tax-paying Americans by the Biden administration.

But it goes further. Our northern border with Canada remains closed to non-essential travel for fear of spreading the virus. Biden and his team cited concerns over the Delta variant as the reason for banning travel from 26 nations including most of Europe, South Africa and Brazil.

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This all seems like a concerned President who is trying to save our nation from the death and damage of a pandemic. But a closer look at Biden’s policies proves that his concern is not for Americans and he has little to no desire to stop the spread of COVID from coming across our border.

His policy that allows thousands of illegal immigrants to move freely across our southern border and into our towns, neighborhoods, restaurants and schools without any regard for their immigration status or their COVID test results prove that the Biden administration doesn’t care about America or Americans. Is the health of Americans, the success of our economy and the fate of our schools and health care system of any concern to this President or his advisors?

I think not.

State Rep. Wes Allen is a Republican candidate for Alabama Secretary of State.