Thursday, May 20, 2010

Academic Freedom For “Anti-Gay” Views? Not With the Obama Administration

From Metro Weekly:
Jonathan I. Katz, a professor of astrophysics at Washington University in St. Louis, “will no longer be involved in the [Energy] Department’s efforts” at addressing the oil spill continuing to spread in the Gulf of Mexico, a department spokesperson relayed on Monday night, May 17.

The news came after what that department employee, Stephanie Mueller, termed “controversial writings” – which included a “defense of homophobia” – spread out over the Web on Monday, writings of which she said the department was unaware when it sought his assistance.

On May 12, Energy Secretary Steven Chu “assembled a group of top scientific experts from inside and outside of government to join in today’s discussions in Houston about possible solutions,” according to a department news release. Katz was one of five outside scientists noted in the release. Bloomberg News reported about the group of scientists on May 14, reporting Chu “signaled his lack of confidence in the industry experts trying to control BP Plc’s leaking oil well by hand-picking a team of scientists with reputations for creative problem solving.”

Once news of the team spread, some of Katz’s writings were discovered at his university website, including one titled, “In Defense of Homophobia.” In the essay, dated May 13, 1999, he wrote about the “rationalist” and the religious person’s views of homosexuality.

“The religious believer may see the hand of God, but both he and the rationalist must see a fact of Nature. The human body was not designed to share hypodermic needles, it was not designed to be promiscuous, and it was not designed to engage in homosexual acts. Engaging in such behavior is like riding a motorcycle on an icy road without a helmet,” Katz wrote. “It may be possible to get away with it for a while, and a few misguided souls may get a thrill out of doing so, but sooner or later (probably sooner) the consequences will be catastrophic. Lethal diseases spread rapidly among people who do such things.”

More than 10 years later, Energy Department spokesperson Stephanie Mueller was announcing on Monday night – less than a week after being described as “our best scientific minds” by Chu – that “[s]ome of Professor Katz’s controversial writings have become a distraction from the critical work of addressing the oil spill.”

Writing that Chu “has spoken with dozens of scientists and engineers as part of his work to help find solutions to stop the oil spill,” she referenced the writings and stated, “Professor Katz will no longer be involved in the Department’s efforts.”

In response to an inquiry from Metro Weekly about whether Chu or the Energy Department was aware of Katz’s additional writings before he was selected to help with the oil spill, Mueller responded, “No, the Secretary was not aware and disagrees with them. The Department wasn’t aware either.”
So . . . Katz was appointed to a scientific panel, but when his “controversial writings” were discovered it was determined they “have become a distraction from the critical work of addressing the oil spill.” He was then canned.

Does this remind anybody of anything that has recently happened at Marquette?

Do any of the people who have been prating about “academic freedom” and “nondiscrimination” mind this one little bit?

No, they are doubtless quite happy about it.

Of course, it’s quite reasonable to argue that presenting a public image consistent with the Catholic mission of Marquette is a “bona fide occupational qualification” for a dean here.

But the only qualification for the oil spill panel was the scientific acumen to get the spill stopped.

But then, one could argue that, under the Obama administration, placating interest groups that are part of his base is a “bona fide occupational qualification.” This is politics, after all.

But that is a bit hard to swallow for a panel that is supposed to be all about science.

Further, if Obama has a right to placate the gay lobby on a scientific panel, a Republican president has an equal right to placate conservative Christians with appointments — even appointments to scientific panels.

And Marquette certainly has a right to placate conservative Catholics that are part of its core constituency, especially given that Marquette is a private university with a right — both legal and moral — to protect its Catholic identity.

Cases like this reveal the fact that rhetoric about “academic freedom” and “diversity” and “non-discrimination” coming from liberal and leftist faculty are meaningless blather.

By “academic freedom” they mean freedom for views they agree with; by “diversity” they mean more hires of people who share their political ideology; by “non-discrimination” they mean protection of politically correct victim groups.

Discrimination against whites, males, and straights is not merely something they practice, it’s something they loudly defend.

Hat Tip: Charlie Sykes

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