University Faces a Test of Academic Freedom

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), July 20, 2010 | Go to article overview

University Faces a Test of Academic Freedom


Byline: Patrick T. Gillen, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The recent discharge of Kenneth J. Howell for teaching the Catholic perspective on same-sex attraction at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign raises important questions about the existence and purpose of public universities - about the truth and the lie - of public education.

Reports have it that Mr. Howell was employed to teach a course titled Introduction to Catholicism for the Department of Religion. In connection with that duty, Mr. Howell explained the distinction between same-sex attraction and homosexual conduct in Catholic thought. In time, Mr. Howell's statements, now labeled hate speech, were brought to the attention of university authorities, and he was relieved of his duties.

Set aside the obvious absurdity (and injustice) of firing a man for teaching about the subject he was supposed to teach in order to ask an even more fundamental question. How did we get to the point where Robert McKim, head of the Department of Religion at a major public university and founder of its queer studies major to boot, can relieve a man of his duties for teaching about a perspective that merits discussion in any department of religion worthy of its name?

I think Mr. Howell has been treated so unjustly because he is caught up in a larger struggle over the very purpose of public universities during a period many academics call postmodern. The treatment of Mr. Howell compels us to ask this question: What is the purpose of the public university and academic freedom in our present day?

I say we must ask this question because when I read about Mr. Howell's predicament, it called to mind a poem titled The Lie that I read as a student years ago. In it, the author, on the brink of death, sends his soul on a thankless errand, to give the world the lie. The errand consists in conveying to the powers of his day messages that give the lie to their pretensions.

Among the messages sent is this one: [T]ell schools they want profoundness, and stand too much on seeming.

Mr. Howell's deplorable situation reflects a crisis in public education, a crisis that threatens to replace something profound with a counterfeit. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

University Faces a Test of Academic Freedom
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.