“Diversity for Me but Not for Thee”

 

 

Back in November, after the presidential election but just prior to Thanksgiving, my wife and I were in Chicago for a huge academic conference.  In connection with that conference, we took a couple of architectural tours of the city that ostensibly focused on religious buildings but, in one case, seemed to concentrate to a surprising degree on sites associated with one Barack Obama, a long-time resident of the area.  (Perhaps, given the attitude of some Americans toward Mr. Obama, the distinction between religious sites and sites connected with our president is not particularly stark or significant.)  Anyway, as we drove through the Hyde Park area adjacent to the University of Chicago, our overtly Obamaphile guide gushed that this was the most diverse neighborhood in Chicago and that Mitt Romney had received virtually no votes from it.  My wife, bless her, asked him exactly how that constituted “diversity.”  He floundered, having clearly just encountered a wholly new thought, so I decided that I had better help him out a bit:  “You mean, I said, that it’s ethnically diverse but ideologically monochrome.”  “Yeah,” he replied, a bit uncertainly.  “That’s what I meant.”

 

“Diversity” is one of the foremost governing values in American higher education today, and yet it doesn’t seem to be applied very often to ideas — the one area where, one might imagine, academics would see it as most important.

 

Studies abound that illustrate the prevailing ideological slant of American academia.  One, for instance, shows that, among California colleges, the University of California at Berkeley has an adjusted Democrat:Republican ratio of almost 9:1.  (Pepperdine University, a rather conservative Christian-related school, is an outlier, with a ratio of nearly 1:1.)  Academic field makes a tremendous difference, with the humanities averaging a 10:1 D:R ratio while business schools average 1.3:1, and with departments ranging from sociology (44:1) to management (1.5:1).  Across all departments and institutions, however, the the D:R ratio is 5:1 while, in the “soft” liberal-arts fields, the ratio is higher than 8:1.  And these findings are generally in line with comparable previous studies (e.g., with this one and with this fascinating but less formal one).

 

Which seems relevant to the Crystal Dixon case that I’ve mentioned here and here.

 

For a while, at least, one gay rights group tried to block Crystal Dixon’s new employment, after her firing from the University of Toledo, by government agencies (that is, by tax-funded public agencies) in Michigan.  Not because she had done anything at all there, but solely because of her opinions.

 

This is what worries me:  That public, government, tax-supported entities take it upon themselves (e.g., at the University of Toledo), or are asked to take it upon themselves (e.g., in Michigan), to enforce one particular opinion on a disputed social/moral/political issue as a requirement for being employed by them.

 

It doesn’t much matter to me what the issue is, so long as it’s one upon which decent people disagree.  (I’m not calling for the indiscriminate hiring of Holocaust deniers.)

 

Taxpayers/voters haven’t reached consensus on issues relating to gay rights, same-sex marriage, and the like.  And it’s not the place, therefore, of public officials (including administrators at public, tax-supported schools) to impose one.  (And remember back a few months ago, when the major of Chicago and some elected officials in New York were explaining that Chick-fil-a shouldn’t be permitted to do business in their areas because of the views of its owners on gay marriage?)  I don’t argue that Crystal Dixon shouldn’t have been fired because her position is popular; I argue that it’s a position well within the rights of decent people to hold and to express publicly without losing their jobs in government, without fear of having their businesses barred by zoning commissions and regulators.

 

In fact, if anything, Ms. Dixon’s views on gay rights are massively unpopular in American academia, and, as such, they are precisely the kinds of views that the First Amendment was enacted to protect.

 

Many years ago, while I was a graduate student at UCLA, a professor of medicine there wrote a very gentle letter to the editor of the student newspaper explaining why, while he wouldn’t personally dream of interfering with the right of others to choose otherwise, he himself could not ethically justify performing abortions.  And then, for the next several weeks, letter after letter after editorial demanded that he be fired, explaining that people such as this deserve no place at a decent hospital or university.  But we’re not talking neo-Nazis and defenders of pedophilia here, and they do, in fact, deserve such a place.

 

For more on the case, see here.  And for the hypocrisy of academia that it reflects, see this.

 

 

 

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  • kap

    Well of course not, diversity only matters in things you can’t control.

    So it’s good to have a sexual, racially diverse group. But you can control your thoughts and if your thoughts are outside the mainstream, you better get in line.

    So to be clear, we have to insert artificial controls to increase the things we can’t control, but the things we can control need to be suppressed so they don’t become more diverse.

  • http://www.ldsphilosopher.com Jeffrey Thayne

    The judge’s own words in the ruling:

    “The issues raised in this appeal turn primarily on the resolution of a narrow inquiry: whether the speech of a high-level Human Resources official who writes publicly against the very policies that her government employer charges her with creating, promoting, and enforcing is protected. We conclude that, given the nature of her position, Dixon did not engage in protected speech. …

    Although Dixon correctly contends that she never explicitly stated that the University diversity policies should not extend to LGBT students and employees, by voicing her belief that members of the LGBT community do not possess an immutable characteristic in the way that she as an African-American woman does, the implication is clear: Dixon does not think LGBT students and employees of the University are entitled to civil-rights protections, even though the University, in part through the Human Resources Department, expressly provides them. In writing her op-ed column, Dixon not only spoke on policy issues, but also spoke on policy issues related directly to her position at the University.”

    In other words:

    (1) The university, by policy, provides equal rights to students and employees.
    (2) The employee expressed an opinion about homosexuality, but was *not* talking about the university’s policies.
    (3) The *implications* of the employment’s opinion conflict with the policies of the university, although such implications are never stated by the employee.
    (4) Therefore, the university felt as if the employee’s ability to implement those policies was jeopardized, justifying her dismissal.

    In other words, she was dismissing for *allegedly* disagreeing with a university policy (and unstated, but presumed belief) that she was in a position to enforce—with no regards to whether or not she actually discharged the obligations of her employment.

    In addition, the woman’s claim that this means that no Christian can securely hold a job in human resources as a university with a policy that extends equal rights to the LGBT community is correct. And the judge’s remarks are also interesting, which can be summarized as: “Sure they can—they just have to keep their mouth shut. Therefore, this policy is not discriminatory against Christians.” [The judge's actual words: "Defendants’ [the university] arguments only restrict those who cannot hold their tongues about their beliefs (or fail to submit their beliefs anonymously).”]

    Which leads to the next matter: If the issue is that the university fears that someone who disagrees with university policy won’t fulfill their employment obligations, then that holds true *whether the person expresses their opinion or not.* In addition, they are firing the employee for an opinion that she *did not express* (and which the judge herself admits she did not express), but is only presumed by other comments that she made. Thus, they are fired the employee not for the expression of an opinion, but merely holding it (and not expressing it). Thus, the judge’s argument that this is not discriminatory against Christians as long as they keep quiet doesn’t hold water.

  • Darren

    Brilliant and captivating intro there, Dan. I too share the concern of others that the current direction of left-wing politics is to shut people up for merely diverging from their opinions.

  • Raymond Takashi Swenson

    The origin of the civil service system was to avoid making every government post subject to partisan appointments that are based on ideological commitment, making the agency a servant of the ideology rather than the public. It seems pretty clear now that people on the political Left have no tolerance for dissenting opinions and want to force everyone with a government job to conform their opinions to the party line. That is the essence of Chicago machine politics, to subordinate all government resources to the perpetuation in power of the “correct” political party. In a more extreme form, it is how communist parties have operated in the Soviet Union, China, Cuba, and elsewhere.

    My opinion is that the “same sex marriage” campaign has nothing to do with enabling gays and lesbians to share their lives with each other, which they can already do through civil union laws and legal mechanisms such as wills and powers of attorney and joint accounts. The real objective of the same-sex marrtiage laws is to provide a legal basis to punish people who refuse to accept homosexual relationships as morally equal to traditional monogamous marriage. It will start with anyone who works in a government agency (Federal, state or local), and then spread out to anyone who sells goods or services to governmwent, or who needs to get a permit from government for any aspect of their business. It is designed to drive dissent and disagreement underground, and thus form public opinion through lack of opposing voices. It is not about liberating gays, but about obliterating dissent. The alleged unwritten constitutional right to have homosexual practices recognized as morally equal to heterosexual marriage will run roughshod over the First Amendment rights of freedom of religion and speech.


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