The Clampdown; Shirley Sherrod & Ken Howell – UPDATED

Here we have the presentment of two job losses:

Shirley Sherrod gives a speech; within the speech she indulges in a bit of roundaboutation, saying some things that seemed offensive, until the larger context was understood.

Because the embrasure of “politically correct speech” has encouraged reactionary hyper-vigilance as to words, sentences or modes of reasoning that might steer too close to the movable line known as “hate,” Sherrod’s edited remarks were immediately received as such and she was quickly denounced by the very NAACP that had access to her full remarks–and should have known better–and then fired from her job.

Context, when finally absorbed, exonerated Ms. Sherrod from the charge of “hate speech,” and even though–because perfect communication is a rare thing–her speech did contain a few wince-inducing lines, (“well, it is about white and black, but…”) the general sense is that if Sherrod wants her job back, she should have it. The offer for reinstatement has been rightly made.

But the destructive rush-to-judgment says a great deal about a society perhaps too-fully enthralled to the victim’s mantel, too-ready to play Red-Queen-Off-With-A-Head without bothering to listen, or to get a complete story, or to thoughtfully digest it.

Two weeks before Sherrod’s dramatic 15 minutes
came and went, University of Illinois Professor Kenneth J. Howell, who is employed by that institution’s Department of Religion to teach Catholicism, Catholic theology, Catholic thought and reason, was summarily fired for, basically, trying to help his students understand a point regarding Utilitarianism and Sexuality, before their final exam.

So, fundamentally, he was attempting to serve his students, for the benefit of their own understanding and the sake of their grades. He did this by emailing a clarification of his lecture points to his students.

The email was long; it demanded a full reading to be understood in context. Without context, Howell, like Sherrod, was bound to be misunderstood, and charged–with full finger-in-face righteousness–with the amorphous crime of “hating.”

As with Sherrod’s speech, where we acknowledged that imperfect communication is not necessarily “hateful,” Howell dared to traipse a very thin line. If Sherrod could say, “well, it is about white and black, but…” and then go on to make her acceptable larger point, then Howell’s writing, “Men and women are not interchangeable. So, a moral sexual act has to be between persons that are fitted for that act. Consent is important but there is more than consent needed…” should be weighed against:

. . . a survey of the last few centuries reveals that we have gradually been separating our sexual natures (reality) from our moral decisions . . .

If what I just said is true, then this disassociation of morality and sexual reality did not begin with homosexuality. It began long ago. But it took a huge leap forward in the wide spread use of artificial contraceptives. What this use allowed was for people to disassociate procreation and children from sexual activity. So, for people who have grown up only in a time when there is no inherent connection between procreation and sex –- notice not natural but manipulated by humans –- it follows “logically” that sex can mean anything we want it to mean.

Natural Moral Theory says that if we are to have healthy sexual lives, we must return to a connection between procreation and sex. Why? Because that is what is REAL. It is based on human sexual anatomy and physiology. Human sexuality is inherently unitive and procreative. If we encourage sexual relations that violate this basic meaning, we will end up denying something essential about our humanity, about our feminine and masculine nature.

I know this doesn’t answer all the questions in many of your minds. All I ask as your teacher is that you approach these questions as a thinking adult. That implies questioning what you have heard around you. Unless you have done extensive research into homosexuality and are cognizant of the history of moral thought, you are not ready to make judgments about moral truth in this matter. All I encourage is to make informed decisions. As a final note, a perceptive reader will have noticed that none of what I have said here or in class depends upon religion. Catholics don’t arrive at their moral conclusions based on their religion. They do so based on a thorough understanding of natural reality.

Emphasis mine. What we see, after all the high-drama of Howell’s daring to speak an eternal thought that is at odds with current thinking, is an intellectual doing what intellectuals do: admitting that he is not “answering all the questions in many of your minds,” while puzzling over an issue, trying to pierce the veneers of moral thought, social codes and natural reasoning, to find the core piece of human understanding that is, in fact, so distant: what our humanity means in relation to creation and God.

We see a courteous teacher with critical thinking skills and a mind trained to question and probe, trying to impart those skills onto students who have been taught that “sensitivity” trumps courtesy; they have been trained not to think, but to herd, not to probe, but to fall in line.

It was inevitable, then, that Howell would be called out for his crime, and not by one of Howell’s own students, but by an un-named “friend” writing on behalf of a student who, we are told, had been offended by Howell’s semester-long insistence on teaching–to students enrolled in a class entitled “Introduction to Catholicism and Modern Catholic Thought“–a Catholic understanding regarding such things as utilitarianism, sexuality and the church’s natural moral theories.

Wrote the non-student complainant:

Teaching a student about the tenets of a religion is one thing. Declaring that homosexual acts violate the natural laws of man is another. The courses at this institution should be geared to contribute to the public discourse and promote independent thought; not limit one’s worldview and ostracize people of a certain sexual orientation.

. . . Also, my friend also told me that the teacher allowed little room for any opposition to Catholic dogma. Once again, he is guilty of limiting the marketplace of ideas and acting out of accord with this institution’s mission and principles.


Critical-thinking skills are nowhere in evidence, here
. Nor is an appreciation for mere irony. The writer calls for the promotion of independent thought and a limitless worldview by damning a professor for theorizing in opposition to the student’s worldview. A course designed to familiarize a student with Catholic thought is thought divisive for attempting to remain focused on same. The “marketplace of ideas,” has no room for ideas that do not conform.

I think in some ways, the Howell situation is more urgently troubling than Sherrod’s. Sherrod’s story illustrated to us that writers, editors, broadcasters, activists, bureaucrats and the White House are running on mere reflexiveness against perceived political black-eyes and feather-caps, with accompanying “collateral damage,” and that cynical opportunism is self-defeating.

That is a grim enough message, in such serious times.

The Howell story, however, goes beyond grim: it tells us that a simple charge of thinking incorrect thoughts and encouraging others to also dare to think, even if one comes to a different conclusion (“All I ask as your teacher is that you approach these questions as a thinking adult . . .All I encourage is to make informed decisions…”) is enough to destroy a career and assign a corrosive label, at whim.

Such actions do not encourage future development of critical thinking skills; they encourage a clamping down, not an opening, of the human mind.

Shirley Sherrod did not deserve to lose her job, not seen in context. In context, nor does Professor Ken Howell. Both of them, ultimately, were urging their audiences to move beyond comfort zones, assumptions and a perceived conventional wisdom – to entertain a broader range of thought, and see where it leads.

That used to be considered a good thing, even a liberal thing.

The future is in the playpen. The playpen is not being taught how to reason or debate; it is being encouraged not to reason, but simply to feel, not to debate, but to fall in line.

I begin to wonder if a project such as this comes too late.

UPDATE:
Via Hot Air, More Campus Clampdowning:

It sounds to me like the ACA wants a “don’t ask, don’t tell” rule for religion. That runs square into the First Amendment, especially for a state-run school. The ACA’s idea of who comes first doesn’t get to trump the restriction on freedom of religious exercise. If clients get off-put by Keeton’s approach to counseling, they can look for another counselor. Now, the ACA can decide not to certify her; as a private organization, they have that prerogative. If they do that explicitly based on her religious belief, however, they may have a problem with that in court, especially as it will block Keeton’s ability to make a living.

I guess my question is, if a gay counseling student expressed an inability to “embrace” religious people or their values, would he/she also be subject to remediation? Are we drowning in irony, here?

Read also:
Brutally Honest
Deacon Greg Kandra
Victor Davis Hanson: Net Negative
Jon Stewart: on Sherrod and Breitbart
Gay Patriot: Free speech aside, are the Sherrods race baiters?
NewsBusters: A valid question from Jake Tapper

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • archangel

    Its called “white martyrdom”.

  • archangel

    I can hardly wait for the “white martyrdom” comment to be taken out of context by those not familiar with the term.

  • Caroline W

    Thank goodness you’re taking time to write about this with the kind of detail we won’t get, of course, in the MSM. My blood’s boilin. This is what an authentic sense of social justice should look like — on the one hand, speaking truth to power; and on the other, defending such a one who would do so.

  • Last Sphere

    The U of I professor was teaching authentic Catholic theology just as he was hired to do. He was simply doing his job true to established Catholic doctrine.

    He was not calling any special attention to himself.

    HOWEVER:

    Shirley Sherrod WAS calling attention to HERSELF in order to point out that she was performing her duly assigned bureaucratic duties (in this particular case at least) IN SPITE of her obvious deep-rooted bigotry.

    If anything, Shirley Sherrod’s own statements in the unedited version of the tape, in their full context, and her statements in recent interviews- begs the obvious question that no one seems interested in asking:

    How many OTHER cases did Shirley Sherrod actually ABUSE because of her blatant racial prejudices?

    If she were a white man, not only would the unedited version of the tape in all it’s intended context NOT get him reinstated into his former job; he would ALSO be at the center of an ongoing investigation on a congressional level.

    Ken Howell was fired for doing his job with integrity and diligence.

    Shirley Sherrod was rehired without any further insight into her job performance in spite of her unintentional display of her ongoing bigotry.

  • Jeff

    If I said “it is about black and white” in any establishment, anywhere, I’d be run out of town.
    Sherrod says it and gets a free pass.

    I have no sympathy for anti-white racism. I was out last night and I’ve never seen such a depressed mood. Obama has managed to depress the whole country.

  • F

    Uh…weren’t you just saying yesterday that sentimentalism is an issue? I’d say these libs are feeling but not thinking. The whole time I was reading this blog piece I kept hearing that annoying 70s song: Feeeeeelings! Oh oh oh Feeeeeeeeeeeeelings!!!

    I’m so sick of people “feeling” offended and pretending to be open minded when all they really want to do is shut down those who disagree with them.

    thanks for this post and the link to his full email. The man is a beautiful thinker. I was struck by his easy to understand and well thought out style. He clearly has the charism of teaching and knowledge and I would have to add, charity. There is no sense of him grinding his axe. As you clearly pointed out and he so clearly stated he wanted folks to THINK.

    I also think there is a huge get-whitey element in this contrast of the 2 situations, if not the actual situation. Clearly he is being treated differently and in a less fair manner than Ms. Sherrod. But I don’t think race had anything to do with the original situation at U of Ill.

    Here in CA, they get to the kids YOUNG. A small town in the SF Bay Area schools just had the left whackos tag another LITTLE KID lately. He was showing signs of feminine traits so, they zoomed in with “intervention”, psychological “help” and etc. and now the boy thinks he is a girl trapped in a boys body; he’s 8 or 9 and he now uses a girl’s name. The brown shirts, I mean, sensitivity trainers, came to school to prep the students, faculty and families on how to treat him/her. Unreal! It is no wonder they cannot think or reason by the time they’ve been dumped off in college by their brain-shrunken parents.

  • CV

    It is a real head-scratcher. A professor hired to teach Catholicism is fired for…teaching what the Church teaches. Amazing.

    Did anyone offer Howell his job back? If so, I didn’t hear anything about it, whereas I have heard about Saint Shirley ad nauseum over the past week or so (for the record, I believe she was also fired unfairly and should get her job back).

  • F

    This reminds me of your post yesterday about sentimenatlism, Anchoress. All feeling no thinking. It will take generations to get back to real thinking by trying to educate the young children from gradeschool all the way up. This is going to be disastrous for years to come.

  • Alexander S. Anderson

    The University of Illinois has a Queer Studies major? And they don’t allow Catholic thought about homosexuality to be taught? Hmm… Although I do agree that most people in the contraceptive culture would find that e-mail ridiculous, but that says a lot more about our culture than it does Howell.

    Also, as of now I dislike the U of Illinois MORE than the U of Iowa. Which is very hard to do. I HATE the Hawks…

  • Last Sphere

    I live 50 miles from the U of I.

    It is without a doubt a Liberal bastion in the middle of mostly conservative Central Illinois.

    If Illinois could secede from Chicago, the U of I would be the new state capitol for all things uber-Left.

  • http://breadhere.blogspot.com/ Fran Rossi Szpylczyn

    I have pondered and prayed about whether or not I should leave a comment. In the end I will and please know dear Anchoress and readers, I do so with a sincere heart and a thinking head. Just because I may see some things differently does not make me a bad person any more than it does you.

    Some of you may have seen my comments about Howell at the Deacon’s Bench. I read about issue over there and spent some time before saying anything in those comment boxes either.

    Let me begin by saying that I do think that his dismissal was beyond the pale and wrong given all of the circumstances. I do not think that his email was hate speech of any sort and I do not believe that he had any ill intent whatsoever.

    Having said that, I read his email many times and I have to say that as a graduate student in theology, it comes up short for me. Or perhaps, comes up long is a better way to put it.

    To be sure, as you state, context is essential to this email as it is to the Sherrod and many other issues. However, he does go far beyond any boundary of academia and intellectualism in his explanation as I see and understand it.

    Of course he was hired to teach Catholic theology, but let’s not kid ourselves – no matter what our opinion, it is a state school and not a Roman Catholic institution. For good or ill, that matters.

    Sadly – tragically – the whole thing is overblown at this point and that is sad. To reduce it to him simply being wronged for his faith, seems to me, a bit of a stretch. The man is clearly brilliant; he knew what he was doing.

    And for the record, simply the description of one man being a woman alone, was egregious. That, along with the stereotype of sex-obsessed gay men with gender roles is really off base. And has nothing to do with what he was trying to express. Sadly, what he was trying to express got lost in that part of it.

    OK, that’s all for now… Frequent reader, rare commenter signing off. Peace to all.

    [Yes...as I said in the piece, communication is imperfect, and that is why Sherrod's "well, it is about white and black but..." belongs in the same category of excess but does not rise, imho, to the level of "termination-worthy offense." People are not machines. They are not capable of speaking/writing perfectly-structured-never-traipsing-thin-lines ideas...unless they are saying nothing at all. Which is sort of where we are, isn't it, in government and elsewhere? Careful not to speak an errant word that may disturb, we are surrounded by people who say nothing honest or to any purpose...and that doesn't seem to be serving us well. I'd rather have free disagreement and solid discourse than restricted, "safe-offense-free" speech. -admin]

  • Tom E.

    In reading Professor Howell’s email excerpt that the Anchoress has cited, I am reminded instantly of a very engaging book written by a Polish bishop called “Love and Responsibility”. Howell’s exigesis is nearly verbatim out of that wonderful book, which I am reading now.

    Every Catholic university student should be required to read this book. I wish that I had read it atage of 21! It would have saved me years of emptiness. His explanations are so clear and simple, and they rely almost entirely on reason to reach the conclusion.

    Thank God for JPII and for Humanae Vitae! The Truth shall set us free.

  • Jennifer

    Howell wasn’t asking his students to do anything other than learn correct Catholic teaching and thought — which was the point of the class. Students who expected otherwise are just, well, idiots.

    The cowardly emailing-non-student who made this complaint should be publicly outed. You don’t get to cost a man his job unjustly and remain anonymous.

    This, in addition to the two stories of students who are battling their universities over counseling homosexuals — being told they need diversity and tolerance training — should jolt all of us wide awake and give us a healthy dose of fright. Homosexuality is simply taking over our culture, and soon, it won’t be legal to object to it anymore.

  • Last Sphere

    (Fran Rossi Szpylczyn wrote – “However, he does go far beyond any boundary of academia and intellectualism in his explanation as I see and understand it.”)

    But does he go beyond any boundary of authentic catholic theology?

    That’s is the real question.

  • Bender

    Shirley Sherrod gives a speech; within the speech she indulges in a bit of roundaboutation, saying some things that seemed offensive, until the larger context was understood.

    Sigh. I’m sorry Anchoress, but you have a rather constricted idea of what “context” means. Sure, if the context is merely the speech itself, then the remarks are not as bad as the excerpt might imply. But that is a false context. That is an exercise in narrow tunnel vision.

    The proper context is the ENTIRETY of Sherrod’s remarks — not merely this speech, but what she said before she made this speech and what she said after she made the speech. The proper context is the hate speech she has spewed after the speech regarding Fox, Breitbart, conservatives, and others. The proper context is whatever else she might have said before the speech.

    In THAT broader and complete context, she a hyper-partisan with obsessive race-consciousness who is all-too-quick to smear others as racists, such that any offer for reinstatement is wrong.

    [Bender, your point might be valid if I were talking about the ENTIRETY of Sherrod's life and speechifying, but I am not. I am speaking specifically to TWO public statements/lessons and their similar aftermaths. I know a lot of readers are getting hung up on emerging stories on Sherrod, but what you are calling "tunnel vision" is really an exhortation to FOCUS on the point I am making which is not about who or what Sherrod may or may not be, but about reactions to one specific speech that she has made, and one specific email from Howell. This is not about Sherrod, or Breitbart, or Fox...it's about the REACTIONS to these speeches, and what they augur for us as a nation. You're talking about one thing; I'm talking about something else. -admin]

  • Kurt

    I loved your comments in response to the student’s complaint about the e-mail: “The writer calls for the promotion of independent thought and a limitless worldview by damning a professor for theorizing in opposition to the student’s worldview.” As Evan Sayet has characterized it, modern liberalism is dedicated to the idea that “indeterminacy is a moral imperative.” Therefore teaching a counter worldview–and actually having the gall to express belief or approval of that worldview–is to commit a cardinal sin.

    Regarding your question “I guess my question is, if a gay counseling student expressed an inability to ‘embrace’ religious people or their values also be subject to remediation?” the answer is unequivocally that such a student would not be subject to anything of the sort. One of the debilitating aspects of gay subculture as it exists today is a blanket hostility to religion (and especially to Christian denominations with a more traditional view of sexuality). Such a student would no doubt talk about how he was acting in accord with his deepest feelings–and suddenly he’d be blameless, having transported himself to the sentimental world you were reflecting on in yesterday’s post.

  • Last Sphere

    [Bender, your point might be valid if I were talking about the ENTIRETY of Sherrod's life and speechifying, but I am not. I am speaking specifically to TWO public statements/lessons and their similar aftermaths. I know a lot of readers are getting hung up on emerging stories on Sherrod, but what you are calling "tunnel vision" is really an exhortation to FOCUS on the point I am making which is not about who or what Sherrod may or may not be, but about reactions to one specific speech that she has made, and one specific email from Howell. This is not about Sherrod, or Breitbart, or Fox...it's about the REACTIONS to these speeches, and what they augur for us as a nation. You're talking about one thing; I'm talking about something else. -admin]

    In other words Anchoress,

    before we were to pass judgments on the edited version of the tape- we desperately needed more context.

    And now that we’ve seen the truly racist attitude of Shirl in the unedited version of the tape (and instead of asking the obvious follow-up questions about her handling of other cases in respect to her bigotry) we NOW have all the context that we will ever need.

    So what if that context leads to more unsettling questions?

    We have all the context we need don’t we.

    It’s all about the tape- not Shirley Sherrod.

    Who cares if she’s still a horrible bigot?

    She’s black and the media has elevated her to the status of sainthood.

    [And you folks are still obsessing on something that has nothing to do with my point. My point in this piece is about the CONSEQUENCES of the kneejerking we saw from everyone -press, gov't, etc- after the excerpt was played, and...much more importantly, to my way of thinking...to the kneejerking that got Professor Howell canned.

    I know everyone is angry. I KNOW that details emerging on Sherrod and her husband raise questions that go beyond the speech. But that's NOT what I'm talking about here. The Sherrod debacle is a SYMPTOM. The sacking of Howell is also a SYMPTOM. We're heading toward something very very ill, and it has to do with suppression of speech, reactionary clamping down, and people being sacked, lives being ruined, before context is EVER pursued until intimidation silences everyone. Go back and read my response to Fran. When we reach the point where people are too afraid to speak, they will completely stop revealing themselves and then we're REALLY in trouble. We're almost there, now. -admin]

  • http://breadhere.blogspot.com/ Fran Rossi Szpylczyn

    Last Sphere – that is not really the question. He is teaching Catholic theology at a secular, public university. That changes everything.

  • Last Sphere

    (Fran Rossi Szpylczyn – “Last Sphere – that is not really the question. He is teaching Catholic theology at a secular, public university. That changes everything.”)

    The operative words Fran are “Catholic theology”.

    And to that point- the the place, the time, and the setting is completely irrelevant, as it should be if it is truly authentic Catholic Theology.

  • Last Sphere

    (Anchoress wrote – “My point in this piece is about the CONSEQUENCES of the kneejerking”)

    And MY point is that YOU, Anchoress, reacted with your own kneejerk reaction by dismissing the racial accusations brought against Sherrod.

    And you were clearly wrong.

    And yet, on your merry way you went without ever acknowledging your error.

    And now, you’re collectively calling on all sides to stop with their kneejerk behavior, when in fact, the majority of stifled free speech in this country has been predominantly carried out by the Left against the Right – especially when it comes to any legitimate discourse against “reverse racism”.

    And Shirley Sherrod is the living embodiment of “reverse racism”. The original kneejerk reaction to her WAS justified and accurate.

    On the other hand, Prof Howell was NOT fired because of a “kneejerk” reaction by the Left.

    Oh no.

    He was fired as a result of the status quo behavior of all Left-wing institutions in this country. It was not specifically a “kneejerk” reaction as much as it was ingrained, accepted, and part in parcel to the standard operating procedure of all Left Wing academia.

    [No, I did not have a "kneejerk" reaction to the kneejerk reactions. :-) I simply defended my opinion. And I have nothing to "admit to being wrong" for. The stuff about Sherrod is emerging. I am content to acknowledge that, let it emerge, and then form my opinions. But, again, you're still focusing on what emerged after the full speech. I'm still talking about the speech itself and the kneejerk reaction to it. You can keep trying to spray a broader picture, but I will insist that the focus be where I placed it. We can do this all day long. But I'm not going to. -admin]

  • Last Sphere

    (Anchoress wrote – “But, again, you’re still focusing on what emerged after the full speech.”)

    No Anchoress.

    Sherrod’s overt bigotry emerged in the context of the full speech. And the “context” of that speech only raises more questions about other cases that she may well have abused.

    Like I said before: It’s all about the tape and not Shirley Sherrod as far as you’re concerned- isn’t it.

    So I guess you have all the context you need- until more context emerges.

    Well- it’s been emerging.

    But alas- how much more “context” do you need to finally admit that Shirley Shirrod is a racist?

    I have the utmost respect for your work Anchoress, but I’m afraid on this issue you’ve been deafened by your own thunder and blinded by your own limelight.

    Pride is a funny and seductive thing……

    [Here's the thing LS (and I think you've accused me of pride before, and "my own thunder" -whatever that is, I haven't hawked myself to anyone, about anything, but if you think that's a charitable charge to make toward me, then go right ahead), "racist" is one hell of a harsh word. Cynics may throw it around loosely; I don't. Is Sherrod "race fixated" oh, yes, but that's not the same as racist. Was her initial refusal to do all she could for the white farmer "racist" in nature? Sure. She admitted as much. Is she "corrupt"? Not sure, yet, that's for others to determine. Is she a "racist" though because she said "well it is about white and black" or because she fell back into the default NAACP position? Or because of her incredibly dumb statement that Breitbart wanted to make her a "slave?" I'm not going to call her that yet, because I am not convinced of it. Have you ever had your life suddenly put into high-relief for the whole world to examine and judge, and within hours seen your life, your work and your career pulled out from under you--seen yourself all over the media being talked about by people who don't know a thing about you, and been thusly vilified? I should think it might make you scurry for what you perceive to be a safe place, even if - in the end - you've placed yourself into the mouth of the tiger.

    You guys keep telling me I have to look at "the whole" of Sherrod. I'm trying to do that, and I'm keeping in mind that none of us have had our fathers murdered by racists who never saw the inside of the courtroom. I think it can take a long time to overcome the effects of that, and -- if one feels threatened -- a mere minute to go back to those feelings of anger and insecurity. That doesn't excuse shady business deals, if they exist, and it doesn't excuse stupid, ridiculous statements. But it gives a little room for humanity, and I can't live m life in faith without giving people that much. After all, God's not done with Sherrod yet. Or you or me, for that matter. And if I am caught up in "pride" or my own "thunder" well, all I can tell you is that I've prayed not to be, because I don't see anything to be proud of and I don't want to be tempted to it via ego. You of course can think as you like. People always do. -admin]

  • Last Sphere

    First of all Sherrod put herself on display when she allowed herself to be taped before the NAACP.

    Secondly- can Sherrod help her racist feelings based on the murder of her father? Probably not. Could I? Probably not.

    BUT

    Should a bigot such as her have ever been placed in the bureaucratic position she was put in?

    And has the NAACP continued to make unfounded allegations of racism against the Right?

    And for God’s Sake how many things does this woman need to say before you are ready to deem her a bigot? Does she actually have to yell “Kill all whiteys!” before you come to that conclusion? Or will you continue to utter “Well you know…..her dad was murdered by us whiteys after all….”

    And you say that you’ve been praying about your pride?

    Did it ever occur to you that God was actually RESPONDING to your prayers from your readership’s keyboards to your ears?

    Or are we too stupid, too uniformed, too outside of accepted journalism for our collective opinion to merit any serious consideration in your mind?

    I’m sorry if I’m p*ssing you off. I just hate to see a person I respect on so many levels go so politically correct all of a sudden.

    I’ll try to leave this thread alone for a bit and give some others their turn. I apologize for unintentionally hijacking this thread.

    God Bless us all, in all our pride and brokenness….

    [Did it ever occur to you that God was actually RESPONDING to your prayers from your readership's keyboards to your ears?

    Yes, that's why I pray, and why I listen, and why I can only, ultimately, follow where I feel led. And I suppose I could ask you the very same question...but I would feel rude doing it.

    Or are we too stupid, too uniformed, too outside of accepted journalism for our collective opinion to merit any serious consideration in your mind?

    Really? Can you cite where I have ever said or implied anything remotely like this about anyone here, or disrespectfully responded to your ideas, or in any way seemed to exhibit a sense of superiority over anyone else? Are you presuming to know my mind now? Are you suggesting that because your "collective opinion" is not mine that I must either submit or that is an exhibition of arrogance? Forgive me, sir, but that sounds and feels a little like being told that Obama/Pelosi know what's best for me, so I should just shut up and submit. It is also precisely the crap that drove me from the Democrats.

    I'm sorry if I'm p*ssing you off. I just hate to see a person I respect on so many levels go so politically correct all of a sudden.

    If that's all you are reading from me, the very political correctness that I abhor and BEGIN THIS ARTICLE DECRYING, then you are willfully misreading me.

    And I do believe, now, that I am done with this argument. Think as you wish. If you're so concerned about me, then why don't you pray for me? -admin]

  • Elaine S.

    Some background on Dr. Howell. He is a former Presbyterian minister who converted to the Catholic faith in 1996. He was hired by the U of I in 1998 to teach courses in Catholic thought as an adjunct professor — that’s an important distinction which we will get back to in a moment. Those classes had existed for many years and they have already survived an unsuccessful attempt made back in the 1970s to abolish them.

    Even though Howell was affiliated with the university, the salary for his position was (as I understand) entirely paid for by the Diocese of Peoria and/or the St. John’s Newman Center. So any argument about “taxpayer’s money” being used to advance religious teaching won’t fly in his case.

    Also, technically, he wasn’t fired — his contract was not renewed for the fall semester. As an adjunct professor, he had no tenure and his teaching position was at-will, year by year or semester by semester.

    Finally, the Diocese of Peoria and the U of I are still in the process of working out this issue so the story is far from over at this point.

  • Sal

    Okay, I think I understand what you’re trying to say. The situations are similar b/c of the reactions of the employers (ie. the powers that be), not the characters of the employees (Any man). If this becomes the norm, we’re all in trouble.

    But I have to agree with Bender and L.S.- even ignoring everything else that has come to light about Ms. Sherrod, the entire speech is that of a racist.
    That was not an off-the-cuff remark, but a long prepared speech. I think she was in a ‘safe place’ and therefore felt free to say exactly what she meant.

    Otoh, Professor Howell was fired for simply doing his job in a way that offended someone.

    Do I think she deserved to lose her job? I go back and forth on that. Mostly because I’m not so sure that she was fired primarily for her remarks, but rather for her closet full of skeletons. Shirley Sherrod is Van Jones writ small.

  • http://westernchauvinist.blogspot.com Western Chauvinist

    Anchoress,

    Just want you to know your meaning was pretty clear to me and I don’t see any evidence of pride on your part. One of my all time favorite quotes is Gerard’s tag line from Popper: “It is impossible to communicate in a way which cannot be misunderstood.”

    I’ve been wrestling with this cultural hyper-sensitivity and “clamping down” too as I deal with progressives at my parish. I recently pointed to the underlying bias in the language used to even ask a question about the Tea Party with the awareness that my observation could cause a more cautious politically correct dialog rather an exploration of ideas and search for truth. We’re not there yet, but the danger is very real.

    My dilemma is, how do we correct misrepresentations and the manipulative use of language by the Left and still have an honest discussion.

    My only disagreement with your piece is this line and others like it: ‘… sentences or modes of reasoning that might steer too close to the movable line known as “hate,”…’ I think the issue is that we’re steering too close to “truth.” Sherrod was trying to tell the truth about her animus to whites and Howell was trying to tell the truth about Catholic teaching and natural law. If we get to the point where “we can’t have that!” we’re lost.

  • http://westernchauvinist.blogspot.com Western Chauvinist

    BTW, I wonder if the U of I would listen to complaints about a Muslim professor teaching the Islamic tenets of Sharia Law? I am deeply offended by the barbaric practice of stoning women under Sharia (which mandates the size of the stones so as not to kill the woman, who is buried up to her neck in the ground, too quickly). I also have problems with dhimmitude of infidels (prejudicial treatment of Jews and Christians in the tax code, etc.) and killing of apostates. Any chance my complaints would get anyone fired?

  • Last Sphere

    (WS wrote – “I think the issue is that we’re steering too close to “truth.” Sherrod was trying to tell the truth about her animus to whites and Howell was trying to tell the truth about Catholic teaching and natural law. If we get to the point where “we can’t have that!” we’re lost.”)

    We are already lost because a white man would never be allowed to talk openly about his animus towards blacks. And the truth about Catholic teaching is under assault from all sides right now and it promises to only get worse.

    But for me the final indicator is when formerly clear-minded people like the Anchoress start to refer to the ugly bigotry of Shirley Sherrod as “race fixated”.

    Seriously. Race Fixated? This place just went completely “Huffington Post” with that colossal jewel of P.C. overdrive. There is no truth to be found in such a polished view of Sherrod’s statements.

    (I know, I know, I said i was going to take a break. But this place is like blogoshere heroin)

  • http://westernchauvinist.blogspot.com Western Chauvinist

    Aww, c’mon LS. Huffington Post? You really now how to hurt a girl!

    Maybe you aren’t race fixated – but you and Bender really appear to be Sherrod fixated when you can’t acknowledge Elizabeth’s point. This post isn’t about Sherrod or whether or not she should still have a job in government. It is about stifling people’s self-expression. Can you agree that clamping down on free expression is a problem? Good. Then it’s time to move on.

    BTW – I’m using that “blogosphere heroin” line. *That’s* the truth!

  • Last Sphere

    (Anchoress wrote “And I suppose I could ask you the very same question…but I would feel rude doing it.”)

    Please, feel free to be rude to me if you think that I’ve overstepped my bounds. Maybe my pride needs a good smack-down in all of this. I’m no flower and I’m not beyond my own unconscious self-centered motives.

    (Anchoress wrote – “Are you suggesting that because your “collective opinion” is not mine that I must either submit or that is an exhibition of arrogance?”)

    Submit to opinion? No.

    Fail to give a logical, rational explanation for your opinion? Yes. And that makes me believe you’re more motivated by pride in this case.

    (Anchoress wrote – “Forgive me, sir, but that sounds and feels a little like being told that Obama/Pelosi know what’s best for me, so I should just shut up and submit. It is also precisely the crap that drove me from the Democrats.’)

    Really? Because I and other posters have absolutely no power over your voice in here whatsoever. Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

    YOU on the other hand, have complete control over our voices and if you wish you can bring the ban-hammer down on us like a god.

    So no- the comparison to Obama/Pelosi doesn’t really fit this paradigm.

    On the other hand, your P.C. attitude in this matter is actually driving the Democrat “crap” back into your own arguments.

    (Anchoress wrote – “If you’re so concerned about me, then why don’t you pray for me?”)

    I HAVE been praying for you Anchoress. If you didn’t concern me I would have blown your opinion off long ago. But instead, I have been drawn to your insight on faith and on most things political. I just hate to see you resort back to your Democrat ways when it comes to the racial divide in this country.

    I have a feeling you wouldn’t have posted two words to me much less be drawn in to a back and forth with an anonymous nobody like me IF your heart didn’t prompt you to do so.

    And only you know why that is. Because yeah, I can’t read your heart, but I can read the words that come from your heart. And we can all read the words that come from Shirley Sherrod’s heart. And therein lies the far-reaching problems.

    And now I’ll ask all of you to pray for me.

  • Last Sphere

    (WS wrote – “Can you agree that clamping down on free expression is a problem? Good. Then it’s time to move on.”)

    You’re right WS.

    I’m afraid this dead horse has finally beaten me.

    I’m off for a long walk in the nighttime garden and to have an even longer talk with God about this.

    ….I’m not exactly looking forward to that…..

    I’ve either done the right thing as I saw it- or I’ve made a gigantic a$$ out of myself.

    Right now it’s a toss up.

  • Sal

    Lest we forget how this hoo-hah all started:

    Dear NAACP,
    Don’t start nothing, won’t be nothing.
    Love,
    the Tea Party

    Dr. Rober Godwin, aka “Gagdad Bob” points out regularly that PC is institutionalized lying. So, tell the truth- but be prepared to take the consequences.

  • charles

    You’re still missing the point on Sherrod – view the Riehl World video of her husband, read about her daughter “Russia” – it’s not black and white, it’s 100% RED.

  • Doc

    I agree, Charles. Let’s ask the Sherrods and the NAACP what they think of Clarence Thomas. Those who stray from the Democrat’s ideological plantation get severely punished.

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  • charles

    It keeps getting better or worse, depending on your point of view. “Ms. Reconciliation” has just filed a frivolous lawsuit

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  • c matt

    He is teaching Catholic theology at a secular, public university. That changes everything.

    That’s ridiculous. It changes nothing. The school shouldn’t offer classes in Catholic theology if it doesn’t want Catholic theology taught. That’s like complaining that calculus is being taught in a calculus class, or that somehow the fact calculus is being taught at a secular, public university changes derivatives.

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  • Frank

    I’m found the story of Ken Howell disturbing. It seems to me that if the student had a problem, he could have voiced it to the professor with the remediation of the Dean.

    However, I see it as disingenuous that so many Catholic commentators are making Ken Howell’s case a cause celebre while ignoring the fact that gay faculty (celibate or not) can be fired for what they are in 37 states and that the Catholic Attorney General of Virginia Ken Cuccinelli is actively encouraging such firings on a massive scale by forcing Virginia’s public universities to abolish rules which proscribe discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

    It seems to me that Catholics like Elizabeth Scalia want to paint themselves as martyrs while ignoring those they and their Church martyr (the Catholic Church specifically condemns all laws which forbid discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation),


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