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Wednesday, June 14, 2006

BYU Fires Instructor for Op-Ed

Brigham Young University fired adjunct philosophy instructor, Jeffrey Nielsen, after he wrote an op-ed in the Salt Lake Tribune opposing the LDS church's stance on same-sex marriage and its support for a Constitutional amendment that limits marriage to a man and a woman. Nielsen had contracts to teach summer, fall and winter courses. He has been dismissed after the current term.

BYU is not known for its support for academic freedom, but this strikes me as particularly disturbing. Are all faculty supposed to simply spout the talking points of the church? If so, what is the point of higher education at all? How can you run a philosophy department, or a sociology department for that matter, if individual thoughts expressed publicly can get you fired?

Farther down the article is a list of people fired from BYU for their ideas:
* English professor Cecilia Konchar Farr in 1993 after she gave a speech supporting a woman's right to an abortion.
* Anthropologist David Knowlton in 1993 after publishing studies on the church in Latin America.
* English professor Gail Turley Houston in 1996 after she "publicly contradicted" doctrine.
* History professor Steve Epperson in 1996 because he lacked an LDS temple recommend.

These are the sorts of things that you expect to carry dates like 1860, not 1996.


Blogger Tom Bozzo said...

In fairness, you could find similar examples among Catholic schools, though most of the limiations on academic freedom within Catholic higher ed concern disputes between university and church theologians rather than limiting free speech rights more broadly.

Still, it makes me glad to be part of an atheistic institution organized around the making of money.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006 2:00:00 PM  
Blogger tina said...

I was trying to think of creative ways to protest this decision, since, you know, they can do pretty much what they want.

And I know that BYU loves its sports, so how 'bout this? All you crazy kids in schools that play against BYU: when they come to your school to play, gay it up as big as you can! Smooching, holding hands, drag, you name it! If you can make all the students uncomfortable enough, maybe they'll back off their crazy free-thinker firings just to focus the action back on the football (or whatever) game.

What do you think?

Wednesday, June 14, 2006 4:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Targeting BYU sports is a "been there, done that" approach. During the civil rights movement of the 60s and 70s we saw some action because of the discrimination against those of African descent. Eventually (1976) the LDS church did change the policy and came into the modern era, but I don't think it was because of what happened at BYU basketball games.

Friday, June 16, 2006 10:05:00 AM  

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