Friday, January 16, 2009

 

The BFC's Proposed Resolution Criticizing the Business School's Invitation of General Pace

The Bloomington Faculty Council has been having some discussions of interest to those concerned about homosexuality and free speech. All boldfacings below are by me.

Here are excerpts from the resolution ( November 18 text):

WHEREAS in a March 12, 2007 interview with the Chicago Tribune, Gen. Pace said, "I believe homosexual acts between two individuals are immoral... I do not believe the United States is well served by a policy that says it is okay to be immoral in any way... As an individual, I would not want [acceptance of gay behavior] to be our policy."

WHEREAS on March 13, 2007, Pace released a statement reading, "In expressing my support for the current policy, I also offered some personal opinions about moral conduct. I should have focused more on my support of the policy and less on my personal moral views." He declined to apologize or to retract his statement equating homosexuality with immorality....

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that although we fully endorse the concept that speakers representing all viewpoints should be invited to campus, when speakers representing controversial viewpoints are invited, effort must be made to facilitate open discussion and the exchange of ideas. We therefore believe that during General Peter Pace’s visits to campus this year, the Kelley School should facilitate opportunities for Gen. Pace to be interviewed by the press and to appear at forums in which members of the community are welcome and may ask questions, and to invite a speaker of equivalent stature who holds contrary views concerning homosexuality. Efforts to date are not sufficient.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that it was inappropriate to award Gen. Pace a university honor, the Poling Chair in Business and Government, when his views on homosexuality are so offensive to university policy and many members of the university community, without any advance guarantee that he would participate in an open and meaningful dialogue about his views.

From the November 18 Bloomington Faculty Council Minutes:

Brian Horne, Music:

HORNE: Personally I’m bothered by this. I mean there are many details, you know, with which I sympathize but at the heart of the matter it seems to me what trying to punish somebody for something they believe.

To me at the heart of the matter, I understand why people would be offended, but what we’re saying is ‘you have to believe what we believe or we’re going to make it hard on you.’ That’s not what we should be doing, and we certainly shouldn’t be saying ‘we’re a university, we’re open to all, we’re open to diversity, but if you don’t believe what we believe we’re going to make it hard on you to come here or to get an honor from us or to do anything else.’

James Biles, Geography:

BILES: ... Yes, you know a diversity of views is appreciated, but I think morally and ethically, you know, there’s no requirement to tolerate intolerance and these views are intolerant. Personally, I’d like to see him dishonorably discharged from his, you know, appointment, but I guess that’s not going to happen.

Bryan McCormick, HPER:
MCCORMICK: Well, I’m just curious that this strikes me that we’re making as a campus body a dictate to that unit without inclusion, discussion, you know. I would be concerned in my school if I learned from the BFC something that we are being told we had to do without even knowing it was coming.
Brian Horne, Music, and Alex Tanford, Law:
HORNE: I’m sorry, one other question and I recognize this is stretching it quite a bit. Certainly in the School of Music we have people that are just world renowned musicians all the time some of which are given titles and some of whom just come and give masters classes, things like that. We don’t know their views on this issue or any other, because they were never in such a prominent, you know, position, but why is it different that it just happens that we know this issue. This issue is not what drove his appointment or what gave him this honor. It just happened that his previous appointment called upon him to answer questions regarding this. If Leonard Slatkin, you know, the world famous conductor is coming to join our faculty, we don’t know what he thinks about anything, and we don’t need to know. ...

TANFORD: I don’t really have a response to your point, but certainly there are people who are highly distinguished in the music field, now many of them very elderly, if they’re still alive at all, who had an active association at one point with Nazi Germany, where their views would be clearly known. And I guess we saw this as the equivalent of giving one of them a distinguished honor which would be hugely offensive to the Jewish community or that was the way we saw this.
Lucas Fields, IUSA President, student, and Alex Tanford, Law:
FIELDS: I actually had a chance to speak with the general, and one of the things I asked him about was his recommendation to authorize force in Iraq, which he also did as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and I guess what I’m perhaps concerned about with this body is there a line that’s being drawn, that there are certain things that the faculty are willing to be concerned about but not others? Is his view on that war, which is controversial in a different light, something that should also be addressed? And are we singling something out versus a whole host of things I think could be found to be controversial on this campus?

TANFORD: We are singling this out. We are the Diversity and Affirmative Action Committee, concerned about protecting the rights of minorities who are historically and currently, presently discriminated against and the gay and lesbian community is number one on that list. And that’s the reason. This is like race a generation ago.
Patrick Harbison, Music, and Alex Tanford, Law:
HARBISON: Will the School of Music have to stop programming Wagner?
TANFORD: Only if – no. (laughter)
HARBISON: I mean you see what I’m saying!
TANFORD: Are you planning on giving Wagner a distinguished university honor?
HARBISON: No, but I would say that a performance at the MAC is a fairly distinguished honor.
TANFORD: But that’s the essence of the distinction. A performance at the MAC is an ordinary participation in the university process. If it is accompanied by Gwyn Richards coming out and giving the person a distinguished award, then it moves into a different level of symbolism and it is that second level that we are concerned about, not the first.
Daniel Sloat, IUSA Vice President, student:
SLOAT: I just wanted to say first as a Kelley student I felt that the school did a very good job in distancing themselves. I felt that they were in no way in the wrong. They made very clear that they did not support his personal beliefs, and most importantly to keep in mind he was invited to and subsequently awarded for his leadership experience. He was not brought as a controversial speaker, not as someone who has a certain view. If that had been the case, then it would certainly be encouraged and, I think, appropriate to bring someone with an alternative view. So being someone extensive leadership experience, I don’t think it’s fair to put him in the same kind of light that calls for ‘where’s the other viewpoint?’ because being brought as a person with leadership experience the other viewpoint would be someone without leadership experience.
Padraic Kenney, History, and Alex Tanford, Law:
...KENNEY: …Yeah, I know, but I feel like some of your responses have really come down, you know, to his personal views…
TANFORD: No, no.
KENNEY: … some rest more on professional and maybe clarifying the difference between the two…
TANFORD: There is no…
KENNEY: …and taking a stand based on one or the other.
TANFORD: He was the one who attempts to characterize these as merely personal views, and that’s why to try to put in his version of it and put some balance is why those statements are in there.
KENNEY: Well then let me draw attention to the last line in the fourth paragraph on the first page, “General Pace’s beliefs regarding homosexuality, which are grounded in his religious faith, reveal an inherent bias against homosexuality.” Why are we bringing in his religious faith? I’m looking at the quotes that are above there and while I don’t doubt that elsewhere in that interview he talks about his religious faith, he doesn’t in what has been quoted here. And so now we’re saying ‘well, actually this has to do with religious faith,’ but maybe they’re excusing, that, you know, you have to understand this is religious faith or it maybe a complicating or whatever factor, but I’m not quite sure, you know, how do you put that in there. That’s essentially saying ‘we are interested in his beliefs.’
TANFORD: I would say the committee was persuaded by an argument made by some members of the committee that one could make a case that holding fairly extreme antihomosexual views based on a particularly narrow interpretation of religion is itself a minority viewpoint…
KENNEY: But how is that relevant here?
TANFORD: …and therefore needed to be mentioned in terms of the balance since we’re the Diversity and Affirmative Action Committee and that we are concerned about religious discrimination as much as we are about discrimination against homosexuality.
Nick Clark, GPSO - Political Science, graduate student:

CLARK:... it’s a discussion I’ve been a part of in several different committees on how to best recruit minorities to come here and increase the diversity of the campus and I have to think that this is relevant to that, in that if we include minorities that we want to recruit as gay and lesbian students, the fact that we bestow honors on someone that makes these statements, whether they’re right, whether they’re wrong, whether it’s the place of the Faculty Council or the university to take positions on it, but that we’re bestowing honors on it from a very pragmatic point of view I would think that that could deter certain gay and lesbian students from attending this university which is the exact opposite of what the campus seems to want to do in its recruiting initiatives. And I think that’s got to be at least, you know, minimally relevant to an issue like this.
Herbert Terry, BFC President, Telecommunications:
TERRY: Okay, I wasn’t on the (inaudible) subcommittee, but I hope you will consult with the faculty governance body of the School of Business. When we take this up again I would like to know what role they played in it, if any, and what their recommendations to the Dean were, what they think of it. The second thing is borrowing from my own experience in telecommunications, the Federal Communications Commission for a long time tried to enforce a kind of a fairness doctrine requiring that opposing views on controversial issues be presented by broadcasters. It eventually concluded that that backfired.
The BFC membership list is here in case you'd like to check which professors and students vote on this. A footnote:
Americans interviewed in Gallup's 2008 Values and Beliefs poll are evenly divided over the morality of homosexual relations, with 48% considering them morally acceptable and 48% saying they are morally wrong.

The BFC will not be voting on the resolution on January 20, since the committee is trying to redraft it. Presumably it will come up in the February meeting.

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