A Catholic professor, Kenneth Howell, at the University of Illinois was fired for an anti-gay and anti-trans email diatribe to students. He's saying that it violates his "academic freedom." He's an adjunct professor, and the university is claiming that he wasn't fired, just that his contract wasn't renewed.
Part of the problem with so many universities facing budget cuts is that they're hiring fewer full-timers and more adjuncts who make substantially less than a full-timer would, even if they're teaching the same number of credit-hours. And as anyone who's worked on a contract basis knows (and more Americans will learn about this as the economy continues to deteriorate), you really have no protection against employment discrimination as you're not really employed in the first place. It's just one of the many ways American employers have found to work around anti-discrimination legislation and fairly compensating their employees.
Howell himself, though, didn't limit his email to academic work or to his own informed opinion; instead, he went into a long, pseudo-scientific diatribe on how disgusting sodomy is. Consider:
But the more significant problem has to do with the fact that the consent criterion is not related in any way to the NATURE of the act itself. This is where Natural Moral Law (NML) objects. NML says that Morality must be a response to REALITY. In other words, sexual acts are only appropriate for people who are complementary, not the same. How do we know this? By looking at REALITY. Men and women are complementary in their anatomy, physiology, and psychology. 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.
One example applicable to homosexual acts illustrates the problem. To the best of my knowledge, in a sexual relationship between two men, one of them tends to act as the "woman" while the other acts as the "man." In this scenario, homosexual men have been known to engage in certain types of actions for which their bodies are not fitted. I don't want to be too graphic so I won't go into details but a physician has told me that these acts are deleterious to the health of one or possibly both of the men. Yet, if the morality of the act is judged only by mutual consent, then there are clearly homosexual acts which are injurious to their health but which are consented to. Why are they injurious? Because they violate the meaning, structure, and (sometimes) health of the human body.
One physician? One's a man and one's a woman? "Injurious"? Maybe he should have familiarized himself with the concept of "academe" before he started crying "academic freedom," because he clearly has done no research into the topic he's discussing nor does he really seem to want to have an actual understanding of the topic.
And trans people are a product of a culture that wants to "manipulate" the body:
Now recall that I mentioned in class the importance of gaining wisdom from the past. One part of wisdom we gain from such knowledge is how people today came to think of their bodies. I won't go into details here but a survey of the last few centuries reveals that we have gradually been separating our sexual natures (reality) from our moral decisions. Thus, people tend to think that we can use our bodies sexually in whatever ways we choose without regard to their actual structure and meaning. This is also what lies behind the idea of sex change operations. We can manipulate our bodies to be whatever we want them to be.
Did he do any research to find out if that is, in fact, "what lies behind the idea of sex change operations"? I doubt it, but that doesn't stop him from pulling a classic arrogant wingnut move: saying that his opinion is grounded in tons of research that he obviously never did (reading is hard!), while anyone who disagrees with him is just emotional:
Before looking at the issue of criteria, however, we have to remind ourselves of the ever-present tendency in all of us to judge morality by emotion. The most frequent reason I hear people supporting same-sex marriage is that they know some gay couples or individuals. Empathy is a noble human quality but right or wrong does not depend on who is doing the action or on how I feel about those people, just as judging an action wrong should not depend on disliking someone. This might seem obvious to a right thinking person but I have encountered many well-educated people who do not (or cannot?) make the distinction between persons and acts when engaging moral reasoning. I encourage you to read the final essay editorial I sent earlier to reflect on this. In short, to judge an action wrong is not to condemn a person. A person and his/her acts can be distinguished for the purposes of morality.[...]
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.
Yes, his understanding of reality is definitely "thorough": one unnamed, unquoted physician once said something to him!
You can read the entire email. Personally, I don't know much about exactly what a professor can and cannot express to students. Most of my professors had opinions that they did discuss, but I don't remember a single one of them go into some sort of "The Jews control all the money and eat babies" rant, and I doubt they would have lasted long if they had.
The student complaint against him says that it's not just this email, but the fact that he used his class to "preach (not teach) his ideology" throughout the entire semester. I'm hoping there was some sort of investigation to find out if that's true, since that's not the purpose of the academic environment.
Anyway, he wasn't tenured and he wasn't even full-time, so when he's accused of using his position of power to indoctrinate students into stupidity and alienating others, the schools is well within its rights to not give him another contract.