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vs. at Purdue University

By Scott Tibbs, November 18, 2009

Back in 2003, Leftist radicals threw a hysterical temper tantrum over the personal blog of IU professor Eric Rasmusen, who argued against homosexuality on his personal blog and took the position that homosexuals should not be hired as teachers. This brought forth a great deal of debate in the Indiana Daily Student and the Herald-Times, as Leftist radicals demanded that Professor Rasmusen be fired from his job with the university.

In West Lafayette, it is déjà vu all over again, as Leftist radicals are throwing another hysterical temper tantrum about a Purdue University professor who wrote critically of homosexuality. As was the case with Professor Rasmusen, they are demanding Bert Chapman be fired from his job for expressing opinions that are not approved by Leftist radicals. Of course, not all Leftists support punishing Professor Chapman for his speech, and some have come to the defense of free speech. This is why I refer to the people advocating termination of Professor Chapman's employment as "Leftist radicals" rather than Leftists. And, let's be honest, it is not conservatives calling for his career on a platter.

Purdue faces a choice between freedom and totalitarianism. They can give in to the totalitarian forces and betray the First Amendment, or they can stand for fundamental American liberties that our soldiers have given their lives to protect since 1776. Thankfully, Purdue's administration has respected free speech and said there will be no discipline of Professor Chapman. Leftist radicals are also demanding that Professor Chapman's fellow faculty members denounce his "homophobia", as Sharon Brehm denounced Professor Rasmusen in 2003, which would be unfortunate but well within basic American values. As has been said many times, the answer to speech you find "offensive" is more speech.

This is not even the same issue as Professor Rasmusen faced a half-dozen years ago. One of the objections to Professor Rasmusen's blog was that it was hosted on Indiana University's MyPage server, where faculty, staff and students can create personal web sites. (My first personal web site was on the predecessor to the MyPage server when I was a student at IU.) Professor Chapman's blog is hosted at TownHall.com, so Leftist radicals had to go looking for it in order to become "offended" and try to destroy his career.

I should not have to remind anyone that censorship is the enemy of the academy. If we are to truly learn about different perspectives and arguments on various public policy issues facing our nation, we cannot censor the views we find "offensive." Termination of Professor Chapman's employment would be a direct assault on the pursuit of knowledge that should be the dedication of a university like Purdue. It is also incredibly hypocritical to be advocating censorship of unapproved speech under the fraudulent pursuit of "tolerance." What about ideological diversity?

What is really unfortunate here is it demonstrates a disturbing trend in politics not to simply refute or discredit political opponents, but to personally destroy them. As was the case after last year's vote to ban state recognition of homosexual marriage in California, Leftist radicals are attempting to destroy a man personally and professionally because he dared to express an opinion they find "offensive." It is especially despicable to try to destroy Professor Chapman's career in a depressed economy that is hemorrhaging jobs. Leftist radicals calling for the personal and professional destruction political opponents should never be taken seriously.

Articles about the Eric Rasmusen controversy: