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Posts for November, 2009

Anti-gay Purdue library prof’s blogging gets press attention

Timothy Kincaid

November 12th, 2009

Indystar.com has an article about the brouhaha arising from Professor of Library Science Bert Chapman’s “economic case against homosexuality“. Mostly, it seems that while some students are calling for his firing, most are just wanting to make the student body aware of Chapman’s anti-gay attitudes.

A statement by a coalition of West Lafayette rights groups, Pride Lafayette and the Purdue Queer Student Union said it supports free speech.

“Supporting free speech does not mean that there are no consequences for such statements,” the statement said. “While it’s clear that all individuals have the right to print anything they wish regardless of the lack of value or research, it’s also true that statements in print (or in this case online) should be rejected and called out when they damage a segment of the community.”

But, as appears to be a growing attitude among anti-gay activists, Chapman believe that freedom of speech exempts their speech from criticism. He, and other anti-gay professors around the country, see this exposure of his attitudes as “censorship” and Chapman as a victim.

Jonathan Katz, a St. Louis-based Washington University professor, enraged many on that campus by his “defense of homophobia” on his personal blog and said Chapman is a victim.

“You see here bullying and an attempt at censorship by a pressure group that is afraid of speech that disagrees with its position,” Katz said. “Bullying dissenters by calling for their dismissal is routine. If people let themselves be dissuaded by bullying from exercising their right of free speech, then that right will atrophy, and we will lose it.”

And like many anti-gay activists, Chapman appears to see his attack on “homosexuality” to be unassociated with any actual gay persons. He’s just attacking “a lifestyle”, not those who “live that lifestyle”, you see.

Yet gay people are about as receptive to vile denunciations of a homosexual lifestyle as Latinos are to a stereotyped attack on “the Latino lifestyle” or Greeks are to calls to deny spending on those who live “the Greek lifestyle” in favor of those who adhere to traditional non-Greek standards. Such careful phrasing only creates a distinction without a difference.

Just as denunciations of “people who wear yarmulkes” is no different from antisemitism, so too does “condemnation of the homosexual lifestyle” in the terms used by Chapman equate to anti-gay ranting.

But Chapman pretends that his opinions, just being opinions you know, should not reflect on him and should have caused no concern at all.

Chapman said he was surprised at the backlash his blog had caused in the pages of the daily campus newspaper, which has run several letters calling for his job. Hearing rumors of a student protest, he said he wished the matter would simply go away.

Well that’s the funny thing about an unprovoked attack on your students. They aren’t much inclined to laugh it off or let it “simply go away”.