Higher re-education: OSU sponsors liberal proselytizing on sexual morality

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Leftists seeking social transformation have long seen public education -- K-12 and college alike -- as a golden opportunity to alienate young people from their parents' benighted customs, morals, and opinions, so that they can be re-educated to a progressive point of view. But seldom has this missionary misuse of taxpayer-funded institutions been so blatant and so close to home.

Not only is Oklahoma State University officially recognizing Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) History Month, the university has invited an atheist philosophy professor to campus today to preach to OSU students that their views on homosexuality, shaped by their religious faith, are all wrong, according to a September 30, 2010, story in the Stillwater NewsPress:

John Corvino, a philosophy professor at Wayne State University in Detroit, will deliver a guest lecture, titled "What's Morally Wrong With Homosexuality?" at 3 p.m. Friday in 10 Willard Hall on the Oklahoma State University campus.

Corvino said his lecture will deal with a number of arguments against homosexual relationships. Those arguments generally claim that homosexuality is unnatural, harmful or in violation of religious principles....

During the lecture, Corvino hopes to break down those arguments, showing fallacies in each. In response to claims that homosexuality is unnatural, Corvino said he will explore what the claim means and if it matters. In response to arguments that homosexuality is harmful, Corvino said he will confront certain myths about homosexuality. And in response to claims regarding religion, Corvino said he will point out inconsistencies in the use of religious texts to support the argument.

Corvino, now an atheist, has a strong background in the church, and was once a candidate for the priesthood. He said he hopes to reconcile progressive ideas about sexuality with religion, particularly Christianity....

Corvino's lecture is the first of three events in OSU's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) History Month program.

It is an outrage that a state university, funded by Oklahoma taxpayers who are overwhelmingly conservative and Christian, is using taxpayer dollars to bring in an atheist, someone who abandoned his Christian faith, to "break down" traditional moral arguments against homosexuality and specifically to "point out inconsistencies" in religious arguments.

This is not a matter of academic freedom. A professor might invite a provocative speaker with one perspective as part of an overall balanced curriculum. Nor is this a case of a student-funded and -organized group inviting a speaker, where freedom of speech and association come into play. Corvino was invited by the OSU administration, as part of a university-sponsored lecture series for LGBT History Month.

Here's what an OSU administration official, Jen Macken, coordinator of women's and LGBT issues, had to say about Corvino's upcoming lecture:

Jen Macken, OSU's coordinator of women's and LGBT issues, said Corvino's lecture is a good fit for Oklahoma in general, and OSU in particular.

"Because Stillwater is located in the Bible Belt, many discussions about sexuality are based in terms of morality or religion," Macken said. "Dr. Corvino's academic training in philosophy equips him to frame the discussion in these terms, but to offer an alternative to the perspective that one may normally think of as the moral position on LGBT issues."

Macken said she expects a strong turnout for the event. She said she hopes the event will give listeners a broader understanding of LGBT issues.

Worse yet, the title of the lecture is deceptive: "What's Morally Wrong With Homosexuality?" is a title that might attract students with traditional moral views looking to bolster their ability to argue in favor of traditional values, not seeking to have their moral views undermined.

Ms. Macken, who is also the vice chair of the Employees Queers and Allies League, sent out a university press release promoting the OSU LGBT History Month lecture series. Here are descriptions of the second and third lectures in the series:

The Department of Counseling Psychology and Counseling, in conjunction with Stillwater Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) and the Employee Queers and Allies League (EQuAL) will be sponsoring a viewing of the film For the Bible Tells Me So on Monday, October 18th at 6:00pm in 313 Classroom Building. The film examines the intersection between religion and homosexuality in the United States and will be followed by a panel discussion with university and community representatives.

On Tuesday, October 19th, scholar Mary L. Gray will be giving a talk titled, "'There are no gay people here': The politics of queer visibility in the rural United States." Mary L. Gray is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication and Culture and an affiliate faculty in Gender Studies at Indiana University, Bloomington. Her research looks at how everyday uses of media shape people's understandings and expressions of their social identities. This lecture will take place at 4:30 in Bartlett 109 and is sponsored by the Gender and Women's Studies program, Sexual Orientation Diversity Association, and National Organization of Women at OSU.

OSU has an entire department called "Institutional Diversity," a great example of the institutional bloat and loss of focus that drives up the cost of higher education. The only reason for the state to be involved in higher education is to train the professionals -- engineers, agronomists, attorneys, doctors, veterinarians, etc. -- needed for the state's economic development. It may well be that this can now be accomplished more efficiently through distance learning.

But even if you believe in a more expansive role for the state in higher ed, surely we can all agree that taxpayer-funded colleges shouldn't be in the business of moral re-education, particularly of the sort designed to attack and undermine the values held by those taxpayers.

If OSU is going to bring in speakers to convert students to a certain point of view, shouldn't it be the point of view held by the vast majority of the taxpayers who fund the university? The OSU administration could invite Ravi Zacharias to a university-sponsored lecture to point out inconsistencies in atheist arguments or bring in Dawn Eden to argue for the benefits of chastity and to explain the emotional damage caused by promiscuity. At least those speakers and topics would be a good match for Oklahoma values.

I suspect that the Institutional Diversity department's true purpose is to provide employment for people with worthless college degrees (e.g. a Master's in Women's Studies).

The OSU regents should shut down the Institutional Diversity department, shut down the office of LGBT issues, cancel official recognition of LGBT history month, and fire the OSU executives responsible for approving and implementing all of the above. And if the regents are unwilling to take action, then the legislature should.

Taxpayers are beginning to wake up to the massive waste of their money happening on both public and private college campuses. (Taxpayers subsidize private colleges through financial aid, subsidized student loans, and government research grants.) Young people are beginning to realize that college as a general-purpose credential isn't worth much. As Michael Barone wrote recently, the higher education bubble is about to burst. This latest outrage from OSU is one more reason Oklahoma taxpayers and their elected representatives should take a metaphorical ax to worthless college departments and programs that add no educational or economic value.

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6 Comments

Erin Fore said:

even though these guest speakers may want to sway students' opinions on homosexuality, the university itself isn't necessarily trying to do so.

yes, oklahoma taxpayers are overwhelmingly conservative and Christian, but we "leftists" still have our place in a red state, especially on college campuses.

the purpose of higher education is to cultivate critical thinking and informed, intelligent dialogue, which, more often than not, is best learned when faced with controversial subject matter.

this lecture series is completely relevant, especially mary gray's "there are no gay people here." just because a certain segment of society is unpopular, PUBLIC universities are right to highlight pertinent social issues. this is hardly proselytizing.

LGBT folks, young and old, are more similar to their heterosexual counterparts than many conservatives want to believe. Most LGBT men and women value family, altruism, environmental stewardship, civic duty, the arts, etc., just like you and me, michael.

if anything, conservatives can celebrate these controversial events as an opportunity to strengthen their own belief system and sense of self.

It's not just OSU, of course. My alma mater in Norman is just as bad if not worse. See, for example: http://bit.ly/duhzrV

It's time for state lawmakers to get serious about legislative oversight. They may be forced into it if SQ 744 passes.

Thanks, Erin and Brandon, for your comments.

When the OSU administration schedules a series of talks on a controversial subject, inviting advocates of one side only of that controversy, they give every appearance of wanting to proselytize rather than cultivate critical thinking. There is an agenda; the remarks by the OSU diversity official are clear. (Her bio on the OSU website reveals that she is an activist on one side of this controversy.) OSU has invited speakers who will make straw-men of the religious arguments for traditional moral views and then make a show of tearing them apart.

Has OSU's Institutional Diversity has invited Christian moral philosophers, theologians, or authors to present their side of the argument? Is there an official OSU Chastity Month on the university calendar? Are they bringing in Dawn Eden, Lauren Winner, or Wendy Shalit to talk about the advantages of chastity and modesty? Would OSU officially sponsor a lecture by Dennis Prager explaining why Judaism rejected homosexuality and why it matters for all of Western civilization?

I'm going to borrow a few sentences from the Prager essay I linked to answer your latter point: "I, for one, do not believe that a man's inability to make love to a woman can be labeled normal. While such a man may be a healthy and fine human being in every other area of life, and quite possibly more kind, industrious, and ethical than many heterosexuals, in this one area he cannot be called normal. And the reason for considering homosexuality abnormal is not its minority status. Even if the majority of men became incapable of making love to women, it would still not be normal. Men are designed to make love to women, and vice versa. The eye provides an appropriate analogy: If the majority of the population became blind, blindness would still be abnormal. The eye was designed to see."

And so I have a problem with one of our taxpayer-funded universities designating a month to celebrate what amounts to a malfunction, even from a completely secular, naturalistic point of view. Those who have this malfunction ought to be treated with respect and compassion as fellow men and women and can be respected for their good qualities, but without accepting and celebrating homosexuality.

A university-sponsored LGBT month and lecture series makes the assumption (an assumption most Oklahomans would deny) that homosexuality is innate, and that alienation felt by homosexuals would vanish if only society would accept and celebrate it. I believe that homosexuality is the symptom of alienation, a futile attempt to fill the spiritual and emotional void caused by our alienation from family, peers, or society, by our alienation and rebellion against our Creator.

Tasha said:

Without commenting on your main topic, I'd like to respectfully assert that degrees like those in women's studies aren't useless to education or the business community at all.

I graduated from OSU with a degree in American Studies - a comparable degree, I'd say, to a women's studies degree in terms of skills students acquire via study in the program.

While a family member claimed I'd graduate being able to write really great e-mails but not much else, I actually honed research, writing and critical thinking skills that enabled me to launch a career in journalism.

Considering that our columns have appeared in the same publication, that I've held a position as an editor at the local business journal and that I've managed to start my own media company with a mission that has proven to drive consumer spending in the area (and that, by the way, has attracted the interest of that aforementioned family member in my services as a consultant for his company), I'd argue that these degrees offer skill sets that absolutely do benefit the economy.

When people ask me what the heck my program of study was about (I'll grant that "American Studies" is kind of obscure), I say that it's about learning to think critically (especially independently), write thoughtfully and how and where to look for answers and resources. The theme for these studies just happened to be American history and culture.

I hope this also proves that not all of us liberal arts grads hold political beliefs that always skew to the left side of every issue.

mark said:

Michael -

I probably couldn't disagree with you more on the underlying issue -- the sinfulness of monogamous homosexual relations.

However, I can completely agree in principle with the narrow point of your post -- that a State-financed University should not be presenting just one side of a controversial moral or policy-related issue.

Nonetheless, the OSU Administration will probably be saved by subsequent events, namely the recent suicide of a gay Rutgers freshman in what is being perceived to be a bias incident.

Clearly, a university administration has a duty to undertake whatever education or "re-education" is necessary to protect its students from bias attacks or harassment. The Corvino lecture is probably not a perfect fit for that purpose, but likely close enough to pass muster with the Regents and the Legislature.

I believe the views of ALL taxpayers should be represented at a taxpayer-supported university, not just the views of the majority. There are many private religious schools one can attend if they do not wish to be exposed to secular ideas.

Nonetheless, it is difficult to argue there is a dearth of religious viewpoints being expressed by people or organizations sanctioned by Oklahoma State University. In fact, OSU has an entire department devoted to religious studies and they have organized several lectures.

If you feel there is a lack of exposure for christian traditional values at OSU, then, in the spirit of free speech and higher learning, why not approach one of these organizations and create a lecture series to counter the views of John Corvino? You could kick off Chastity Month at the first lecture.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on October 1, 2010 8:56 AM.

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