There once was a time when being politically incorrect on a university campus was a mere inconvenience. It meant the enlightened ones who embraced politically correct answers to the cosmological questions of the origin of the universe or who unapologetically advanced the idea that the earth is headed toward a fiery end because of human induced global warming simply looked down their noses at the unenlightened masses. But the enlightened ones have now morphed into the tyrants of tolerance who consider it their sworn duty to silence those who would dare question Darwinian evolution, special rights for homosexuals, or refuse to buy lock, carbon credit stock, and barrel into Al Gore's inconvenient truth.
As the envelope of tolerance is pushed past the breaking point it is time for clear thinking, true academic freedom loving people to push back. Consider the case of Crystal Dixon, the Associate Vice-President of Human Resources at the University of Toledo. She was suspended from her job by the university, not for breaching some written code of ethics but for violating the unwritten code of politically incorrect speech. What was Crystal Dixon's crime? She wrote a letter to the editor that was published in the Toledo Free Press (an interesting name considering happened when Crystal Dixon exercised her freedom of expression). Her editorial was a response to a column which compared the homosexual rights moment to the civil rights movement. Dixon wrote, "As a black woman who happened to be an alumnus of the University of Toledo's Graduate School, an employee and business owner, I take great umbrage at the notion that those choosing the homosexual lifestyle are civil rights victims. Here's why. I cannot wake up tomorrow and not be a Black woman. I am genetically and biologically a Black woman and very pleased to be as my creator intended. Daily, thousands of homosexuals make a life decision to leave the gay lifestyle evidenced by the growing population of PFOX and Exodus International just to name a few."
Shortly after Dixon's opinion was printed the tyrants of tolerance demanded she be properly disciplined. Toledo University President Dr. Lloyd Jacobs responded quickly clarifying that he personally supported the implementation of the "Safe Place Program to invite faculty staff and graduate assistants and resident advisors to open their space as a Safe Place for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Questioning (LGBATQ) individuals." He went on to assure everyone that, "there is a Safe Places sticker on the door of the President's office." He then demonstrated his commitment to tolerance and the free, safe expression of all ideas by suspending Crystal Dixon from the University. Apparently, there is a safe place for everyone at the University of Toledo except people of faith who believe homosexuality violates God's divine order. According to Toledo Free Press Managing Editor Justin R. Kalmes, repeated attempts to reach Dixon for comment have been met with "an automatic reply fro her UT e-mail address saying she would be out of the office for the next few weeks." She is probably undergoing "tolerance training" and a politically correct "attitude adjustment."
This is just one example of what happens when the tyrants of tolerance are left unchallenged. Now is the time for people who believe in the free exchange of ideas and the freedom of expression that is guaranteed in the First Amendment to stand together against the advance of the thought police. An attempt to protect academic freedom in the Florida legislature was turned back last week but similar legislation has been introduced in four other states with my home state of South Carolina soon to become the fifth. While most of these bills are aimed at allowing alternatives to Darwinism to be discussed in the classroom I suggest that the bills be expanded to protect all forms of expression which are deemed to be politically incorrect. It isn't just being on the wrong side of Darwinism that can get you fired these days. The politically correct crosshairs are now being trained on all who depart from the party line on a wide range of topics. Surely the purveyors of political correctness can see their own glaring hypocrisy as they use force to bring about conformity.
But then again…maybe they can't. Kim Welter, program manager for education and outreach for Equality Ohio, an advocacy group for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender citizens responded to Crystal Dixon's suspension by issuing the following statement. "I respect everyone's individual religious beliefs; however, this is an issue in the public sphere which involves law abiding, tax-paying citizens of this state, who often experience life as second-class citizens. It is unfortunate that someone who works in Human Resources for the University of Toledo would publicly express beliefs more appropriate for her place of worship." Imagine…a Christian who dares to express their faith outside the walls of the church. Welter's statement expressing her concern over the "law abiding, tax-paying citizens of this state" suggests that being law abiding and tax-paying counts only for those who support the right laws and pay taxes that can be used to impose those right laws on everyone. If that is what passes for respect of someone's "individual religious beliefs" in the academic world we are long overdue for the passage of laws that will restrain the tyrants of tolerance and protect true academic and religious freedom.
Dr. Tony Beam is Vice-President for Student Services and Director of the Christian Worldview Center at North Greenville University in Tigerville, South Carolina.