Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Ideology and the Classroom

Maybe Stanley Fish could write a coherent and useful story on an actual threat to Academic Freedom like this story from CNN.

Well, stop me if you heard this one before. Because of a massive budget shortfall-- I wonder who caused it, but I digress,--, State Republican Representatives from Georgia want to control the content of education at the University of Georgia and Georgia State. With the help of the Christian Coalition, the Reps desire to pull funding from programs in which professors cover oral sex, male prostitution, and Queer Theory. Well, professors don't actually teach classes in oral sex or male prostitution, and they especially do not teach these courses as a "how to" course, though those that object insist they may, but two state Republican representatives object to classes in Queer Theory and professors who research oral sex and male prostitution as these topics are not to be considered valid education, especially when there are economic problems.

While the reps cannot directly hire or fire professors, they believe that they can control knowledge through economic means. It does not matter to these reps that the research can produce important knowledge in areas such as HIV. Of course, Christianists don't really care about services or research that can help in an empirical world. According to one report, Reps:
Hill and Byrd were incensed to learn a University of Georgia professor teaches a graduate course on "queer theory." They also took aim at Georgia State University, where an annual guide to its faculty experts lists a sociology lecturer as an expert in oral sex and faculty member Kirk Elifson as an expert in male prostitution."

One of the reps stated:
"Our job is to educate our people in sciences, business, math," said Hill, a vice chairman of the budget-writing House Appropriations Committee. He said professors aren't going to meet those needs "by teaching a class in queer theory."

I am sure that, according to these reps, evolution in Biology is not valid science and should be removed from public universities.

Maybe we should give all students MBAs, that will help our economy recover. It is not as if business professionals, say those with MBAs, who got us into this mess that caused the shortfall. Oops.

A better idea: in order to close the shortfall, let's do something radical: since religion is so heavily connected to politics, especially in Georgia, I believe that we should tax churches and religious organizations. This way churches can continue to interfere in political debates, even if it is better policy to ignore those churches in the area of education, and the state can bring in more revenue by eliminating the tax exemptions churches believe they are entitled to as a price to stay out of politics.

Or maybe the state representatives can go through religious doctrine and pick and choose what is the best and what the people in the state should follow. If the Christian Coalition can know literature, sociology and biology, maybe a few literature professors or state law-makers can become experts in theology or, for some religious organizations, biblical literalism that these organizations employ instead of theology. I am sure that many English professors could provide a better, deeper reading of Leviticus or Job than some ministers and, most likely, these two representatives could.

This is your life GOP. And it is ending one minute at a time.

No comments: