'Blue-Collar' Prof at Center of Academic Freedom Case
12 December 2001
I kept an article that goes to demonstrate a bias against Christianity until I had a proper format in which to preserve some of it and make the points I think are important. Below is the address of the original news article. Should you go to read it, this article may or may not continue to exist. It is my job to keep a record of the bias against Christianity for those who need the reporting, and this I have tried to do below. -ed.
www.latimes.com/news/local/la-000098336dec11.story?coll=la-headlines-california By WILLIAM LOBDELL, TIMES STAFF WRITER
I would like you to notice that in the opening of the report that most would consider somewhat favorable to Ken Hearlson, his difference from the average professor is the emphasis. The implication is that this man is somewhat uncouth, and perhaps even somewhat even a little less learned than others in academia, so that coupled with the fact he is a Christian may be the real reasons there is controversy surrounding him. -ed
“Nobody would ever mistake Ken Hearlson--onetime steelworker, former
farmhand and born-again Christian--for some kind of ivory tower icon.”
After that emphasis on the professor as a self described "blue-collar
professor" at a laid-back Southern California community college, allows the reader to suppose that this man could not have been hired somewhere else because of his negative qualifications and style. The considerable ability of words to subtly change or create impressions that are prejudicial in an article that informs you he is “the central figure in what one expert calls "the hottest academic freedom case in the nation."
As you move forward, I would like for you to remember that after 911 we found American news services with anchors who would not wear such things as American Flag jewelry when broadcasting for fear it might offend Muslims in the United States and other countries that got the programming. Liberals were once again in a mode where they thought it was proper to apologize for being American and to apologize for the Christian values that made the country these people hated, while at the same time envying what they had. One person at the time observing this activity suggested that if some of these people thought they could have gotten away with it they would have apologized for the decadent World Trade Center Towers getting in the way of their hijacked airliners. But in this case we are told:
“The controversy, which has made the Orange Coast College political
science instructor a popular topic on talk shows¼began in September, after four Muslim students charged that Hearlson had called them
"Nazis," "terrorists" and "murderers" during a heated classroom discussion on Islam and the Sept. 11 attacks.”
You might get the implication that this man is working for a college that promotes recreation instead of one that provides a legitimate education when you are told: “the Costa Mesa college, (is) better known for its extensive sailing program than its political science curriculum¼’
But please also notice “the incident has divided students and faculty, produced charges of evidence-tampering and threats of libel suits, and prompted the administration to hire an independent counsel to investigate.”
I want you to notice this because you will find out as you go along that there was a recording device in the classroom when this event took place that supports the professor’s side of the story. This is important because I believe that had he been a liberal supporting a politically correct agenda the professor would have had the full support of the powers that be.
The issue of a professor’s latitude and powers in the classroom is a more popular subject to raise when a Christian professor does or says something that is unpopular than when a liberal or atheistic professor behaves controversially, and it is raised in the article. As the issue is raised it is referred to as “the Hearlson affair,” a term that is used to bias the reader into believing that the professor has done some improper act somewhat like adultery. It is an “affair” you see, as you can read in the statement below:
“More broadly, though, the Hearlson affair has tapped into what many see
as simmering questions on campuses nationwide. When does a classroom
discussion cross the line from intellectual provocation into interpersonal hostility? And where do politics of every stripe fit into academic correctness?”
The answer to the “simmering questions” is that the line is crossed when the instructor is a Christian and politics of every stripe does not fit into academic correctness when it is either conservative or rational.
The implication of the below inclusion of the statement of Jonathan Knight into the article prepared the careless reader to fall into the trap of presumption. The presumption is that Hearlson, in spite of evidence to the contrary is at fault.
"The classroom is not a street corner where you can say anything you
darn well please," said Jonathan Knight, associate secretary of the American Assn. of University Professors in New York. "One expects professors to have a great deal of freedom, but [that] can be abused."
Hearlson was placed on paid leave (in other words he could not teach) after the complaint. Anybody who follows such things knows that this is one step away from getting ride of a teacher all together when such a decision is made. When liberal professors are embroiled in controversy that is not sexual in nature, this type of procedure usually does not happen.
At the same time evidence such as the evidence backing up Ken Hearlson’s account of the events is presented, the writer of the article has to bring up extraneous information that the professor has had run ins with other students. With experience in the Public School and a decade of teaching at the college level, I know disagreements with students is inevitable. I say so what? It is not possible to get along always with students who agree with you and like you, much less those that disagree with you.
Then the writer presents the Muslim students allegations that since there is evidence refuting what they claim took place, the evidence must have been tampered with. Come on now, for what motive? The evidence had been in the hands of another student, not even Mr. Hearlson. Denial of what is plainly evident is liberal stock in trade and it is the Islamic way of life that keeps their religion from collapsing like a house of cards exposed to the draft of an open door.
The other students who have bumped heads with Professor Hearlson? They are homosexuals or at least their sympathizers Does that surprise anybody today?
The writer of the original article said that the only thing everyone could agree on about the 57 year old Hearlson was that he brought a unique style and set of experiences into the classroom. Yes, he is a man who worked his way up in life, from poverty and a rural agriculture experience and he is a Christian. His own words concerning how he worked and learned values such as hard work and discipline were twisted to imply that he is a man looking out to confront someone. The fact he did other things before he became a teacher as well as the information that he got his education through the GI Bill seemed to somehow be an illegitimate way to come up when you read the article, even though the writer himself would have never openly dared to say such a thing.
One thing that got to me in the article was the account of how conversion to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ changed him. Though the reporter did not say so, I don’t think the he thought that really should happen in a person’s life”
“During his first half-dozen years teaching, Hearlson said he stood in
the middle of the academic road, giving both sides of an issue along with his own then-moderate-to-liberal views. He became a born-again Christian in 1990, a decision he said brought him peace, changed his politics and opened up his classroom demeanor.”
"I don't proselytize in the classroom, but I don't hesitate to say
Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior," he said. "I teach traditional values. The liberal point of view is already in the book. I'm trying to put Christian values back in the classroom, which has been so secular for so long."
The problem most people have with Ken Hearlson was that he was successful. It is alright to be liberal and have passion, but it is just terrible to be a conservative Christian and have passion. Guess what? Some people who were then coming to his classroom were then “turned off” by the content and passion of his lectures. One was especially offended that he might object strongly to a homosexual being hire to teach sex education to one of his children. After all, being defensive that a pervert and potential pedophile might corrupt your child with government sanction is homophobic isn’t it?
“In 1998, a lesbian student of Hearlson's made allegations that his
anti-homosexual views created a hostile classroom atmosphere. A
grievance officer with the college cleared Hearlson of wrongdoing under the banner of academic freedom, but then added, "I feel that an injustice has been done, but based on all the information provided, I can see no alternative but to deny this grievance."
To that lesbian student I can only say that if she comes into my classroom she will also find an environment hostile towards sin.
One other piece of information also revealed how sweet these Muslim students were. It also shows that they were at the school as much or more for political purposes as to get an education. Professor Hearlson confronted their anti-Semitic actions which, probably since it would only offend Jews and Conservative Christians, should have been ignored:
“Last year, after some Muslim students passed out "Anti-Zionist Week"
fliers that featured a swastika and barbed wire superimposed on the Star of David, Hearlson brought up the issue in class. After a heated exchange with some Muslim students, campus security was called.”
Ken Hearlson did have some few supporters though:
Susan Smith, a history professor and Hearlson's friend, said she is disappointed that the faculty didn't mobilize on his behalf.
"Four students with bees in their bonnets have managed to take a
college of 26,000 and put it in the national spotlight," Smith said. "There's something so out of proportion about that."
Smith also thinks Hearlson has been penalized for conservative views.
"If he were a passionate liberal, this wouldn't have gotten out of the gate," she said. "In the academic community, they tend not to be welcomed."
The truth is that Christian viewpoints are even more unwelcome and Professor Hearlson possesses both.
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