Some of you are probably following the case of Kenneth Howell, an adjunct religious instructor at the University of Illinois, who's been dismissed after he e-mailed his students an articulation (and defense) of Catholic natural law views of sexual morality. A student complained that the e-mail amounted to hate speech (not a credible claim, in my opinion).
His case raises questions we've wrestled with in the past at ISW, including academic freedom and whether to advocate for one's own views in the classroom. I'm curious to know other people's take on the situation: Unsurprisingly, Howell is claiming that his academic freedom was violated. But as some commenters at Philosophy Smoker have noted, Howell's ability to represent objectively and accurately positions that are not his own is seriously questionable. In the e-mail, Howell unsympathetically characterizes utilitarianism, relies on a good many speculative assertions, and seems not to get the point of thinking about homosexuality in terms of moral sentimentalism. Add to that the e-mail's imperious and didactic tone, and I can well imagine that students find it difficult to interact with Howell. Whether his academic freedom was violated, I'd be reluctant to have Howell teaching ethics at my institution.