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University Associate V-P of Human Resources Sues Over Firing Based on Anti-Gay-Rights Newspaper Article:

Here's the Complaint, in Crystal Dixon v. University of Toledo. Here's the article itself:

I read with great interest Michael Miller's April 6 column, "Gay Rights and Wrongs."

I respectfully submit a different perspective for Miller and Toledo Free Press readers to consider.

First, human beings, regardless of their choices in life, are of ultimate value to God and should be viewed the same by others. At the same time, one's personal choices lead to outcomes either positive or negative.

As a Black woman who happens 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 so as my Creator intended. Daily, thousands of homosexuals make a life decision to leave the gay lifestyle evidenced by the growing population of PFOX (Parents and Friends of Ex Gays) and Exodus International just to name a few. Frequently, the individuals report that the impetus to their change of heart and lifestyle was a transformative experience with God; a realization that their choice of same-sex practices wreaked havoc in their psychological and physical lives. Charlene E. Cothran, publisher of Venus Magazine, was an aggressive, strategic supporter of gay rights and a practicing lesbian for 29 years, before she renounced her sexuality and gave Jesus Christ stewardship of her life. The gay community vilified her angrily and withdrew financial support from her magazine, upon her announcement that she was leaving the lesbian lifestyle. Rev. Carla Thomas Royster, a highly respected New Jersey educator and founder and pastor of Blessed Redeemer Church in Burlington, NJ, married to husband Mark with two sons, bravely exposed her previous life as a lesbian in a tell-all book. When asked why she wrote the book, she responded "to set people free… I finally obeyed God."

Economic data is irrefutable: The normative statistics for a homosexual in the USA include a Bachelor's degree: For gay men, the median household income is $83,000/yr. (Gay singles $62,000; gay couples living together $130,000), almost 80% above the median U.S. household income of $46,326, per census data. For lesbians, the median household income is $80,000/yr. (Lesbian singles $52,000; Lesbian couples living together $96,000); 36% of lesbians reported household incomes in excess of $100,000/yr. Compare that to the median income of the non-college educated Black male of $30,539. The data speaks for itself.

The reference to the alleged benefits disparity at the University of Toledo was rather misleading. When the University of Toledo and former Medical University of Ohio merged, both entities had multiple contracts for different benefit plans at substantially different employee cost sharing levels. To suggest that homosexual employees on one campus are being denied benefits avoids the fact that ALL employees across the two campuses regardless of their sexual orientation, have different benefit plans. The university is working diligently to address this issue in a reasonable and cost-efficient manner, for all employees, not just one segment.

My final and most important point. There is a divine order. God created human kind male and female (Genesis 1:27). God created humans with an inalienable right to choose. There are consequences for each of our choices, including those who violate God's divine order. It is base human nature to revolt and become indignant when the world or even God Himself, disagrees with our choice that violates His divine order. Jesus Christ loves the sinner but hates the sin (John 8:1-11.) Daily, Jesus Christ is radically transforming the lives of both straight and gay folks and bringing them into a life of wholeness: spiritually, psychologically, physically and even economically. That is the ultimate right.

Crystal Dixon lives in Maumee.

The university apparently agrees that Dixon was fired because of the article, but argues that the firing was justified:

A letter from [University of Toledo President Lloyd Jacobs] to Ms. Dixon said her public position was in direct contradiction with university values and told her that her position "calls into question your continued ability to lead a critical function within the administration as personnel actions or decisions taken in your capacity as associate vice president for human resources could be challenged or placed at risk. The result is a loss of confidence in you as an administrator."

Ms. Dixon cited her 25-year career in human resources in which she has hired and recommended the hiring of both homosexual and heterosexual people based on their qualifications.

"To say that I cannot have a personal opinion regarding the practice of some humans and not be effective in my job as a human resources leader is preposterous given my track record for the past 25 years," she said.

Matt Lockwood, a UT spokesman, said yesterday the university welcomes dissent and input from others and the exchange of ideas, but her public expressions called into question her ability to do the functions of her job.

"Certain jobs within a public institution have restrictions on what those people in those jobs can express," he said.

The University of Toledo is a state-run university. Three questions:

(1) Is the University's position constitutionally permissible, on the grounds that "the employee's interest in expressing herself on this matter [was] not be outweighed by [some] injury the speech could cause to 'the interest of the State, as an employer, in promoting the efficiency of the public services it performs through its employees'" (the so-called Pickering balance)?

(2) Is the University's position professionally and ethically proper, or should public employers -- and especially universities, even when it comes to administrative employees -- have more tolerance for public debate on such issues?

(3) If the University's action is proper, then it suggests that pretty much any public speech that suggests that homosexuality is immoral could lead to a public employee's being fired, at least if the employee does something related to human resources (which would presumably include employees who are simply middle managers, and not just vice presidents of human resources). After all, it's pretty clear that Dixon wasn't fired for some especially rude way of putting her views, and that she couldn't have avoided the firing by just using different words -- it was the public expression of the views that was the cause of the firing.

Given this, how should people who share Ms. Dixon's religious views, and who are trying to figure out how militantly to fight against pro-gay-rights causes, react? Of course, you might think the answer is "change your views, and accept homosexuality as perfectly proper." But let's assume that those who oppose homosexuality continue to disagree with you on that. What should a reasonable person in their shoes do, faced with the prospect that expressing their views -- and quite likely expressing any opposition to pro-gay-rights policies, when the opposition rests on a claim that homosexuality doesn't merit legal protection of various sorts -- is becoming a firing offense as to a large range of jobs?

It does seem pretty clear that at least some of the progress of gay rights -- not all, but some -- is coming at he expense of the freedom (whether or not constitutionally protected freedom) of people who hold anti-gay religious views. Doubtless many who support gay rights understandably think this a fair tradeoff, especially when the rights are the rights of public employees, which have long been constrained (and in my view quite reasonably constrained) in certain ways. But what should be the reaction of those who oppose homosexuality on religious grounds, and care a good deal about their and their coreligionists' ability to express their views and act in accordance with those views in their private lives?

Thanks to Religion Clause for the pointer.

Ben P:
If this were a private company, I'd certainly have no problem with it. If a private company adopted a company policy that it would not discriminate in any way (including hiring) of homosexuals, and the head of the HR department published a letter that's very easily construed as indicating that they don't personally believe homosexuals are deserving of such protections because it's a "life choice" that can have "consequences," it would be acceptable for the company to let her go because of her indication that she would not enforce company policy.


However, because this is a state constitution I'm very unconvinced that the employees interest is outweighed by the interest the state has in efficient provision of services. It just seems that the state is legally bound to have more tolerance except where it can demonstrate a fairly strong harm. Without specific instances of her bad conduct it's hard to convince myself of the viability of a case.

but it's an issue close enough to be very interesting.
12.3.2008 12:45pm
Sarcastro (www):
May I be the first to generalize and say "This is what all acedemia does, because all liberals hate non-liberal speech?"
12.3.2008 12:46pm
Steve:
It does seem pretty clear that at least some of the progress of gay rights -- not all, but some -- is coming at he expense of the freedom (whether or not constitutionally protected freedom) of people who hold anti-gay religious views.

Likewise, fair housing laws infringe on the freedom of those who don't want to live around minorities. What should "a reasonable person who doesn't want to live around minorities" do? I dunno, suck it up I guess. The government is acting as an employer here, and I don't see why they should be substantially more constrained than a private employer in terms of treating this as a firing offense.

If I'm hiring someone whose job involves ensuring that my organization complies with the civil rights laws - in other words, a human resources administrator, like this woman was - I really don't think I have to employ someone who believes some of those laws are immoral and violate God's will. And from a pragmatic standpoint, employing this woman in a human resources position creates a liability nightmare.
12.3.2008 12:48pm
Ben P:
Just to clarify the above. I do believe that at a minimum homosexuality is substantially an immutable characteristic. Merely because it can be suppressed by an individual more easily than skin color doesn't make it less so.

Beyond an academic level I have some difficulty finding the merit in claims that peoples religious freedoms are being seriously limited by the gay rights movement. Comparisons between sexual orientation and race have become somewhat cliche, but I have a hard time seeing a fundamental difference between firing someone who provides strong indication that they believe a racial group is inferior and would not enforce non-discrimination rules, and someone who provids a strong indication they believe a certain other group is "evil" and would not enforce non-discrimination rules. I fully recognize the court precedents are different, but I'm saying I have a hard time seeing different facts here. There have certainly been individuals in the past that believed racist dogma with a near religious fervor.
12.3.2008 12:53pm
SSFC (www):
Could the University constitutionally fire a Muslim or ultra-orthodox Jewish VP of Human Resources for writing a polite letter to the editor opposing Title IX, or for that matter arguing that the 19th amendment should be repealed, and supporting this opinion with arguments from hadiths or the torah? Could it fire a white law professor for teaching students that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 exceeds the scope of Congress' powers under the Constitution?

I suspect it could.
12.3.2008 12:53pm
1Ler:
Is there room for asking whether a VP in HR has some official duties to communicate to the press (even informally)? I think there's a viable argument that Ms. Dixon's claim fails under Garcetti. I'll stay out of whether this is a "good" outcome or not because I still haven't decided.
12.3.2008 12:54pm
Nunzio:
It seems a bit unfair that the school couldn't fire a professor for writing a letter like this but can fire an administrator.

They could probably fire the basketball coach as well. Why do professors get all the luck, except some silly notion of academic freedom that lets them say whatever they want no matter how unrelated to their actual teaching and research fields.
12.3.2008 12:59pm
sdfsdf (mail):
Suppose a public university adopts the policy that it will not discriminate on the basis of race. Should it be able to fire employees in the admission office who have publicly supported affirmative action?

A private university, of course, should be able to fire someone (subject to not breaching his contract) merely for voting for McCain.

Should a public university be able to fire someone for voting for McCain if the university's policies differ from McCain's?
12.3.2008 12:59pm
Joe Bingham (mail):
Outrageous.
12.3.2008 12:59pm
trad and anon (mail):
Of course, you might think the answer is "change your views, and accept homosexuality as perfectly proper." But let's assume that those who oppose homosexuality continue to disagree with you on that. What should a reasonable person in their shoes do, faced with the prospect that expressing their views -- and quite likely expressing any opposition to pro-gay-rights policies, when the opposition rests on a claim that homosexuality doesn't merit legal protection of various sorts -- is becoming a firing offense as to a large range of jobs?
Over the past century, our society has gone from being completely accepting of racism and anti-semitism to making expression of such beliefs socially unacceptable in most social circles and a firing offense for most jobs. I supported this change, as did/do the bloggers here (I hope!).

Today, racists have to stay in the closet to get by, at least in most social circles and job categories. Anti-gay views should be treated in basically the same way. So the answer is to your question is that hypothetical anti-gay bigot should stfu.

Of course, this is different from the legal question of whether the University's firing was Constitutionally proper, which it probably was not.
12.3.2008 1:01pm
ForWhatItsWorth:
The thing that really bothers me is that she has, most obviously, had this attitude for a very long time and hasn't been seen to "discriminate" in her job. After that many years, it would be pretty obvious, no?

The fact that she wrote something or said something "out loud" that she has probably believed all her life shouldn't impact her job unless there is actual evidence of her acting on that. How about some common sense?

This is so telling: "Matt Lockwood, a UT spokesman, said yesterday the university welcomes dissent and input from others and the exchange of ideas, but her public expressions called into question her ability to do the functions of her job."

If saying what she has been thinking for her nearly her entire life somehow magically makes her more likely to act on it, I would agree with this statement, but as she noted she has been doing this job for 25 years and nobody seems to have "caught her" doing anything wrong. Are they incompetent?

Can I say, uh, BS!!!!!!!!! "Welcomes dissent and input" my rear end!
12.3.2008 1:12pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Ben P: In the case you might mention, I think there would be some substantive forum issues. If the letter said "and I will try to discriminate" then sure, firing would be appropriate. If the letter was published on official company letterhead, maybe firing would be appropriate, but suppose it was a letter to the editor of a local newspaper? How far do you suppose that corporate officers are required at all times to stick to the company line?

On the positive side, I like the Toledo Free Press's terms of service. I guess I don't have to be worried about ending up like Lori Drew for using their site ;-)
12.3.2008 1:12pm
martinned (mail) (www):
Reading the article, this seems to me to be more of a God issue than a gays issue. Clearly this woman is - pardon my strong language - an idiot, but not in the sense that she deserves to get fired over it. What does give me pause, though, and could legitimately give a public university pause as well, is the way she drags God into all of this. I would imagine most people involved in this university would sleep better knowing their administrators do not take their cues from the almighty, Bush style.
12.3.2008 1:16pm
decker2003:
Where did she say that she supports discrimination against homosexuals? or that she would not enforce laws and/or policies protecting them from discrimination? Is one unfit for service in a public institution merely because one believes that there is a divine law which all must obey and a divinity who will punish those who transgress that law?
12.3.2008 1:16pm
John (mail):
The university seems to think that having some one on staff like this is bad for its business. That was the excuse southern businesses used to discriminate against employing blacks back in the 60's.

There is no evidence cited that she did not perform her job satisfactorily.
12.3.2008 1:17pm
Mr. Bingley (www):
Ms. Dixon cited her 25-year career in human resources in which she has hired and recommended the hiring of both homosexual and heterosexual people based on their qualifications.

"To say that I cannot have a personal opinion regarding the practice of some humans and not be effective in my job as a human resources leader is preposterous given my track record for the past 25 years," she said.


What she said.

And where does she ever say in her letter that she thinks that gays should be denied these benefits? Her main point, it seems to me, is that it sucks more to be black than be gay. I don't think any disagreement on that, is there? Her clarification on the University's policies was clear and needed given the slant of the original editorial: due to the merger there are benefit differences for everyone, not just gays, and they are working on them.
12.3.2008 1:19pm
calmom:
She should only be fired if she DID something that violated the university policies, not for things she SAYS in her private life.
12.3.2008 1:20pm
Bill Poser (mail) (www):

May I be the first to generalize and say "This is what all acedemia does, because all liberals hate non-liberal speech?"


Bad idea. I'm an academic and a "liberal" who supports gay rights. I think that this woman's firing is outrageous. What she has to say, though I disagree with much of it (she makes one point about the complexity of the benefits situation at her institution that may well be correct and is not about gay rights per se), is well within the bounds of civilized public debate. It doesn't bring the university into disrepute and it doesn't suggest that she is unable to abide by university policy and law in carrying out her duties. She makes it clear that she is expressing her personal views and not the university's position.
12.3.2008 1:21pm
ForWhatItsWorth:
Oh, and before anyone gets all over me for the above, *I* wouldn't say what she said in a public OR private forum. For one thing, her entire argument seems to be based upon the "laws of god" which is something I don't think exists. That alone makes what she said pretty much nonsense in my opinion.

Moreover, I don't think there is a real "choice" between homosexual and heterosexual behavior. Just as there is no possible way, without wretching, that I could even consider being homosexual, I am sure the same applies to the homosexual when thinking about heterosexual activity. That would lead me to think there is something much deeper going on here than a simple "lifestyle choice."

So she is wrong....... But I don't deny her right to say what she believes. It isn't like she incited anyone to go out and do harm to someone else. Additionally, she never said that what she said was university policy. It would appear that the only real mistake she made was in not writing in a disclaimer to that effect, right? :)
12.3.2008 1:21pm
Tim J. (mail):
martinned,

Your complaint boils down to "she's religious." Generally, the US frowns upon religious discrimination.
12.3.2008 1:23pm
Elliot123 (mail):
Didn't employees of the Univ of Michigan lobby against the requirement to abandon race based admissions? Would their announced preference for racial considerations beb grounds to fire them?
12.3.2008 1:28pm
jweaks:
Based on the information in the article, outrageous is the proper response. I hope see wins her case.
12.3.2008 1:29pm
martinned (mail) (www):
@Tim J.: No, my problem boils down to "she's religious and she thinks the rules of her god should apply to others as well".
12.3.2008 1:30pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
What makes this a tough case is her position. You want your HR people to not be homophobes, for the same reason you want them not to be racists or misogynists or anti-Semites. Hiring is governed by anti-discrimination laws and principles, and you need these people to make unbiased decisions.

That said, HR people don't give up their free speech rights. So the wishy-washy compromise that I would come up with is that the university should have closely monitored this person's job performance to ensure that she is able to look past her own views and hire qualified gay and lesbian applicants. If she isn't doing that, the university has cause to fire her. But if she's able to hire gays and lesbians in the daytime and write homophobic letters to the editor at night, she's doing her job, and her political expression is protected by the First Amendment.
12.3.2008 1:31pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
My thinking is that this was fairly clearly a personal opinion, not positioned as an official position of the school, and so forth.

I disagree with her vehemently. However, I hope she wins her case.
12.3.2008 1:33pm
Bpbatista (mail):
Just another example of the fraudulent "diversity" and "tolerance" crowd. They are not diverse and they are not tolerant. If you don't think or act like them they get rid of you. Plain and simple. This is religious discrimination and, possibly, race discrimination as well. I hope she gets a bazillion dollars and the PC thought police at UT get canned.
12.3.2008 1:33pm
Joe Bingham (mail):
What does give me pause, though, and could legitimately give a public university pause as well, is the way she drags God into all of this. I would imagine most people involved in this university would sleep better knowing their administrators do not take their cues from the almighty, Bush style.

What if I'm a school administrator who discovers one of my employees loves Rousseau and thinks he was a brilliant guy? Rousseau was an irrational Romantic idiot with dangerous, stupid ideas. Is it ok for me to fire someone not because I disagree with their morality, but because I distrust the source of their morality?
12.3.2008 1:34pm
Curt Fischer:
Some people are already attributing ideological motivations to the officials responsible for the firing.

A very interesting question, though, is "Does the university fear lawsuits brought by gay job applicants down the road, and did this fear impact the decision to fire Crystal Dixon?"

Could someone lawyerly and knowledgeable explain whether the university has the right to act on a "reasonable" (or some other standard) expectation of future lawsuits, regardless of those lawsuits' merit, when making personnel decisions?
12.3.2008 1:34pm
Joe Bingham (mail):
(Supposing, that is, that I discovered she likes Rousseau when she cited him as a moral authority.)
12.3.2008 1:34pm
Elliot123 (mail):
How does she know an applicant is gay? Is it on the application?
12.3.2008 1:35pm
Ben P:

Ben P: In the case you might mention, I think there would be some substantive forum issues. If the letter said "and I will try to discriminate" then sure, firing would be appropriate. If the letter was published on official company letterhead, maybe firing would be appropriate, but suppose it was a letter to the editor of a local newspaper? How far do you suppose that corporate officers are required at all times to stick to the company line?


My initial reaction is as far as their contract provides.

I'd agree that forums do become important when we're talking about a government actor. The example may be way off base, but I'd expect that most institutions and private companies don't have an explicit "Senior Executives shall not be photographed drinking alcohol with underage girls" policy, but I don't doubt that there'd be a policy somewhere to fire the executive should a scandal like that occur. (RE something like this.)



RE: Decker


Where did she say that she supports discrimination against homosexuals?


I freely admit I could be wrong about this, but I find it hard to not read that into the letter to the editor. Again I kind of dislike using the racism analogy, but suppose someone had written a letter discussing their views on the pervasive inferiority of a particular race, but expressed no particular intent with respect to their job. The same argument would exist in either case, but I don't think asserting that "I've hired members of "X race" in the past would save someone from accusations or suspicions of discrimination in that case.
12.3.2008 1:35pm
lesser ajax:
Held: Use by an employee in any public communication of any variant of the cliche "wreak havoc" raises a presumption of justified dismissal.
12.3.2008 1:38pm
Parenthetical:
Mr. Bingley wrote:

Her clarification on the University's policies was clear and needed given the slant of the original editorial

But that's precisely where she may have strayed into trouble.

If she felt the need to write a op-ed about how being black isn't sinful, but being gay clearly is, so be it.

Likewise, if she merely wanted to clarify the post-merger benefits situation that too would be okay.

Tying the two together in a single letter, however, raises some legitimate concerns.

Whether it was legal for a public entity to fire her for this is a bit more complicated (and I'm going to punt on that question).
12.3.2008 1:39pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):

So the wishy-washy compromise that I would come up with is that the university should have closely monitored this person's job performance to ensure that she is able to look past her own views and hire qualified gay and lesbian applicants. If she isn't doing that, the university has cause to fire her. But if she's able to hire gays and lesbians in the daytime and write homophobic letters to the editor at night, she's doing her job, and her political expression is protected by the First Amendment.


I think independent review of HR decisions, just like accounting decisions makes a great deal of sense. However, one thing here is that most likely the HR person won't know someone's sexual orientation during the HR review process. Unless one is hiring a prominent activist, these sorts of things are more likely to come up in disputes relating to existing employees.

I think a better compromise is to have independent review of all hirings which involve sensitive issues. This means one person makes the first call, presents their reasoning to someone else who then reviews and determines whether or not to overrule the first person. Ideally this category of review should include all dispute resolution involving existing employees.
12.3.2008 1:39pm
anon345 (mail):
It's here that I think she crossed the line:

"To suggest that homosexual employees on one campus are being denied benefits avoids the fact that ALL employees across the two campuses regardless of their sexual orientation, have different benefit plans. The university is working diligently to address this issue in a reasonable and cost-efficient manner, for all employees, not just one segment."

This quote implies an intimacy with the process which would be appropriate for the VP of Human Resources, but not for private citizen Crystal Dixon. The university does not have to show that the entire article was the basis for the firing; they can point to a single statement as long as it is reasonable to believe that it was in the capacity of VP, HR vs. private citizen that this statement was made. If I read this article and then googled Cynthia Dixon, I would be able to find out that she was employed by the University of Toledo in a capacity that made this benefits reconciliation process one of her primary duties. Her mentioning it specifically in the context of this article would make a gay employee reasonably concerned. The rest of the stuff is stupid, but clearly out-of-bounds with respect to job action.
12.3.2008 1:41pm
martinned (mail) (www):
@Joe Bingham: That is actually a good question in a broader sense. What's so special about religion that makes the establishment of a religion more of a problem than the establishment of any other kind of official philosophy? (I know, the latter would be unconstitutional as well, but it isn't specifically mentioned in the same way.)

O, and for the record, I probably should have mentioned that I agree with pretty much all commenters here that she should win her case, at least under US law. But I can see why her article would give the university pause.
12.3.2008 1:41pm
Joe Bingham (mail):
Elliot123,

She oversaw the installation of a very expensive gaydar system installed in the HR office.
12.3.2008 1:42pm
Brian Mac:

No, my problem boils down to "she's religious and she thinks the rules of her god should apply to others as well".

Isn't that a tautology?
12.3.2008 1:50pm
HipposGoBerserk (mail):
"she makes one point about the complexity of the benefits situation at her institution that may well be correct and is not about gay rights per se"

Did TU think her mixing in some discussion of the matters for which she is responsible in her official capacity created a strange hybrid personal-professional statement? Would that matter?

That said, I think state institutions acting as employers should have the freedom to fire idiots for being stupid in public; so I view her claim as being a slim procedural claim rather than a material issue of public policy.

HGB
12.3.2008 1:51pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):

The example may be way off base, but I'd expect that most institutions and private companies don't have an explicit "Senior Executives shall not be photographed drinking alcohol with underage girls" policy, but I don't doubt that there'd be a policy somewhere to fire the executive should a scandal like that occur.


Sure. Actually, I would draw the line somewhere else.

At the point where someone's capacity to do a job is significantly impaired by public statements or private actions, firing should always be allowed and in fact advisable. This does mean that if you do something in public which causes an uproar in the office and destroys your credibility, you should be let go.

However, I am not sure here.

I suppose I wouldn't have a legal problem with a private business that made a firing under these conditions at least in my state (which is at will) but it would call into question their ability to do pretty much anything and so I might choose not to do business with them in any way.
12.3.2008 1:53pm
martinned (mail) (www):

Merriam-Webster: "Tautology (..) a statement true due to its logical form alone."

@Brian Mac: In this day and age, AFAIK, most religious people do not expect those that do not share their beliefs to still obey the same (religious) rules. Very few Christians would argue, I think, that it is wrong for me not to respect the sabbath, just like Jews wouldn't normally complain that I don't keep kosher. Am I wrong?
12.3.2008 1:55pm
erics (mail):
I'm with trad and anon. Put another way, in 25-50 years this post will look quite preposterous.
12.3.2008 1:55pm
Bpbatista (mail):
Where's the vaunted ACLU?
12.3.2008 1:57pm
anon345 (mail):
Here's the original quote from the column that she was responding to:

"The frequent denial of health care benefits leads to horror stories. According to the panelists, UT has offered domestic partner benefits since then-president Dan Johnson signed them into effect. The Medical University of Ohio did not offer those benefits. When the institutions merged, UT employees retained the domestic-partner benefits, but MUO employees were not offered them. So, people working for the same employer do not have access to the same benefits. According to the panel, it may be 18 months before the situation is addressed. Eighteen months is a very long time to live (and work at a medical facility) without health benefits."

I think Ms Dixon has less of a leg to stand on than it seemed at first blush especially if the 18 month delay (or a suggestion that no extension of medical benefits to gay partners was necessary) has her fingerprints on it. Having been through several mergers, this delay is exceedingly long. The institutions merged on July 1, 2006 so that the total time from merger to resolution of the issue was projected to be over 3 years. One could easily wonder why it was taking so long.
12.3.2008 1:57pm
Different Perspective:
I think I can offer a different perspective. I'm a Catholic who believes that homosexual acts are wrong both for religious and natural law reasons. From my vantage point, there's a salient difference between a racist evaluating black job applicants and a Christian evaluating gay job applicants. The racist would believe that the black man is intrinsically inferior, and hence everything the black man would do would be worse than a white applicant. In contrast, the Christian would believe that the gay applicant commits sin in one area of his life. Such an applicant would be no different that other applicants, because every job applicant sins in some way (from the Christian perspective). In order to be competent, a Christian in HR would have to segregate the sin from the sinner on a regular basis. There is no necessity that a Christian in HR would be unable to do so with a gay applicant.

For this reason, I think a Christian in HR can execute her duties without discrimination and the instant situation is distinct from the racist in HR.
12.3.2008 2:00pm
Cornellian (mail):
If it were a private university, I'd say they were free to fire her or not, according to their views of her performance.

If it were a public university and she were some accounting clerk I'd say she probably shouldn't be fired as this doesn't have anything to do with her job.

But she's the VP of HR, charged with making personnel decisions and enforcing anti-discrimination policies. Her article is so laden with the usual venomous code words ("choosing" the "lifestyle", the obligatory reference to the ex-gay fraud etc.) she has pretty much destroyed any perception that she could make a fair decision where the interests of a gay employee were involved.

As for what a person with such views should do, I'd say the same thing that a person with anti-semitic views should do - find a more sympathetic employer or a different job or STFU. Don't write a letter to the editor complaining about how America is ignoring the insidious Jewish plot set out in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion then expect to go back to your job administering your employer's anti-discrimination policy. And don't expect to paste the word "religion" onto your views as if that made them immune to any repercussion.
12.3.2008 2:05pm
David Warner:
Dilan,

"What makes this a tough case is her position. You want your HR people to not be homophobes, for the same reason you want them not to be racists or misogynists or anti-Semites."

Show me the phobia.

This is a mere dissent from the currently prevailing view of the construction of homosexual identity. If she feared those advancing that view (would you like to argue that she should?), then that might be considered a phobia. Given what happened to her, however, it appears that such fears would on the contrary be reasonable ones.

Anyone who cares about gay rights should be troubled by this case. Your victory looks inevitable in our society, but ours is not the only society. Others are watching what happens here.
12.3.2008 2:05pm
AF:
If a VP of Human Resources wrote a letter to the editor (1) taking "umbrage" at the idea that Jews can be "civil rights victims," (2) arguing that unlike race, Judaism is a choice that can be reversed by accepting Jesus Christ as their personal savior, (3) pointing out that Jews are wealthier than the average American, and (4) stating that Jews should not complain about not being allowed to take days off for religious holidays because all religions have different holidays, few would doubt that a public university would be entitled to fire her.

From a constitutional perspective, I don't see why this is any different.
12.3.2008 2:06pm
A.S.:
But I thought dissent was patriotic!
12.3.2008 2:07pm
Cornellian (mail):
The racist would believe that the black man is intrinsically inferior, and hence everything the black man would do would be worse than a white applicant. In contrast, the Christian would believe that the gay applicant commits sin in one area of his life. Such an applicant would be no different that other applicants, because every job applicant sins in some way (from the Christian perspective).

So you'd be ok if she had written the article about Jews, on the grounds that Jews merely "commit sin in one area of their life" by not believing that Jesus is the son of God?
12.3.2008 2:07pm
1Ler:
AF, I'm not sure I follow. I was reading through your hypo as an example of speech that is clearly protected... and then I got to your conclusion.

I think the easiest answer to all this is to get rid of the idea that public employees have First Amendment rights that prevent the state from acting as an employer. No problems with consistency there--and it was the standard for a long time leading up to Pickering and Keyishian.
12.3.2008 2:11pm
ginsocal (mail):
While I have some sympathy for the woman's position, the principles of liberty and freedom of contract allow an employer to terminate any employee for any reason, or no reason at all. The predilection of some segments of our society to grant "rights" not found in the Constitution in troubling, to say the least.
12.3.2008 2:11pm
Cornellian (mail):
Your victory looks inevitable in our society, but ours is not the only society. Others are watching what happens here.

Yes, the civilized Western democracies are wondering what took us so long. The despotic medieval dictatorships took a short break from looting and oppressing their populations to express their dismay at our lack of righteousness. Which group do side with?
12.3.2008 2:14pm
Cornellian (mail):
That should have been "which group do you side with?"
12.3.2008 2:16pm
anon345 (mail):
It's not about job applications people; it's about domestic partner benefits. Toledo had relatively recently (November, 2007) passed a domestic partner registry law for the explicit purpose of allowing gay couples to prove eligibility. There was substantial debate around this time as to why it was taking so long for MUO to extend domestic partneship benefits. It was well-known that Crystal Dixon was a key person in those discussions.
12.3.2008 2:16pm
AF:

The University of Toledo is a state-run university. Three questions:

. . .

(3) If the University's action is proper, then it suggests that pretty much any public speech that suggests that homosexuality is immoral could lead to a public employee's being fired, at least if the employee does something related to human resources (which would presumably include employees who are simply middle managers, and not just vice presidents of human resources).

Two responses:

(1) What was the question?

(2) Not necessarily. Under the Pickering balancing test, the specific job responsibilities of the employee (as well as the specific statements made and the context in which they were made) would be relevant to the employer's interest in maintaining an efficient workplace, and therefore to the merits of the First Amendment claim.
12.3.2008 2:16pm
David Schwartz (mail):
Curt Fischer: I don't think the government should be in the business of firing people because it fears that retaining them may lead to meritless lawsuits. I don't see how this is any different from wanting to fire all your black employees because some racists won't patronize the business if you don't.
12.3.2008 2:18pm
Yankev (mail):

Likewise, fair housing laws infringe on the freedom of those who don't want to live around minorities. What should "a reasonable person who doesn't want to live around minorities" do?
Where does she say that she does not want to live around gay people, or that she wants to violate the law? You are penalizing thought and belief, not action.

Of course, others here have gone so far as to suggest that she should be fired for believing in G-d, or believing that G-d has said that some behavior is immoral no matter who commits it.

For those who doubt whether a religious believer could effectively be an HR officer, regardless of the officer's history of treating all people with dignity and commitment to obeying anti-discrimination law, let me turn the question around: How can we trust that an atheist HR officer would protect the religious rights of a Christian, Jewish, Muslim or other employee, given the atheist belief that religion is at best nonsense and at worst destructive to both the believer and to society? Would you defend a religious test for HR officers who have to interact with religious employees?
12.3.2008 2:19pm
AF:
AF, I'm not sure I follow. I was reading through your hypo as an example of speech that is clearly protected... and then I got to your conclusion.

I'd love to see a case upholding a Pickering claim on similar facts.
12.3.2008 2:20pm
Cornellian (mail):
For those who doubt whether a religious believer could effectively be an HR officer, regardless of the officer's history of treating all people with dignity and commitment to obeying anti-discrimination law, let me turn the question around: How can we trust that an atheist HR officer would protect the religious rights of a Christian, Jewish, Muslim or other employee, given the atheist belief that religion is at best nonsense and at worst destructive to both the believer and to society?

I don't doubt that a religious person can be an effective HR officer. Not every religious person believes what Ms. Dixon appears to believe. And if an atheist VP of HR had written a letter to the editor about religious people with tone and content similar to Ms. Dixon's letter, then I'd say that letter would disqualify the person from the job of VP of HR as well.
12.3.2008 2:24pm
fortyninerdweet (mail):
I'm an idiot who in some ways agrees with her religious POV but believes the manner in which she expressed it caused irreparable harm to her employer - in this manner: When a future "human resource" issue arises wherein a gay employee receives through her auspices what he or she perceives to be as a negative result, ipso, a "bad faith" appeal could foreseeably occur. So her statement increases, imo, the probability of stifling and interfering with the flow of her department's workflow. Her employer doesn't need the extra expense this could cause.

If she had limited her comment to either subject, the benefits issue or her personal POV about G-d, it would have changed the situation. That she mixed them together probably creates future unknown "problems".

One defense the employer could take, btw, is to offer her a lesser position within that department - thus removing her as the "figure head". Why they did not do so, imo, probably confirms martinned's original comment.
12.3.2008 2:24pm
martinned (mail) (www):

Of course, others here have gone so far as to suggest that she should be fired for believing in G-d, or believing that G-d has said that some behavior is immoral no matter who commits it.

Did you mean me?

In the (obviously more relaxed) context of hiring instead of firing, I would expect the University to avoid hiring an administrator who can't tell the difference between their own religious beliefs and considerations that form an acceptable basis for official behavior. Incidentally, that applies similarly to all sorts of other biases, regardless of their source, when there is grounds to believe that those biases might interfere with the work.

As for your counterexample, what kinds of religious rights did you have in mind? The right to have Christmas Day off? Generally, where an atheist has a bias towards religion that could get in the way of their official duties, they should not get hired.
12.3.2008 2:25pm
Whadonna More:
This is just bad lawyering at UToledo. The firing is clean since the letter admits outside employement as a "business owner" and seems to be expressing the University's position. Both are almost certainly against existing policies.

I am curious how she thinks she can prove that she never discriminated against homosexuals in her 25 years of experience, especially once a rejected gay applicant for some position turns up where the hired person was a performance disaster.
12.3.2008 2:25pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
The woman lacks common sense and good judgment, as AF points out, and thus should not be in a position of authority. If I as a gay HR VP wrote an article stating that sexual orientation was decided at birth, while Michael Jackson is proof that black people can always become white by skin bleaching and plastic surgery, you'd all think I was crazy. What if I further wrote (from my sincere religious belief) that black people were descendants of Cain, whom God turned black as punishment for his murder of Abel; thus all black people bore the mark of Cain, and therefore equal treatment for blacks was against the will of God?

You'd put me in a home.
12.3.2008 2:26pm
anon345 (mail):
They did offer her another assignment (a demotion). She would not take it because, in her opinion, she had done nothing wrong.
12.3.2008 2:28pm
martinned (mail) (www):
@fortyninerdweet: For the record, that "idiot" qualification was based mostly on her verifiably untrue statements about ex-gays, etc. Religious statements, as such, are meaningless (I'm reading up on my Wittgenstein...), and therefore untouchable for any kind of criticism.
12.3.2008 2:28pm
Ben P:

From my vantage point, there's a salient difference between a racist evaluating black job applicants and a Christian evaluating gay job applicants.


At least as I'm reading this, we're interpreting the issue differently.

I don't really see the issue as simply being a "christian evaulating gay job applicants." (or arranging benefits as the case may be)

I see this, and the broader issue as being something more similar to an individual feeling the need to publically express certain beliefs.

I'm not sure entirely how strong, but there's at least some difference between an individual merely having certain beliefs (and associating with others who hold those beliefs) and a person who goes out of their way to make their beliefs known to others and going further, indicates that those beliefs do or will lead to actions that affect others. At least when it comes to freedom of religion. However, I'm much more troubled by the free speech aspects of a "just keep your head down" sort of view.
12.3.2008 2:29pm
Joe Bingham (mail):
What's so special about religion that makes the establishment of a religion more of a problem than the establishment of any other kind of official philosophy?

martinned,

I think the proper question is, "what's so special about religion that makes individual moral beliefs that draw on religion an 'establishment by law' of that religion, while individual moral beliefs that draw on other sources are not 'established by law' (or are ok to establish by law) when government employees are permitted to hold them?"
12.3.2008 2:30pm
Tony Tutins (mail):

She would not take it because, in her opinion, she had done nothing wrong.

Failure to acknowledge one's mistakes is a sign of Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
12.3.2008 2:30pm
Simon P:
(1) If I recall the doctrine correctly, I think that this has to come out in Dixon's favor. Dixon appears to be commenting on a matter of public concern, in her capacity as a private citizen. This seems precisely like the sort of case Pickering is supposed to protect; Dixon's expression can't be outweighed by the fact that the University may catch some flak for her statement. If that were sufficient to find a "disruption of the workplace", then it seems Pickering itself would have had to go the other way. She wasn't speaking pursuant as part of her job, so it doesn't fall within Garcetti.

(2) As a moral matter, no, I don't think the University should tolerate this kind of speech. This kind of speech is actually harmful speech. Gays and lesbians have to deal with it all of the time. We are constantly told that we don't count, that something that we feel is constitutive of who we are is somehow contrary to a divine order that we must respect, because to fail to do so is to fail to respect religious people's freedom. We are told that, since we have more expendable income, we don't deserve protection from those who happen to discriminate against us. It feels like hate speech, and I think it is. Hate speech, of course, that's protected by the First Amendment, and so it's hate speech we're told we have to endure. So, as a professional, ethical, or moral matter, I think the University has, and ought to have, every right to fire Dixon. She isn't the sort of person I'd want to work with or have to worry about justifying myself to.

(3) Aren't you playing this threat up a bit? Dixon seems like she'd be a policy-making employee. That's a meaningful First Amendment distinction between Dixon and other public employees, so I don't think we have to slip down that slope, if we want to say that the First Amendment doesn't protect her from firing. But, like I said in (1), I'm not sure how we avoid the result that Pickering protects her, especially not when we have a First Amendment jurisprudence that goes out of its way to protect anti-gay speech.
12.3.2008 2:31pm
Yankev (mail):

As for your counterexample, what kinds of religious rights did you have in mind?


1. The right not to be discriminated against in the terms and conditions of their employment.

2. The right to reasonable accommodation of their religious needs, which in turn depends on the the context, the needs of the employer, the type of job and so forth. For any employee other than mainstream Christians, that's going to be well beyond having December 25 off. In fact, for many religious employees, having December 25 off may not address any of their religious needs.
12.3.2008 2:31pm
anon345 (mail):
"Bad lawyering"? Huh? Maybe bad PR or bad spin control, but Crystal Dixon is entitled to file any lawsuit she pleases. Until we see the University's reply, we have no idea what kind of lawyering they can do.
12.3.2008 2:32pm
Guest12345:
But she's the VP of HR, charged with making personnel decisions and enforcing anti-discrimination policies.


Do people not ever talk to their HR staff? Doesn't everybody actually know that HR doesn't make hiring / firing / promoting decisions outside of their department? They make sure that the process is followed. They administrate benefits packages. Except when the prospective employee is to be an HR staffer, their only involvement is in the paperwork.

Also, any chance that people can keep with the facts available and not attempt to read into things? Three years to sort out the merger of two public institutions, so what?

As far as it goes, I'd say that it should be pretty hard for a protection evolving from case law to trump two protections specifically written into the constitution.
12.3.2008 2:32pm
Bpbatista (mail):
At UT, gay rights trumps free speech and freedom of religion. Absent some concrete evidence of her acting on her beliefs on the job, UT should get clobbered.
12.3.2008 2:33pm
lonetown (mail):
Public or private makes no difference.

There is no right to fire her because she MAY not enforce your codes.

She can only be fired based upon actions.
12.3.2008 2:34pm
Bpbatista (mail):
This was also lousing lawyering at UT -- what idiot greenlighted her termination solely because of the article and then greenlighted the President's letter? Prima facie malpractice.
12.3.2008 2:35pm
Cornellian (mail):
Do people not ever talk to their HR staff? Doesn't everybody actually know that HR doesn't make hiring / firing / promoting decisions outside of their department?

That depends on the organization. Lots of organizations (especially large ones) will not allow an operations manager to fire someone without HR signing off on the decision. It would be a risk management disaster to do otherwise.
12.3.2008 2:36pm
anon345 (mail):
3 years IS an excessively long time to sort out a benefits reconciliation involving something like domestic partner benefits. You have obviously never been involved in this sort of thing, The only reason it would take that long is a lack of money or a lack of will.
12.3.2008 2:36pm
martinned (mail) (www):
@Joe Bingham: I think that's a different way to phrase pretty much the same question. I'm not sure I have an answer, though.

@Yankev: As I said, at the moment of hiring, the University should be expected to make sure that their prospective hire has no bias that might get in the way of the kinds of rights you're talking about. (The underlying logic is essentially what Ben P. wrote: having certain beliefs is one thing, going out of your way to tell the world about them indicates an intensity of belief that might get in the way of the exercise of certain duties.)

The more tricky question is under which circumstances someone should get fired for their beliefs/under which circumstances the university should be allowed to fire someone for their beliefs.

But that this article should give the university cause for concern seems clear.
12.3.2008 2:38pm
Tony Tutins (mail):

Doesn't everybody actually know that HR doesn't make hiring / firing / promoting decisions outside of their department?

HR people create policies for the rest of the organization to follow. The rest of the organization relies on HR's expertise to stay out of trouble, just as they rely on the advice of their accountants or the advice of their lawyers. If HR tells the administration that partner benefits for gays are a low priority, they will most likely accept it.
12.3.2008 2:38pm
Kim (mail) (www):
I totally disagree not only with her biblical interpretations but her economic ones as well, what she neglects to mention is that, as a community, gay people are also more educated (more per capita college degrees and whatnot), thus accounting for the higher incomes. AND income is not representative of discrimination or lack thereof - just because someone makes $100,000 doesn't mean they should be denied health benefits from their employer for example.

However, she has every right to express her views, and as someone who values free speech I will absolutely fight to preserve her right to say that which I vehemently disagree with. UT should lose. You can only fire someone for being an idiot if such idiocy affects actual job performance. Or if you have an expressed anti-idiot clause preventing certain public forum participation. Barring that, she wins.
12.3.2008 2:41pm
anon345 (mail):
"stick to the facts available?" In blog comments? That being said, I think it is a safe bet that there is a host of email and other sundry documentation regarding domestic partner benefits that has Crystal Dixon copied on it or originated in her office from the date of her hire to the date of her termination. In the absence of facts, I will bet better than even money that at least some of that documentation was reviewed prior to her termination.
12.3.2008 2:47pm
Patrick216:
A few things struck me about this article, and some of the other commenters' reactions.

1. Re: BpBatista's comment. I can read your comment one of two ways: first, that you think UT's lawyers did a bad job because they failed to advise the President that he cannot lawfully terminate an employee for speech-related reasons and, thus, should not have terminated her; or second, that UT's lawyers did a bad job by failing to advise the President that he needed to manufacture a non-speech-related excuse to terminate the employee for speech-related reasons? I'm assuming you mean the first, but I thought I'd ask.

2. What struck me as interesting about this case is that much of her article is predicated on the belief that homosexuality is not a congenital condition. As I understand it, there is little "serious" scientific evidence to support that view. Yet, the homosexual community has demanded that this view be accepted as truth. I'm also reminded of the effort by the homosexual lobby to shut down a group of psychology professors, led by a rather famous Princeton scientist, to develop protocols to "retrain" a homosexual to be heterosexual. (The protocols were only going to be used on a homosexual who no longer wanted to be homosexual.) The whole effort strikes me as a rather crude way to force the state of science to reflect a view that may or may not be true, simply for political gain. Isn't that that kind of political manipulation of science that liberals pillory Republicans for allegedly engaging in?

3. In general, elections have consequences. Liberals are mostly secular and see religion as an overall negative force in the world. Given the ascendancy of liberalism in this country, I fully expect the Supreme Court to become much less friendly to religious freedom arguments, especially after Obama appoints some justices. (It will be interesting, for example, to see if the Mormon Church is allowed to keep its tax-exempt status given its support of Prop 8.)
12.3.2008 2:47pm
David Welker (www):
You know, it is an interesting paradox.

anon345 asserts the following:


It's not about job applications people; it's about domestic partner benefits. Toledo had relatively recently (November, 2007) passed a domestic partner registry law for the explicit purpose of allowing gay couples to prove eligibility. There was substantial debate around this time as to why it was taking so long for MUO to extend domestic partneship benefits. It was well-known that Crystal Dixon was a key person in those discussions.


Well, let us assume, for the sake of argument (and keeping in mind that this is totally hypothetical), that Ms. Dixon somehow used her position to delay implementation of this law.

Would we be better off if she did not express herself in a letter to the editor, or are we better off with her expressing herself? If her views are hidden, wouldn't that make it harder to detect her acts to delay implementation of the law? Do we really want to penalize the expression of viewpoints, as opposed to improper use of position? Is it possible that taking actions that stifle viewpoints may actually make actual problems in performance more difficult to discover?

I honestly have no clue about this case. I would like to think that people can be trusted to obey the law faithfully or the policies of their employers faithfully, even when they personally disagree. It would be nice if people in our society could, as much as possible, express their point of view without fear of retribution. On the other hand, maybe even if someone could do their job and separate their actions from it, if their views are too extreme, people will rightly lose trust in them and by extension the institutions where they work. And maybe in a lot of cases people cannot actually separate their strong opinions from their actions.

This is, to me, a difficult case from a policy perspective.
12.3.2008 2:47pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Anon345 wrote:

I think Ms Dixon has less of a leg to stand on than it seemed at first blush especially if the 18 month delay (or a suggestion that no extension of medical benefits to gay partners was necessary) has her fingerprints on it.


Then fire her for that, and use the newspaper article as backup evidence that she is responsible.
12.3.2008 2:50pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
martinned.
With the rare exception of having somebody hand me a tract on a street corner, about once a decade, the most evangelical folks, the ones who want to get in my face, are the atheists.
I'd be really concerned to have one of them hold some power over me and discover I'm a Christian.
By your standards, atheists should never be in similar positions.
12.3.2008 2:51pm
Tony Tutins (mail):

You can only fire someone for being an idiot if such idiocy affects actual job performance.

And yet only tenure prevents Northwestern from firing noted Holocaust denier Arthur Butz, who recently supported Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's claim that the Holocaust was a myth.
12.3.2008 2:51pm
Bpbatista (mail):
P216 -- If they were going to fire her, a good lawyer would have counseled his client to find a valid reason for doing so rather than relying on a facially suspect one that all but guarantees a lawsuit that will, at best, give UT a black eye at the cost of tens of thousands in attorneys fees and, at worst, will cost it millions of dollars in settlement and/or adverse judgment.
12.3.2008 2:53pm
Carolina:
I don't see how the University wins this case.

1) She was speaking on a matter of public concern.

2) Her statements do not say that she would treat homosexuals differently or discriminate against them.

3) Discrimination based on sexual orientation is not illegal under Ohio or Federal law. So I don't how anyone can argue retaining this employee opens the university up to bad faith type claims.
12.3.2008 2:54pm
martinned (mail) (www):
@Richard Aubrey: That's pretty much what I thought about that holiday display story the other day. I suppose that in the US atheists generally have a strong incentive to keep their beliefs to themselves, so that the only atheists who open their mouths are the really annoying obnoxious ones.
12.3.2008 2:54pm
Brian Mac:

@Brian Mac: In this day and age, AFAIK, most religious people do not expect those that do not share their beliefs to still obey the same (religious) rules. Very few Christians would argue, I think, that it is wrong for me not to respect the sabbath, just like Jews wouldn't normally complain that I don't keep kosher. Am I wrong?

I think those two examples are best viewed as religious rituals rather than codes of moral behaviour. It's my understanding that most Christians, Jews, etc. believe that the latter are universal, and don't apply only to the observant.
12.3.2008 2:55pm
ShelbyC:
Uh, don't most of the arguements here call into question any personal standards of conduct by an HR administrator?

Is someone who believes that, say, adultry or meat-eating is morally wrong unfit to decide the employment qualifications of adulterers or meat-eaters? Granted, it's not illegal to discriminate against these folks, but most institutions don't take things like that into consideration.
12.3.2008 2:57pm
Tony Tutins (mail):

3) Discrimination based on sexual orientation is not illegal under Ohio or Federal law.

Bigotry must be tolerated, unless it's illegal. An interesting attitude.
12.3.2008 3:02pm
AF:
Uh, don't most of the arguements here call into question any personal standards of conduct by an HR administrator?

Nope, only those that contradict policies it is their job to uphold.
12.3.2008 3:04pm
ForWhatItsWorth:
Yankev: "...How can we trust that an atheist HR officer would protect the religious rights of a Christian, Jewish, Muslim or other employee, given the atheist belief that religion is at best nonsense and at worst destructive to both the believer and to society?..."

Well said and good point. The other thing to consider is this, to most Christians (and other religions) it would be a sin for her to treat a homosexual any differently that any other "sinner." "Let he who is without sin cast the first...."

There are certainly some so-called Christians who would discriminate, but to "assume" she would do that is to lump her into a box that may well be not so large. As a previous poster mentioned, he is Catholic and that is a church tenet. There are many, many Catholics...... most of them have no problem dealing with, associating with gay folks. JUst my opinion, but there it is.

As an atheist, I don't have a vested interest in ANY religion, but I do have many friends who are religious and some of the nicest, if not the nicest and most open folks I know. I don't like boxes and this "every Christian is a homophobic a_hole" box is getting really old.
12.3.2008 3:06pm
Happyshooter:
We are told that, since we have more expendable income, we don't deserve protection from those who happen to discriminate against us. It feels like hate speech, and I think it is.

Simon P, when you make a statement like that it feels like hate speech to me.

I demand you be denied all government benefits.
12.3.2008 3:09pm
martinned (mail) (www):
@Brian Mac: I admit that with those examples I made it easy for myself. Still, I would suggest that there is a range from religiously mandated behaviours that are only required from the faithful to religiously derived yet universally applicable moral standards. The book of Leviticus, where that famous condemnation of homosexuality is found, contains whole lists of things that were expected of the Jews, i.e. mostly things that are on the keeping kosher side of the spectrum. I would estimate that most Christians who are not evangelical or otherwise conservative, would similarly put the "don't lie with man as you would lie with woman" rule more towards the keeping kosher end.
12.3.2008 3:11pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Show me the phobia. This is a mere dissent from the currently prevailing view of the construction of homosexual identity.

Just as racism is mere dissent from the currently prevailing view of the equality of the races.

Look, I know some folks hate the term "homophobia". But it's the most widely-used term. If you want to say "anti-gay bigotry", that's fine too.

What I don't accept is that it's OK to think gay people aren't equal because of the teachings of one's religion. Of course one can view them as sinners, but under Christian doctrine, we are all sinners, so that doesn't excuse singling out gays for discrimination. People who "dissent from the currently prevailing view" that gays and straights are equal and should not be treated differently are bigots. People who simply think that gays, like all of us, are sinners and should be treated equally are not bigots.
12.3.2008 3:12pm
Serendipity:
While the analogy between race and homosexuality is getting a bit tired at this point, didn't many Christians for a long time believe that blacks were the descendants of Ham, marked by sin, and that's why they ought to be held in bondage?

Now if a university official today wrote a letter to a newspaper that said in part, "It was because Ham saw his father's nakedness that black skin is forever marred with the evidence of his sin. Ham made this choice, and now all of his descendants are to be punished. This is not position, but God's position, and blacks really have to deal with the laws of God and return to bondage." Would ANYONE doubt that the university should fire this woman just to avoid the potential litigation?!?

I guess my question basically is, clearly we've been down this road before with people's religious beliefs conflicting with where society as a whole was moving. What happened then?
12.3.2008 3:14pm
Cornellian (mail):
Is someone who believes that, say, adultry or meat-eating is morally wrong unfit to decide the employment qualifications of adulterers or meat-eaters?

If she had written a letter to the editor about you calling you a "practicing adulterer" because you were divorced and claiming your "choice" of the "adulterous lifestyle" had "wreaked havoc in your psychological and physical life" how much confidence would you have that she'd be making fair decisions about whether you were the best applicant for a position at the university?
12.3.2008 3:15pm
Lior:
To Brian Mac &martinned: Judaism has a small, universal, moral code, the Seven Laws of Noah from Genesis. Other than these, all rules (both moral and practical) only apply to Jews (for practical laws this would also include non-Jews living in a Jewish community).

Judaism is not universal in the way Christianity is. For example, no moral blame is assessed to non-Jews who worship other gods. This is not to say that Judaism doesn't look down on these "false idols", but that the severe injunctions against following them only apply to Jews.
12.3.2008 3:23pm
David Warner:
Dilan,

"Of course one can view them as sinners, but under Christian doctrine, we are all sinners"

Exactly, from which follows the difficulty in seeing her views as anti-gay as opposed to merely disagreeing on the questions of whether homosexuality is about behavior or identity and what God may or may not think about it.

Regarding the former as a firing offense is worrisome on speech grounds, the latter on separation of church and state.
12.3.2008 3:25pm
No_way_Jose:
@steve: A person can have very strong personal views on a subject, but still not let them interfere with their administration of their job duties.

Judges do it all the time. I know judges that believe Wickard v. Filburn was wrong, or 47 USC 227 is wrong.. and have been voval about it, to the point of giving public speaches and writings to that effect.... but they still enforce them impartially from the bench.
12.3.2008 3:28pm
KeithK (mail):

Bigotry must be tolerated, unless it's illegal. An interesting attitude.


Absolutely. I've been hearing people preach for years about how we all need to be tolerant. That's what tolereance is about - tolerating the views of people who you disagree with, even vehemently. It's not tolerance to be tolerant of things you like or approve of.

If this women is not taking active steps to harm gays then her views should be tolerated. Tolerance isn't acceptance.
12.3.2008 3:31pm
josil (mail):
The difficulty with those who are actively pro-gay and actively anti-religious is that they manifest the same characteristics of an activist religion--a tendency to treat believers as the "other", and outside the pale of right-thinking folks. This is especially the case in the hothouse climate of academia.
12.3.2008 3:35pm
martinned (mail) (www):
@KeithK: Your remark is another example of the inability of many to divide human behavior in any other categories than legal/illegal. (This came up in another thread recently, I think it was the one about boycotts over Prop 9.)

There are many behaviors that are legal but should nevertheless be condemned, like boycotting a restaurant because the owner voted yes on prop 9, or most expressions of blatant bigotry.

In addition, imho the question of whether normal tolerance includes the requirement to be tolerant towards intolerance is as impossible as the question of whether it should be possible to democratically abolish democracy.
12.3.2008 3:36pm
Brian S:
Personally, I have always found the Pickering test an inadequate protection of the rights of government employees, and would prefer a resurrection of US v. Butler: the government should not be able to secure the abandonment of a Constitutional right by making the receipt of a government benefit [in this case, a job] contingent upon the abandonment of that right.

Such a resurrection would bring a lot of current law down with it, but that to me would be a feature and not a bug.
12.3.2008 3:37pm
Lior:
Note: there are two versions of the "Laws of Noah". I was referring to the text in Gensis, which is clearly written universally.

Later (that is also, current) Jewish tradition has a universal septet of laws which explicitly requires acknowledging the one true god, prohibits blasphemy, etc. These are philosophical issues with this version, though, since these requirements are not spelled out in the Torah but rather in the Jewish oral tradition so it's hard to expect non-Jews to adhere to them.
12.3.2008 3:38pm
martinned (mail) (www):
@Lior: Thanks. I'd heard about this, including the mess of all those eons of discussion about subdivisions, etc. (Maimonides, for example, included a ban on abortion under "thou shalt not kill", which makes the whole thing a whole lot less uncontroversial in the present context.)
12.3.2008 3:41pm
Elliot123 (mail):
Perhaps employers should start asking about an applicant's religious beliefs, and how they conform to the published tenets of their faith? The pope has been particulaly outspoken about homosexuality. So was the last pope and many current bishops. That would put all Catholics under suspicion of being anti-gay.

Is it safe to have a Catholic in an HR position, given the Church's position on homosexuality? Is it safe to have a Catholic evaluate a benefits program when his faith is in absolute opposition to SSM, civil unions, and artificial birth control?

Is it reasonable to fire a Catholic HR manager who publicly professes to be in complete, total, and enthsiastic agreement with every tenet, doctrine, and teaching of the Catholic Church?

Or, how about an athiest HR manager who becomes a Catholic, and publicly professes his new faith? Is that grounds to question his competence as an HR manager? Couldn't a future litigant claim the religious beliefs of the HR manager comprimised his right to a fair and unbiased evaluation?

Suppose a hundred Catholics in prominent positions in Toledo signed a newspaper ad testifying to their belief in a list of Catholic teachings. Suppose they listed their job titles. If a government HR manager signed the ad, and he ad expressed opposition to homosexual conduct, would that be grounds for discharge?

(Feel free to substitute any religion or affiliation for "Catholic" in the above.)
12.3.2008 3:41pm
martinned (mail) (www):
@Elliot123: If memory serves, JFK was grilled non-stop over this question during his presidential campaign.
12.3.2008 3:44pm
Brian S:
There are many behaviors that are legal but should nevertheless be condemned, like boycotting a restaurant because the owner voted yes on prop 9, or most expressions of blatant bigotry.

Should the government be able to punish the expression of this woman's sentiments by imprisonment or fine? Should it be able to throw people off public assistance if they express sentiments like this woman's? Should it be able to deny her a passport, or deny her access to public roadways because she expressed these sentiments?

If not, then I don't see how they can deny her a job because she expressed these sentiments.

It may be that it would be very, very difficult or even impossible to efficiently run a public university if employees were allowed to express sentiments like these without punishment. But to me, if you can't run a particular state enterprise without violating the enumerated rights of citizens [including your employees] then maybe you should take that as an indication that you should shut down your state enterprise, or find a way to make peace with inefficiency. The Pickering test seems to say, "If the state finds the Constitution an impediment to its operations, it can disregard the Constitution - as long as it can convince a judge that the impediment was real," and it's hard to see how such a "balancing" test doesn't just make the Constitution a dead letter.
12.3.2008 3:45pm
martinned (mail) (www):
@Brian S.: Throughout this thread, I've said that I think the University has cause for concern, but no legal right to fire her. Absent any showing of actual negative influence of her beliefs on her job performance, that is still my view.

But this thread has also included discussion of the general principle of toleration, quite separate from the legal question. The remark by KeithK that I responded to blurred the lines.
12.3.2008 3:51pm
Kazinski:
Once the blacklisting starts where does it stop?

I work for a public employer in state that outlaws affirmative action by government entities. If an HR representitive publishes a letter advocating affirmitive action in the local newspaper, should they be fired? After all they are advocating illegal racial discrimination, and they are in charge of implementing a contrary public policy.

I don't see the situation is any different than this one.
12.3.2008 3:53pm
Putting Two and Two...:

One could easily wonder why it was taking so long.


Perhaps she was waiting for the partners of the affected employees to join all the "thousands of gay people finding Jesus every day!" to get to it, thus rendering the issue moot.
12.3.2008 3:59pm
ShelbyC:
In California its illeagl to discriminate against someone because of their political beliefs. Maybe it's unsafe to have an HR administrator with political beliefs, because she might discriminate against someone with contrary beliefs.
12.3.2008 3:59pm
Cornellian (mail):
Maybe the win-win solution is for her to follow her biblical teachings and resign on the grounds the Bible prohibits her from holding a VP position, per 1 Timothy 2:11-12 “A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.” I'm sure plenty of men read her letter to the editor and were aghast at her temerity in purporting to teach them. Heck, she may even have a male clerk or two reporting to her, which is way over the line.
12.3.2008 4:03pm
Thomas_Holsinger:
Professor Volokh's questions avoid the issue of the lady's position as Vice-President for Human Resources. She was not a mere employee and her position was critical to the termination decision. The university spokesman pointed that out:
"Certain jobs within a public institution have restrictions on what those people in those jobs can express,"

Public statements by human resources managers do reflect on an organization, whose interests in minimizing litigation exposure must be give some weight.

I.e., we have a balancing of interests question. It is not merely free speech versus no free speech.
12.3.2008 4:04pm
Seamus (mail):
If she had written a letter to the editor about you calling you a "practicing adulterer" because you were divorced and claiming your "choice" of the "adulterous lifestyle" had "wreaked havoc in your psychological and physical life" how much confidence would you have that she'd be making fair decisions about whether you were the best applicant for a position at the university?

Yes. Next questions?
12.3.2008 4:06pm
Seamus (mail):
If a VP of Human Resources wrote a letter to the editor (1) taking "umbrage" at the idea that Jews can be "civil rights victims," (2) arguing that unlike race, Judaism is a choice that can be reversed by accepting Jesus Christ as their personal savior, (3) pointing out that Jews are wealthier than the average American, and (4) stating that Jews should not complain about not being allowed to take days off for religious holidays because all religions have different holidays, few would doubt that a public university would be entitled to fire her.

From a constitutional perspective, I don't see why this is any different.


You're right. It isn't; the letter-writer shouldn't be fired in that case, either.
12.3.2008 4:07pm
ShelbyC:
There sure is alot of anti-religious bigotry on this thread.
12.3.2008 4:08pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
From the Pickering analysis in Lewis v. Cohen: In balancing these interests, a court must consider whether the statement sought to be protected "impairs discipline by superiors or harmony among co-workers, has a detrimental impact on close working relationships . . . or impedes the performance of the speaker's duties or interferes with the regular operation of the enterprise."

The head of HR is the person employees go to when their rights have been violated. The regular operation of the university will be interfered with because gay employees -- widely present in academia -- will be reluctant to enlist the aid of someone who believes they can drop their sexual orientation at will. Further, her expressed beliefs will distub such harmony as may exist between her and her gay employees, and will have a detrimental impact on close working relationships with other administrators and department heads who happen to be gay.

Further from L. v. C., "[T]he more the employee's job requires confidentiality, policymaking, or public contact, the greater the state's interest in firing her for expression that offends her employer." McEvoy v. Spencer, 124 F.3d 92, 103 (2d Cir. 1997)

Here the state's interest in firing Dixon is greater because personnel matters are always confidential, and the head of HR makes and enforces personnel policies. Her expression offended her employer because it seeks to attract and retain the best employees possible, irrespective of their sexual orientation.

She's going to lose.
12.3.2008 4:16pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Exactly, from which follows the difficulty in seeing her views as anti-gay as opposed to merely disagreeing on the questions of whether homosexuality is about behavior or identity and what God may or may not think about it. Regarding the former as a firing offense is worrisome on speech grounds, the latter on separation of church and state.

David:

I think I was very clear, I don't think this is a firing offense, merely cause to keep an eye on the employee to ensure she isn't discriminating in her hiring decisions. If she's able to judge gay and lesbian candidates on their merits and not discriminate, she's entitled to have any personal opinion she wishes to.

But yes, believing that "homosexual behavior" is some special kind of sin that should be singled out for disapproval while other sins are not is, indeed, bigotry against homosexuals.
12.3.2008 4:22pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Tony:

Here the state's interest in firing Dixon is greater because personnel matters are always confidential, and the head of HR makes and enforces personnel policies. Her expression offended her employer because it seeks to attract and retain the best employees possible, irrespective of their sexual orientation.


I think there is a fundamental difference here because the question is whether simply stating that one believes, as a matter of fact, that sexual preference can be changed at will does not tell you anything about how she intends to do her job. I don't see her in this article stating that she intends to do her job any differently.

So in this analysis being politically incorrect is always a firing offence for HR personnel?

Ok, let's say she instead made a claim about the death toll of the Holocaust being overstated. Should she be fired on account of this? Suppose she says that there is no historical discrimination or attrocities against Jews and that Hitler was railroaded, but that she thinks they deserve the same set of rights as everyone else?

Would it ever be permissible for an HR VP to have divisive views on anything?

Now, if she was fired because she was impeding the benefits switchover, that would be an entirely different thing. If she was obstructing benefits, she deserves to be sued.
12.3.2008 4:27pm
wustl 1L:
Following the line of cases after Pickering, the university probably has good grounds to fire her. The balance test isn't just about causing a disturbance, in fact, a lot of its progeny include little disturbance because the act and the firing happened so close together. See Connick. A public employer, fearing disruption of their duty to provides efficient services can preemptively fire her, as they may have done here.

What's a disturbance? If employees begin voicing concern about trusting her with personnel issues because of this speech, that's a disturbance. Coworkers begin avoiding her. The organization is not working as efficient because they can't get issues dealt with. See Pool v. VanRheen. If her boss feels he can not trust her judgment after this speech, that's a disturbance. A boss needs to trust her employees for an organization to work. So now her management team isn't working as it should. The court lists many more examples and the cases include even more.

Reality is, while you have strong rights as a citizen, they are less so as a public employee.

If she wanted to avoid this backlash, she should have framed her statement as actually adding to the public discussion on this topic. Instead, her letter comes across as preaching. She could have developed her arguments, such as the income or "choice" issues, instead of glossing over them. Perhaps critique the other side's views.

If her speech added to the public debate, the university would have a hard time justifying its actions. Her speech does not, I am not one iota more convinced because of her speech. Therefore, it has little value when compared with potential disruptions in a university's operations.
12.3.2008 4:30pm
Suzy (mail):
Two issues are crucial here. First, when she specifically refers to benefits policies at the University of Toledo, assuming that she's the administrator largely responsible for those policies, she's no longer just speaking as a private citizen but as the person who holds her particular job. She has an authority to speak on this topic that the average person does not, because of her job. When she invokes that authority, I think the University can fire her based on whatever she might say, simply because they don't think she said it very well, as their representative. I realize employment laws in her state might complicate this, but as a general rule, they ought to be able to simply decide that she's a clumsy spokesperson.

Second, if the University policy does have language about not discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation, then her comments do call into question her ability to do her job. If the University doesn't have such a policy, then this part doesn't matter. It has nothing to do with disagreeing with the policy itself: of course she should be able to freely express her disagreements with the policy. It has only to do with her declaration that all homosexual persons are pre-judged by her to be "base" and achieving a "negative outcome" or other such "consequences of violating God's divine order."

Most of what she says is fine. She has every right to disagree with treating homosexuality as a protected class for civil rights purposes, even if her job is to carry out that policy. The problem is that she goes beyond this to suggest that there is something deeply wrong with all actual homosexual persons, not just with the policy. This suggests that she's not going to treat them fairly as employees. An analogy would be if she said not just that the benefits policy should refuse to cover illnesses resulting from smoking, but added that all smokers were evil people in violation of God's will. Can a smoker expect to receive a fair hearing from her on any employment issue now?

Some of the analogies above about disagreeing with affirmative action policy are not on point. There's a difference between saying that the school shouldn't have an affirmative action policy any more, and then saying that it shouldn't have one because Chinese people are base characters who are inherently violating God's moral law.
12.3.2008 4:31pm
ForWhatItsWorth:
ThomasH: '..."Certain jobs within a public institution have restrictions on what those people in those jobs can express,"...'

Was she aware of this? Signed document to that effect? If not, the application of this restriction could be pretty arbitrary, no?

If she signed a document, as I had to when I entered the military (campaigning for someone while in uniform is a no-no, for example) that stated this explicitly, she probably wouldn't have a leg to stand on if her position was officially designated.

If not, how would she possibly know that she no longer was permitted to speak her mind and that taking this particular job infringed on her first amendment right? Just wondering....... As a point, *I* KNEW and was well versed that mine were restricted for the duration of my military career...... with explicit examples given to ensure that I fully understood this concept.
12.3.2008 4:31pm
ForWhatItsWorth:
I keep coming back to this, but it amazes me how a homosexual would "distrust" this person after she spoke, yet trust her implicitly if she had said nothing......

These "thoughts" were not new to her. I dare say she had them for decades, if not her entire life.

Quite frankly, I tend to trust people who speak their mind, even if I don't happen to "like" what they say. Now that she said what she said, others can watch her, go over her record or whatever. If they find nothing, then she is indeed following one of the major tenets of her religion. If not, she's canned.

But I guess it is better to keep your thoughts to yourself and pretend to be accepting...... even though that may mean that the persons receiving her service won't know if she is messing with them or not.

Quite frankly, she would "now" have to be completely above board, right? She would have to be ultra-fair, no? Assuming she wants to keep her job........
12.3.2008 4:42pm
PersonFromPorlock:
Maybe I'm reading something into her letter that isn't there, but it seems to me her main concern is not to damn gays but to defend the status of African Americans as the oppressed minority of choice. If so, does she then have a comeback that her critics are insensitive to AA problems and not to be trusted to administer university policy dealing with them?
12.3.2008 4:42pm
Tony Tutins (mail):

I think there is a fundamental difference here because the question is whether simply stating that one believes, as a matter of fact, that sexual preference can be changed at will does not tell you anything about how she intends to do her job. I don't see her in this article stating that she intends to do her job any differently.

Her article reveals two problems. First, she believes in unscientific nonsense -- sexual orientation is not changeable. (Experiment: If straight, go to a gay bar and try to pick someone up.) Generally, one might want to hire a Creation Scientist or Holocaust denier, but not to teach biology or history. Here, as HR head she should have a basic working knowledge of human nature and motivations, which she has proclaimed she lacks.

Second, her fitness for her job does not depend on her subjective intent, but on how the staff of the university objectively perceive her. If they see her as a bigot, or even as someone who just doesn't get it, relationships will be destroyed, and the HR function will be impaired.
12.3.2008 4:43pm
pete (mail) (www):
I face a similar minor issue in my work buying books for a public libray. I am en evangelical christian and I buy books all the time that I disagree with, including those that specifically attack my religion. I am still able to buy the books and do my job prperly even though I will not read them and would not encourage others.

Lots of government professionals are able to their job without letting personal beliefs overwhelm their decision making ability.

However, with a human resources job it is pretty stupid to announce your beliefs like this. Even though I agree in general with the fired employee, it was dumb for a HR person for a state government to say things like so publically since it is her job to deal with issues like this in her work. I am sympathetic to both sides in this case, but think the firing just for the speech was a dumb idea as well without any actual proof that she did not do her job right.
12.3.2008 4:47pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Suzy:

Second, if the University policy does have language about not discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation, then her comments do call into question her ability to do her job.


Further developing your arguments.....

Suppose the University has a policy which has language about not discriminating on the basis of political belief. In such a case would referring to "Bush-following brownshirts" be grounds for dismissal of HR people on the basis that people would be afraid to raise political view-related discrimination cases?

Which brings me back to my question: Can an HR department employee ever express divisive views on anything?
12.3.2008 4:48pm
Allan Walstad (mail):
To what extent is the principle of freedom of speech supposed to transcend the prevailing wisdom or beliefs of any given age? If someone lost their job in a bygone era for publicly disagreeing with slavery or Jim Crow or, for that matter, anti-gay laws, they might have been called idiots and otherwise rhetorically trashed in the process. Is that just fine by us, or not? If the case under consideration is not symmetrical, is it just because we're so much more enlightened now, that we know better, that we can impose penalties for publicly disagreeing with currently prevailing wisdom?

Cornellian referred to

the usual venomous code words ("choosing" the "lifestyle", the obligatory reference to the ex-gay fraud etc.)

--are we truly to regard "choosing" and "lifestyle" as "venomous code words"?

It seemed to me that the ACLU's support for the Klan's freedom of speech was predicated on a need to stay well clear of any slippery slope. If this woman loses her job, how far down the slope does it take us? Is there a place to dig in our heels in a principled way that does not rely on the correctness--and enforceability--of prevailing wisdom among academics or VC bloggers or the population as a whole?

Right now there's a notion (prejudice?), apparently firmly held by both gays and enlightened heteros, that a man and a man is ok, a woman and a woman is ok, a man and a woman is ok--but, let just one more person of either gender get involved in what they consider a "marriage," and it's an abomination rightly prosecuted under the law. I wonder. In the future, is some gay administrator going to get in hot water for disagreeing with polygamous relationships, if perchance those have found favor by then among a sufficient, or sufficiently influential, sector of the population? Will "choosing" and "lifestyle" be regarded as venomous code words on that occasion? Can we formulate general principles now, that would apply then?
12.3.2008 4:52pm
Kazinski:
I don't think she is going to end up getting fired. Obviously this is a public employer that is used to bending over backwards for various interest groups. Because she is from a demographic with a well oiled grievance apparatus of their own, and is disproportionately disposed against gay rights, I think she'll find a lot of supporters in her own community that will help her keep her job. After of course she is re-educated and forced to eat a large steaming pile of shit.
12.3.2008 4:53pm
SFJD (www):

I keep coming back to this, but it amazes me how a homosexual would "distrust" this person after she spoke, yet trust her implicitly if she had said nothing......


Well if she said nothing, she is a blank slate to someone unfamiliar with her. It shouldn't be a surprise that someone who says stuff like this therefore draws the ire and suspicion of gays and lesbians. Just because you are honest about your prejudice does not mean the subject of your bigotry should trust you.

Anyways, I disagree with Eugene that her position is reasonable and not "rude." She is implying gays are deviants, wrong in the eyes of god, and that their sinful behavior is their own choice and every day they don't make the right choice they are consciously sinning, and so on and so forth. This is basically the standard vehemently anti-gay religious stereotype that so many gay people are weary of. (Complete with anecdotal evidence of gay people who "changed" back after finding god, yada yada yada). That is rude and unreasonable. If you just find gay sex unattractive, fine, I don't particularly enjoy thinking about two dudes getting it on either and I doubt any gay people will fault me for that. But the kind of rhetoric shown here by Ms. Dixon is very condescending and rude, and she shouldn't be surprised if it comes back and bites her on the behind.
12.3.2008 5:05pm
Mike Farmer (mail) (www):
Can I just say that government shouldn't be running education in the first place, and aside from that, employers should to have the right to fire anyone they want to fire?

Am I cheating?
12.3.2008 5:05pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Allan Walstad:

Right now there's a notion (prejudice?), apparently firmly held by both gays and enlightened heteros, that a man and a man is ok, a woman and a woman is ok, a man and a woman is ok--but, let just one more person of either gender get involved in what they consider a "marriage," and it's an abomination rightly prosecuted under the law.


As far as I have personally gone has been to argue that the rational basis arguments don't apply across these categories. I.e. my statements personally have been that these are different cases and need to be looked at separately if this is the basis for the decision.

On the other hand, it seems to me that the general arguments from the plurality in Lawrence v. Texas might apply to polyamory as well as homosexuality, as long as you believe that concentual, noncommercial sexual activity between consenting adults is protected under the Constitution. I read Thomas's dissent as essentially saying "Please raise rational basis review and I will happily concur in striking these uncommonly silly laws down, but I won't do so under a view of privacy rights."
12.3.2008 5:10pm
Cornellian (mail):
If a VP of Human Resources wrote a letter to the editor (1) taking "umbrage" at the idea that Jews can be "civil rights victims,"

That reminds how fond I am of the word "umbrage." I really do need to use that in a sentence more often.
12.3.2008 5:11pm
Matteo (mail) (www):
Based on what I'm reading, I think I'd question the ability of an awful lot of the commenters here to be in an HR position and treat religious people fairly. Even so, I wouldn't fire you unless I saw some sort of blatant discriminatory behavior to justify it. Think and say what you want, but be judged on your behavior. It's this little thing we used to call the American Way. They ought to put it back into the curriculum.
12.3.2008 5:12pm
Cornellian (mail):
Can I just say that government shouldn't be running education in the first place, and aside from that, employers should to have the right to fire anyone they want to fire?

Am I cheating?


Yes you're cheating. You're doing what in law school is called changing the hypothetical to make things easier and that's never allowed. We're here to deal with the hard cases, not the easy ones.
12.3.2008 5:13pm
Yankev (mail):

Toledo had relatively recently (November, 2007) passed a domestic partner registry law for the explicit purpose of allowing gay couples to prove eligibility.
Unfortunately, that law conflicts with an amendment to the Ohio Constitution. The University was free to extend benefits to same-sex partners; the City was acting beyond the scope of its charter in requiring the University (or other employers) to do so, and in attempting to confer legal status upon same sex relationships.
12.3.2008 5:13pm
Suzy (mail):
einhverfr: I don't think that any such reference would be grounds to dismiss any HR employee, on your hypothetical situation. However, it would be grounds to dismiss the VP of Human Resources if she publishes that view in the paper while asserting her authority as a representative of the school. That would be true whether the school has any such special policy or not, simply because it's not an appropriate way for top administrators to communicate on behalf of the university.

There's nothing wrong with divisive views, even if the head of HR is expressing them. However, they ought to be policy-related, and not directed personally at a particular group of people she has to be able to judge fairly on employment questions. If she had simply said that she disagreed with making homosexuality a protected class for civil rights, that would be fine with me (though the University could still decide whether it's ok for her to say that while she invokes the authority of her job to discuss benefits policy). She could make the claim that homosexuality is caused by choice and not by biology. However, to say that all homosexuals are inherently base violators of God's will, that strikes at her ability to judge them fairly in the employment context.
12.3.2008 5:13pm
Putting Two and Two...:

I don't see her in this article stating that she intends to do her job any differently.


Can Ms. Dixon perform her duties without bias?


Daily, thousands of homosexuals make a life decision to leave the gay lifestyle evidenced by the growing population of PFOX (Parents and Friends of Ex Gays) and Exodus International just to name a few.


"Daily, thousands of homosexuals" 365 X 3000 (on the low side of "thousands") = over 1,000,000/year. My goodness, the nation should be awash in ex-gays! Whether this calls into question her reasoning skills or math skills, I'm not sure. Perhaps gay-related topics short-circuit both.


Economic data is irrefutable: The normative statistics for a homosexual in the USA include a Bachelor’s degree: For gay men, the median household income is $83,000/yr. (Gay singles $62,000; gay couples living together $130,000), almost 80% above the median U.S. household income of $46,326, per census data. For lesbians, the median household income is $80,000/yr. (Lesbian singles $52,000; Lesbian couples living together $96,000); 36% of lesbians reported household incomes in excess of $100,000/yr. Compare that to the median income of the non-college educated Black male of $30,539. The data speaks for itself.


I would think that one of the indispensable requirements for an executive position in HR would be the ability to research and investigate salary studies, to weed out incomplete and/or unreliable data like, fer instance, marketing surveys from specialty publications aimed at attracting high-end advertisers.

Reliance on studies which have been so utterly debunked would indicate either sloppiness or the willingness to distort an analysis for personal reasons. Again, which is at play here is up to you to decide.



The reference to the alleged benefits disparity at the University of Toledo was rather misleading. When the University of Toledo and former Medical University of Ohio merged, both entities had multiple contracts for different benefit plans at substantially different employee cost sharing levels. To suggest that homosexual employees on one campus are being denied benefits avoids the fact that ALL employees across the two campuses regardless of their sexual orientation, have different benefit plans. The university is working diligently to address this issue in a reasonable and cost-efficient manner, for all employees, not just one segment.


Employees at Campus X have a different spousal co-pay than employees at Campus Y. Perfectly understandable. Employees at Campus X have a spousal co-pay, but employees at Campus Y have no spousal coverage. Also understandable. But Employee Straight at Campus X has a spousal co-pay, but Employee Gay -- also at Campus X -- can't get spousal coverage. For eighteen months? A bit less understandable.

But back to Ms. Dixon. Is her inability to accurately describe the situation based on her lack of understanding of the issue or on her willingness, again, to distort for personal reasons.

Surely, the University should expect competence and forthrightness when an executive representative of the University discusses University policy in a public forum, no?
12.3.2008 5:13pm
Cornellian (mail):
I face a similar minor issue in my work buying books for a public libray. I am en evangelical christian and I buy books all the time that I disagree with, including those that specifically attack my religion. I am still able to buy the books and do my job prperly even though I will not read them and would not encourage others.

A perfectly reasonable position to take, especially since you're spending your employer's money, not your own. Pretty much anyone in your position is going to have to buy books he finds objectionable, whether on religious or other grounds.
12.3.2008 5:14pm
Thomas_Holsinger:
Einhverfr,

She was not a mere “employee” of the university’s human resources department. She was “associate vice president for human resources”. Read the posts more carefully before making assumptions about the facts.

ForWhatItsWorth,

You should too. It’s not merely her job to know the human resources policies - she’s the person who must approve each and every word before they become official written policy.

People might suspect you two are inventing facts because the real ones contradict your opinions.

Now whether the person in charge of the university's human resources department could, or should, be fired for that statement might be worth discussing, but refusal to admit what her job title and responsibility were, and the implications of that, indicates you have little to contribute to this discussion.

Prove me wrong.
12.3.2008 5:18pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Tony Tutins:

First, she believes in unscientific nonsense -- sexual orientation is not changeable.


I think part of the problem is the question of what "changeable" means, what is changeable, and under what conditions. For example, if consensual homosexual relationships aren't that uncommon among incarcerated otherwise heterosexual males, does this mean that they have "become gay" even if only for the lack of there being women around?

Also her perspective is that gay people can have heterosexual relationships. Is that unscientific? She even seems to argue that piety demands that. Is piety judged by scientific standards?

I fail to see where she departs from science in this regard, though she seems to hold unscientific views of the origin of the human race.

I still think that she is wrong, but you wouldn't fire her for believing that the sun goes around the earth, would you?


Second, her fitness for her job does not depend on her subjective intent, but on how the staff of the university objectively perceive her.


Once again, can an HR department employee ever express a divisive viewpoint? If she were to endorse McCain despite being a black woman, would this be grounds to fire her?
12.3.2008 5:19pm
Suzy (mail):

To what extent is the principle of freedom of speech supposed to transcend the prevailing wisdom or beliefs of any given age?


You make a good point. Putting aside the issue of whether this woman is representing her school as an administrator, her ability to make these statements without getting fired shouldn't be compromised simply because it differs from the "prevailing wisdom". Her belief that homosexuality is a choice rather than a biologically determined trait is being supported by evidence that some people change their minds. Even if most people think this is bogus evidence and a poor argument, she should be able to make that argument and express that belief.

The problem is when she declares that anyone who chooses this activity is an inherently base person who is reaping negative consequences by violating God's divine command. People may not like the claim that homosexuality is a choice, but it's an opinion that can be debated separately from any judgment about the worth of gay or lesbian people themselves.
12.3.2008 5:24pm
anon345 (mail):
It turns out that in July, 2008, President Jacobs announced that domestic partner benefits would be available for the Health Science Campus employees starting January 1, 2009. In other words, during a period when there was NO VP of human resources, the University was able to successfully negotiate and resolve a problem that had been intractable for almost 2 years.
12.3.2008 5:25pm
Yankev (mail):

The book of Leviticus, where that famous condemnation of homosexuality is found, contains whole lists of things that were expected of the Jews, i.e. mostly things that are on the keeping kosher side of the spectrum. I would estimate that most Christians who are not evangelical or otherwise conservative, would similarly put the "don't lie with man as you would lie with woman" rule more towards the keeping kosher end.
Of course, it is sandwiched there between prohibitions on various forms of incest.

As Lior pointed out, Leviticus in general applies to Jews only, and Judaism's moral expectations of non-Jews are found elsewhere. She did not mention that one of those is a combined prohibition against adultery (defined as a married woman and a man other than her husband; both the man and woman are guilty)/incest/male homosexual intercourse. There is no equivalent English term that combines these concepts.
12.3.2008 5:28pm
Tony Tutins (mail):

you wouldn't fire her for believing that the sun goes around the earth

If her nonsense belief affected the performance of her job, sure. Believing the sun goes around the earth is fine for the VP of HR, but not for the chair of the Astronomy department. Believing that being gay is a choice is fine for a maintenance man, but not for the VP of HR.
12.3.2008 5:33pm
MichaelP:
Although this is a tangential issue, it seems to me the economic data IS refutable.

The numbers cited seem to come from a marketing survey. First of all, it benefits a firm offering marketing strategies to gays to present gay incomes as larger. More importantly, marketing surveys target certain demographics, like newspaper readers or TV watchers, which do not represent the whole sample. The survey did not include a control group of heterosexual people. Even more importantly, participation in the survey might disproportionally involve "open" gays. Open gays are more likely to live in gay-friendly communities or work in gay-friendly environments, both of which probably select for higher income.

Of course, the whole point of introducing these numbers is to distract. Are we expected to believe that anti-gay prejudice does not exist, because gays make a lot of money, even as we look at the law and see anti-gay prejudice right there in print?
12.3.2008 5:34pm
Bob Van Burkleo (mail):
I think those two examples are best viewed as religious rituals rather than codes of moral behaviour. It's my understanding that most Christians, Jews, etc. believe that the latter are universal, and don't apply only to the observant.

Brian, I get in this discussion all the time, you see, I can't sin - not part of my religious view. Call me a sinner I get a pass on calling the person saying so 'a superstitious idiot'.

As we have seen in the comments there are many reasons why there could be a reasonable perception of bias in this person against gays and their equal treatment by society and more explicitly by her employer who she serves. On that possible perception alone they are clearly justified in firing her if such bias is against the rules of the hiring agency.

Everyone has a right to practice their religion but saying they can treat me as if they were right and deny me equal treatment under the law? Them's fighting words.
12.3.2008 5:34pm
Yankev (mail):

(4) stating that Jews should not complain about not being allowed to take days off for religious holidays because all religions have different holidays, few would doubt that a public university would be entitled to fire her.
Leaders of the ABA Real Property Section have taken this precise stand as to scheduling section events on holidays that preclude attendance by members who observe the Jewish religion.
12.3.2008 5:36pm
Donald (mail) (www):
What a lot of commenters are missing is that Dixon's wasn't just speaking abstractly about "gay rights." Instead, she was apparently writing about some policy or policy proposal at her place of employment ("the reference to the alleged benefits disparity").

Given that, it's incredibly difficult to see how her claim isn't foreclosed by the Garcetti case. The fact that her communication was made externally (to a newspaper) rather than internally (to her boss) doesn't seem to matter under Sixth Circuit precedent: its decision in Rahn v. Drake Center, 31 F.3d 407, seems directly on point (dealing with an employee who issued a press release expressing disagreement with decisions made by administration at a publicly funded hospital, and holding the e'ee's speech involve the "quintessential employee beef" and thus wasn't entitled to 1st Am. protection).

So all this talk about homosexuality and religion is great but ultimately off-topic: Dixon probably doesn't survive a motion to dismiss, because her speech is ultimately work-related, and thus not protected under the current First Amendment/public employee doctrines.
12.3.2008 5:38pm
Curmudgeonly Ex-Clerk (www):
Dilan Esper wrote:
Of course one can view [gays] as sinners, but under Christian doctrine, we are all sinners, so that doesn't excuse singling out gays for discrimination. People who "dissent from the currently prevailing view" that gays and straights are equal and should not be treated differently are bigots. People who simply think that gays, like all of us, are sinners and should be treated equally are not bigots.
Respectfully, I don't think that a Christian who sincerely believes homosexuality to be a sin can take the generous we-are-all-but-sinners approach that you suggest, because Christianity also expects sinners to repent. I think this circumstance, perhaps, explains what it is about homosexuality that makes it such a grave sin in the eyes of so many Christians. For Christians who view homosexuality as a sin, gays are not just sinners but unrepentant sinners.
12.3.2008 5:39pm
ForWhatItsWorth:
Curmudgeonly Ex-Clerk: "....Respectfully, I don't think that a Christian who sincerely believes homosexuality to be a sin can take the generous we-are-all-but-sinners approach...."

Well, I have alot of Catholic friends who would disagree with you straight up. Why do you think that? Is it because you don't think you could? The Pope specifically states that homosexual people are not to be treated differently..... if they are good Catholics, they follow what the man says. In fact, I can quote from the catechism if you like on that very subject. No, I am definitely NOT Catholic, but I do read.
12.3.2008 5:54pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Tony:

If her nonsense belief affected the performance of her job, sure. Believing the sun goes around the earth is fine for the VP of HR, but not for the chair of the Astronomy department. Believing that being gay is a choice is fine for a maintenance man, but not for the VP of HR.


So we get back to the point that HR VP's can't articulate any divisive viewpoint in any public square?

Once again, suppose she endorsed McCain, and African-American employees started objecting to her role in arbitrating disputes -- would this be any different?
12.3.2008 5:54pm
Yankev (mail):

So you'd be ok if she had written the article about Jews, on the grounds that Jews merely "commit sin in one area of their life" by not believing that Jesus is the son of God?
Why should that viewpoint disturb me any more than someone believing that everything I believe is nonsense, that my religious needs are at best optional choices on my part deserving of scant or no accommodation, and at worst mental disorder akin to OCD?

I'd be more interested in how she treats me, both as an employee and a human being. Will she accommodate my leaving early on Friday, my not working on Saturday no matter how busy we are, and my taking vacation days or unpaid leave on my holy days? Will she get bent out of shape if I decline to eat non-kosher food (or, my favorite, argue with me about whether it is kosher and then get annoyed when I won't eat food that she thinks is kosher but that Jewish law says is not)? Or won't go with her to a non-kosher restaurant? These are much bigger issues to me than whether she thinks I'm going to burn in hell, and I've had problems with these issues in the past from atheists and mainstream Christians, among others. In fact, some born again Christians have been extremely accommodating.

Others haven't. It may amaze you to learn that I have met tolerant and intolerant people of every religion and belief, and of no religion. Apparently you have not, which is a shame.
12.3.2008 5:55pm
Tired smears...:
Reading through the comments to Eugene's interesting post (and through many of the comment boards on this site), I can't help but get annoyed at the frequency and ease with which people are comfortable labelling those with whom they disagree as homophobes, bigots, and the like.

In the vast majority of cases it is an inappropriate and hypocritical label. A common example finds one complaining about the opposition's religious basis for their view and then styling them as a homophobe or bigot. Well, isn't that nothing more than anti-religious bigotry?

When people start throwing those labels around, I imagine most people stop listening. I think that it is regrettable (and more importantly counterproductive) that many who would like to see individuals with sexual orientations that differ from those of the majority achieve greater legal and social acceptance are so quick to demonize the opposition.

Personally, though I believe that homosexual activity is immoral and would not choose to engage in it myself, I believe that all people are inherently equal and entitled to the same legal protections. I am thus inclined to live and let live. I do not think that makes me a homophobe or an anti-gay bigot. If believing that all people are equal, regardless of race, gender, orientation, etc. is not enough, and I am forced to either abandon my normative views of behavior and shout from the rooftops that homosexuality is normatively indistinguishable from heterosexuality or resign myself to being viewed as a homophobe... then I have no choice but to opt for the latter.
12.3.2008 5:56pm
Putting Two and Two...:
"For Christians who view homosexuality as a sin, gays are not just sinners but unrepentant sinners."

Yeah, it's not like divorced people.

But more seriously, isn't the worst sin not recognizing the Allmighty? You know, putting other gods before Him?

That's why REAL Christians just do not put up with heathens. In any way. At any time. For any reason.
12.3.2008 5:56pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Curmudgeonly:

Respectfully, I don't think that a Christian who sincerely believes homosexuality to be a sin can take the generous we-are-all-but-sinners approach that you suggest, because Christianity also expects sinners to repent.


And there is the fact that prejudice against homosexuality is deeply rooted in the Bible. You have Mark 17 where Christ claims that divorce is unacceptable because it violates the sacred creation of male and female, for example. Then you have Paul citing Leviticus for authority that homosexuality is a sin (probably the only time Paul cites Leviticus).

It seems by that measure, the University of Toledo should fire all Christians from their HR department.....
12.3.2008 5:57pm
Pat C (mail):

With the rare exception of having somebody hand me a tract on a street corner, about once a decade, the most evangelical folks, the ones who want to get in my face, are the atheists.


Interesting. I live in central Texas, and it's not uncommon to have Jehovah's Witnesses, Baptists, and maybe other groups going door to door for unsolicited conversations to persuade me towards their religion.

In my 55 years of life (Florida, California, Texas), I've never had an atheist ring my doorbell to try to persuade me to their way of thinking.
Coem to think of it, I don't ever get mailers from atheists either.

Also, in local bookstores, the number of books espousing atheism is dwarfed by the number of books espousing religion. The same point applies to TV shows as well.

I've just never observed atheists to be as "evangelical" as religious people.
12.3.2008 5:57pm
Nebuchanezzar (mail):
I think BrianS nails it. If the government can show that she actually discriminated against someone in a hiring, firing or promotion decision, they should nail her to the wall and use her writing as supporting evidence. But absent an action, merely expressing an idea can't (that is, shouldn't) be a firing offense. Even if you are the VP of HR.

All of the above only applies to a public employer of course. A private employer should be free to fire her for any reason or no reason at all.
12.3.2008 5:58pm
ForWhatItsWorth:
Curmudgeonly Ex-Clerk,

In fact, let me expound on that. *I* have to be the sinner of all sinners in their eyes..... I am an ..... gasp.... dyed in the wool atheist. Yet, they are my friends and associates and they treat me as kindly as they treat anyone else. That is true of most of my religious friends, not just Catholics.

No, they aren't perfect and I am sure there are exceptions, but I would bet there are exceptions to the rule on the liberal side as well (liberals who absolutely dislike homosexuals despite their political leanings).

Placing them all in a box is not only incorrect, it is totally unfair.
12.3.2008 5:59pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"People might suspect you two are inventing facts because the real ones contradict your opinions."

What facts? Established how?
12.3.2008 6:01pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
ForWhatItsWorth

In fact, let me expound on that. *I* have to be the sinner of all sinners in their eyes..... I am an ..... gasp.... dyed in the wool atheist.


That is OK. I went from Christainity to following Odin, so I get the flak from both sides :-D
12.3.2008 6:11pm
Cornellian (mail):

And there is the fact that prejudice against homosexuality is deeply rooted in the Bible.


Jesus condemned divorce and never said a word about being gay. Yet somehow certain self-professed Christians like Ms. Dixon seem to think doing something about the problem of gay people takes priority, indeed, it seems to be the only thing on their minds. Don't hold your breath waiting for her to write a similarly inflammatory letter about divorced people.
12.3.2008 6:11pm
CDR D (mail):
>>>As a Black woman who happens to be an alumnus of [...]

<<<

Did she mean alumna? Maybe they don't do Latin at Toledo.

Of course, lawyers butcher it too.
12.3.2008 6:12pm
Tim J.:
The problem is when she declares that anyone who chooses this activity is an inherently base person who is reaping negative consequences by violating God's divine command. People may not like the claim that homosexuality is a choice, but it's an opinion that can be debated separately from any judgment about the worth of gay or lesbian people themselves.


The fact that you think the real problem is that she made a religious statement is all the more disturbing to me. I have long labored under the impression that we had freedom of speech and religion. I wasn't aware that they canceled each other out when combined.
12.3.2008 6:14pm
ForWhatItsWorth:
Thomas_Holsinger: ..."the implications of that, indicates you have little to contribute to this discussion..."

Thanks for trying to shoo me off, that was very big of you.

I echo Elliot, to what "facts" do you refer? Who and how were they established?

If what you say is true, why do ADMIRALS have to sign the same sheet concerning political speech as I did, at the same times I did? Position has nothing to do with being made aware of a policy, even if you are the originator. If she truly is the originator of that policy, then she cannot possibly violate it..... it is hers to alter as she sees fit.

Of course, that isn't the case. If she wasn't the initiator or originator of that policy, then she should have to sign something to indicate she understood it and that she would abide by it.
12.3.2008 6:15pm
SFJD (www):


A common example finds one complaining about the opposition's religious basis for their view and then styling them as a homophobe or bigot. Well, isn't that nothing more than anti-religious bigotry?


No. Ms. Dixon, for example, is basically saying gay people are unrepentant sinners who make the conscious choice to continue sinning rather than embrace god. Calling her out on that (for a variety of reasons, such as scientific evidence to the contrary) is not being anti-religion, it is being anti-Ms. Dixon.
12.3.2008 6:16pm
martinned (mail) (www):
@Tim J.: This is not about freedom of religion, but about establishment. Government funded university + administrator religiously motivated bias = problem. Still think she should win, though.
12.3.2008 6:18pm
Putting Two and Two...:
I have to note that Ms. Dixon seems none too proud of her public comments regarding the University's insurance policies, as she manages to leave it out of her description of the events:

http://www.crystaldixon.com/
12.3.2008 6:23pm
Fred Z (mail):
There doesn't seem to be much of distinction made by most commenters here homosexual nature and homosexual acts. But it is critical. It is wrong to be critical of or bigoted against a person of homosexual nature, just as it is wrong to be critical of or bigoted against someone who is by nature a thief, but who controls himself and does not steal, or a bad tempered man who nevertheless refrains from violence.

If men with homosexual natures get together for mutual masturbation using their bodies, their bodily apertures and/or sex toys, is that wrong, is that a sin? I dunno, largely I think yes it is, but really, I dunno If it's a sin, it's a pretty minor one.Find me a hetero who does not masturbate, then we'll talk about the sin of seed-spilling.

I say these things disregarding the obvious health risks of homosexual acts which are problematic if the risks are not borne entirely by the participants. I do not want to bear the costs risk of AIDS, hep C, torn rectum repair, etc., but because gays bear some of the risk of my motorcycle riding, I'm prepared to bear some of the risks of their lifestyles. Can we please discuss a reasonable balance without screaming at each other?

Anyway, the woman had a perfect right to say she believed that homosexual acts are wrong, particularly when she made it quite clear she did not criticize homosexual nature. if people can be fired for believing and saying that their employers are in error, even though following their employers' directives carefully, then freedom of speech is dead.
12.3.2008 6:24pm
Putting Two and Two...:
And I can't help but notice that, in her photo on her website, she appears to be wearing a polyester blend suit.
12.3.2008 6:27pm
martinned (mail) (www):
@Fred Z: Just a hint: I don't think you're helping...

(This whole "lifestyle" talk is exactly what tends to tick people off.)
12.3.2008 6:30pm
Cornellian (mail):
The website is interesting. She seems to be going down the standard route for people in her situation, soliciting money for her defense fund, making herself available for speaking engagements and peddling wares of one sort or another (Mary Kay cosmetics in this case).
12.3.2008 6:30pm
Brian G (mail) (www):
The lesson is clear. All opinions are welcome on campus, as long as they fall in line with the leftist mindset.

Truth be told, I am so tired of gays whining about things that I just tune them out automatically. And, I am tired of hearing people called "homophobes" because they aren't in line with the gay agenda. I don't think they fear gays, they just don't approve of the lifestyle. So what? (I wonder if that will get me banned from here, although as a PRIVATE forum the Professors have every right to.)
12.3.2008 6:34pm
martinned (mail) (www):
@Brian G.: You're right, christians have it tough in America.
12.3.2008 6:38pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Cornellian:

Jesus condemned divorce and never said a word about being gay. Yet somehow certain self-professed Christians like Ms. Dixon seem to think doing something about the problem of gay people takes priority, indeed, it seems to be the only thing on their minds. Don't hold your breath waiting for her to write a similarly inflammatory letter about divorced people.


True about Christ's points regarding divorce, but you would think that the same rationale would preclude same sex marriage, would it not? After all, Christ cites the same portion of Genesis that Ms Dixon does.

However, it reminds me of a cartoon I saw on Reason.com once, which has a man telling his buddy "As I told my third wife, gay marriage is a violation of the sacred bond between a man and a woman." So you are right about the double-standard. However hypocrisy of such people is beside my point.

Bear in mind, I am not a Christian. I don't see the Bible as any particular authority on much of anything. However, I think that whether a view being addressed is largely religious is important because it can raise the specter of whether the firing essentially amounts to religious discrimination.
12.3.2008 6:40pm
Cornellian (mail):
Truth be told, I am so tired of gays whining about things that I just tune them out automatically.

We feel your pain but it's not so easy to tune them out when they're passing laws targeted at you.
12.3.2008 6:41pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Brian G:

I share some of your concerns. I have to ask where the same standard could be fairly applied elsewhere, and whether an HR VP can ever express a divisive view on anything.

However, I have also noticed the reaction of a family friend who found out his son's college room-mate was gay and ended up very much disturbed by that fact. My first college room-mate was gay too, but who cares? It is not like he was hitting on me or anything. Anyway, the family friend's response was one of fear for the safety of his son. Why? How is that rational? (IMO, it came down to a fear of sexuality in general, which is what a lot of the anti-gay arguments essentially amount to. Interestingly, some years after I formulated that idea, I heard an interview with Gene Robinson where he articulate a similar idea.)

The way to deal with fear is to discuss the matter, to find root fears and perhaps even discuss them too, not to call names and silence dialog.
12.3.2008 6:47pm
Smokey:
At UT, gay rights trumps free speech and freedom of religion.
My, how times change. It's clear that on this campus the gay minority is now the favored group, which has supplanted the African-American minority. Now gays are at the front of the bus, and Ms. Crystal is in the back again.

The question I have is this: what's more important, the First Amendment, or the injured feelings of the politically correct uber-sensitive? Because it can't be both. Either we whittle away at the 1st A, or we don't. There is no middle ground here.

Remember that Ms. Dixon didn't cause anyone to lose their job [that we know of]. But the penalty for presuming that she can speak her mind, on her own time, is swift and merciless. No second chance, no warning, no change in the school's written policy. Fire the homophobe!

People who applaud her job loss had better be ready when the worm turns on them -- which it always does, sooner or later.
12.3.2008 6:50pm
whit:
i am FAR from knowledgeable in this area of law (i admit it), but i cannot see how this is remotely constitutional. it's thoughtcrime.

and apart from the legal issues, it is absolutely despicable and INtolerant to fire this person.


then we'll talk about the sin of seed-spilling.


i quote the ultimate authority... monty python

Every sperm is sacred, every sperm is great, if a single sperm is wasted, god gets quite irate.
12.3.2008 6:53pm
Cornellian (mail):
However, I have also noticed the reaction of a family friend who found out his son's college room-mate was gay and ended up very much disturbed by that fact. My first college room-mate was gay too, but who cares? It is not like he was hitting on me or anything. Anyway, the family friend's response was one of fear for the safety of his son. Why? How is that rational?

My theory is that that fear is a consequence of the view of people like Ms. Dixon that being gay is simply a bad habit that one can pick up. Just like smoking even a single joint will inevitably turn you into a pot head and ruin your life, so also can having even one same-sex experience send you hurtling down the path that will end up with you working out five days a week and spending every vacation in San Francisco. In other words, being gay is a dangerously pleasurable temptation that simply must be resisted.

Now you might well ask yourself "but I'm straight and never felt tempted to have sex with another man now matter how many times I've walked past those Abercrombie &Fitch billboards." And that's the key point. No straight man ever worries that he'll suddenly turn gay just because there's a gay man in the vicinity. The only straight people who fear that scenario are the ones who aren't all that sure they're really straight. To quote Hitchens, they see homosexuality everywhere because they fear it in themselves.
12.3.2008 6:58pm
Barry P. (mail):
This woman doesn't understand the meaning of "normative".
12.3.2008 6:59pm
Thomas_Holsinger:
Pultting Two and Two, and Nebuchanezzar:

It’s the appearance of impropriety which has UT concerned, not her acts, competence and professionalism. Tony Tutins put it best here:
“The head of HR is the person employees go to when their rights have been violated. The regular operation of the university will be interfered with because gay employees -- widely present in academia -- will be reluctant to enlist the aid of someone who believes they can drop their sexual orientation at will. Further, her expressed beliefs will distub such harmony as may exist between her and her gay employees, and will have a detrimental impact on close working relationships with other administrators and department heads who happen to be gay.

Further from L. v. C., "[T]he more the employee's job requires confidentiality, policymaking, or public contact, the greater the state's interest in firing her for expression that offends her employer." McEvoy v. Spencer, 124 F.3d 92, 103 (2d Cir. 1997)

Here the state's interest in firing Dixon is greater because personnel matters are always confidential, and the head of HR makes and enforces personnel policies. Her expression offended her employer because it seeks to attract and retain the best employees possible, irrespective of their sexual orientation.”

ForWhatItsWorth:

I asked you to prove me wrong by addressing the facts of this matter, rather than the facts of a hypothetical situation which distresses you less. You didn’t even try to do so, and so proved my point.

BrianG.,

Not a chance. I just favor employers who are faced with conflicting legal requirements in a matter involving a senior officer who should have known better than to embarrass her employer. I’d have sided with a mere employee. But associate vice-presidents are paid big bucks to catch flak for their employers. She was flak herself, and deserves to be toast.
12.3.2008 7:00pm
Cornellian (mail):
Truth be told, I am so tired of gays whining about things that I just tune them out automatically.

Reminds me of a trailer I saw yesterday for the movie "Milk" where some guy says to Harvey Milk "you have an issue with . . . " and Milk interrupts him and says "no, these are our lives we're fighting for."

It's easy to tune things out when you're not the target.
12.3.2008 7:01pm
gasman (mail):

tony tutins:
Bigotry must be tolerated, unless it's illegal. An interesting attitude.

Ah, but what is bigotry. She would no doubt argue, as she did, that the personal finding of homosexuality as morally reprehensible is an established fact.
Blacks (as a group) are taller than whites. To state this is not bigotry, but merely fact. Blacks (as a group) seem to like music that is hateful and denigrating. To say this is not bigoted, but merely a personal observation. Homosexuals (presumably) participate in sexual activities found reprehensible by many religious types. Not a bigoted statement, just facts (fact 1, sexual activities, fact 2, the description of the religious opinion). Not bigoted. Homosexuals will burnin hell; not bigotetd, but difficult to substantiate as a claim.
So, the point is, what one might view as bigotry might not be seen as such by all. And tollerance for viewpoints, not being bigoted against those with outlying views (or in this case mainstream view in some places judging from the prop 8 vote) is a necessary price to secure the freedom of speech to all. Liberals tollerating only liberal viewpoints is not a very broad view of tollerance.
12.3.2008 7:02pm
Cornellian (mail):
She was flak herself, and deserves to be toast.

Rye toast, he said wryly.
12.3.2008 7:02pm
martinned (mail) (www):

The question I have is this: what's more important, the First Amendment, or the injured feelings of the politically correct uber-sensitive?

Last time I checked, the establishment clause is part of the First Amendment, too.
12.3.2008 7:03pm
whit:

“The head of HR is the person employees go to when their rights have been violated. The regular operation of the university will be interfered with because gay employees -- widely present in academia -- will be reluctant to enlist the aid of someone who believes they can drop their sexual orientation at will. Further, her expressed beliefs will distub such harmony as may exist between her and her gay employees, and will have a detrimental impact on close working relationships with other administrators and department heads who happen to be gay.



assume that this employee wrote an article expressing why she thought conservatism was wrong, and how people who are conservative should try to be more liberal.

then, in the above paragraph, substitute "conservative" where you see "gay employee".

would the same "logic" justifying her firing be used?

i 100% support gay rights, to include gay marriage.

i just don't support thoughtcrime wherein public employees can be fired for daring to express viewpoints about homosexual bheavior that don't meet the approval of the overlords.

and yes, i am well aware that political affiliation is probably more "mutable" than sexual orientation. it doesn't affect the underlying issue imo
12.3.2008 7:07pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Cornellian:

Now you might well ask yourself "but I'm straight and never felt tempted to have sex with another man now matter how many times I've walked past those Abercrombie &Fitch billboards." And that's the key point. No straight man ever worries that he'll suddenly turn gay just because there's a gay man in the vicinity. The only straight people who fear that scenario are the ones who aren't all that sure they're really straight. To quote Hitchens, they see homosexuality everywhere because they fear it in themselves.


That is another plausible theory, and probably accounts for some cases, but the other argument (which has generally been more common) is that society depends on the restriction of sexual activity, and homosexuality defeats many of our restrictions (the gays in the locker room argument). This is a very common line of reasoning against same-sex marriage as well. It also occurs when (somewhat irrationally) my inlaws express the worry that my openly lesbian friends will try to seduce me (because we all know how morally weak they are)....
12.3.2008 7:09pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Cornellian: One point though in your favor:

I have generally found (as apparently so did Freud) that a string of incriminations against others is symptomatic of an identical set of self-incriminations.
12.3.2008 7:11pm
Yankev (mail):

Last time I checked, the establishment clause is part of the First Amendment, too.
Are you seriously arguing that letting her keep her job would constitute a state establishment of religion?

Or are you alluding to the clause that says the state can't say "Your version of Christianity is all wrong; you have to accept our Gene Robinson style reading of the Bible, or else believe that religion as a whole is nonsense, or else keep your mouth shut"?

That seems to be the One True Multiple Choice Faith advocated by several of the folks who advocate that she be fired from her job and banned from civilized society.
12.3.2008 7:15pm
Curmudgeonly Ex-Clerk (www):
ForWhatItsWorth:

I did not have Catholics in mind when I previously commented. So I may well have been over-inclusive in my remarks regarding Christians who consider homosexuality to be a sin. Based on my limited understanding of Catholicism, I would not be surprised to learn that it differs in significant respects from various strands of conservative Protestantism in its assessment of homosexuality (in no small part due to Catholicim's emphasis on natural law).

That said, I suspect that you greatly oversimplify and misinterpret Catholic doctrine. As stated in the Letter To The Bishops Of The Catholic Church On The Pastoral Care Of Homosexual Persons:
It is deplorable that homosexual persons have been and are the object of violent malice in speech or in action. Such treatment deserves condemnation from the Church's pastors wherever it occurs. It reveals a kind of disregard for others which endangers the most fundamental principles of a healthy society. The intrinsic dignity of each person must always be respected in word, in action and in law.

But the proper reaction to crimes committed against homosexual persons should not be to claim that the homosexual condition is not disordered. When such a claim is made and when homosexual activity is consequently condoned, or when civil legislation is introduced to protect behavior to which no one has any conceivable right, neither the Church nor society at large should be surprised when other distorted notions and practices gain ground, and irrational and violent reactions increase.
So while Catholic doctrine does call for the gays to be treated with respect, compassion, and sensitivity, the italicized passage above hardly seems compatible with the sort of unqualified equal treatment that Dilan Esper, for example, has in mind.

It is my understanding that the current Catechism does in fact forbid "unjust discrimination" against gays. But that, of course, just begs the question what constitutes "unjust discrimination." I am by no means an expert on Catholic doctrine in this area, but the Catholic Church has opposed civil rights protections for gays and recognition of same sex marriage, which would seem to indicate that the Catechism is not to be interpreted in the fashion that you suggest.
12.3.2008 7:17pm
martinned (mail) (www):
@Yankev: One possible legal analysis of the university's case here is that they were entitled to fire her because her comments raised legitimate concerns about her ability to keep her religion-based ideas out of her work, which, in a publicly funded university, would be a possible establishment clause violation. (Admittedly, there are other possibilities, too. We'll have to wait and see which way the defence goes.)

Point is, there are three 1A clauses in play here, and only two of them favour the plaintiff.
12.3.2008 7:21pm
ForWhatItsWorth:
Thomas_Holsinger: "...I asked you to prove me wrong by addressing the facts of this matter, rather than the facts of a hypothetical situation which distresses you less. You didn’t even try to do so, and so proved my point...."

To which I asked, "which facts" and you didn't answer. So the only point you have made is that you did not read my post at all. If you want me to address facts, you have to let me know which facts. You didn't answer either of us in that regard. You were asked twice.....

Me: "...If what you say is true, why do ADMIRALS have to sign the same sheet concerning political speech as I did, at the same times I did?...."

What about this is a hypothetical situation? It happened and it happened repeatedly. It happens today and it will happen tomorrow. I know, I was there! You did read my post, right?

So, you made a statement concerning her approving every word of that policy..... where is your proof? Her position is NOT proof, her signature is..... do you have it?
12.3.2008 7:38pm
Perseus (mail):
assume that this employee wrote an article expressing why she thought conservatism was wrong, and how people who are conservative should try to be more liberal. ...and yes, i am well aware that political affiliation is probably more "mutable" than sexual orientation.

Supposing the employee said that conservatives suffer from an authoritarian personality or right-wing authoritarianism and should seek counseling or enlightenment (from leftist faculty) to cure them of their disorder. Would the same logic justifying that employee being fired also apply? If so, I suspect that there might very well be a few university administrators who need to be told: "You're fired!"
12.3.2008 7:41pm
Yankev (mail):

they were entitled to fire her because her comments raised legitimate concerns about her ability to keep her religion-based ideas out of her work, which, in a publicly funded university, would be a possible establishment clause violation.
I have trouble taking that seriously as a violation of the establishment clause. If indeed she was not performing her job, she should have been fired, and whether or not the non-performance was due to her beliefs is irrelevant.

The University did not point to any non-performance in firing her, but justified the firing by stating that her expression of beliefs had caused the University to lose confidence in her.

Unless they meant "Because you had the poor judgement to express publicly beliefs that you knew would offend a powerful, vocal and intolerant protected consituency, we no longer have confidence that you will exercise sound judgment in this or other areas of your job, despite your 25 years of performing your job in an unbiased manner." Even so, I hardly see grounds for someone to challenge the University's retention of Ms. Dixon as being an establishment of her religion, any more than one of my profs. at U MN violated the establishment clause by giving a make up class for those of us who missed the lecture that he gave on Rosh Hashanna. (It wasn't our idea, by the way, but he felt that he had to because of his mandatory attendance policy.) I grant that one or two of my classmates were of the view that he had violated the establishment clause, but they were the same bunch who got offended by anything that reminded them that we were not all Christians.
12.3.2008 7:47pm
ForWhatItsWorth:
Curmudgeonly Ex-Clerk: "...I suspect that you greatly oversimplify and misinterpret Catholic doctrine...."

You could definitely be right. I am not a Catholic, being of the atheist persuasion, but the actions and statements of my devout friends who are Catholic seem to bear out my less-than-scholarly interpretation.

However, I am not above stating that even they could be an exception.... there are alot of them, though. If they are exceptions, they are exceptional exceptions :) :)
12.3.2008 7:51pm
Curmudgeonly Ex-Clerk (www):
Putting Two and Two, Einhverfr, Cornellian:

You each raise the issue of divorce. There is no doubt real hypocrisy on the part of many Christians in this regard; these folks bring to mind Ambrose Bierce's definition of "Christian."

That said, I would guess that there is significant overlap between Christians who consider homosexuality and/or homosexual conduct to be a grave sin and Christians who regard divorce as a grave sin. This appears to be true of Catholicism, for example.
12.3.2008 7:54pm
Smokey:
martinned thinks "they were entitled to fire her because her comments raised legitimate concerns about her ability to keep her religion-based ideas out of her work."

That's Euroweenie thinking. If she lacked 'ability,' that's what they should have said some time over the past 25 years.

They fired her for stating an opinion that they disagreed with, pure and simple.

That's bad business.
12.3.2008 8:13pm
martinned (mail) (www):
@Yankev: As a legal theory, it does sound like a bit of a stretch, although I would say that enacting a religious teaching into law would be an establishment clause violation. (Congress enacting a law requiring all citizens to keep kosher.)

I suppose my argument started out more from the spirit of the establishment clause, i.e. the problem of someone in authority possibly using their position to force their religious beliefs on others.
12.3.2008 8:16pm
Cornellian (mail):
That said, I would guess that there is significant overlap between Christians who consider homosexuality and/or homosexual conduct to be a grave sin and Christians who regard divorce as a grave sin. This appears to be true of Catholicism, for example.

No doubt there are many who consider both a grave sin, yet the Ms. Dixons and James Dobsons of the world are forever crusading against gay people, never divorced people, even though the number of divorced people vastly outnumbers the number of gay people, and even though a divorce, by definition, destroys a marriage. Hence my skepticism of those who claim their crusade against gay people is merely a matter of "defending" marriage.
12.3.2008 8:16pm
martinned (mail) (www):
@Smokey: And how were they supposed to do that? Hire a mind reader? Not hire any evangelicals altogether? As before, I still don't see any evidence of a problem with job performance, so I don't think the university have a case, but considering what their case might be, you'd have to say that while beliefs as such cannot be grounds for dismissal, beliefs that are vocally advocated can raise doubts about job performance. You can ask a candidate about certain beliefs during their job interview, but that only goes so far, unless you'd want to advocate a simple screening on the basis of certain beliefs without more.
12.3.2008 8:21pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"Hence my skepticism of those who claim their crusade against gay people is merely a matter of "defending" marriage."

It is a matter of defending marriage, but it's more a matter of deflecting their own responsibility.
12.3.2008 8:27pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
I am of two minds about this. On the one hand, it's extremely strange that figures who head "human resource" departments at universities that have sexual orientation non-discrimination policies (which often reflect prevailing state and local laws) would have views that seem 180 degrees from what you would expect.

On the other I don't think that public (or most secular private) college should be in the business of enforcing leftist ideology on employment discrimination issues.

But could you imagine, the head of human resourcing bringing in Jared Taylor to do "diversity training" for a particular college? It's unimaginable that that could happen without someone being fired. Yet, anti-Jared Taylors are brought in all the time to do this kind of "training."
12.3.2008 8:30pm
ReaderY:
It seems a fairly straightforward case for hiring solely because of political views, no different from political patronage. Public employment should be based on merit, not patronage considerations.
12.3.2008 8:34pm
Kevin Murphy:
Could they fire an economics professor for being a member of the Communist Party?
12.3.2008 8:44pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
I remember I blogged about this before in a post that was widely linked to here. I think I noted I thought the fact that this person got fired for her expressing her opinion was unfair, but that her opinion was extremely stupid nonetheless. Her opinion would only be valid if we lived in a world where black and black only was the only criteria for "civil rights" victimhood status. The fact that her claim includes [or at least included] a religious discrimination claim [and her religion is "Christianity" the majority religion -- though one could argue over whether it's a dominant form of "Christianity"] demonstrates being born with a genetic condition that one wears on one skin is in NO way a qualifier for "civil rights" victimhood. If mistreatment is a qualifier, then gays probably could make a case that though they didn't suffer slavery, they did suffer things arguably FAR worse than being forced to sit on the back of a bus. I'm talking about being banned from government jobs, forcibly institutionalized, involuntarily subjected to electroshock therapy and having one's good name and reputation ruined and much much more. Those who can't see that gays have been mistreated in the past are simply blind, stupid, or lying.
12.3.2008 8:44pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
I guess the one question I have asked defenders of the firing is when, if ever, an HR department employee could make any divisive viewpoint known in public.

I firmly disagree with Ms. Dixon's views, but it seems to me that this can become quite clearly a case of firing over what essentially amounts to political speech in the public sector.
12.3.2008 8:48pm
Nick056:
My inclination is to let anybody say what they want and not lobby for their termination or their blacklisting. Gays will not advance their cause by seeming thin-skinned.

But that's beside the point. This woman is a VP in HR who wrote a letter mingling her personal creed with her professional insight into a controversial matter at her place of employment. Apparently her university is embroiled in a benfits dispute, and, in the course of offering her opinion that the matter is being resolved with a maximum of fairness and with all deliberate speed, she calls a class of people at the center of this issue "base" and makes a whole host of other pejorative judgments, perhaps primarily her probable assessment that there is no such thing as a "homosexual person" to begin with. This comes at a time when homosexual persons at her place of employment are raising questions as to why benefits haven't been extended to their homosexual unions.

Again, how is this woman surprised she did got fired? She may not have identified herself specifically as a university spokesperson or provided that she was speaking in that capacity, but she wrote "The university is working diligently to address this issue in a reasonable and cost-efficient manner, for all employees, not just one segment." Anyone who takes into account her position with HR will see this, reasonably, as a professional statement released on the university's behalf. It sounds like something one says in an official capacity.

Thomas_Holsinger gets to the crux of the matter. This woman didn't merely express her views on homosexuality; she did so at a time when her university, and her department in particular, is handling a sensitive matter regarding its homosexual employees considered as a class AND she mingled what could reasonably be called a professional defense of her university's position with obviously personal and inflammatory views that went so far as to suggest that people could be "practicing lesbians" but perhaps not truly, constitutively lesbian persons.


And she wonders why she got fired? She thinks the university won't make a showing of grounds?
12.3.2008 8:55pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
Something else that has caught my eye for the last few years about religious conservative claims about gays and lesbians. The following kinds of claims are OFTEN repeated in order to make the argument that gays don't "need" antidiscrimination protection. I'd like to see Eugene and Jim Lindgren chime in more often on this specific dynamic.


Economic data is irrefutable: The normative statistics for a homosexual in the USA include a Bachelor’s degree: For gay men, the median household income is $83,000/yr. (Gay singles $62,000; gay couples living together $130,000), almost 80% above the median U.S. household income of $46,326, per census data. For lesbians, the median household income is $80,000/yr. (Lesbian singles $52,000; Lesbian couples living together $96,000); 36% of lesbians reported household incomes in excess of $100,000/yr. Compare that to the median income of the non-college educated Black male of $30,539. The data speaks for itself.


First, I've seen the primary sources from which some of these claims are taken and the notion that this is "irrefutable" economic data is laughable. However, if it were true then it raises a whole serious of questions. How is it that gays and lesbians have managed to do so well in a capitalist society? It in no way demonstrates lack of discrimination because other hated minority groups like Jews and Asians likewise disproportionately "outperform." In other words this would indicate that gays and lesbians are part of some hyperfunctional "model minority," like Jews and Asians who tend to be better educated, have higher incomes and accumulate greater wealth. And I seriously wonder how gays and lesbians could achieve this according to the "other" story that the religious right tells about them: That they are hopelessly, depressed, drug addicted alcoholics with very short lifespans.

My OWN opinion as someone who regularly interacts in the gay community is that though there are some/many bottom feeders there, it does seem to be the case that gays and lesbians outperform heterosexuals, have better jobs and seem smarter and more creative.
12.3.2008 8:57pm
Nick056:
Did got fired? Strict scrutiny.
12.3.2008 8:57pm
martinned (mail) (www):
@einhverfr: I suppose it depends on the subject. Presumably her position on abortion would be much less of a problem.

Also, my understanding of Pickering is that it might matter how this HR department employee might "comment on matters of public interest". As someone already noted above, there is a difference, that might be legally relevant, between thoughtfully taking part in an ongoing public debate and writing something akin to hate speach.
12.3.2008 8:57pm
martinned (mail) (www):

How is it that gays and lesbians have managed to do so well in a capitalist society?

There's only one answer here: God likes gays.

But seriously, there are some issues of statistics here. For example, if a study relies on self-reporting to identify who is gay, that alone might account for part of the result. (Not my idea, I got it from the second comment to the blog post that was linked earlier.)
12.3.2008 9:01pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"It in no way demonstrates lack of discrimination because other hated minority groups like Jews and Asians likewise disproportionately 'outperform.'"

Jews and Asians are hated? In the US? Now?
12.3.2008 9:15pm
Thomas_Holsinger:
einhverfr,

Well, a good start would be with matters that are not presently before her in her official capacity. That's why I mentioned "the appearance of impropriety". This is a word of art in the judicial branch where I work as a research attorney.

There was an on-going controversy involving alleged discrimination against homosexuals in employee benefits at her university, where she was in charge of the human resources department, and she expressed an opinion on that as part of a broader message denouncing homosexuals. Her job duties entailed dealing with that particular controversy, and she expressed bias against one set of parties. Any California judicial officer who expressed such an opinion on a matter before him would be immediately recused and probably subjected to discipline by the Administrative Office of the Courts.

"I guess the one question I have asked defenders of the firing is when, if ever, an HR department employee could make any divisive viewpoint known in public."
12.3.2008 9:17pm
whit:
i have to second eliots question? hated?

also, i don't think outperform needs to be put in quotes.

jews and asians outperform. it's that simple.

in most metrics.

by a wide margin
12.3.2008 9:19pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
Elliot123,

Honestly I don't know. But I do argue that we should view gays and lesbians as AT LEAST like Jews and Asian in terms of any kind of "desert" for minority civil rights protection. Gays probably are presently subjected to more animus than Jews and Asians currently. But if you look at America's recent history, Jews, Asians and gays have been subject to horrible mistreatment. The notion that ANY of these groups don't deserve "civil rights" protection because they have suffered "victimhood" is patently false (that's why Ms. Dixon's op ed article was stupid). And "civil rights victimhood" does NOT equate with lack of collective economic well being or performance. The Japanese are one of the richest social subgroups in America. But that doesn't take away what happened to them in the internment camps or the bitterly awful animus they suffered around World War II where they were probably the most hated minority group in America.
12.3.2008 9:24pm
Hearditbefore:
From the blog: "....But let's assume that those who oppose homosexuality continue to disagree with you on that. What should a reasonable person in their shoes do,....?" While I have no links to offer, AFAIK, sexual procivities are pretty much fixed. Given that (and phony 'cure homo' fixes don't count), it's hard to believe a 'reasonable person' can really oppose equal rights. Since I'm new, I'll specify that no 'special' or 'newly found' rights are included in my comment; simply the same rights as anyone else enjoys. But even if it sexual choices were a choice, would it matter? What other sexual activities mean someone can't check "filing as a married couple" on the tax form?
From the blog: "It does seem pretty clear that at least some of the progress of gay rights -- not all, but some --is coming at he expense of the freedom (whether or not constitutionally protected freedom) of people who hold anti-gay religious views." What rights of those oppose gays are being yielded? Just a question, not an argument.
As regards her firing, I find her wrong on nearly every comment she made, but that's no reason to fire her. UNLESS she was active in delaying the extension of benefits or some other active denial of equal rights.
Thanks.
12.3.2008 9:25pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Martinned:

Also, my understanding of Pickering is that it might matter how this HR department employee might "comment on matters of public interest". As someone already noted above, there is a difference, that might be legally relevant, between thoughtfully taking part in an ongoing public debate and writing something akin to hate speach.


Ok. the general approach I am seeing to the Pickering balance is that people rely on the HR department to be fair arbiters of company policy as well as assist with benefits matters and the like. Therefore if an HR department VP comes out and says "God hates homosexual behavior" this undermines credibility in the position and therefore impacts the HR VP's ability to do his/her job.

I don't see how abortion viewpoints would be fundamentally different, especially if put across in the same sort of religious framework. If she had published the same sort of article but on why god hates abortions, would that undermine her credibility as an impartial administrator? I would think so. What about if she said that God hated Obama and Obama supporters because Obama was in favor of abortion rights and gay marriage?
12.3.2008 9:25pm
Putting Two and Two...:
Thomas_Holsinger:


It’s the appearance of impropriety which has UT concerned, not her acts, competence and professionalism. Tony Tutins put it best here:


Do we know that to be the case? I've read a couple statements from the University, but haven't seen an explanation of the grounds for termination. (As I see it, considering what Tony points out, her professionalism is very much part of the problem.)

Would be interested in seeing one.
12.3.2008 9:36pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):

"I guess the one question I have asked defenders of the firing is when, if ever, an HR department employee could make any divisive viewpoint known in public."


Whatever. This is not unlike an HR dept. employee citing the utterly controversial and contentious social science that blacks and other groups aren't as well represented because of genetic reasons. There is academic literature that supports such ideas (and academic counter-responses as well). But, if an HR manager wrote an op ed defending these ideas, they'd no doubt suffer the same fate as Ms. Dixon in a heartbeat.

I'm close to a Free Speech absolutist who believes the Nazis had a right to march in Skokie and when the rubber meets the road, I wouldn't have fired Ms. Dixon and stand in her corner demanding she get her job back.

However, as a matter of "prudence," given where she works, her Op-Ed move was about as wise as bringing Jared Taylor in to do a "Diversity Training" seminar.
12.3.2008 9:37pm
aloysiusmiller (mail):
Its okay to discriminate against a Christian who has rather benign anti-homosexual behavior opinions but it is unacceptable to discriminate against a Muslim who believes in stoning homosexuals.
12.3.2008 9:37pm
martinned (mail) (www):
@einhverfr: I suspect you copied the wrong half of my comment.

Anyway, the link between her position on homosexuality and her job performance does not go by way of her being a dumb*ss, or even by way of her not being impartial in general. Many organisations, including the University of Toledo, have policies that directly affect gays, most importantly the benefits that are at issue here. It's not about general impartiality, but about the specific link between her beliefs and her decisions regarding benefits for gay spouses.

Unless you'd be worried about a HR official establishing a policy that is discriminatory towards pro-choice or pro-Obama employees, that direct link simply isn't there. That is why you have to run your hypothetical argument by way of general doubts about the person's fitness to do the job.
12.3.2008 9:38pm
Michelle Dulak Thomson (mail):
Cornellian,

Not sure about other denominations, but the Catholic prohibition, I think, is not against divorce, but against remarriage after divorce.
12.3.2008 9:46pm
martinned (mail) (www):
@Michelle Dulak Thomson: It's against both. A church marriage simply cannot be undone, except through annullment. As a result, you can't marry a second time, because as far as the Catholic Church is concerned, you're still married to your first spouse.
12.3.2008 9:48pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
I wish I could go back and edit these pieces for grammar and typos. Sometimes I submit these comments quickly because I'm trying to get into the "spontaneity" of these threaded discussion debates. My passage SHOULD have read.


The notion that ANY of these groups [Gays, Jews, and Asians] don't deserve "civil rights" protection because they haveN'T suffered "victimhood" is patently false (that's why Ms. Dixon's op ed article was stupid).
12.3.2008 9:53pm
Thomas_Holsinger:
Tony,

AFAIK, all public universities, and Professor Volokh made it clear UT is one, resolve disputes over personnel matters, including personnel benefits, by an administrative process. Litigants who object to the outcomes of those processes are REQUIRED to exhaust administrative remedies.

And human resources managers are almost always involved in those administrative remedies. Depending on the size of UT, this lady might very well have been a hearing officer or board member called upon to decide the particular dispute here.

It is not clear from Professor Volokh's post that such was the case here, but it is standard operating procedure for public universities.

And one of the grounds for appealing to a court from an adverse administrative decision is prejudice or bias by the administrative board hearing the administrative appeal.

The lady's article set UT up for lawsuits concerning any future administrative dispute involving homosexuals, and not merely the present benefits controversy.

I'd have fired her too. IMO UT really had no choice here.
12.3.2008 9:57pm
Bob1234 (mail):
Interesting. As I read this, she merely refuted some points made in another article, then closes with a statement that her religion does not countenance homosexuality. As others here have pointed out, nowhere does she say that homosexuals should be denied basic considerations as human beings. In fact, her performance in her job for 25 years is commendable. For this she is fired on the spot.

On the other hand, Wade Churchill at the University of Colorado was outed quite some time ago as a liar and a fraud, and his University hemmed and hawed for a considerable time before it was shamed enough to throw him out. Even then, they showed him the door reluctantly.

I guess I could say something snarky about double standards, but nothing that happens in academe anymore surprises me. I think she'll have no problems finding a new job. I hope she wins.
12.3.2008 10:00pm
Perseus (mail):
This is not unlike an HR dept. employee citing the utterly controversial and contentious social science that blacks and other groups aren't as well represented because of genetic reasons. There is academic literature that supports such ideas (and academic counter-responses as well). But, if an HR manager wrote an op ed defending these ideas, they'd no doubt suffer the same fate as Ms. Dixon in a heartbeat.

Just ask Larry Summers (yes, I know that Harvard is a private institution). But I'd support all of them keeping their positions.
12.3.2008 10:03pm
Duncan Frissell (mail):
Most universities oppose discrimination on the basis of sex. Real Catholics believe in discrimination on the basis of sex in the ordination of priests. Therefore, universities should immediately fire all Real Catholics who are not tenured.
12.3.2008 10:04pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
martinned:

Unless you'd be worried about a HR official establishing a policy that is discriminatory towards pro-choice or pro-Obama employees, that direct link simply isn't there.


What about her role in acting as an arbitter in disputes as to what policies state and whether a firing might be unjustified? HR departments do more than review benefit plans and policies, they also have a quasi-judicial role in most organizations.
12.3.2008 10:04pm
martinned (mail) (www):
@Duncan Frissell: Since when do university administrators have anything to say about the ordination of priests?
12.3.2008 10:05pm
martinned (mail) (www):
@einhverfr: Give me a scenario. How would you expect someone's stance on abortion or Obama to get in the way during such a dispute resolution in the same degree as this woman's issues with gay rights and gay benefits?
12.3.2008 10:07pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Pat C.
In Michigan, we get door knockers about once every five years. The last two were a couple of Mormon young women. I told them we were taken and they were fine with that and then I asked when they were going to be done. They told me and I said it wouldn't be dark by then, so fine. They asked, disturbed, if bad stuff happened in our little town. Nah, says I. Next morning there was a report of the first murder in thirty years.
The point I was making is that the obnoxious ones are atheists. Flying spaghetti monsters and so forth. Gross disrespect. Insults. I don't get those from Jehovah's Witnesses. Although we did have some summer help who was a JW. Some clown tried to mess with her. In about a week, he was sent for by means of a bolt of lightning. Memo to self, don't mess with JW women. If they felt like being insulting, I'd probably have to take it.
12.3.2008 10:12pm
Putting Two and Two...:

What should a reasonable person in their shoes do, faced with the prospect that expressing their views -- and quite likely expressing any opposition to pro-gay-rights policies, when the opposition rests on a claim that homosexuality doesn't merit legal protection of various sorts -- is becoming a firing offense as to a large range of jobs?


Well, a reasonable person in those shoes should, at the very least, avoid raising his/her religious beliefs in a newspaper article just before (disengenuously) addressing a personnel issue under his/her supervision.

But, more to the point, to what "large range of jobs" is Eugene referring?

Instances like this are relatively few (certainly compared to gay folks who lose their jobs for being gay). Granted, these cases have an enormously effective echo-chamber to compound their impact, but are there really very many of them?
12.3.2008 10:13pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):

Interesting. As I read this, she merely refuted some points made in another article, then closes with a statement that her religion does not countenance homosexuality. As others here have pointed out, nowhere does she say that homosexuals should be denied basic considerations as human beings. In fact, her performance in her job for 25 years is commendable. For this she is fired on the spot.



No there was much more than this. She refuted nothing. She made a sloppy argument claiming that homosexuals weren't "civil rights victims" because they weren't exactly like "blacks" in terms of condition and history (neither is by the way any OTHER of the multitude of social groups covered under anti discrimination laws and policies). Further her position is in "human resources" at a university which no doubt has "diversity" in its mission and protects "sexual orientation" as a non-discriminatory category.

To use "Mormonism" as an example. Imagine she worked somewhere that had at least some percentage of Mormons as employees and she writes an article on how Mormons are a "false" and "demonic" religion, that they don't deserve "civil rights" protection under the First Amendment because "religion" according to "original intent" meant "Christianity" and "Mormons are not Christian," as many religiously conservative Christians are fond of claiming.

I could continue the thought experiment about "Islam."

I would defend a person's right to say such things, but would not at ALL be surprised of a backlash and a firing.
12.3.2008 10:14pm
Putting Two and Two...:
In one of the links above was the most likely explanation for Ms. Dixon's less than well-considered article (can't remember which one included the infobit): it referred to her as the interim Associate VP of Human Resources.
12.3.2008 10:26pm
Tim J.:

James Dobsons of the world are forever crusading against gay people, never divorced people


Seriously? Seriously? The moment I read this I thought, "that couldn't possibly be true, and I bet a moment's googling would demonstrate as much."

Indeed, it took me seconds to find an article by Dobson himself condemning divorce in very strong terms. Behold, Dobson saying '"No-fault divorce" is still the law of the land in most states, resulting in thousands of unnecessary family breakups. ... If I may be permitted to offer what will sound like hyperbole, I believe the future of Western civilization depends on how we handle this present crisis.'

But let's be honest. "they attack gay marriage but not divorce" was never more than a mixture of strawman and ad hominem. Would you be budged at all if it proved not to be the case? I doubt it, but I guess now we'll get to find out.
12.3.2008 10:29pm
David Warner:
Dilan,

"But yes, believing that "homosexual behavior" is some special kind of sin that should be singled out for disapproval while other sins are not is, indeed, bigotry against homosexuals."

But there is no evidence that she is doing this. She was attempting to refute a specific article that claimed discrimination against gays in benefit plans using a civil rights framework. She presented evidence on both the question of the benefit plans themselves and the appropriateness of the civil rights framework for discussing domestic partner benefits. If homosexuality is a choice, the "all men are created equal" basis of the civil rights movement is not the correct basis for answering those questions. That may well be an incorrect argument. It is not bigoted.

Indeed, if it is incorrect, and "men" are created homosexual, then she was very pro-gay in her praise of several homosexuals who are evidently denying their true identity.

As for singling out homosexuals, here's what she said:

"Daily, Jesus Christ is radically transforming the lives of both straight and gay folks and bringing them into a life of wholeness: spiritually, psychologically, physically and even economically. That is the ultimate right."
12.3.2008 10:30pm
peter the slow (mail):
Why is this even a debate?

The right to free speech and freedom of religion are protected are constitutional rights.

To suggest that a public institution is justified in restricting said rights and or firing a person for exercising said rights is simply hogwash.

Or put it another way. There is no explicit right in the constitution protecting public homosexuality (although the "right to privacy" per court cases would cover homosexual acts. Yet if the person in question was fired for publically expressing lesbianism and defending it there would be no debate, in fact there would be an outcry from liberal minded people on how unfair such an act would be.

Yet these same people are debating the firing of someone for the expression of views EXPLICITALLY protected by the constitution.

The fact that this is even debatable says more about us as a society than anything else. It should be remembered that opinion changes and what is “acceptable thought” today might not be tomorrow. It is not only an illiberal but a dangerous path to ignore explicit constitutional rights for the sake of feeling better and public acceptance. It might be only a few decades before those who do so find their beliefs on the wrong end of public opinion.

The proper answer to speech that one disagrees with is more speech.
12.3.2008 10:30pm
AWatchmanontheWallofWorldFreedom (mail):
Nearly every remedy or action by the Left involves these three elements:

1. The Expansion of government power
2. The Concentration of that power in the hands of the elite
3. The Diminishment of the sphere of personal freedom

Crystal Dixon is experiencing this first hand.
12.3.2008 10:31pm
David Warner:
Jon Rowe,

"If mistreatment is a qualifier, then gays probably could make a case that though they didn't suffer slavery, they did suffer things arguably FAR worse than being forced to sit on the back of a bus."

Please.

Don't even go there.
12.3.2008 10:34pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
YOU don't want to go there.
12.3.2008 10:41pm
comatus (mail):
Sadly, this kind of HR decision making is all too common at Toledo. After all, they fired a perfectly good football coach just because his team beat Michigan. Righteously.

You want umbrage? I've got your umbrage.
12.3.2008 10:42pm
MarkJ:
Here's some advice to university administrators thinking about expressing similar opinions:

Convert to Islam first. Then you'll be untouchable.
12.3.2008 10:47pm
Putting Two and Two...:

OK, I think I know what's really going on here. Ms. Dixon decided to make a career change -- perhaps she realized that interim was not going to morph into permanent. So, she launched her new career: anti-gay "witness" and speaker. Hence the reliance on the old standards: Exodus, that silly marketing study, etc. She had to show she could play the game.

Distortion is an important factor in a career in this field, so we have:


Frequently, the individuals report that the impetus to their change of heart and lifestyle was a transformative experience with God; a realization that their choice of same-sex practices wreaked havoc in their psychological and physical lives. Charlene E. Cothran, publisher of Venus Magazine, was an aggressive, strategic supporter of gay rights and a practicing lesbian for 29 years, before she renounced her sexuality and gave Jesus Christ stewardship of her life. The gay community vilified her angrily and withdrew financial support from her magazine, upon her announcement that she was leaving the lesbian lifestyle.


Charlene E. Cothran was a lesbian, and Venus Magazine was a leading publication in the (relatively small niche) market of lesbians of color. After 29 years, she "found God" and changed the magazine from one which celebrated and fought for the lesbian "lifestyle" to one which encouraged lesbians to join conversion ministries.

Imagine the cheek of those godless d*kes! They cancelled their subscriptions!!!
12.3.2008 10:48pm
Geoff (mail) (www):

So you'd be ok if she had written the article about Jews, on the grounds that Jews merely "commit sin in one area of their life" by not believing that Jesus is the son of God?


There is a difference between thinking not believing in Jesus is sin (being a Christian) and thinking Jews are inherently inferior (racism, Nazis, etc.).

Likewise, one can think homosexual behavior is a sin without believing homosexuals are inherently inferior to other types of sinners.
12.3.2008 10:58pm
Smokey:
Let's keep on point here:

Someone expressed a polite, personal opinion on her own time.

She was FIRED for doing so.

So much for tolerance and diversity.


I'm gonna go all Godwin on the people who think that's A-OK: you're all a bunch of little Hitlers, and that's the truth.
12.3.2008 11:02pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):

Let's keep on point here:

Someone expressed a polite, personal opinion on her own time.

She was FIRED for doing so.

So much for tolerance and diversity.


I'm gonna go all Godwin on the people who think that's A-OK: you're all a bunch of little Hitlers, and that's the truth.


A "polite" personal opinion. Ah yes, like saying "Mormons are not Christian but a false demonic religion" and consequently not deserving of protection under the "First Amendment" wherein "religion" means "Christianity" and "Mormonism is not 'Christianity.'" A "polite" personal opinion, like blacks are not as represented in jobs because of genetic differences between the races. A "polite" personal opinion like the Bible instructs wives to submit to their husbands and consequently fewer women should be in the workforce, more should be in the home. All of these are "polite personal opinions" along the lines that got Ms. Dixon fired.
12.3.2008 11:09pm
Cornellian (mail):
Indeed, it took me seconds to find an article by Dobson himself condemning divorce in very strong terms.

And if his activities against gay people were restricted to writing a few articles then you'd have a point. When his lot is putting propositions to ban divorce on the ballot in a bunch of states, then you'll have a point.
12.3.2008 11:16pm
Smokey:
Jon Rowe:

Stop quibbling. Does someone have the right to express their opinion on their own time, or not?

Either the 1st Amendment is more important, or something else is.

For you, it's something else.
12.3.2008 11:22pm
Cornellian (mail):

Likewise, one can think homosexual behavior is a sin without believing homosexuals are inherently inferior to other types of sinners.


So you can think Jewish behavior is a sin without believing Jews are inherently inferior to Christians? That observing Kosher rules is disgusting behavior that will wreck your psychological and physical life but you "love the Jews, hate the Jewishness?" Then write an article about it? Then go back to administering your employer's anti-discrimination policy? Then express surprise when your employer decides maybe you're not be best person to be tasked with that responsibility?
12.3.2008 11:23pm
Cornellian (mail):
Nearly every remedy or action by the Left involves these three elements:

1. The Expansion of government power

Terry Schiavo law

2. The Concentration of that power in the hands of the elite

Treasury Secretary (and Goldman Sachs bigwig) Hank Paulson gets $700 billion to bail out his Wall St buddies. He was appointed by a president who's the son of a former president and grandson of a senator.

3. The Diminishment of the sphere of personal freedom

Raich v. Ashcroft
Gonzales v. Oregon
12.3.2008 11:27pm
whit:

A "polite" personal opinion. Ah yes, like saying "Mormons are not Christian but a false demonic religion" and consequently not deserving of protection under the "First Amendment" wherein "religion" means "Christianity" and "Mormonism is not 'Christianity.'" A "polite" personal opinion, like blacks are not as represented in jobs because of genetic differences between the races. A "polite" personal opinion like the Bible instructs wives to submit to their husbands and consequently fewer women should be in the workforce, more should be in the home. All of these are "polite personal opinions" along the lines that got Ms. Dixon fired.



not that i accept that any of the above are equivalent, but assuming that ms. dixon made any of your above statements, i don't think she should have been fired for those either.
12.3.2008 11:28pm
John D (mail):
It would appear that everything old is new again.

"Do you now or have you ever held views on homosexuality that are not approved by the LGBT community?"

What's next? Gay political Commissars to ensure that no one who harbors contrary opinions on homosexuality are denied an education, jobs, and appointments?

I know and like a lot of gay people. In fact I have a close relative that's gay. But when I disagree with their ideas that everyone everywhere should be forced to, not only tolerate them, but approve of them, many cut off contact with me.

But then they complain that I'm are not accepting of them. Their feelings are hurt.

But even though they get so bitchy with me. I like, love and admire them for who they are. They just can't seem to do the same for me.
12.3.2008 11:28pm
Putting Two and Two...:

But what should be the reaction of those who oppose homosexuality on religious grounds, and care a good deal about their and their coreligionists' ability to express their views and act in accordance with those views in their private lives?


Well, they could hope that when the gay forces take control (!!!!) we won't use electro-shock and aversion therapy when we punish those who stray.

OR... if they truly, truly want the ability to discriminate openly -- in both speech and action -- that they seem to want, they should work to weaken the protections on religion, race, and national origin in this country to a sufficient enough degree that we're all on a level playing field, bigotry-wise.

This solution assumes, of course, that the folks Eugene is worried about are religious and ethical.
12.3.2008 11:34pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
Whit:

I agree I wouldn't fire Ms. Dixon for what she actually said or if she said any of the things I raised in my hypo. I simply disagree that ANY of them is a "polite personal opinion."
12.3.2008 11:36pm
Tim J.:
Cornellian:
And if his activities against gay people were restricted to writing a few articles then you'd have a point. When his lot is putting propositions to ban divorce on the ballot in a bunch of states, then you'll have a point.


Yeah, that was more or less what I expected from you. A sly little moving of the goal posts from your previous claim that the Dobsons of the world never crusade against divorce. I guess you could try to dodge further by claiming that writing articles doesn't count as "crusading," except you lumped him right in with Ms. Dixon, whose offense consists entirely of writing an article.

Heck, by this reasoning, Ms. Dixon "never" crusades against gay people, which makes me wonder what we're all fussing about in the first place.
12.3.2008 11:44pm
Sticky (mail):

Most people seem to be focusing on the letter's content, which is understandable. But, in this context, the response to the letter by her co-workers and the community she serves is more important.

She obviously has a strong first amendment right to express her religious beliefs. However, the government has a competing interest in maintaining a well-functioning school. The Pickering test exists to balance these interests.

A disrupted workplace is by SCOTUS definition a poorly-functioning workplace. (Connick, 461 US 138). Also, in Connick, the Court said that termination is allowed if the employer reasonably believes a disruption will occur in the future. Here, a lot of people complained to the University about Dixon's article; including co-workers. When looking into the possible disruption of a work-place, you have to take into account co-worker relations. (Garcetti, 547 US 410). People may quibble, but it isn't unreasonable to believe that the letter took office morale down a few notches.

That action is enough to uphold an employment termination, even when dealing with protected First Amendment rights. (See: Melzer v Board of Ed., 336 F.2d 185 (2nd Cir. 2003); McMullen v Caron, 754 F.2d 936 (11th Cir. 1985).

Its a fact of life that, even though the Court says employees don't shed their constitutional protections at the school-house door, government employee's freedom of speech is curtailed heavily.
12.3.2008 11:48pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Sticky.
That gives me an idea. Since the heckler's veto is now law, if we can raise enough fuss, anybody we don't like we can get fired.
The only thing remaining is to find something he or she did that acts as a trigger. And nobody can tell us it isn't a matter of deep offense and morale-busting. If we say it is, it is.
12.3.2008 11:56pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
Smokey:

They do. I'm not quibbling. Rather, I'm putting this into perspective anticipating the inevitable response that homosexuality is "different" in the way in which its advocates don't allow for freedom of debate and if folks said those "other" things, they'd rightly be chastised if not legally disciplined.
12.4.2008 12:05am
Shouting Thomas (mail) (www):
This gay obsession in unbelieveable.

And it comes on the heels of the AIDS epidemic, which pretty much made it clear that traditional beliefs about gay behavior were well founded.

What in the world is with you people. Why are you so obsessed with promoting homosexuality?

This is a mental illness, folks. Get some help.

Out intellectual, legal class has become a pack of fools.
12.4.2008 12:16am
epeeist:
Skimming through the comments reminds me of why I like this site, given the issue not much of the crap one would normally get online...

I do think that many people miss what I think was part of her point (unrelated to her religiously-based opinion on homosexuality and perhaps not explicit but I think implied), if you go into a job interview usually your skin color and gender are obvious, and there may be discrimination or fear of discrimination on that basis. If one wears a kipa (yarmulke) or hijab likewise one's religion and/or ethnicity are obvious (and one's name may also reveal at least one's ethnicity, e.g. someone named "Cohen" could be any religion, but is probably ethnically Jewish and I assume if religiously active is more likely to be Jewish -- presumably if someone named "Cohen" converts to Islam a different name would be chosen not least to avoid problems on a pilgrimage to Mecca...). One's sexual orientation is NOT generally obvious, gaydar jokes aside, unless one chooses to reveal it (issues of named beneficiaries of policies or benefits may reveal sexual orientation but that would usually be after one is already hired and filling out forms). I'm not arguing for any "secret lifestyle", I'm pointing out that in a job interview the matter should not come up unless the applicant volunteers it (as opposed to the many other things that "shouldn't" come up but do, like questions to women about plans to have children...). So I do see a lot of merit to the argument about sexual orientation not being about civil rights in the same way as race or gender.

Especially because it is a state employer, I am concerned with the firing for stating an opinion based on religion (and on a political matter also, issues of civil rights, race, California prop. in the news, etc.). At the same time, I can understand that for a VP of HR to express this opinion publicly may lead to (legitimate) questions, if someone who happens to be gay is ever disciplined or not hired by the employer, will they sue and argue based on this letter to the editor that they were discriminated against? I think that like so many things, this is fact-dependent, and reasonable people may disagree as to whether this crossed the line (I don't think she "crossed the line", and don't think she should have been fired).

Now that I've got all of that out of the way, if anyone wants an attempt to summarize the Catholic position on homosexuality, given a few posts above I'll give it a shot. I am Catholic, though not an expert (actually, given the legal test I might be an "expert", and I certainly read more material with religious, moral and theological content than most people I know, but real-world, I'm not an "expert"), and essentially I think the official position is something like: homosexuality (orientation) is not sinful (it is "disordered" which is of uncertain meaning to me); and homosexuals shouldn't have sex just like unmarried heterosexuals shouldn't have sex (and the position is also against same-sex marriage, and indeed a Catholic getting married is supposed to have a Catholic wedding, not just e.g. a "civil" wedding). One may or may not like that or thin it practical or fair or whatever, but I think it worth noting that (as I understand it) the Catholic view is not that homosexual orientation is a "choice", and thus, homosexuality is in and of itself NOT sinful (I think this distinguishes Catholicism from many other Christian denominations which see it more as a choice?); what is sinful is the behaviour of unmarried sex whether same-sex or not (which, since the position is marriage is only between man and woman, is kind of a "Catch-22"...).

Incidentally, at one dinner I was at where a relatively recently-ordained Catholic priest was answering some questions from others at the table, he noted that one of the questions he and others had been asked in their process of formation was, what if e.g. a lesbian mother/couple wanted her baby baptized (and the correct answer was something like, the baby should be baptized if those having custody genuinely wished it).
12.4.2008 12:17am
Waldensian (mail):

With the rare exception of having somebody hand me a tract on a street corner, about once a decade, the most evangelical folks, the ones who want to get in my face, are the atheists.

I don't know, those 9/11 terrorists were sort of trying to get in your face a little bit, weren't they? But you're right, I'm vastly more afraid of those roving bands of atheist terrorists.

In all seriousness, what is your problem with people "getting in your face"? What does that even mean? Religious people and atheists alike are free to express their opinions and "get in my face." I have no right to have people not "get in my face," and I certainly don't whine about it when someone "gets in my face."

If they assault me or otherwise break the law, they get to go to jail. If I don't want to see First Amendment activity, I can go home. I suggest you try these options.
12.4.2008 12:21am
Cornellian (mail):

And it comes on the heels of the AIDS epidemic, which pretty much made it clear that traditional beliefs about gay behavior were well founded.


If you're worried about AIDS you should be promoting lesbianism. They're at far lower risk of getting HIV than straight women. I look forward to your condemnation of the heterosexual "lifestyle."
12.4.2008 12:22am
Cornellian (mail):
I'm not arguing for any "secret lifestyle", I'm pointing out that in a job interview the matter should not come up unless the applicant volunteers it (as opposed to the many other things that "shouldn't" come up but do, like questions to women about plans to have children...). So I do see a lot of merit to the argument about sexual orientation not being about civil rights in the same way as race or gender.

There's some basis to this point, but it's not very strong. Plenty of Jewish people don't have obviously Jewish names. I wouldn't have assumed EV was Jewish just from the name "Volokh." Similarly although whether someone is gay isn't always obvious from looking at the person, it's not always possible to keep the resume entirely clear of that sort of thing. Supposing you were a member of some LGBT interest group in law school? Your writing sample was law review article about Don't Ask Don't Tell? You live in the Castro, West Hollywood or Chelsea? None of those things are conclusive but they're all things that are likely to end up on your resume and more than sufficient to induce suspicion on some with views as strong as Ms. Dixon appears to have.

An even better example would be disabilities, some of which (diabetes, epilepsy) are totally invisible.

Anyway, all that applies only to the hiring decision and doesn't help the employee much in dealing with other decisions once he's hired, such as performance reviews, raises, promotions, layoffs etc.
12.4.2008 12:31am
Jeremiah:

I don't think anyone has addressed this question yet:

But what should be the reaction of those who oppose homosexuality on religious grounds, and care a good deal about their and their coreligionists' ability to express their views and act in accordance with those views in their private lives?

I would suggest two things:

(1) As anti-discrimination laws are amended to extend to gays, they might lobby for specific provisions protecting speech concerning the morality of same-sex relations. If such speech does not create legal liability, or (in the strong version) if discrimination on the basis of such speech creates legal liability, then fewer employers are likely to make the expression of such views a firing offense.

(2) It changes the hypothetical somewhat, but there may be a line farther back on which a stand for religious freedom might be made. Those who oppose homosexuality on religious grounds might accept that homosexual orientation is, in most cases, unchosen. They might, acknowledging that it is unchosen, accept that the case is not analogous to, say, legalizing prostitution, and so acquiesce in the thorough legal, social, and workplace mainstreaming of homosexuality. But they might at that point draw the line and insist on a right to say that they believe God asks of gays something that society should not: that gays chose not to act on their orientation. A distinction can be made, perhaps an untenable distinction, but a distinction nonetheless, between arguing political or workplace policy and arguing morality. Religious speech that partakes only of the latter and avoids entanglement in the former might reasonably be protected by laws against workplace discrimination on the basis of religion.

Surely the freedom-maximizing resolution to this societal imbroglio is to allow religious folk to say pretty nearly whatever they want from a moral perspective and run their institutions however they want, but to give gays full political equality in law.
12.4.2008 12:49am
Cornellian (mail):
As anti-discrimination laws are amended to extend to gays, they might lobby for specific provisions protecting speech concerning the morality of same-sex relations.

Why have that special provision just for gay people? Shouldn't you also protect the right of an employee to let his Jewish co-workers know they're going to Hell? As long as he does it politely of course. And let's not forget his right to tell unmarried pregnant co-workers what the Old Testament says about them.
12.4.2008 1:01am
Cornellian (mail):
This gay obsession in unbelieveable.

That would be a good description of Ms. Dixon.
12.4.2008 1:04am
Suzy (mail):
Donald and Nick056, I think you have it exactly right.

Tim J, in no way do I think that the "real problem is that she made a religious statement." If she had said, for example, that her religious beliefs were her grounds for believing that the university should not extend same-sex partner benefits, the religious nature of her argument would not concern me at all. The problem is that she's saying these things in her capacity as the university official who's responsible for implementing personnel policies and handling disputes about the very subjects at issue here. That alone justifies her firing, because the university should not have to retain employees who use their administrative authority to advertise their own personal views on controversies that the university is presently trying to settle. The content of the views is not the issue; it's the inappropriateness of her speaking this way on behalf of the university.

In addition, she does not merely express her opinions about policies, but indicates that many of the people who must trust her to handle their employment affairs are inherently "base". By comparison, if she wanted to engage in public debates about religion and state her disagreement with Catholicism, I would give a cheer for her free speech! But as her boss, I'd fire her for stating that all Catholics themselves are inherently base people who will be punished by God, when I have to rely upon her to fairly adjudicate claims of workplace discrimination against Catholics, or decide whether they should receive days off or the same benefits as everyone else. Again, the problem is not the religious content, but the compromise of her ability to be a reliable administrator.
12.4.2008 1:04am
Jeremiah:
Re: 1:01 AM

There is a difference between speech in the workplace directed at a co-worker and public forum or off-work speech which an employer uses to discipline or fire an employee. The incident Eugene Volokh cited was public-forum speech.
12.4.2008 1:07am
Putting Two and Two...:

Surely the freedom-maximizing resolution to this societal imbroglio is to allow religious folk to say pretty nearly whatever they want from a moral perspective and run their institutions however they want, but to give gays full political equality in law.



Eeeek! This sounds suspiciously like the dreaded Gay Agenda
12.4.2008 1:12am
anon345 (mail):
She expressed an opinion praphrased:

I think gay people are co-opting civil rights struggle that they shouldn't be. The lack of domestic partner benefit parity across University of Toledo is not a gay or straight issue. It's just an HR issue associated with the merger of two entities. BTW, gay people are sinners against the natural order.

Look at the second sentence above. The provision of domestic partner benefits had already been an issue for over 2 years (since it was actually an issue prior to the July, 2006 effective date). People had been informed it (probably by Dixon's office) that it might take another 18 months to resolve.

Noone on this site has been able to back up their claim that this is no big deal with any evidence. It seems reasonable to conclude that Ms Dixon's inability to figure out a way to expand domestic partner benefits is tied to her religious/political beliefs. I only know of my personal experience with 3 mergers where to have this kind of outstanding issue unresolved after even 6 months would have been considered ridiculous, much less, three years. She was terminated mid-May; three months later the University of Toledo announced the ability of domestic partners to enroll for coverage starting January 1, 2009.

She may never have discriminated in a hiring decision, but I can't see how you can conclude that this is not a pretty good example of how her opinions AND actions were in concert. It certainly seems like the University of Toledo was able to implement their stated employment policy much quicker with her gone than with her there.

There is no way she wins this case unless by settlement or alternatively "wins" by going on to a successful second career as gay rights victim.
12.4.2008 1:36am
epeeist:
Re Cornellian:

(portions of quoted post deleted)

Similarly although whether someone is gay isn't always obvious from looking at the person, it's not always possible to keep the resume entirely clear of that sort of thing. Supposing you were a member of some LGBT interest group in law school? Your writing sample was law review article about Don't Ask Don't Tell? You live in the Castro, West Hollywood or Chelsea? None of those things are conclusive but they're all things that are likely to end up on your resume and more than sufficient to induce suspicion on some with views as strong as Ms. Dixon appears to have.

Anyway, all that applies only to the hiring decision and doesn't help the employee much in dealing with other decisions once he's hired, such as performance reviews, raises, promotions, layoffs etc.


Maybe in some cases where one lives is indicative of sexual orientation, but skin color and gender almost always are. I'm not arguing universal laws, just what's most applicable (there are situations in which straight white men are discriminated against, my resume notes some religious volunteer experience which may result in discrimination against me, but the point is I think the benefits of listing it outweigh the possible disadvantages and I always have the choice not to include it). As for membership in e.g. some LGBT interest group or law review article (not that I agree an article on such a topic is indicative of anything) being revealed in one's resume — the point is one can choose to omit that, it's not like skin color or gender which (cross-dressing or the like aside) one has no choice about revealing.

More generally (not re Cornellian specifically), it seems strange that someone can write e.g. "I think homosexuality is wrong for religious reasons (but they should be treated equally and receive equal benefits in the workplace at least because that is my employer's position which I adhere to)" and be fired; but someone who wrote "I think homosexuality is wonderful and I march in pride parades out of support, but for financial reasons benefits should not be extended unless/until state or federal law compels my employer to do so, especially given current economic conditions, until then for financial reasons we should resist to the utmost including by legal challenges any equality of benefits and I oppose same-sex marriage for the same reason, I think it's wonderful commitment that in a sense should be available but the financial implications bother me" would be okay because they didn't say homosexuality was wrong but couched their argument in financial terms? There seems to be some cognitive dissonance there...
12.4.2008 1:39am
Jeremiah:
I'll broaden my 12:49 suggestion #1 because Cornellian is correct. As anti-discrimination laws are changed, the better thing for those religiously opposed to homosexuality to lobby for would be provisions protecting speech expressing religious moral judgments generally, rather than such judgments as they specifically concern same-sex relations. This protection shouldn't extend to confrontational workplace speech, of course, but should at least include all public forum speech.

Workplaces are full of co-workers who disagree with each other's off-work moral choices. Those who religiously opposed to homosexuality could plausibly argue that theirs is just one type of this sort of disagreement and should not be a firing offense absent other work-related misdeeds.
12.4.2008 1:45am
epeeist:
Correction:

I missed a word or two, when I wrote:

"Maybe in some cases where one lives is indicative of sexual orientation, but skin color and gender almost always are."

I thought I had typed something like "...almost always are visible." Without that additional word, my sentence took an a wholly-unintended different meaning.
12.4.2008 2:21am
Lior:
John Rowe: my personal guess (not a product of research) si that a household of two men without children is usually financially much better off than the average household. First, men do get paid better than women. Second, child care and schooling are rather expensive in the US.

More importantly, judging societal acceptance by economic success is very American, but not very accurate, as the examples of immigrants (especially Jews and East Asians) show.
12.4.2008 2:31am
Vanhattan (mail):
Every employer has its own set of ethical standards, vision, goals, mission, etc.

It just so happens that the University of Toledo expressly has one of diversity.

http://www.utoledo.edu/diversity

"UT Definition of Diversity

Human diversity is variety in group presence and interactions. It includes, but is not limited to, age, color, ethnicity, gender, religion, disabilities, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, gender identity, and national origin. In promoting diversity, the University pledges to respect and value personal uniqueness and differences; to attract and retain diverse faculty, staff, and students; to challenge stereotypes; and to promote sensitivity and inclusion. The University understands the value that a diverse student body, faculty, staff, and administration bring to its educational environment, the metropolitan community and beyond. The University takes seriously its commitment to diversity as expressed in the Mission Statement and the Strategic Directions Plan."

As a Vice President of the UT HR it certainly was her express duty to support the values of the University as expressed above. She clearly showed severe disrespect for her job title and her employeer, staff as well as students by linking her opinion directly to an ongoing UT HR issue and it would be irresponsible for UT NOT to fire her.

With most of the jobs I have held over the years I have been obligated to never publically link my personal views and actions with my employeer. With one government job I was not allowed to run or hold political office among other off duty behaviour restrictions. Restrictions on speech and other behaviour while off the job are typically restricted in direct relation to ones position, authority, visability, etc.

She should lose her job. This case has nothing to do with first amendment rights or religious rights.
12.4.2008 2:37am
Truthteller:
First of all, this woman's letter is not only ignorant but filled with lies.

The founding members of Exodus International, Michael Bussee and Gary Cooper left the so called Ex-gay ministry after many years of trying to be straight. They left Exodus as Lovers. Watch the documentary "One Nation Under God."

I'm also always confused by the term gay lifestyle, she uses.

What is a gay lifestyle?

Gay people have heterosexual parents, siblings, jobs, maybe children, nieces, nephews etc. Some attend churches, synagogues, and other houses of worship as well as love someone of the same gender. They hold jobs, teach, study, I think you get the point.

So is a lifestyle the few minutes of intimacy the Gays who have a loved one share with each other? Or is a lifestyle everything they do?

I doubt anyone who is not gay can really understand what it must feel to be the recipient of such venomous vitriol.

To be the recipient of such tirade from a woman who you would need to depend on when your rights as an employee of such institution have been violated.

Do you really think a woman who believes her god hates you, for being who you are, and that you are a willful, rebellious, heterosexual whom your god commands stoning to death (Leviticus) is going to protect you?

This woman lost her ability to perform her job and tainted the university with a reputation of ignorance. She should be fired.
12.4.2008 3:33am
trad and anon (mail):
In the vast majority of cases it is an inappropriate and hypocritical label. A common example finds one complaining about the opposition's religious basis for their view and then styling them as a homophobe or bigot. Well, isn't that nothing more than anti-religious bigotry?
Well, some of us (not me) view that theology as much like the anti-black Christian theology of black skin as the mark of Cain, etc. espoused by Mormons and Southern Protestants before the Second Reconstruction of the 60's and 70's. I would not go that far, but I don't think that view is completely without merit.
12.4.2008 3:48am
epeeist:
Re Vanhattan:

If someone who works for the government ("a state-run university" -- I'm assuming that's considered a state actor)is fired for what he or she writes in a newspaper regarding religious beliefs, it very clearly does relate to first amendment rights and religious rights. It may be that in the circumstances the limitation of those rights and firing the employee is reasonable, but even if so that does not mean that it has "nothing to do with first amendment rights or religious rights" ("You are not allowed to state your religious beliefs publicly or the government institution which employs you will fire you.").

Your post did remind me (with your mention of your job restrictions), missing from any discussion is what the employment agreement or policies said (any limits on public expression for upper-level management, for instance, or limits on communications with the media? If so are they reasonable for this type of employee?). In the absence of such information, I'm assuming there was nothing explicit.

To take the definition you quoted and highlight different sections:

http://www.utoledo.edu/diversity

"UT Definition of Diversity

Human diversity is variety in group presence and interactions. It includes, but is not limited to, age, color, ethnicity, gender, religion, disabilities, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, gender identity, and national origin. In promoting diversity, the University pledges to respect and value personal uniqueness and differences; to attract and retain diverse faculty, staff, and students; to challenge stereotypes; and to promote sensitivity and inclusion. The University understands the value that a diverse student body, faculty, staff, and administration bring to its educational environment, the metropolitan community and beyond. The University takes seriously its commitment to diversity as expressed in the Mission Statement and the Strategic Directions Plan."

To start with this is one of those vague statements that serves more PR purpose than anything. Religious diversity and uniqueness and differences is not being promoted in this instance nor are people with diverse religious beliefs being retained. That's fine, there has to be a balancing act. If the policy is "you can say anything positive about any of these groups but nothing negative" I'd object (and it would have to be explicit!). What if (for instance) someone writes a letter to the editor which singles out a particular group (Muslims should denounce terrorism more, black fathers should play more of a role in their childrens' lives, etc., I pick those as controversial propositions which have been made in some cases by members of the groups being criticized) -- do they get fired? The religious diversity of this HR VP doesn't seem to have been valued in this instance (and arguably color/socio-economic status issues weren't either given the arguments the HR VP made).

I am curious, I wonder if a muslim woman (for instance) who was a high-level employee of the university had written a similar letter quoting the Koran, would she have been fired? If an atheist wrote a letter criticizing that all theistic religions were bunk and under no conditions should be supported in any way nor studied at the university, would he or she have been fired? I would hope not, but what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander (or vice versa, I don't want to be unduly gender-specific in my use of aphorisms...[grin]).
12.4.2008 3:54am
whit:

I doubt anyone who is not gay can really understand what it must feel to be the recipient of such venomous vitriol.


oh for pete's sake. "i'm a victim. i'm a victim".

you know what plenty of people know what it feels like to get venomous vitriol, on account of race, ethnicity, religion, etc. i know you think you are special. you aren't. welcome to life. i've experienced plenty of racism directed towards myself. it doesn't change my views about free speech, though.




To be the recipient of such tirade from a woman who you would need to depend on when your rights as an employee of such institution have been violated.


i see no tirade. read what she frigging wrote.


Do you really think a woman who believes her god hates you,


which is unsupported at best,a lie at worst. she says no such thing

and in fact, she says quite the opposite.



and that you are a willful, rebellious, heterosexual whom your god commands stoning to death (Leviticus) is going to protect you?


she never claims to believe this. you are again lying.


This woman lost her ability to perform her job and tainted the university with a reputation of ignorance. She should be fired.


you have no evidence she lost her ability to perform her job. and she didn't taint the university, since she wasn't speaking for the university.

your post is a perfect example of how intolerant people will twist other's words and make false accusations, to further a cause.

congrats.
12.4.2008 4:24am
whit:

If you're worried about AIDS you should be promoting lesbianism. They're at far lower risk of getting HIV than straight women.


note also that the old testament/torah never condemns lesbianism at all.
12.4.2008 4:31am
Putting Two and Two...:
epeeist:

I've read and re-read Ms. Dixon's article, and I don't see any commitment to equal treatment.

Instead, what stands out to me are two assertions that choices have consequences, the latter emphasized by the author as her "most important point". She says "It is base human nature to revolt and become indignant when the world or even God Himself, disagrees with our choice that violates".

It's not clear if she's alluding to the complaining employees, but they were the subject of the preceding paragraph. On the other hand, maybe she's casting a broader net. Are you familiar with the Levitical consequence of "lying with a man as you would with a woman"?

[Some will, no doubt, accuse me of making a ridiculous link. I suspect they're right, but I keep getting encourged to be more attuned to the way the religious speak, with allusions to the Bible and all -- heck, you even have to be biblical scholar to understand the fullness of some of George Bush's speeches -- so I try and, when she writes of "consequences", I fill in the blank.]
12.4.2008 4:38am
Public_Defender (mail):
I think she loses on the Pickering balance test. This was not just an off-company-time private anti-gay rant. She was an official HR person writing a letter to the editor supporting an official HR policy that apparently stripped same sex couples of benefits they previously had. As a public employee myself, I know that I would be held to a different standard writing a letter to the editor about my department than about a general social issue.

Setting aside constitutional arguments, the letter makee it very difficult to get the respect of her colleagues. Are her colleagues, superiors, and subordinates allowed to express their opinion that she's a bigot? May they introduce her at meetings as "the bigot from HR." Or "perverter of the 'Divine Order.'" Her "free speech" could set a precedent that would make it very difficult to get along at work. Once it's OK to hurl such insults, it's difficult to draw lines.

Substantively, the garbage about gays changing applies equally to Jews. We would never say, "The centerpiece of morality and the 'divine order' is accepting Jesus Christ as Savior. Jews leading a Jewish lifestyle don't, so they are inherently morally deficient. Some Jews have converted to Christianity and are happy, so all Jews should do bring them within God's prescribed diving order."

The income garbage she spewed reminds me of the garbage Antisemites spewed against Jews. "Look how much more money 'they' have than 'we' do, so it's OK to dismcriminate against them. Plus, hint, hint, they must be up to something nefarious to make that much."

I'm glad we don't have the social freedom to spew antisemitic bile, hopefully, one day, anti-gay bile will be treated the same, at least socially and at work. You have the right to spew bigotry, but I have an equal right to call "bigotry" that which I see as "bigotry."
12.4.2008 5:33am
Shouting Thomas (mail) (www):
Really, where did this gay obsession come from?

Why the incessant whining and bickering over a tiny percentage of people who don't really have any complaint?

What in the world has gotten into you people that you think this is important?

This is the ultimate spoiled brat controversy.

I'll be blunt. Spoiled white kids got tired of all the attention being paid to blacks, so they ginned up this gay controversy so as to draw attention to themselves.

What we're dealing with here is a society of drama queens.

Ms. Dixon is entirely right. The University official who fired her should be fired and she should be reinstated.

Kids in high school and college are being coerced into homosexual behavior. We're living in the age of the closet hetero.

This is so bizarre. What in the world got into you folks that you want to make an issue out of this spoiled brat nonsense? The gay political movement is an incipient fascist movement populated by spoiled brats with too much time on their hands, and a desire to dramatize themselves.

You are making fools out of yourselves. This stuff is incredibly dumb and incredibly dangerous.
12.4.2008 5:57am
Michael Friedman (mail):
<blockquote>
Employees at Campus X have a different spousal co-pay than employees at Campus Y. Perfectly understandable. Employees at Campus X have a spousal co-pay, but employees at Campus Y have no spousal coverage. Also understandable. But Employee Straight at Campus X has a spousal co-pay, but Employee Gay — also at Campus X — can't get spousal coverage. For eighteen months? A bit less understandable.
</blockquote>

Actually, my understanding is that gay employees at both campuses can get spousal coverage and that neither gay nor straight employees at either campus can get coverage for opposite sex domestic partners.

The real issue is whether coverage should be available for same sex domestic partners at both campuses in order to be consistent. However if this is the goal you could just as easily eliminate such coverage at both campuses, right?
12.4.2008 5:57am
Shouting Thomas (mail) (www):
The especially quaint part of this is the "bigot" play acting. What a piece of work are the folks using this little bit of childish theatrics! Yes, children, you are just the same as blacks in the Jim Crow south. Precious!

Why have sensible people ceased telling fools to stop play acting?

Why let spoiled children run over you?

Why does this brain damaged nonsense continue?

Don't any of you have the slightest common sense?
12.4.2008 6:11am
Public_Defender (mail):
I can imagine a conversation in the HR office if she wins her job back:

Gay employee: "Why did you deny health coverage for my son?"
Crystal Dixon: "Even though you have raised him since birth, supported him, nurtured him, and done everything else other mother's do, your your son came out of your partner's body, so he doesn't deserve health coverage."
Gay employee: "Why is that fair?"
Crystal Dixon: "Denying health coverage to children is essential to preserving the Divine Order."
12.4.2008 6:17am
Public_Defender (mail):

The especially quaint part of this is the "bigot" play acting.

If a VP in HR is allowed to say publicly that denying health care coverage to the children of gay parents is necessary to preserve the "divine order," and if others are allowed to say that gay people are "inherently disordered," the normal bounds of office (and out-of-office) civility have been eviscerated.
12.4.2008 6:25am
epeeist:
Re Putting Two and Two:

"epeeist:

I've read and re-read Ms. Dixon's article, and I don't see any commitment to equal treatment."

In the letter:

"The reference to the alleged benefits disparity at the University of Toledo was rather misleading. When the University of Toledo and former Medical University of Ohio merged, both entities had multiple contracts for different benefit plans at substantially different employee cost sharing levels. To suggest that homosexual employees on one campus are being denied benefits avoids the fact that ALL employees across the two campuses regardless of their sexual orientation, have different benefit plans. The university is working diligently to address this issue in a reasonable and cost-efficient manner, for all employees, not just one segment." [emphasis added]

She's saying everyone will be treated equally, not one segment differently. The post above (not the letter) also asserts her track record. If you don't believe her fine, but that's what she states.

Judging from the letter, it was in response to an article alleging that gay employees of the universities were "civil rights victims" because of the delay in extending benefits (which may have been the result of funding decisions made by more senior levels of management at the university — is firing her a convenient way to deflect all blame for past delays on to her as a scapegoat?). So the above excerpt (leaving aside her religious and financial arguments) was essentially a defence of her employer.

Now I recognize there may be a reasonable apprehension of bias or credibility issues, but she explicitly committed to working toward equal treatment of everyone even in the initial letter. Say she should be fired if you think so (indeed, on further reflection from my prior posts I think that as an HR VP it may have been appropriate, because she was expressing it in a matter directly related to defending the university's benefit policies, as distinct from e.g. in an unrelated letter expressing the same religious viewpoints that in that situation I don't think should have led to termination). But if so it's because she was a senior-level (and especially HR) VP, a lower-level manager I do not think should have been terminated. And the terms of employment of course are all-important.

In any event, however wrong (if that's your view) she may have been, even if it was reasonable grounds for firing, she was not spewing bile. She was stating beliefs based on her religious viewpoint with which many disagree (and with which many agree — as other posts on VC have noted re e.g. California prop. 8 and the high turnout of black voters), in pretty much as polite a way as it is possible to express that viewpoint. If people who express a viewpoint with which one disagrees in as polite a manner as possible get vilified, the inherent message becomes "don't bother being polite, spew bile if you want because we'll call you a bigot no matter what and seek to get you fired".
12.4.2008 6:30am
Nebuchanezzar (mail):
After all these posts I know it's much too late, but Thomas_Holsinger replied earlier:

It’s the appearance of impropriety which has UT concerned, not her acts, competence and professionalism.

The problem is there's nothing actually wrong with the appearance of impropriety. The only thing that is wrong is actual impropriety.



Thomas_Holsinger continues: Tony Tutins put it best here:

Further from L. v. C., "[T]he more the employee's job requires confidentiality, policymaking, or public contact, the greater the state's interest in firing her for expression that offends her employer." McEvoy v. Spencer, 124 F.3d 92, 103 (2d Cir. 1997)


It's a fair point -- but when the employer is the state, we should be very, very careful about the expression we allow the state to be "offended" by. When we allow the state to be "offended" by free expression, we're treading exceptionally dangerous ground.
12.4.2008 7:07am
Public_Defender (mail):
Consider this slight change:

Two public bodies merge. One had accommodated Orthodox Jews whose faith required them not to work on the Sabbath. The other did not and was legally excused for not making the accommodation because it was legally an undue hardship. The combined entity legally decides that it would be an undo hardship to continue to accommodate the Orthodox. The Orthodox complain about discrimination. The employer is working on smoothing employee relations.

Then, the VP for HR writes a letter to the editor arguing that as a Black woman, she resents being told that Orthodox are being discriminated against. First, Orthodox Jews, on average, make more money than black people. Second, she asserts Orthodox Jews are only choosing to lead a Jewish lifestyle. She knows of many Jews who converted to Christianity, and they are all happy. Finally, accepting Jesus Christ as Savior is essential to preserving the "Divine Order." Failing to do that is a moral failing that the employer should not accommodate.

Now, would you want this person to stay in as VP in charge of HR? I would hope not.
12.4.2008 7:36am
Public_Defender (mail):

"she was not spewing bile. She was stating beliefs based on her religious viewpoint with which many disagree"



Religious belief and bile are not mutually exclusive. And there is no way of politely saying, "you are morally inferior," "your 'lifestyle' defies the 'divine order,'" or "you are inherently disordered."
12.4.2008 7:40am
bacchys (mail):

Religious belief and bile are not mutually exclusive. And there is no way of politely saying, "you are morally inferior," "your 'lifestyle' defies the 'divine order,'" or "you are inherently disordered."

Nonsense. In fact, she did state it rather politely. Civility isn't about only saying things that people want to hear, and this notion that the it's the perception of the offended and not the intent of the speaker that matters is a dangerous one.

Finally, the last quote not only bears no resemblance to anything she said in that letter, it's diametrically opposite to what she stated.
12.4.2008 7:53am
Geoff (mail) (www):
"So you can think Jewish behavior is a sin without believing Jews are inherently inferior to Christians? That observing Kosher rules is disgusting behavior that will wreck your psychological and physical life but you "love the Jews, hate the Jewishness?" Then write an article about it? Then go back to administering your employer's anti-discrimination policy? Then express surprise when your employer decides maybe you're not be best person to be tasked with that responsibility?"

Well, believing in Jesus is Jewish behavior. If you are a Christian you believe he is the Messiah of Israel. Nor does believing in Jesus necessitate belief that keeping kosher is disgusting. Although I guess a PETA supporter would think so.

Maybe the problem is that people can't understand that you can disagree with someone, think they are doing something wrong, and treat them with respect and fairness. To think otherwise is to buy into a lie.

You don't have to support everything someone does in order to love them, respect them, treat them well, play by the rules, etc. People are capable of making distinctions.

What I would suppose from some of the comments on here is that Christians are able to distinguish support from love and tolerance while many on this board cannot. And I guess they are saying they would treat Christians poorly if they got the chance. Since they are equating support with treating people well, that's the only logical conclusion I can make about them.
12.4.2008 8:00am
Moneyrunner43 (www):
Reading the article, and the atheist response, I find the crude and irrational belief system of atheists along with their demand that their value systems prevail to be frightening.

The very concept that a person can lose their job over the public expression of religious belief should give pause to everyone who cares about a very basic freedom: the freedom of conscience.

This is more than a academic issue. I don’t know how exactly how old Crystal Dixon is, but if she has worked for the university for 25 years, she is about 50 years old. At that age, try being hired by another employer in your field of “human resources” after being fired for being a “religious bigot.”

Pardon my strong language, but the people who pass by and – citing the superiority of their personal belief systems – call this firing justified in a free society are idiots and unfeeling bigots reminiscent of the thought police of totalitarian societies. Yeah, she should have known what speech is permitted and what is not; what a firing offense is in this so-called free society.

And for those who now want to come back with “Oh yeah, you Christians are soooo persecuted.” I have exhibit A: Crystal Dixon.
12.4.2008 8:19am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Waldensian:
Getting in my face means being obnoxious and argumentative about religion, insulting and even aggressive, at inappropriate times.
It's usually done at some remove such as on the 'net, since, when annoyed, I get into the other person's space, really close, make hard eye contact, and they back off. They don't always wet themselves....
You are probably a lawyer, since you are misrepresenting what I said, which is that atheists are, in my experience, far more disagreeable than religious enthusiasts on the subject, and far more likely to start a "discussion" without invitation.
My suggestion for atheists who don't want to take the chance of wetting themselves in public is to stay home and/or don't bother me.
12.4.2008 8:22am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
epeeist
This being an American university, your wish that the sauce be evenly distributed is a waste of wishpower.
See the suggestion she convert to Islam to be untouchable.
It does suggest, however, that, at least at UT, blacks are now "people" and not in a special victim class with all the privileges appertaining thereto.
That's progress.
12.4.2008 8:36am
Happyshooter:
I can imagine a conversation in the HR office if she wins her job back:

Gay employee: "Why did you deny health coverage for my son?"
Crystal Dixon: "Even though you have raised him since birth, supported him, nurtured him, and done everything else other mother's do, your your son came out of your partner's body, so he doesn't deserve health coverage."
Gay employee: "Why is that fair?"
Crystal Dixon: "Denying health coverage to children is essential to preserving the Divine Order."


Or she could also do her job, and most likely would since there is NO accusation she has not and will not except for guess work from the pro-gayers. I think the same convo ends like this:

"...Crystal Dixon: "Even though you have raised him since birth, supported him, nurtured him, and done everything else other mother's do, your your son came out of your partner's body, so he doesn't deserve health coverage."
Gay employee: "Why is that fair?"
Crystal Dixon: "Because of the limitations on benefits set forth in your summary plan description, and because your union agreed to a contract which did not include your lover's child as a dependent. Have a good day"
12.4.2008 8:55am
T. Boyle:
>>>"Anti-gay views should be treated in basically the same way. So the answer is to your question is that hypothetical anti-gay bigot should stfu."<<<

Ah. Tolerance. It'd be nice if those on your side comported themselves to your low standards, particularly in the STFU dept. A certain Prop 8 and treatment of Mormons comes readily to mind.
12.4.2008 9:05am
DG:
{Well, believing in Jesus is Jewish behavior. If you are a Christian you believe he is the Messiah of Israel. }

Heh. You must be kidding me.
12.4.2008 9:06am
Joe Y (mail):
One of the real flaws that conservatives have is their obtuseness in regard to the effect that extreme beliefs have on others. On the other hand, one of the great strengths of liberals is their sensitivity to this problem. Liberals recognize that even the constitutional right to freedom of speech cannot be unlimited. In fact, liberals long history of championing those whose lives can be so impinged.

The most famous instance of this is what anybody past a certain age remembers, or learned the history of: the US persecution of communists in the 40’s and 50’s. The naïve or perfidious of the time claimed that communists shouldn’t be persecuted because of their political opinions alone, but rather that there had to be some actual crime involved. Liberals, however, pointed out that Communism actively urged political repression, persecution of people simply for belonging to a certain class, and had for several decades committed numerous atrocities, murders, etc., in other countries, including allying themselves with the Nazi’s during the first year-and-a-half of World War 2. Liberals saw clearly how distressing this would be to a Jewish person, someone of Eastern European descent, or anyone from a social class or economic occupation that would be persecuted under a communist regime, especially if they were students.

This is why, to this very day, liberals work vehemently against allowing any type of communist or Marxist to have a teaching position of any sort.
12.4.2008 9:42am
Geoff (mail) (www):
"{Well, believing in Jesus is Jewish behavior. If you are a Christian you believe he is the Messiah of Israel. }

Heh. You must be kidding me."

No. Read the New Testament at some point. One of the major controversies in the early church was whether Gentiles could follow the Messiah without becoming Jewish first.
12.4.2008 10:01am
Seamus (mail):
Jesus condemned divorce and never said a word about being gay. Yet somehow certain self-professed Christians like Ms. Dixon seem to think doing something about the problem of gay people takes priority, indeed, it seems to be the only thing on their minds. Don't hold your breath waiting for her to write a similarly inflammatory letter about divorced people.

But if she wrote such a letter, you'd be OK with firing her?

No doubt there are many who consider both a grave sin, yet the Ms. Dixons and James Dobsons of the world are forever crusading against gay people, never divorced people, even though the number of divorced people vastly outnumbers the number of gay people, and even though a divorce, by definition, destroys a marriage. Hence my skepticism of those who claim their crusade against gay people is merely a matter of "defending" marriage.

The Dobsons lost the divorce battle a couple of generations ago. Their fight against same-sex marriage is a kind of rear-guard battle in the war for the definition of marriage. If they win that one, then they may be in a position to re-capture the lost ground regarding divorce. But you seem to be telling them that, having lost the divorce battle, they can only prove their bona fides on the marriage question by spending equal amounts of time, effort, and money on what would (for now) be a quixotic fight over divorce.
12.4.2008 10:36am
Bucknut:
Why am I (as an Ohio taxpayer) subsidizing health insurance for ANY domestic partners (including lazy/old spouses who aren't busy tending to dependents)?
12.4.2008 10:46am
Seamus (mail):
Why am I (as an Ohio taxpayer) subsidizing health insurance for ANY domestic partners (including lazy/old spouses who aren't busy tending to dependents)?

The original reason for granting health benefits for spouses was a recognition that a family (consisting of a husband, a wife, and (at least potentially) children) was an economic unit, and that it sometimes made sense to make a division of labor on the basis of sex, in which one spouse (usually the wife) did not take employment outside the house but concentrated on keeping the home, rearing the children, etc. This was consonant with the idea that the institution called "marriage" was the best environment for raising children (and indeed, had the raising of children as its primary purpose), and that such a division of labor within marriage was a good thing, as it ensured that at least one parent would either be with then or regularly be on-call for them.

Of course, the idea that marriage has anything to do with children is regarded as a quaint notion that has no connection with reality. As far as I can tell, the essence of marriage is now understood to be the right to extend health benefits to another person of one's choice, preferably one with whom one is rubbing genitals.
12.4.2008 10:59am
martinned (mail) (www):
@Bucknut:

How about: "Because it is the right thing to do.", or: "Because it is a good way to attract talented employees both gay and straight."?
12.4.2008 11:00am
annoyed:
It's not only that Dixon was the VP of HR, she was also on the Diversity Committee of the university. This committee is charged with ensuring UT is an inclusive, welcoming environment for students and staff--including LGBT folks. As a lesbian, I would be extremely hesitant to look to the HR dept for help knowing a woman like this is the VP. While I would hope she would be capable of separating her personal from professional beliefs, I would find it hard to trust the process. I would also question the motivation of the Diversity Committee.
In addition, shouldn't an HR employee with 25 years experience know this **** would hit the fan?
12.4.2008 11:44am
trad and anon (mail):
I agree I wouldn't fire Ms. Dixon for what she actually said or if she said any of the things I raised in my hypo. I simply disagree that ANY of them is a "polite personal opinion."
I agree 100%. I would fire Dixon from any position above janitor, and I look forward to the days when my position is as universal and uncontroversial as firing someone who writes a letter about black skin being the mark of Cain.

That said, the Constitution prevents government employers from terminating employees for a lot of speech-related offenses that would merit instant firing in the private sector. To me, what makes the difference in this case is that Dixon's letter mixes a professional defense of University policies that she is directly involved with making and implementing with a bunch of venomous anti-gay bigotry. Except for that, the Constitution would protect her from being fired.
12.4.2008 12:05pm
Smokey:
Joe Y:
This is why, to this very day, liberals work vehemently against allowing any type of communist or Marxist to have a teaching position of any sort.
You really had me going until I read that last sentence. Great parody of libs!

annoyed:

I would like to see Ms. Dixon's performance reviews for the past 25 years [they will certainly play a starring role in her lawsuit]. If she's as bad as some claim she is, it will certainly show up in her annual employee reviews, no?

However, if she's really the bad person some claim, but nothing bad has ever appeared in her reviews, then her UT bosses are thoroughly incompetent...

...you know, the same bosses who fired her.


[And note that Dixon is an associate VP. It's the second word of the original article. Apparently the actual VP paid little attention to what was going on in the HR department -- or, this was just an excuse to get rid of a person the VP didn't like.]
12.4.2008 12:13pm
Yankev (mail):
Cornellian,

So you can think Jewish behavior is a sin without believing Jews are inherently inferior to Christians? That observing Kosher rules is disgusting behavior that will wreck your psychological and physical life but you "love the Jews, hate the Jewishness?" Then write an article about it? Then go back to administering your employer's anti-discrimination policy? Then express surprise when your employer decides maybe you're not be best person to be tasked with that responsibility?
These days, I am much more likely to see or hear those opinions from non-Christians, whether they call themselves secularists, atheists, or members of liberal Christian churches, than from Evangelicals. Emend the first sentence accordingly.

Your tirades, and your use of "Old Testament" as a perjorative, is a relatively mild example.

These days, Christians who want to convert Jews are more likely to use Geoff's approach, that belief in a certain man is in fact compatible with Judaism and in fact completes it. (A subject for a different thread that is not relevant in the least to VC.)

I am fascinated by the assumptions as to what religious people do and do not believe, including the assumption that any religious expression that someone does not care for must be irrefutable evidence of hatred on the part of the speaker.

It is particularly amusing given the basic ignorance of several supposed experts on religious bigotry whose posts repeatedly confuse Cain and Ham, or who are unaware that the mark of Cain was a sign of Divine protection, not a curse. (Cain is first curesd to be a wanderer and then is given the mark to protect him from those who would kill him, since killing him would have gone beyone the punishment imposed by the curse.) If you are going to impute hatred to people because they believe in the Bible, at least take the trouble to find out what the Bible says.
12.4.2008 12:16pm
Yankev (mail):
Sorry. Meant to type "much more likely to see or hear those opinions from non-Christians, whether they call themselves secularists, atheists, or otherwise, or from members of liberal Christian churches, than from Evangelicals.

I did not mean to imply any exclusion of the liberal Christian churches from the term "Christian".
12.4.2008 12:20pm
cmr:
There's so much I want to respond to, so I guess I'll just start slow and respond to a few of the more egregious divergent claims I've seen:

(1) The whole "well, Jesus talked about divorce and never mentioned homosexuality" bit is ridiculous, and I think most of you know that isn't going to convince anybody. Rhetoric is nothing if not persuasive (at least it should be), and the point being "...and you as well" in terms of moral dilemma's might shame people into accepting your point, but it wont *actually* make your point.

All that said, my point is, politically active religious people who base a lot of their morality on the teachings in the Bible can't actually do anything about much of what they find sinful. They can discourage (which many of them do) divorce, adultery, fornication, among other things, but other than that, what can they really do? It's out of their hands, whether they want it to be or not. But just because they're not trying to make everything they disagree with illegal or socially taboo (even if it is to other Christians) doesn't mean they support/condone it.

(2) It's also ridiculous for people to argue their point with some manufactured hypothetical that may address the issue, but usually doesn't, yet they call it the same thing. The point is, she DIDN'T say anything about Catholics, Jews, or any racial minority. She was speaking about homosexuality, in both general and specific contexts. It was her opinion.

Ever heard of the Toulmin Method? Some arguments work across a variety of fields, and some arguments only work for specific fields. Not quite the same issue here, but the point is, coming up with a parallel that addresses the issue isn't the same as coming up with an ARGUMENT that makes the point.

(3) Personally, I've heard more talk of bigotry and hatred from white people in terms of the treatment of gays and lesbians than I ever heard it in relation to blacks from anybody. I don't know why. I will say that it seems with the issue of homosexuality and gay rights, there is a bigger push for cerebral manipulation than there has been for any other social movement, except maybe feminism.

It seems like people have to rely on a lot of cookery to make the point that a lot of people have the most basest motives possible against gay people. If it's so obvious and so egregious, I'm sure we'll see it. But this kind of forced empathy based on cutting down pre-existing social mores, religious beliefs, and natural order (to whatever extent that even matters) isn't commendable. It's transparent and manipulative...and it's exacerbated by this hastily condemning attitude so many so-called tolerance advocates have.
12.4.2008 12:33pm
Tony Tutins (mail):

The right to free speech and freedom of religion are protected are constitutional rights.

To suggest that a public institution is justified in restricting said rights and or firing a person for exercising said rights is simply hogwash.

The problem here (not the legal issue, but a more fundamental issue) is not her religious beliefs per se but how their real world implementation affects her job.

As a less-charged example, take a born-again Christian who believes the world was created in six literal days. Expressing this would be fine for the VP of HR, the maintenance man, or (in one case with which I'm familiar) an engineering manager, because such a belief cannot affect their job performance.

But there would be a problem if a born-again paleontologist expressed that opinion in an op-ed, because holding such a belief would be inconsistent with performing his job. "Adam and Eve rode dinosaurs. The Flintstones series was a documentary!"

Being gay is not a choice, any more than being straight is a choice ("Chasing women is too frustrating. I'm going out to the gay bars tonight!") Religiously-motivated belief to the contrary does not change that basic fact.
12.4.2008 12:41pm
trad and anon (mail):
Kids in high school and college are being coerced into homosexual behavior.

Coercing high school kids into homosexual behavior is a longstanding (and abhorrent) practice in our society. It is only recently that there has been any crackdown on it rather than quietly covering it up and moving the pedophiles around to a different diocese or school, because it was considered so shameful for the victims that they were unwilling to speak out.

We're living in the age of the closet hetero.

In the Castro, maybe. Leave that neighborhood and you're back in hetero-land, even in San Francisco. I am out as a gay man, but not flamingly out, and to this day other professionals ask me about my "girlfriend."
12.4.2008 12:42pm
Matteo (mail) (www):
I'm sure glad I've got a bunch of folks like you sticking up for the First Amendment. I'm detecting an awful lot of projection here. Just because most of you, quite evidently, are incapable of separating the way you would treat someone from your opinion regarding whether they (in this case Dixon) are morally right or wrong in their personal philosophy, doesn't mean Dixon is (but we all know Christians are inherently evil and not to be trusted, yes?). Is there anything in her actual 25 year record of performance that justifies firing, or is it only her thought crime? You see someone who disagrees with your moral opinion and cheerlead when she is railroaded for it. You enthusiastically participate in the very thing you wrongly accuse her of.

In this case, the sole person who has been unfairly treated for holding a moral view at variance with others is Dixon herself. But being a Grand Inquisitor is pretty fun isn't it? Especially when you know damned well that you can most probably get away with it if the victim is a Christian. Is there anything braver than a bunch of Constitutional lawyers?
12.4.2008 12:44pm
trad and anon (mail):
note also that the old testament/torah never condemns lesbianism at all.

The Old Testament is different from the Torah. The Torah consists of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, preferably in Hebrew. The Jewish counterpart of the Old Testament is the Tanakh, though some of the books are in a different order, some of the books are combined, split in two, or divided in different places, and the Jewish division of the books into parashot does not follow the Christian division of the books into chapters and verses.
12.4.2008 12:57pm
Cornellian (mail):
but we all know Christians are inherently evil and not to be trusted, yes?

I know plenty of Christians, in fact they're the large majority of the people I know, and not one of them has never expressed a view to me similar to that of Ms. Dixon's. Ms. Dixon's views are not the litmus test for the category of Christian.
12.4.2008 1:00pm
trad and anon (mail):
I know plenty of Christians, in fact they're the large majority of the people I know, and not one of them has never expressed a view to me similar to that of Ms. Dixon's. Ms. Dixon's views are not the litmus test for the category of Christian.
I have, but they're not remotely all the Christians I know, or even the majority of them. But it is obnoxious that Christians of a certain stripe seem to regard themselves as the only real Christians, as evinced by the conflation of having a low opinion of people who hold views as nasty and bigoted as Dixon's and having a low opinion of Christians in general. In my experience, even the Christians who believe homosexuality is a sin in the abstract are not all as bad as Dixon.
12.4.2008 1:08pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"As a lesbian, I would be extremely hesitant to look to the HR dept for help knowing a woman like this is the VP. While I would hope she would be capable of separating her personal from professional beliefs, I would find it hard to trust the process. I would also question the motivation of the Diversity Committee."

So what? Why should we care? Why should we care if you would be hesitant? That's your choice.
12.4.2008 1:37pm
Bob Van Burkleo (mail):
The very concept that a person can lose their job over the public expression of religious belief should give pause to everyone who cares about a very basic freedom:

Ah but that isn't what she is doing - she is acting as if everyone else shares her 'religious belief'. Again, I can't sin, I won't go to heaven or hell, she has a right to her belief that she can and will only as far as she respects my beliefs that I don't and won't. By presuming anyone other than herself shares her religion she is being religiously intolerant in the extreme.

If her religion demands that she treat some people who don't share her views unequally and she works in a supervisor capacity for an employer that says she must and she clearly states this prejudice in public than the employer is more than allowed to remove her from that job in most states.
12.4.2008 1:54pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
Trad and anon:

I would fire Dixon from any position above janitor, and I look forward to the days when my position is as universal and uncontroversial as firing someone who writes a letter about black skin being the mark of Cain.


I wouldn't. However, under the circumstances, I think it would be appropriate to look closely at her performance, conduct an independent review of that performance, and then determine how to proceed. I know it is a little more work, but if she was in any way stalling benefits, then I would support making things really ugly very fast (perhaps suing her for abandoning her fiduciary duty and harming the university?)
12.4.2008 1:54pm
Thomas_Holsinger:
trad focused on what she DID that got her fired:
"To me, what makes the difference in this case is that Dixon's letter mixes a professional defense of University policies that she is directly involved with making and implementing with a bunch of venomous anti-gay bigotry. Except for that, the Constitution would protect her from being fired."

A mere employee of the university of Toledo's human resources department would properly have been admonished not to do that again.

But she was the BOSS. That makes the difference. Her position was sensitive, and bosses are held to different standards than employees, plus they are necessarily terminable at will.

Tony Tutins found the applicable citation:
Further from L. v. C., "[T]he more the employee's job requires confidentiality, policymaking, or public contact, the greater the state's interest in firing her for expression that offends her employer." McEvoy v. Spencer, 124 F.3d 92, 103 (2d Cir. 1997)
12.4.2008 1:55pm
cmr:
I'm sure glad I've got a bunch of folks like you sticking up for the First Amendment. I'm detecting an awful lot of projection here. Just because most of you, quite evidently, are incapable of separating the way you would treat someone from your opinion regarding whether they (in this case Dixon) are morally right or wrong in their personal philosophy, doesn't mean Dixon is (but we all know Christians are inherently evil and not to be trusted, yes?). Is there anything in her actual 25 year record of performance that justifies firing, or is it only her thought crime? You see someone who disagrees with your moral opinion and cheerlead when she is railroaded for it. You enthusiastically participate in the very thing you wrongly accuse her of.



I'm glad you said this.

This is a lot of projection. It's obvious a lot of liberals (who claim to be all about tolerance and acceptance) can't, and couldn't, rise above their personal moral and ethical beliefs to treat everyone equally, regardless who they are. Since they're incapable of doing this, they assume everybody is, so they set out on these pointless crusades against thoughts and speech because they figure what people say is the only, or best, determiner of one's actions.

This is so hypocritical. Why do liberals expect people to rise above their personal prejudices for the greater good of society and prosperity and equal dignity and treatment for all...when it's patently obvious that not only do they not hold that standard for themselves, but fail so often to not achieve it?
12.4.2008 2:22pm
cmr:
I have, but they're not remotely all the Christians I know, or even the majority of them. But it is obnoxious that Christians of a certain stripe seem to regard themselves as the only real Christians, as evinced by the conflation of having a low opinion of people who hold views as nasty and bigoted as Dixon's and having a low opinion of Christians in general. In my experience, even the Christians who believe homosexuality is a sin in the abstract are not all as bad as Dixon.


Well, perhaps that certain brand of No True Scotsman fallacy comes from the fact that so many people don't explain why people like Ms. Dixon's opinion is wrong, but instead default to blanketed statements about "Christians" in general.

And again, how "bad" is Ms. Dixon, exactly? That she believes homosexuality is unnatural and shouldn't be celebrated? What else has she done? Has she gone out with the WBC and held up "God Hates Fags" signs? Has she caused personal injury to a gay man or lesbian? She expressed her views in a letter. That's all. However you feel about it doesn't make the actuality of the situation any different.
12.4.2008 2:27pm
martinned (mail) (www):
@cmr: ...which again begs the question of whether we should tolerate intolerance.
12.4.2008 2:29pm
cmr:
You...kind of have no choice, unless you endorse engaging in thought policing and repealing the 1st amendment every time someone says something you find offensive.

If that's how you would tackle intolerance, fine, but don't promote tolerance of certain groups by perpetrating intolerance of another group.
12.4.2008 2:32pm
Yankev (mail):

Ah but that isn't what she is doing - she is acting as if everyone else shares her 'religious belief'.
Her column seems to recognize that not everyone shares her beliefs. Other than expressing her beliefs publicly, what has she done that makes you say she is acting as if everyone else shares them?

By presuming anyone other than herself shares her religion she is being religiously intolerant in the extreme.
Really? I presume that my co-religionists share mine. That's what makes us co-religionists. By your definition, then, my very belief that others share my beliefs is enough to prove that I am intolerant, no matter whether I recognize that many others do not share them, and no matter how I act toward those who don't.


If her religion demands that she treat some people who don't share her views unequally and she works in a supervisor capacity for an employer that says she must and she clearly states this prejudice in public than the employer is more than allowed to remove her from that job in most states.
That's a lot of ifs. Nothing in her column supports those ifs -- in fact, the column itself refutes some of them. What evidence do you have to support any of your ifs?
12.4.2008 2:43pm
martinned (mail) (www):
@cmr: Again, as before, I still think she has a 1A right not to get fired by this university over speach alone. So absent a showing of an actual problem with her job performance, she should win her case.

But the wider question still stands: should a tolerant person extend their tolerance to intolerance?

If you'll forgive my callousness, let me draw an analogy with the war on terror: There are two possible responses to a terror campaign. You can try to hang on to your liberties and accept that you can't stop the terrorists all the time, or you can compromise on your liberties and try to catch the bastards. Either way, our freedom is our biggest vulnerability against these freedom-hating ****s. They use our freedom to destroy it.

Similarly, earlier in this thread I asked, as an analogy, whether it should be possible to democratically abolish democracy. Or are there some things in the Constitution that can never be amended/removed? The German constitution explicitly says that a few things cannot be touched, but presumably that goes for other constitutions as well?

So just like using freedom to destroy freedom, or using democracy to destroy democracy, using tolerance to attack tolerance is hardly the only alternative. Just like most democracies wouldn't allow the democratic process to be used to abolish democracy, and just like compromising on liberty in order to protect it is a defensible choice, making an exception in one's general tolerance for intolerance is certainly a defensible position.
12.4.2008 2:45pm
DangerMouse:
The Constitution requires the government to tolerate intolerance. The Government may not prohibit people's freedom of speech or their free exercise of their religion. Speech can be completely intolerant and the government cannot do anything about it. Likewise, a religion can be entirely intolerant and exclusionary (only the Elect get to Heaven, etc) and the government cannot do anything about it.

Once again, the gay agenda as evidenced by those on this comment thread basically requires the First Amendment to be erased. If a person is qualified for the job, their religous beliefs cannot be considered against them. That's a classic case of illegal discrimination.

And yes, that means if Joe Schmoe hardline evangelical anti-gay (or anti-Catholic) or anti-muslim applies for the job of HR Director, the college cannot discriminate against him based on his religious beliefs, period.

Government cannot meddle in one's private beliefs. That's entirely the point behind the No Religious Test clause of the Constitution.

Now, if some homosexual activists want to repeal the First Amendment, repeal the Religious Test Clause, and repeal the Civil Rights Act, then they certainly can advocate for such things. But don't pretend that it's for the advancement of liberty or freedom. It isn't. And I think that the comments on this thread demonstrate that to a sufficient degree. Gay activism has become the new thought police.
12.4.2008 2:57pm
martinned (mail) (www):

And yes, that means if Joe Schmoe hardline evangelical anti-gay (or anti-Catholic) or anti-muslim applies for the job of HR Director, the college cannot discriminate against him based on his religious beliefs, period.

Ho, wait, are you serious? What you're talking about is the hiring decision, not the dismissal like in the case of mrs. Dixon. You don't think the college should be allowed to refuse to hire someone on the grounds that their beliefs might get in the way of their job performance or otherwise make the college look bad?
12.4.2008 3:00pm
epeeist:
Those who say they would fire even e.g. a janitor for expressing this opinion reminded me of this story:

http://volokh.com/posts/1204830545.shtml

On another note, "tolerance" apparently is not good enough, one has to toe the line...(assuming arguendo that this woman's record of service demonstrated fair and equal treatment of all including those with whom she disagreed, that demonstrated tolerance...).

Again I agree being an HR VP makes a big difference in this case, whether it's enough is subject to all sorts of considerations like what the explicit terms of employment were and whether as the plaintiff alleges she was the first university employee ever disciplined for public speech on a controversial issue, etc. Though I strongly suspect if she had written to agree with the original article rather than in defence, even though that would have been acting against the university her employer, she would have been less likely to have been fired (even though such would have better warranted dismissal!).

A much belated seat-of-the-pants reply to the 3 questions posed in the original post: (1) yes probably constitutional at least given her position as HR VP; (2) although constitutional, of questionable ethically for a university which does (or should) vigorously defend the rights of academic staff to speak on controversial topics even if it brings the university into disrepute ("do as we say, not as we do for our professors"); (3) those who believe their free speech rights are being trampled upon should fight vigorously for them, though to avoid being fired that may have to be anonymous pamphlets or Internet postings... (see e.g. McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission).

Also quaere, if someone publicly states (or shows, by religious garb/paraphernalia/reading a particular book during breaks at work) that he or she thinks homosexuality is wrong, is that a firing offence, or is it only when one explicitly states what one believes? E.g. "I am an Evangelical Christian or Orthodox Jew or strictly observant Muslim and believe in those tenets" is okay but if you actually specify what those tenets are you get fired?!
12.4.2008 3:10pm
cmr:
@cmr: Again, as before, I still think she has a 1A right not to get fired by this university over speach alone. So absent a showing of an actual problem with her job performance, she should win her case.

But the wider question still stands: should a tolerant person extend their tolerance to intolerance?

If you'll forgive my callousness, let me draw an analogy with the war on terror: There are two possible responses to a terror campaign. You can try to hang on to your liberties and accept that you can't stop the terrorists all the time, or you can compromise on your liberties and try to catch the bastards. Either way, our freedom is our biggest vulnerability against these freedom-hating ****s. They use our freedom to destroy it.

Similarly, earlier in this thread I asked, as an analogy, whether it should be possible to democratically abolish democracy. Or are there some things in the Constitution that can never be amended/removed? The German constitution explicitly says that a few things cannot be touched, but presumably that goes for other constitutions as well?

So just like using freedom to destroy freedom, or using democracy to destroy democracy, using tolerance to attack tolerance is hardly the only alternative. Just like most democracies wouldn't allow the democratic process to be used to abolish democracy, and just like compromising on liberty in order to protect it is a defensible choice, making an exception in one's general tolerance for intolerance is certainly a defensible position.



You're using the same economy of argumentation to make a completely different point.

The real question is, to what extent is something tolerant or intolerant? Is what this woman said proof of intolerance, or proof of non-acceptance? They're not the same.

Another helpful question to ask is, can we effectively get rid of intolerance without being hypocritical?

Another is: in this case, is it worth it?

This woman has done nothing but say what she feels about homosexuality and its lifestyle. She can be disagreed with, but if the point of disagreeing with her is to make her lose her job, I'd wonder if they're doing more than that. That sounds more like policing and less like moral disagreement.

Personally, I think people spending more time on the impropriety of her statements than on her termination is part of the problem.
12.4.2008 3:13pm
Bob Van Burkleo (mail):
Really? I presume that my co-religionists share mine.

Maybe you should ask them?

That's a lot of ifs. Nothing in her column supports those ifs — in fact, the column itself refutes some of them. What evidence do you have to support any of your ifs?

There is a divine order. God created human kind male and female (Genesis 1:27). God created humans with an inalienable right to choose. There are consequences for each of our choices, including those who violate God’s divine order.… Daily, Jesus Christ is radically transforming the lives of both straight and gay folks and bringing them into a life of wholeness: spiritually, psychologically, physically and even economically. That is the ultimate right.

Does she think gays are sinners, i.e. violators of this 'divine order', presumptively even those that don't share her sect's views? Check. Does she think her superstition's 'divine order' has some sort of objective reality for everyone? Check. That she thinks the 'ultimate right' is for people to follow her bizarre religious sect's view of the world? Check.

Again, since gay people and their marriages are not against any objective 'divine order' and she seems to think they are, how can you not understand she will be perceived as biased? What if the VP of HR were expounding the beliefs of their World Church of the Creator and how their view was the right view?

Sorry, in every other context she would be handed her papers - why is it we are supposed to give people a pass when their bias is against gay citizens again?
12.4.2008 3:21pm
Tim J.:
Does she think gays are sinners, i.e. violators of this 'divine order', presumptively even those that don't share her sect's views? Check. Does she think her superstition's 'divine order' has some sort of objective reality for everyone? Check. That she thinks the 'ultimate right' is for people to follow her bizarre religious sect's view of the world? Check.


Gracious me, she's not a universalist? Fire her immediately!
12.4.2008 3:34pm
ForWhatItsWorth:
TruthTeller: "...I doubt anyone who is not gay can really understand what it must feel to be the recipient of such venomous vitriol. ..."

Really? How about the person who said it? You don't think she received some "venomous vitriol" in her day? She is black, you know. How about a Vietnam vet returning at the time? You don't think they received vitriol that was more than venomous? Let's put this in perspective. If, in the history of racial bigotry, a black person only saw writing in an op-ed that was this muted, they would have been crying for joy at the "break."

Compared to many, gays have gotten off pretty light...... I am not saying that true vitriol leveled at gays is appropriate in any way, but I am saying that people of other races have been the recipients of crap that makes anything we've talked about here pretty lightweight.

You really are overplaying the hand, partner. I have heard true vitriol in my day.... this doesn't even come close.
12.4.2008 3:34pm
DangerMouse:
You don't think the college should be allowed to refuse to hire someone on the grounds that their beliefs might get in the way of their job performance or otherwise make the college look bad?

Allowed to refuse to hire on the grounds that their beliefs might get in the way? Or "make the college look bad"? Are you out of your fricking mind? No, of course they cannot do that. That's why the Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of religion. You should try reading it sometime.

Get it through your thick skull: The Government cannot refuse to hire someone on the basis of their religious beliefs. That's EXACTLY what you want, however. You WANT the government to discriminate on the basis of religious beliefs in the hiring process.

Now, as for firing someone: again, the same treatment would apply. You cannot suddenly fire someone on the basis of their religious beliefs. You cannot fire them if their beliefs MIGHT affect their performance. You can only fire them if their performance IS affected. This "might" crap is, again, the thought police.

What is obvious is that you're so brain-addled in favor of the gay agenda that you are painfully incapable of seeing how you are directly advocating for pure, unadulterated religious discrimination.
12.4.2008 3:35pm
Bob Van Burkleo (mail):
Gracious me, she's not a universalist? Fire her immediately!

No she merely has to be an American and respect everyone's right to NOT be her religion and still be treated equally under the law. She can be a religionist, racist, or whatever but when she makes it clear she is very publicly and her job requires her to treat others as if she wasn't, the perception of bias is sufficient to warrant termination.

As she said, acts have consequences and declaration of bigotries is very high on that list of things that produces them.
12.4.2008 3:40pm
DangerMouse:
Does she think gays are sinners, i.e. violators of this 'divine order', presumptively even those that don't share her sect's views? Check. Does she think her superstition's 'divine order' has some sort of objective reality for everyone? Check. That she thinks the 'ultimate right' is for people to follow her bizarre religious sect's view of the world? Check.

It is outrageous that people on this thread are advocating that the government examine a person's religious beliefs in order to determine if she can be employed by the government. It is unbelievable. Is this America, or some communist country where religion is illegal?

Have you been, or are you currently, a member of the Catholic Church? Or a Southern Baptist? Etc? Is that what you want? Congressional hearings on permitted religions for government employees?

You people are unbelievably sick. And yes, the position that the government can discriminate against religions is not only bad, stupid, evil, and wrong. It is profoundly Anti-American. Oh yes, you victim-mongers, I'm questioning your patriotism. You have no clue that government isn't supposed to be involved in the business of the religious beliefs of the people. Kindly all go soak your heads.
12.4.2008 3:41pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
DangerMouse, in evidence of your extreme views, I note you have thus far refused to address my question about Thomas's dissent in Lawrence. I therefore conclude that you think Scalia is the only sane justice on the court in that issue and therefore are in the fringe relating to how you feel anti-gay prejudice ought to be enshrined in the law.

Nonetheless, if you were prosecuted for some sort of hate speech (for example, someone claiming it was a violation of the terms of service for this site, or just plain harassment), I would loudly argue that this was wrong. You are right that the Constitution requires that the government tolerate vitriolic, hateful ideas.

I don;t think Ms Dixon got into trouble due to the "gay agenda" whatever that means. I think the university was just afraid of liability relating to other issues and felt that Dixon made things worse. I would still argue she should win even though I think she horribly wrong.
12.4.2008 3:43pm
Bob Van Burkleo (mail):
It is outrageous that people on this thread are advocating that the government examine a person's religious beliefs in order to determine if she can be employed by the government.

Who has advocated that? The government examined nothing - she freely expressed her bigotry while holding a position that requires her not to be bigoted. She broadcast her unacceptability for the job.
12.4.2008 3:48pm
DangerMouse:
DangerMouse, in evidence of your extreme views, I note you have thus far refused to address my question about Thomas's dissent in Lawrence. I therefore conclude that you think Scalia is the only sane justice on the court in that issue and therefore are in the fringe relating to how you feel anti-gay prejudice ought to be enshrined in the law.

Um... I have no idea what the hell you're talking about. Are you referring to a discussion on this thread by someone else? If you're referring to some discussion thread from several weeks ago that I was involved in, then you'll have to assist me. Maybe if I feel like it, I'll answer your question that's apparently been keeping you up at nights. Or, maybe I'll never answer you. Oh, the suspence!
12.4.2008 3:50pm
DangerMouse:
Who has advocated that? The government examined nothing - she freely expressed her bigotry while holding a position that requires her not to be bigoted. She broadcast her unacceptability for the job.

Who has advocated it? You have. Didn't you examine her religion? Check, check, check!

Here's an interesting problem - Muslims think that their religion is true and that Christianity is false! Oh no! No Muslim HR directors, EVER! And Christians think that their religion is true and that Islam isn't! No Chrisitan HR directors! And atheists think that all religion is false! No atheist HR directors!

And that's government policy, as how you'd like it. Do I have to conclude that your position is completely stupid? I guess I will: your position is completely stupid.
12.4.2008 3:56pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
DM: The Government cannot refuse to hire someone on the basis of their religious beliefs.

I wish that DM would answer Bob's question:

Bob: What if the VP of HR were expounding the beliefs of their World Church of the Creator and how their view was the right view?

Otherwise I could cloak my bigotry in religious belief and get a free pass. Heck, even the 9/11 terrorists were acting out of their sincere religious beliefs. Religious belief can't be the secret get-out-of-jail-free card.
12.4.2008 3:57pm
Waldensian (mail):

Getting in my face means being obnoxious and argumentative about religion, insulting and even aggressive, at inappropriate times.

How many times, exactly, have atheists done this to you? What were the circumstances?

I ask because I've never actually seen such an "atheist verbal assault" happen to anyone, ever.

In any event, I can't imagine they bother you that much, since you're apparently able to make them urinate on demand.

Weird.
12.4.2008 4:01pm
Thomas_Holsinger:
It would be a different question had Crystal Dixon confined her letter to anti-gay comments, but she also made statements, in the same letter, about a controversy involving alleged disparate treatment of gay employees before her in her official capacity as Associate Vice-President of Human Resources for the University of Toledo. It was the combination of the two which was grounds for firing her.

An employee could get away with a mere warning for that. The chief of the department could not.

Dixon's letter created the appearance of impropriety in her official capacity, i.e., it made her impartiality suspect on a pending dispute it was her job to deal with. That made her employer more vulnerable to potential lawsuits about that dispute, and in any future human resources disputes involving gays.

Her termination was not merely proper, but necessary to protect the university from civil liabiity for damages.
12.4.2008 4:11pm
Bob Van Burkleo (mail):
Who has advocated it? You have. Didn't you examine her religion? Check, check, check!

No I examined her statements - I could care-a-less about her religion.

And that's government policy, as how you'd like it. Do I have to conclude that your position is completely stupid? I guess I will: your position is completely stupid

Yes poorly constructed strawmen are like that. No you can be any view you want as long as you don't publicly make it clear that they would prevent you from treating all those you are responsible for equally.

This isn't about religion this is about stupid declarations that make you seem unqualified to hold your job title. Here in Washington its illegal to discriminate because of marital status and political affiliation too so if she had been dumb enough to say that single Republicans are horrible people she could be fired for that too.

This is only tangentially about religion - it would make no whit of difference if she hadn't publically painted herself as a bigot and unqualified for her position.
12.4.2008 4:13pm
SeeTheOtherSide:
She believes what her religion teaches, which is that homosexual behavior is intrinsically disordered and wrong. The behavior, not the person. And thus in her belief, it is a choice: one can choose to engage in such behavior, or not. It is the behavior, the acts, not the person. Similarly, certain heterosexual behaviors are also circumscribed in her religion, yet there is no call for those other practitioners to become a legally promoted/protected class.

She has a right to make her argument. To fire her for speech outside of work, religious speech that is arguably protected as freedom of religion, is an abridgement of her ability to to speak freely on her religion.

The only peopl with problems on this are those fighting for which group gets "protected" to the point of allowing them to discriminate against others. THat was the point she was making, inadvertently. Had she said similar religious backed things against whites, as, say, a Malcom-X type Black-Muslim, she likely would NOT have been fired.

So its all on whose ox is being gored. Homosexual activists are notably intolerant when it comes to this sort of thin, as aopposed to the tolerance they demand from others.

Fair is fair - let them all speak, as long as they are not discriminating on the job, and as long as it is not in an official capacity. If you go after her for this, you set dangerous precedents for any to speak their minds on religious matters outside the job. Do not fire them.

Its freedom OF religion, not freedom FROM religion.

And please, STOP using "homophobic". She apparently does not irrationally (or otherwise) fear homosexuals. Using that term implies a psychological malady and is prejudicial language, and its idiotic for those of you who use it, to use a pejorative as if it were descriptive. Its is not. So come up with a better term. Homophobic is a slur in almost all your usage of it.
12.4.2008 4:28pm
DangerMouse:
Tony,

What-if's can be examined on a case-by-case basis. But don't you find it disturbing that people like martinned want the government to "be allowed to refuse to hire someone on the grounds that their beliefs might" something? Doesn't that disturb you at all? Investigation of religious beliefs, and whether something MIGHT happen?

Here in Washington its illegal to discriminate because of marital status and political affiliation too so if she had been dumb enough to say that single Republicans are horrible people she could be fired for that too.

Does discrimination require an act of dicrimination, or is it ok for Joe Extemo-Lapsed Catholic to say he hates his former co-religionist Catholics while treating them the same as everyone else in his government job?

You seem to be under the impression that mere bad beliefs constitute discrimination. Acts and beliefs are different things, Bobbo.
12.4.2008 4:30pm
DangerMouse:
The second part of my prior post is addressed to Bob, in case that's not clear.
12.4.2008 4:35pm
Bob Van Burkleo (mail):
Does discrimination require an act of dicrimination, or is it ok for Joe Extemo-Lapsed Catholic to say he hates his former co-religionist Catholics while treating them the same as everyone else in his government job?

As long as he can be perceived as unbiased, yes. Sorry DangerMouse, businesses, even state run ones, can put the people who project the right image in a job and remove ones that don't. And as we have seen in this response thread there is plenty to make the lack of action on this benefits merger suspect - an employer is within their rights to remove someone who's public statements have made their ability to be unbiased suspect.

You seem to be under the impression that mere bad beliefs constitute discrimination. Acts and beliefs are different things, Bobbo.

Gee 'Ratto' again we are talking about her very public statements, not her beliefs. I could be fired for my blog entries here for her very position - the difference is I understand that and you don't.
12.4.2008 4:42pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
DangerMouse:

We may fundamentally disagree on gay rights but I agree with a number of points you have made in this thread.

What-if's can be examined on a case-by-case basis. But don't you find it disturbing that people like martinned want the government to "be allowed to refuse to hire someone on the grounds that their beliefs might" something? Doesn't that disturb you at all? Investigation of religious beliefs, and whether something MIGHT happen?


Here we are in full agreement. One of the additional points is that colleges are supposed to support open inquiry into controversial issues. Firing someone for expressing divisive views does not serve that purpose well at all.


Does discrimination require an act of dicrimination, or is it ok for Joe Extemo-Lapsed Catholic to say he hates his former co-religionist Catholics while treating them the same as everyone else in his government job?


I would agree.

I would further note that political affiliation carries with it a certain number of implied political ideas. Some of these ideas are very divisive. However, one can't have open dialog on issues if there is even a perception that the college will punish people for holding those views.

As I have said, if it were my choice, such an article would warrant independent review of her performance in related areas (along with a public statement to that effect), but by itself not enough to be a firing offence.
12.4.2008 4:51pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
And please, STOP using "homophobic". She apparently does not irrationally (or otherwise) fear homosexuals. Using that term implies a psychological malady and is prejudicial language, and its idiotic for those of you who use it, to use a pejorative as if it were descriptive. Its is not. So come up with a better term. Homophobic is a slur in almost all your usage of it.

"Homophobic" is the established term for anti-gay bigotry and prejudice.

Of course, one could argue that a different term should be used. But in my experience, the people who criticize "homophobic" tend to be people who think that there's no such thing as anti-gay bigotry, i.e., that supporting discrimination against gays and lesbians and believing that gays and lesbians are defective and not equal to straights is right, not wrong.

Thus, the people who actually know that gay bashing is wrong got to coin the term. I don't see a lot of injustice in that.
12.4.2008 5:07pm
Tony Tutins (mail):

She believes what her religion teaches, which is that homosexual behavior is intrinsically disordered and wrong. The behavior, not the person.


No. The HR issue she discusses refers to the denial of benefits to one group of homosexual employees. In this context, homosexuality is a status, not a behavior.

But, she does not acknowledge the existence of homosexual orientation. God intended her to be a "Black woman," unlike homosexuals, who apparently were not created so by God. Further, she implies that being homosexual is neither a genetic nor a biological matter, because she contrasts "those who choose the homosexual lifestyle" with her status as "a Black woman". Moreover, one of the "gay conversion" groups she cites, PFOX, maintains that homosexuality is a choice, not a product of biological determination.
12.4.2008 5:18pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"You don't think the college should be allowed to refuse to hire someone on the grounds that their beliefs might get in the way of their job performance or otherwise make the college look bad?"

Like those 65 million US Catholics? Catholic doctrine opposes SSM, civil unions, artificial birth control, and in-vitro fertilization, so those beliefs might get in the way of job performance of a HR VP.
12.4.2008 5:32pm
Truthteller:
ForWhatItsWorth:<blockquote>
Really? How about the person who said it? You don't think she received some "venomous vitriol" in her day? She is black, you know. How about a Vietnam vet returning at the time? You don't think they received vitriol that was more than venomous? Let's put this in perspective. If, in the history of racial bigotry, a black person only saw writing in an op-ed that was this muted, they would have been crying for joy at the "break."
</blockquote>

First of all, pal. Don't take me out of context. I was clearly and, specifically, referring to the impact of vitriol specific to gay people. The hate-filled words, and socially accepted vilifying of gays in everyday language and culture, and the impact those specific actions have on gay people. I was not excluding anyone else's pain or experience. I am latino myself.

<blockquote>
Compared to many, gays have gotten off pretty light
</blockquote>

Really? The murder at the stake of Mathew Shepperd and many like him. The routine murder of gays in the Middle East, the Holocaust? You do know gays were interned there right? This is not a competition to see who has suffered the most, this is about treating people with dignity.

Your summation is brilliant. <blockquote>
Let's put this in perspective. If, in the history of racial bigotry, a black person only saw writing in an op-ed that was this muted they would have been crying for joy at the "break"

Beautiful, pal. Just beautiful. You prove my point brilliantly.
12.4.2008 5:43pm
Truthteller:
ForWhatItsWorth:<blockquote>
Really? How about the person who said it? You don't think she received some "venomous vitriol" in her day? She is black, you know. How about a Vietnam vet returning at the time? You don't think they received vitriol that was more than venomous? Let's put this in perspective. If, in the history of racial bigotry, a black person only saw writing in an op-ed that was this muted, they would have been crying for joy at the "break."
</blockquote>

First of all, pal. Don't take me out of context. I was clearly and, specifically, referring to the impact of vitriol specific to gay people. The hate-filled words, and socially accepted vilifying of gays in everyday language and culture, and the impact those specific actions have on gay people. I was not excluding anyone else's pain or experience. I am latino myself.

<blockquote>
Compared to many, gays have gotten off pretty light
</blockquote>

Really? The murder at the stake of Mathew Shepperd and many like him. The routine murder of gays in the Middle East, the Holocaust? You do know gays were interned there right? This is not a competition to see who has suffered the most, this is about treating people with dignity.

Your summation is brilliant. <blockquote>
Let's put this in perspective. If, in the history of racial bigotry, a black person only saw writing in an op-ed that was this muted they would have been crying for joy at the "break"

Beautiful, pal. Just beautiful. You prove my point brilliantly.
12.4.2008 5:43pm
Truthteller:
ForWhatItsWorth:

Really? How about the person who said it? You don't think she received some "venomous vitriol" in her day? She is black, you know. How about a Vietnam vet returning at the time? You don't think they received vitriol that was more than venomous? Let's put this in perspective. If, in the history of racial bigotry, a black person only saw writing in an op-ed that was this muted, they would have been crying for joy at the "break."




First of all, pal. Don't take me out of context. I was clearly and, specifically, referring to the impact of vitriol specific to gay people. The hate-filled words, and socially accepted vilifying of gays in everyday language and culture, and the impact those specific actions have on gay people. I was not excluding anyone else's pain or experience. I am latino myself.



Compared to many, gays have gotten off pretty light




Really? The murder at the stake of Mathew Shepperd and many like him. The routine murder of gays in the Middle East, the Holocaust? You do know gays were interned there right? This is not a competition to see who has suffered the most, this is about treating people with dignity.

Your summation is brilliant.

Let's put this in perspective. If, in the history of racial bigotry, a black person only saw writing in an op-ed that was this muted they would have been crying for joy at the "break"



Beautiful, pal. Just beautiful. You prove my point brilliantly.
12.4.2008 5:48pm
Truthteller:
Sorry, for the multiple posts.
I was trying to get it to Block Quote.

Truthreller.
12.4.2008 5:50pm
DangerMouse:
Gee 'Ratto' again we are talking about her very public statements, not her beliefs.

Once again, the thought police. As long as you shut up about public matters, you can keep your job? That's not the way democracy, and specifically, the American democracy, is supposed to work. We are supposed to be able to engage in public debate, and we are not supposed to be fired for our religious beliefs.

I said that what-if's can be done on a case by case basis. But let's examine some:

What if a public college president was also a Jehovah's Witness and knocked on doors on his time off? What if he also made commercials for them that aired on TV?

What if, on his own time off, a state official marched in a parade that protested the Mormon Church's involvement in Prop 8?

What if, on his own time off, a Mormon state official marched in a parade that celebrated the passage of Prop 8?

What if a public college president said something like "Because of 8 years of Bush, I just think all Republicans are evil and should never be in a position of power ever again."

What if a public college president, lambasting the passage of Prop 8, in his own time on a public internet blog posting under his own name, blamed "breeders" for the passage of Prop 8 and said that all "breeders" are inherently biased against gays?

What if a state official joined a church whose primary belief was that AIDS was created by Mother Earth to punish gay people and also to eventually eradicate mankind from the planet because of his environmental sins? What if he, in his spare time, wrote for his church's newsletter that explained and defended those beliefs?
12.4.2008 5:51pm
DangerMouse:
einhverfr

Did you want me to answer something about Lawrence?
12.4.2008 5:52pm
Yankev (mail):

No she merely has to be an American and respect everyone's right to NOT be her religion and still be treated equally under the law. She can be a religionist, racist, or whatever but when she makes it clear she is very publicly and her job requires her to treat others as if she wasn't, the perception of bias is sufficient to warrant termination.
None of which suggests that she thinks everyone shares her beliefs.

As to the rest, I have little to add to what DangerMouse said. Intolerant does not mean someone who disagrees with me, or even someone whose viewpoint I find repugnant. It does not even mean someone who does not accept my views. There is a profound assumption on this thread that anyone who believes what Ms. Dixon believes cannot possibly treat gay people fairly and with respect, and that anyone who holds -- and certainly anyone who expresses -- views such as hers is automatically disqualified from working in HR, and possibly from working for the government at all. The intolerance on this thread has been from people advocating that Ms. Dixon be fired.
12.4.2008 6:07pm
Bob Van Burkleo (mail):
I said that what-if's can be done on a case by case basis. But let's examine some:

What if a public college president was also a Jehovah's Witness and knocked on doors on his time off? What if he also made commercials for them that aired on TV?

Since JWs don't even expect everyone to obey their god's rules or get the brass ring I don't see a conflict. They aren't in the business of expecting others to live by their rules.

What if, on his own time off, a state official marched in a parade that protested the Mormon Church's involvement in Prop 8?

He'd be risking his job.

What if, on his own time off, a Mormon state official marched in a parade that celebrated the passage of Prop 8?

Since it passed probably nothing. Saying your glad the law is the law is support of government, that it syncs with their religious beliefs is just gravy.

What if a public college president said something like "Because of 8 years of Bush, I just think all Republicans are evil and should never be in a position of power ever again."

He could be fired.

What if a public college president, lambasting the passage of Prop 8, in his own time on a public internet blog posting under his own name, blamed "breeders" for the passage of Prop 8 and said that all "breeders" are inherently biased against gays?

He could be fired.

What if a state official joined a church whose primary belief was that AIDS was created by Mother Earth to punish gay people and also to eventually eradicate mankind from the planet because of his environmental sins? What if he, in his spare time, wrote for his church's newsletter that explained and defended those beliefs?

Would depend on what his job is and if he was elected.

Freedom of religion doesn't mean you are free to say anything you want without consequences. If your religion/philosophy/fortune cookie precludes you from treating citizens equally under the law then you are unqualified for a job that requires you to do so.
12.4.2008 6:11pm
Putting Two and Two...:
epeeist, the paragraph you present confuses me. At the end, she acknowledges that disparities exist. In the first sentence she calls them "alleged". Which is it?

I see her explanation as a deflection. As I pointed out earlier. Employees at Campus X has $15 co-pays. Those at Campus Y pay $10. Understandable. Same-sex partners at Campus X have DP coverage. Same-sex partners at Campus Y hav NO COVERAGE FOR DPs AT ALL. That sort of disparity strikes me as something that should be dealt with in less that 30 months.

For what it's worth, the legal analyses by others that conclude her firing was legal sound correct to me, but I'm no lawyer. Personally, I wouldn't have fired her. I believe that "diversity" includes making room for a lot of different people, even bigots and racists (note, I'm not speculating where she falls on any continuum). I would, however, have remprimanded her for mixing University issues with her complaint about gay people. I would have closely monitoried her progress on the health-care issue (if, in fact, she has any role in it). And I would have tasked her with a project to assess the economic status of gay people in this country, not because I "hate" her views but because her statements about "irrefutable data" on the subject is so ill-informed. Someone needs to find out if she's capable of analysizing compensation statistics in a professional way.

What are the chances I would have then faced a charge of religious discrimination?
12.4.2008 6:15pm
Tim J.:
Bob Van Burkleo spake:
No I examined her statements - I could care-a-less about her religion.


Let us examine your examination:

-Does she think gays are sinners, i.e. violators of this 'divine order', presumptively even those that don't share her sect's views? Check.
-Does she think her superstition's 'divine order' has some sort of objective reality for everyone? Check.
-That she thinks the 'ultimate right' is for people to follow her bizarre religious sect's view of the world? Check.

Those were your three indictments of her. All three were of a religious nature. 2 of the 3 were entirely religious matters.

But you don't care about her religion. Not at all.
12.4.2008 6:16pm
Bill45 (mail):
Dixon principally expressed her opinions about (1)whether gay civil rights issues can be equated with Af-Am civil rights; (2) whether the homosexual lifestyle is something that is chosen; (3) whether gays in general are more affluent than blacks; and (4) she implies religious condemnation of the gay lifestyle.

But on which of these issues has the U-T taken an "offical" position that Dixon's could conflict with?

The 1st Amendment bars a state university from taking an "official" position on a religious issue so her comment there cannot conflict with any UT position.

Likewise, it is hard to believe that UT has an official position about the relative wrongs suffered by gays and blacks.

It seems obvious that, at worst, Dixon's opinions just happen to conflict with the general be-warm-and-fuzzy-to-gays- opinion the University President demands. THAT seems easily distinguishable from the criticisms offered by the terminated assistant prosecutor in Garcetti.

It was hard not to chuckle at the unselfconscious irony with which the UT President began his condenmnation of Dixon by pointing out the University's allegiance to "diversity". Diversity of intellect and opinion is apparently not among the "core values" of UT.
12.4.2008 6:16pm
Thomas_Holsinger:
Homosexuality is a status rather than conduct in the context of human resources departments. Discrimination and harassment based on sexual orientation are treated the same as if they were based on gender.

It doesn't matter whether it is male or female nurses who lift the sheets on anesthetized male patients, and then go tell their friends to come look if they see something interesting. And I had THAT particular "naughty nurses" case go across my desk in 1994-95. The female nurses doing it were turned in by a male nurse who said, "Hey, this is just plain wrong."

So the hospital told them they were bad nurses and to stop doing that. Plus to cease and desist from all the other sexual games they were playing with each other. Which got the male nurse fired because he liked those games and wouldn't stop the grab-ass. He just thought it improper to involve patients in those.

So he sued the hospital for wrongful termination of a whistle-blower, and gender discrimination. The hospital defended on the grounds that the female nurses stopped being bad when told to do so, but not the plaintiff.

Our courtroom clerks took turns watching the trial on their breaks to catch all the salacious details.
12.4.2008 6:19pm
Yankev (mail):
To those who think that religion precludes one from working in HR -- who COULD work in HR? Atheists are presumably unsympathetic to believers, and could not treat them fairly. Believers in one religion think believers in other faiths -- and atheists -- are misguided. Once we set up a per se test for belief, we screen out everyone.

We're back to the only proper test being whether the applicant can put aside their beliefs in order to treat people fairly. Since many religions require their advocates to treat people of other faiths (or of no faith) with fairness and human dignity, the supposed conflict is gone.

The same appears to be true with Ms. Dixon, and much of the anger against her on this thread appears to be a desire to punish her for heresy from the current orthodoxy about homosexuality. Even refusing to belief that it is not determined at birth is called homphobic and equivalent to advocating violence against gay people. In the name of tolerance, no dissent will be tolerated.
12.4.2008 6:21pm
Truthteller:
SeeTheOtherSide:


She believes what her religion teaches, which is that homosexual behavior is intrinsically disordered and wrong. The behavior, not the person. And thus in her belief, it is a choice: one can choose to engage in such behavior, or not. It is the behavior, the acts, not the person.


How can you separate the person from themselves? That is so idiotic! That is like saying being hungry is not a sin, but eating to fulfill that need is. So it's the behavior of eating is the sin, not the person.

The bible also (Leviticus) states that to eat any kind of sea animal that has no scales is an abomination unto god.

It also requires adulterers to be stoned to death, and if a woman is raped in the city and doesn't cry out she should too be stoned to death. But if she is raped in the country and doesn't cry out she is okay. The bible also says the sun revolves around the earth and it gives us rules of how to treat our SLAVES.

If I were to believe like she does, can I then freely advocate for the death penalty for such offenses and maintain an HR position.

After all, it is the creator who tells me this people are in direct violation of god's divine order and therefore immoral. If you are one of these "sinners' and you come to me to resolve an issue, are you confident I will rule without prejudice?

Can I have a slave, because my religion says I can? Can I write an op-ed about it without any consequences? It is my religion right?
12.4.2008 6:24pm
Bob Van Burkleo (mail):
But you don't care about her religion. Not at all.

Nope. She could have attributed the statements to her incredibly cranky step mother in origin - they would still rationalize removing her from her job.

It seems incredibly hard for people to see religious bigotry as just a variety of same. Doesn't matter why she can't see law abiding citizens as equal members, its just that she doesn't that's important.
12.4.2008 6:26pm
Bill45 (mail):
What a lot of commenters are missing is that Dixon's wasn't just speaking abstractly about "gay rights." Instead, she was apparently writing about some policy or policy proposal at her place of employment ("the reference to the alleged benefits disparity").

Given that, it's incredibly difficult to see how her claim isn't foreclosed by the Garcetti case. The fact that her communication was made externally (to a newspaper) rather than internally (to her boss) doesn't seem to matter under Sixth Circuit precedent: its decision in Rahn v. Drake Center, 31 F.3d 407, seems directly on point (dealing with an employee who issued a press release expressing disagreement with decisions made by administration at a publicly funded hospital, and holding the e'ee's speech involve the "quintessential employee beef" and thus wasn't entitled to 1st Am. protection).

So all this talk about homosexuality and religion is great but ultimately off-topic: Dixon probably doesn't survive a motion to dismiss, because her speech is ultimately work-related, and thus not protected under the current First Amendment/public employee doctrines.


I disagree.

First, taken as a whole, the portion of Dixon's op-ed piece that might possibly relate to her HR work was minor.

But more to the point, the one part of her opinion piece that could relate to her HR function does not seem to have been a factor in the termination decision. Dixon did not public any specific beef she had with her superiors over a particular action. As I read it, she actually seems to be defending UT on the benefit disparity issue and explaining that issue. More, she does that without trying to bolster her opinion by emphasizing her association with UT. In fact, she never identifies that association at all. That alone distinguishes her case from Garcetti and Rahn.

In the portion relating to benefits, Dixon made the point that benefit disparities affect all employee groups without regard to sexual preference (or choice as Dixon would put it.) Was she fired for THAT? Hardly.

Dixon should easily survive a motion to dismiss and get to a jury. Then, hold on to your hat.
12.4.2008 6:32pm
Tony Tutins (mail):

much of the anger against her on this thread appears to be a desire to punish her for heresy from the current orthodoxy about homosexuality. Even refusing to belief that it is not determined at birth is called homphobic and equivalent to advocating violence against gay people. In the name of tolerance, no dissent will be tolerated.

As I said upthread, much of the anger against Prof. Butz appears to be a desire to punish him for heresy from the current orthodoxy about the Holocaust. Even refusing to believe that the the Nazis used Zyklon-B for anything other than delousing clothing is called "anti-Semitic," and equivalent to advocating violence against Jewish people. In the name of tolerance, no dissent will be tolerated.
12.4.2008 6:35pm
Bill45 (mail):
So, if a state university makes the judgment not to afford domestic partner benefits, should the HR director be fired for arguing publicly that it should?
12.4.2008 6:37pm
DangerMouse:
But you don't care about her religion. Not at all.

Nope. She could have attributed the statements to her incredibly cranky step mother in origin - they would still rationalize removing her from her job.


I see. You don't CARE about religion because as far as you're concerned, a biased statement doesn't have to be grounded in religious belief in order for your job to be at risk.

So in addition to being against freedom of religion, you're also against freedom of speech. You'd claim that no, you're not, but that there are consequences to speech.

You are incapable of understanding that religious beliefs are an exception, as far as the government is concerned, to such consequences. If on your own time, you participate in religion, then the government cannot punish your free exercise of it. That's the entire point of the First Amendment. You cannot be fired for your religious beliefs, period. Obviously, you understand that this would result in many people dishonestly claiming that all of their bad statements derive from supposedly sincere religious beliefs, but them's the breaks. The First Amendment is there for a reason. We are not communists out to persecute religious people (or atheist people who attack religion in their spare time), which is what your America would become.

Do you favor repealing the Civil Rights Act with respect to prohibitions against discrimination for religious people?

Do you favor repealing the First Amendment's protections against prohibiting the free exercise of Religion?

I have to think that you do. You are a statist of the first order. And I reiterate: it is anti-American to favor such government-sponsored firing/persecution of religious people.
12.4.2008 6:42pm
Putting Two and Two...:
ForWhatItsWorth:

And please, STOP using "homophobic". She apparently does not irrationally (or otherwise) fear homosexuals. Using that term implies a psychological malady and is prejudicial language, and its idiotic for those of you who use it, to use a pejorative as if it were descriptive. Its is not. So come up with a better term. Homophobic is a slur in almost all your usage of it.


I'm open to suggestions. I rarely use the term "homophobic". I prefer "anti-gay".

Let's stop for a second, though, and see if this HUMAN RESOURCES person is rational about this issue. I will assume that she is a serious person and duly considers her arguments. The "irrefutable data" on gay incomes has been utterly refuted in the academic, economics press. A Google search of just a few minutes exposes it as unreliable and dismissed by reputable sources, unless you look to Focus On the Family and Exodus for economic data. This sort of checking should be child's play for someone with a 25-year career in personnel issues. It's routine analysis of COMPENSATION statistics.

So, what would cause a professional to not only accept it, but to publicly repeat and endorse it as "irrefutable"? Doing so IS irrational. I'm not saying she can't hold whatever religious beliefs she wants, but when they so obviously influence her opinions in her own field, how can you see her as rational?
12.4.2008 6:52pm
james (mail):
Are people here suggesting that it is not possible to have a system of government that protects an individuals freedom of speech, freedom of religion and freedom to express both in the public sphere? Think long and hard before answering. Let me remind you that the military in this country is already super majority Christian. If your purposing a stripping of rights, in the long run its not going to be theirs.
12.4.2008 7:38pm
Suzy (mail):
As Bob has said above, it doesn't matter why she has come to these conclusions. Whether it's for religious reasons, political reasons, or wild whimsy is irrelevant. The problem is that the person in charge of employment matters for the university should not be publicly declaring that some of its employees are inherently base. Even more importantly, she's presenting her own views about matters under her job's authority as if they're representative of the university itself.

Should an employee be allowed to disagree publicly with her state employer's policy, even when it's one she's charged with implementing? Sure, but she must not represent her personal disagreement as if she's speaking in her official capacity on behalf of the state. Her poor judgment about that means that she can be fired for doing a bad job. It has absolutely nothing to do with her religious views. Quite frankly, I agree with her judgment that sexual orientation should not be treated as a protected civil rights classification, so all this talk about how the liberal atheists here are just bigoted against her in return is pretty silly.
12.4.2008 7:56pm
Suzy (mail):

You cannot be fired for your religious beliefs, period.


She shouldn't be fired for that. She should be fired for confusing her presentation of those beliefs with her official representation of the university's position.
12.4.2008 8:01pm
Suzy (mail):

First, taken as a whole, the portion of Dixon's op-ed piece that might possibly relate to her HR work was minor.


The entire piece relates to her HR work, and she explicitly discusses benefits issues that were under the purview of her job.
12.4.2008 8:03pm
Tim J.:
Suzy,
She shouldn't be fired for that. She should be fired for confusing her presentation of those beliefs with her official representation of the university's position.


How is that article an "official representation of the university's position?" The closest she comes to identifying any connection to the university is the when she says she's an "alumnus of the University of Toledo’s Graduate School, an employee and business owner." One could perhaps argue that she's saying she's an employee of the university, but the pairing of "employee" with "business owner" makes that interpretation unlikely. Even so, this certainly doesn't rise to the level of an official communication.
12.4.2008 8:31pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"Can I have a slave, because my religion says I can? Can I write an op-ed about it without any consequences? It is my religion right?"

No slave for you because we choose to side with the slave against you. You don't have the muscle to get away with it. Nobody cares what your religion says. That's action, not thought or opinion.

But you are free to write an op-ed about how great it would be. Maybe someone will publish it. If not, you can write your own blog. It is your right under the First Amendment to do so. Perhaps you can do it right here? Go for it.
12.4.2008 9:42pm
ERF (mail):
Reading the post and comments makes me think of Bill Ayres, whose job at the U of Chicago has never been threatened by his repulsive public statements, and Ward Churchill, who was fired from the U of Colorado not for his offensive and idiotic "little Eichmanns" analogy, but for plagiarism and art fraud.
12.4.2008 9:45pm
Suzy (mail):

How is that article an "official representation of the university's position?"


Perhaps she doesn't intend her letter to be one, but she's confusing the issue for readers by including her comments on the benefits plan issue. The whole thing also replies to a letter that apparently took a different position on this issue. Her comments rely on the special expertise obtained through her administrative post, and she adds that the university is working diligently to address these issues, in language that sounds much more like an official representation of what she knows the university to be doing than a private citizen's speculation on the matter. In short, the line between her role as an administrator speaking for the university (and the state) and her free voice as a private citizen is being blurred here, and that's not acceptable in an employee with her duties.
12.5.2008 1:10am
whit:

If your religion/philosophy/fortune cookie precludes you from treating citizens equally under the law



for the 100th time, nobody has proven (or even offered evidence) that dixon's beliefs preclude her from doing her job and treating citizens equally as required by law.
12.5.2008 3:33am
whit:

The Old Testament is different from the Torah. The Torah consists of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, preferably in Hebrew. The Jewish counterpart of the Old Testament is the Tanakh, though some of the books are in a different order, some of the books are combined, split in two, or divided in different places, and the Jewish division of the books into parashot does not follow the Christian division of the books into chapters and verses


hey genius. i didn't say they were the same. i am well aware they are not the same. my point was that NEITHER condemns lesbianism.

i didn't mention the new testament, because the point has been oft-made that jesus never frigging mentions homosexuality at all.

here, i'll make it simple for you.

Both the torah and the old testament condemn male homosexuality.

Neither condemn lesbianism

hth
12.5.2008 3:48am
Smokey:
Dilan Esper:
"Homophobic" is the established term for anti-gay bigotry and prejudice.
Only among a very small sub-group of the population.

Words matter. And that word is wildly inaccurate.
12.5.2008 5:12am
Public_Defender (mail):
I wrote:


I can imagine a conversation in the HR office if she wins her job back:

Gay employee: "Why did you deny health coverage for my son?"
Crystal Dixon: "Even though you have raised him since birth, supported him, nurtured him, and done everything else other mother's do, your your son came out of your partner's body, so he doesn't deserve health coverage."
Gay employee: "Why is that fair?"
Crystal Dixon: "Denying health coverage to children is essential to preserving the Divine Order."


Response:


Or she could also do her job, and most likely would since there is NO accusation she has not and will not except for guess work from the pro-gayers. I think the same convo ends like this:

"...Crystal Dixon: "Even though you have raised him since birth, supported him, nurtured him, and done everything else other mother's do, your your son came out of your partner's body, so he doesn't deserve health coverage."
Gay employee: "Why is that fair?"
Crystal Dixon: "Because of the limitations on benefits set forth in your summary plan description, and because your union agreed to a contract which did not include your lover's child as a dependent. Have a good day"


If she had said what you wrote (minus the demeaning reference to "lover") she would not have had a problem. HR's job is to enforce policy as written, not as others would like it to be written. But she instead chose to wrap up the HR denial in the "Divine Order" and an assertion that she believed the people making the claims were morally inferior.

That's not something an HR professional does.


In short, the line between her role as an administrator speaking for the university (and the state) and her free voice as a private citizen is being blurred here, and that's not acceptable in an employee with her duties.


She spoke about a policy she was charged with implementing in a way that did not follow her employer's policies. If she were a secretary in an academic department, her employer should leave her alone (although she might find that she has poisoned her relationship with some of her co-workers). But high level government employees give up some of their free speech rights, especially on matters that relate directly to their job.
12.5.2008 5:55am
Public_Defender (mail):
If I were the chief deputy prosecutor in an office that aggressively pursued the death penalty, I would expect to be fired if I wrote a letter to the editor asserting that seeking the death penalty was against the "Divine Order."

Likewise, a management public defender in an office that handled death penalty cases should not write a letter to the editor claiming that he or she believed that the death penalty was necessary to restore the "Divine Order" after a murder. (Heck, even a non-management attorney should not write such a letter.)

I'm entitled to my personal and religious views, but if I take a high level position, I should expect that expressing those views would have an effect on my employment.

There are trade-offs for being in management. You have more responsibility and more money, but you are also expected to tow the employer's line (even when off duty) much more than low-level employees.
12.5.2008 6:11am
Public_Defender (mail):
My arguments stand even if the employee supports the employer's policy, but for different reasons. If the head prosecutor seeks the death penalty because she believes she is legally obligated to enforce the capital murder statute, but then the chief assistant writes a fire-and-brimstone letter to the editor saying that seeking the death penalty is needed to restore the Divine Order," that chief assistant could be in trouble.
12.5.2008 6:54am
Geoff (mail) (www):
Does anyone think that if she appealed to the Koran she would have been fired? I don't think she would have. Does anyone have a theory as to why that is the case?

Or does anyone disagree with that assessment.
12.5.2008 8:07am
Tim J.:
If I were the chief deputy prosecutor in an office that aggressively pursued the death penalty, I would expect to be fired if I wrote a letter to the editor asserting that seeking the death penalty was against the "Divine Order."


Strange. I would expect dissent to be tolerated.

But then, I seem to have a lot of quaint notions. For example, I also don't think you relinquish your freedom of speech by virtue of advancing in your career.
12.5.2008 8:21am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Waldensian.
You should, like a good many hereabouts, compete in ballroom dancing.
Slick, smooth, never going in the same direction for any
noticeable length of time.
How many times?
Multiple posts on the subject from one person--six or seven times.
Individul references to "godbotherers" and "flying sphagetti monsters" and suchlike, hundreds of times.
In my face, twice.

Now, whether it bothers me or not is not the issue as you know because you read the original post. But you cannot afford to confront my actual point.
Which is responding to the question of whether an active religious person can responsibly carry out HR or similar duties, and be seen to do so.
My response was that, in my experience, atheists had been far more evangelical--which is to say pushy--and obnoxious than any religious person and thus would be even less likely to be qualified for HR.
I suppose making me repeat my point counts as a famous victory.
You must be a lawyer.
12.5.2008 8:51am
Yankev (mail):

But she instead chose to wrap up the HR denial in the "Divine Order" and an assertion that she believed the people making the claims were morally inferior.
Only in your hypothetical. Not in her article (unless you consider her citing logistical problems as akin to preserving the natural order) and apparently not in real life.

Tony Tutins, when we have eyewitnesses and documented historic records irrefutably proving that homosexuality is determined at birth and that homosexual behavior is not immoral, come back to me with analogies abotu holocaust denial. It is a fallacy to compare dissent about historic fact with dissent about current scientific theory -- especially when only one one research project reached the conclusion that that homosexuality is determinate, and every research team that has tried to duplicate the results of that project has been unable to duplicate them. There is room at this point for scientific doubt.

The fallacy is compounded when you compare dissent over established historic fact with dissent over what is and is not moral.

At the least you are using equivocation. You may be employing other fallacies as well. It has been some 40 years since my last formal course in logic, so I appeal to others who have studied it more recently.
12.5.2008 9:41am
Tony Tutins (mail):

It is a fallacy to compare dissent about historic fact with dissent about current scientific theory

The vast bulk of the "dissent" about this current scientific theory comes from the Christian Right.

The fallacy is compounded when you compare dissent over established historic fact with dissent over what is and is not moral.

Just as your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins, your moral views must end where my autonomy begins. I analogized the HR VP's views to Holocaust denial to show how repugnant they are. In terms of "current scientific theory" they are as fanciful as Intelligent Design -- a pseudoscientific view of reality motivated by religious belief. A more on-point analogy: A Christian Scientist HR VP's belief that illness is an illusion should not prevent his employees from getting health insurance.
12.5.2008 11:16am
Elliot123 (mail):
Didn't the Dec of Independence reference divine order? "the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them...
12.5.2008 11:49am
Matteo (mail) (www):
whit,

"for the 100th time, nobody has proven (or even offered evidence) that dixon's beliefs preclude her from doing her job and treating citizens equally as required by law."

The irony is that this thread has offered copious evidence that the majority of commenters have beliefs which preclude then from treating citizens equally as required by law (specifically the First Amendment). Because they suffer from this character defect, they assume that Dixon must.

It seems that Buggery is a very exacting God, and will brook no dissent with His ways, even if the dissent is only in thought and not in action.
12.5.2008 12:54pm
cmr:
This might be a dumb thing to, I guess, argue, but her position is VP, right? Isn't that more of a managerial type position in the first place? I mean, if she was more of the head honcho in charge of day-to-day operations, what are the chances her views on homosexuality will even come into play on a general basis? I mean, VP is a big position. There are all kinds of low-level supervisors and Directors that come under her.
12.5.2008 1:23pm
trad and anon (mail):
Now that I think about it, under Employment Division v. Smith, religious people are no longer entitled to exemptions from generally applicable laws merely because their desire to violate the law has a religious basis. I presume this principle would apply equally to generally applicable policies of government employees. Presumably anti-gay bigotry in a letter to the editor from the VP of HR blurring the opinions of the speaker and the university would lead to termination whether or not the anti-gay bigotry was religiously motivated.

I think Employment Division v. Smith was wrongly decided, but I don't think there is a Constitutional Free Exercise objection here. I think the Free Speech Clause does protect her, but at current law the Free Exercise Clause does not.

How many times, exactly, have atheists done this to you? What were the circumstances?

I ask because I've never actually seen such an "atheist verbal assault" happen to anyone, ever.


This is one of those cases of a double standard. Straights mentioning their boy/girlfriends is normal, but gays doing the same thing is "flaunting." Similarly, when Christians say that they're Christians, that's normal, but when atheists say that they're atheists, it's attacking the beliefs of others.
12.5.2008 1:41pm
trad and anon (mail):
Reading the post and comments makes me think of Bill Ayres, whose job at the U of Chicago has never been threatened by his repulsive public statements, and Ward Churchill, who was fired from the U of Colorado not for his offensive and idiotic "little Eichmanns" analogy, but for plagiarism and art fraud.
Because of principles of academic freedom, tenured professors have nearly absolute immunity for termination for virtually anything they say, even if offensive and idiotic. Dixon was an administrator, not a professor.
12.5.2008 1:45pm
trad and anon (mail):
I think the Free Speech Clause does protect her

Correction: Now that I think about it again, the Free Speech Clause does not protect her. She would normally be protected but she blurred her personal opinions and the opinions of the University—very much not proper behavior for an administrator.
12.5.2008 1:48pm
cmr:
Presumably anti-gay bigotry in a letter to the editor from the VP of HR blurring the opinions of the speaker and the university would lead to termination whether or not the anti-gay bigotry was religiously motivated.


But what she said wasn't anti-gay bigotry. If she views, and thus dissents, with a lifestyle choice, that's her right to do so. If she was condoning the perpetration of violence and bigotry on people because of that choice, that would be a different matter.
12.5.2008 2:20pm
Bob Van Burkleo (mail):
You are incapable of understanding that religious beliefs are an exception, as far as the government is concerned, to such consequences. If on your own time, you participate in religion, then the government cannot punish your free exercise of it. That's the entire point of the First Amendment. You cannot be fired for your religious beliefs, period.

So you are off in lala land? Ok I agree with you - if it would be ok for her to announce her fidelity to the views of the KKK, World Church of the Creator, Catholic regarding divorced people, i.e. "not really", or other nutty views and still keep her job than you would be right.

But she wouldn't so you aren't.

You can't wrap up qualities that are job disqualifiers in a religious wrapper and say they are then ok.
12.5.2008 2:38pm
Bob Van Burkleo (mail):
So, if a state university makes the judgment not to afford domestic partner benefits, should the HR director be fired for arguing publicly that it should?

Of course they could rather than should. If they aren't supporting the published declared goals and purposes of their superiors obviously subordinate executive staff can be fired for even appearing to not toe the line.

Again, this case was about the hot button issues of gays and religion but if an executive in a position can even be seen as not supporting he employer's stated goals of course they have a right to replace them. I obviously don't think that using the excuse 'my rebellion is based on superstition' is a valid excuse to prevent the firing - and even more obviously others disagree.
12.5.2008 2:48pm
Yankev (mail):

But what she said wasn't anti-gay bigotry. If she views, and thus dissents, with a lifestyle choice, that's her right to do so.
No, she said she doesn't agree that their oppression is comparable withe the oppression of Black people in America. According to Big Sibling, that's bigotry.

And she says that what they do is morally wrong. According to Big Sibling, that's not only bigotry, it's an invitation to violence. In fact, it's EQUIVALENT to violence.

And worse, she's not only a Christian, she's serious about her Christianity, letting it inform every bit of her life. According to Big Sibling, that makes her a dangerous, deranged violent bigot. In the name of freedom, we must suppress anyone who views their religion as anything more than a hobby. Sexual conduct is a matter of immutable right, not a matter of choice. Relgious belief, however, is chosen, and Big Sibling says that the constitution protects it only so long as it does not violate my right not to be offended. After all, it's not how you treat me that counts -- it's the hateful thoughts that you must be thinking about me, because I cannot envision you (or anyone else) not wanting to act in a hateful way toward people you disagree with or disapprove of.
12.5.2008 3:40pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
And worse, she's not only a Christian, she's serious about her Christianity, letting it inform every bit of her life.

2 points on this:

1. Conservatives often use this term "serious" to refer to Christians who take conservative positions on social issues. In fact, there are major debates with Christianity over social issues, and many people who are just as "serious" believers take liberal positions on these issues. The honest term is that she believes her Christianity mandates conservative positions on social issues, not that she is "serious" about her Christianity.

2. If a person really does let his or her religious beliefs inform "every bit of her life", and that means she makes HR decisions in light of her religious beliefs, then she would be outside the scope of free exercise of religion and free speech when she is making those decisions. For instance, if a county clerk is a conservative Christian in Massachusetts, he or she is not permitted to refuse to issue marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples. If the person cannot perform the job because of the person's religion, that is much different than protecting the person's right to express him- or herself on the person's own time.

However, I want actual evidence that this person is applying her conservative Christian beliefs in discriminating against gays and lesbians at work before they act on this. In the absence of that evidence (i.e., if the person treats people equally regardless of sexual orientation), there's no cause to discipline her for what she says on her own time. That statement IS, and should be, protected as free speech and the free exercise of her religion.
12.5.2008 5:02pm
Clara.goldst (mail):
Sexual attraction is largely a product of our psychology and social conditioning, even though the departure point is always a species brilliantly composed of two sexes and which is heterosexual. A certain human psychological and social conditioning state will produce certain types of attraction (affective as well as sexual) for a certain individual. You change these variables, and the attraction result changes. The sexual attraction to children or animals or dead people or morbidly obese or sexual violence is the result of a dysfunctional psychology, not an orientation gene. The same can be said about a variety of homosexual types of « attractions », they are the result of diseased or dysfunctional psychologies and therefore are not good.

It is for these reasons that it is wrong to say that simply because someone who feels a homosexual attraction claims they didn't choose it, that it must therefore be good, normal, or healthy. Coming from a reasonably different analysis of human sexuality and psychology, I partly agree with Ms. Dixon: the homosexual culture and lifestyle is dysfunctional and not what humans are intended to be. Consequently promoting as healthy such psychologically problematic dynamics and behaviors is also bad for society. It is just as bad as promoting adultery, SM, and a series of other sexual and non-sexual mindsets and behaviours. For these and other reasons, homosexuality is not equal to a race construct of an unchangeable physical characteristic, because it involves culture and psychology, and is therefore more akin to religion, although it is not the same either.

Take the example of people who are attracted to gambling, who are addicted, they have an attraction they don't particularly choose consciously. For some people, the compulsion is so strong, they lose control over themselves, and it leads them to destroy their own lives, their families, and on extreme cases even get themselves killed. Clearly human being can have an endless series of dysfunctional mindsets and behaviours which they don't consciously choose to have. Why would a human being act in compulsive ways when it is not accepted by society and even illegal? Is it always the product of a gene? Is there a special gambling gene that produces such uncontrollable gambling mindsets? This is the logic behind the argument pro-homosexuals posit that « proves » that homosexuality is genetically produced. (« If society doesn't accept homosexuals, why would they choose to be so? It's stronger than themselves, they didn't choose it consciously, they don't control it, so it must be genetic and therefore accepted, normalized, and beautified. »)

Just because a human being experiences a feeling they can't control or didn't consciously choose, it doesn't make it legitimate, nor should we normalize it or endorse it. So the homophilic claim that homosexual attraction is good, and equal to heterosexuality is false and it hurts our understanding of human psychology regarding sexuality because it does not investigate complex social conditioning and psychological phenomena concerning sexuality.
Aside from ignoring human psychological dynamics that produce changes in sexual orientation, homophilic ideology tries to erase from our understanding of sexuality the factor of social conditioning in producing certain sexual attractions and determining sexual behavior. The homophilic construction of homosexual attraction is that it has a biological origin, that it is not influenced by psychological experiences, life experience and environment so it must be genetic and unchangeable. But human psychology about sex is much more complex AND it is subject to social conditioning.

Take a culture that considers morbid obesity as highly sexually attractive, their sexual attraction to morbid obesity is the result of social conditioning, not instinct. If, for example, you took baby boys from that culture and you put them in ours and raised them in our culture, they would, in their majority, develop a different sexual attraction, that is, to thinner women. Yet, the attraction they feel to the morbidly obese women in their culture is not something they consciously control once they are adults. Aside from social conditioning that operates during many formative years, you have current culture, like the media, fads, peer pressure, etc. This also influences sexual attraction dynamics and behavior in all societies at all times. Why shouldn't we be able to criticize all of this?

In a real democracy, a citizen would have a right to formulate critiques on all of these different human sexual experiences, orientations, and behaviors, including causes, explanations, and consequences. To say that a citizen cannot decide on a moral level if any orientation (to same sex, minors, animals, etc.) is good or bad, harmful or inane, beneficial to reproducing a healthy society or not, is to deprive each and every citizen of seeking knowledge on sexuality issues and of contributing their arguments to a discussion on the subject. It is therefore a repugnant practice and it shouldn't be based on freedom of religion but more fundamentally on freedom of conscience.

In addition, concerning criticizing homosexual behavior, I don't think it is preposterous at all or any different than criticizing any other type of sexual behavior. If the human race were made of only men, and they manufactured babies in mechanical incubators, their sexuality obviously relegated to sticking their penises into each other's anuses – do you think this is not inferior to the wonder of heterosexuality, of having two sexes - which is so rich, and of having a loving family consisting of a mother AND a father, and of heterosexual conception, attraction, and love? Ms. Dixon never stated that people with a homosexual mentality were genetically inferior to heterosexuals, because homosexuality is not genetically determined. I also don't think homosexuality is as simple as choosing what color of T-shirt you will wear tomorrow, therefore « choosing the homosexual lifestyle » is quite more complex.

The problem with the current homosexual fanaticism is the less we think, the safer their grab of power is.
12.5.2008 5:04pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
"Homophobic" is the established term for anti-gay bigotry and prejudice. Only among a very small sub-group of the population.

Among educated unprejudiced people, "homophobic" is the common descriptor for that particular sort of conduct or attitudes.

Of course, among people prejudiced against gays and lesbians, that term is disfavored and disliked. But that's like asking the Ku Klux Klan how we should describe racial discrimination.
12.5.2008 5:05pm
Tony Tutins (mail):

If she views, and thus dissents, with a lifestyle choice,

We call this "begging the question." If homosexuality were a lifestyle choice, then her argument would not be totally invalid. But, if one's sexual orientation were a lifestyle choice, each reader should have his own tale of when and where he made it.

[A hypo] sexual attraction to morbid obesity is the result of social conditioning,

Which argues against the thesis that sexual orientation is the product of social conditioning, because the vast majority of gays grew up in straight households, and the vast majority of cultural and media conditioning favors heterosexuality.
12.5.2008 5:21pm
Tony Tutins (mail):

However, I want actual evidence that this person is applying her conservative Christian beliefs in discriminating against gays and lesbians at work before they act on this. In the absence of that evidence (i.e., if the person treats people equally regardless of sexual orientation), there's no cause to discipline her for what she says on her own time.

Let us say Dilan is a gay man working at U of T. He gets a new boss. Suddenly Dilan gets assigned to all the crappy assignments. His new boss gives him failing marks on his next performance evaluation. Dilan had been consistently ranked as above average up to that point. Could his new boss be anti-gay? Normally Dilan would go to HR for help, but the head of HR has made it publicly known that his sexuality is an immoral lifestyle Dilan willingly chose. How much help will the HR head be? A rational Dilan wouldn't even bother bringing his issue to HR. This constitutes the Pickering factor of disruption of the normal functioning of the organization.

Were the head of HR not replaced, Dilan would either start looking for a new job, or muddle along till his inevitable termination. Either way, the organization loses a valued employee. The U of T becomes known as a place for gays to avoid. Considering that academia is filled with gays, U of T's talent pool is unnecessarily limited.
12.5.2008 5:43pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"A rational Dilan wouldn't even bother bringing his issue to HR."

And then in a Kumbayah moment around a flickering, carbonless campfire, Dilan is made head of HR.

But straight male Nalid knows Dilan and his gay friends refer to straights as "breeders." Horrified, Nalid rationally refuses to report his own male boss for his wide stance in the mens room.

Instead he makes an appointment with Landi, president of the University. But, he then hears that during her recent and protracted divorce proceedings, Landi, in solidarity with the sisterhood, said, "All men are pigs!"

Alas, now that UT has become a lesbian softball school, Nalid takes a job in a library Little Rock, Arkansas where he clings to his god, guns, and overalls.
12.5.2008 6:20pm
Seamus (mail):
In fact, there are major debates with Christianity over social issues, and many people who are just as "serious" believers take liberal positions on these issues.

The difference is that they get to keep their jobs.
12.5.2008 6:23pm
Seamus (mail):
That is like saying being hungry is not a sin, but eating to fulfill that need is. So it's the behavior of eating is the sin, not the person.

It's also like saying that being an alcoholic is not a sin, but drinking to excess (or, if you're a Mormon or a Mohammedan, drinking at all) is. My analogy is better than yours because, while people die if they refrain from eating, they don't die if they refrain from drinking alcohol (much less from drinking alcohol to excess).
12.5.2008 6:34pm
Matteo (mail) (www):
Tony Tutins,

So Dixon deserves firing because you have an imaginary friend named Dilan who suffered imaginary discrimination at the hands of Dixon? That's quite a standard of evidence you're employing.

If your imaginary friend Dilan is too cynical to give HR an honest shot at redressing the grievance, due to his assumption that HR cannot possibly give him a fair shake because someone there (oh, the outrage!) does not celebrate his lifestyle, then it is Dilan's own bigotry that would be victimizing Dilan. Just because Dilan knows that he himself couldn't possibly be fair to someone he disagrees with morally doesn't mean HR couldn't. But no harm, no foul, because Dilan at this point is imaginary.

I'll say this: it's quite fascinating to watch liberals advocating preemptive warfare.
12.5.2008 6:54pm
Bonze Saunders (mail):
Crystal Dixon:

"My final and most important point. There is a divine order. God created human kind male and female (Genesis 1:27)."



Clara.goldst:

"Sexual attraction is largely a product of our psychology and social conditioning, even though the departure point is always a species brilliantly composed of two sexes and which is heterosexual."


These statements are clearly wrong: what about those who are born intersexed? The truth is that sexual identity and behavior are influenced by genetic, endocrinological, and psychological factors coming into play at different points in a person's development. Variation is normal!

Moreover, sexual behaviors vary radically in different primate species: dominant male gorillas maintain exclusive harems, female chimpanzees engage in voluntary gangbangs when they come into estrus, female bonobos engage in lesbian contact on a regular basis. What is the "natural" "God-given" sexuality of a human being?

If you examine the anthropological data, cultures vary a lot in their construction of "acceptable" sexuality... so which culture has it "right"? Periclean Athens (pro-homo)? Ahmedinajadean Iran ("There are no homosexuals in Iran", i.e., we kill them all)?

I believe Dixon has the right to express her opinion, but not a right to her job. I think she's on dubious ground legally. When she denounces "the homosexual lifestyle" she implicitly caricatures GLBT folks, who practice a wide range of lifestyles, from the staid to the grossly deviant. She would be in trouble if she had condemned almost any group of people in a similar fashion--excepting, of course, cannibals, pedophiles, or Nazis...

"I'm not supernice... but I WANT TO BE!"
12.5.2008 8:52pm
Truthteller:
Whitt:

What the hell are you talking about?


First of all, tell me where I said I was gay? Then why are saying I'm crying: "I'm a victim, I'm a victim."?

And then you say I am the one who is twisting other peoples words to make false accusations?


your post is a perfect example of how intolerant people will twist other's words and make false accusations, to further a cause.


I am a recovering evangelical christian, so I know well what her biblical code words Ms. Dixon uses, mean.

It is not my fault you have no analytical skills. It is obvious you projected your own judgments into my post, and it is also clear you have anger management issues. There is help for that, you know.

I hope you don't work in a position where rational thought, analytical skills and intelligence are needed to perform, because you would fail on all those.

Your response to my post:


I doubt anyone who is not gay can really understand what it must feel to be the recipient of such venomous vitriol.


oh for pete's sake. "i'm a victim. i'm a victim".

you know what plenty of people know what it feels like to get venomous vitriol, on account of race, ethnicity, religion, etc. i know you think you are special. you aren't. welcome to life. i've experienced plenty of racism directed towards myself. it doesn't change my views about free speech, though.




To be the recipient of such tirade from a woman who you would need to depend on when your rights as an employee of such institution have been violated.


i see no tirade. read what she frigging wrote.


Do you really think a woman who believes her god hates you,


which is unsupported at best,a lie at worst. she says no such thing

and in fact, she says quite the opposite.



and that you are a willful, rebellious, heterosexual whom your god commands stoning to death (Leviticus) is going to protect you?


she never claims to believe this. you are again lying.


This woman lost her ability to perform her job and tainted the university with a reputation of ignorance. She should be fired.


you have no evidence she lost her ability to perform her job. and she didn't taint the university, since she wasn't speaking for the university.

your post is a perfect example of how intolerant people will twist other's words and make false accusations, to further a cause.

congrats.
12.4.2008 4:24am
12.6.2008 12:19am
traveler496:
Central to the effectiveness of any HR department is the confidence of the employee population in that department's essential fairness. Before its publication, Crystal Dixon could have predicted that her letter to the editor would do serious damage to that confidence, hence to the mission of the HR department she headed.

Dixon's actions therefore cast real doubt on the soundness of her judgement relative to the high standard for someone at her level of responsibility. Also and separately, had the administration let Dixon remain VP of HR, it's not unreasonable to assume that this would have compounded and prolonged the damage to HR's effectiveness caused by Dixon's public pronouncement.

For some, that damage may be easier to understand if one imagines that Dixon's comments had been critical of (say) Native American lifestyles rather than of gay lifestyles, and that her HR population contained a sizeable number of Native Americans. It's not hard to see how all manner of dysfunctions (involving Native American employees, HR staff, and other employee subgroups and their interactions) could result from people acting in their own perceived self interests in the wake of such comments from their senior HR executive, particularly if that person were allowed to remain on in the role indefinitely.

It's true that the administration might instead have tried to mitigate the damage with a public reprimand, reiteration of its official policies, and close oversight, but terminating Dixon certainly seems within the reasonable range of responses given the situation.

While Dixon has the right to speak her mind, she doesn't have a right to keep her job if she does things that predictably gut that job's core function, even if those things are legal speech acts (and certainly regardless whether those speech acts express views that she labels as belonging to her 'religion').

(At least, I think so. If you think you can reduce the above argument to tatters, please give it a shot.)
12.6.2008 1:40am
Elliot123 (mail):
"While Dixon has the right to speak her mind, she doesn't have a right to keep her job if she does things that predictably gut that job's core function, even if those things are legal speech acts (and certainly regardless whether those speech acts express views that she labels as belonging to her 'religion').

Nothng about the job's core function has changed. There is no difference in the job's core function before versus after the letter in question. There has been no demonstration the incumbent took any HR actions contrary to the job's core functions.
12.6.2008 2:01am
traveler496:
Elliot123,

By 'gutting that job's core function' I meant that just by publishing her letter, even if she did nothing else, Dixon had already done serious damage to the effectiveness of the HR department she was running.
12.6.2008 2:13am
Truthteller:
Seamus,
What grade are you in, and what are you talking about?

This is your reply to my post?

It's also like saying that being an alcoholic is not a sin, but drinking to excess (or, if you're a Mormon or a Mohammedan, drinking at all) is. My analogy is better than yours because, while people die if they refrain from eating, they don't die if they refrain from drinking alcohol (much less from drinking alcohol to excess).


Your analogy has no logic nor is it similar to mine. Let me help you understand.

Hunger is a physical need.
Love is a spiritual need.
liquor is a vice, a good one, but a vice.

I doubt you'll get it, but I did my good deed for the day.
12.6.2008 6:34am
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
Let's say someone is attracted to only morbidly obese folks. So what? They can still get married as long as it's M/F. And morbidly obese people have needs for love romance and family as well. Such a "dysfunction" could be an utter blessing if a thin handsome man ended up falling in love with and marrying a morbidly obese woman whose condition otherwise destroyed her love life.
12.6.2008 10:57am
Bob Van Burkleo (mail):
Sexual attraction is largely a product of our psychology and social conditioning, even though the departure point is always a species brilliantly composed of two sexes and which is heterosexual. A certain human psychological and social conditioning state will produce certain types of attraction (affective as well as sexual) for a certain individual. You change these variables, and the attraction result changes.

So your basic premises are wrong and you reach wrong conclusions from them - don't need to read any further.

We have biological systems that make humans able to be sexually attracted to males and females, for most only one system is active so that is really an 'or'. There is no reason why either of these two mechanisms of sexual attraction can not be active in people of either gender - we are attracted to a gender, there is no mechanism to limit that to just our opposites.

Its common sense - men have all the genetic coding of a woman and women have genetically identical to men except for one chromosome. Who denies there are mechanism that make people attracted to people of a particular gender? Just in some those pathways are the ones that make them attracted to their own gender.

Sexually pair bonding has a whole host of benefits to the individuals and the state themselves regardless of their gender combination - that alone in a even a nanny state based on the 'right to pursuit happiness' should be enough to just end all these discussion.
12.6.2008 2:40pm