Monday, August 01, 2005

Free Speech or Discrimination?

By Lisa Haddock
NJ Faith Forum Editor

Is it fair for a university to punish an employee for articulating his religious beliefs about homosexuality?

The Record of Hackensack, N.J., reported July 21 that a William Paterson University employee was censured for describing a film about a lesbian relationship as a perversion.

The controversy began in March when a Hackensack resident who repairs computers at the state university in Wayne complained after he received a university-wide, unsolicited e-mail promoting a lesbian-themed film named “Ruthie and Connie: Every Room in the House.”

The computer tech, who is a 68-year-old Muslim, asked the women’s studies professor promoting the film “not to send me any mail about ‘Connie and Sally’ or ‘Adam and Steve.’ These are perversions,” The Record reported. The computer worker further lamented: “The absence of God in higher education brings on confusion.”

The professor forwarded the Muslim’s e-mail to the Office of Employment Equity and Diversity. She stated that she regarded the tech’s comments as threatening.

After the incident was investigated in June, university President Arnold Speert reprimanded the Muslim employee on the grounds that he had violated a state policy against harassment. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education appealed the Muslim employee’s case to State Attorney General Peter Harvey, who backed Speert’s decision.

Read more about the case and then post your thoughts.

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