I’m sorry to keep harping on this, but I cannot believe what I’m reading from David Hoekema. He’s over at Leiter defending Calvin College’s anti-gay discrimination. He says, the policy prohibits discrimination on the basis of homosexuality in hiring practices. He says, I know, I was Executive Director of the APA when the policy was drafted, debated upon, and adopted. He says, Calvin College complies with the policy. We don’t make hiring decisions on the basis of homosexuality. He then says, we do place a much heavier behavioral burden on homosexual faculty than we place on heterosexual faculty, since we permit heterosexual faculty to have sex if they’re married, but we do not permit homosexual faculty to have sex under any circumstances.
There are (at least) three contortions here. One is that it is apparently possible to be fair to homosexual members of the faculty while demanding that they alone abstain from meaningful sexual relationships. It might be fair to demand that of everyone (though it’s far from obvious that it would be), but it is patently unfair to impose such a heavy differential burden on homosexual faculty. To be fair, he is willing to listen to people who say that. To be more fair, who gives a shit, since he won’t actually do anything.
Another contortion (and this came up in the thread on Leiter’s blog) is that the policy absolutely does forbid this kind of shit. While Hoekema is right that the policy forbids discrimination in appointments and is to be admired for adhering to that portion of the policy, he completely ignores the fact that it also explicitly forbids discrimination in retention, tenure & promotion, salary determination, manuscript evaluation, graduate admissions,and other professional activities. Hoekema invokes his authority as Executive Director at the time of the policy’s adoption, and then interprets the policy in a way that ignores almost all of its content. He does the same thing in another comment: “A nondiscrimination policy concerning hiring does not explicitly address issues of retention…”. But the APA’s non-discrimination policy does explicitly address issues of retention. What the fuck? The policy is very simple. It lists a bunch of features that may not be the basis for certain types of decision, and then it lists a bunch of decisions for which the features may not be a basis. Hiring is one type of decision, but there are others. Understood straightforwardly and in good faith, even if Calvin complies with the policy with respect to hiring, it does not comply with respect to other applicable decision-types. There is a controversy in that thread about whether this evinces dishonesty or incomprehension, and Prof. Murphy has admonished us to be charitable, I don’t know which interpretation is the more charitable: either he’s a liar, or he cannot comprehend simple sentences, the drafting, debating, and adoption of which he claims to have presided over.
A final contortion (and I mentioned this earlier) occurs when Hoekema appeals to the general principle diversity is a strength, not a weakness, in defense of his schools discriminatory retention practices. Diversity is important, he says. It is important to have a wide range of types of academic institution. The fact that some schools fire people for having gay sex and others don’t strengthens the academic community as a whole. Hoekema does not believe that this principle applies on an intramural basis—on his view, Calvin College itself would be weakened by diversity and should not adopt a position of tolerance.
Ok. That was the last one. Unless somebody else gets me riled.
Update: this comment from Mark Lance is a must read. Thanks for sharing, Professor Lance.