Sunday, May 01, 2005

To Censor or To Promote Intolerance?

All semester long I have been in a moral pickle. Early on the semester I had students blog about the biggest problem facing the world and then through the semester they would leave the ivory tower and work on fixing this problem and write about it in a blog. Most projects were fantastic, and this is a favorite part of my course. Students helped educate children, fought HIV and malaria, increased awareness about poverty and homelessness, and they wrote 1000 words per week over 15 weeks, which I hope improved their writing.

However, one student decided that the biggest problem facing the world is tolerance of homosexuality. I tried repeatedly to get him/her to think about Jesus' message of love, and about how Christians follow less than 1 percent of the laws in the Torah, and so it was not appropriate for him to pick a few verses and ignore the others as well as the context in which it was written. He/she stuck to his/her guns, and so now among all the great projects is a student who wrote 1000 words per week focused on how and why homosexuality is a sin that God can't tolerate. Most students kindly let the student know they disagreed, but one student in a comment said horrible things even encouraging physical harm to gay people. It is certainly a controversial issue. I am also aware that there is a perception that homophobia is more rampant among African American community in the US. I know that if a student had said that the biggest problem was interracial marriage, I would have stepped in and made them pick another topic. So in retrospect I probably should have stopped this early, but I very much like the idea of the course blog being a place free from censorship where students can be honest. Also I should add that I really like this individual student, and I think they have a great deal to offer the world. I also hope that the student becomes more tolerant as he/she matures.

You can see the course blog here, but I do not want to release the name of the student.

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