October 13, 2005 in Opinion

Fear of offending instills bias on campus

Michelle S. Badger Special to The Spokesman-Review
 

One has only to open a newspaper, briefly surf the Web or attend an academic institution to realize that the cognitive beliefs, ideologies and cultural practices surrounding Christianity are being attacked by individuals and by judicial and academic institutions. These beliefs are within the realm of acceptable, normative behavior.

I find it interesting in a country where freedom of expression and speech are encouraged that the true meaning of diversity and tolerance is so misunderstood. This allows suppressive and biased behaviors to become pervasive.

On Oct. 4, University of Idaho President Timothy White announced the university’s new policies regarding the teachings of intelligent design and evolution. The National Center for Science Education, in a recent article titled “University of Idaho affirms evolution,” explained that the UI decision was made while one of the university’s faculty members was scheduled to testify in the Kitzmiller v. Dover case, “the first legal challenge to intelligent design in public schools.”

Living within a society which professes to teach tolerance and diversity, isn’t it sad to realize our societal priorities are regressing to the point where blind intolerance and bigotry are acceptable.

In academia the goal should be to provide a well-rounded, balanced and unbiased educational opportunity.

This is sadly not the case. In their efforts to not offend anyone, the academic world has become fraught with bias.

I am from a very scientific family, and I believe the theory of evolution should be taught. Let us remember, however, it is a “theory” which has not been unequivocally proved. Unfortunately, cognitive theories encompassing this subject are now excluded for they cannot be measured under the scientific method model.

There are forces within this country that are at odds with Christian beliefs, and through the imposition of humanistic teachings many individuals are left with the perception that organized religion is only for the fanatical and weak-minded.

According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, tolerance is a lack of opposition for beliefs or practices differing from one’s own. The word usage here is important to note and understand within its proper context.

Tolerance is a value when practiced with patience, understanding and integrity. It protects an individual’s human rights from being degraded and repressed.

Sadly, this value is being taught but not practiced. For example, if I or one of my associates were to wear a dainty cross on a necklace or possess a small photo representing a symbol of my faith on my desk I would face a great deal of opposition. I would most likely face a reprisal claiming I am offending someone with the visual symbols of my belief.

So, does “a lack of opposition,” mean we cannot disagree with an individual’s beliefs or cultural practices? No.

“Tolerance” however, cannot in reality be professed by entities who intend to repress the voice of the people.

Let us now explore the word “diversity.” In its correct context, according to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, diversity is, “involving different forms.” Note the definition of diversity is expressed as, “involving” and not “excluding.”

The following scenario may seem a bit far-fetched but is it really? I have been culturally trained to shower every day and wear deodorant. While attending college I have noticed many individuals do not abide this same cultural practice. I could raise my voice in protest saying, “this is offensive to me,” and petition the courts until laws are passed to prohibit an individual from attending class if they did not abide by my culturally based beliefs. Most would agree this paradigm would be absurd and exclusionary.

Then why in the name of diversity have a select few championed the battle-cry, “it is offensive to me,” as an effort to forward their agendas through exclusionary and suppressive means.

True support of tolerance and diversity necessitates the right of an individual to respectfully agree or disagree with another individual whose thoughts, ideas or beliefs, whether cognitive or scientific, differ from their own, and the freedom to practice, listen, and learn other viewpoints without the fear of repression and reprisal.

When one truly understands the meaning of tolerance and diversity the facades begin to slip away to reveal the baseness and selfishness involved when the intent is to suppress a viewpoint that differs from one’s own, and the ugly head of blind intolerance and bigotry are seen arising from the dust.


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