Tom Hilton, chairman of the information systems department at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, thought it would be an appropriate use of his electronic mail technology to ask Women’s Studies major Crystal Kazik to reconsider the homosexual lifestyle she was trying to promote by hanging up posters announcing Eau Queer Film Festival. “I urge you to reconsider your plan,” he responded to Kazik’s email to a slew of faculty, requesting they hang up a festival poster. “Homosexual behavior damages its participants, their loved ones, and the communities that sanction it.” To be fair, Hilton did sign off the email with, “Your friend,” so that was nice.
“I decry attempts to legitimize (homosexuals’) addictions and compulsions,” Hilton also wrote in the Sept. 24 email. “These, our fellow humans, deserve our best efforts to help them recover their lives. We only hurt them further when we choose to pretend that these walking wounded are OK the way they are, that their present injuries are the best they can hope for in life.”
This week, Hilton was on an apology tour: “I feel really badly about what I said,” says Hilton, adding the email was “very badly” worded.
So will Hilton face any punishment? Chancellor Brian Levin-Stankevich says that while Hilton’s email “can neither educate nor contribute to dialogue or understanding,” it is an “administrative matter,” and any discipline will be a private matter. Moreover, Levin-Stankevich’s statement reads: “It is not the prerogative or the role of the administration to censor or prevent freedom of expression or to forbid the expression of ideas, however offensive they might be to others. It is our responsibility to address the appropriateness of the time and place of expression and whether the intent or result of the speech inhibits the educational process.”
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