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October 21, 2005 [feather]
English professor wishes ugly death for conservatives

Here's what Harry White, an English professor at Northeastern Illinois University, had to say when two local members of H.O.M.E. (Heterosexuals Organized for a Moral Environment) came to campus to pass out literature promoting their anti-homosexual views:

O.K. H.O.M.E. Boys. If you know so much about sex and morality, can you tell us ignorant sinners what sexual offense is found in the Bible to be worse than all others?

A few hints: It is a capital offense punishable by death. It is so offensive that it makes up 20% of the Ten Commandments. And here's the big surprise, boys. It is not, I repeat, not homosexuality. Give up? It's violating the marriage contract: 'Thou shalt not commit adultery. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife.' Exodus does not warn us to 'not covet thy neighbor's well-hung son.' It says 'wife.' It's the kind of thing heterosexuals shouldn't do. Of course the Tenth Commandment also tell [sic] us not to covet thy neighbor's 'ass.' And I know this will come as a big disappointment, but the reference is to the donkey....

As for the New Testament: Jesus Christ (remember him?}, he said all sins are forgiven. What a wimp! You certainly wouldn't want someone like that to be a member of H.O.M.E. And by the way, there is no passage where Jesus adds, 'All sins are forgiven, except for homosexuality.' And guys, why didn't he ever marry? Or St. Paul for that matter. Could it be ...? Who knows? Who cares?...

Of course we do know, 'cause the Good Book tells us so, that David (remember him, the king from whose loins the Messiah is supposed to be descended), apparently utilized his God-given loins in more ways than one. For the Bible tells us, David loved Jonathon with a love surpassing that of a woman. Have you ever seen Michelangelo's statue of David? If David looked anything like that, Jonathon probably had a surpassingly great time being loved by the king-to-be. And you do know about Michelangelo, whom the Pope told, 'Go paint me a ceiling,' well, he was a Christian, a painter, and a you-know-what.

How 'bout: 'Down with David, Jesus, Queers and the Sistine Chapel?'

One of the consequences of politically correct speech is that hate groups like H.O.M.E. are allowed on campus (which they shouldn't be!) because they offer 'polite' information as a way of making their hateful agenda appear respectable....

There has to be something more appropriate that we, as members of the Northeastern community, can say in response to H.O.M.E.'s message. Let me offer these words which I believe to be more to the point. What H.O.M.E. says is [expletive]!

And they should all go **** themselves--and I hope it hurts when they do and that they catch a disease and puke all over themselves and die, horribly, somewhere near Clark and Diversey [in Chicago] where four off-duty male nurses, all clad in black leather, remove their bodies to a nearby hospital where they are cleansed, disinfected, dressed in women's clothing and dumped into a sewer

White published his sentiments in the campus newspaper.

I don't support H.O.M.E.'s views by a long shot. But I do support the group's right to peacefully promote its views, which it has the right to do on the campuses of public colleges and universities. White also has a right to express his views. But he seems not to realize that in using the student paper to express his views in such a nasty and vituperative way, he discredits himself, his colleagues, and his school. He has not modelled reasoned discourse or rational dissent, but has instead exemplified the very sorts of unthinking intolerance he thinks he is fighting.

posted on October 21, 2005 10:32 AM


Pretty good writer. He's a jerk, but give the -- what, would-be censor? -- his due, he does write well.

Actually, the screed is acceptable down to the last two paragraphs, and really if the second to last paragraph ended with something like "nonsense" instead of an expletive, only the last paragraph would be over the top. But he destroys any sympathy with that last paragraph.

I must say I am mystified by this:

One of the consequences of politically correct speech is that hate groups like H.O.M.E. are allowed on campus (which they shouldn't be!) because they offer 'polite' information as a way of making their hateful agenda appear respectable....

Anti-homosexual speech is politically correct? What world does this guy live in?

Posted by: Tom O'Bedlam at October 21, 2005 11:05 AM

He seems to be a bit arithmetic-challenged. One commandment of ten apparently makes up 20% of the total, according to him.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at October 21, 2005 2:44 PM

He cites two commandments that violate the marriage contract: no adultery and no coveting of thy neighbor's wife. That's 20%.

I'll even accept his statement with the expletive of the second-to-last paragraph thrown in. But that last paragraph doesn't even seem to fit. I mean, really, it doesn't even read like it was written by the same person.

In any case, without the last paragraph I don't think he's stepped over the line. We're all allowed to be outraged about such things, even as professors. I'm starting to resent the implication that our job descriptions require us to be automatons, devoid of any emotion in public or the ability to make mistakes (like White does in his last paragraph).

I wonder what that school newspaper was thinking.

Posted by: Jessica at October 21, 2005 3:01 PM

I think that part of the problem is that if he had made the mistake of being on the side of these H.O.M.E. people rather than against them, he'd likely be in front of some sort of adjudicating committee by now.

Universities and the professoriate only seem to fight for a professor's (or student's) right to express an opinion when that opinion is the "correct" one. This is troubling.

Posted by: Winston Smith at October 21, 2005 3:21 PM

I'm not sure I agree with his theological reasoning, anyway. (Something forbidden in the ten commandments is necessarily "worse" than something forbidden elsewhere and punished more severely?)

But I'm missing whom the pro-adultery faction is supposed to be. These H.O.M.E. folks don't seem to be endorsing it, so it's not clear how White is sticking it to them with his riposte.

Posted by: JSinger at October 21, 2005 4:17 PM

I don't support H.O.M.E.'s views either, but this professor is an idiot and a hothead to boot. The letter sounds like it was written by the same maniac from start to finish.

Posted by: Oh, Really? at October 21, 2005 4:20 PM

He absolutely has the right to be outraged. The great thing about free speech is that it applies to everyone, and you're perfectly free, if not morally obliged, to disagree vehemently with someone who is likewise exercising his right.

The problem isn't even the last paragraph, although it's simply tasteless and actually weakens his overall argument with its vituperative hysteria. (I found myself agreeing with him for the first four paragraphs.) The problem comes when he suggests that H.O.M.E. shouldn't be allowed on campus. As someone in the post below said, "free speech for me, but not for thee."

Posted by: S.R. at October 21, 2005 4:29 PM

I'm not even offended by his last paragraph. He is stating his fantasy, which I may hope for all eternity does not come true, but it's his fantasy. The paragraph is vituperative, and it does weaken his argument, but if he wants to show his true nature in this way so be it.

Why is it groups like PETA can assault physically in the name of "right" (or somesuch) but this individual cannot state his beliefs in a student newspaper. They're his beliefs, not ours.

Posted by: Tess at October 21, 2005 6:31 PM

Who said he can't state his beliefs? The issue is, does he show what an ass he is? Yes, he does. The only one calling for others' beliefs to be quashed is the professor his own bad self. By the way, isn't there something truly homophobic about his little fantasy?

Posted by: OR at October 21, 2005 7:26 PM

Tess, I don't think anybody here has ever defended assaults by PETA. And nobody here has said that White cannot state his beliefs in the newspaper, or even that he should not. I'm seeing disagreement with the beliefs he stated, which hopefully is allowed, still.

I'm amused by his outrage at the "hate" that he perceives in H.O.M.E.'s publications, but he doesn't see the hate he himself feels for the people involved in H.O.M.E.; or if he does see it, he rationalizes that it's OK. People are funny.

Posted by: Laura at October 21, 2005 7:27 PM

Interesting. Someone with the same name and who teaches at the same university published a book against censorship. Wonder if it's the same guy.

Anyway, he has a flair for words, but I wouldn't say he's a good writer. As Erin implied, he's not engaging HOME's arguments,, at least as far as I understand what he's saying,. And you have to engage your opponent's arguments to be a good writer,. This guy is just throwing a tantrum, so maybe it isn't the same guy who wrote the book.

Posted by: Allan at October 22, 2005 2:54 AM

Even if profs have the right to be outraged and to express their outrage, the question is why is he so outraged about what HOME is doing.?

Maybe it's nice that he feels the environment is so welcoming that he can put a fantasy of such graphic detail in a campus newspaper, but as for me, I could get along without it.

As for my hopes, I hope he becomes a little less self-indulgent.

Posted by: Allan at October 22, 2005 3:44 AM

The broader question seems to me to be: Why do so many professors devote so much of their effort to policial matters? I don't know about this specific case, but my perception is that there many humanities and social sciences profs spend a fairly high % of their work time on current political issues.

It's not obvious to me that an English professor should be spending any more work time on current politics than a professor of Electrical Engineering.

Posted by: David Foster at October 22, 2005 11:46 AM

He had me agreeing and nodding until the last two paragraphs. You can look up the references in a Bible and use them against people like H.O.M.E., who are usually adept at convenient verse selection. So why not turn it on them? However, like others have commented here before, it seems to the professor that freedom of speech is ok for him and his cronies, but not for anyone else. I certainly do not approve or support what H.O.M.E. stands for, but in free society, it is their right to say it. It is the professor's right to speak his mind as well. It is just too bad he had to stoop low to do so.

Posted by: Angel at October 22, 2005 1:01 PM

And by the way, there is no passage where Jesus adds, 'All sins are forgiven, except for homosexuality

With that said, is homosexuality a sin? I mean, according to what is stated above, you yourself may think it a sin,if not, then perhaps morally incorrect?

Posted by: Tony at October 24, 2005 2:08 PM

What bothers me most - outside of the last paragraph, which is just in poor taste - is the fact that this screed is typical of what political debate has become in this nation. It is no longer (if it ever was) "I disagree with your point for reasons A, B, and C, which I will now present in a calm and reasonable manner." No, instead, it's full of insinuations, ad hominem attacks, and ends with wishing death (granted, in a physically impossible and ridiculously overblown manner) on one's opponent.

In my more depressive moods I take this as evidence that we will be engaged in a "hot" civil war (as opposed to the current, "cold" one) within a couple of decades. (I just hope I am an early casualty, if such a thing does happen).

There are lots of folks on my campus I disagree with. I generally take the position of "Even if I find what you have to say personally repulsive, if you are not advocating violent overthrow of the state or direct murder of certain individuals, I accept your right to say it." (Of course, I'm still permitted to think "Hush up before you hurt yourself" in the direction of people who are expostulating grandiosely in faculty meetings).

As for the percentage of time devoted to politicking - I'm in the sciences, and I have no time for promoting my personal political views, even were I interested in such a thing. I don't know if it's because we're worked harder here, or if having a research program actually drains away any desire to jump up on a metaphorical soapbox, but there you are.

And Tony: from my study of the Bible and consultation with learned people, I guess the best answer I can give is, "It's unclear." In some places (especially Paul's letters) it seems to be set up as a sin (but then again, Paul - or someone writing for Paul - denouced women teaching and preaching) but there never is a direct statement about it, at least in the New Testament. (And some have said the comments about it were either more to set the Jews apart from other groups where it was more openly practiced, or that it was an observation that in a world where women were basically nothing, if there "weren't enough husbands to go around" there would be women starving, or in a people who were always small and few, breeding was at a premium...) Whatever. I have to admit I don't much care what two adults do in the bedroom, as long as I don't have to listen to it at the time, or listen to their discussion of it afterwards...

Posted by: ricki at October 25, 2005 2:16 PM

ricki...What I notice is that much, perhaps most, political 'communication' these days does not seem to have *changing someone's mind* as its objective. So what's the point of it? Just the expression of anger and the reinforcement of identity?

"Cold civil war" isn't a bad description for what's going on. I keep thinking of Leonard Cohen's lines:

I know you'e heard it's over now
And war must surely come
The cities they are broke in half
And the middle men are gone
But let me ask you one more time
Oh children of the dust
All these hunters who are shrieking now
Do they speak for us?

Posted by: David Foster at October 25, 2005 5:45 PM


"most, political 'communication' these days does not seem to have *changing someone's mind* as its objective. So what's the point of it? Just the expression of anger and the reinforcement of identity?"

Exactly. Right on, man. Or perhaps the objective is to make one's perceived "enemy" look ridiculous in the hope they will slink away with their metaphorical tail between their legs and you will have scored some sort of Pyrrhic moral victory.

I don't know. It just makes me sad. Anger can be a powerful motivator - a form of energy - when there is some kind of injustice or some kind of situation that I, as an individual, can fix. But now it seems there's just so much "free floating" anger that's not used for anything other than to try to tar and feather one's opponents.

Posted by: ricki at October 26, 2005 11:19 AM

ricki...also...when are you going to start a blog?

Posted by: David Foster at October 26, 2005 12:02 PM

ricki, go ahead and start one. I just did, day before yesterday. I don't know who will read it, besides me, but it was a strangely exhilarating experience.

Posted by: Laura at October 26, 2005 12:51 PM

His theology is not connected in any way to any serious study of the Bible, but rather a narrow few passages and out of context stretches that homosexual groups use to make themselves feel like they can go to the Bible's heaven.

Jesus did not say all sins are forgiven. He bore the penalty for our sin, but does not give us permission to continue sinning. And homosexuality is clearly and multiple times defined as a sin, in both Old and New Testaments (Leviticus, Romans, Galatians).

And it does not say in the Bible that David loved Jonathan more than like a woman. It says they had a bond between them that was stronger than between a man and his wife. To take sexual implications out of that is absolutely sick minded. They were two men who would die for each other, friends no matter what.

I don't agree with H.O.M.E., and I have no idea what they teach. I do think, however, that this professor would protect the right of anybody to demean, insult and incite hate against Christians as a group, and is therefore the biggest hypocrite of them all.

Posted by: Jon at October 28, 2005 4:47 PM