Welcome to the Nexus of Ethics, Psychology, Morality, Philosophy and Health Care

Welcome to the nexus of ethics, psychology, morality, technology, health care, and philosophy
Showing posts with label Free Speech. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Free Speech. Show all posts

Sunday, August 27, 2023

Ontario court rules against Jordan Peterson, upholds social media training order

Canadian Broadcasting Company
Originally posted 23 August 23

An Ontario court ruled against psychologist and media personality Jordan Peterson Wednesday, and upheld a regulatory body's order that he take social media training in the wake of complaints about his controversial online posts and statements.

Last November, Peterson, a professor emeritus with the University of Toronto psychology department who is also an author and media commentator, was ordered by the College of Psychologists of Ontario to undergo a coaching program on professionalism in public statements.

That followed numerous complaints to the governing body of Ontario psychologists, of which Peterson is a member, regarding his online commentary directed at politicians, a plus-sized model, and transgender actor Elliot Page, among other issues. You can read more about those social media posts here.

The college's complaints committee concluded his controversial public statements could amount to professional misconduct and ordered Peterson to pay for a media coaching program — noting failure to comply could mean the loss of his licence to practice psychology in the province.

Peterson filed for a judicial review, arguing his political commentary is not under the college's purview.

Three Ontario Divisional Court judges unanimously dismissed Peterson's application, ruling that the college's decision falls within its mandate to regulate the profession in the public interest and does not affect his freedom of expression.

"The order is not disciplinary and does not prevent Dr. Peterson from expressing himself on controversial topics; it has a minimal impact on his right to freedom of expression," the decision written by Justice Paul Schabas reads, in part.

My take:

Peterson has argued that the order violates his right to free speech. He has also said that the complaints against him were politically motivated. However, the court ruled that the college's order was justified in order to protect the public from harm.

The case of Jordan Peterson is a reminder that psychologists, like other human beings, are not infallible. They are capable of making mistakes and of expressing harmful views. It is important to hold psychologists accountable for their actions, and to ensure that they are held to the highest ethical standards.

In addition to the steps outlined above, there are a number of other things that can be done to mitigate bias in psychology. These include:
  • Increasing diversity in the field of psychology
  • Promoting critical thinking and self-reflection among psychologists
  • Developing more specific ethical guidelines for psychologists' use of social media
  • Holding psychologists accountable for their online behavior

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Are Illiberal Acts Unethical? APA’s Ethics Code and the Protection of Free Speech

O'Donohue, W., & Fisher, J. E. (2022). 
American Psychologist, 77(8), 875–886.


The American Psychological Association’s (APA’s) Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct (American Psychological Association, 2017b; hereinafter referred to as the Ethics Code) does not contain an enforceable standard regarding psychologists’ role in either honoring or protecting the free speech of others, or ensuring that their own free speech is protected, including an important corollary of free speech, the protection of academic freedom. Illiberal acts illegitimately restrict civil liberties. We argue that the ethics of illiberal acts have not been adequately scrutinized in the Ethics Code. Psychologists require free speech to properly enact their roles as scientists as well as professionals who wish to advocate for their clients and students to enhance social justice. This article delineates criteria for what ought to be included in the Ethics Code, argues that ethical issues regarding the protection of free speech rights meet these criteria, and proposes language to be added to the Ethics Code.

Impact Statement

Freedom of speech is a fundamental civil right and currently has come under threat. Psychologists can only perform their duties as scientists, educators, or practitioners if they are not censored or fear censorship. The American Psychological Association’s (APA’s) Ethics Code contains no enforceable ethical standard to protect freedom of speech for psychologists. This article examines the ethics of free speech and argues for amending the APA Ethics Code to more clearly delineate psychologists’ rights and duties regarding free speech. This article argues that such protection is an ethical matter and for specific language to be included in the Ethics Code.


Free speech is central not only within the political sphere but also for the proper functioning of scholars and educators. Unfortunately, the ethics of free speech are not properly explicated in the current version of the American Psychological Association’s Ethics Code and this is particularly concerning given data that indicate a waning appreciation and protection of free speech in a variety of contexts. This article argues for fulsome protection of free speech rights by the inclusion of a clear and well-articulated statement in the Ethics Code of the psychologist’s duties related to free speech. Psychologists are committed to social justice and there can be no social justice without free speech.

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

How to end cancel culture

Jennifer Stefano
Philadelphia Inquirer
Originally posted 25 JUL 22

Here is an excerpt:

Radical politics requires radical generosity toward those with whom we disagree — if we are to remain a free and civil society that does not descend into violence. Are we not a people defined by the willingness to spend our lives fighting against what another has said, but give our lives to defend her right to say it? Instead of being hypersensitive fragilistas, perhaps we could give that good old-fashioned American paradox a try again.

But how? Start by engaging in the democratic process by first defending people’s right to be awful. Then use that right to point out just how awful someone’s words or deeds are. Accept that you have freedom of speech, not freedom from offense. A free society best holds people accountable in the arena of ideas. When we trade debate for the dehumanizing act of cancellation, we head down a dangerous path — even if the person who would be canceled has behaved in a dehumanizing way toward others.

Canceling those with opinions most people deem morally wrong and socially unacceptable (racism, misogyny) leads to a permissiveness in simply labeling speech we do not like as those very things without any reason or recourse. Worse, cancel culture is creating a society where dissenting or unpopular opinions become a risk. Canceling isn’t about debate but dehumanizing.

Speech is free. The consequences are not. Actress Constance Wu attempted suicide after she was canceled in 2019 for publicly tweeting she didn’t love her job on a hit TV show. Her words harmed no one, but she was publicly excoriated for them. Private DMs from her fellow Asian actresses telling her she was a “blight” on the Asian American community made her believe she didn’t deserve to live. Wu didn’t lose her job for her words, but she nearly lost her life.

Cancel culture does more than make the sinner pay a penance. It offers none of the healing redemption necessary for a free and civil society. In America, we have always believed in second chances. It is the basis for the bipartisan work on issues like criminal justice reform. Our achievements here have been a bright spot.

We as a civil society want to give the formerly incarcerated a second chance. How about doing the same for each other?

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Facebook isn’t free speech, it’s algorithmic amplification optimized for outrage

Jon Evans
Originally published October 20, 2019

This week Mark Zuckerberg gave a speech in which he extolled “giving everyone a voice” and fighting “to uphold a wide a definition of freedom of expression as possible.” That sounds great, of course! Freedom of expression is a cornerstone, if not the cornerstone, of liberal democracy. Who could be opposed to that?

The problem is that Facebook doesn’t offer free speech; it offers free amplification. No one would much care about anything you posted to Facebook, no matter how false or hateful, if people had to navigate to your particular page to read your rantings, as in the very early days of the site.

But what people actually read on Facebook is what’s in their News Feed … and its contents, in turn, are determined not by giving everyone an equal voice, and not by a strict chronological timeline. What you read on Facebook is determined entirely by Facebook’s algorithm, which elides much — censors much, if you wrongly think the News Feed is free speech — and amplifies little.

What is amplified? Two forms of content. For native content, the algorithm optimizes for engagement. This in turn means people spend more time on Facebook, and therefore more time in the company of that other form of content which is amplified: paid advertising.

Of course this isn’t absolute. As Zuckerberg notes in his speech, Facebook works to stop things like hoaxes and medical misinformation from going viral, even if they’re otherwise anointed by the algorithm. But he has specifically decided that Facebook will not attempt to stop paid political misinformation from going viral.

The info is here.

Editor's note: Facebook is one of the most defective products that millions of Americans use everyday.

Friday, April 12, 2019

It’s Not Enough to Be Right—You Also Have to Be Kind

Ryan Holiday
Originally posted on March 20, 2019

Here is an excerpt:

Reason is easy. Being clever is easy. Humiliating someone in the wrong is easy too. But putting yourself in their shoes, kindly nudging them to where they need to be, understanding that they have emotional and irrational beliefs just like you have emotional and irrational beliefs—that’s all much harder. So is not writing off other people. So is spending time working on the plank in your own eye than the splinter in theirs. We know we wouldn’t respond to someone talking to us that way, but we seem to think it’s okay to do it to other people.

There is a great clip of Joe Rogan talking during the immigration crisis last year. He doesn’t make some fact-based argument about whether immigration is or isn’t a problem. He doesn’t attack anyone on either side of the issue. He just talks about what it feels like—to him—to hear a mother screaming for the child she’s been separated from. The clip has been seen millions of times now and undoubtedly has changed more minds than a government shutdown, than the squabbles and fights on CNN, than the endless op-eds and think-tank reports.

Rogan doesn’t even tell anyone what to think. (Though, ironically, the clip was abused by plenty of editors who tried to make it partisan). He just says that if you can’t relate to that mom and her pain, you’re not on the right team. That’s the right way to think about it.

The info is here.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Why Health Professionals Should Speak Out Against False Beliefs on the Internet

Joel T. Wu and Jennifer B. McCormick
AMA J Ethics. 2018;20(11):E1052-1058.
doi: 10.1001/amajethics.2018.1052.


Broad dissemination and consumption of false or misleading health information, amplified by the internet, poses risks to public health and problems for both the health care enterprise and the government. In this article, we review government power for, and constitutional limits on, regulating health-related speech, particularly on the internet. We suggest that government regulation can only partially address false or misleading health information dissemination. Drawing on the American Medical Association’s Code of Medical Ethics, we argue that health care professionals have responsibilities to convey truthful information to patients, peers, and communities. Finally, we suggest that all health care professionals have essential roles in helping patients and fellow citizens obtain reliable, evidence-based health information.

Here is an excerpt:

We would suggest that health care professionals have an ethical obligation to correct false or misleading health information, share truthful health information, and direct people to reliable sources of health information within their communities and spheres of influence. After all, health and well-being are values shared by almost everyone. Principle V of the AMA Principles of Ethics states: “A physician shall continue to study, apply, and advance scientific knowledge, maintain a commitment to medical education, make relevant information available to patients, colleagues, and the public, obtain consultation, and use the talents of other health professionals when indicated” (italics added). And Principle VII states: “A physician shall recognize a responsibility to participate in activities contributing to the improvement of the community and the betterment of public health” (italics added). Taken together, these principles articulate an ethical obligation to make relevant information available to the public to improve community and public health. In the modern information age, wherein the unconstrained and largely unregulated proliferation of false health information is enabled by the internet and medical knowledge is no longer privileged, these 2 principles have a special weight and relevance.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

On ethics, Trump is leading America in the wrong direction

Jeffrey D. Sachs
Originally published July 26, 2017

Here is an excerpt:

So here we are. Bribes are no longer bribes, campaign funds from corporations are free speech, and the politicians are just being good public servants when they accept money from those who seek their favor. Crooked politicians are thrilled; the rest of us look on shocked at the pageantry of cynicism and immorality. Senior officials in law-abiding countries have told me they can hardly believe their eyes as to what is underway in the United States.

Which brings us to Donald Trump. Trump seems to know no limits whatsoever in his commingling of the public interest and his personal business interests. He failed to give up his ownership interest in his businesses upon taking office. (Trump resigned from positions in his companies and said his two sons are in charge.)

Government and Republican Party activities have been booked into Trump properties. Trump campaign funds are used to hire lawyers to defend Donald Trump Jr. in the Russia probe. Campaign associates such as Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn have been under scrutiny for their business dealings with clients tied to foreign governments.

In response to the stench, the former head of the government ethics office recently resigned, declaring that the United States is "pretty close to a laughingstock at this point." The resignation was not remarkable under the circumstances. What was remarkable is that most Republicans politicians remain mum to these abuses. Of course too many politicians of both parties are deeply compromised by financial dependence on corporate campaign donors.

The article is here.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Israeli education minister's ethics code would bar professors from expressing political opinions

Yarden Skop
Originally posted June 10, 2017

An ethics code devised at Education Minister Naftali Bennett's behest would bar professors from expressing political opinions, it emerged Friday.

The code, put together by Asa Kasher, an ethics and philosophy professor at Tel Aviv University, would also forbid staff from calling for an academic boycott of Israel.

Bennett had asked Kasher a few months ago to write a set of rules for appropriate political conduct at academic institutions. Kasher had written the Israel Defense Forces' ethics code.
The contents of the document, which were first reported by the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper on Friday, will soon be submitted for the approval of the Council for Higher Education.

The article is here.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Physicians, Firearms, and Free Speech

Wendy E. Parmet, Jason A. Smith, and Matthew Miller
N Engl J Med 2017; 376:1901-1903
May 18, 2017

Here is an excerpt:

The majority’s well-reasoned decision, in fact, does just that. By relying on heightened rather than strict scrutiny, the majority affirmed that laws regulating physician speech must be designed to enhance rather than harm patient safety. The majority took this mandate seriously and required the state to show some meaningful evidence that the regulation was apt to serve the state’s interest in protecting patients.

The state could not do so for two reasons. First, the decision to keep a gun in the home substantially increases the risk of death for all household members, especially the risk of death by suicide, and particularly so when guns are stored loaded and unlocked, as they are in millions of homes where children live.  Second, the majority of U.S. adults who live in homes with guns are unaware of the heightened risk posed by bringing guns into a home.  Indeed, by providing accurate information about the risks created by easy access to firearms, as well as ways to modify that risk (e.g., by storing guns unloaded and locked up, separate from ammunition), a physician’s counseling can not only enhance a patient’s capacity for self-determination, but also save lives.

Given the right to provide such counsel, professional norms recognize the responsibility to do so. Fulfilling this obligation, however, may not be easy, since the chief impediments to doing so — and to doing so effectively — are not and never have been legal barriers. Indeed, the court’s welcome ruling does not ensure that most clinicians will honor this hard-won victory by exercising their First Amendment rights.

The article is here.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Freedom of patient-physician conversations hinges on court case

AMA Wire
Originally posted May 16, 2016

A federal court will be hearing a case about the constitutionality of a state law that represses free discussion between physicians and patients regarding health and safety issues.

In a friend-of-the-court brief filed April 26, the AMA and eight other medical societies urged the Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit to overturn a Florida law that restricts physicians from discussing firearm safety with patients and their families.

The brief argues that the Firearm Owners’ Privacy Act is unconstitutional and intrudes on the practice of medicine. The law will inevitably affect other aspects of patient care, the brief says.

The press release is here.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Off-label Promotions: Pharma Wants More Freedom to Pitch Durgs

By Ed Silverman
Stat News
Originally published February 29, 2016

Drug makers have long argued that the Food and Drug Administration is squelching their free speech rights by barring off-label promotion of their medicines. A new proposal may give them a voice.

This month, a think tank at Duke University called for a new independent entity to review claims and recommend exactly what off-label information drug and device makers should be allowed to share with doctors.

Companies say current regulations prevent them from distributing important data to physicians about unapproved, off-label uses of their medicines. The FDA worries public health can be compromised if marketing claims aren’t backed up by solid evidence. A neutral third party, the authors of the white paper say, could provide much-needed arbitration.

The article is here.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Informed Consent and the First Amendment

Wendy K. Mariner, and George J. Annas
N Engl J Med 2015; 372:1285-1287
April 2, 2015
DOI: 10.1056/NEJMp1501190

Here is an excerpt:

Medical services are analogous to commercial practices for purposes of the First Amendment. The government has an interest in regulating medical practice to ensure safe and effective care. It also has an interest in ensuring that patients have enough accurate information to make voluntary, informed treatment decisions. Hence, it is the physician's duty under the doctrine of informed consent to provide material information about the benefits and risks of both the recommended treatment and its alternatives. However, the First Amendment prohibits the government from compelling people to make false or misleading statements or to express the government's point of view as their own.

Relying on the 1992 Supreme Court decision, North Carolina contended that the required fetal sonogram descriptions are merely statements of fact. The Fourth Circuit, however, found that North Carolina's display provision represented “quintessential compelled speech,” calling the required description “ideological; it conveys a particular opinion.” The court, finding that the “state's avowed intent and the anticipated effect” were to discourage abortion, said that the provision compelled physicians to serve as a mouthpiece for the state's point of view.

The entire article is here.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Texas Bill Would Bar Pediatricians From Talking About Guns with Patients

By David Knowles
Bloomberg News
Originally posted March 26, 2015

Here is an excerpt:

“We, as physicians, ask all sorts of questions—about bike helmets and seat belts and swimming pool hazards, dangerous chemicals in the home, sexual behaviors, domestic violence. I could go on and on,” Gary Floyd, a Fort Worth pediatrician and board member of the Texas Medical Association, told the Texas Tribune.

The entire article is here.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

When Do Doctors Have the Right to Speak?

Room for Debate
The New York Times
Updated August 22, 2014

Here are two great questions to debate in any ethics class, from the New York Times.

Two federal appellate court decisions, one allowing Florida to prevent doctors from discussing gun safety with patients, the other letting California ban “gay-conversion” therapy, raise questions about health professionals’ First Amendment rights.

Do occupational-licensing laws trump the First Amendment? What limits, if any, does the First Amendment impose on government’s ability to restrict advice?

Here is one response:

As a physician, it is important to remember the guiding principle of medicine: "first, do no harm." Barring physicians from discussing whether or not lethal weapons exist in the home is wrong. It is well understood that the simple presence of a firearm in the home is associated with a greater risk of bodily harm - either to oneself or any children in the home. Asking about weapons is a usual (standard and accepted) practice as part of the screening assessment for depression; since those with easy access to a firearm and who have suicidal thoughts are significantly more likely to harm themselves. Here, the physician's role is simple: protect human life. Contrast this to the ban on "gay-conversion," therapy, which has been scientifically proven to have more harm than benefit to the individual. In both cases, the tenet being upheld here is to "first, do no harm." It is tragically ironic that those who are often supporting both of these causes are one usually crying to "get the government out of my healthcare," yet they seem perfectly willing to impede the practice of good medicine when it is politically expedient. I can only hope that those supporting the "opposite" views from those expressed here will have a caring physician him/herself that will ignore these political debates in order to provide care that is in the best interest of the patient.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Suit Could Determine Protections for Police Department Whistle-Blowers

The New York Times
Published: October 13, 2013

When Officer Craig Matthews complained to his precinct commander about a quota system that he believed was resulting in illegal street stops and arrests, it did not take long, he said, for him to see a response: he was given undesirable assignments, a mediocre performance review and the cold shoulder from his immediate supervisors.

So Officer Matthews filed a federal lawsuit, seeking protection from retaliation by invoking the First Amendment — a standard strategy for whistle-blowers who believe they have been punished for coming forward.

But because Officer Matthews, 40, is with the New York Police Department, his rights are less assured.

The city has taken the position that because officers are expected to report misconduct, those who come forward as whistle-blowers are simply fulfilling their duty established by the patrol guide, a voluminous book of police procedures.

The entire story is here.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Sherman and Rowes: Psychological Warfare (Licensed) in Kentucky

The Wall Street Journal
Originally published July 16, 2013

Was Dear Abby a career criminal? Can "The Dr. Oz Show" show be censored? Absolutely—at least according to the Kentucky attorney general and the state's Board of Examiners of Psychology, which just banned one of the most popular advice columns in the United States from all of Kentucky's newspapers.

This act of censorship has forced a showdown in federal court over one of the most important unanswered questions in First Amendment law: Can occupational-licensing laws—which require the government's permission to work—trump free speech? Some government licensing boards, which function increasingly as censors, certainly think the answer is yes.

The entire story is here.

Thanks to Don McAleer for this story.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

UNC-Chapel Hill drops honor court case against student

By Phil Gast
Originally posted June 7, 2013

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has dropped honor-court proceedings against a student who said the school retaliated against her for a sexual assault allegation.

In an e-mail to faculty and students on Thursday, Chancellor Holden Thorp said an outside review indicated no evidence of retaliation against Landen Gambill, who accused her ex-boyfriend of rape.

Gambill is one of several students who sparked a Department of Education investigation into how the university handles sex assault cases.

Thorp said a section of the honor code pertaining to "disruptive or intimidating behavior" would be suspended pending further review.

"This action is not a challenge to the important role of students in our Honor System, but is intended to protect the free speech rights of our students," the chancellor said in his e-mail. Thorp said the "important issue" will receive further discussion.

Gambill's attorney, Henry Clay Turner, had written a letter to Thorp, saying his client believed the university was retaliating against her because it let the student-run honor court charge her with intimidating her former boyfriend.

Gambill did not file a sexual assault report with police, and her former boyfriend -- who has not been identified publicly -- denied her accusation, according to his attorney.

The entire story is here.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Slaying the Messenger?

By Allie Grasgreen
Inside Higher Ed
Originally published February 26, 2013

Landen Gambill took an unusual step after she was sexually assaulted.

She reported it.

Unusual why? Because the vast majority of rapes go unreported.

But now Gambill is the one on trial. The student-run Honor Court at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill informed her last week that it’s charging her with violation of the Honor Code under a statute prohibiting “Disruptive or intimidating behavior that willfully abuses, disparages, or otherwise interferes with another….  so as to adversely affect their academic pursuits, opportunities for university employment, participation in university-sponsored extracurricular activities, or opportunities to benefit from other aspects of University Life.”

In other words, as the court told Gambill, she could get expelled for saying she was raped.

The entire article is here.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

High court rules online posts didn't defame doctor

The closely watched case tested the boundaries of First Amendment rights vs. reputation.

Star Tribune
Originally posted January 30, 2013

Dennis Laurion fired off his screed on a few rate-your-doctor websites in April 2010, along with some letters about what he saw as poor bedside manner by his father's neurologist. He expected at most what he calls a "non-apology apology."

"I really thought I'd receive something within a few days along the lines of 'I'm sorry you thought I was rude, that was not my intent' and that would be the end of it," the 66-year-old Duluth retiree said. "I certainly did not expect to be sued."

He was. Dr. David McKee's defamation lawsuit was the beginning of a four-year legal battle that ended Wednesday when the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled the doctor had no legal claim against Laurion because there was no proof that his comments were false or were capable of harming the doctor's reputation.

The unanimous ruling reverses an earlier Appeals Court decision and brings to an end the closely watched case that brought to the forefront a First Amendment debate over the limits of free speech online.

It's a frustrating end for McKee, 51, who said he's spent at least $50,000 in legal fees and another $11,000 to clear his name online after the story went viral, resulting in hundreds more negative postings about him -- likely from people who never met him. He hasn't ruled out a second lawsuit stemming from those posts.

"The financial costs are significant, but money is money and five years from now I won't notice the money I spent on this," he said. "It's been the harm to my reputation through the repeated publicity and the stress."

He said he offered to settle the case at no cost after the Supreme Court hearing. Laurion contends they couldn't agree on the terms of the settlement, and said he not only deleted his initial postings after he was initially served, but had nothing to do with subsequent online statements about McKee.

Opinion vs. reputation

The lawsuit followed the hospitalization of Laurion's father, Kenneth, for a hemorrhagic stroke at St. Luke's Hospital in Duluth. Laurion, his mother and his wife were also in the room when McKee examined the father and made the statements that Laurion interpreted as rude.

After his father was discharged, he wrote the reviews and sent the letters.

On at least two sites, Laurion wrote that McKee said that "44 percent of hemorrhagic strokes die within 30 days. I guess this is the better option," and that "It doesn't matter that the patient's gown did not cover his backside."

Laurion also wrote: "When I mentioned Dr. McKee's name to a friend who is a nurse, she said, 'Dr. McKee is a real tool!'"

McKee sued after he learned of the postings from another patient. A St. Louis County judge dismissed the lawsuit, saying Laurion's statements were either protected opinion, substantially true or too vague to convey a defamatory meaning. The Appeals Court reversed that ruling regarding six of Laurion's statements, reasoning that they were factual assertions and not opinions, that they harmed McKee's reputation and that they could be proven as false.

The Supreme Court disagreed. Writing the opinion, Justice Alan Page noted that McKee acknowledged that the gist of some of the statements were true, even if they were misinterpreted.

Page added that the "tool" statements also didn't pass the test of defaming McKee's character. He dismissed an argument by McKee's attorney, Marshall Tanick, that the "tool" comment was fabricated by Laurion and that the nurse never existed.

Whether it was fabricated or not was irrelevant, the court ruled.

"Referring to someone as 'a real tool' falls into the category of pure opinion because the term 'real tool' cannot be reasonably interpreted as stating a fact and it cannot be proven true or false," Page wrote.

The entire story is here.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Court Upholds Firing of College Official Over Op-Ed Against Gay Rights

By Peter Schmidt
The Chronicle of Higher Education
Originally published December 17, 2012

A federal appeals court has upheld the University of Toledo's decision to fire a high-level human-resources administrator who wrote a newspaper opinion column challenging the idea that gay people deserve the same civil-rights protections as members of racial minority groups.

In a ruling handed down on Monday, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit held that the administrator's column "contradicted the very policies she was charged with creating, promoting, and enforcing," and cannot be excused as merely a statement of her own views as a private citizen. The panel affirmed a lower court's decision to dismiss the administrator's lawsuit accusing the public university of violating her constitutional rights by firing her.

At the center of the case was an opinion essay that Crystal Dixon, who had been the university's interim associate vice president for human resources, published in the Toledo Free Press in April 2008. In it, she wrote that she takes "great umbrage at the notion that those choosing the homosexual lifestyle are 'civil-rights victims.'" She argued that she "cannot wake up tomorrow and not be a black woman" because she is biologically and genetically such "as my creator intended." But, she said, "daily, thousands of homosexuals make a life decision to leave the gay lifestyle" with the help of groups such as Exodus International, which claim to be able to help people overcome homosexual desires.

The entire article is here.