I have long been a fan of the entertaining, inspirational, and invaluable "Real Men of Genius" ad campaign (my favorites include "Mr. Excited About Storms Weatherman" and "Mr. Portable Toilet Cleaner Outer"), and it's high time we bring it to the world of academia. Conservative academics who are willing to stick their necks above the foxhole and articulate a clear and coherent Christian perspective are so rare and wondrous, they must be honored.
And so, we launch the Real Men of Genius: Academic Edition with Mr. Defending Marriage and State Law Man, Professor Todd Hartch of Eastern Kentucky University. This is obviously a light-hearted post, but I do want you to read Professor Hartch's story. It's the story of a professor who decided to speak up in defense of marriage and in defense of Kentucky law defining marriage and now is encouraging others to make their voices heard, even at great cost. Please, read his entire essay, but here's a taste:
Holding our tongues might have allowed us to advance professionally but it has contributed to the near death of the American campus. Yes, progressives bear much of the blame for the stultifying sameness of contemporary academia, but we let them do what they wanted. It’s time to speak up. It is time to make a public case for truth, for human dignity, for academic standards, and for the joy of learning. I guarantee that students will not be bored when they see us defending the truth. (I should point out that speaking up is not a synonym for being rude.)
We need to go into this process knowing that the risks are real. We probably will be condemned by our colleagues, our students, and our administrations. I doubt that I’ll ever get used to hearing the kind of words I related at the beginning of this article or to reading that much of the Psychology Department believes that my ideas reflect the kind of obscurantism that one might find in theocratic Iran. Still, this experience of being criticized publicly is not as negative an experience as some might believe because it is balanced by the support one receives from those who were waiting for someone to speak up. In fact, it is through bold public discourse that we can best find our friends and allies.
Much more seriously, we risk our jobs. There’s not much that can be said to minimize this threat, but I can propose that if universities make it a common practice to fire their vocally conservative professors, it will publicize our arguments more than anything we could do on our own.
The essay is wonderful. Print it. Read it. Hold it. Put it to music and sing it to your friends.
So, here's to you, Mr. Defending Marriage and State Law Man. You join Mr. Teaching Catholicism in Catholicism Class, Ms. Teaching Biology in Biology Class, and Mr. Secretly Investigated for Transphobia Man as Real Men (and Women) of Academic Genius.
After nearly 10 years of courageous action, Barronelle and her husband Darold have finally decided to put their legal battle to rest.