Mark Elrod, a political science professor at Harding University (my Alma mater), has had a very popular weblog for several years where he, his colleagues, alumni, and other interested parties could discuss issues of the day.
Elrod has always been a Democrat, which puts him decidedly to the left of most of the Harding community. No big deal, right? Academia is big enough to handle dissenting views, isn’t it? Well…
“I’ve come to the realization that I have over-estimated the capacity of both my academic (Harding University) and my religious (Church of Christ) community to deal with critical thinking or dissent in a public forum. In the last few weeks, I’ve grown tired with dealing with members of both communities who seem to view the world in black and white terms and think of all discussions as zero-sum games.”
This from his post announcing why he is making his blog private. Kind of makes a mockery of Harding’s pretensions of academic excellence and freedom, right?
Let’s clarify that despite his controversial political and social views, Elrod is a believer. Not once has he denied the existence of God, the divinity of Christ, or the authority of scripture. He deserves to be treated like a brother. Yet far too many of his readers, presumably Christians, have gone running like schoolyard sissies to the HU administration because big bad Elrod said something they didn’t like. Boo-friggin’-hoo.
I didn’t always agree with him; but I enjoyed his Political Science class as an undergrad for the same reason I enjoyed his blog; he made me think. You know, like good teaching and writing is supposed to do?
Sad stuff. This is yet another reason why HU won’t ever get dime one from me.
Elrod has posted a clarification of the matter on his blog.
I want to make it clear why I’m making the switch from writing a public blog to a private blog.
I’ve been fielding questions all day about this and I think it may be better to deal with it wholesale rather than retail.
For the record, I was not “pressured” by anybody to change my blog from “public” to “private” status.
I made this decision on my own as the result of the general frustration I have with members of our fellowship who want to make a spiritual judgment about me based on my political views.
One of those views is my public support for Barack Obama for president.
In the last few days, much of that angst has been directed toward my employer and, as a result, toward me as well.
Because of this, I have decided that I would much rather have a private conversation about things that are important to me rather than a public conversation that leads to additional complaints about me to the Harding University administration.
I suspect that this arrangement is going to be beneficial to all of the parties involved.
So he is sick of people gunning for him and questioning his convictions simply because he supports Obama for president. Well, he is still within his rights. I know from experience (admittedly, on a much smaller scale) that it can be very hurtful when people question your character, integrity, and very commitment to the faith just because you have an unpopular opinion on a peripheral matter.
Regardless, Elrod says the school didn’t bust his chops and my respect for him dictates that I take him at his word. So be it. I was wrong, at least on that point. Look for me to eat a little crow in my next post.