A professor at Texas A&M University posted several vicious anti-Catholic comments on social media, and apparently was going to get away with it. Bill Donohue wrote to the school’s president, Michael K. Young, on September 14 asking for sanctions.
Some of the remarks posted by the professor, Filipe Castro, were new; others were from a few years ago. To read a sample of what he said, see pp. 4-6. Notice that his invective includes physical threats.
Castro is a tenured full professor of anthropology, and as such is afforded maximum free speech protection. Donohue told President Young that he was a tenured full professor of sociology, and that while Castro “is entitled to academic freedom, no freedom is boundless.” He then made clear what is at stake.
“When a professor intentionally insults people of faith, in this instance Catholics, it cannot seriously be maintained that he is engaged in rational discourse. Indeed, some of what he [Castro] said is so serious, he could easily be sued.” Donohue took special offense to Castro’s decision to go “for the jugular by speaking in a vile way about the Eucharist, the centerpiece of our faith.”
He concluded by saying, “Quite frankly, Castro does not belong in the classroom.”
To entice President Young to act, many officials from education and government were contacted (Texas A&M is a state-funded institution).
We contacted the Texas A&M Board of Regents; the campus newspaper; the Senior VP & Chief Marketing and Communications Director; the Chancellor; the Vice Chancellor for Marketing and Communications; Texas Gov. Greg Abbott; Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick; the head of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges; Sen. Ted Cruz; Sen. John Cornyn; Rep. Bill Flores; and eight members of the state legislature. We also blanketed the Texas media, as well as our national media list.
Donohue told each of these parties that he knows and respects “the wide latitude given to professors to challenge students.” He hastened to add that Castro had no such intention. “He does not seek to challenge, but to bully.” To resolve this issue, Donohue said, it is up to President Young to take “the right steps.”
If this were happening at a time of relative peace, the stakes would not be so high. But Castro’s hate speech is occurring at a time of civil unrest, and the last thing we need is for a professor to demonize Catholics and trash their religion.
We are getting some interesting feedback. More on this in the next issue of Catalyst.