Visiting preachers set themselves up at many campuses and spend a day denouncing students for their fornication and criticizing professors for teaching evolution. On some campuses students have been known to engage with the visitors, or to try to offend them with same-sex kiss-ins. At the University of Connecticut last week, an anthropology professor decided to get involved.
James Boster shouted back at the visiting preachers, at times getting very much in their faces, questioning their attempts to call Darwinian theory racist or untrue. He asked repeatedly whether they had read Darwin, since they were carrying a sign calling evolution "a lie." At one point, to the shock of the preachers, Boster even gathered students to raise their hands and shout "Praise Darwin." (Note: Those offended by expletives may not want to view the video that follows.)
Video of course captured the exchanges and Boster has found himself on the receiving end of much critical commentary in the conservative blogosphere, where he is being accused of "going ape" to defend evolution. Breitbart called his comments "a wild tirade." The preachers were quoted in Christian News saying that the professor seemed "about to pop" and that his response to them was "unbecoming of a professor."
The Daily Caller blasted the professor for his repeated use of expletives, called him "a hostile, boorish jackass," adding that "[t]hat’s what a lifetime in academia will do to a feller."
Via email, Boster made no effort to deny that he shouted, swore and generally made a lot of noise. He said that's how professors should respond to those who attack their students and scientific fact.
"The self-described Christian evangelists did not come to UConn with the good news of the gospels but instead with a message of hate, bigotry, and ignorance," Boster said. "They attacked my students for their sexual behaviors, sexual preferences, religious beliefs, and ethnicities and condemned them to hell. Bears defend their cubs, geese their goslings, and I will defend my students from strangers who come to call them sodomites, fornicators, and sinners condemned to hell.
"Darwin's message that all humans are our brothers and sisters, all mammals our cousins, and all life our kin is much closer to the loving affirmation of life found in the gospels than the hate, bigotry, and ignorance preached by these rude guests. It is a moral duty to be outraged by the morally outrageous. I am proud to have done my duty to defend my students from attack."
The university, however, did not back the style in which Boster spoke out. UConn issued this statement: “Everyone has the right to exercise free speech on our campuses. At the same time, we expect our faculty to act in a way that promotes civil discourse and to express themselves respectfully. The use of abusive language and a confrontational posture are inconsistent with UConn’s values.”
Read more by
Today’s News from Inside Higher Ed
Inside Higher Ed’s Quick Takes
What Others Are Reading