This really pisses me off:
A community college instructor in Red Oak [DesMoines IA] claims he was fired after he told his students that the biblical story of Adam and Eve should not be literally interpreted.
Steve Bitterman, 60, said officials at Southwestern Community College sided with a handful of students who threatened legal action over his remarks in a western civilization class Tuesday. He said he was fired Thursday.
“I’m just a little bit shocked myself that a college in good standing would back up students who insist that people who have been through college and have a master’s degree, a couple actually, have to teach that there were such things as talking snakes or lose their job,” Bitterman said.
Of course, the director of the school’s campus declined to comment, and the school president simply blew it off saying that Bitterman was fired because of a “personal issue.”
“I can assure you that the college understands our employees’ free-speech rights,” she said. “There was no action taken that violated the First Amendment.”
Bitterman, who taught part time at Southwestern and Omaha’s Metropolitan Community College, said he uses the Old Testament in his western civilization course and always teaches it from an academic standpoint.
Bitterman’s Tuesday course was telecast to students in Osceola over the Iowa Communications Network. A few students in the Osceola classroom, he said, thought the lesson was “denigrating their religion.”
“I put the Hebrew religion on the same plane as any other religion. Their god wasn’t given any more credibility than any other god,” Bitterman said. “I told them it was an extremely meaningful story, but you had to see it in a poetic, metaphoric or symbolic sense, that if you took it literally, that you were going to miss a whole lot of meaning there.”
There’s that persecution complex again the minute their beliefs are challenged. Do they pray to their god? Nope…they run out and pay for lawyers to get their revenge.
Bitterman said he called the story of Adam and Eve a “fairy tale” in a conversation with a student after the class and was told the students had threatened to see an attorney. He declined to identify any of the students in the class.
If this happened to me I would be so furious I wouldn’t be able to stand it. Colleges and universities are supposed to be places where ideas and thoughts are exchanged in intellectual discourse, aren’t they? It’s bad enough that the bible thumpers try to interject their mythology into elementary and secondary education, but it’s just going too far when they want to infiltrate our institutions of higher learning and take away one of our most valued rights…the right to free speech.
Bitterman said Linda Wild, vice president of academic affairs at Southwest, fired him over the telephone.
Wild did not return telephone or e-mail messages Friday. Bitterman said that he can think of no other reason college officials would fire him and that Smith, the director of the campus, has previously sat in on his classes and complimented his work.
“As a taxpayer, I’d like to know if a tax-supported public institution of higher learning has given veto power over what can and cannot be said in its classrooms to a fundamentalist religious group,” he said. “If it has … then the taxpaying public of Iowa has a right to know. What’s next? Whales talk French at the bottom of the sea?”
Reading about this incident is both maddening and depressing at the same time.