My brother was gay and died of AIDS, and I have gay friends who are happily married. Everybody who knows me would describe me as somewhere left of center. In other words, I’m an odd person to come to the defense of Dr. Bruce Murray, the tenured professor “upholding views and statements that are offensive to many students.” This recent controversy, however, has made me uncomfortable for a lot of reasons.
I did some soul-searching and asked myself if coming to the defense of someone making “homophobic comments” was the equivalent of defending someone making racist comments, which I could never tolerate. For that reason, I decided to take a look at Dr. Murray’s Facebook page to see just how homophobic and transphobic his “views” and “statements” were.
I confess, I’m nominally Dr. Murray’s Facebook friend, in the way so many people are Facebook friends — we live in the same town, we go to the same church and he plays the organ for the choir in which I sing. Nevertheless, I don’t “follow” Dr. Murray because he gets annoying for somebody like me.
In person, Dr. Murray is rather mild-mannered, and I’ve never heard him say anything offensive. So, I pulled up his Facebook page to review his comments, and I got a shock. I was left wondering how many people who are so offended have actually seen his page.
The first thing I noticed is that he talks about all kinds of things. His opinions are typically hard-right conservative, most having to do with abortion, Democrats, Biden, other presidential candidates, Trump and so on. Out of roughly 132 posts starting before The Plainsman article and going back to Sept. 1, only 21 had anything to do with the LGBTQ community, even tangentially.
Of those, not one advocated violence or exclusion or anything I would characterize as “hate speech.”
Most were commentaries on articles from various publications and fell squarely into the area I would characterize as “free speech,” dealing primarily with trans issues and gay marriage.
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Here is an example from the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. The headline is “Trailblazer: Assigned male at birth, Belgrade runner competing on UM women’s cross-country team.” Dr. Murray’s comment: “Typical dishonest journalism from the woke left obscuring how this 6’5” man robs women of their chances to compete on a level playing field in women’s sports. Note that sexual leftists have developed a novel use of the word ‘assigned’ for the random penetration of the woman’s egg by one of 100 million sperm cells. Some kind of secular Calvinism?”
On another post on the subject he said, “If the NCAA doesn’t have the courage to protect women’s sports from men, it forfeits its claim to make collegiate athletics fair. This guy has a 6’5” height advantage as well as a male physique and hormones.”
Correct me if I’m wrong, but these subjects seem worthy of discussion. If you don’t think so, check out a book called “Galileo’s Middle Finger” by Alice Dreger, a bioethicist at Northwestern University who writes about the relationship between science and social justice.
Here’s another comment by Dr. Murray about a video he posted. You might not agree, but is it really hateful? “Anti-Christian zealots like Elizabeth Warren and Beto O’Rourke zeroed in on Christianity as the only reason a person would support natural marriage. This is a category error for two reasons. First, all major world religions support marriage (notice that none of the journalists raised Muslim objections to homosexual coupling). Second, the basic argument for marriage rises from biology, not religion — as this cleverly animated video explains.”
I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it. People are claiming that LGBTQ students would feel uncomfortable in Dr. Murray’s reading education class. Why would the subject of sexuality even come up in a reading education class?
Judging from his Facebook page, anybody who is a Democrat, “liberal,” anti-Trump or pro-choice actually has a lot more to worry about. Are we ready to take censorship of private social media that far? I sincerely hope not.
Jacqueline Kochak is a former editor of The Auburn Villager.
The opinions expressed in columns and letters represent the views and opinions of their individual authors.
These opinions do not necessarily reflect the Auburn University student body, faculty, administration or Board of Trustees.
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