The William Paterson University website provides this information about Professor Arlene Scala: “Dr. Arlene Holpp Scala is the chair of the Women's Studies Department at WPUNJ. She has been teaching Women's Studies since 1986. She has published articles on gender, class, and pedagogy. Her current research is on femme identities and on college students' memories of the Barbie Doll. She and her partner Donna live in Englewood with their three cats and are frequently visited by their six children.”
Jihad Daniel is a 63-year old Muslim student/employee who took offense at an unsolicited email from Professor Scala inviting him to view a lesbian film and emailed her back, telling her not to send him such notices.
HIS email reply read: “Do not send me any mail about 'Connie and Sally' and 'Adam and Steve.' These are perversions. The absence of God in higher education brings on confusion. That is why in these classes the Creator of the heavens and the earth is never mentioned.”
A temperate response to what a devout Muslim would naturally find insulting and provocative.
Professor Scala chose to forward Mr. Daniel's email to William Paterson University's Office of Employment Equity and Diversity and to charge that his “message to me sounds threatening and in violation of our university's non-discrimination policy.” She added: “I don't want to feel threatened at my place of work when I send out announcements about events that address lesbian issues. I think that Mr. Daniel needs to be informed that he has violated the University policy. I am not sure about what else should be done to censure him and make me feel I am working in a safe environment. Please advise me.”
University President Arnold Speert was moved to issue a letter of reprimand to Mr. Daniel in which he maintained that the word “perversion” was “clearly a derogatory or demeaning term” and that Mr. Daniel was guilty of violating New Jersey's discrimination and harassment regulations.
Mr. Daniel appealed the reprimand to the New Jersey Attorney General's office, which dismissed the appeal on the grounds that “speech which violates a non-discrimination policy is not protected by the First Amendment.”
So there is still a reprimand in Jihad Daniel's permanent record for making a “derogatory reference” to Professor Scala's views.
William Paterson University is part of the State of New Jersey's university system, and named after founder William Paterson.
Would William Paterson side with Professor Scala against a Muslim student/employee who believes that homosexuality is a perversion and objected to her unsolicited email announcing a lesbian event?
He would be much more in tune with the editors at The Daily Cougar, a student newspaper at the University of Houston, who succinctly summarized the situation as follows: “Free speech under fire at New Jersey university.”
“Of all places, public universities should be viewed as havens of free speech, intellectual marketplaces where knowledge and ideas are permitted to flow freely. Obviously, the market is closed at William Paterson University in New Jersey.
“As a student and employee, it stands to reason that Daniel should have the right to express his views to the faculty and staff of the publicly funded institution, especially considering he didn't even begin the exchange. His message was in no way personal, and it's hard to interpret the situation as anything but a student being persecuted for expressing ideas not in line with those of the university's higher-ups.
“Free speech that's only free for those who share the views of those in power is in many ways more dangerous than outright persecution. Those at Paterson responsible for the decision are a disgrace to the ideals to which higher education should be loyal.”
William Paterson University is funded by the State of New Jersey and therefore bound to respect the freedoms of religion and expression set forth in the First Amendment and made applicable to the States by the Fourteenth Amendment.
If anyone did harassing, it was Professor Scala, who sent out an unsolicited email about a lesbian film to Mr. Daniel.
If anyone made a false charge, it was Professor Scala claiming to have been threatened.
Was Mr. Daniel required to remain silent and meekly continue to be subjected to such emails, or was he entitled to tell Professor Scala to stop?
Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary defines perversion as “a perverted form; esp: an aberrant sexual practice esp. when habitual and preferred to normal coitus.”
Section 2357 of The Catechism of the Catholic Church concurs with Mr. Daniel: “Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that 'homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.'”
The State of New Jersey should be ashamed of abusing Mr. Daniel and rectify the situation immediately.
(Michael J. Gaynor, is a New York attorney admitted to practice in the New York State courts, the United States District Court for the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. He has written articles for The National Law Journal, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Post, and the Long Island Catholic as well as numerous online publications and recently appeared on The World Over With Raymond Arroyo (EWTN).)