Wednesday, July 08, 2009

David Hawpe: A lesson in love at University of the Cumberlands

A lesson in love at University of the Cumberlands
by David Hawpe (Washington Post)

Well, the University of the Cumberlands is in the news again.

You know the place. It's where Senate President David Williams, in whose district the campus is located, tried to put $12 million in public money for a pharmacy school and scholarships.

It's where a sophomore from Lexington, Jason Johnson, was kicked out shortly before the end of the spring semester in 2006, for acknowledging his homosexuality on his Web page and for mentioning he had a boyfriend. Williams then rallied a campus crowd against the school's critics, promising, "These people that don't want this university to have values and principles will be defeated."

Actually it was the university that got beat — in court, when Special Judge Roger Crittenden ruled that using state money for the pharmacy project violated the Kentucky Constitution. Meanwhile, the Accreditation Agency for Pharmacy Education was committed to policy that "ensures nondiscrimination as defined by state and federal laws and regulations, such as on the basis of race, religion gender, lifestyle, sexual orientation, national origin or disability."

Now this same University of the Cumberlands is in the headlines again, after abruptly jerking an invitation to a youth group from Broadway Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas, which had planned to come build homes for the poor. And why the rebuff? Because the student-volunteers' church recently was kicked out of the Southern Baptist Convention, for acting to "affirm, approve or endorse homosexual behavior."

One wonders what values and principles Williams had in mind when he rushed to defend the university's orthodoxies.

Maybe Williams and the University of the Cumberlands administration are worried that somebody in the volunteer crew from Texas has a weak wrist and couldn't use a hammer. It was Williams, you may remember, who helped a fellow Republican's campaign for re-election by traveling the state and warning, "What a shame it would be if we traded the strong left hand of Jim Bunning — the punch that he has — for the limp wrist of (Democrat Daniel) Mongiardo."

The limp wrist line doesn't stand historical scrutiny. For example, that great lover of male beauty, Michelangelo Buonarroti, seems to have fallen for Tommaso di Cavalieri when he was 57 and Tommaso was 23. The artist dedicated more than 300 sonnets and madrigals to his young looker, and the two remained devoted until the old fellow's death. And, despite the seeming implications of all this, Michelangelo's wrist seems to have been just fine — stiff enough, obviously, to handle a mallet and various chisels, files and rasps. Otherwise we wouldn't have the David, the Pieta, etc.

Which brings me to this question: If the University of the Cumberlands is determined to wall itself off from anything gay-related, what does it do for curriculum?


To Read the Rest of the Column

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