Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Boston College law prof Scott Fitzgibbon has caused quite a ruckus by appearing in an ad opposing same-sex marriage. I don't have anything new to say about the ad itself, but I was struck by a post at the popular Above the Law blog:
According to his bio, Professor Fitzgibbon teaches jurisprudence, corporations, securities regulation, and contracts. Are gay and lesbian BC Law students comfortable learning about these subjects from an anti-gay marriage professor?
This is an ominous road to go down. Unless we're ready to chalk up all opposition to SSM to nothing more reasonable than "disgust," Professor Fitzgibbon's views on the subject should not detract from the learning environment for GLBT students -- in fact, it could enrich the environment, even if he taught a course such as family law. Reasoned discourse is not possible when disagreement is reflexively equated with personal animus. Martha Fineman, as best I can tell, is anti-marriage. I happen to be pro-marriage. I'd love to take a family law course with her because I think it would deepen my understanding of her views and, as a result, my own. It's perfectly fine (and healthy) to engage with Professor Fitzgibbon on the substance of his views and the content of his ad. But to suggest that his views render him somehow ill-suited to teaching about controversial topics in a diverse environment, we're missing the point of diversity, and of teaching.