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Sunday, December 04, 2005

University of Minnesota President Kowtows to the American Family Association

From Sprucegoose and Shock and Blog:

U of MN employee sends hate mail to AFA; apologizes

Source (with vulgar language editted a bit more by me)

The following email from Greg Perrizo was received on our AFA mail server on October 25, 2005 in response to an article by AFA Special Projects Director Randy Sharp which appeared on Agape Press. Click here to see the article.

Mr. Perrizo wrote:

What a F------ A------!!! The stupidity and disgustingly ignorant comments of Randy Sharp and the AFA are appalling to say the least. You people are so obsessed with gay sex you can't think about anything else. And you call gays, the irony!

A response sent by AFA resulted in this:

There is no apology due to Randy Sharp. People that write such heinous, hateful, disturbing things deserve to be called on it. I know that your organization feeds on the sensationalism of distorting the truth. I am tired of the filthy lies being spread by people such as Randy Sharp and supported by organizations like the AFA. You should all be ashamed of yourselves. I will continue to speak out against ignorance and hate whenever I encounter it.

After an email campaign by AFA members, the university president responded and Perrizo apologized. From an update email:

Yesterday (November 2), we received the following response from President Bruininks:

"Thank you for your email voicing concern regarding a University employee's use of offensive language to describe his views in an email using his University account.

"The University promotes a culture of tolerance and mutual respect and does not condone this kind of language. Our Code of Conduct policy establishes the expectation that all University employees adhere to the highest ethical standards of professional conduct and integrity. We are addressing this matter internally, and I am sure you understand state law prohibits discussing personnel matters publicly.

"Our understanding is that the employee has apologized for the manner in which he articulated his opinion. We appreciate your taking the time to share your concerns and your interest in the University of Minnesota."

In addition, we received the following apology from the state employee:

"After serious reflection, I would like to apologize to Mr. Sharp for the comments I posted on your website on 25 October, 2005. I acted in anger and now in retrospect I regret the way in which I communicated and worded my comments. Please accept my apology and relay this message to Mr. Sharp. Thank you for your time."

This person is not a state employee. They are a University of Minnesota employee. The University of Minnesota gets state assistance, but they also get a fair chunk of their budget from tuition, and private donations. It's really appalling to me that President Bruininks would cowtow to the American Family Association.

When people send comments to the AFA, they would be wise to avoid using their email address. Here's the AFA privacy policy.

They do not disclose to people using their contact form, that their email, and name and employer might be republished in AFA alerts. They should make that explicit.

Sprucegoose turned down the opportunity to write a letter to the University President over this.

When the AFA complained to the president of the University of Minnesota they received no reply. This added fuel to the fire. So the AFA is asking everyone to write a rebuke letter to let the world know about how offensive it is that someone cussed in a email written during company time as a state employee in Minnesota.

No, I don't think I will. Thanks for asking. Actually I think the AFA should say they are sorry for their reactionary verbiage in the first place. The goal of Christian thought and opinion should be redemption not rejection. Leave this sort of verbiage to the secular right wing. As Christians I think we can do much better.

Then I think that the U of MN employee, Greg Perrizo, should apologize for his street language. Two offences do not make a right. Let's try to keep the debate a little more mature than playground name calling. Normally I support the AFA and am thankful for their work but not this time. And my thoughts about the secular agenda on the U of MN campus are that they are walking another road than the one I walk.

Sprucegoose deserves kudos. The original AFA article which caused all the fuss is available here.