Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Did Cybercast News make the case against Crystal Dixon

So the right-wing are slowly catching on to the Crystal Dixon story. And with their usual candor, they are spinning it to make Dixon look like a victim:

"She has been fired," said Brian Rooney, spokesman for the Thomas More Law Center, an Ann Arbor, Mich.-based legal-defense group which is representing Dixon.

Rooney told Cybercast News Service that the university had offered Dixon "another position, in a different part of the university, not in human resources" because she had argued in her editorial that sexual orientation is not an immutable characteristic like race or sex and should not be afforded the same protection under civil rights laws.

The University said the following:

According to a statement from UT spokesman Lawrence J. Burns, the university determined that there was “just cause” to fire Dixon.

“The public position Ms. Dixon took in the Toledo Free Press is in direct contradiction to University policies and procedures, as well as the institutional core values as defined in our strategic plan, and called into question her continued ability to lead a critical function within the administration as personnel actions or decisions taken in her capacity as associate vice president for human resources could be challenged or placed at risk,” Burn said in the statement.

The article also said Dixon was not initially fired. She was offered a demotion and a pay cut, both of which she refused.

So it can be interpreted that the University found that Ms. Dixon's personal beliefs could interfere with her job duties.


However, there is another side to the story.

The question may come down to that of policy, not the context of Dixon’s statements.

I have read the claim on several sites that Dixon indicated that she was speaking for herself and did not involve the University.

This is may not be true. Nowhere in her column did Dixon indicate that she was solely giving her opinion. She even indentifies herself as an employee of the university.

Even though they probably didn’t mean to, her lawyers indicate this very point:

Attorneys with the Thomas More Law Center, meanwhile, point out that Dixon, an African-American woman and evangelical Christian, was not speaking on behalf of the university, but -- as Dixon herself phrased it in the column -- "as a Black woman who happens to be an alumnus of the University of Toledo's Graduate School, an employee and a business owner."

By that statement, it can be construed that she was in fact speaking on behalf of the University.

It all comes down to how this will interpreted.

And what about when she said the following:

The reference to the alleged benefits disparity at the University of Toledo was rather misleading. When the University of Toledo and former Medical University of Ohio merged, both entities had multiple contracts for different benefit plans at substantially different employee cost sharing levels. To suggest that homosexual employees on one campus are being denied benefits avoids the fact that ALL employees across the two campuses regardless of their sexual orientation, have different benefit plans. The university is working diligently to address this issue in a reasonable and cost-efficient manner, for all employees, not just one segment.

Was this private information? If so, who gave her clearance to make it public?

We all have been ruminating on the context of Dixon’s words. Some of us have canonized her as a martyr of political correctness and others have vilified her as intolerant.

I myself have been very disturbed by yet another example of an African-American self-righteous wannabe attacking the lgbt community.

But ultimately, the entire thing could come down to that of policy.

Does an employee have a right to involve their employer (even indirectly) in personal opinions?

Does free speech and religion cover this sort of thing?

Does the University's policy address this issue?

Can an employee not agree with the University's core mission but still fulfill the job duties that would accomplish this core mission?

All very interesting questions. I'm very curious to see how this will play out.

UPDATE - Matt Barber weighs in

Matt Barber from Concerned Women for America weighs in the situation with his usual brand of hysteria:

Don’t let this egregious and discriminatory action by the University of Toledo be ignored. Please contact University of Toledo President Lloyd Jacobs and respectfully request that he immediately reinstate Crystal Dixon and issue a public apology to her, the African-American community and to Christians worldwide.

Apologize to Christians worldwide? Apparently Barber takes too much on himself. I am sure that many Christians worldwide do not agree with Dixon's statements.

And speaking of apologies, if Barber wants to play that game, then he should apologize to us lgbts of color for every lie he has told on the lgbt community.

Or do LGBTs of color exist in his world?