Volume 93, Issue 89

Friday, March 17, 2000


Politically correct prof leads the way

Althouse College enrollment up

Drug tackles nicotine addiction

Province to hammer out teacher testing by June

Second-hand smoke linked to breast cancer

To stay healthy, don't get sick

Bass Ackwards

Caught on campus

Politically correct prof leads the way

By Stephanie Cesca
Gazette Staff

This fall a King's College psychology professor will be teaching what may be the most controversial course ever to be taught at Western.

Heinz Klatt said his full-year course, entitled Psychology and Ideology: The Study of Political Correctness, would challenge the dogmas associated with political correctness.

Klatt said he defined political correctness as a set of claims society is not ready to question. Some of the issues, he said, are homosexuality, teenage pregnancy and welfare.

"On all those issues, we have a politically correct version. We have massive self-censorship. The major goal of this course is to challenge all of the dogmas," he said.

Klatt said political correctness was regulated on two levels. Firstly, there was self-censorship on a massive scale, as the general public governed political correctness on a daily basis. "It functions like a fascist country," he said. "It's a fascist element. In a way, it's similar to how the police works."

Secondly, political correctness was enforced by intimidation, he said. All of his colleagues, for example, told him they could only answer a question in a classroom with the politically correct version, for fear of enforced policies.

"Those policies say every student must feel comfortable in a classroom." If a professor does not adhere to what is politically correct, he said, they could be accused of harassment.

Challenging dogmas includes questioning their logical coherency and the rational principles which cause a person to either reject or accept a dogma, he said. After using this kind of rationale, Klatt said his students would then take these dogmas and analyze how they fair in the so-called real world.

Before signing up for the course, Klatt said he wanted all students to be aware the class would not be censored – no effort would be made to make a student feel comfortable with an issue. Every student would be awarded freedom of speech, as long as it was exercised with etiquette and civility.

He said the course was controversial in nature, but added so far, he had only received an overwhelming positive reaction. "This is what university is all about. It's the first [class] of its kind in North America. King's College should be credited for this," he said.

Marilyn Mason, registrar at King's College, said the course went through some discussion and revision before it was finally passed. She said the course was first passed by the psychology department at King's, then by the Educational Policy Committee and then by the Faculty Council. "There [was] a discussion about the content, the structure and the assessment," she said.

"It's certainly controversial," said Martin Wall, chair of the psychology department at the University of Toronto. Wall said he had heard about Klatt's course, but had not had the opportunity to see the class outline.

Although he said the course sounded interesting, it was doubtful his psychology department would consider it at this time.

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