Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Say it Ain't So

[posted by Callimachus]

But apparently, it is.

Bob Averill, an art student in Portland, Oregon, questioned another student's belief in leprechauns. Averill was punished for it by being expelled from the school. And Averill, the atheist, not the lepreuchan-believer, was told he needed "psychiatric evaluation."

In the classroom that day, Averill says one young woman was talking about her belief in energy layers and astral beings.

"I jokingly asked her if she believed in leprechauns. It turns out, she does. They live on another energy layer," Averill wrote in notes to himself later that day. "In the interest of bringing my own view to the discussion, I began to ask her how she knew these things. Again I know all too well that people can be sensitive about their spiritual beliefs, so I was pretty much walking on glass as I did so."

Averill says he wasn't trying to disprove the other student's religious beliefs, but "to convince her not to insist that they were scientifically proven."

The student, apparently offended, complained to the teacher. Averill was called into a meeting that evening, he says, with the Art Institute's dean of education, associate dean, and the dean of student affairs.


On Monday morning, November 20, Averill met with the school's president, Dr. Steven Goldman, to appeal his dismissal. "He upheld the dean's decision to throw me out," Averill says. "He offered to re-admit me if I underwent—get this—psychiatric evaluation."

You get the feeling there's got to be more to this story than what is presented, and I honestly hope there is a way to redeem the sanity of that school.

[Hat tip: Education Wonks]