On August 26, 2004, Mr. Ford met with Professor Wetchler, as Wetchler had requested via e-mail (see Parts I, II, III, and IV of this series for background information). At the outset of the meeting, Wetchler stated that he was representing all of the program faculty members when he said: “You’re not in trouble. This is an opportunity for you to make changes because we are extremely concerned about your behavior.”
The behavior to which Professor Wetchler referred was Mr. Ford’s letter to the editor regarding “same-sex marriage,” which he had written under the full protection of the First Amendment. Nonetheless, Wetchler continued by explaining exactly why the faculty was concerned about Mr. Ford’s letter to the editor: “If someone were to recognize your name, it might misrepresent the clinic, simply by your name.” He explained that the faculty wanted him “to stay underground, because we are worried about you being a therapist and hurting a lot of people with this type of article.”
Professor Wetchler elaborated on why such a letter to the editor might hurt people: “You are creating a hostile environment for the program, clients, and students.” Wetchler tried to argue that Mr. Ford had misquoted articles and misrepresented data in his letter but Mr. Ford declined to discuss the contents of the letter, instead saying: “It is simply an expression of my faith tradition which my religious doctrine compels me to speak out.”
Of course, Professor Wetchler did not see it that way. He said: “This is not about religion or First Amendment rights. It is about hurting people. And you hurt a lot of people. Students have read the article, other faculty in the department have read the article (not that we are passing it around) and you have hurt people.” Wetchler mentioned that Mr. Ford had “hurt people” at least seven times and repeatedly pressed for an apology. But Mr. Ford refused to deny his God in order to appease his professor.
Professor Wetchler next commented that faculty members were concerned about what Mr. Ford would teach regarding single parent families, children of divorced parents, and sexual identity as he was scheduled to teach Introductory Psychology and Adolescent Development in the upcoming semester. Mr. Ford responded: “I adhere strictly to the curriculum which I am given, and if it is necessary, I can provide my lectures for review.”
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