Knoxville News-Sentinel suggests they “Get over it”!
The anti-science crowd has been freeping this newspaper poll. ClimateDepotted run by the The Swift Boat smearer Marc Morano — who believes climate scientists should be publicly beaten — even provided the email address and phone number of the Chief of Staff for the University President (see “The rise of anti-science cyber bullying“).
Here’s a suggestion to those objecting to the University of Tennessee’s plan to confer an honorary doctorate on Al Gore Jr.:
Get over it.
Gore is an appropriate choice for the honor.
That’s not because we necessarily agree with his politics. Sometimes we have; sometimes we haven’t.
But therein lies the point. Political preferences shouldn’t be the basis for awarding honorary degrees. Leadership stature should be.
The practice of granting honorary degrees is new to UT. Only two people have been so honored: former Sen. Howard H. Baker Jr. and entertainer and philanthropist Dolly Parton.
Both were excellent choices, and Gore is, too.
In fact, his resume is remarkably comparable to Baker’s.
Both men served in the military, attended law school and became U.S. senators. Baker rose to be Senate majority leader and White House chief of staff. Gore became vice president and a presidential candidate who won the majority of the popular vote. Both performed international service after retiring from active politics, Baker as ambassador to Japan and Gore as a global environmentalist, winning the Nobel Peace Prize.
University trustee Crawford Gallimore questioned the selection, saying, “Should we be concerned as a board about awarding degrees to controversial advocacies?”
Quite the contrary. Vigorous participation in the marketplace of ideas should be held up as cause for recognition and celebration….
Some objectors have pointed specifically to Gore’s involvement in the global-warming debate, suggesting that man-made climate change has been disproven by the “Climategate” e-mails. That’s far from true. Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander is among those who still say climate change must be addressed, and he certainly shouldn’t be disqualified from some future honorary degree. In fact, he would be an excellent choice.
UT had been reluctant to award honorary degrees in the past, but Knoxville Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek has pushed for a different approach. He believes such degrees call attention to the university and the achievements of those associated with it. Honorary degrees awarded during commencement also point new graduates toward the heights to which can can aspire.
In recommending Gore, Cheek said:
“He is among the most accomplished and respected Tennesseans in history, and it is fitting that he should be honored by the flagship education institution of his home state.”
It certainly is.