Friday, April 14, 2006

No backbone at Notre Dame?

As a Notre Dame alumnus, this article troubles me. Apparently, Notre Dame's new President, Father John Jenkins, who once expressed doubts about allowing "The Vagina Monologues" and a "Queer Film Festival" on campus, has capitulated to faculty pressure and allowed both to proceed apace.

I haven't seen The Vagina Monologues, but I don't see anything wrong with frank discussions about women's sexuality. Speaking from experience, women at Notre Dame have a much lower level of knowledge about their own sexuality and body parts than the women of, say, UCLA (my undergraduate school). They could use the education. A satisfying sex life is absolutely crucial to the success of a marriage, which is something Notre Dame should want to promote.

If The Vagina Monologues promotes pre-marital or extra-marital sex, then that is another story. Both are contrary to Notre Dame's mission as a Catholic university and advocacy of either shouldn't be allowed on campus, any more than Notre Dame should allow its campus to be used as a forum to advocate any other ideas contrary to the Catholic faith. Read WFB's "God and Man at Yale" for the argument why private universities are free to, and indeed should, have a mission. This is, of course, not censorship, because promoters of The Vagina Monologues are perfectly free to rent theater space in South Bend and put on their play off campus.

The Queer Film Festival, I have no trouble saying without knowledge of what films are being shown, should not be shown at Notre Dame. Catholicism considers homosexual acts to be a sin (not the mere inclination to homosexuality). I feel confident that the Queer Film Festival does not show movies depicting Catholicism's view of homosexuals - that the mere inclination is not sinful but acting on it is. I highly doubt there is a movie about a homosexual struggling to remain celebate, and succeeding, along the lines of Catholic teaching.

Now, whatever your view on these substantive issues - pre-marital sex, extra-marital sex, homosexual acts - you have to admit that Catholics find them sinful. You therefore should also concede that Notre Dame should not be allowing its campus to be used by those who would preach and promote doing sinful acts. I presume both The Vagina Monologues and the Queer Film Festival promote acts the Catholic Chuch deems sinful. Hence, Notre Dame should not offer its campus facilities to either.

Why is Notre Dame allowing them both to be shown, then? It appears from Professor Solomon's article that faculty pressure is the main culprit. Professor Solomon asserts that barely 50% of Notre Dame's faculty are Catholic. That alone I don't see as too problematic as long as they adhere to the same moral values. An Orthodox jew would not tolerate the advocacy of pre- or extra-marital or homosexual sex any more than a Catholic would or should. The problem is with faculty members who do not hold these same moral values (even if they purport to be Catholic).

What to do? Hire faculty members who hold Notre Dame's moral values. Fire those that don't. Simple.

I'll happily report that this problem is virtually non-existent at the Law School, where the professors overall have a high degree of competence, sanity and moral values. Indeed, I have no problem saying Notre Dame Law School is the premier law school in the country because it is the premier conservative law school in the country. Since conservatism is right, and liberalism wrong, the other more highly "ranked" law schools - all dominated by liberal professors - are teaching the law wrongly. You can't be a premier law school in my book when the majority of your professors believe Roe v. Wade was correctly decided. That's like claiming that your physics department is number one even though your professors all teach that the earth is flat and stacked upon the backs of an infinite regress of turtles. Roe v. Wade is equally silly.


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