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Speech’s title deliberately misleading

Observer Viewpoint | Friday, January 27, 2006

Father Jenkins’ speech on academic freedom on Jan. 23 is a terribly disappointing development in the ongoing war on intellectual development at the University of Notre Dame. For as long as I have been involved with the University, it has suppressed and criticized many manifestations of homosexuality, and has been at best uncomfortable with frank discussions of sexuality and gender issues.

The announcements in regards to the the Vagina Monologues and the Queer Film Festival came as no surprise.

What was disappointing, though, was not these substantive positions, but the thinly disguised propaganda being used as bait to have the University community swallow them. Jenkins’ use of the topic of “academic freedom” is a blatantly obvious veil being used to cover up the real substance of the announcement, which is that the University is curtailing public discussion of issues that its leadership finds distasteful.

Only in the most misunderstood sense could suppression of important discussions on homosexuality and female gender issues be interpreted as a frank discussion of academic freedom.

The title of the speech is a red herring and I, for one, am appalled that Jenkins thinks the University community is so naive as to swallow this cheap tactic. It is a tactic favored by politicians who wish to deceive a doe-eyed and docile public.

However, members of the University community, I fervently hope, are far from doe-eyed and docile. We are intelligent, thoughtful, and capable of analyzing and deciding important issues for ourselves.

Jenkins should have been honest in his speech; he should have announced outright that the University’s leadership determined the Vagina Monologues and the Queer Film Festival are inconsistent with the University’s Catholic morality. If Jenkins had left it at that, this announcement would have been nothing more than a predictable extension of the University’s historical behavior.

However, in its dishonesty and expectation of ignorance from the community, this speech represents a new and devious transgression of Catholic doctrines of honesty and integrity.

James Parrot


class of 1999

Jan. 26