Audience behavior disappointing
Letter to the Editor | Tuesday, October 9, 2007
As a Notre Dame student, I was highly disappointed in the way that the majority of the Academic Forum’s audience conducted itself at the beginning of the event. Implicit in the idea of an academic forum is the understanding that the issue to be discussed is of such complexity that it does not avail itself of any easy answers or swift resolutions. Yet, from the beginning of event, the forum audience demonstrated an unreflecting eagerness to apotheosize Senator Martinez and Cardinal Mahoney’s positions, responding to their ambiguous opening calls for “comprehensive reform” with resounding applause. Conversely, the forum audience met Mayor Barletta’s description of immigration’s uglier side – and the reformative steps he took to combat it – with silent hostility. Later in the forum, Senator Martinez agreed that the punitive actions taken by Mayor Barletta against businesses that knowingly employ illegal immigrants is a necessary component of the comprehensive reform plan – an affirmation of the same tactics that were so coldly received at the beginning of the forum. I object not to audience members ultimately concluding that Senator Martinez’s or Cardinal Mahoney’s positions are correct, but to the audience’s unwillingness to approach the immigration issue with a genuine spirit of good will and intellectual inquiry. What Notre Dame witnessed before moderator Ray Suarez’s “yay-boo morality” chiding was a forum audience gathered together armed with emotional presuppositions, anxious to celebrate in its own self-righteousness. While such back-slapping sanctimony might make some feel good, it does nothing to help advance that infinitely popular, infinitely non-existent immigration reform plan.