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Viewpoint controversies

Justin Tardiff | Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Observer Viewpoint has received more than 200 letters on the controversy generated by Obama’s pending visit and his 2009 Commencement speech. The whirlwind of emotional frenzy surrounding our president’s visit has led me to realize something very important.

No, I have no polarizing comments to make about my political views in this situation. I know you were all holding your breath for my keen wisdom, but blues not a becoming skin color. So feel free to exhale.

Instead, I have realized that a true Viewpoint controversy requires the perfect conditions, the perfect storm so to speak. First, of course, there must be a topic that sparks the passionate, emotional and ideological foundations of how the Notre Dame community understands the world as we know it.

For example, Melissa Buddie could not have given this campus a blissful few days of poignant social commentary and comedy if it had not been for students’ fundamental understanding of hook-ups and how they affect our unique Notre Dame social climate.

Similarly, there must be one person, with either a surplus of free time or an “O’Reilly Factor”-esque need to share with the class. This one person can push the boulder that can become a juggernaut force behind controversy, intrigue, mudslinging, and sometimes valuable intellectual discussion. Sometimes.

I will now make a bold claim. Everyone loves a Viewpoint controversy. Everyone. It’s journalism and irrational intrigue all in one. No matter how mad one article or another will upset you or disturb you, you will always come back to Viewpoint. It’s as addictive and vital to Notre Dame social life as Facebook.

But sometimes readers’ love affair with opinion controversy might get a little stale. A tad predictable. Like any long term relationship, it might start to lack the sparks that originally drew you to it. It is at these low points, these lulls in controversy, that threaten the future of Viewpoint controversy and Observer readers’ entertainment. It is at these pinnacle moments where new Letters to the Editor must take up the torch and rekindle the flame. Or light the powder keg as the case may be. We are completely capable members of the Notre Dame community. While it is important that we respond to current events, demonstrating our prowess and know how, we should not need to rely on Fr. Jenkins to give us material for our controversies.

I would like to close with some suggestions for Viewpoint controversy. Or better yet, these are topics that I would love to get the Notre Dame campuses take on. Because without a Viewpoint controversy, I just don’t know how I will ever go about making up my mind on these important issues.

Here are just a few:

Would you rather have a moderately bad incurable stutter or continuous Cheeto fingers?

Kristen Stewart? Actually pretty? Or just unfathomably lucky to get to enjoy the benefits of riding on Rob Pattinson’s hotness?

How does Hugh Hefner do what he does? Or better yet, should he?

If you’re on a diet can you still look at the menu? This can be a health question or a metaphor for relationships everywhere.

Thank you for your careful consideration. I look forward to e-mails with thoughts and commentary. Or better yet a good ‘ol Letter to the Editor.