Holier than Thou, and a Challenge Accepted

Monday, April 06, 2009

Two topics of recent interest here at Our Lady's University.


First, it seems that I've been hangin' out at the center of the Culture Wars for the last couple of weeks. You may have heard that the President is going to deliver the commencement address here at Notre Dame in May. You may also have heard that (a small but vocal fraction of) the local folks are piiiiiissed about it. Obama is pro-choice, which to the Catholic Church is apparently a sin on the level of sodomizing a puppy while bombing an orphanage (or rooting for Ohio State).

There are a number of calls for the University to recind the offer, and for the University President and other high officials to resign (and presumable to commit hari kiri). But the most shocking call (at least from my perspective) came from a member of the law school faculty. This letter was printed in the student paper last week. Beyond the usual claims that Obama is worse than the Fuhrer, he includes this little gem:

Apart from the "life" issues, our leaders were reckless to commit Notre Dame to Obama in the face of mounting and well-grounded opposition to other Obama policies, including his fiscal deficits and such a stunning expansion of executive power and of federal control over private entities and states that it amounts to a constitutional coup. Unmentioned in the background are the pending lawsuits - not yet decided on the merits by the Supreme Court - that raise serious questions as to Obama's eligibility for the office.

You read that right; a member of the faculty at my school wondered publicly if our President is an American, or if he's somehow secretly Canadian.

So I'm curious, oh Sages of the Internets... Do you think it is inappropriate for a pro-choice politician to be asked to deliver the commencement address at a Catholic University? And why would a just and loving God put that crazy-ass professor on the panel of judges for my Oral Argument last week?

Secondly, a few weeks ago we had a nice discussion about the complexity of modern regulatory structures. It was suggested that it was the duty of all concerned Americans to do whatever we could to become educated. And because I can never seem to shut up, I've opted to put up.

I've accepted a summer position as a research assistant. A professor here at Notre Dame is writing a textbook/casebook/reference on the topic of corporate governance, and I've been hired to help out. My little part of the book is going to (I believe) involve the interrelationship between state and federal governments.

So, after this summer, you will all have to listen to believe my every word on the subject. Right?

31 comments:

Smitty 8:07 AM  

This is just more evidence that the Catholic Church is batshit crazy, and one more reason for me to continue to ignore it.

Look, Obama is the President of the United States, like it or not. And this is a University. We allow for a variance of opinions in a University. And it's not like Obama is going to go to Notre Dame and give a speech entitled "Why Every American Should Abort Babies." He's going to give a commencement speech. Every commencement speech yet to be given has already been given. Look to the future, hold on to hope, change the world, blah blah blah. In other words, Obama's normal speeches are actually perfectly suited for commencement speeches.

And no, I still won't take you seriously even though you've "researched" something. Steves researches stuff all the time and I tend to think he's mostly full of shit (except on constitutional issues, on which I trust him implicitly).

Bob 8:36 AM  

Notre Dame is a private university who can invite whomever they choose to speak at the commencement. That could be either the President of the United States or Iran's supreme leader, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei or anyone else. (Not that I am comparing the two) Either speech would be very educational for the students. Any speaker could illicit controversy, but avoiding controversy is not the job of an institution of higher learning.

As far as your law school professor, it seems he has a low grasp on reality which could impact is ability to be an effective law school professor. If he were a math teacher, his conspiracy theories wouldn’t necessarily impact his ability to teach math, but in this case, I am not sure. Obama’s citizenship has been thoroughly vetted. Any reasonable person could look at the proof and move on.

Congrats on the research job. Your research should be illuminating. That is unless your research turns you into some freaky states rights separatist.

steves 8:40 AM  

I can see both sides of this and can understand why some people may be ticked off, but I agree with Smitty. Obama is the President and unless he is there to give a speech on abortion, I don't see why he shouldn't be able to speak.

I remember when Clinton spoke at the MSU graduation. As much as I didn't like him, I felt it was a major honor for him to speak at my school.

Chris Of Rights 8:52 AM  

There are a couple problems with the Obama invitation. First, in 2004 (I forget the name of the 2004 mandate from the U.S. Bishops which reads in part, "The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions".

See, everyone's hung up on the speech, but there's an honorary degree that goes with it.

It's one thing to argue whether Obama should be allowed to speak at a Catholic institution. It's quite another to argue whether ND should be allowed to flaunt a mandate from essentially it's superiors. The answer to that debate is quite obviously, no.

Here's the other problem. You make the point in your article that supporting abortion is equivalent to sodomizing puppies or some sort.

From a Catholic point of view, it's far worse.

Very few people understand the Catholic point of view on this and it's worth pointing out and making an effort to understand. Because it lies at the heart of not only this, but also the argument that you hear sometimes that "You can't be pro-choice and be Catholic".

It isn't about when life begins, but about something much more sacred and holy.

One of the tenets of the Catholic faith is that your relationship with God begins at the moment of conception, and that NO ONE can end that relationship, except God. To do so, is the worst sin imaginable. It's not just a sin against man, but a sin against God.

This isn't a belief that the Catholic church will ever change. To do so would cause them to cease to be Catholic. And I disagree with you that they're "batshit crazy" for wanting to stick with one of their core beliefs.

Note that I did not say that you can't be pro-choice and be Christian. That's why we had Protestant Reformation. There are a lot of good reasons to be pro-choice, particularly in today's world, but it's an anathema for any representative of the Catholic Church (and surely ND is such) to honor a politician as far to the left on this issue as President Obama.

Smitty 9:24 AM  

So under your logic, Chris, B_Mac, who may be pro-choice**, should actually be denied his law degree from Notre Dame? Or shouldn't have been accepted at all?

No. They're more than happy to take his money and give him a degree.

B Mac: were you asked, upon application or interview, if you were pro-choice or pro-life? I suspect not, but let us know here if you were.

If you weren't, then all the hand-wringing about Obama speaking there is moot. If this particular point of view is so precious for Notre Dame, it should be a part of how they consider their student population. How embarrassing it might be for a ND grad who is pro-choice to go on to head a nation-wide, prominent pro-choice group or run for office with pro-choice being a part of their platform!!

Smitty 9:25 AM  

** I am not saying you are, B Mac. Just guessing, or at least making a point.

Chris Of Rights 9:34 AM  

Smitty, I'm going to probably disturb you here, because you think you're trying to show me how outlandish my statements are by giving an outlandish rebuttal.

You are about 98% correct.

Someone who is publicly pro-choice should not be in line for any sort of award from ND.

Here's the 2% where you're wrong.

One could argue that a legitimate degree (as opposed to an "honorary" one, root word "honor") is not an award or honor, but merely a certificate stating that you have achieved certain milestones.

The simple facts are these:

You can't ask the Catholic Church to stop being Catholic.

You can't separate ND from it's Catholic heritage. Not when FATHER John Jenkins will be introducing Obama to speak.

I don't have a problem with Obama speaking and getting an honorary degree. I'm a Purdue alum. If Purdue wants to invite him and he accepts, that's great for them both.

I have a problem with the notion that someone who can't even support BAIPA can receive any honors from a Catholic institution.

B Mac 9:55 AM  

I was not asked about my stance on abortion. Nor was I asked about the death penalty, poverty, homosexuality, or any other church issue. And the reason (as far as I can tell) is that Notre Dame is a Catholic UNIVERSITY, not a Catholic Church. The Catholic nature of the school informs its mission as a University, but it doesn't override it completely.

The idea that anyone (let alone the President) should be required to pass a series of litmus tests before being allowed to address a University is ridiculous. For example, I don't think it was inappropriate for them to invite George W. Bush to speak in 2001, despite the fact that as Governor of Texas, he oversaw more executions than anyone since... um... the last Governor of Texas?

Chris, I believe you're referring to the 2004 Bishops' position statement "Catholics in Political Life,” which holds that, “The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions." (Emphasis added)

In other words, if the Church doesn't think Obama should be honored with an honorary J.D. (which, in and of itself has NOTHING to do with his stance on abortion), they (by implication) also think that he should not be allowed to speak on the University's dime.

And I was mostly using the puppy reference as a chance to make fun of Ohio State.

Smitty 9:58 AM  

You can't ask the Catholic Church to stop being Catholic.

And I won't ask it to, and nobody will. But what is even more disturbing is the whole adherence to the Obama-is-not-eligible0by-birth urban legend perpuated by ND's faculty! Be grumpy that he supports abortions, fine. Debate whether or not he should speak. But to use as further justification something that is false? That should bring at least that faculty member's integrity in question.

So the way I see it, ND is in this precarious spot, wanting to be a world-class institution of higher learning but also wanting to appeal to its heritage. As Bob said: Any speaker could illicit controversy, but avoiding controversy is not the job of an institution of higher learning. .

ND regularly pumps-out well-positioned grads (they have a whole web page listing prominent grads), many of whom probably disagree with certain religious tenets. But that doesn't stop that University from recognizing its role as...a University.

So they balance that with wanting to recognize their heritage as a religious-based school. I think that often the need to be a University will clash with the need to recognize religious heritage. So fine, some dude with a pointy hat said you can't honor someone. So don't give Obama an honorary degree, which carries as much weight as a roll of toilet paper. Regardless of the strides he will make in ending wars and in many, many other Catholic-supported endeavors, fine. But to silence him? And call yourself a University?

B Mac 10:09 AM  

I'd also like to emphasize the difference between a Catholic institution and a Catholic University.

The primary purpose of a Catholic institution is to further the Catholic faith. The primary purpose of a Catholic University is to educate studants and further discourse, albeit under the auspices of a Catholic ideal. Hell, they educate Jews, Protestants, gays, lesbians, and pro-choice students.

Chris, would you suggest that I should not be allowed to graduate Cum Laude ("with honors") from this fine institution? Or would you agree that if an honor is rendered for reasons apart from one's political views (getting good grades, becooming president), that such an award is kosher?

Bob 10:20 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bob 10:22 AM  

I have a question, which may seem flippant on its face, but is meant as serious question for this debate. Recently in Africa, the pope stated inaccurately that condoms don't prevent, and may promote the spread of the AIDS virus.

If a biology teacher or guest speaker disagrees with this factually inaccurate statement, should they be banned from Notre Dame?

Second, is Notre Dame a Catholic School as part of the Catholic Church organization, or an independent school that is Catholic?

Bob 10:23 AM  

...that such an award is kosher?

If it's a Kosher award, shouldn't you be attending a Jewish school?

B Mac 10:23 AM  

It's independent.

Smitty 10:24 AM  

Their web site says they're independent.

Bob 10:39 AM  

Are all the faculty at Notre Dame Catholic?

B Mac 11:17 AM  

Nope Bob, they are not.

Chris Of Rights 6:07 AM  

No, all the professors are not Catholic.

Yes, the University describes itself as independent.

"cum laude" is merely a designation of higher than average achievement.

However, my earlier statement is true. ND can not escape it's Catholic heritage. Nor does it want to.

As for executions vs. abortion, the analogy is weak. It's a matter of scale. How many death row inmates have been executed this year? How many abortions have occurred? I don't know the answer, but I'm sure it's 10x, and I wouldn't be surprised if it's 100x. Or more. The Catholic Church (and the U.S. branch) does not approve of capital punishment, but has yet to produce a mandate regarding it that I am aware of.

They can't withdraw the honorary degree without getting egg on their face. It goes along with the commencement speech.

As a matter of fact, there's nothing ND can do at this point. They have a huge amount of egg on their face, regardless. They should've never made the invitation in the first place, but you can't withdraw an invitation to the POTUS. If Obama was half as politically savvy as he's claimed to be, he would find some way out of it himself, an urgent "foreign visit" that requires him to be out of the country, etc. Of course that's not going to happen. He has too much pride for that. He'd have to first admit to himself that it's wrong for him to be the commencement speaker at a Catholic University. And that's not going to happen (not that I'm accusing Obama in particular of undue pride here--I have a hard time seeing most any President withdraw under similar circumstances).

By and large, the Catholic Church and it's membership lean to the left, except for two or three issues, and this happens to be one of them.

I disagree that any speaker would elicit controversy. In fact, one rarely hears anything about commencement speakers causing controversy of any kind. Yes, there might be a handful of protesters with nothing better to do than to sit around bitching and waving signs during commencement, but that's far different than 250,000 people signing a petition urging the school to withdraw the invitation. And the list of people writing protests about it looks like a "Who's Who of the American Catholic Church". 24 Bishops? Several Archbishops? The Bishop in charge of ND's own diocese?

Avoiding controversy is not the University's job, but let's get real here. Why are people like POTUS invited to speak at a University in the first place? PR. From a PR standpoint, this has been a disaster for ND. And there's no way out now.

Smitty 8:00 AM  

They can't withdraw the honorary degree without getting egg on their face. It goes along with the commencement speech....They should've never made the invitation in the first place, but you can't withdraw an invitation to the POTUS.

And here, we agree. And I agree with your end statement as well: getting the POTUS is all about the PR. Maybe ND's PR wing chose not to talk to the rest of the admin, knowing what the answer would be. Maybe they're all complicit.

Yes, there might be a handful of protesters with nothing better to do than to sit around bitching and waving signs during commencement

And that, Chris, pretty much sums up what I think of protests. Bitching and waving signs.

And the list of people writing protests about it looks like a "Who's Who of the American Catholic Church"

I think that same list of people may sign their names on a piece of paper bitching about a lot of things our current POTUS does.

B Mac 8:26 AM  

First of all, the Bishops' Directive only prevents honoring a person if doing so would "suggest support for his actions". I'm guessing the Seniors at Notre Dame (and my 2.5-year-old nephew) could interpret the President's presence as the honoring of his ascendency to the most powerful post in the world, not as implicit support of everything he's ever said, done, or thought in his life.

As for abortion v. the death penalty, I've sat through a couple of hundred sermons in Catholic churches. I've listened to a lot of Catholic thinkers. I've hung out with priests. And not once was I told that morality is a matter of scale. Quite the opposite, in fact. We Catholics let NOTHING slide (why miss an opportunity for guilt?).

Did Notre Dame screen all prior speakers on the big moral issues of the day? What about valedictory student speeches? My objection is not that Notre Dame MUST allow pro-choice speakers. My objection is that those who object now are veiling their partisan disapproval of the President in the tenents of MY faith. There is a group of people who think that by dropping the Shibboleth of "abortion" that they can drive a wedge between Catholics and the President. And that offends me, both as a Catholic and as a Democrat, not to mention as an American and a Notre Dame student.

You're certainly right that Notre Dame has egg on its face, but not because they invited Obama; it's because a small and devoted (read: obsessive) group of people made Notre Dame look like this.

Smitty 9:13 AM  

My objection is that those who object now are veiling their partisan disapproval of the President in the tenents of MY faith

You said it. That's what I think is actually going on.

Chris Of Rights 9:17 AM  

B Mac, thank you for totally misunderstanding my post and for missing the point of the people protesting Obama's involvement.

Your post is completely non-sensical, but I'll try to respond to it with more clarity this time.

As I said, the Catholic Church is wholeheartedly against capital punishment. And, as Catholics, they should be. But, as I have said now twice, there's no existing mandate from the U.S. Bishops on how to deal with politicians who support or enforce capital punishment. WHEN there is, your argument here will have some merit. Until then, you're just wasting bandwidth. Why isn't there? I don't know, but as I implied in my earlier post and will now state directly, I suspect that it's a matter of scale. The Catholic Church is quite vocally opposed to the killing of millions of unborn children in the U.S. every year. They are less vocally (but still opposed) the the execution of hundreds of death row inmates in the U.S. every year. However, I suspect that you will find if you pay attention that just about every single one of these executions was preceded by a plea from the local Catholic church to stop it.

My objection is that those who object now are veiling their partisan disapproval of the President in the tenents of MY faith. There is a group of people who think that by dropping the Shibboleth of "abortion" that they can drive a wedge between Catholics and the President.

I'm pretty sure you're quite mistaken here, but since I have no more evidence to rebut such a claim about partisanship than you have to make it, I'll let it slide. However, I would appreciate it in the future that if you make such statements, that you have at least a shred of proof to back them up.

I'm not trying to drive a wedge between Catholics and the President. I don't really care what you're individual beliefs are, nor the personal views of anyone who supports the President.

If I choose to attack the President and attempt to drive a wedge between him and his supporters, I'm not going to do it over his personal views on abortion which were quite well known before the election, but rather on the policies of his administration.

You're certainly right that Notre Dame has egg on its face, but not because they invited Obama; it's because a small and devoted (read: obsessive) group of people made Notre Dame look like this.

Wrong.

And stupid.

And frankly arrogant.

People protesting this didn't put the egg on ND's administrations faces. They put it their themselves, by not even considering that this might be a problem. They saw a chance to be "historic" by being the first University to get this "historic" President to speak for them. And they leapt at it. The abortion and BAIPA firestorm has been brewing around Obama since he first appeared on the national stage, and should've been considered before making such an offer. The fact that they did not is why the egg is on their faces.

As for small and obsessed? Get real. That absurd statement barely deserves a response, but I'll give you one anyway. Anytime you circulate a petition, you know you're only going to get about 1% of the people who are actually disturbed about whatever it is that you're petitioning. People are just reluctant to put their names on anything, or take the time to do so, even on an internet petition. The petition currently being passed around has approximately 250,000 signatures. If we are generous and assume that's a 2% involvement (double what you would typically expect), that implies over 12,000,000 people are upset about it. If you think that 12,000,000 counts as small and obsessed, then I submit that you're not thinking clearly.

And calling 24 U.S. Bishops obsessed isn't likely to win you many friends in the Catholic Church either.

I'll ask you a question. Other than the somewhat muted statements from the ND administration, has ANY representative of the Catholic Church come out in support of Obama's invitation?

Just one?

I haven't even heard any condemnation of Bishop D'Arcy's statements. And one could easily and justifiably make the argument that while it's ok for him to be opposed to the invitation, that issuing a scathing public press release about it is the wrong way to show his opposition.

B Mac 9:40 AM  

Methinks I have angered Mr. Of Rights. Please know that I did not mean to attack you personally, nor did I mean to demean those who believe abortion is an evil. Lord knows I've struggled with the issue (on an intellectual level, not with regards to the future Mrs. BMac. Nevertheless, I feel the need to respond.

there's no existing mandate from the U.S. Bishops on how to deal with politicians who support or enforce capital punishment

Capital punishment falls under the broad heading of "life" (man live, state flip switch, man no live), ergo, it IS covered by the Bishops statement.

I would appreciate it in the future that if you make such statements, that you have at least a shred of proof to back them up.

I didn't feel the need to repost the portion of the original post that contained the quote from the ND Law prof (the one where he rails against the deficit, federalism, and Obama's Americanity). After all, I've wasted enough bandwidth.

And calling 24 U.S. Bishops obsessed isn't likely to win you many friends in the Catholic Church either.

(a) I'm not trying to make friends, (b) They obviously weren't the rabble-rousers I spoke of, and (c)I don't think they would mind being accused of being obsessed with Catholicism. They're freeking bishops; the cat is out of the bag on their views on Catholicism.


Wrong.
And stupid.
And frankly arrogant.


Please, tell me what you really think. :) But if you want proof, a recent statement from the student paper (the Observer) indicated that 97% of the letters received from graduating seniors supported the invitation to the President (and I would contend that the speech is about the GRADUATES above anyone else), and over 75% of overall letters likewise supported the invitation.

The petition currently being passed around has approximately 250,000 signatures. If we are generous and assume that's a 2% involvement (double what you would typically expect), that implies over 12,000,000 people are upset about it.

Oh, Chris, Chris, Chris... Perhaps I am burdened by my life in politics, or (admittedly limited) experience with statistical analysis, but that argument simply doesn't hold water. If you're gonna accuse me of making statements without proof, I humbly request that you do likewise.

Smitty 10:15 AM  

I would appreciate it in the future that if you make such statements, that you have at least a shred of proof to back them up.

Hey now. This is a blog. We function on shitty opinions and snarky comebacks. What do you think this is, the MSM??

f we are generous and assume that's a 2% involvement (double what you would typically expect), that implies over 12,000,000 people are upset about it.

Dude, seriously?? You're going to criticize B Mac for uttering a widely-held political conspiracy theory, and then bust out with a statistical analysis that a Freshman at ND would laugh at?? You know when you poll a smaller sample of people you get higher results. So I'll grant you being correct, if you agree that your result is +/- 11,990,000 people.

Chris Of Rights 10:15 AM  

No, I'm not angry, nor did I feel attacked personally. I think you're being silly, but that's your right.

Capital punishment falls under the broad heading of "life" (man live, state flip switch, man no live), ergo, it IS covered by the Bishops statement.

You're making a generalization from a specific. Never a good idea. Here's the specific statement in question:

"It is the teaching of the Catholic Church from the very beginning, founded on her understanding of her Lord’s own witness to the sacredness of human life, that the killing of an unborn child is always intrinsically evil and can never be justified. If those who perform an abortion and those who cooperate willingly in the action are fully aware of the objective evil of what they do, they are guilty of grave sin and thereby separate themselves from God’s grace. This is the constant and received teaching of the Church. It is, as well, the conviction of many other people of good will."

Since the mandate is specifically dealing with abortion, I'll stick with my earlier statement that you're wasting bandwidth, until a more general document is released or one that specifically deals with capital punishment.

I didn't feel the need to repost the portion of the original post that contained the quote from the ND Law prof (the one where he rails against the deficit, federalism, and Obama's Americanity).

Ahhh...that represents the view of one out of the people speaking. Someone who is quite obviously not one I choose to use as an example.

Nowhere have I read Bishop D'Arcy or any other Bishop (or today's statement by the priests of the Holy Cross) mention anything other than Obama's views on this topic. Even articles on NRO or FoxNews.com about this issue have stayed away from that. It's quite obviously irrelevant.

(a) I'm not trying to make friends, (b) They obviously weren't the rabble-rousers I spoke of, and (c)I don't think they would mind being accused of being obsessed with Catholicism. They're freeking bishops; the cat is out of the bag on their views on Catholicism.

I wasn't aware that you're statement about being "obsessed" was a compliment on the Bishops adherence to Catholicism. If so, then I withdraw my statement. Also, I was under the impression that you were claiming all the people opposing his invitation were in your "rabble rouser" group. Sorry if I misunderstood.

But if you want proof, a recent statement from the student paper (the Observer) indicated that 97% of the letters received from graduating seniors supported the invitation to the President (and I would contend that the speech is about the GRADUATES above anyone else), and over 75% of overall letters likewise supported the invitation.

Interesting. I wasn't aware of that. However, it's meaningfulness is diluted by not knowing what percentage of the overall letters were from the graduating seniors. If 75%, then 100% of those from elsewhere were against. If 1%, then only 25% were against. And I still think that the invite is much more about PR than anything else, including the graduates.

Oh, Chris, Chris, Chris... Perhaps I am burdened by my life in politics, or (admittedly limited) experience with statistical analysis, but that argument simply doesn't hold water. If you're gonna accuse me of making statements without proof, I humbly request that you do likewise.

Admonishment accepted and deserved. Unfortunately, I don't have the statistics to back it up. My stat classes in college didn't examine polling or petition participation. I foolishly used a "well known" generalization number. Just like the fact that you expect 1% results from cold calling, 1/10% from mailer ads, etc. I'm sure that these "well known" generalizations have some basis in empirical data, but I know specifically of no such analysis. However, in all three cases, it's what I've "always been told". Which is a stupid argument, so I withdraw it.

Still, it should be quite apparent that you won't get 100% participation in a petition. Without empirical data to back it up, can we agree on some loose number? 50%? 25%? At 25%, that's 1 million. Still no small number. What's the number of people who have even heard of the petition and would know where to go to sign it? Certainly less than 300 million (I'm assuming that foreigners have little interest in this issue). If we're generous and say 1/3, or 100 million people in the U.S. have heard of the petition and know where to go to sign it, that means that 1 million is 1% of all "interested" parties. Still, hardly "small and obsessed".

Bob 10:17 AM  

If Obama was half as politically savvy as he's claimed to be, he would find some way out of it himself, an urgent "foreign visit".

But he would have to suddenly agree with you that this is a bad political move, whch I am sure he doesn't. He hasn't run from having conversations with those who disagree with him on this and other issues, so he shouldn't run now.

That said, I am quite sure B Mac is right, a majority of people want him there, which I suspect includes a fair amount of people who disagree with him on abortion.

There is a reason why the pope doesn't ask Catholics who support abortion rights to leave the church. He doesn't because he knows half the church would be gone.

Smitty 10:32 AM  

Without empirical data to back it up, can we agree on some loose number? 50%? 25%? At 25%, that's 1 million. Still no small number.

The problem with internet petitions is the ability of a "signer" to sign many more times than once. That's why when real petitioning is done, it is still done on the street, person-to-person, and checked by board of canvassers.

Point is, I don't think we can agree on a number representing interested signers, considering multiple signers and the fact that until this post, I had no idea there was such a petition. In fact, the only population who knows about it en masse is the limited population surrounding South Bend. In fact, I'd bet a solid bet that when I go to Mass this weekend, my priest won't say a thing about it, nor will it appear in the bulletin. My Crazy Zealot Uncle-in-Law has not forwarded a single email, and you should see some of the shit I get from that guy.

B Mac 10:44 AM  

You're making a generalization from a specific. Never a good idea.

Et tu.

Elsewhere in that same statement: "We need to continue to teach clearly and help other Catholic leaders to teach clearly on our unequivocal commitment to the legal protection of human life from the moment of conception until natural death."

Moreover, the statement makes clear that a dialogue with political leaders is essential;

"We need to do more to persuade all people that human life is precious and human dignity must be defended. This requires more effective dialogue and engagement with all public officials, especially Catholic public officials. We welcome conversation initiated by political leaders themselves."

Still no small number

I think Smitty was right to point out that there is a segment of the population that will hate everything Obama does (he ordered eggs for breakfast, while the economy is in shambles? That son of a bitch).

Two other points with regard to the petition. First, I've found that the number of respondents is directly correlated to the size of the e-mail database (and some of these groups have HUGE databases). Second, this list is not de-duplicated or verified, so there is no way to know who is signing in to express the anger of Mr. Mickey Mouse and HeMan Womanhater.

Ahhh...that represents the view of one out of the people speaking. Someone who is quite obviously not one I choose to use as an example.

Being around South Bend, I can tell you that this sort of analysis is rampant. Also frequently mentioned is Obama's support for gay marriage (which he actually opposes, but thats another story). I refer you to the comments of Newt Gingrich (who has been Catholic for about 20 minutes).

I would also distinguish between the statements of D'Arcy and other church leaders (who have all the right in the world to protest) and the vast majority of the objecters who are unaffiliated with the church. Hell, many of them are not even Catholic.

I think you're being silly, but that's your right.

God Bless America, and the Interweb

Chris Of Rights 12:21 PM  

Well, we're in agreement that some of this is just frothing at the mouth. We're also in agreement that Newt's opinion on this topic is not that relevant.

We're in disagreement about the size and nature of the group in dissension, and it appears we will remain in disagreement there.

We're also in agreement that President Obama would make a great commencement speaker. Remember, I said earlier that I'm a Purdue alum, and if Purdue invited him and he spoke, I think it would be great for both him and Purdue. You could argue that since I'm not directly affiliated with ND in any way, that my opinion carries little weight as well. And you might have a valid argument there, but you'll notice that I haven't posted on this topic on my own blog, because frankly I don't find it all that newsworthy.

We're in disagreement that it's an awful mistake by ND, but I'm just not as concerned about it as I am the economy or the War on Terror, etc. In fact, while I think that it's a big mistake by ND, I doubt that it will be the biggest mistake from a major U.S. university that I'll see this year. It may not even be the biggest mistake I'll see from an Indiana university this year.

But, whatever your opinion, there's little doubt that this has been a PR nightmare (so far) for ND. Perhaps the furor will die down and go away, and they'll be able to get some of the good PR they hoped for in the end. Americans have an attention span of about 15 minutes, and the furor over this definitely seems to be abating, so there's some potential for that.

As for people in South Bend not wanting him as a speaker because of his other views or actions of his administration, I can't speak to that, as I'm not there. But I'll agree with you that such a view is wrong. I have repeatedly stuck to the argument (and it's the only one with any validity in my mind) that his being even to the left of NARAL on the issue of abortion should automatically send up a red flag to anyone considering inviting him to speak and receive an honorary doctorate at a Catholic institution. It's more than apparent that the ND administration did not think that through (I automatically reject the idea that they did think of it and decided it was irrelevant), and that's why they have egg on their faces.

I have also said, and I repeat, that I do not call upon ND to rescind their invitation. You don't uninvite the POTUS to speak at your commencement. They'd have far more egg on their face for that than they do now. And they'd deserve it. In fact, I might even post something on my blog were they to do something that stupid.

And I'll even go one further in one area than you have so far. I don't think it was right for Bishop D'Arcy to make the statements that he has made. I think that he should have spoken privately to Fr. Jenkins about (apparently this did happen), and left it at that. If he wanted to boycott the ceremony, that's his right, but calling for Catholics everywhere to pray for "Our Lady" seems over the top to me. Any disagreements between the Fr. Jenkins and other representatives of the Catholic Church should've been handled behind closed doors, IMO.

Making this a public spat between ND and the Catholic Church doesn't make either side look good.

For the record, I am Catholic, having gone through RCIA 5 years ago. If not being Catholic all my life doesn't give me a right to speak on this, then so be it, however, I think it gives me a better right than some, having had more recent exposure than most on what it "means to be a Catholic".

Smitty 12:25 PM  

For the record, I am Catholic, having gone through RCIA 5 years ago.

I'm not a cradle Catholic either. I did RCIA about 8 or 9 years ago. I came from a Presbyterian upbringing, so I still love nothing more, as a good Protestant, than to question everything the Catholic Church does, and I choose to ignore it quite often.

B Mac 2:24 PM  

If not being Catholic all my life doesn't give me a right to speak on this, then so be it, however, I think it gives me a better right than some, having had more recent exposure than most on what it "means to be a Catholic".

The fect that you weren't "born Catholic" is irrelevant. You're just as Catholic as I am, regardless of when you signed on the etherial line. You have the same right Catholic to have an opinion, and to speak to it.

And I didn't mean to imply that non-Catholics couldn't talk about this as well. I just got a little peeved when non-Catholic people here in South Bend started telling me how to be Catholic, and what should or should not offend me.

I do think this will work out fine for ND in the long run (once Obama is on stage, he'll say some nice things about the school and the church, and all will be forgotten), though I think you're right that the school administration underestimated the tussle taht would ensue.

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