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Should Catholics be banned from Fordham?

Should Catholics be banned from Fordham?

I am still trying to obtain an interview with Father Joseph M. McShane, President of Fordham University, who spoke out forcefully condemning the invitation by the Fordham Republicans to Ann Coulter.

Robert Shibley of The FIRE notes at College Insurrectionthat Fordham defends its invitation to infanticide supporter Peter Singer to speak on campus, Fordham struggles to defend condemning Ann Coulter, while embracing infanticide supporter Peter Singer

The Fordham Republicans, in a decision which appears to have been taken by its Board without the support of the membership (more on that in a later post), rescinded the invitation after a nasty Facebook and online campaign against students supporting the decision to invite Coulter.

Father McShane’s November 9 statement read, in part:

The College Republicans, a student club at Fordham University, has invited Ann Coulter to speak on campus on November 29. The event is funded through student activity fees and is not open to the public nor the media. Student groups are allowed, and encouraged, to invite speakers who represent diverse, and sometimes unpopular, points of view, in keeping with the canons of academic freedom. Accordingly, the University will not block the College Republicans from hosting their speaker of choice on campus.

To say that I am disappointed with the judgment and maturity of the College Republicans, however, would be a tremendous understatement. There are many people who can speak to the conservative point of view with integrity and conviction, but Ms. Coulter is not among them. Her rhetoric is often hateful and needlessly provocative—more heat than light—and her message is aimed squarely at the darker side of our nature.

McShane did not demand that Coulter’s talk be cancelled.  But he played to an intense online crowd demanding cancellation because Coulter engaged in “hate speech,” specifically alleged homophobia  (Put aside the merits, which are at best dubious, as Coulter is a Board Member of GOP Proud.)

When a University President weighs in on free speech issues and condemns a speaker, it’s not just part of the normal exchange of ideas — it carries an implied force of law and power which encourages self-censorship by students:

But Greg Lukianoff, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (an organization that opposes limits on campus speech), said via e-mail that he was not necessarily impressed with what transpired at Fordham. “I think you need to be extremely skeptical any time an official with great administrative power at a university, especially a university president, vehemently condemns a speaker and then the inviting group coincidentally happens to cancel that speaker, even if, as in this case, the president is saying that he supports free speech out of the other side of his mouth,” Lukianoff said. “I’ve seen too many cases over the years where university officials have tried to claim that their strong condemnation of speech wasn’t really a direct order for the students to self-censor, but then when you talk to the students themselves it’s pretty clear that they understood they did not have much choice in the matter.”

Further, he said that “Coulter was, in fact, inspiring rich, heated debate and discussion on campus; that might’ve actually been viewed by an earlier generation as a good thing. The fact that the first thing that occurred to some students was to try to get her from being on campus at all should be troubling to people even if they have no regard for Coulter. A better attitude about open debate and discussion is to have controversial speakers come to campus and see what surprising and interesting debate that will almost necessarily produce.”

Whose hate speech gets condemned at Fordham, and if alleged “homophobia” is the standard for condemnation, who gets to judge?

The Catholic Church itself regularly is accused of homophobia:

There are many layers to the sin of homophobia that the leadership of the Roman Catholic Church commits. Most people within and outside the church know, for example, that the Vatican preaches homophobia and does not consecrate same-sex marriages.

I could go on and on with links to left-wing blogs and groups which condemn Catholic positions on gay marriage, among other things, but this column from just a few days ago is typical, Vatican pledges to continue campaign of homophobia and bigotry:

In opposition to justice, the Vatican will continue to fight against marriage equality. According to the Vatican, the Roman Catholic Church will continue their immoral campaign of bigotry and homophobia in an attempt to deny gay and lesbian individuals the right to same-sex marriage.

Go back to Father McShane’s statement again:

Her rhetoric is often hateful and needlessly provocative—more heat than light—and her message is aimed squarely at the darker side of our nature.

I don’t believe that statement is correct on the merits.  But regardless, don’t people say the same thing about the Catholic Church and other religious groups?  As we know, such arguments are used to try to drive Christian groups from campus.

I’ll have more on this as I’m receiving information from students on campus. And I’m still hoping for an interview with Father McShane.


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Should BELIEVING, FAITHFUL Catholics be banned from Fordham?


Would Fr. McShane have the least compunction about having abortion-loving, First Amendment hater Nanny Pelosi come to speak?



    You folks haven’t yet figured out the Catholic thing, have you?

    Martin Luther wrote like 99 treatises. Go read them all.

      9thDistrictNeighbor in reply to [email protected]. | November 15, 2012 at 1:59 pm

      This isn’t the 16th Century and we’re not dealing with the sale of indulgences. This is pretty typical American Catholic stuff…how far have certain people who call themselves Catholic gone off the reservation of orthodoxy. Orthodoxy in any sense isn’t popular right now (unless of course we’re talking about the left…).

      This is not a problem with the Church, or it’s doctrine, this is a problem with an ostensibly Catholic leader at an ostensibly Catholic institution grossly failing to match rhetoric and behavior to that doctrine.

      Apparently you have either not been paying attention, or have reading comprehension issues.

      Because the only other plausible explanation for your gross misrepresentation of the issue is anti Catholic bigotry.

    persecutor in reply to Ragspierre. | November 15, 2012 at 1:14 pm

    Only believing Catholics who don’t subscribe to the Gospel as interpreted by the Society of Jesus.

    I graduated from their main Catholic rival in the New York area and can remember the “loving” terms of endearment my university’s president had for those “Basta%@ Jesuits up in the Bronx” (after a couple of cocktails, that is).

Does this mean the good Father will no longer allow any elected class member who speaks in “rhetoric and hateful language” to speak on his campus as well? This would exempt many of them from his hallowed halls, no doubt.

The real shame is that there is no longer any disgrace whatsoever with this kind of bias in academia.

NC Mountain Girl | November 15, 2012 at 1:05 pm

McShane is a Jesuit. The order has always taken pride- many would say too much pride- in their members’ intellect. That pride was led many of them astray in modern times as a desire to have the respect of secular peers has perniciously superseded their scared vows to serve the Jesus Christ.

We’re being destroyed from within. The country and the faith.
Thanks for your work, Professor. Using your blog to educate my Fordham kids.

The Jesuits always have had this smarmy, pretentious belief in their intellectual superiority to anyone without an “SJ” after their name. They preach that their brand of Catholicism is the one true faith. They seem to be the prime authors/proponents of liberation theology(and you can see where that’s gotten the Church!)

A notable alumnus of their cabal? Daniel Berrigan, SJ.

Maybe the College Republicans should invite the Pope, or Archbishop Timothy Dolan to speak.

In a nutshell, illustrating what ails the Catholic Church: radical secularism masquerading as theology.

To paraphrase Bertrand Russell, we are here to criticize a Catholic, not Catholicism; to Criticize a Jesuit, not Jesuits.

McShane is a fool. I am sure he would not apply the pre-appearance condemnation approach for BO, Seblius or other anti-Catholic-doctrine types.

Also, Mc Shanehas has now applauded the Republican Club’s act of self censorship, saying “There can be no finer testament to the value of a Fordham education and the caliber of our students”

This guy is a kook, and I think atypical of Jesuits in general.

University Statement | November 10, 2012

Late yesterday, Fordham received word that the College Republicans, a student club at the University, has rescinded its lecture invitation to Ann Coulter.

Allow me to give credit where it is due: the leadership of the College Republicans acted quickly, took responsibility for their decisions, and expressed their regrets sincerely and eloquently. Most gratifying, I believe, is that they framed their decision in light of Fordham’s mission and values. There can be no finer testament to the value of a Fordham education and the caliber of our students.

Yesterday I wrote that the College Republicans provided Fordham with a test of its character. They, the University community, and our extended Fordham family passed the test with flying colors, engaging in impassioned but overwhelmingly civil debate on politics, academic freedom, and freedom of speech.

We can all be proud of Fordham today, and I am proud to serve you.

Joseph M. McShane, S.J., President

BannedbytheGuardian | November 15, 2012 at 4:01 pm

I bet this guy is still dreaming of blowing up British stuff.

The one thing Clinton did was to cut off IRA. Funding from American -Irish religiosity institutions leaving them leg less along with their victims.

    Banned – This is a dumb, bigoted post. Now i know why you are banned.

      BannedbytheGuardian in reply to george. | November 15, 2012 at 8:07 pm

      American Irish Catholics funded. Death & destruction throughout Nthn Ireland & UK.

      That is a fact,

      Even Ghadaffi said he was wrong to assist the IRA .

      BTW George -even British Leftists tthe Guardian understand IRA = terrorists.

      You would understand if it was you being bombed for 30years.

        Therefore because he is Catholic and Irish he would have supported the IRA if it was legal

        Still stupid, Stupid

          BannedbytheGuardian in reply to george. | November 15, 2012 at 11:08 pm

          To be sure Georgie Boyo.

          Ireland had no money .Other Expatriot Irish in British Commonwealth nations admit by their choice TheBritishwaywas best.

          Only Americans held the grudge.

          Ghaddaffi has better chancesofgetting in those pearly gates .

Good job, professor. You won’t get anywhere with his highness of Fordham, but please hammer away.

The Church got infiltrated by pinkos about 80 years ago. American bishops since the 60’s have pursued a radical leftist program, e.g., unilateral disarmament. The problem stems from my Church’s abandonment of the fight against Communism. Specifically, in 1962, Pope John entered into an agreement with the Russian Orthodox that there would be no condemnation of Communism at the Vatican Council that was just starting up. This treasonous act has left its stench in the hierarchy ever since, and in the universities as well.

Let me invite you to become a Catholic, professor. We need pit bulls like yourself in the good fight.

    bob aka either orr in reply to JerryB. | November 15, 2012 at 10:20 pm

    Things are changing, though, JerryB. Some of the bishops appointed in the latter years of John Paul II’s papacy and throughout Benedict XVI’s papacy are not buying the liberal line as many of their predecessors did. Chaput in Philly (and why isn’t he a Cardinal yet?) and Lori in Baltimore (ditto) are two good examples… probably the most prominent. What I like about their interpretation is that they read the Christian mandate of taking care of the less fortunate as a personal mandate, not met by sloughing it off on the gubmint. And, yes, Professor, we would welcome you, though I know you’re fighting a battle within your own faith.

      BannedbytheGuardian in reply to bob aka either orr. | November 15, 2012 at 11:14 pm


      Bob (Bobby Orr?), I agree, but the change won’t permeate the Church until it comes from the top down. When we finally get condemnations of, and apologies for, the derelictions, I’ll agree that things are better.

      As for apologies, John Paul II was to the Church what Bronco Bama is to America. The latter’s apologies give rise to things like the lovely “Arab Spring” that is playing out in the natural realm. The pope’s apologies for supposed past crimes of the Church play out in the spiritual realm. It demoralizes the faithful and gives confidence to the enemies of the faith, like Fr. McShane.

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