Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Tommie of the Year reprise

Just when you'd thought St. Thomas's graduation fiasco was over, and you'd heard the last of Ben Kessler, the National Review's Colleen Carroll Campbell issues an apologia for his speech, calling it a defense of Catholic values against the "dictatorship of relativism" and a challenge to "conventional wisdom."

Or I should say,

Just when you'd thought you'd never hear a speech so grandiose and airy, presented as the Absolute Universal Truth, the National Review's Colleen Carroll Campbell out-Tommies the Tommie of the Year Ben Kessler with this piece of cant and untruth.

2 comments:

PiedPiper said...

One of the major mistakes (among many) that Campbell makes here is she assumes the students all received "four years of Catholic education" at St. Thomas. Essentially, her argument boils down to the same one heard over and over again from the mouths of conservatives who decry anything on campus that strays from strict Catholic dogma. This argument says, "If you don't like it, then leave." This, of course, is an impossibility, but not for the students, faculty and staff who may be more liberal/progressive/sane. Rather, it's impossible for the administration to fathom such an argument because in doing so it loses all credibility as an institution of higher education. Yes, St. Thomas is Catholic. But it is also true that St. Thomas is a university, which is called to question everything, even the very bearings of its existence. Students do not receive a Catholic education at St. Thomas. They receive an education, and if they so choose, some instruction in Catholicism. Admissions counselors, in fact, tell prospective students worried about the religious climate of the school that St. Thomas is "as Catholic as you want it to be." That certainly doesn't sound doctrinaire to me...

There is one point where I can sort of agree with Campbell, and that's whether Kessler's speech should have happened at all. Kessler's dialogue should be given a voice (although certainly NOT at a graduation commencement), and the "catcalls" and opposition should be given a voice as well. Far too often at St. Thomas you hear the Kesslers speaking loud and clear, while the Silent Majority (yes...I did just invoke that) who disagree sit back and take it. But not for long...(ominous music)...

And really, why did X have to go to 'Nam when he and I could assuredly come to blows over this? Damn...

Ilya said...

Well said my man. Characterizing St. Thomas as a "Catholic" school, and then drawing conclusions about what "Catholics" therefore must think about matters pertaining to sex, totally ignores the fact that these matters are very much live issues today, and should be debated. Kessler's speech was not an invitation to debate; it was an illegitimate attempt to shut one down.