It’s understandable that student newspapers at public universities are left-leaning. The advisors of the papers are usually left-leaning and they often have a left-leaning administration leaning on them. So their coverage of issues like abortion and homosexuality is often skewed. But private religious universities once provided a safe haven for those who wished to express views not approved by the immoral minority. It’s tough to comprehend the extent to which they have fallen prey to political correctness in recent years.
The Observer, the student newspaper at the University of Notre Dame, has shown that our nation’s Catholic universities no longer provide an escape from the politically correct orthodoxy running rampant on our nation’s public campuses. And the paper has shown a remarkable contempt for intellectual honesty – not to mention the Ninth Commandment.
The Observer declined to print a column that defends Church teachings on homosexual activity, which was written by Charles Rice - a Notre Dame Professor of Law. Rice has written a regular column with the Observer for nearly two decades.
At 996 words, Professor Rice’s column is a little long. At first, Observer Editor Matt Gamber used the column’s length as an excuse for non-publication. The excuse sounded credible but, after doing a little research, I’ve concluded that his excuse is an outright lie.
When Barack Obama came to speak at Notre Dame, Professor Rice wrote an 1172-word column, which harshly criticized his appearance as at odds with the school’s principles. Note to Matt Gamber: An 1172-word column is longer than a 996-word column. That much is as clear and obvious as the Bible’s teachings on homosexuality.
But, now, Matt Gamber is saying that the subject matter of homosexuality could best by handled by printing opposing views on the subject. But why must a student newspaper at a Catholic university censor Professor Rice in the absence of some “opposing viewpoint”? And what are the implications of this new policy?
If Professor Rice decides to write a column opposing polygamy, will the Observer withhold its publication until someone submits a pro-polygamy column?
If Professor Rice decides to write a column opposing incest, will the Observer withhold its publication until someone submits a pro-incest column?
If Professor Rice decides to write a column opposing adultery, will the Observer withhold its publication until someone submits a pro-adultery column?
Finally, if Professor Rice decides to write another column opposing abortion, will the Observer withhold its publication until someone submits a pro-abortion column?
The answers to my four hypothetical questions follow: No, no, no, and no.
And the reason for the pattern is simple: The Observer carves out a special “opposing viewpoint” exception for homosexuality because the Observer is intensely homophobic.
And the reason for the intense homophobia manifested by Matt Gamber and the Observer is also simple: Homosexuals are less tolerant of criticism than any other portion of the American population, including feminists and Muslims.
But the consequences of homosexual intolerance are not as simple. They are twofold: 1) Homosexual intolerance tends to result in the suppression of contrary views, and 2) Such intolerance tends to make others fearful of talking to homosexuals. In other words, homosexual intolerance actually promotes homophobia.
The present situation at Notre Dame is damaging to both sides of the debate. The Observer should allow Professor Rice to present his views (as unthinkable as it may seem to present the views of the Catholic Church at a Catholic university). Then, they may decide whether the views of the opposition warrant publication.
I believe the other side should be presented after Professor Rice’s column is printed if someone at Notre Dame actually thinks the Holy Bible is unclear on the issue. If they do, the Notre Dame community will wind up with a greater appreciation of the truth via its juxtaposition with falsity.
But the prior restraint of the views of Professor Rice is not defensible. While not a technical violation of the First Amendment – Notre Dame is a private school - it is an assault on both Catholicism and common sense. And it leaves many Catholics wondering whether there is any safe haven in this land that once placed religious liberty above political correctness.