Thursday, March 27, 2008

Georgetown pays for 'Feministing' NARAL speaker ... in more ways than one

A guest post by CAITLIN BARR

At the nation’s oldest Jesuit university, it can be a rough life for serious Catholic students. In my almost three years at Georgetown, I have seen a number of events that contradict my beloved University’s Jesuit and Catholic identity. Just last year, H*yas for Choice, a pro-choice group that does not receive funding, was permitted to host an event with Catholics for a Free Choice in one of the school’s historic buildings. At this event, a Georgetown faculty member made a number of offensive statements. Earlier this year, many pro-life Catholic students were surprised and angered by the Law Center’s decision to begin funding internships with Planned Parenthood. Other events that tip-toe along the line between acceptable and heretical are “gender liberation week,” the Vagina Monologues and “choice week.” Tuesday’s talk by chief editor of Jessica Valenti was, for me, the proverbial straw.

Valenti’s blog is pro-choice, pro-promiscuity, openly anti-Catholic, vulgar, petty and, frankly, downright cruel on occasion. Valenti has worked with a number of pro-choice organizations, including NARAL (she is the longtime webmistress of the its blog, Bush v. Choice) and Planned Parenthood and her "experience" in the field is certainly clear from her posts in which she rails against the pro-life movement, or should I say the "anti-choice," or "forced-pregnancy" movement.

Although Ann, a woman who frequently posts to Valenti’s blog, is the most rabidly anti-Catholic of the bunch, Jessica too disrespects our current pope and supports schismatic groups such as Roman Catholic Womenpriests, who arrange the invalid ordination of women to the priesthood.

As a university student, I respect diversity of opinions and the importance of substantive, constructive debate. But inviting Jessica Valenti to speak at Georgetown is a little bit like inviting Yasser Arafat to speak at a synagogue and paying him to do so. It just doesn’t make sense, and can only harm the Catholic mission of the university.

At the talk, the administration required that the student announcing Valenti make a disclaimer, stating that the views expressed do not represent the views of the school. This disclaimer was met with peals of laughter from most of the audience, and Valenti expressed her surprise at being considered a controversial speaker. Although her talk was filled with pro-abortion sentiments and derision of abstinence education and even virgins, Valenti deftly side-stepped questions from board members of Right to Life and Catholic Daughters.

For those students who love Georgetown not in spite of its Catholic identity, but because of it, speakers such as Valenti take away from our respect for and trust in our administration. These events also detract from our college experience that is enriched by more positive events that are consistent with a Catholic identity such as Life Week, Jesuit Heritage Week, and Father Thomas King’s late-night Mass.

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[Guest blogger Caitlin Barr is president of GU Right to Life. It was she who invited me to speak at Georgetown last month — Dawn]