Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Kilt trip [UPDATED]

[Updated 5/1/08 and 5/3/08—see updates in text below and at end of entry]

Some Grade 12 students of Holy Cross Catholic Secondary School in Strathroy, Ontario, are up in arms because:

  • I wrote that, of the eight area high schools where I spoke on chastity last week, they were the "toughest crowd";

  • to back up my contention, I published a photo of students reacting to my talk, and

  • commented generally on how the school district's girls compete to wear the shortest kilts.
As the HCC students were particularly inflamed by my publishing the photo of them, I have removed the photo. My comments about the students will remain, and I would like to share some of those comments with you, in the hope that you will pray for these students.

[UPDATE, 5/1/08: The Religious Life coordinator for the London, Ontario, school board has apologized to me for the students' comments. One commenter, "hccstudent," has also apologized, and I have removed one comment of hers from the list below and from the comments section at her request.]

First, we have a commenter who calls himself "Jay . from HCC BIATCH !" I suspect "Jay" is the student with the middle name "Jayy" who started a Facebook group demanding that I never return to Canada. (I am refraining from publishing his full name. The group has since been deleted from Facebook—presumably by the site's administrators, to whom I complained of harassment.)

On the Facebook page, "Jayy" described the group's mission thusly (all deletions are mine):
The crazy b-tch wrote a blog about the girls having "too short of kilts." But deep down, she knows there f-ckin hot.
"Jay" left two comments on my blog entry that mentioned Holy Cross, both of which threatened violence.

In his  first comment, he wrote:
HCC has had GREAT assemblies, you ruined that streak, even the teachers say so , Sorry to be harsh, but you need a good smack in the face. HA :)
A few minutes later, he added:
And I know many girls from HCC who where their skirts short, and i mean short, and their all virgins, you dont know us, lay on your death bed and think about it :)
Here are some other comments from HCC students:
  • "hccstudent" wrote in part: I'm sorry, but your talk was inneffective and boring as hell. I was hopeful when you said you were a rock journalist, which is what I aspire to be, but you were a total letdown. Even the teachers said so.
    Also, we didn't laugh because we were uncomfortable, but because the outdated slang you were using (v-card? Is it 1998?) was ridiculous. Also, how dare you comment on our school system? Who cares about the kilts if we read 1984 and know that freedom to express ourselves is everything. FYI, the teachers do tell us to roll or skirts down, we just don't listen. ... You said you'd missed your chance to have kids? Good. You would only f-ck them up. You said we are your kids? Um, if I was your kid I'd have to medicate myself. That was MY two-minutes hate. Look it up, buttercup.
    Sincerely, an outraged student.

    (The advice that I look up the "two-minutes hate" is ironic. When I was in high school, I protested the state-imposed "moment of silence" by calling it a "one-minute hate.")

  • "P-ssed off HCC student" wroteare you bloody kidding me?! your sitting here judging us when dawn you should go take a LONG look in the mirror!! you are freaking crazy!!! how r u gunna say god gave u back your "v-card" back from prayer! ur crazy lady u lost it when the 1st night a guy had sex with you!! and then u go and say i bet a few of u out there still have your "v card" good guess, doesnt take rocket science too think your in a catholic high school.... and we belive to save ourself for marriage... ur flipping crazy!!! you need to find yourslef a new day job, and buy a " how to loose your studder in 10 days" tape or book, cause listen to you was killer,id rather pull my hair out one by one!! you know there was even teachers laughin at how crazy you sound? were the toughest group of people, no just other schools didnt laugh at you until you left the school! we had the balls to laugh at your crazy bull crap! now what do u think of HCC? hm? and posting those photos on ur blog, i sure hope you asked those girls before you posted it, how about we post your photo on a website and warn schools if you see this lady and she wants to talk to ur school LOCK YOUR DOORS now im done, thanks you!

  • "Outraged in HCC" wrote: sup dawn,
    k so im a little upset with you. First of all when you were here, and giving your presentation, you were not doing a good job but i tried to give you some respect, because im a GOOD PERSON . But now that you go on the internet and bash our school and how we dress wow isnt that a little seventh grade! your suppose to be forty! and you act like your a child and im really glad you do not have them! WOW we are not the only catholic high school that has kilts and wears them short because wearing them long is UGLY, can you not let us enjoy our cellulite free legs while we have them. And wow we are allowd to be immature, we are in high school, that is our job! If you were having sex so much in high school and college you were acting a little TOO mature for your age. ANd you didnt use your common sence. So your little "slip ups" that you talked about on the today show, wow that really doesnt inspire us to stay chaste. SO way to be an inspiration. Way to stereotype our whole school by what a few students were doing and wearing. wow dawn as if! PS. epidermis buffet? Seriously? EWW ON YOU!

  • "twootherhccstudents" wrote in part: I'm a catholic and i absolutely love having sex.. does it mean im a bad person? No, i think that chastity should be up to the person, I believe in making my own decisions on my lifestyle, based on what i feel is right its called cultural relativism.

    (If HCC students are learning the gospel of "cultural relativism" there, I think more prayers are in order.)

  • "HCC" wroteDawn, you are UGLY and you stutter!!!! Get over it! You are a SLUT!! You're not a virgin! Face reality. PS- Just because we wear short skirts does not make us whores! Many of us are still virgins and wear short skirts! ALSO, a lot of us LOVE SEX!!!! So what?! You're just making us want to have sex more. So just shutup cuz no one cares about your life.

  • And then there's this backhanded mea culpa from "hccstudent", she of the "two-minutes hate": I was the first HCC commenter and I want to say that I may have been a little out of line with some of my comments and personally attacking you (Dawn) was uncalled for and immature and I realize that. So, sorry, I guess. I got a little worked up.

    The reason I was worked up was because you had no right to comment on our school. As a commenter above said, we bleed black and gold. I, personally am an atheist and a hardcore liberal, but I could not imagine going to any other school but Holy Cross because of the students, teachers and rest of the community. I think it upset me because YOU came into OUR school, and judged us not on who we were, but how we compared to others and to YOUR values.

    So to every HCC student who commented, will comment, or has voiced an opinion on the subject in the last two days, you guys rock my socks. Go Centurions!

    Sincerely, hccstudent.
AND ANOTHER THING: Not every HCC student was as vitriolic as the ones cited above. Some, such as Annie, attempted to be constructive.

The main issues cited by Annie and other constructive critics were (1) in giving a complimentary "shout-out" to virgins, I was unfairly presuming the school's culture was hostile to virginity, or that there were fewer virgins present than there actually were; (2) I made a point of not denying the pleasure aspect of sex; and (3) I spoke about "secondary virginity" from the standpoint of renewal in Christ. (Some commenters, in referring to my talk, use the word "slut." For the record, I have never, ever, used that term or any similarly pejorative language in a talk, nor would I.)

It was not my intent to be unfairly presumptuous, and for that I have apologized to Annie.

My comment on pleasure was specifically intended to stress that chastity is not a choice one makes because one hates sex or because one is ignorant of the pleasure it brings. Rather, as I said, the pleasure in sin is the devil's way of distracting one from what we lose out on by pursuing such physical pleasure—namely, joy. I paraphrased C.S. Lewis's Screwtape Letters, which says all the devil can do "is to encourage the humans to take the pleasures which [God] has produced, at times, or in ways, or in degrees, which He has forbidden." I have often made this point about pleasure vs. joy in my writings.

Perhaps the mere mention of pleasure in sex was too titillating for HCC's students, but my message was quite clear. I followed it up immediately by stating that "all sex outside marriage is emotionally and physically damaging," using the same words as I did at this talk in Syracuse:

I make no apologies for my description of how those who have lost their virginity may find renewal in Christ. Here is a video of that portion of my talk, from a lecture in Indiana.

For more on how both virgins and repentant nonvirgins are one in Christ, see the parable of the vineyard laborers and the parable of the prodigal son.

UPDATE, 5/3/08: LifeSiteNews picked up the story. Although they did not interview me, I agree with the reporters' assessment. They add the following information:
Ontario's Catholic teachers are all forced to belong to a union that has for many years strongly opposed the Church's moral teachings. The union intervened in a legal action on behalf of a student that successfully forced his Catholic school to allow him to bring his homosexual lover to the school prom.

The province's bishops have not taken strong actions to bring the union in line. The main school religion programs, approved by the bishops, have received much criticism for their weak presentation of Catholic teaching and excessive emphasis on "social justice" issues.

Despite these negative factors, some Ontario Catholic schools, thanks to faithful School Boards, teachers, principles and parents, as well as some bishops who have accepted there are serious problems in the schools they must personally address, do manage to give authentic Catholic moral and spiritual formation to their students.
THIS STUDENT'S GOT CLASS: A Grade 10 HCC student offers a very kind and thoughtful apology for her schoolmates' behavior.