Today's Chicago Sun-Times features the column "Obama speech tests Notre Dame's strength" by Carol Marin. She begins:
It takes courage to be a Catholic educator. In America's culture wars, abortion is the trump card of every moral discussion. Or so the righteous right requires us to believe.
At Notre Dame, the most Catholic of Catholic universities, a national protest is building over the decision by the school's president, the Rev. John I. Jenkins, to invite President Obama to give the commencement address on May 17.
Marin then goes on to write that Obama's done much more than advancing abortion and embryonic stem cell research. For example, he's "trying to stop the economy from going over a cliff." She approvingly quotes a former Catholic university administrator saying the role of those institutions is to "espouse academic freedom where people are allowed to research, teach and hear many voices on campus . . ." And what would an article mentioning the Catholic Church be without at least one reference to pedophilia? Marin doesn't disappoint in that regard.
You'd think Marin, who prides herself on journalistic professionalism, would at least have started the column with the facts. Obama was not merely invited to give a commencement address. Notre Dame's own Web site acknowledges he will also be "the recipient of an honorary doctor of laws degree."
This clearly conflicts with the policy of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, which provides:
The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.
One speculates as to how far Marin's support for many voices being heard on college campuses goes. Does she think David Duke would be an appropriate speaker at Howard University? How about a Holocaust denier at American Jewish University?
Carol knows from personal experience that the free speech notion only extends so far. A dozen years ago, Marin quit a Chicago TV news anchor job because the station hired Jerry Springer to do commentaries. The May 1, 1997 Chicago Sun-Times published an article by Marin on the subject. She wrote:
This fight is not about Springer. It is about respecting the intelligence of the public we serve. It is about protecting the journalistic values to which many of us still subscribe.
Yet she doesn't admit that the Notre Dame-Obama controversy is about protecting the moral values to which many Catholics think a Catholic university should subscribe. No, it's all about "the righteous right." You know, the people who "require" everyone to believe certain things.
Jerry Springer makes as much sense as Carol.