Saturday, January 28, 2006

Academic Freedom

Here is a passage from a statement by Rev. Brian J. Shanley, O.P., president of Providence College, regarding his reasons for prohibiting a production of The Vagina Monologues on his campus:
This policy will inevitably raise questions regarding academic freedom. The true meaning of academic freedom is often misunderstood; it is not the license to hold any view that one chooses. Academic freedom is instead always governed by truth. It is the freedom to pursue the truth in a discipline in accord with the accepted canons of inquiry without any impediment by extraneous considerations. Prohibiting a theatrical production of The Vagina Monologues does not prohibit free inquiry about the play. All members of the campus are free to read, study, and discuss the play in various settings, especially the classroom. It is perfectly appropriate that we study texts that have diverse views in order both to broaden our understanding of others and to bring our own views into sharper focus. I fully expect that one result of this communication will be some controversy. As a long-time student of St. Thomas Aquinas, I think disputes are an important part of education, so long as they are conducted with charity. While arguments about intellectual positions help us to learn from each other, attacks on persons do not.
That seems right to me.

7 comments:

Jeff Pioquinto,SJ said...

nice blog. thanks and God bless

Scott Carson said...

Thank you very much for your kind words, Fr. Pioquinto!

Danny Garland Jr. said...

I had to read the play for a theatre class in college. It is absolutley degrading of women. People in the class were saying how wonderful it was, while I was the only one arguing that it was immoral and very disrespectful of women. I'm sure that the people who praise this play are also supporters of the movie Brokeback Mountain.

Scott Carson said...

Danny--

Thanks for the comment, and good luck with your studies. If you wind up going to Steubenville, look me up on the way (Athens is only about a three hour drive from there).

Danny Garland Jr. said...

Scott,
Thanks. If I am ever in Athens, I will look you up.

MrsDarwin said...

I have read snippets of The Vagina Monologues, and it's a nasty piece of work. The fallacy of the piece comes from assuming that a woman cannot be fully empowered (or whatever) without defining herself primarily by her sexual attributes. Blah. So much for feminists of the past demanding that women demand the franchise or education or some form of respect. All we really need to do is to talk about sex nonstop!

dilexitprior said...

I've read it and seen it. In fact I was asked to participate in it . . . although I was going through a bit of a nebulous period in my Faith at the time, at least I was able to recognize it as being degrading and offensive and refrained from participating. Ughhhhh... it really is horrible.