I have been accused of not letting the other side speak, a time or two.
I’ve been accused of being one-sided in my presentation of things.
So today, I’m going to do something different.
I am going to allow people to speak for themselves.
Specifically, I’m going to allow Christendom College alumni to dominate the conversation and tell us exactly what’s on their minds. I’ll barely open my trap at all.
Perhaps some of you have been following Simcha Fisher’s investigative report of the alleged gross mishandling of reports of rape at Christendom College. The college released an official apology yesterday, which is good of them as far as it goes as long as real changes are implemented. I don’t know the first thing about Christendom college, except that people tell me it’s even more strait-laced than Franciscan University. I have no particular beef with them. I was content to let the whole matter pass by unremarked upon by me.
And then a friend of mine handed me screengrabs of Christendom students and alumni commenting on news of the investigative report and the college’s response. Hundreds of them. I read them, which wasn’t an easy task. I picked out some to show you.
I’m going to show you some of the things that Christendom College alumni are saying about what happened– anonymously, with the naughty bits filter on the names of the commentators. I don’t want to publicly humiliate any one person; I just want to illustrate a point I’ve tried to make. When I observe that there’s a deeply misogynistic, victim-blaming strain in the politically conservative American Catholic culture bubble, and that such people would rather protect the appearance of the bubble than protect and care for human beings, I’m told I’m making it up. Such people, I’ve been advised, are deeply “chivalrous” and want to honor women. I’m just buying a liberal lie about purity culture and don’t know what I’m talking about.
In answer to that, I’m going to let the people educated in this bubble speak for themselves. Here are direct quotes from Christendom College alumni, and all I’ve changed is to redact their names.
Here are two people who think it’s a sin to go public with the story of your rape:
I don’t know Mr. O’Herron, but maybe he’d better take some remedial courses in morality if this is what he’s teaching college students about ethics.
Ah, the old “It’s interfering with God’s work to tell the truth” defense. I’ve also been told I’m “not spreading the Kingdom” when I try to warn people about abuse and injustice at Catholic institutions– as if the Kingdom of God wasn’t a kingdom of justice and of safety for the vulnerable.
Now here’s somebody who wants to accuse Adele, who bravely came out with her story and exposed herself to all kinds of ridicule, of just trying to cover up bad grades:
Here’s a person who thinks that dating someone by yourself needs to be discouraged and if you don’t go out as a group you can expect to be raped:
Fourteen likes on that one. At least fourteen people think it’s normal to have to stay in a public place in plain sight in a big group to avoid being raped. And that’s not the worst of the victim-blaming:
Here’s someone who refers to fully grown women, legal adults, as “girls” and who insists that a culture of prudishness couldn’t possibly have contributed to what happened to Adele:
Here’s another person who thinks rape victims should be silent for the sake of institutions:
How can anyone justify claiming a man-made institution is more important than a child of God? Because that’s exactly what you’re saying if you claim a rape victim should not be public about abuse by an institution when the institution mishandled it. Universities are less important than persons, and anyone who disagrees with that is going against the Church’s teaching.
Here’s someone who thinks it’s demonic to talk publicly about rape, again so that the college can be protected:
Personally I always thought rape was a mortal sin, and demonic. Snark is just bad manners, and I often dislike Simcha’s snark, but it’s pretty justified just now.
Placing alma mater above truth, and claiming the real danger is a woman who tells the truth. What are they teaching at these schools?
Catholics are often confused and hurt when people of other faiths refer to them as a cult, but honestly, these alumni comments read like comments from someone who has been brainwashed into a cult. I don’t know much about Christendom College, but I know that the reputation of any man-made institution is worth far less than the safety and dignity of a human being. But these people have decided to take the Cardinal Bernard Law Option and circle their wagons around the abusers, sacrificing people for the sake of an institution’s reputation.
This seems very similar to the way allegations of sexual harassment were papered over and silenced by Franciscan University of Steubenville just a few weeks ago. And I think it speaks to a serious problem with the way Catholic universities view themselves. If Catholic universities which loudly profess their commitment to orthodoxy produce alumni and staff who react in this way to sexual misconduct, they are not teaching orthodox Catholic doctrine. They are failing to instill a respect for the dignity of human persons in their students at an alarming rate, and these students are in turn spreading their monomaniacal attitude to the four winds and calling it orthodox Catholic doctrine. This has to be addressed. Grown men and women who graduate from college ought not to have such immature views of personal responsibility, nor should they have such a slavish devotion to an institution rather than to the truth. A proper education should instill proper values, not create a herd of so many obedient sheep.
I applaud the Christendom alumni who spoke out against the ridiculous things their fellow students were saying. And I am grateful that Christendom College seems committed to change. But if they do truly want to change, perhaps they’d better begin by teaching Catholic ethics.
(image via Pixabay)