Thursday, January 19, 2006

Go Providence!

It's one thing for the president of a Catholic college to ban the staging of the Vagina Monologues, it's an awesome thing to also capitalize on the opportunity to teach the school and community that yes, Virginia, an alternative, specifically Catholic understanding of "academic freedom" exists.
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.
God bless the sons and daughters of St. Dominic! (HT: The Curt Jester)