Friday, April 21, 2006

"Free speech" and The Vagina Monologues

Yikes! This is still going on? Yes, there is still controversy about the play the Vagina Monologues. As for myself, I don't care if the play is performing across the street from me. I don't get riled up about this kind of stuff.

A confession: I've never seen the play. But from what I heard, it involves three women sitting on bar stools yelling out the "C" word. And they pretend to have orgasms---just like in When Harry Met Sally--man, is that original.

There is a move within Catholic circles--the more conservative, or if you prefer, the Catholic part of the Catholic church, to not have the play performed on Catholic university campuses.

That would fit in with Pope John Paul II's Ex Corde Eccliesiae (On Catholic Universities), the late Pope's statement on what a Catholic university should be.

Steven Plaut has a good post about The Vagina Monologues and Notre Dame here.

In my opinion, those that view The Vagina Monologues as a free speech issue are over-reaching. Simply put, the compulsion of universities--not just Catholic ones--to perform The Vagina Monologues is about one thing: shock value. And a quick buck, since the set for the Vagina Monologues consists of three bar stools.

To say putting on the play is about free speech just doesn't carry much water.

Of course try telling that to DePaul University's President Dennis Holtschneider. When he attempted to (inaccurately) portray DePaul as a champion of free speech after the school's disgraceful conduct in the Thomas Klocek affair became widely known, Father Holtschneider said this:

Recently, I have found myself as president standing up for this academic freedom when the university withstood a nationally organized campaign against a production of The Vagina Monologues on campus.

DePaul performances of the play date back to 2003. That year, in the same Lincoln Park neighborhood where that DePaul performance took place, the Apollo Theater had an extended run of the same play. The Apollo is less than a mile from DePaul's Lincoln Park campus. It's not there anymore, but The Vagina Monologues pops here and there in the Chicago area on a pretty regular basis.

Other campuses and cities aren't that much different in regards to Vagina Monologues accessibility. In short, if a Catholic university isn't allowed to stage a production of The Vagina Monologues, students and faculty should be able to, with little difficulty, find a nearby production of the play and view the three ladies on their bar stools yelling out the "C" word again and again and again.

The "nationally organized campaign" Holtschneider alluded to comes from the Cardinal Newman Society.

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