Jesuitical 14: Fordham, Coulter and Singer

Friday, November 16, AD 2012


Part 14 of my ongoing survey of the follies of many modern day Jesuits.  Fordham President Joseph McShane, SJ, knows who his real enemy is.  Today Fordham is hosting the well known proponent of euthanasia and abortion Peter Singer at a conference charmingly entitled:  “Conference with Peter Singer: Christians and Other Animals: Moving the Conversation Forward.”  Singer is fine according to McShane, but he bitterly criticized the College Republicans recently at Fordham for sponsoring a speech by Ann Coulter.  Robert Shibley, at Professor William Jacobson’s magnicent blog College Insurrection, gives us the juicy details:

Fordham University is in a bit of a bind.

After loudly proclaiming his “disgust” with the “hate speech” of conservative pundit Ann Coulter in an email to all students, in the process slamming the Fordham College Republicans—his own students—as immature bigots who lack character, Fordham President Joseph McShane, S.J., is now faced with defending his administration’s invitation to philosopher and infanticide advocate Peter Singer to participate in a panel on “animal ethics.”

This puts Fordham in a tough spot.

Father McShane could have allowed the marketplace of ideas to function on its campus without engaging in an electronic temper tantrum. (To his credit, he did not ban Coulter from campus, although the College Republicans clearly saw which way the wind was blowing and canceled the event themselves—here’s one student’s reaction to that.) But he didn’t, and now Fordham is stuck trying to justify McShane’s statement.

In response to an email from a College Insurrection reader provided to us, Bob Howe, Senior Director of Communications at Fordham, penned the following response, attempting to explain why having Peter Singer advocating his positions on campus is totally different from having Ann Coulter advocate her positions:

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13 Responses to Jesuitical 14: Fordham, Coulter and Singer

  • What is it: double standard, hypocrisy, or stupidity?

    To quote that famed American cultural icon, Bart Simpson, “I’m insulted!”

    Infanticide, sodomy, etc. are promoted.

    Freedom, personal responsibility, free markets, etc. are censored.

    Anyhow, the grads will be lucky to get part-time work at “Bed, Bath and Beyond.”

  • Not being a canon scholar I’d like to know if a school can be stripped of its Catholic name? What protections are there against anyone just calling themselves Catholic regardless of the reality?

  • Peter Singer also sees nothing wrong with bestiality.

  • Paul D, i totally agree with you. The word “Catholic” should be legally protected so that entities like Notre Dame that honor pro-abortion public figures will be forced to stop capitalizing on Catholic identity.

  • I know that this is one of those stories I’m supposed to get really angry about, but I can’t. First of all, the name given is wrong. Drop the “Conference with Peter Singer” part. That’s significant because he’s one of four panelists (another of whom is an editor of First Things). The topic is the Christian view of animal rights, not infanticide. I personally wouldn’t walk across the street to attend that discussion, but I don’t see anything necessarily wrong with it.

  • I don’t disagree, Pinky, at least not passionately so. Yet Singer’s views are so odious that it is hard to just set them aside. If he were a white supremacist would we do that?

  • “The fact that the College Republicans backed down on inviting Coulter in the
    face of the attack by McShane helps explain how the election was lost this year.
    No fortitude, no victory.”

    According to the statement released by the College Republicans and signed by
    the President, VP, Treasurer and Secretary, the Fordham CR had already decided
    to drop Ms. Coulter before Fr. McShane’s 15 minute hate was emailed:

    “We made this choice freely before Fr. McShane’s email was sent out and we
    became aware of his feelings– had the President simply reached out to us
    before releasing his statement, he would have learned that the event was being
    cancelled”. — Fordham College Republicans

    Folding like a bunch of cheap tents– it’ll be a wonder if Fordham’s College
    Republicans will ever be able to get a prospective speaker to return their
    phone calls again. If they are a fair gauge of the caliber of the future leaders
    of the Republican party, we need to get used to losing elections. No fortitude,
    no victory, indeed.

  • “I personally wouldn’t walk across the street to attend that discussion, but I don’t see anything necessarily wrong with it.”

    Peter Singer is an advocate of killing handicapped kids, leaving aside his vociferous advocacy of abortion and euthanasia. He should no more be invited to attend a panel discussion at a Catholic college than any of the murderers with degrees after their names who served the Third Reich. Fordham gives this monster legitimacy by treating him as if he has a right to sit among decent human beings.

    If anyone thinks I exaggerate, go here for an overview on Singer:

    “The notion that human life is sacred just because it is human life is medieval.”
    Peter Singer

  • Coincidently, last evening on the LIRR, I was reading my freshman Ancient History text. One innovation in Sparta the institution of a council to usurp Spartan fathers’ right to decide whether an infant should die.

    Fordham, You’re promoting ancient, pagan barbarism, Baby. (No pun intended.)

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  • What is happening to Catholic education? Fordham can’t stand to have an advocate for free speech yet has no problem with one whose views are totally opposed to anything the Catholic church stands for? Georgetown covers crucifixes so as not to offend a president who says he’s a Christian and welcomes him even though he is a proponent of allowing abortion survivors to die? Notre Dame – I can’t even read anything about them any more. Breaks my heart.

    I am most disappointed in the young republicans. Invite or don’t invite as you will but once invited, stand by your invitation.

  • It’s a lot different than one, Vince Lombardi went to Fordham and was in their blocks of granite. And people wonder about the “Catholic vote” ?? when we have things like this going on?? Thank goodness, St. Thomas St. Paul seems to keep to Catholic values, I’ve heard different about St. Catherine’s there but can’t be sure.

  • Richard Cancemi
    November 18, 2012 at 8:47 am · Reply

    John Collingnon, in his comment, refers to the Jesuits as a sect. This is not true; they are a Religious Order called “The Society of Jesus, hence the SJ after there names. They were founded by St. Ignatious of Loyola whose mission he vowed was to defend the Faith. In addition to the vows of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience, all those who joined him took a fourth vow to be Protectors of the Faith and the Pope. They were the intellectuals of the Church’s teachings and hence were also teachers in Universities. Their schools were well respected.

    During the Protestant Reformation in England they were hunted down and killed savagely because of their defense of Catholic Doctrine. As Protestantism spread throughout Europe, so too were other Religious Orders and Catholics in general. The Jesuits, in particular, were feared because of their superior intellectual abilities.

    Somewhere along their life span of the Order, some Jesuits seemed to have lost their way and had and have become revolutionary radicals. They turned their back to the Church. They were even infiltrated by Communists during Russia’s subversive reign. Many seemed to have embraced Marxist Socialism as part of their thinking and have lost their way. No all, but many.

    Father McShane appears to be among the lost, radical Jesuits supporting Secularism over Religiosity. He is certainly not representative of Catholicism nor is he representative of the original mission of his Jesuit Order. However far too many Jesuits have “lost their way”. Perhaps their intellectual training has a produced in them a hubris that dissolves the humility that is urged in their training.

    Jesuits have been known as “trouble-making revolutionaries” for a long time but those (and there are far too many) are not representatives of Catholicism. They embrace the “injustice” inherent in Marxist Socialism and lose sight of “true justice for all”. “Social Justice” is a Socialist term which they embrace. It means taking (stealing) from some to give to others. It is not to be confused with Christian Charity which is voluntary.

    Father McShane needs to take time out and meditate on his Catholicism and the mission of his Order. His support of the anti-religious ideas of the secularist Peter Singer are inexcusable as a Jesuit and Catholic. He, himself, should make use of the Confessional, if he can get beyond his own personal hubris, and seek absolution for his sinful support of heresy. At the very least, he should be ashamed of himself!

    But please, do not equate Fr. McShane and others like him with Catholic beliefs.

    I, personally would not send my children to a Jesuit School because they can’t be trusted to be objective.

    (There is an interesting book called:”The Jesuits”, written by a former Jesuit, which is very enlightening.)

No More Generations?

Monday, June 7, AD 2010

On the NYT’s philosophy blog, there was an article written about the decision to have children. I didn’t realize it when I first read it, but it was written by notorious pro-abort Peter Singer (and by notorious, I mean that he’s pro-choice even after birth).

But very few ask whether coming into existence is a good thing for the child itself. Most of those who consider that question probably do so because they have some reason to fear that the child’s life would be especially difficult — for example, if they have a family history of a devastating illness, physical or mental, that cannot yet be detected prenatally

All this suggests that we think it is wrong to bring into the world a child whose prospects for a happy, healthy life are poor, but we don’t usually think the fact that a child is likely to have a happy, healthy life is a reason for bringing the child into existence. This has come to be known among philosophers as “the asymmetry” and it is not easy to justify. But rather than go into the explanations usually proffered — and why they fail — I want to raise a related problem. How good does life have to be, to make it reasonable to bring a child into the world?

A quick observation will point out that Singer assumes that health is a requirement for happiness, an assumption well refuted by many anecdotes about the joy of those who suffer with illness.

However, I find it amazing that Singer is willing to attempt to determine how “good” a child’s life will be.

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12 Responses to No More Generations?

  • I’m beginning to think that Peter Singer is the greatest (unwitting) Christian apologist of our generation.

  • Comment #4 at NYT:
    “Perhaps it’s my depression talking, but I have long maintained that I was done a disservice by being created in the first place. I would not inflict that pain on anyone else.”

    Comment #6:
    “I think about this a lot – so many pregnant women are out there, and I wonder where they find the hope to have children. My son is a young adult, and I feel that the likelihood of his living out a natural lifespan is small. Environmental disaster, terrorism, the end of the world feels awfully close. Frankly, I love the idea of a planet devoid of people, healing itself from our damage, taken over by animals and plants. I don’t think most people lead such fabulous lives, and I don’t think it’s worth sacrificing our beautiful home to let more people slog along.”

    This is what we’re dealing with.

  • Singer makes an odd structural decision in his piece. He lays out all the reasons for not reproducing, and then throws in with no explanation in the last paragraph:

    I do think it would be wrong to choose the non-sentient universe. In my judgment, for most people, life is worth living. Even if that is not yet the case, I am enough of an optimist to believe that, should humans survive for another century or two, we will learn from our past mistakes and bring about a world in which there is far less suffering than there is now. But justifying that choice forces us to reconsider the deep issues with which I began. Is life worth living? Are the interests of a future child a reason for bringing that child into existence? And is the continuance of our species justifiable in the face of our knowledge that it will certainly bring suffering to innocent future human beings?

    Which leaves us with the question: if he think that life is actually worth living, why? Or is this his own blind leap of faith? From what he lays out before, there seems little reason to come to this conclusion. It strikes me as a rather intellectually cowardly approach not to even provide support for your own conclusion.

  • Yes, that struck me too. It does seem that in essence he has faith in progress (and science presumably) that the suffering scales will be tipped.

    What I don’t understand is how it is justified to make the generations in between suffer (including Singer as he continues to live a life not worth living) so that the future generations can enjoy a life worth living.

  • “But you have to give Singer credit for being logical. If there is no good, no purpose in love or sacrifice and no eternal life, then perhaps life is not worth living and humanity ought to cease to exist.”

    Isn’t it none-sense to speak about what will be good or bad for a nonentity? I mean, before conception, “you” don’t exist. And if my life is so bad, how could it be better for me to die when (if you believe the self perishes at death), there is no more “me” in the equation?

    Singer is playing with square circles as if he were doing serious geometry.

  • Singer is playing with square circles as if he were doing serious geometry.

    When I first heard of the David Benatar book Singer cited, I thought the same thing — it’s sheer nonsense. To what entity does the “good” of nonexistence accrue? What does it even mean to talk of “good” if there is no existence to assert what is good or bad?

    These guys need to do some serious reflection on the meaning of Exodus 3:14.

  • Singer’s position seems to be that life may be worth living in the future, so he thinks it’s worth continuing the species in hopes that we get there, and also because most people today already assess life as worth living.

    I took him to be raising questions more than providing answers, so I don’t fault him for not providing more support for his position. He may, in fact, have developed his position quite thoroughly elsewhere.

  • God however, does have the capabilities to sort through all the factors to decide when it is best that a child come into the world.

    Would you say that when each and every child comes into the world, that God has decided it was best?

  • Kyle:

    I have a feeling “best” is the wrong word, b/c I don’t know if there ever if a “best” time for a child. I do think that God finds that it would be good for a child to be born and so it happens. If it would be bad for a child to come into the world, I don’t think it would happen.

  • Wow, someone from Vox-Nova defending Singer. Shocking.

  • Karen,

    Kyle was not defending Singer’s views, he was just trying to figure out what the heck they are. In that regard, he was doing no differently than I.

  • Karen,

    I have no qualms about defending Singer when I think he’s right. In this case, though, I merely noted how I understood his position: I didn’t judge his position as right or wrong.