Monthly Archives: July 2010

Clarence Page on Sherrod, Breitbart et al.

Only the black Ag Dept. official who talked to an NAACP group last March and the white farmers she really did help emerged with “grace and dignity intact” from the recent brouhaha, says Chi Trib’s Clarence Page

The culprits included the Obama White House, Ag Secy. Vilsack, NAACP’s Jealous, and Fox host O’Reilly, who at least draws a major media pay check.  But the one Page concentrates on is the “blogger . . . defiant dope,” shame-lacking, guilty-hand-washing Andrew Breitbart, who ran a video clip out of context and set off a panic among Obama aides, the Ag Secy, and the NAACP leadership, all of whom responded like scared kittens and ultimately blamed other people.  “We now live in this media culture where something goes up on YouTube or a blog and everybody scrambles,” said President Obama, for instance.

Naturally, Page concentrates on Breitbart.  Besides nailing ACORN some months back, he “was [this time] after the NAACP,” because of its “recent call for the tea party movement to rid itself of ‘racist elements.’”  Breitbart said running the Sherrod clip was “about tarring . . . the tea party movement with the false charge of racism,” to which Page, in full sardonic mode: “Right.”  Moreover, Breitbart runs “willfully conservative Web sites” — the worst kind, we might add. 

“Bring it on,” says Page.  “There’s plenty of room on the Web,” adding, as if we were not in at least the second decade of Internet warfare: “Let the consumers decide whose version of journalism is worth their time.”  You’d think he’d go light with that sort of talk.

For consumers he had straight-from-the-shoulder advice: “Keep a healthy skepticism.”  For practitioners of “citizen journalism,” he had “Remember the old school lesson . . .: Getting the story right is better than getting it first.”  That old-school wisdom, from a seasoned practitioner.

And then another nostrum that an old-school practitioner might just hesitate to pronounce in a time of widespread plunging mainstream circulation and plummeting reader and viewer confidence: “Bad journalism eventually produces its own punishment.”  Bankruptcy, for instance.

In any case, readers can now (at last) view Breitbart’s work “with [again] the healthy skepticism that it deserves.”  Thank heaven.

As for the other culprits, “the folks in the White House and the NAACP,” he has this: “Don’t let fear of a charge of racism from the right impair your common sense.  . . .  Don’t take the bait.”  Thing never to forget is you’re not the racists.  It’s the other guys.

Not for Attribution posting . . .

. . . about Latin Mass Magazine.

Cedra Crenshaw: remember the name

This woman looking very good for Will County (and the rest of Illinois).  She just beat out Dems for state senate ballot place.  They had been nit-picking, and the court decided in her favor.  A win for democracy.

And for Illinois.

Listen up

Cedra C. video


Same-sex ministry

New improved version of my Chicago Catholic News story (now trashed to cache) about same-sex ministry is up.  It begins:

Church Reporter: Priest in business of “helping same-sex-oriented people calm their urges and live chaste lives

(UPDATED: 7/22/10) Speaking at the monthly Catholic Citizens of Illinois luncheon on July 9, Fr. Paul Check pressed one of the hottest social-climate buttons around, converting same-sex people to opposite-sexers — in their behavior if not in their orientation.

As recently installed national director of Courage, which performs chaplain services for 12-step programs in 100-plus U.S. dioceses, including Chicago and overseas, he’s in the business of helping same-sex-oriented people calm their urges and live chaste lives according to Church teaching.  . . . .

Thank you for your patience in this matter, and call again.


Later, from my heterosexual buddy in Ann Arbor,” a cautionary, nay, a wholly negative note:

Rots a’ ruck to the well-intentioned Fathers.  My biased view is that (beyond sincere) prayer there is little that Priests or any others can do to redeem committed homosexuals.

Admittedly, my view is  biased by my experience as a practicing (psycho)therapist, from which vantage point, I failed over and over again to recover  normalcy for homosexual patients who (GENUINELY AND DEEPLY, AS IT SEEMED TO ME) wanted to regain their preference for normalcy — at the end, I felt that the failure was mine, and that the disorder was (by its origins and sub-societal support) a chosen style of life, rooted in some basic physical disorder, and thus (ought)not be subject to moral condemnation.

Whatever the truth of all of this, I came away from this professional experience convinced that the victims of the disorder had no personal responsibility for the homosexual lifestyle that they practiced, and thus should be as immune from social condemnation as are persons who suffer from arthritis or post-traumatic anxiety.

More to come, from this quarter, about whether changes can come to these individuals.

Where’s that lede anyhow?

Buried-lede alert, buried-lede alert . . . Why would Manya Brachear focus on the issue behind the story rather than the hard news, as in her Sunday Chi Trib story, “U. of I.’s teaching partnership with Catholic Church draws scrutiny”? 

She leads:

The flap over a University of Illinois adjunct instructor dismissed after making controversial remarks about homosexuality arises from an unusual partnership between the state university and the Roman Catholic Church.

But the hard news, that a second U. of Illinois faculty investigation is under way, in addition to one about why the teacher, Kenneth Howell, was fired and how, is way down:

Faculty and administrators now will review that policy [the “unusual partnership”] to determine if it violates the separation of church and state or threatens academic integrity. They hope to conclude their investigation before the fall semester begins.

I’m assuming the first investigation has been reported.  Such a partnership is not new, by the way: my cousin, the late David Bowman, S.J., taught Catholicism at the U. of Iowa in the late ’50s under much the same rubric. 

But by Sunday’s big paper, the first investigation had become an afterthought for Brachear and her editors, for whom the church-state issue, rather than academic freedom, was the really interesting thing.

But hard news comes first.  Fran Spielman of the Sun-Times comes to mind.  Columnist Mike Royko was always after news, as opinionated as he was: it was what he was raised on, starting, I presume, at City News Bureau.  Columnist Robert Novak sought never to write a column without something new that he’d uncovered. 

Moreover, why the absence of interest in the freedom issue, in this case to what extent the protected species that is the gay and lesbian community got such prompt, thorough response from university authorities?

Nothing wrong with a trend story, of course.  Slow news days depend on them.  But this spotting an issue and selling the story with it has an eagerness factor that damages credibility.  Detachment, please, and a bit more reporting, as of similar situations if there are any, and if there are none, then it’s an even bigger story, rather than a mildly irritating one.

First blast of the season

In Missouri, Republican Roy Blunt has a message: Obama is for his opponent!  Enough said!

(It’s a Drudge heads-up:

IT’S ON: First negative ad from candidate linking Dem to Obama.)

Heads up, Chicago!

Same day, same trial, two newspapers, two hard-copy home-delivery headlines:

* Chi Trib: “Brother sticks by ex-governor, Ousted leader was misunderstood on some issues, older sibling says,” all under under “Blagojevich on trial.”  Nice story, will neither disturb one over morning coffee nor unduly tax the mind.  Go Trib.

* Sun-Times: “BLAGO’S BROTHER TESTIFIES: JESSE JR.’S GUY OFFERED $6 MIL FOR SENATE SEAT.”  Capsule summary underneath and to the right: “Robert Blagojevich testifies that Raghu Nayak — who authorities say was an emissary for Jesse Jackson Jr. — offered to raise $1 million for ex-governor Rod Blagojevich.  Nayak then said Blagojevich would get $5 million more once Jackson was appointed senator.”  Lots of info, non-generic, for newspaper reader with better things to do than decipher things.  Go Sun-Times.


FYI: Online Trib story here, discoverable amidst online chaos, neither Drudge nor Newsalert, two that know how to reach online reader. 

Sun-Times here, also not easy to find.  Behold the noosepaper dilemma.  But at least save the hard copy with punchy hard-news stuff!  Nod goes as ever to S-T, Trib never was very good at it.

Remember McLuhan’s “People don’t actually read newspapers. They step into them every morning like a hot bath.”  It’s here, but scroll down.

Fired U. of Ill. prof a natural

Major point made here inadvertently by a student complaining about Kenneth Howell at U. of Illinois:

Teaching a student about the tenets of a religion is one thing. Declaring that homosexual acts violate the natural laws of man is another.

But that’s Catholic teaching to its fingertips: everything is discussed in light of human nature, even the action of grace and the spiritual works of the church, which are supernatural.  The distinction is crucial.  A teacher of Catholic thought will inevitably talk about what’s natural and what isn’t.

With all respect to evangelicals and fundamentalists, the words of Scripture are not the last word for Catholics.  They are not the clincher, as it were, before which reason must slink away defeated.  Catholics defend the nature of things, the natural, while holding also for the supernatural.

The quote is from Huffington Post, which excerpts it from the News-Gazette of Champaign-Urbana, which also has a disturbing item which I hadn’t see elsewhere, namely that Howell has been fired by the local bishop, Daniel Jenky, C.S.C., once a dorm rector at the U. of Notre Dame.

He was also director of the Institute of Catholic Thought, part of St. John’s Catholic Newman Center on campus and the Catholic Diocese of Peoria. After losing his teaching position with the UI, Howell was told by the Newman Center that he would no longer be employed there either.

This man Howell can’t win for losing.

Later:  An astute reader thinks Howell will regain his Newman Center job.  The bishop is re-thinking the matter as public support grows for Howell.  He and the Newman people reacted blindly but are “getting stronger” on the issue, “mostly because of pressure from lay people.”  Vive la laïcs.

Jesuit want ads aren’t working

Wheeling Jesuit U., unable to fill its open presidency with a Jesuit, has company. Gonzaga U., in Spokane WA, for one, which has promoted its acting president, a 44-year-old layman, to president, suspending its bylaws to do so.

For another, Creighton U., in Omaha NE, is finding “a good Jesuit hard to find.” Its search committee

might bump into a 21st century reality that’s increasingly pushing other Jesuit universities to hire non-priests as presidents.

Nobody wants to see the day (of a non-Jesuit president) come, but it might come. We have to deal with that, said Bill Fitzgerald, the chairman of Creighton’s board of directors

The day has already come for nine of the 28 Jesuit universities in the U.S., each with a permanent or interim president who is not a Jesuit priest, Rev. Charles Currie, president of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities, told the World-Herald.

We used to assume that (the president’s job) could only be done by a Jesuit, but we’ve learned over the years that it isn’t true, Currie said. It’s not something we should be fearful of. . . . . There’s clearly value in having a Jesuit, but if that person is not available, you have to move in other directions.

Be that as it may, Currie, who was Wheeling Jesuit’s president 1972-82, was an early (and repeated) defender of Wheeling Jesuit’s surprise ouster of its Jesuit president last August after only two years. In the stormy aftermath of the firing, Currie cited “confidentiality” requirements, inadvertently encouraging suspicion by alumni and others of scandal — which was never either alleged or demonstrated. Three Jesuits acting as Wheeling Jesuit trustees, effected the firing. One of the three was himself later replaced by a layman as president of University of Detroit-Mercy.

Wheeling Jesuit suspended its own search in late October, by which time no Jesuit had applied for the position. Last February the university hired a nun, Sister Francis Marie Thrailkill, as new interim president.


In hard times, union hardball has no traction:

With one of its two elementary schools crippled by a stalled construction project, the school board of River Forest Elementary School District 90 voted this morning to cancel a union contract and bring in a non-union company to finish the job.

Look. The working man is not just the union member, who in this case is killing jobs for himself and his brothers and sisters. When will they ever learn?

Thing is, this school board depends not a whit on labor money.

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