Catholic College Prohibits Poster Showing Collectivist Government Death Tolls
Duquesne University recently forbade the placement of a poster in a dorm hall because the picture of human skulls was "off-putting." At least, that was the official reason.
During Freedom Week, a program of Young America's Foundation, a student at the Catholic college in Pittsburgh planned to put up a poster produced by YAF that condemned communism. The poster has images of human skulls and a man with a shovel, accompanied by a listing of death tolls resulting from progressive socialism.
Bridget Seelinger, student-leader of a conservative club at Duquesne and the person involved in the dispute, wrote in her account:
I met with Father Hogan [Executive Vice President for Student Life] who admitted that he was personally upset by the poster because it featured skulls. He thought the image might upset students in the residence halls. He said the images were somewhat "off-putting" and that he had instructed the residence hall to not even hang the poster.
Because our culture has caused young people to be inured to violence, the idea that a picture of skulls would bother college students is ridiculous. Perhaps the poster's word choice was the more off-putting problem.
When I asked Pat Coyle, Vice President of Young America's Foundation, why the creators of the poster used words like "leftist" and "progressing" instead of "communists" or other terms, he said, "The left likes to call themselves 'progressives,' so we're using the same terminology they call themselves." Brilliant.
Coyle went on to say, "It's hypocritical on [some colleges'] part to be so offended by a poster when they're the ones that put up artwork that offends Christians, but the moment you put up something that offends them, they take it down."
In an e-mail to The College Fix, an online blog for collegiate issues, Coyle writes the reasoning behind the poster:
"The goal of the (skulls) poster is to underscore the number of individuals who have been murdered by collectivist governments," Coyle stated in an email. "Sometimes, the truth hurts. There are professors and administrators on our campuses who still embrace collectivist ideas, and it shocks them when we point out how many have fallen victim to their ideas."
The information on the poster regarding the number of people killed under communism, listed by country, comes from The Black Book of Communism.
Universities pride themselves on being open to freedom of expression. The problem with Duquesne, and many other universities, is that they are not consistent with their supposed mission of providing a place for the free exchange of ideas.
Duquesne would do well to follow its own mission statement, taken from its website:
The Spiritan [mission of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit priests] call emphasizes service to the poor and suffering; commitment to justice in all forms and expressions; and interreligious understanding that welcomes all and excludes none.
Why is a conservative student leader's voice suppressed when she also is "committed to justice" in helping other students remember the horrors of communism?
Ann Kane is editor for Watchdog Wire North Carolina, a blog for citizen-journalists sponsored by Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.