I was scheduled to give a talk this Monday at Mercy High School in Farmington Hills, Michigan. But I won't be speaking. The school's principal rather abruptly cancelled the invitation.
The student pro-life club invited me to speak on Margaret Sanger, who, apart from founding Planned Parenthood, was a rather outspoken racist, an anti-Catholic bigot, and an enthusiast of concentration camps, eugenics, and forced sterilization. One would think that Sanger, and not someone criticizing Sanger, would be controversial at a Catholic school. Alas, the topsy-turvy world of Catholic education offers many surprises.
Carolyn Witte, the school's principal, lamely rationalizes her decision by noting that the "content" of my speech, of which she has no idea, "could be misunderstood." By such standards, every speech might be banned. Last year the school attempted to block a student-led 9/11 memorial by claiming that the flags the students intended to hang outdoors were a fire-hazard--a characterization the local fire department found laughable. In its efforts to silence speech it dislikes, the school's administration is setting a horrible example for its students.
Mercy is a private high school. It's not a college. It's not tax funded. The standards on free speech, then, differ from, say, Michigan State. Had they not wanted me to speak, they had every right to do so prior to contracting with Young America's Foundation to host me. But once an agreement is reached, disinviting a speaker becomes a breach of contract. I purchased plane tickets. I coaxed a relative to take off work and mind my son in my absence. I prepared a speech that I have never given before. My student hosts, and Young America's Foundation, also put quite a bit of work into organizing the event. But, because liberal administrators wish to shield a liberal icon, all that work and money has gone down the drain.
There is a rather inglorious side to Margaret Sanger that gets pushed into the dark. I was hoping to put some light onto it at Mercy High School. That it's not safe to offer criticism of an abortion-rights icon at a Catholic high school demonstrates why the mythology surrounding Planned Parenthood's founder has persisted for so long.
I assume your contract contains the appropriate language to ensure you're compensated for the loss? If not, you need a new lawyer.
The way Left permeates the teaching profession in general and although it's easier for Leftists to push their warped agenda in the government schools, as religion becomes (ironically) less a part of a "Catholic” education, Leftist notions and agendas are making their way up the scale. That includes and emphasis on socialism and banning any free speech that does not conform with liberal manifesto.
The content of your speech "could be misunderstood"? What? Is Ms. Witte not ashamed to admit that her own students have such limited capacity to understand spoken English? Leftist "educators" not only assume their kids are dumb, they also want to keep them that way.
I don't understand. What could be misunderstood? That abortion is evil and against the teaching of the Church? You should send her a copy of Evangelium Vitae. Have you thought about involving the diocese? I wonder whether her Bishop would agree with her decision.
Outrageous...the spinelessness of far too many Catholic School administrators is one of the many reasons why we continue to be mired in a "Culture of Death". Such cowardice surely is not reflective of Pope John Paul II's encouragement to "be not afraid".
Wondering what the bishop would think of her decision, are ya? What decision???
See, I don't really give a hoot about a person's politics, but have the balls to tell me what they are (no offense to the nice lady).
There was no "decision" to be offended by. She made a non-statement that everyone on the receiving end of her snub understands perfectly, but is so ambigous it lends itself to any number of plausible defenses. Liberals are a bunch of damn cowards, and they constantly employ these tactics, rather than putting up an honest fight.
If you care so much about your opinions, what the hell are you afraid of?
I am an alumnus of YAF and I can tell you I am not surprised a Mercy school would not allow a pro-life speaker on campus. I have a B.A. from a Mercy university and am currently pursuing a J.D. from a Mercy law school. Let me tell you after many years within their institutions, they do not care about abortion. I hate to say it but most of the professors and administrators are staunch supporters of abortion rights. The only political speeches that the institution tolerated when I was in undergrad were anti-war protests, fair trade seminars and pretty much anything against George W. Bush. All I can say is thank the good lord I was able to attend YAF my sophomore year of college and learn how to combat the left. It is because of people like Dan that I still have faith in this country. It is because of people like Carolyn Witte that I am losing faith in my church. People will not reject abortion until they see it. With people like Carolyn Witte that will certainly never happen.
I would just like to add, any college or high school aged student should definitely consider attending the YAF conference. It is truly a great experience.
I am sure that Dan's presentation of the life of Margaret Sanger's 80 plus years would have been eminently fair and thorough. And I can therefore understand why some Catholic high schools would shy away from exposing their students to her ideas.
This is what I mean by the non-decision.
Because no discernable reason was given for the dis-invitation, one can make all sorts of arguments about why it happened. Including (and I'm sorry but this makes no sense) the argument that in denouncing Sanger, Dan's speech would actually have the opposite effect of turning the audience in Sanger's favor. The only way this assumption DOES make sense, is if we take as a fact that Dan is one of the worst, clumsiest, unconvincing lecturers on the planet. Or, that Margret Sanger's views on Eugenics are so convincing, even a high schooler can't deny them. And even this latter belief is still rather insulting, as it implies that Dan couldn't make a convincing argument to the contrary.
Either way, Dan should be offended at the insinuation.
Say it ain't so, Dan.
Rest assured as a Catholic Institution Mercy High School is Pro-Life from conception to natural death just like the Universal Church teaches. Not sure what happened with Dan's trip but I pray that he forgives whatever miscommunication occurred. This is a great school that sends almost every young women to college. They later create with God's grace successful families that fill parishes all over this great nation and are doing great works for God's Kingdom. As a soldier I have fought for you folks to say whatever you wish but I truly think we should not jump to a conclusion that the teaching staff at Mercy, a Catholic High School, are pro-abort. That is just not true. Please keep Mercy and all involved in your prayers. Peace.
Guido says that we could understand the school administration would "shy away from exposing their students to Sanger's ideas." Well maybe in the 1950s that would have been the right thing to do. Now some of Sanger's most vicious ideas permeate the culture in one way or another.
Their students will soon be on college campuses where some of these ideas will be dominant. What they need is inoculation not misguided attempts at isolation. Perhaps the adminstration simply does not comprehend the wider culture but it is doubtful, the experiences Tacitus relates ring true with me.
There is a species of Catholic liberal who will not face the truth about their secular allies and have built elaborate psychological mechanisms to hide that truth even from themselves. Dan's work threatens them in some way they cannot even admit to themselves.
Thanks for your service and for your dedication to Mercy High School. But note that no one on this blog jumped to the conclusion that "the teaching staff at Mercy . . . are pro abort." The closest anyone came to that was Tacitus's statement about the faculty at a Mercy affiliated university, and that is not likely to be contravened by any empirical evidence.
Nearly everyone here is complaining about the school administration's "spinelessness." And on that account I see no possible defense of the administration but Guido's, a defense that makes no sense unless we assume the administration does not understand today's academic world.
I will say a prayer that the administration either better understand today's world or get a "spine." They are clearly lacking one or the other and they need both to educate children today.
The Pro-Life club set this up with Dan without going through the request to the administration. So Dan did not contract with Mercy High School for the talk. Therefore, when Ms. Witte and Sister Regina found out about the unapproved visit by Dan they canceled it. I would expect them to do that for the safety our children. I don't know Dan and have never read his books but I do know that I don't want just anyone coming in to talk to the young women without authorization. The speakers should be well grounded in their subject and equally well grounded in the teaching of the Church. This is of upmost importance. The school administration must know that a speaker is are coming. Jesus gave us a new commandment to love one another. I am not sure that all the labels throw out here or the jump to conclusions and judgements within this blog help us to do that. There is no doubt that we need to stop abortion and continue to work to that end. Some folks labeled as conservatives help in the fight against abortion but advocate the death penalty or even believe that distributing contraception is alright. This is against the teaching of the Church. Do Christains still sin - yes. That is why we have the sacrament of reconciliation. The labels conservative of liberal are really not well defined although we hear it all the time. I am liberal and I am conservative. So is everyone else. Please continue to pray for our service members all over the planet. Peace.
JWM: But do you really think that in order to "protect" the "children" and Mercy HIGH school Flynn can't speak there? And you think that in order to be faithful to Catholic teaching the high school must ban a prolife speech by a Catholic?
One last question: Are you serious? Or are you just shilling for the principal?
Catholic schools in this country: they galdly invite heretics on the payroll but fight to keep "dangerous" conservative Catholics away from the "children."
Just a note to those of you who aren't Catholic. JWM is wrong about Catholic theology as well as wrong about the motivations of the Mercy High School administration. (If they were truly trying to protect their "children" they would have investigated, seen that Dan would provide part of that protection, and affirmed the invitation).
Some Catholics know that Christ did not give us a "new" commandment to love one another. It is true our Protestant brethren often read the Old Testament more thoroughly than we do, but some of us have read Leviticus 19:18. Nor is advocating the death penalty against the teachings of the "Church." Many influential members of the "modern" church are against the death penalty but they haven't yet excommunicated Thomas Aquinas or Augustine. And they haven't excised John 19:10-11 from our bible yet.
Note, though, how that kind of Catholic is quick to find any "heresy" in their potential anti-abortion allies while refusing to face the true nature of their big government allies like Margaret Sanger.
I'm ill and just rolled out of bed. Perhaps that can explain my decision to hyphenate. Be-well.
JWM-- just a note. You imply that Dan is not "well-grounded" in his subject matter and in the teaching of the Church. Do you have ANY evidence for this? Obviously not.
Perhaps, then, it is you who is jumping to conclusions and who is not loving your neighbor.
skeptic: This is a tangent here, but just a word in JMW's defense. I don't see that he necessarily implied what you write. Some see a difference between (a) having no evidence and on that basis forming no positive judgment, yet still maintaining openness to various possible conclusions, even opposed ones, and (b) jumping to a conclusion. Perhaps JMW here is an instance of (a). (Or maybe you're the rare kind of skeptic who sees (a) as an actual commitment of position?)
I'll give you credit, though, for the shilling question. With an abundance of respect and gratitude to all members of our armed forces, a non sequitur appeal to one's military service is a cheap rhetorical move that suggests a lack of substance with respect to any actual argument.
Buzz -- it seems to me that JWM is using the pretense of (a) to mask (b). Otherwise, they could have simply called Flynn and asked his positions on abortion, contraception and the death penalty and determined if he was "well-gounded" in his topic. Instead they cancelled the event. This constitutes (b), jumping to an unfavorable conclusion.
Besides, it is rather obvious that this whole talk about the death penalty and contraception is a red-herring. And I guess the question is, Is every speaker (or teacher) at Mercy High really vetted for a consistent adherence to Catholic doctrine on abortion, the death penalty and contraception? Perhaps, but I suspect not. And if not, then we are entitled to look for another answer for the question, Why did they cancel Flynn's speech? JWM's explanation turns out to be no more likely than the principal's sorry explanation that Dan's speech "might be misunderstood."
Thank you Dan Flynn for your efforts. Wrote my e-mails to the school. Hang in there! God bless your work.
Mary. (Any relation to Ray?)
Dan Flynn's take on Margaret Sanger is very much in keeping with the work of professional historians. Perhaps it hasn't filtered down to the popular level, but it is there in the scholarly literature for all to read.
The eugenics movement was very strong in the United States in the early 20th century and was seen by its proponents as "progressive." Actually, it was viewed as a type of social reform by those who wanted to use "science" to improve the human race. That all sounds good, but it's very dangerous, as the German experience in 1933-45 showed.
I just heard Mr. Flynn speak on Catholic Radio about this issue. Mr. Flynn, I hope you won't wait another moment to involve the local bishop in this cancellation. This principal needs to be disciplined and soon! She goes directly against what JPII and Pope Benedict have been stressing about public figure Catholics being pro-aborts.
We had a Catholic high school teacher out here in northern California recently who also volunteered at Planned Parenthood on her off time. When the bishop found out, she was fired!
Make sure your bishop is aware that the Catholic community expects him to act.