Even the British press has noticed the hypocrisy of Fordham University President Joseph McShane’s decision to protest a talk by Ann Coulter while embracing a visit by infanticide advocate Peter Singer.
Tim Stanley of The Telegraph UK reports.
No sex with dolphins, please. We’re conservatives
Fordham University (an American college in the “Catholic tradition”) has made a couple of bizarre decisions about its social calendar. Last week it effectively barred the conservative, pro-life pundit Ann Coulter from speaking on the campus. But on Friday it welcomed the controversial bioethics professor Peter Singer to a panel discussion – a man who supports abortion and euthanasia rights. The event planners promised to “provoke Christians to think about other animals in new ways.” I’m sure Singer delivered. The aged hippie is also on record as lamenting the social “stigma” attached to having sex with animals. Folks, lock up your dolphins.
Putting aside Fordham’s weird definition of who is and who isn’t a tasteful speaker in front of a nominally Christian crowd, it’s instructive to examine more closely Singer’s approach to “bioethics” (the ethical bit presumably means buying the dolphin dinner first before making a move). In his infamous essay, “Heavy Petting” (a pun that would even turn Chaucer’s stomach), Singer writes that in age of declining taboo, “sex across the species barrier,” while not normal, “ceases to be an offence to our status and dignity as human beings.” After all, “Occasionally mutually satisfying activities may develop.” He’s not just talking about a game of frisbee here.
From a post-modern perspective, everything Singer says is technically correct. If there is no objective moral or “natural” standard of what is and isn’t acceptable sexual practice – if everything is reduced purely to the non-violent sharing of physical pleasure – then it does become much harder to say “no” to those creepy folks who hang around zoos in raincoats. And in the lazy sense of enjoying and instigating sex, animals can crudely be said to consent. Dolphins might look cute and have a reputation for being cleverer than the average England centre forward, but they are also known as the rapists of the sea – and have even molested human beings.
But that sick feeling that you’re getting in the pit of your stomach as you read this is a symptom of an outrage that is far more potent than a mere evolutionary process. It’s the intellectual, emotional sense that some things are “just wrong, dammit” – and an orgy in an aquarium is high on the list. If you feel it strongly enough, you might just be one of those social conservatives whose days are so often said to be numbered. Although it’s not compulsory to like Rick Santorum.
When it comes to money matters, conservatives tend to be on the side of the rich and powerful (their economic logic is often ruthless). But when it comes to sex, centuries of tradition usually favours the interests of the vulnerable. The notable exception is gay rights, where the rigid application of Biblical morality has often disadvantaged a vulnerable minority (although in ten years time, mainstream conservatives will be offering tax breaks to gay couples – just you wait and see). But in all other matters, the conservative is usually on the side of the little people. Conservatism seeks to protect the prostitute from exploitation, addicts from pornography, children from being objectified and the family from adultery. It’s impossible to refute that conservatism has mellowed in the last fifty years (for the better), but in its ready sense of disgust at anything sexual that reduces one partner to the status of an object or a slave it remains the guardian of the weak. Real conservatism shares the same concerns as Real leftism – namely the fear that capitalism and materialism turns humans into commercialised tools of stimulus and response. Good feminists and good conservatives have much in common.
And so it is bizarre that Fordham would rather break bread with a man like Singer than a woman like Coulter. For the same Christian concern that is shown towards children, poor women and troubled men ought to be extended to dolphins. And the proposition that having sex with animals might be one more taboo up for a rethink ought to be greeted with disgust. If Fordham truly has a Christian worldview, then Singer should contravene its sense of objective moral truth – namely that the head and the heart cry out again the abuse of innocent creatures.
Be in no doubt: bestiality is far worse a prospect than an evening in the company of Ann Coulter.