Whatever your views on homosexuality, or on religion, you should be extremely worried about the free speech implications of this story.
This charge of homophobia, I have believed for some time, is the battering ram that will be used in the next major persecution of the Faith-- which is coming to a street near you, sooner than you think.
Most orthodox Catholics and Christians have a deep distaste of talking about this issue. I have only once heard homosexuality mentioned in a priest's homily, and on that occasion it was an oblique mention.
Sexuality pervades our lives at a deep, deep level, and I feel enormous sympathy for those who are attracted to their own sex, and who realize that this cannot be reconciled with the Christian ideal of sexuality. How could I judge people who face a challenge I will never have to face, one that I'm not at all sure I would myself be able to overcome?
And yet, I never believe for a moment that homosexual acts are morally licit, or that same-sex behaviour is not a turning away from the very essence and purpose of sexuality. To pretend to think otherwise would be the most violent coercion of my conscience. And I do not think that a society that demands such a suppression of conscience can flourish.
I wrote an email to Dr. Pat Morgan, the NUIG " vice-president for the student experience" who has been NUIG's spokeswoman in this matter. I would also encourage readers to write to NUIG and to newspaper columns about this. This is a big deal and it shouldn't be allowed to pass under the radar.
Here is my email (Blogger won't let me put in paragraph breaks, for some weird reason):
Dear Dr Morgan
I would like to convey how distressed I am by the decision of NUIG to suppress freedom of speech in your campus. You are quoted in the Irish Times as justifying the action taken against the Legion of Mary's poster thus: "NUIG has a pluralist ethos and will not condone the production and dissemination of any material by students which discriminates against other students."
If you have a "pluralist ethos", surely you should encourage a plurality of viewpoints. It is quite clear that nobody was being threatened by this poster. The term "discrimination" is so broad and so infinitely open to interpretation as to be meaningless. Every view of the world "discriminates" against somebody, in that it values or condemns certain behaviours rather than others.
It is clear that this decision was taken because a vocal interest group on campus mounted a campaign of complaints. But the fundamental principle of freedom of expression is that we have the right to express our opinions even if other people find them offensive. Surely intellectual freedom and the open exchange of ideas should flourish in a university campus, of all places?
I am well aware that the Legion of Mary and the Galway diocese have decided not to pursue this matter, doubtless for reasons of prudence. This doesn't afffect the injustice of the decision.I am afraid that in this situation you have operated as an apparatchick of political correctness. It is the Legion of Mary, and nobody else, who are the victims of discrimation here.
I am not in any way connected to the Legion of Mary.
Maolsheachlann O Ceallaigh