Friday, April 23, 2010

Professor of Sex Tourism

A lame brain teaching economics at California State University in Northridge has been forced to dismantle his website, a how-to guide for men thinking about going to Thailand on a sex tour.

A cautiously worded notice from the campus provost popped up in my email this afternoon. We believe in "open debate," Provost Harry Hellenbrand says. Though we care about gender equity, "our commitment to [free] expression urges us to tolerate words and pictures we find intolerant."

Hey Harry, I don't give a damn about tolerating the words and pictures Kenneth Ng is spewing into the ether. Just kick him out of this place.

The question is: can he be fired? Has he broken any laws? It's clear that he has been involved in promoting sex tourism, closely linked to human trafficking. Is it legal to advise men on where and how to engage in an illegal activity?

He's like someone on the periphery of a drug trafficking ring. If he has profited financially, perhaps he can be arrested. At least he could be trailed for month or two in Los Angeles and arrested as a john.

As a professor on this campus teaching RS 304, Women and Religion, I object to Kenneth Ng's continued employment at CSUN.

His promotion of sex tourism renders his expertise in economics useless in the classroom. How can his class be a learning environment when students will now know him as Big Baby Kenny? He has chosen to become a joke.

Like Bill Clinton and John Edwards, he has rendered himself unable to be an effective leader. Unlike them, he has chosen to participate in and advertise two illegal activities, sex tourism and human trafficking.

For CSUN to ignore this conflict of interest and continue to give him a platform and a paycheck is a violation of our students' right to a peaceful learning environment, particularly that of female students. Sex tourism--sexual exploitation of women--would be the undercurrent to every conversation. If I were a colleague or office worker in his department, I don't see how I could interact with him. If he even smiled at me, I would feel sexual harrassment.

The provost noted that Ng's website has had a "deleterious effect" on CSUN's reputation--but in fact Ng's lingering presence in our classrooms continues to have a harmful effect. Can he still conduct a meaningful class, without silent snickers? Kick him out.

What does it mean to be a professor? Exactly what does Kenneth Ng profess?

How ironic that the owners of a bar in Thailand have been contacting CSUN since June 2009 to rein in this guy--but the university stayed focused on academic freedom and Ng's right to free speech. Reminds me of another organization in Rome that has been more focused on protecting predators than on protecting young victims.

Anyway, a big THANK YOU to the 200 members of who signed a petition to CSUN's president, Jolene Koester, asking that Ng be forced to take down his website.

Noonan Calls for Women Priests

Peggy Noonan writes about "How to Save the Catholic Church" in her column today in the Wall Street Journal.

Over the years she has been a fairly conservative voice in the Roman Catholic Church, but today she comes out for ordaining women as priests.

"The old Vatican needs new blood," she says today. "They need to let younger generations of priests and nuns rise to positions of authority within a new church. Most especially and most immediately, they need to elevate women. As a nun said to me this week, if a woman had been sitting beside a bishop transferring a priest with a history of abuse, she would have said: 'Hey, wait a minute!'"

Noonan reviews a column she wrote eight years ago in response to sexual abuse by priests in Boston, in which she called for the resignation of Cardinal Bernard Law, who attempted to hide the crimes.

She took a lot of criticism for that column. A year later the Cardinal, after being moved to a high-ranking post in Rome, told her: "We don't need friends of the church turning on the church at such a difficult time. We need loyalty...."

Yeah right, she says now.

You need reform. You need a younger generation of priests and nuns in "positions of authority."

I don't see how women would have authority without being at least priests if not bishops, archbishops, and cardinals--so I take it Noonan is in her traditionally mild voice calling for women's ordination.

You go, girl.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Why the Volcano Blew Its Top

"The volcano DEFINITELY erupted because Iceland's prime minister is a lesbian." --a joke circulating on Tweet.

"Many women who do not dress modestly... lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity and spread adultery in society, which (consequently) increases earthquakes." --Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi, acting Friday prayer leader in Tehran, Iraq, speaking in a prayer sermon on April 16. (Thanks to my daughter Marie for alerting me to this one.)

In response to passage of the US health care bill: "I think the earth has opened up. God may have replied." --Rush Limbaugh. (Thanks to Juanita Wright Potter.)

Rush, don't you think Mt. Shasta or Mt. Rainier would have been a better choice of volcano if God were speaking to the US?

Hojatoleslam, you mean the volcano is shouting with Helen Reddy, "I am woman--hear me roar" ?

Anonymous Tweeter, I'm with you. That volcanic crater may be speaking a kind of vagina monologue.

In medieval times there was a gynophobic legend of the devouring vagina, lined with teeth.
I guess certain men today are still afraid of woman power.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

RCC's Persecution Complex

The best explanation I've seen of the Roman Catholic Church's defensiveness and inability to face the current sexual crisis is in this article by Frank Bruni in the New York Times, 3/28/10:

Starting with the execution of Jesus and continuing with persecution in the first few formative centuries, the church believes that secular forces against it are always negative.

In this case, however, as Peggy Noonan points out in today's Wall Street Journal, the church should thank the press for calling them to clean up their act and do justice.

Wrong as wrong can be...

Compare press reports of child sexual abuse to the Holocaust???

Yes, a high-ranking priest at the Vatican made this comparison in a sermon on Good Friday with the Pope in the audience. The Pope did not walk out or raise his hand or voice in disagreement.

See today's New York Times,

David Clohessy is quoted in the same article as saying, "Men who deliberately and consistently hide child sex crimes are in no way victims. And to conflate public scrutiny with horrific violence is about as wrong as wrong can be."

"Thank the media"-- Peggy Noonan

Peggy Noonan in today's Wall Street Journal, "The Catholic Church's Catastrophe," says:

"The church shouldn't be saying j'accuse but thank you" to the press, which only in 2003 started to investigate child abuse in Boston after years of ignoring and shying away from the story.

She says there are three groups of victims: the abused, the good priests and nuns, and the Catholics in the pews.

But Catholics should leave the pews and boycott the collection baskets until their leaders take decisive action, including instituting a canon law that abuse must be reported to local civil authorities.

The Pope and Cardinals must also rethink the 11th C. onward insistence on clerical celibacy and their even earlier ban on women priests. These make no sense in the context of widespread abuse under the celibate-men-only policy.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Hans Kung on the Crisis

Hans Kung commented on the crisis in the Catholic church on March 18 in the National Catholic Reporter.

He says the current mess is another sign that church's policy requiring celibacy for priests is harmful.

Meanwhile, a colleague of mine commented that he saw only one problem with my commentary on Religion Dispatches this week: instead of concluding "The house of cards will fall," I should have written "is falling."

"My sense is that this may play out farther, deeper, and faster than any of us might have imagined in the past," he wrote in an email.

Farther and deeper and faster... oh my!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

More of the Same

On ABC's Nightline, March 31:

Report by Brian Ross on struggle inside the Vatican from 1997 onward over how to respond to reports of child sexual abuse by Macial Marciel, founder of the Legionaries of Christ.

Abuse was further documented in "Vows of Silence"
by Jason Berry.

Ratzinger finally went against Pope JP2 and Sodano to order an investigation but then didn't do enough after receiving the conclusions.

Also a report from The Guardian, March 28, "Pope faces fresh wave of child abuse scandals in Italy":
Hundreds are expected to come forward.
Benedict is under pressure

to call for an emergency meeting
of bishops from around the world.