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The New Hate Speech: Catholic Teaching at a Catholic College

There was a time in the not-so-distant past when homosexuals were routinely bullied. It was unacceptable, odious behavior back then, as much as it is today. But oh, how the tables have turned! Now, it seems, homosexuals (and their politically active allies) are themselves the bullies — even at Catholic colleges. Case in point: This March, Providence College (PC) in Rhode Island — which is run, ironically, by the Dominican’s Province of St. Joseph, one of the most orthodox religious communities in the country — was the scene of harassment, intimidation, and the threat of forced sodomy. The victim: PC senior Michael Smalanskas. His “offense”: He posted a bulletin-board display in the hallway of his dorm that affirmed Church teaching on marriage. The display, which he titled “Marriage: The Way God Intended It,” included a quote from Pope Francis, “We must affirm the right of children to grow up in a family with a mother and a father,” and showed a bride and groom inside a church. Other parts of the display read, “Traditional marriage: God ordained it. Nature reveals it. Science affirms it,” and “Marriage should be reinforced. Not redefined!” Finally, the display quoted the words of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark: “And the two shall become one flesh….” That’s it.

Smalanskas, a 22-year-old resident advisor (RA) in one of the college’s undergraduate dorms, told LifeSiteNews.com (Mar. 19) that as soon as he put up the display, he “immediately [started] getting all sorts of harassing text messages.” Soon a mob of students, including RAs from other buildings, started showing up and milling around outside his room. They tore down his bulletin-board display. Smalanskas says he couldn’t even brush his teeth for several nights “without facing a mob in my hallway.” The protestors called for him to be fired from his RA position and, according to a drawing one of the students placed on a mirror in Smalanskas’s dorm bathroom, forcibly sodomized. The students who were gathering outside his room were threatening enough that campus security had to move Smalanskas to a safe, undisclosed location on the other side of campus. This, in reaction to a bulletin-board display affirming Church teaching. At a Catholic college.

Readers will recall that Anthony Esolen, an orthodox Catholic professor who had taught Renaissance studies at PC for 25 years, was taken to task last year by politically correct forces at the college for confronting PC’s politically correct usage of the word diversity (see our New Oxford Note “The Cult of Diversity at Providence College,” Jan.-Feb. 2017). The problem, as Esolen saw it, was this: Providence College, in appealing to the vague and undefined empty vessel of diversity, was willingly suppressing its own Catholic culture in favor of an infection with Western sexual obsessions.

It is this same infection that ignited the controversies following both the “outing” of Esolen’s lamentation and Smalanskas’s bulletin-board display. But controversy is one thing. People, be they students or professors or chaplains or administrative fat cats, are human. They get angry, they get irate, they get frustrated. Sometimes they might even band together to protest, exercising their right to free speech. Certainly, there’s nothing wrong with any of this, whether you agree with the subject of the protest. Harassment, intimidation, and the threat of bodily harm, however, are not acceptable. They are not free speech; they are barbarism.

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