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Who’s Malicious?

Richard John Neuhaus doesn’t like our NOR ads, nor does he like the NOR itself. Writing in his First Things (Nov. 2005, p. 75), he says our ads are “repugnant,” and “those advertisements, like much that appears in the magazine [the NOR], are mean-spirited, malicious, in violation of good taste, and seriously false.” Fr. Neuhaus refers us back to the December 1998 First Things (FT) : “The [NOR] ad that ran in our November [1998] issue was simply beyond the pale. Whatever the derelictions of liberalism, and they are many, it is simply not true, as the ad (see ad in PDF) claimed, that ‘liberals…would love to make every woman a whore’ and embrace the goal of ‘Every gal a slut.’ I did not see the ad in advance and I apologize for its appearance.”

The relevant portion of the NOR ad in FT (Nov. 1998) is this: “Liberal opinion has long regarded the Catholic Church as something like the Whore of Babylon. But nowadays liberals feel compassion for whores, would love to see prostitution legalized and whores unionized from sea to shining sea, with the Department of Health and Human Services running the whorehouses. So there’s a little problem: How can liberals continue to hate the Church when they themselves embrace whoredom — indeed, would love to make every woman a whore? Consider the rest of the liberal utopia: raunchy sex ed, titillating TV shows and movies, free condoms for every teenager, free abortions in case the condoms fail, full rights and benefits for shack-ups, same-sex ‘marriage’ (helps devalue the currency of real marriage, you know), and adultery a matter of privacy not character. So yes, the liberal vision is: Every gal a slut.”

What Neuhaus said in the December 1998 FT brought two letters of protest in the March 1999 FT. Cherie J. Guelker of Arnold, Maryland, wrote: “I make a point of reading the New Oxford Review ads because I find them entertaining and enjoy their deliberate outrageousness…. Even so, I too was taken aback at first by the statements to which he [Neuhaus] objects so strenuously — ‘liberals…would love to make every woman a whore’ and embrace the goal of ‘Every gal a slut.’ However, upon consideration, I decided that this shocking language reflected a reality that needs to be confronted. Father Neuhaus’ pained reaction can even be considered a symptom of the disease the New Oxford Review is attacking in its ad…. The point the New Oxford Review is making in the ad is that liberals have consistently and successfully pressed for changes in our society that transform conduct that once caused women to be condemned as ‘whores’ and ‘sluts’ into behavior to be accepted and even encouraged as healthy. Poisonous liberal maxims permeate our culture: …’Women must be free to explore their sexuality’ offers women unbounded sexual license…. Armed with sex education, contraception, and abortion, liberals have encouraged women not only to be ‘sluts’ and ‘whores,’ but baby-killers as well…. Virgins must defend their virginity against accusations of being sexual freaks. The assumption is that healthy adolescents and adults will be sexually active. Homosexuals ask why they should be chaste when no one else is expected to be. These are the fruits of the liberal agenda…. The rest of us are to be understanding and not ‘judgmental,’ much less condemnatory. So much so that the very use of the terms ‘slut’ and ‘whore,’ even in a hyperbolic advertisement, is [considered by Neuhaus to be] ‘mean-spirited, malicious,’ and ‘violative of good taste.’… But to accuse it [the ad] of being ‘seriously false’ is to fail to come to terms with the very real truth behind its hyperbole and, innocently or not, to pander to the liberal sensibilities.”

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