Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Beating their heads against the wall of Jericho

Last night NPR had an interview with student activist Lizzie Jekanowski, who leads the group BC Students For Sexual Health, about how their attempts to hand out condoms at Boston College were thwarted by the school.

I don't like having to defend the Catholic Church, but Jekanowski has forced me to with her undeserved optimism.

Boston College is a Catholic institution and Catholicism is one of the few religions with a formal leader and power structure and the religion is very clear that it considers it a sin to use contraception such as condoms. The reason for this position is the Genesis story where God killed Onan for purposely spilling his seed on the ground to avoid impregnating his sister in law.

While this anti-condom view is big-league bonkers, it is well understood to be set in stone in the Catholic Church. As a result, Boston College does not give out free condoms like some schools or allow others to distribute them on campus. A change in policy would have to follow a change from the Vatican.

A BC official in the NPR interview revealed they do not ban their use or possession on campus, just the distribution. BC student and likely virgin Christopher Knoth defended the policy and made it clear that there is a pharmacy next to campus where students can buy condoms.

Jekanowski is correct when she said it's also an issue that the BC clinic won't prescribe birth control to students unless they lie to their doctor, although she should have provided more details. I understand why she wanted to pass condoms out, but where she leaves the world of sensibility is her attempts to get Boston College to ignore Catholic dogma through protest.

She identified herself as a Catholic and willingly chose to go to a Catholic school, but now that she's there she thinks reason and an appeal to sensibility will get them to ignore the Vatican's orders. How could she possibly expect that to work?

If I went to an Islamic or Jewish school I would not expect the dining hall to serve pork chops and sausage and I would never waste my time protesting the campus bacon ban. It's mind-destroyingly obvious that it would never work. It's like yelling at the clerk that you don't like the chain store's policies.

I don't understand why Jekanowski even identifies herself as Catholic. Aren't they supposed to believe that the Pope is infallible when he makes his religious decrees and the Vatican policies come directly from God? This isn't like joining a political party where you compromise on some issues to help gain support for the others; this is a private and personal decision that is supposed to be about metaphysical truth. She clearly disagrees with the Catholic Church, so why doesn't she find a church that embraces progress?

Boston College's anti-condom policy is hardcore-level stupid and deserves to be mocked. Free and cheap condoms marginally decrease unwanted pregnancies and STD rates at a low cost. However, trying to get a Catholic institution to overturn or ignore 2,000 years of dogma by whispering facts into its ear is a logical meltdown.

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