Notre Dame needs consistent stance on advertising policy
Letter to the Editor
A not-so-wise man once told me that the "C" in Notre Dame stands for "Consistency." Funny, I said to him, there is no "C" in Notre Dame. I know, he told me, that's because there's no consistency.
I was walking across campus yesterday, perusing The Observer as is my habit. It seemed like a typical news day and the sports stories weren't really thrilling me either. Letters raged angrily about our football plight (again), the poor guy in lost and found still hasn't found his Waterman pen and the personals decried strongly, "Yeah, tandem bikes dude." All pretty normal, I decided, just another bright sunshiny day of status quo here at Notre Dame.
Until I read on. The entire following page was devoted to an advertisement for an upcoming concert at the Joyce Center. The performer, world renowned for his singing and songwriting talents was none other than Elton John. Impossible, I thought, he can't perform here. Not at Notre Dame. It's too small a venue, too small a crowd. Why would such an accomplished, world renowned musician, choose to perform here in scenic and prosperous northern Indiana? The Joyce Center is nice for volleyball and everything, but big-name entertainment? Please, it certainly will never battle Madison Square Garden for the moniker of "World's Most Famous Arena," not in this lifetime at least. Elton John, ha ha, it has to be a mistake.
I returned to my room, having nearly exhausted The Observer for the day to find some of my friends doing what it is we do a lot of — nothing. One of them asked to see the paper and browsed through, only to stop dead at the sight of Elton. "Why is he coming HERE?" my friend wondered out loud. How is this possible? That's what I thought, I told him, it's way too small.
Yeah, my friend said, and he's gay. Truly a ray of insightful sunshine.
For all the debate that goes on at Notre Dame concerning the rights and treatment of homosexuals, I struggle with the logic of this upcoming concert on Nov. 13. On one hand, there exists a policy which forbids the official gathering or organization of a gay and lesbian organization on campus. This same umbrella of understanding was extended at the beginning of the semester to prohibit The Observer from running advertisements of groups that do not espouse the teachings of the Catholic Church. The gays can not meet, and they can not speak. At least not in public, right? OK, fine.
I've noticed, however, a series of events that seem to contrast directly this official policy. Anyone who reads the Classifieds with regularity knows it is not uncommon to see, under "Wanted," the solicitation of new members for a gay and lesbian student group. No advertising, huh? Anyone that attends football games knows that the crowd is often graced with the aerial advertisements of overhead banner-toting planes. My favorite last week was for DeJa Vu, a Michigan gentleman's club that offered no cover Saturday night for any, ahem, gentleman that provided a ticket stub. Groups that do not espouse Catholic teachings, you say? Interesting. Surely the University has control over the Stadium's airspace.
Finally, we have Elton. Famous performer and musician extraordinaire, John first revealed that he was a homosexual during a Rolling Stone interview in the 1970s. Since then he has paraded across stages the world over wearing funny colored glasses and silly hats. He has starred in music videos, such as that for the 1983 hit song "I'm Still Standing," gyrating with such impurity and provocation that it made Elvis' gig look like a square dance. Not a very good track record, Elton. Seems that you've been a very bad example.
So where, I wonder, does it end? Elton John comes to town in the same year Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler "Dude Looks Like A Lady"-ed his way across the — gasp — same floor that our basketball team plays on and crystal-meth using Third Eye Blind brought down the Stepan Center. Not exactly in accordance with the piety that's practiced here, is it? We can't have this, not at Notre Dame. Backed by a sort-of firm policy, we've got an almost-as-firm stance on the limits of public homosexuality endorsement. I'll admit, I'm a fence-sitter too. Some days I agree with University policy on this subject, and others I don't think they could be more wrong. I have that luxury, however, not being a prominent, well-endowed Catholic university. The correct answer to the gay question on this campus will always vary with who you ask and when, and that's fair enough. What isn't fair, to gays, straights and unknowns alike, is such a fuzzy contrast of word versus deed.
September 21, 1999
All Viewpoint Stories for Wednesday, October 6, 1999