It's bad enough when an "outside" keynote speaker* ruins your graduation, but when a fellow student points a disapproving finger at you in a graduation speech, it must feel like a betrayal from a member of your own family.
That’s what Ben Kessler did when he addressed the 2006 graduating class at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul.
The theme of the speech he chose to send his classmates out into the world with was “selfishness.” Apparently the man doesn’t know the meaning of the word.
Kessler used the podium as a platform for his own retrograde Papist beliefs. In a world full of turmoil, Kessler singled out birth control and cohabitation as some of his chief concerns for his community, calling the practices “selfish.”
Notably, Kessler failed to substantiate his assertions with any facts about how these ultimately harm the community.
Whereas, for the church to continue to push its views on this birth control to populations where AIDs and starvation are rampant is demonstrably selfish. Perpetuating archaic tenets is more important than facing contemporary realities, it seems.
I doubt the Bible has a single syllable dedicated to birth control, though there are always those who can interpret and distort anything to suit themselves. "Wear thou not the lambskin on thine swollen member, lest thou be wicked in Mine eyes."
Kessler also addressed his school's policy of forbidding unwed couples from sharing hotel rooms during school trips. If it's on the school's dime I suppose it's their right to set the rules, but this goes beyond cohabitation between consenting adults to an attempted prohibition of same-sex relationships.
Dear, naive Mr. Kessler, you, Messrs Robertson and Dobson, the church, the Congress and everyone else who thinks one can "end" homosexuality through prayer, counseling or legislation are fooling yourselves. They're here, they're queer and everyone had better get used to it.
Kessler's words typify the ignorance, arrogance and blind obedience to obsolete dogma that drove me away from Catholicism. Well, those are some of the things, anyway.
Kessler is a football star with a 4.0 GPA, so I guess some arrogance from him is to be expected. And since he's heading off to a semenary (not a typo) to become a priest, I guess some ignorance regarding normal physical relationships is to be expected, too.
Kessler has since apologized for his remarks, feigning ignorance about the potentional reaction from some in attendance at the graduation. But this wasn't an off-the-cuff sentence or two he spoke, it was a planned diatribe against what he views as some of the major evils of the world.
I suggest Kessler get a mirror, so he can see the evils of selfishness and willful ignorance incarnate. Hell, he won't even have to turn around to see what an asshole looks like.
*A practice I think should be done away with entirely; whether it's John McCain or Michael Moore, it tends to politicize and may potentially ruin a very special accomplishment that a student has worked hard for years to achieve. Not cool.