Interactive Friday

An apology to those who wondered what happened to Monday’s post. I’ve been traveling this week and got a little behind! Nevertheless, I didn’t want to let the weekend pass by without letting you see some of the responses to Tuesday’s and Thursday’s entries. Here we go...

Why is exotic dancing out of bounds? What rulebook are you using? — Sincerely, Mike

RESPONSE: Mike, a great place to start! Thank you. Underneath your question lies another one that goes like this: Is there a single rulebook valid for everyone? The answer would in part be a religious one (I think the Bible is divinely inspired), but even if we disagree on this, there is a lot we can agree on. We would all say there are some rules that must be present in any useful rulebook — do not cheat, do not lie, do not kill, and so many more. Without these, society just doesn’t work. One of these rules is the respect for the dignity of each person. If you have any question about whether stripping is a dignified activity, if it’s within the bounds of a useful rulebook, ask yourself if you would want your wife or daughter to be dancing at Duke.

Many people forget that these unfortunate women who strip or dance for their living are also part of the process of objectifying and degrading all women in general. They carry as much of the responsibility as the men who pay for their services. Please continue your great writing, and know that many support you. — Mary

RESPONSE: Yes, Mary, you are right, both sides are responsible. Her choice of profession, however, in no way justifies rape, if that did occur. I have heard people say things like, "Well, she deserved it. She shouldn’t have been there in the first place." Nobody, nobody, nobody, deserves rape.

You can pray 'til your collar drops off, and all you are doing is wasting your breath. There is no one there to hear you. The Pope prays for world peace, Bush prays for success in the war, the Muslims pray to get rid of the infidels, the sick pray for health, the poor pray for food. It's not a bad thing, prayer, it’s just an incredible waste of time and energy. You want to make things better? Get off your pontificating high horse and actually, physically, help people who need it. Prayer ain't gonna get it done. — RB

RESPONSE: Let’s separate your two points. Does prayer work? We’ll have to settle on cordial disagreement on this one. Should we “actually, physically, help people who need help?” Yes, that too. This doesn’t take away the responsibility to speak out about what is right and wrong. I hope I’m not pontificating — just saying what I believe, as you have done with me.

I am not a religious person by any means, but I have to say that I firmly agree with what you said. As a woman in this modern society of blame-shifters, it has to be a woman's responsibility for her safety. I feel it needs to be more up to us to not put ourselves in potentially dangerous positions. Our society is getting worse everyday about personal responsibility. — Lisa

RESPONSE: Lisa, so many “non-religious” people write in to this blog. We are bridging gaps. We need to keep doing it.

I am in my mid-thirties and have two teenage daughters. I am doing my best to instill in them the importance of using their minds to make their livings — never their bodies. Sure, it would have been easy for me to become a dancer to support them when they were little — or now, for that matter. I'm sure I would have made a lot more money than I did working at the mall, selling cars or being a secretary. But what kind of an example would I have been? What kind of person would that make me? Not the kind I want to be. — Jennifer (Pensacola, FL)

RESPONSE: Jennifer, yours is the best answer to those who are defending the accuser’s “profession” as a “necessary evil.” It is not. To say otherwise is an offense to all women who, like you, sacrifice to make ends meet. Your daughters will be grateful and so will you.

Thank you. Perhaps one day we will, as a country, listen. Maybe, as the veneer of "acceptability" is stripped from sin by ever-greater excess, our children will be less "tolerant" and more thoughtful. — Karen (Greenville, SC — parent of a son who is a junior at Duke)

RESPONSE: Karen, nice to hear from you as a parent of a Duke student. You touched on a great point. This event will help young people, parents, and university administrators to reexamine what is acceptable behavior.

As the father of two daughters, I agree with you, but let me point out a small point as well. We just had a horrific murder of a young girl here in Oklahoma. The day the details came out, I drove past a school-sponsored car wash. All the "car washers" were high school girls in their skimpiest bikinis, and there were dozens of cars lined up all driven by men and mostly middle aged men. I could not help but think that was a very sad commentary and the irony of that school-sponsored event was tragic.

RESPONSE: Oh, so very true. Advertisers, TV, movies, and models make kids think the abnormal is normal. Parents have to step in and say enough is enough.

Great essay! No one takes responsibility for their actions anymore. I have taken the liberty of sharing this fine piece with our entire office. — John

RESPONSE: I’m sure you thought twice about sending around the article to your office. Not everyone will agree with your stance and mine. I very much appreciate your willingness to take a risk.

I have been reading your column for several months now and finally decided to write and say thank you. Thank you for your courage, your commitment to honesty, decency and common sense; attributes that I find are increasingly difficult to find in today's moralistically relative culture. Please thank FOX News on my behalf for running your column. Their commitment to keeping a "fair and balanced" perspective in their reporting of news is admirable. — Sincerely, David

RESPONSE: David, the greatest courage is practicing what we preach. I’m trying. I don’t always do a good job. Thanks for the encouragement.

You know Father, I never agree with you and I've sent you some pretty nasty e-mails in the past, but you've always replied with respect and dignity, and I admire that in a person. It made me feel bad for the things I said. I guess you live the philosophy of killing people with kindness, though I'm sure you'd probably leave the killing part out. That was a great article about the Duke rape allegations. Keep up the good work father, you're a very respectable and dignified man. We need more people like you in this crazed and depraved society. Respectfully, Arthur (Pontiac, MI)

RESPONSE: Arthur, your note means a lot to me. Thanks.

While in some instances what you say about college life is true, there are so many college students who choose a different lifestyle. In fact, I think the vast majority of students don't go on wild spring break trips, hold keg parties, or hire strippers. It is just that the students who study, work part-time jobs to pay for expenses, get involved in meaningful activities, and attend church don't make the evening news. As a senior at Yale, most of my friends do many of these positive things, and I know only a small but loud minority of students engaged in the sort of stereotypical college party scene. My message to parents would be to value morality as much as they value good grades and success in other activities. College students who have a good moral compass usually don't completely lose sight of that.

Thank you for your wonderful blog. God Bless — Jacqui (New Haven, CT)

RESPONSE: You are so right, Jacqui. Thanks for preparing yourself to lead our country. We need you. You know, I get a lot of e-mails from students at Yale. You’ve got good literary taste, I might say!

God bless, Father Jonathan

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