Catholic Church | Censorship | News | Tim Miller

Villanova Cancels Gay Performer's Workshop Over Conflict with Catholic 'Values'

Villanova University has canceled a weeklong workshop by gay performance artist Tim Miller, releasing a statement that his performances are "not in keeping with our Catholic and Augustinian values and mission," the Philadelphia Inquirer reports:

MillerHeidi Rose, the assistant professor of communications who booked the residency months ago and is a member of the university's Gay Straight Coalition, said Monday morning that she had been told by university officials not to talk about the event and to refer inquiries to the communications office. Miller said it was Rose who told him the workshop was canceled. Rose was quoted by CatholicCulture.org as saying the April 16 to 21 workshop would "take you through an intimate process of self-discovery and exploration, focusing on identity and culture, questions of diversity and difference, knowledge of self and others, etc."

A statement put out by the University on Monday reads:

"Villanova University embraces intellectual freedom and academic discourse. Indeed, it is at the very heart of our University and our Augustinian Catholic intellectual tradition. With regard to the forthcoming residency and performance workshops by Tim Miller, we had concerns that his performances were not in keeping with our Catholic and Augustinian values and mission. Therefore, Villanova has decided not to host Mr. Miller on our campus. Villanova University is an open and inclusive community and in no way does this singular decision change that."

Miller said that Villanova's rejection was the result of a campaign by Catholic blogs: "[spreading] this bizarre lie that I'm anti-Catholic ... People tell these lies and it gets people who read these blogs worked up."

He added: "Times have changed. We're in a much more coercive, censorious time."

Curtains at Villanova for gay performance artist [philly.com]

Watch a couple clips (possibly nsfw) of Miller, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Comments

  1. How is limiting speakers and events to their Catholic and Augustinian "values" encouraging intellectual freedom and academic discourse?

    Posted by: Dastius Krazitauc | Feb 21, 2012 9:46:13 AM


  2. Villanova embraces intellectual freedom. Yes it does. Repeat three times and you might believe that it is true. Bigots.

    Posted by: Jay | Feb 21, 2012 9:58:01 AM


  3. It's a private, Catholic school. They can do what they want.

    If it were a public university, then this would be news.

    Posted by: Artie | Feb 21, 2012 9:58:50 AM


  4. TIM FOR POPE!!!!

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Feb 21, 2012 10:46:47 AM


  5. May be private - but their behavior is much like a cult! Which is all RELIGION (any and all) are! Separatists!

    Posted by: GRivera | Feb 21, 2012 10:48:09 AM


  6. I'm an atheist, and becoming more militant as each year passes. And yet, I'm with Artie on this one. When I was a senior in high school, I still considered myself a Catholic, if not an especially devout one (and, not unrelated to this, I was still in the closet and trying to be a heterosexual). Nonetheless, I made the decision to attend a private university run by the Catholic church. In making this decision, I was actively choosing a certain set of messages that I'd receive during those four years of my life. I probably didn't give much thought to the messages I was censoring myself from, but I suppose that was a choice I made, too.

    Posted by: Red Seven | Feb 21, 2012 11:00:40 AM


  7. @Red Seven:
    Surely it was precisely because you were closeted and wanting to be heterosexual at that time that informed your choice to attend a private, Catholic-run, university.
    'Nonetheless' doesn't make sense as you use it in that sentence.
    Thsi is exactly why the religious try to restrict the access of gay kids to information, so they don't realise all their options. That a life of self-loathing, and discomfort with oneself is not the only option.

    Posted by: Urmensch | Feb 21, 2012 11:24:06 AM


  8. "Vilanova University is an open and inclusive community. And in no way does this closed and bigoted decision change that."

    Posted by: Ian Reid | Feb 21, 2012 11:43:07 AM


  9. If there were a private school called Gay University USA (how fun would that be?) and we wanted to ban Catholic groups, certainly we'd have the right to do so. Again, no news here if you understand that concept.

    Posted by: Artie | Feb 21, 2012 11:54:02 AM


  10. I think a lot of you are missing a few points:

    1) Having worked at the University of Southern California, also a private university, I know that being private doesn't mean that you don't get millions in public funds and have a responsibility to the society that gave you those funds.

    2) Clearly, a group at the university want him to teach, and now that group is being silenced.

    3) The fact is that Tim Miller is a leading figure in the LGBT artistic community, and has been for decades. Its gay news because this is another attack on a gay artist and his work. When he was under heavy attack by Republicans we didn't just throw up our hands and say it was OK because they were Republicans.

    4) The phrase "Catholic values" would be laughable, if it weren't for the fact that the Church has a long history dripping in human blood and tears, from murdering native peoples, torturing "heretics", the molestation of children- and then the coverups, and sitting on billions in their bank while the poor, including children, are dying due to malnutrition and poor health care. Bill Gates has values, the Catholic Church has profits.

    Posted by: Eric | Feb 21, 2012 12:10:45 PM


  11. Eric, by those standards, we should pretty much just force all universities to host all types of people for lectures, art exhibits, etc.

    I'm going to call Brandeis University (with a heavily Jewish student body) and make them host a lecture headed up by Louis Farrakhan and Mahmoud Ahmedinejad. You know, because they get federal $ too.

    Posted by: Artie | Feb 21, 2012 12:39:47 PM


  12. Artie,

    If you're going to disagree with me, disagree with something I actually said.

    I never said, and I don't believe, that the university should be "forced" to allow him to teach. I was explaining why this was "gay news", and why it should be reported on the site.

    But, since you brought it up. I've worked in higher education for over thirty years, and the main reason universities exist is to spread knowledge and spur discussion of all kinds of ideas. Some of those ideas are not pretty, and many of them we don't even agree with. We believe in presenting students with the knowledge to make their own decisions given all of the evidence available. If there is a festering wound in society, let's let the sun and air in and let it heal. This university shouldn't be "forced" to have Tim Miller teach, but, if they don't, I think something is wrong with their values.

    To paraphrase a portion of a great letter from Univ. of Cambridge Prof. Ross Anderson (http://goo.gl/XTGQ8) when he was asked by the credit card industry to censor research, the most offensive thing to the values of a university is censoring because a powerful interest finds what is being said inconvenient. Which, by the way, the Catholic Church used to do all the time. Just ask Galileo.

    Posted by: Eric | Feb 21, 2012 1:05:30 PM


  13. By the way, Brandeis University has had its own problems with "controversial" speakers: http://goo.gl/qMmY7

    Posted by: Eric | Feb 21, 2012 3:06:32 PM


  14. A PR campaign needs to be arranged to highlight all of the University's negative points. Rename them - Villian Nova, Univetsitu that hates freedom and open exchange of ideas.

    Posted by: Mk_ultra_again | Feb 21, 2012 6:41:03 PM


  15. The Catholic church is the biggest organized crime syndicate in the world today.

    Posted by: Mawm | Feb 21, 2012 7:01:38 PM


  16. Please sign this petition! http://www.change.org/petitions/president-villanova-university-reinstate-the-banned-workshop-by-performance-artist-tim-miller

    Posted by: Joe H | Feb 21, 2012 8:00:43 PM


  17. Even if this was a presentation from a heterosexual perspective, I don't think Villanova would host this event. The diagrams/language/humor just isn't very Catholic. I don't blame them. This guy should try for Temple or UPenn.

    Posted by: Mike | Feb 21, 2012 11:28:56 PM


  18. I'd graduated from Villanova University in 1980. I'd have less of a problem with their cancellation of Tim Miller's piece if Villanova was a bastion of intellectualism and there had been a smart debate on the merits of Miller's production. But Villanova is/was a school of mediocrity. And the priests didn't seem to have much of a problem with 75% of the campus being drunk from Thursday to Sunday and everyone having sex without the sanctity of marriage. The most challenging ethical/moral questioning Villanovan's asked was what to wear to the tailgates on Sunday afternoon. It was truly a school where the "unexamined life" is worth living. I'm ashamed of them and very glad I went on to get my graduate degrees from Columbia University. Wildcats - get a grip and start using your minds.

    Posted by: Michael M. | Feb 22, 2012 6:23:16 AM


  19. Tim Miller performed at Depaul University, the largest catholic university in the country to no fanfare. He was NOT scheduled to perform any of his oh so racy auto-performance celebrating gay people and advocating for their rights, but rather was going to work directly with student's of performance at Villanova. Villanova won't allow him to visit the school, not because students might see a naked man on stage, but because they are intolerant of his work with ACT UP, which criticized the Catholic church's active resistance toward AIDS research and prevention. Whether Villanova is within their rights is not the point. The point is Villanova as a university should be criticized for limiting the educational opportunities of their students, ostracizing gay people, censoring the academic freedom of the professors who determined Miller's work to be valuable, and caving into bigots who spread lies through an online bullying campaign.

    Posted by: Joe H | Feb 22, 2012 2:43:56 PM


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