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Individualism and Sexual Morality
The Sorry Lesson of the Michelle McCusker Affair...
Platt Liebau] 11/28/05
The New York
Civil Liberties Union is at it again. Two years ago, it forced
a Catholic charity in Buffalo to ban discrimination based on
pregnancy, after the unwed director of an after-school program
was demoted when she became pregnant. Now it’s trained
its sites on St. Rose of Lima school in Queens – and
on the Diocese of Brooklyn.
because one Michelle McCusker, a 26-year-old preschool teacher
at St. Rose of Lima, has been fired for becoming pregnant without
benefit of wedlock. Never mind that the teachers’ handbook
that McCusker received states quite clearly that each teacher “must
convey the teachings of the Catholic faith by his or her words
and actions.” Never mind that McCusker, six months pregnant
now, must have been aware of her condition when she accepted
the post at St. Rose of Lima over the summer.
Carol Platt Liebau - Senior
Platt Liebau is editorial director and a senior member of tOR and CRO editorial
boards. She is an attorney, political analyst and commentator
based in San Marino, CA, and has appeared on the Fox News
Channel, MSNBC, CNN, Orange County News Channel, Cox Cable
and a variety of radio programs throughout the United States.
A graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law School,
Carol Platt Liebau also served as the first female managing
editor of the Harvard Law Review. Her web log can be found
[go to Liebau index]
No, all that
matters to the NYCLU is that the school’s
enforcement of its policy is allegedly unfair – because
there’s no way to “determine if male employees engage
in premarital sex.” This sense of gender grievance is supposed
to trump the rights of everyone else involved in the whole sordid
episode: The Brooklyn Diocese’s right to set standards
for behavior that conform to the tenets of Catholicism; the school’s
right to enforce the standards to which the teachers agree upon
accepting a job at St. Rose of Lima; and even the parents’ right
to the “benefit of their bargain.” That is, having
made the effort and spent the money to enroll their children
in parochial school, surely parents are entitled to expect that
the teachers (whose salaries they’re paying) will not be
permitted to flout the very values that a religious education
is supposed to be inculcating in their children.
But to Michelle McCusker
and the NYCLU, the entire concept of collective rights apparently
means nothing. The behavior of Miss
McCusker is – to use an old-fashioned term – shameless.
How can she have so little regard, not only for the tenets of
the faith she professes, but for the moral formation of her pupils?
Certainly, anyone can make a mistake (and in some way at some
time, all of us do). But what’s so outrageous is that rather
than accepting responsibility for her actions, Miss McCusker
has decided to sue the school and the diocese, just because they’re
seeking to hold her to the bargain (and the behavioral standard)
to which she agreed.
In the past, someone
like Miss McCusker would have acknowledged the justice of the
school’s position, and resigned. Today,
however, groups like the NYCLU (whose real agenda is to undermine
the power of any faith in American life) enable her selfishness
with the siren call of “individual rights.”
But the fault doesn’t lie with Miss McCusker and the NYCLU
alone. In a sense, American culture in general is to blame – for,
in fact, we, too have enabled Miss McCusker and people like her
through our own lack of judgment. Time was, Americans talked
little about sex, but upheld a clear and coherent moral code – and
part of it was that sex outside of marriage was just plain wrong.
We were willing to exercise judgment on matters of sexual morality.
By contrast, today, “sex talk” is ubiquitous – but
aside from pedophilia and adultery, few seem willing to take
a stand on any issue of right and wrong when it comes to sex,
lest they be deemed “prudish” or “judgmental” by
the more “enlightened.”
And in the end, all
of us pay a price for our laissez-faire reticence on sexual
matters – none more than the babies
who grow up without fathers. But the Michelle McCuskers of the
world suffer, too. Here were Miss McCusker’s words last
week at an NYCLU-arranged press conference: “I don’t
understand how a religion that prides itself on forgiving and
on valuing life could terminate me because I’m choosing
to have this baby.”
Of course, she’s to be commended for carrying her child
to term. But there’s something quite sad in her assumption
that she’s doing the Catholic Church a favor simply by
adhering to its prohibition on abortion – and that being
forgiven means little more than absolution from any accountability.
But, then again, given
that she’s the product of a culture
that tolerates the radical individualism of the NYCLU – even
as it hesitates to assert the value of sexual morality and community
standards – why wouldn’t Miss McCusker believe that
it all should be easy, and that it’s all about her? -one-
Carol Platt Liebau is a political analyst, commentator and tOR / CRO editorial
director based in San Marino, CA. Ms. Liebau also served
as the first female managing editor of the Harvard Law
Review. Her web log can be found at CarolLiebau.blogspot.com