A difficult choice

Yes, that’s a Planned Parenthood logo, and no, I don’t mean that kind of choice.

The Post-Gazette reported yesterday that WDUQ, the only radio station I listen to, was pressured by their Catholic masters to refuse underwriting from Planned Parenthood of Western PA:

Duquesne ordered WDUQ (90.5) to stop airing a series of underwritten messages from the reproductive rights and health-care education group, saying that Planned Parenthood isn’t aligned with the university’s Catholic mission and that the station isn’t required to accept donations.

That is, of course, true. It is also true that I am not required to continue sending WDUQ the ten dollars a month I have been giving them for years.

Much of this is personal to me. Not in the sense that I have ever directly used Planned Parenthood’s services; I never have. They refuse no one help, but I have never needed it.

I was raised Catholic, and spent kindergarten through eighth grade in Catholic school. I was not in a position to do much thinking about what we were being told until second grade, but from then on it was a hell. I spent six years being told that it was sinful to believe the conclusions my mind reached and the directions of my conscience. It was self-evident to me that there was no God watching us, that prayer was a waste, and that the dogmatic positions of the church, especially on the sorts of things they argue with Planned Parenthood about, were idiotic. Saying this meant punishment, not saying it meant feeling cowardly: was it any surprise I trouble for my teachers?

In the midst of writing this it seems ironic that my greatest blow-out with the higher-ups at my school (I will not give the name, except to say that it was called the Carlow College Campus School, and sending your children there should be considered child abuse) put WDUQ more or less on my side.

When I was in eighth grade I heard on Morning Edition one day as I was getting ready for school that it was National Condom Week. This was the early nineties, when the public had finally started to catch on to AIDS, perhaps thanks to the HIV awareness episode of Mr. Belvedere several years prior. I went in to school and shared this information with everyone, as I was in eighth grade and thought that the idea of a week for condoms was pretty awesome.

This was the event that ultimately, after some escalation, led to my somewhat early exit from Catholic education. I thank WDUQ for that gift, and for years of great radio programming. I am even appearing on an already taped program on DUQ later this month.

However, I support the mission of Planned Parenthood, and they and I support similar ends in politics and in society. My friends support Planned Parenthood, and some have gotten help there that they could not have gotten anywhere else. I dislike the people who oppose Planned Parenthood, especially the most vocal of them, the psychopaths who picket their headquarters.

So, WDUQ, which has given me a great deal while asking for little in return, takes the side of the Catholic Church, which I have every reason to hate. Doing so, they run up against an organization that does a difficult and necessary job.

On my way to work yesterday I saw a group of people standing at the intersection of Washington Boulevard and Allegheny River Boulevard with giant signs featuring photos of fake dead babies, liberally spattered with blood and gore, and I was pushed off the fence. I am unable to support anyone who takes the side of those people.

I canceled my WDUQ membership this morning.

2 Comments so far

  1. John Morris (unregistered) on October 17th, 2007 @ 9:46 pm

    I kind of have to come to the defence of Duquesne here even though I am an absolute athiest. It’s a Catholic school and these are basic Catholic beliefs and values that they are defending. I think it’s their total right to do so.

    Course, I think a lot of these beliefs are nutty.


  2. Alik Widge (unregistered) on October 21st, 2007 @ 7:04 pm

    The question though, John, is this: DUQ holds itself out to be an independent public radio station. Is it reasonable for them to claim that if they are willing to make sponsorship/on-air content decisions based on a Catholic organization’s request?

    I’m far from being an atheist, but it so happens that my religious beliefs do allow for family planning, and abortion in at least some circumstances. I made a pledge to DUQ right before hearing this story, and have cancelled said pledge until they grow a pair. I’m still pondering whether I should send the money down to PPWA instead.



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