Fordham Students Discuss Controversial Topics, Including Recent Vandalism


Published February 4, 2010

Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) held an informational discussion about the pro-life issue in the Lowenstein building’s Campus Ministry office on Jan. 25. The objective of the panel was to discuss the recent vandalism of a pro-life poster, and more broadly, the question of what issues we seek to preserve in society today.

The poster read “CHOOSE LIFE! A seamless garment: capital punishment, war, poverty, euthanasia, abortion,” and was torn down by FCLC students shortly after it was posted.

The discussion was guided by Rev. Damian O’Connell, S.J., and was attended by Emily Amar-Zifkin, Megan Lang and Dorie Goehring, all of whom belong to FCLC’s class of 2013.

The range of topics spanned from FCLC’s recent vandalism case  to euthanasia, the death penalty, abortion, war, poverty and health care. A question that was not on the initial agenda arose from these issues; namely, that of the difference between objectivity and subjectivity with regard to morality.

O’Connell said that it is possible to be “morally innocent yet objectively wrong.”  He cited the example of a suicide prompted by an intuition from God as proof thereof.

With respect to the sign’s vandalism, Amar-Zifkin said, “the poster lumped too many controversial issues together.” She said that war and poverty belong in one category, which tends to be less controversial, as opposed to euthanasia and the death penalty, which tend to provoke more emotional reactions.

As a response to this issue, O’Connell transitioned to the question of core societal values.  One that the group agreed upon was the “primacy of individual conscience.” The group agreed that this idea means accepting, and even condoning subjective morality over objective morality.

Amar-Zifkin added another societal value, “personal choice and self-preservation.” For her, the issue of semantics in pro-life debates is a quintessential one. She noted that a concrete definition of “life,” encompassing when and how it is formed, and exactly what it constitutes, is the essential starting point for such a debate or discussion.

To end the discussion, O’Connell cited the words of institution, Jesus’s speech to his disciples at the last super, and welcomed the enthusiasm of the participants to continue further such discussions on other current issues.