Duquesne Invites Geraldo Rivera to Be on Panel, then Revokes the Invitation …

because Rivera had posted a picture of himself shirtless on Twitter. No, really, he had, and Duquesne did.

Duquesne had invited Rivera to participate in a symposium on the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s assassination, apparently because Rivera was the first to air (in 1975) the Zapruder film of the assassination. Then it disinvited him, because, according to an e-mail quoted by Inside Higher Ed (thanks to Paul Caron (TaxProf Blog) for the pointer),

The administration felt that Mr. Rivera‚Äôs decision to post a nearly naked picture of himself on social media was inappropriate and inconsistent with who we are as a Catholic Spiritan university and therefore withdrew the invitation….

We warn our students not to post questionable material on social media due to the possibility of negative consequences — you could consider this teaching by example.

Really? I understand why universities may want to maintain their moral codes, and if Rivera had been, say, arrested for indecent exposure, I could see why they might choose not to give a criminal a platform. But Rivera posted a picture that showed himself from a bit below his waist on up — displaying more or less what one would see of him on the beach or at a swimming pool. (OK, it’s probably what one would see if he had his trunks riding a bit low for good taste, but not to the point of what we’d normally call nudity.) Nor was this done in a pornographic context, since Geraldo’s message seemed to simply be that he looks good for 70. And Rivera wasn’t invited for a position of special honor or moral approbation, such as a graduation speaker; he was invited to participate on a university panel based on his role in a historical event, with no judgment of moral worth implied.

Surely many upstanding Catholic men have been seen with their shirts off, and even with their shirts off on Facebook, or even with their shirts off showing off their muscles, on Facebook or elsewhere. (Arnold Schwarzenegger may not be an especially good Catholic, but not for that reason, I think.) Does Catholic teaching really make this into an invitation-withdrawal-worthy transgression? To be sure, it’s likely the sin of Pride, but I assume that Pride, Gluttony, and the like don’t disqualify one from Duquesne university symposia.

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