The informational meeting about Middlebury’s endowment last week might have been more at home in a government intelligence agency than a liberal arts institution; non-answers and obfuscation ruled the afternoon. At one point, Investure “client relations” analyst and apparent sacrificial lamb Oliver Platts-Mills, clearly frustrated by the unexpected hostility sweeping through the packed auditorium assured the group of concerned students that “if there’s a company out there right now that you think is a good company, we own it.” Later, he defended himself by informing the bemused crowd that we’d all be super impressed with the companies in the endowment, if only he could tell us what they were. Next time I’m in a job interview or on a date, I think I’ll try a similar line and see how well it goes over.
While I was relieved to see fellow columnist Katie Earle didn’t frame her opposition to the proposal that insurance companies cover contraception in religious terms, her other justifications made little more sense. “What’s next,” she asked, “free condoms? Gym memberships?”
Well, yes; I should hope so. Free condoms would be an incredible cost-saving measure for both health-insurance companies and the government. They would reduce the number of new AIDs cases and other, non-fatal but still-pricey sexually transmitted infections, as well as the incidence of unplanned or unwanted pregnancies, which are far more expensive than any hundreds of condoms. We give them out for free in foreign countries and on college campuses for a reason.
Despite their best efforts to frame it this way, the recent controversy over the requirement that employers provide coverage for contraceptives to their employees is not about religious freedom. The supposed oppression of rich, white Christian men in this country has become a common theme among the pundits of the Right for years now, and it’s always been a bizarrely ludicrous claim. Even Newt Gingrich took a break from fantasizing about moon bases and zero gravity blowjobs to declare piously that “President Obama has declared war on the Catholic Church,” something the Church would be uniquely qualified for given the number of wars they’ve launched throughout history.
This President has, of course, done nothing of the sort; these spurious attacks from the right are nothing but a cynical ploy to cast doubts on Obama’s commitment to their whitewashed version of the Judeo-Christian tradition. Organized religion in this country enjoys more loopholes, more exemptions, and more influence than any nation outside of Saudi Arabia. Churches are tax exempt, every politician must, as a matter of practicality, take the oath of office on the bible, and a full two-thirds of the funding for Catholic charities comes straight from the taxpayers’ wallet. As with any other organization receiving public money, that money cannot be used in ways inconsistent with the interests of this nation and its taxpayers. Since a full 98 percent of Catholic women admit to using birth control at one time or another, the taxpayers have clearly spoken.