A Brief Note Regarding the Tony Pittarese controversy

As you can probably understand or perhaps know first-hand, the controversy surrounding the Tony Pittarese page caused quite a stir among many of our readers and those elsewhere. As a result of our Response, another letter was again sent out by Mr. Pittarese accusing us of breaking the law – i.e., by violating Mr. Pittarese’s copyrights in the page, despite the fact that we had already explained how this just simply wasn’t correct.

Well, Mr. Pittarese’s letter essentially said that he would not respond to The Voice’s answer and that we were wrong in our view of the alleged copyright infringement. We then reiterated our position – that it was not a copyright violation – by sending a lengthy letter to Mr. Pittarese explaining in great detail how the copyright statutes work and how he had incorrectly interpreted them again. . . badly.

We received another letter from him stating that obviously our interpretations of copyright law were different (although I was not giving MY interpretation of the law, rather, I was giving Congress’ and the U.S. Supreme Court’s interpretation). So, there still remains unretracted defamatory statements and unsubstantiated charges of law breaking which we have chosen simply not to address directly here in The Voice. Why? Well, because we don’t want to waste time explaining things that everyone but a few individuals can understand and which would constitute the perfect example of us doing exactly what we don’t want done – focusing on tangential issues.

However, we do want to make it clear that we do take these charges seriously. The Voice strives to maintain accuracy and honesty, and when there are unsubstantiated charges to the contrary, we feel we owe a duty to you, the reader, to refute these charges. As someone wrote to us this past week, when we are trying to address morality, in a sense, honesty is a high virtue. And when individuals impugn our honesty or integrity, we take it very seriously and consider it our responsibility to correct the charges. Since we already did this in an adequate manner last week, we will not do so again this week.

However, we will make Tony’s second letter, our second Response, and Tony’s third letter available to anyone who would like to read them. We think you will find them interesting and of course invite your comments on them. Please just e-mail us and ask for these letters specifically.

A Bad Thinking Habit

It started out innocently enough. I began to think at parties now and then to loosen up. Inevitably though, one thought led to another, and soon I was more than just a social thinker.

I began to think alone – “to relax,” I told myself – but I knew it wasn’t true. Thinking became more and more important to me, and finally I was thinking all the time.

I began to think on the job. I knew that thinking and employment don’t mix, but I couldn’t stop myself.

I began to avoid friends at lunchtime so I could read Thoreau and Kafka. I would return to the office dizzied and confused, asking, “What is it exactly we are doing here?”

Things weren’t going so great at home either. One evening I had turned off the TV and asked my wife about the meaning of life. She spent that night at her mother’s.

I soon had a reputation as a heavy thinker. One day the boss called me in. He said, “Skippy, I like you, and it hurts me to say this, but your thinking has become a real problem. If you don’t stop thinking on the job, you’ll have to find another job.” This gave me a lot to think about.

I came home early after my conversation with the boss. “Honey,” I confessed, “I’ve been thinking…”

“I know you’ve been thinking,” she said, “and I want a divorce!”

“But Honey, surely it’s not that serious.”

“It is serious,” she said, lower lip aquiver. “You think as much as college professors, and college professors don’t make any money, so if you keep on thinking we won’t have any money!”

“That’s a faulty syllogism,” I said impatiently, and she began to cry. I’d had enough. “I’m going to the library,” I snarled as I stomped out the door.

I headed for the library, in the mood for some Nietzsche, with a PBS station on the radio. I roared into the parking lot and ran up to the big glass doors…they didn’t open. The library was closed.

To this day, I believe that a Higher Power was looking out for me that night.

As I sank to the ground clawing at the unfeeling glass, whimpering for Zarathustra, a poster caught my eye. “Friend, is heavy thinking ruining your life?” it asked. You probably recognize that line. It comes from the standard Thinker’s Anonymous poster.

Which is why I am what I am today: a recovering thinker. I never miss a TA meeting. At each meeting we watch a non-educational video; last week it was “Porky’s.” Then we share experiences about how we avoided thinking since the last meeting.

I still have my job, and things are a lot better at home. Life just seemed…easier, somehow, as soon as I stopped thinking.

Beyond Tangential Tergiversation

No man can justly censure or condemn another, because indeed no man truly knows another.
– Sir Thomas Browne

O Lord, how great are thy works!
and thy thoughts are very deep.
– The Bible, from the Book of Psalms

Injustice, poverty, slavery, ignorance – these may be cured by reform or revolution. But men do not live only by fighting evils. They live by positive goals, individual and collective, a vast variety of them, seldom predictable, at times incompatible.
– Sir Isaiah Berlin

Beginning reform is beginning revolution.
– Duke of Wellington

Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill?
He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and SPEAKETH THE TRUTH IN HIS HEART.
Psalm 15:1,2

Withhold not thou thy tender mercies from me, O Lord:
let thy lovingkindness AND THY TRUTH continually preserve me.
Psalm 40:11

Behold, thou desirest TRUTH in the inward parts:
and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to KNOW WISDOM.
Psalm 51:6

The lip of TRUTH shall be established for ever:
but a lying tongue is but for a moment.
Proverbs 12:19

Have not I written to thee excellent things in counsels and knowledge,
That I might make thee know the certainty of the WORDS OF TRUTH; that thou
mightest ANSWER THE WORDS OF TRUTH to them that send unto thee?
Proverbs 22:20,21

This witness is true. Wherefore REBUKE THEM SHARPLY, that they may be sound
in the faith;
Titus 1:13

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are TRUE, whatsoever things are HONEST,
whatsoever things are JUST, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are
lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be ANY VIRTUE, and if
Philippians 4:8

The essence of the life and mission of Jesus Christ was to provide redemption and salvation for the whole of mankind and to demonstrate truth in the process. Certainly, one lifetime, even for the Son of God, was inadequate to deal with all of the processes by which mankind can discover the truth of every, or any, debatable issue which we deem important. But when we say, as a collective body, although with perhaps a tendency towards divisions in minor philosophies, “Be Christ-like,” or we indicate that it is our desire to be “Christ-like,” what is it that we are saying? What does being “Christ-like” mean?

Many of those who disagree with us would say that at the very least it means to never criticize a Christian institution, i.e., PCC. Some would say that we should deviate from our “revolutionary” tactics. And yet others would say, no, keep it up, StudentV, what you have to say NEEDS to be said, as if there is some kind of institutional craving for dimensional growth.

Christ was about truth; no one would deny this. (Hence, the major premise.) One of the major questions I ask myself everyday and before writing anything for The Student Voice is “What am I striving for?” What are the ends to which I wish to apply these controversial means?” Sure, I am not exempt from human passions and prejudices that abound within the realm of human existence, but I can honestly say that my primary goal is to demonstrate that less paternalism is better than more. This I feel is the “true” way a college student should be treated. My goal is to demonstrate that some
freedom instead of virtually none is the “true” way a college student should be permitted to grow and function. What is best? That is the motive of The Voice. What would Christ think? That is where we need to focus.

The basic point is that all of us believe that to be “Christ-like” is, at the very least, to strive to be TRUE. True to what we believe to be the truth. That is the irony about The Voice. Our whole mission is to be (true) what we are trying to discover (truth). That’s what it means to be “Christ-like” – to an extent. . . . Obviously, there is a greater body of Christ-likeness
for which we must strive, but certainly we would hope that no one would disagree with another premise that at least part of this whole is a divisible part labeled “truth.”

As a preliminary, we ought to distinguish between two separate definitions of “truth.” The first definition of “truth” could be characterized as “big-T truth,” or “Truth.” It is the ultimate message that God sent to us via the person of Jesus Christ through the message of the gospel – i.e., salvation. The second definition can be characterized as “small-t truth,” or “truth.” This deals with what is true, accurate and right in science, philosophy, social interactions, etc. This can, and should, include whether PCC’s characterization of a “Christian” education and a “Christian” environment is TRULY “Christian.”

“I am as true as truth’s simplicity,
And simpler than the infancy of truth.”
– Shakespeare

But yet there are those who want to shy away from trying to discover the truth about PCC’s treatment of its students, and they want to run away from the question, “Is this truly the way Christ would want it to be done.” They claim that this is foolishness, bitterness, hatred and anger. They say that these are questions that should be addressed within the sterile confines of some administrator’s office, as if this will ever result in any real change, needed or otherwise. Or there is the motive argument – you need to get off the terrible motive of destroying what God has built up, as if we could destroy it if we wanted to! As if we were more powerful than God! Oh, what logic!

It boggles our mind that so many people, mostly those in staff and faculty positions at PCC, are unwilling to engage in a debate over what is true. It boggles our mind that while so many students have the concerns which we express here in The Voice, many in the administration simply say that we (you) are wrong and ask not even be part of the discussion. Why? Is there a fear of the truth? Should the truth be discovered in another way? We are always open to better methods, certainly, but to do it on PCC’s terms defeats the whole purpose of seeing true reform. Instead, those who disagree with us want to focus on the tangential issues – motives, methods, names and attitudes. It’s so stale, and it’s so irrelevant. . . .

What if Christ adopted the same ideology and method as many of the PCC faculty and staff? What if, when the public, or the apostles or even the Pharisees came up to Christ with a question about what Christ claimed to be “true” He simply said, “No, you’re wrong. I don’t want to be a part of your discussion”?

Consider the somewhat analogous situation of Nicodemus and his approach to Christ in John 3. No, he was not anonymous, but he did attempt to hide his identity for many of the same reasons we do. He would have been chastised for seeking Truth by means that went contrary to the established “religious system.” Nicodemus had a concern regarding Christ’s philosophy of salvation. Likewise, although at a lesser importance decibel, the students have a legitimate concern regarding the philosophy of PCC’s view of “Christianity” as a social structure on campus.

We recognize that there are differences between our situation and that of Nicodemus (which is why it is an “analogy”). First, we ask our questions by disseminating information to like-minded people, while Nicodemus went directly to the source. However, we do not have the luxury of going directly to the source, or when we do, the answers are inadequate, if addressed at all. Second, Nicodemus was seeking Truth; we are seeking truth.

Be that as it may, consider what the colloquy may have sounded like had Christ reacted the same way many of the PCC faculty and staff have and no doubt will continue to do:

NICODEMUS: Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher sent from God. . . . We want to know salvation, but to be “born again” makes little sense unless you explain it to us.

CHRIST: Never mind what it means to be “born again,” Nicodemus. Why are you coming to me in this fashion? Why are you not willing to own up to your ideas and questions? If you were a man of honor, you would not be afraid to come to me during the day.

NICODEMUS: Well, the reason I am coming to you at night is because the religious authorities condemn any search for the Truth outside of the avenues they’ve created. They won’t let me or anyone else question them.

CHRIST: That’s not an adequate answer. I don’t think your question is legitimate unless you reveal your identity by coming to me in the open.

NICODEMUS: But how I come to you is irrelevant to the Truth you say you possess.

CHRIST: I don’t care. Not only that, you are completely wrong in your opinions, and your statements are factually incorrect.

NICODEMUS: What do you mean? Please give me an example.

CHRIST: I refuse to answer that. You need to change your attitude.

NICODEMUS: But that doesn’t help me to ascertain the Truth if you don’t point out my error.

CHRIST: Well, you’re wrong. And don’t come to me anymore with your questions. . . .

Or then there is the PCC response to Christ’s actions in the temple:

PCC: What are you doing? Don’t you know your supposed to use “love” and kindness to those you disagree with?

CHRIST: These people have made my house a den of thieves.

PCC: But this is God’s house, and you have no right to speak against this Christian institution.

CHRIST: I refuse to permit people to twist the meaning of what “Christian” is all about.

PCC: You need to repent of your rebellious attitude, young man. Throwing down tables is no way for a nice, clean-cut person to act in proper and Christian society.

CHRIST: Who are you to say what is a “proper and a Christian society”?

PCC: Well. . . the handbook says. . . I mean. . . Dr. Horton said. . . .

CHRIST: I don’t care what your handbook says or what Dr. Horton says, I care about what God says in His Word.

PCC: Well, you need to check your motives, and stop trying to start a revolution.

PCC: And we’ll say a prayer for you. . .

Well, we think the point is obvious. Christ wasn’t afraid to address the truth in any position He held, and He wasn’t afraid, nor did He think it improper, to use unconventional methods. Of course, He was God. But the point is that Christ never turned down a question, never felt himself above the opinions of His questioners and never substituted prayer for a straight answer. Likewise, the administration must understand that The Student Voice is simply portraying and representing what is in the mind of many students. No, we don’t represent everybody, and we don’t claim to, but based on the percentage of responses we get, and based on having lived there for four years, we think we are in a fairly safe position to say that we represent the students.

Again, just so there is no confusion, we ARE NOT equating ourselves as somehow being on par with Christ. This would be absurd. But think about it: why would PCC’s reaction be any different? While they would never come right out and say it, many are of the position that something negative directed at PCC is a negative towards God. This just simply is not true. PCC is a good
institution, but it does not have a corner on the truth market. The truth, i.e., what would Christ want, is what we should be focusing on. Instead, many individuals want to focus entirely on tangential matters – things with no relevance other than to provide a cover from addressing some real problems.

So far, The Voice has pointed out how to Biblically analyze any use of authority, and how PCC deviates from it somewhat. How many responses have we gotten about that? One. We have also dealt with what we, and many others perceive to be a problem with the discipline committee procedure, and solutions to alleviate these problems. How many people addressed that? Less than five. We have addressed a faculty member who published scurrilous attacks against The Voice. How many people addressed the substantive issues? Less than five.

Now, we ought to clarify that there have been numerous letters of support, and many of them have offered additional suggestions and concerns. So, what does this tell us? This says to us that there are not many people who are willing to defend the SUBSTANTIVE issues we have presented. Instead, they want to focus on what’s tangential.

Frankly, we are getting tired of it. Get off it already! Get off the motives, the attitude and the anonymity and either tell us why the discipline committee is good the way it is now, OR CHANGE IT! Stop being so inflexible and Quaker-like. Stop looking at yourself in the mirror at your nicely pressed khakis and polo shirts, and try to make PCC a better place. You may not like the avenue by which this may end up taking place, but as of yet, no one has offered any real alternatives.

One of the comments suggested that we do something better with our spare time. Like what? Like sitting in the Commons talking about collegians? Or maybe going to a soccer game? Perhaps he meant we should go to east courts and play an important game of basketball? Or maybe he just meant we should spend more time at the beach or Cordova Mall. . . . No, we think spending our spare time trying to change the course of a major Christian institution is a little more important than checking up on the weekend’s sports scores. Somehow, this seems more relevant. Somehow, this seems better than wallowing in self-love and tangential tergiversation.

“The discipline of colleges and universities is in general contrived, not for the benefit of the students, but for the interest, or more properly speaking, for the ease of the masters.”
– Adam Smith from WEALTH OF NATIONS