- The Washington Times - Monday, April 2, 2001

Peter Singer, the Princeton University professor whose research has outraged right-to-life supporters and activists for the disabled, continues to engage in eyebrow-raising scholarship.

Some of the Australian-born bioethicist's latest writing appears on a soft-pornography Web site where he defends the findings of a new book on bestiality.

For this, Mr. Singer and his employer, Princeton University, have taken top honors in the fourth annual Polly Awards, bestowed by the Wilmington, Del.-based Intercollegiate Studies Institute for outrageous examples of political correctness on the nation's college campuses.

Students around the nation are invited each year to nominate the most flagrant episodes of PC run amok. This year they did not disappoint, said ISI Communications Director Winfield Myers.

Mr. Singer's contention that euthanasia may be appropriate for the terminally ill and certain severely disabled infants, if it eliminates suffering, has been publicly documented in his writings. But Mr. Myers said he wonders if Princeton President Harold Shapiro has any knowledge of "the wilds of Singer's imagination."

With the bestiality book review, posted on the Web site Nerve.com, "Mr. Singer carries his campaign against human dignity to a new low," said ISI officials in explaining the rationale for their top prize.

Mr. Singer "writes that our physical similarities with other mammals mostly genital are so strong that the taboo on bestiality stems not from physical differences but from our desire to differentiate ourselves, erotically and in every other way, from animals," ISI officials said.

In his piece on Midas Dekkers' "Dearest Pet: On Bestiality," Mr. Singer writes, "Who has not been at a social occasion disrupted by the household dog gripping the legs of a visitor and vigorously rubbing its penis against them? In private not everyone objects to being used by her or his dog in this way, and occasionally mutually satisfying activities may develop."

ISI officials think Mr. Singer's titillating musings, while protected under the cloak of academic freedom, hurt the reputation of the Ivy League school.

"Princeton is a trend-setting university with a hallowed history, but when its top ethicist smiles on bestiality, we vote no confidence in its leadership or moral vision," Mr. Myers said.

Other 2001 Polly winners include:

• University of Oregon: A student chapter of the Animal Liberation Front, which has offices on campus, publishes a newspaper, the Insurgent, paid for with student fees.

In the Dec. 8 edition, the paper included an eight-page insert that included a detailed guide on "economic sabotage" geared at liberating laboratory research animals through vandalism and arson. The guide also included the names and home addresses of research professors who do animal research. One professor has threatened to sue the university. But so far, administrators have taken no punitive action against the Liberation Front.

"First, you may want to decide what kind of establishment you want to target, a fur shop, a butcher shop, a factory farm or slaughterhouse, or maybe a fast food restaurant?" said the insert, which included detailed instructions on gluing locks, vandalizing vehicles, clogging toilets and arson.

"As dangerous as arson is, it is also by far the most potent weapon of direct action," the Insurgent told students, offering directions on "a simple way to burn a vehicle" and not get injured.

• State University of New York at Albany: The school is home to New York State's first college-funded S&M; club, the Power Exchange. It was founded by two students with no objections from the administration, ISI official said.

The club is supported by student government funds, taken from student fees.

• Temple University: Temple student Michael Marcavage protested against a theatrical depiction of Jesus as a homosexual in a campus play called "Corpus Christi." Outraged, he complained to university officials and asked to put on his own dramatic counterproduction based on traditional Christian teachings.

When he later met with administrators and learned they were canceling his play for reasons that are under dispute, Mr. Marcavage became upset. In a lawsuit against Temple, he claims that when he tried to leave the meeting he was handcuffed and taken to the Temple University Hospital psychiatric ward, where doctors later said there was no medical reason to detain him.

• A tie between Villanova University and the University of California at Berkeley:

At Villanova, officials refused to pay expenses for National Rifle Association President Charlton Heston after the Villanova Times, the conservative student newspaper, brought him to the Philadelphia-area school to speak. University officials thought Mr. Heston was "too controversial," said the Times' editor, Chris Lillick.

Mr. Heston waived his speaking fees. But university officials called on the paper to pay for extra security for protesters who were expected from the school's Center for Peace and Justice. The center is also supported by school funds.

At Berkeley, "censorship took a more sinister form," ISI said.

After the school's main student newspaper, the Daily Californian, ran author David Horowitz's ad, "Ten Reasons Why Reparations for Slavery is a Bad Idea and Racist, Too," students protested and stormed the paper's offices. The protesters also demanded an apology from the paper's editors and stole all the remaining newspapers from campus racks.

Officials at ISI said the newspaper quickly caved in to the "radicals' " demands, publishing a formal apology that said the ad was full of "incorrect and blatantly inflammatory content." Editors at the paper also declined to file an official theft report with campus police.

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