Duquesne University has plenty of time. Its conference on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy doesn’t begin until Oct. 17. A key item on the conference agenda is a panel that was to have been moderated by Fox News’s Geraldo Rivera, who was the first to televise the famous Zapruder film of the assassination. Yet Rivera was recently disinvited on account of the university’s disapproval of a “selfie” that Rivera took in July, showcasing himself bare-chested and looking buff.
So Duquesne has several weeks to reverse this dumb, prudish and self-righteous decision.
Before blasting the university’s rescinded invitation, let’s first understand it. University spokeswoman Bridget Fare sends this explanation to the Erik Wemple Blog: “[T]he administration felt that Mr. Rivera’s 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 asked the Wecht Institute [where the conference will take place] to withdraw 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.”
Safe to say, then, that the university disapproved of Rivera’s late-night exercise in 70-year-old self-indulgence. He stood with no shirt on, clicked his photo device and posted the results. And those results were heavy on skin, all the way to the newsman’s lower-abdominal region and his aging devil horns. The university’s reaction to this display may even align with that of Eric Bolling, Rivera’s Fox News colleague, who said it was “one of the dumbest things a smart guy could possibly do.”
Had Rivera allowed his towel to slip another five-eighths of an inch, the picture would have spilled from the revelatory to the obscene. This was not a must-see photograph.
At the same time, whoop-dee-doo. The guy’s ripped and cut, and he wanted people to know about it. Plus, he revealed little more skin than … your average (former) Duquesne University swimmer!
The Duquesne statement is a bit stingy on details about just how Rivera’s selfie is “inappropriate and inconsistent with who we are as a Catholic Spiritan university.” A safe guess is that the photo didn’t pass the Catholic humility test. Fair enough. But is Duquesne’s Spiritan heritage particularly at odds with the photo? According to a primer online, Spiritans are people who have “forgone society’s aspirations to power, prestige, and wealth.” By that standard, Rivera was disqualified years before he took off his shirt.
And if religious values are at issue here, where does forgiveness rank? How strenuously must the administrators of Duquesne University flex their mercy muscles to give Rivera a pass for publishing a G-rated photo of himself in all his sinewy glory? And now to the bogus pedagogical reasoning behind the Rivera ban: If Duquesne’s goal is to educate students about the dangers of social media, why not add a sidebar addendum to the program — “Triple threat: Saturday night, alcohol and Twitter — a session with Geraldo Rivera.”?
The best explanation: Duquesne’s leaders are jealous of Rivera’s abs. They should admit as much, or at least proffer a better explanation for their un-invitation, like Rivera’s comments about Trayvon Martin, for instance. Or even the Al Capone-vault thing.
This “inappropriate” selfie explanation, though, won’t stand up. All week long, the Erik Wemple Blog has e-mailed and phone-called Duquesne’s spokeswoman in pursuit of a discussion on the ins and outs of this decision. “We don’t have anything else to add,” came the reply. Makes sense: Who’d want to have to defend this call?
Duquesne’s cancellation of my JFK panel appearance is pretentious censorship Do students agree with administration? Am I banned for life?
— Geraldo Rivera (@GeraldoRivera) September 2, 2013