Saturday, August 12, 2006

The Prom, Camels, and Stephen Colbert

SojoMail 5-17-2006

Keyword: kingdom of heaven, rich,

Students at Kellenberg Memorial High School, a private Catholic school in Uniondale, New York, will not be celebrating prom this spring. The school's principal, Brother Kenneth Hoagland, cancelled the event. While Hoagland was disturbed by the sex, alcohol, and drugs that have become part of the prom weekend experience for many, he primarily denounced it for "the flaunting of affluence, assuming exaggerated expenses, a pursuit of vanity for vanity's sake - in a word, financial decadence."

Hoagland wrote the parents to inform them of the reasons for his decision. He argued, "But we are concerned about how our young people are being educated in the use of wealth and the experience of power that wealth gives. ... The current culture of the prom on Long Island does not represent to us a proper Christian use of wealth."

Comedian Stephen Colbert tackled the prom story on his new show The Colbert Report, a spin-off of Jon Stewart's The Daily Show…After introducing the story, Colbert launched into an over-the-top defense of extreme capitalistic spending.

Colbert asked: "What is this teaching our children? That affluence is not supposed to be flaunted? Do you know what would happen to our economy if the rich stopped acting rich? America has a simple deal with the wealthy: we cut their taxes, and in return they inspire us with their gloriously macked-out cribs, golden toilets, and young taut trophy wives."

Colbert continued his rant by jokingly justifying American decadence: "Yeah, I know that this is a Catholic school and Jesus said it's easier for a camel to pass through an eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. But may I remind Brother Hoagland, our nation is rich enough to buy some really huge needles, with eyes you could drive a limo full of drunk prom kids through. ... So, remember kids, they may take away your prom ... but never let them take away your champagne dreams and your caviar wishes."

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