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DULUTH - An upcoming play at the UMD has drawn criticisms from Catholics around the country.
"I said 'no this is a red flag'," Catholic League President Bill Donohue said. Donohue
says advertisements for the play "The Deputy" at UMD could be cited as
hate speech, adding that he is disappointed in the school's choice to
put it on. "The Catholic Church is going to come out on the short end of the stick in this series," Donohue said.
The poster, that appears to feature a cardinal and a Nazi
standing on top on a dead, Jewish body, invites the public to have tough
discussions about the Holocaust as part of UMD's annual commemoration.
"It is controversial but that's the nature of academic discourse," Associate Professor Deborah Petersen-Perlman said.
Petersen–Perlman has been a part of the event for more than a decade.
She says a performance of The Deputy, that shows Pope Pius XII
failing to take action against the Holocaust, is acceptable for a
"This is an issue of academic freedom; we're entitled to have
these discussions," Petersen–Perlman said. "In fact, I think we're
obligated to have these discussions."
The Catholic League's president says he respects the right for
schools to put on whichever types of performances they want, but he
hopes the discussion that takes place afterward is more honest and
"With freedom comes responsibilities," Donohue said. "So, you
have a real dialogue as opposed to what could be a situation where the
Catholic Church is set up as some kind of a piñata to throw their dogs
But the Diocese of Duluth said "defenses on the grounds of
academic freedom are hollow and ironic the term is being used to
privilege conventional thinking and popular prejudice while banishing
Despite criticisms, UMD plans to hold the event as scheduled.
"Frankly, if there's speech that somebody doesn't like, the
answer is not to squelch speech but to encourage more speech,"
For more information on UMD's Holocaust commemoration events
beginning Thursday, or to see detailed responses from the Catholic
community regarding the play, visit the "featured links" tab.