Wednesday, October 2, 2013

* What's Your Value System, Dear Reader?

Our Alum,

B.A. English ’68, magna cum laude:

“He never made money but he made a point.”

I asked my undergraduate school to write an article about me, using the title above.

They’ll never do it.

So I will.

You can’t expect a college to brag about their alumni who are economic failures.  The most I ever made was $63,000 a year after 25 years as a public school teacher, and that was with three masters degrees: Kent State, M.Ed’72,
Yale, M.Div.’80 and Middlebury, M.A.’97.

I'll wager, none of those institutions would publish this piece either.

And not simply because it looks like, walks like, and talks like an ego trip, or because it challenges the modern god of Materialism as a fulfilling value-system.


Actually, Yale Divinity might publish it because it’s about their grad who is an idealist, except for one thing: He doesn’t believe in their god.  His deity is more a Ralph Waldo Emerson faceless, armless, footless, mouthless, wordless, hairless, and NAMELESS  god. 

A kind of Transcendent Urge  (to steal from Whitehead’s Process Theology) an urge away from destruction toward creation, away from hatred and resentment, toward respect and contentment.

Pretty boring stuff for an alumni magazine.

You mean the guy is a loser? 


And an ego-tripper. Definitely not a "divine".

Probably by most materialist and theological standards I am a loser.

But not by mine.

I got involved in “enough hatred already” projects  twice on a national level before I took 25 years off for a teaching career. 

As soon as I retired  last year I told a friend, I was always sorry I had never "used my divinity degree"  over  the last 25 years, and a few months later I was using it to create a national scandal.  Also an “enough hatred already” project. BINGO! That makes three in 30 years.

I didn’t plan it.  It just happened.  (A “calling?”)

I offered my mother’s grave in Hamden, Connecticut  to the family of  the killed Boston bomber, when the undertaker made a public appeal for help because he could not get a cemetery to bury Tamerlan Tsarnaev. 

Remember the  police chief’s appeal in the undertaker’s Massachusetts  town? “We are not barbarians. We bury our dead.”

But I didn’t just OFFER it.  Many had done that; I offered it "as a graduate of Yale Divinity School in memory of my mother, a Sunday school teacher for 30 years" at a Hamden church ten miles from Yale, "who had taught me to 'love thine enemy'.”

That did the trick. It was picked up by national media and spread by social media.

Within a week a religious group in Virginia, citing the same religious phrase, found a plot for him in a remote Islamic section of a Virginia cemetery, after my offer provoked a public outcry in Connecticut.

So, send your kid to our college, the alumni magazine could say, and he too can get hate mail, threats against his home,  and against his mother’s grave, and be disowned by his own cousins, one of whom said, “What you did to your mother’s grave is despicable.”

I actually had an apprenticeship in hate mail so I was ready for it:  I got hate mail at Kent State in 1972. It’s now in my archives at Yale.

It called me worse than my cousin’s stunner (“despicable”) because I  dared to lobby at the White House for a federal grand jury of the Kent State murders wearing  a  suit and necktie.  How could I be dismissed as a long haired hippie protestor if I had a necktie and lobbied, instead of engaged in street action?  Answer: Hate mail.

I was used to hate mail but not to hatred--and that's what I got a few months ago over the Boston bomber.

I was also disapproved of  by every person interviewed on the February 1984 “60 Minutes” piece about my attempt at Yale to pay a prostitute to stay off the streets because she was the first woman in America known to have transmitted AIDS. A Divinity graduate raising money to pay a prostitute? !!

They (Yale's epidemiologist, the police chief, the state health commissioner, and a state legislator)  didn’t want me to reveal the story because there was no “proof”. (H.I.V. had not yet been discovered.) 

They were furious that I did so, even New Haven’s police chief, a personal friend.

But I had learned how to live as a hated being during my years at Kent State.  

Yale hatred didn’t phase me.

Although, when one Yale gay professor in 1983 stood  up at a meeting of 100 or so students concerned about AIDS and pointed a finger at me shouting and trembling, “Everyone should shun this man for bringing 60 Minutes here to torment this woman:”  that was a pretty lonely moment, I admit.

He was sure the 60 Minutes' attention would result in the woman’s quarantine and then by extension the quarantine of all gay men.

I argued it would not do so since Connectcut and Yale were the site of Griswold v. Connecticut (1965), the Planned Parenthood case legalizing the use of contraception.

Yale and Connecticut had proved themselves  too liberal in the aftermath of that 1965 case tried by a faculty member of Yale Law School representing Planned Parenthood,; too liberal indeed to allow the quarantine of any AIDS sufferer, even a prostitute.

Besides, I was exposing as a reality the feared heterosexual connection, dreaded by a bigoted public who wanted desperately to believe that AIDS just affected “those fags”  and “good riddance to them anyway.” 

Once it applied to everyone as 60 Minutes would make clear,  the hatred of those “fags” who ought to be quarantined,would fade away.

And it did.

Sorry bigots : Microbes don’t have a sexual preference, although hatred appeared to have one, in those early days of the disease.

So this is the article I would write for my alumni magazine titled “He never made money but he made a point.” And it would be about these  three idealist projects I created after I got fed up with hatred.

What did they accomplish? 

There’s no proof they ever accomplished anything: How do you measure what DIDN’T happen? 

  • The growing witch hunt against long haired college student antiwar protesters fizzled out after Kent State calmed down when student protesters went to the White House instead of to the streets.

  • The hatred of those “fags”  who were spreading AIDS fizzled out after 20 million viewers saw on 60 Minutes that women could spread it too (AIDS at Yale)

  • The logjam over burying the killed Boston Bomber was broken after a graduate of a famous Christian seminary decided to offer him a grave on the principle of “love thine enemy.”

But here’s one bigger accomplishment in my life which an alumni magazine might find more palatable to brag about despite my puny $63,000 salary (a year at Yale costs more than that these days):

My 3000 students and their exposure to my love of ideas.

That’s my real legacy.

But that can’t be measured either.

Our world wants DATA, its new universal, monotheistic god.


Paul D. Keane  (AKA The Anti-Yale
M.A., M.Div., M.Ed.

Subject: " He never made any money but he made a point."

Gregory Sterling, Dean, Yale Divinity School
Thomas Rochon, President, ******  College

Dear Dean Sterling and Tom,

I wrote this piece for the imaginary alumni magazines I wish you guys ran. 




I left the name of Tom's instituition out because I was sort of laying it all at his feet, and I think Yale has tougher skin than I.C.

Tom has been a good friend,  five years now, and I'm getting to like Dean Sterlinhg  more and more every day, who came to my rescue with the post-Tasrnaev burial plot rejections. 

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