Pasadena City College Can't Find a Commencement Speaker Who Doesn't Set Off Alarm Bells

Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Dr. Eric Walsh

When Pasadena City College unceremoniously dumped Oscar-winning screenwriter and PCC graduate Dustin Lance Black as commencement speaker three weeks ago over the presence of scandalously sexual images of him on the Internet, school officials hoped to put the affair behind them by picking a safe replacement.

Robin Abcarian at the Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday that didn't work out too well.

PCC announced Black's replacement was Pasadena Department of Public Health Director Dr. Eric Walsh. It's unknown what Dr. Walsh would have spoken about because he discovered a scheduling conflict that will prevent his appearance.

Dr. Walsh, a pastor in the Seventh Day Adventist Church, had many potential subjects for discourse based on previous appearances Abcarian found online. “Disney is a dark empire,” according to a talk he gave in 2012. “We take our children there but we don't understand, it's all full of witchcraft, superstition.” God knows how much damage Jiminy Cricket has done to the world because, “ 'When you wish upon a star (makes no difference who you are),' what happens? Your dreams come true. So you don't need to pray anymore.”

Comic books are no better. And don't get him started on Wonder Woman, who “lived on an island without any men.” He handles that in another talk, too. It used to be in “Christian United States of America . . . you couldn't have pagan symbols and false gods.” You can now.

It's hard to say what Walsh's reception would have been like if he had reprised his Disney speech, or some of the other speeches and sermons he has delivered to youth groups and other attentive audiences. He mocks popular culture, evolution, other religions and transgenders. His remarks are homophobic and misogynist:

“The home has been infiltrated by a lot of different belief systems. . . . One of the major ones isn't done by accident. In fact, Satan has a new religion that has been accepted by the entire world. I want to attack evolution not on its science today, I do that in other talks, but really on a spiritual standpoint.”

That's fine. The Lion King promotes voodoo and Batman is Lucifer. College kids hear that stuff from Fox News, most Republican candidates for President and more than a few local politicians on a regular basis. But how does that translate to public health policy, which by its very nature involves a heavy measure of diversity and inclusion?

Dr. Walsh is a graduate of Oakwood University, the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine and Loma Linda University School of Public Health. He previously served as the medical director for the Family Health Division of the Orange County Health Care Agency in Santa Ana and is the immediate past President of the California Academy of Preventive Medicine.

–Ken Broder


To Learn More:

Pasadena City College's Commencement Speaker Fiasco Re-Ignites (by Robin Abcarian, Los Angeles Times)

College That Dropped Dustin Lance Black Embroiled in Fresh Scandal (by Aaron Hicklin, Out)

PCC Commencement Speaker Cancels 10 Days before the Ceremony Due to Scheduling Conflict (by Adam Poulisse, Pasadena Star-News)

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