Daily Archives: January 22, 2010

Religion playing the victim in Prop 8 hearing

In what is likely the most ironic assertion made since Ann Coulter called liberal women ugly, The Catholic News Agency claimed Catholicism to be a target of religious bigotry on the part of California gay marriage advocates. Says the article:

“Today, religion has taken the stage, front and center, in the battle over the constitutionality of Prop. 8 and is being portrayed as an illegitimate basis for supporting traditional marriage. Religious bigotry surely found expression in today’s presentation by the plaintiffs,” he charged.

“To suggest that the people of California cannot consider their own political, moral and religious views when casting their vote on Prop. 8 is preposterous,” Pugno continued, adding that many issues are presented to voters that involve moral questions.

This is a straw man that my 12 year old could knock down in his sleep and sidesteps the very real and important issue that despite over 200 years of separation of church and state, the church continues to attempt to guide public policy through its adherents.

The facts are these: the right to marry was given to gay and lesbian couples. That right was taken away by the tyranny of the majority in large part due to out of state religious groups with deep pockets. The Mormon church was a key proponent of Prop 8 while operating out of Utah. If the residents of Utah are that concerned with the state of California’s public policy, perhaps they should start donating some cash to assist with  the beleaguered state’s budgetary woes. If one is going to say that the states should make up their own minds, then LET THEM. Do not sanctimoniously claim that none but the people of each state should choose which policy to embrace and then embroil yourself in that choice.

Further, the Constitution exists to protect the rights of the individual from the tyranny of the majority. To have a court interpret the constitution in such a way that rights are afforded equally among its citizens and then remove that right by appealing to the basest fears and prejudices of its citizens flies directly in the face of what it means to claim ‘freedom and justice for all.’

Most importantly: appealing to any citizen’s religious beliefs in order to perpetrate discrimination against any group is not only ethically reprehensible, it is unconstitutional. As soon as ANY leader claims anyone should vote a certain way because ‘it’s what God says,’ the United States Constitution has ceased to be followed. No law shall be made based on religious belief. If the people of the great state of California want to play at being legislators, then they need to follow the law. Not god’s law, the law of the United States of America and the state of California, which dictates a separation of church and state.  I don’t care what your personal beliefs are. The second they start infringing on the rights of others, you lose your credibility and your claim that you love this country.

Why advocacy ‘journalism’ has done nothing but hurt

Like most expressways to the netherworld, the road to populist political hell began with the best of intentions. Everyone is expected to take part in the electoral process, so everyone feels they have a right to know what’s going on. They do. Unfortunately, politics is by nature a complicated beast. There’s a lot of legal Latin involved and the nuances frequently go over the heads of even the politicians and analysts who studied politics for years, so it was no surprise that Joe Schmo in Regular Americaville missed about half of it. The demand for politics explained simply for ‘the common man’ (hate that phrase) was high.

Enter the radio talk show. At first, the political analysts used proper legal terminology and the listener was expected to keep up. If they couldn’t…too bad, go get a copy of de Tocquville you illiterate idiot. See? Perceived bias. Inferred even if not implied, it seemed political commentary favored the ‘intellectual elite.’ Clearly, a response was needed. A commentator able to interpret the goings-on in our system so that everyone felt involved in the political process. And so advocacy journalism was born, although it was not given that moniker initially. Radio hosts with politics explained simply so that everyone could understand.

Unfortunately, because breaking politics down into simple language requires interpretation, perceptions and opinions were conveyed with those interpretations. The bias became more pronounced, and it had a very one side of the aisle feel. Clearly, a response was needed.

And so with each iteration, we have gotten further and further away from reasoned political commentary. The loudest voices get the biggest share, and the way to keep it is by lionizing ‘the other side.’ All the while not even noticing that ‘the other side’ is just more of us, people we see on the street every day, in the office, at home. Us & them, ad infinitum. No longer people, just two dimensional representations of ‘everything that’s wrong with this country.’

Thus, we arrive at a place in which a coworker can passionately and unequivocally state his intense hatred of a man he has never met and has held office for (at the time of the pronouncement) less than a year.

How do we pull back? I don’t know, but pull back we must while there is still a feeling by most that we are all us, while the fringe that perceives a ‘them’ is still a minority. But it is a growing minority, and we need to take heed and correct the situation soon.