"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Monday, June 20, 2011

Two Sides of the Same Coin

Here are two stories that basically are about the same thing -- our increasingly totalitarian public culture, a culture where the thought-crime of "being offensive" outweighs freedom of religion.

First, there was NBC's opening montage for the U.S. Open in which, having school-children recite the Pledge of Allegiance, they edited out some words.   What words, pray tell?   NBC's on-air apology didn't say:
We began our coverage of this final round just about three hours ago, and when we did it was our intent to begin the coverage of this U.S. Open championship with a feature that captured the patriotism of our national championship being held in our nation’s capital for the third time. Regrettably, a portion of the Pledge of Allegiance that was in that feature was edited out. It was not done to upset anyone, and we’d like to apologize to those of you who were offended by it.
I heard this apology live, however, and immediately turned to my wife and said that they had obviously edited out "under God."   And, of course, they had.   So apparently even saying the words "under God" are simply too offensive to NBC editors and announcers.... they can't even say them when they're apologizing for not saying them.

Second, there was this story about Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York's Father's Day homily in which he urged New York to reject changing the definition of marriage to expand beyond a union between a man and a woman:

Dolan, the leader of 2 million Catholics, used his pulpit to pray "that marriage stays between a man and a woman in the state of New York" - a view that got mixed reviews from worshipers at St. Patrick's Cathedral.
Megan Seaman, 18, who was visiting from Cleveland, said she thought Dolan's prayer was inappropriate. "Maybe there were gay people in the church. That's offensive," said Seaman, who has plans to study at Cornell University in the fall.
So, here, the leader of the Archdiocese of New York, and inarguably the most powerful Catholic priest in America, and a certain future Cardinal, is "offensive" and "inappropriate" in the eyes of this young woman, if he articulates what has been her own church's received wisdom and belief for two thousand years!   

Have we gotten to the point where merely exercising your own religious freedom is going to be deemed too "offensive" to be permitted?   No, certainly not.   But we're a lot closer to it than we were a generation ago.   And, by the way, it certainly seems that the only religion that is ever "offensive" is Christianity.   I don't see the Megan Seamans of the world complaining about Islam.   But that's another story.  

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