Thursday, February 22, 2001

A Christian's Right to Harass

Mayor Giuliani has decided Renée Cox's depiction of the Crucifixion with her on the cross instead of Jesus is "anti-Catholic," among other things (disgusting, outrageous…)

Anti-Catholic? Well, so what? So blinkin' what! Who says anybody has to be pro-catholic? What does he think Brooklyn is (the photographic exhibit is in Brooklyn), the goddam Vatican Embassy?

It's America, for chrissakes. US of goddam home-of-the-brave America! We get to be anti-catholic if we feel like it! So long as nobody steps in and tells the good catholic people of America they can't build churches, schools, hospitals and bingo parlors to do their (sometimes very good) things in, it's none of Giuliani's friggin business if Renée Cox wants to take a picture of herself on a cross.

Meanwhile, across town in Pennsylvania, a Pennsylvania appeals court says that a school district policy must not interfere with conservative Christian school children's right to harass. "We have found no categorical rule," says Judge Alioto, "that divests 'harassing' speech, as defined by federal anti-discrimination statutes, of First Amendment protection."

That makes David W. Saxe very happy indeed. He had lost the case he brought to the lower court, claiming that the two children under his care have a Christian right to "bear witness" to their faith, and that includes letting homosexuals on the playground hear loud and clear that they are living in sin. Leave aside, for the moment, that two 4th grade boys in my experience seldom practice anal sex with each other in front of others at recess, and that what we're really talking about here is terrorizing some boyish girl or girlish boy for simply being.

Gay activists are up in arms. They see a parallel with other examples of violence of the mouth. How would you feel, they ask, if you were a minority Jew and some skinheads exercised their First Amendment right to say to you, "I'm glad your mother died at Auschwitz. I wish you had, too." Or a minority black surrounded by some white thugs saying things like, "Go back to Africa, junglebunny." The difference, say the religionists, is religion. Skinheads and thugs have no constitutional right to thuggery, but Christians have a right to express their religion. Never mind that these creeps once exercised that same religious right to preach the children of Ham were in slavery with God's express approval.

One of the most challenging responsibilities of maintaining our civil liberties is maintaining the willingness to "fight to the death" for the right of racist, religious, or other bigots to speak their mind. I'm going to part ways with my gay friends seeking to get the law to shut these "Christians" up. I'm going to say, as much as the picture of a witness-bearing thug having at some confused and vulnerable young man in the schoolyard wrenches my gut like little else does, that he has the right to speak his mind so long as it doesn't lead to physical violence.

Someday, I want to tell these gay youngsters, you will grow up and know the ecstasy of defending Maria Callas against people who complain her voice is second rate. Or live with other women who, like yourself, agree that dinner party menus are balanced when they contain both wholegrain salads and potato chips. Until that great day, I regret all I can suggest is growing a thicker skin.

And, of course, turning the other cheek.

February 22, 2001

Thursday, February 1, 2001

So Long As It’s Biblical

Did you know that if you have celiac disease you can't eat wheat? And if you have celiac disease and you're catholic and want to take communion you're screwed? Jenny Richardson, age 5, has just gotten a letter from the Archdiocese of Boston informing her she is not eligible for her First Communion unless she is willing to flatten the villi in her small intestine and get sick. Sorry, sometimes you just got to be true to the "image of Scripture" says the Archdiocese.

Boston is not the only place in scriptural turmoil. Remember Kansas? The place where the school board (run by protestants, if I remember correctly) decided to toss the Big Bang out of the curriculum. Wasn't biblical.

Something that is biblical, evidently, is the theory that it was Adam who first pronounced the word "dinosaur." If you go to the website, and click on dinosaurs and then on "Why did God create dinosaurs" you'll see what I mean. I realize some of you have lives, so I've fetched it for you.

To wit:

God brought many animals to Adam for his personal inspection; the dinosaurs may have been included. God watched to see what Adam thought of all these wonderful creatures. He waited while Adam made up a name for each one (Genesis 2:19). Each new animal must have been an interesting surprise, displaying their Creator's power and creativity. Why did God invent so many different kinds of beautiful, interesting and surprising animals? Perhaps because He wanted to delight Man with His power, wisdom and love. Part of God's purpose for creating the particular types of dinosaurs that become very large was surely to impress Man. Dinosaurs showed the great power of the Creator. No matter how big these creatures got, Adam knew God was always far greater. God designed every part of them, right down to the smallest cell. Even the largest dinosaur was like an obedient puppy in God's wise, powerful hands.

Now that's biblical. Except for the puppy, maybe, which I don't find in my concordance Bible for some reason.

I remember when I was seven and first learned that kangaroos existed only in Australia, I asked my Sunday School teacher if the Garden of Eden was in Australia. She said no, and she imagined the kangaroos from the Garden of Eden died out elsewhere after they emigrated to Australia. She was from Kansas, so one assumes she got a good education. The web site says the very same thing, incidentally. It also answers the question every inquiring mind has been dying to know: Adam did not have a belly-button.

Anyway, I'm writing to tell you how thrilled I am to live in a Christian nation (Well, when I go there, I mean). And how glad I am my new President is getting us back on track by directing the Departments of Justice, Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services, Labor and Education to open "faith-based centers" within 45 days.

I mean when he said Jesus Christ was his favorite politician, I knew we were going places. I never believed for a minute that crap about governing from the center. When you're on a roll, you're on a roll.

I'm so relieved. No more worrying about Saddam Hussein. We're just going to turn the other cheek (Matthew 5:39). All them ICBM's? Ploughshares! (Micah 4:3). Those scruffy street people? No need to take us to court to get the coats off our back. We'll just hand them over, and our cloaks also (Matthew 5:40).

Had me scared there for a minute, Mr. Ashcroft.

I guess I just have to remember that if you take political action to prevent abortion for a girl raped by her brother I have nothing to worry about. I live in a Christian nation and we're going to do the right thing. We'll help her get it adopted out. "Child of brother-sister team needs a loving home." I'm sure the good Christian folk of America will come running.

Trigger locks? You're right. Wouldn't be biblical.

Guess it's OK to steal an election, if you're stealing it for Christ.

February 1, 2001