Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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April 20, 2004
By: Kevin Drum

LIBERALS AND RELIGION....Allen Brill, who's been banging this drum pretty much forever, wonders why liberals insist on losing votes for their cause by constantly deriding religion. Today, he links to this review of Air American by David Shaw in the LA Times:

In a country in which 64% of the public say they attend weekend worship services at least once a month, mocking religion might not be the most effective way to win converts and yet, on Good Friday no less, that's exactly what the various Air America hosts repeatedly did.

Two of the hosts gratuitously announced that they're Jewish, and one Marc Maron of the network's "Morning Sedition" program went on to make fun of Easter and Christmas rituals. Then, in a segment he called "morning devotional," Maron began his prayer for divine guidance on behalf of President Bush by saying, "Dear Lord, what the hell is going on up there?"

Another host I think it was Rachel Maddow on "Unfiltered," though I couldn't always distinguish her voice from that of co-host Lizz Winstead called Easter "an odd celebration" and said that a taxi driver had told her that "someone in a Jesus suit" would carry a cross along 42nd Street in New York in a reenactment of the events of Good Friday, "but in this case, he'll stop to buy a fake Louis Vuitton bag."

I too find this puzzling. I'm about as nonreligious as you can get, but even I understand the basics of in-group comedy: only blacks get to make fun of blacks, only Jews get to make fun of Jews, and only religious folks get to mock religion. That's both common sense and common courtesy.

This doesn't mean you can't fight religious groups on substantive grounds, of course, any more than strictures against mocking blacks mean you can't oppose affirmative action. I'll never give an inch to the creationism/Intelligent Design crowd, for example, but you can do it without ridiculing anybody's actual religious beliefs something that will win neither arguments nor friends in any case. My advice: the next time you're tempted to mock somebody or something on religious grounds, just substitute "Hispanic," or perhaps "Hindu," and see how it sounds. If it sounds like something you probably shouldn't say, then you probably shouldn't say it.

And if that still doesn't convince you, remember Amy Sullivan's advice: just think of 'em as an interest group and pander to them. We libs know how to do that, don't we?

Kevin Drum 11:29 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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