Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Christian Taliban

Having just spent five days celebrating theatre and artistic expression, it’s really disheartening to read this:

A Fort Worth theater that had agreed to show a student-directed play with a gay Jesus character has withdrawn its offer. The board of directors of Artes de la Rosa, which runs The Rose Marine Theater on North Main Street, decided Thursday against offering the venue for the production of Corpus Christi, just one day after saying it would. A March performance set for a directing class at Tarleton State University in Stephenville was abruptly canceled after the school received threatening emails.

That’s from a larger article by Glenn Greenwald in which he counters Ross Douthat’s argument that it is only Muslims who get outraged over the depiction of their holy figures in a satirical or unflattering light.

The various forms of religious-based, intimidation-driven censorship and taboo ideas in the U.S. — what Douthat claims are non-existent except when it involves Muslims — are too numerous to chronicle. One has to be deeply ignorant, deeply dishonest or consumed with petulant self-victimization and anti-Muslim bigotry to pretend they don’t exist. I opt (primarily) for the latter explanation in Douthat’s case.

As Balloon-Juice’s DougJ notes, everyone from Phil Donahue and Ashliegh Banfield to Bill Maher and Sinead O’Connor can tell you about that first-hand. As can the cable television news reporters who were banned by their corporate executives from running stories that reflected negatively on Bush and the war. When he was Mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani was fixated on using the power of his office to censor art that offended his Catholic sensibilities. The Bush administration banned mainstream Muslim scholars even from entering the U.S. to teach. The Dixie Chicks were deluged with death threats for daring to criticize the Leader, forcing them to apologize out of fear for their lives. Campaigns to deny tenure to academicians, or appointments to politicial [sic] officials, who deviate from Israel orthodoxy are common and effective. Responding to religious outrage, a Congressional investigation was formally launched and huge fines issued all because Janet Jackson’s breast was displayed for a couple of seconds on television.

This is par for the course and part of the Culture of Victimhood that has been perfected largely by the bullies of the majority: anyone who criticizes them or mocks them is treating them horribly unfairly and they demand that they stop it at once. Hence the cries of “anti-Christian bigotry!” when a court rules against a city paying for a nativity scene in a public park to the exclusion of other faiths. It also informs the mentality of some of the Tea Party people who are basically saying this was a much nicer country before all those other people started to vote.

Perhaps if the defenders of the faith weren’t such reactionary horses asses, people might not come away with the impression that they’re just a bunch of sniveling bigots in the first place.