Thursday, December 02, 2004

The Christian Fear Factor: Controversy trumps virtue

Post-election, the Democracts and the Republicans and the country as a whole are stumbling over themselves to find and define as their own a values-driven moral compass, a message that will gain them a lock on power. But all they've got so far is another episode of "Fear Factor."

The more rabid Republicans fear the left and the center and the 21st Century and gays and citizens for peace and the intelligencia and the fancy people and people who don't love guns and city slickers and free-speechers and free-thinkers and freedom itself as well as the "liberal" media because they seem to fear everybody and everything that is not part and parcel of their pale, phobic and faith-based sect.

As if faith were somehow superior to a compassionate morality based on facts.

The weak-kneed Democrats are fearing the '04 losses and "four more years" and their own muddled messages (and muddled messengers) and the far left and the religious right Karl Rove and the ignorant born-agains and the Red Sea of the Heartland and the "values" debate.

Most of all, it seems, the values debate - as if the Democrats didn't have some pretty darn good values already.

The country seems to fear the U.N. and France and Kyoto and Arabs and the future and delayed gratification and credit limits and taking any but a dim view of the 2nd and 3rd worlds that suck up to and act as crutches to Empire USA.

Now, in the midst of this spinning compass, NBC and CBS have turned down a television ad from the United Church of Christ which promotes nothing but common decency and virtues which could be seen as both Christian and secular. The networks are free media (meaning bought and paid for), and they are free to reject whatever they want (ads are not a public service), but their caution and reasoning seem downright indecent. Beyond just strange, it seems not only hypocritical but just upside down.

Show hordes of ads for risky drugs, mayhem movies and political slander and then reject a magnanimous call for fellowship and equality?

The "controversial" ad's voiceover says, "Jesus didn't turn people away. Neither do we.... No matter who you are, or where you are on life's journey, you are welcome here."

Sounds darn good to me. Who could argue with that? All men and women are created equal in the eyes of...yada yada yada...

Why such controversy? In the land of the brave, the brave promote legal, medical, racial, sexual, educational, and religious equality. Those are the protections we crave and supposedly admire. To be fair, they've got to be available to everyone.

But there is a dangerous absurdity at work here: This is a land of looney tune booby traps for anybody trying to make anything a moral sense. Thus, amorality and immorality seem to get preferential treatment.

Thus, the fear factor. It seems millions are anxious to watch television contestants eat cupfuls of crawling insects, but they don't (or these timid media fear they don't) want to even get near a vague conjuring of alternate lifestyles often more courageous than their own.

CBS's official denouncement of the ad is sinister:

"Because this commercial touches on the exclusion of gay couples and
other minority groups by other individuals and organizations - and the fact the Executive Branch has recently proposed a Constitutional Amendment to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, this spot is unacceptable for broadcast on the [CBS and UPN] networks."

Since when is a proposed law or amendment the law of the land? What a cop out for CBS to cite this proposal as its defense. There is no legal precident for this. Such is the fear on which fascism is based.

Some of this country's finest patriots continue to bravely criticize this country. A patriot is not blind to a nation's shortcomings. And a truly religious person knows how to speak for and act upon exemplary virtues and the moral high road.

The "land of the brave" has become some isolated islands of the brave, seemingly surrounded by a sea of red.

The United Church of Christ's general minister and president, The Rev. John H. Thomas, said, "It's ironic that after a political season awash in commercials based on fear and deception by both parties seen on all the major networks, an ad with a message of welcome and inclusion would be deemed too controversial....What's going on here?"

What is going on here? It's more than ironic. The land of the brave has become the land of the afraid.

For more, please see John Nichols' excellent article at The Nation or Alternet:


At 12/03/2004 6:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess for the purpose of your blog it's necessary to use broad generalization like "The Republicans" in paragraph 2, but I wonder how Mr. McCain would feel about being in that category.

I have seen the ad and find it courageous. I hope it is played often. What this world needs is tolerance. Even for "The Republicans". RQ

At 12/03/2004 9:48 AM, Blogger Daily Texican said...

The D's need to grow some balls. I can't believe the stations turned down that add. That pissed me off.

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