August 27, 2012

There’s Got to Be Something More Than This, Or, This Author is Far Too Grouchy to be a Millennial

Neil Postman warned against the 24-hour news cycle, which makes current events into a form of entertainment. Walker Percy surmised that most cultural battles in the public square do not adequately address life’s most important questions (never answering them rightly and rarely even asking them). Yesterday’s CBS Sunday Morning tempts me to accept this position as true.

It seems CBS wanted to investigate the same-sex marriage issue…again. This time, our good news service provider decided to focus on the generally progressive state of Washington. The Democrat-controlled state legislature approved same-sex marriage, only to meet immediate opposition and legal difficulties. Sadly, I may have been able to outline the news feature with my eyes closed and ears plugged.

First, portray a loving lesbian family on the playground and interview the couple. Next comes the old Catholic activist couple trying to keep the traditional definition of matrimony the law of the land. Now switch to the protests. The LGBT crowd channels the spirit of MLK by singing “We Shall Not Be Moved.” For the other side, that most reliable of media standbys–Westboro Baptist Church–represents the heterosexual marriage cause. Emphasize the much-ballyhooed “polarization” of American politics between the two dominant parties. Now it’s time to look at a grassroots advocacy organization. Be sure to color traditionalists as given to realpolitik machinations, covering walls with various districts and figures (as if their opposition did not). Also try to misrepresent traditional natural law arguments if possible. Switch back to loving same-sex family to provide a winsome rebuttal using evolutionary morality. Bring in a religious voice to elaborate on the moral dimensions of the situation. Generally this is someone for traditional marriage, but CBS decided to throw in United Methodist minister Monica Corsaro, an outspoken leader in the Reconciling Ministries Network. Of course, “other” (actually: a great majority) of pious Americans disagree. Conclude with a preacher Bible-thumping at the pulpit, yet another happy gay family, and an analysis/reflection on the debate.

My friend Shane Ayers and I have talked about the dehumanizing effects of our current public discourse before. The bias of our social innovators demands a high toll: the impoverishment of rhetoric. The same two-dimensional sound-bites return on an almost-periodic basis. The vain cycle of man’s opinion should serve as a lesson for the wise. Ye who fight the culture wars be warned. Unfortunately, I too often see progressives of both “Right” and “Left” persuasions ignore this way of the world. They expect utopia to somehow spring from the chaos as Athena from the head of Zeus. Pardon me if I’m not overly impressed with such a prospect.

CBS may continue to poo-poo American voters for their decisions. After all, same-sex marriage is the darling of both news-entertainment and entertainment-entertainment these days. The mainstream outlets may even feature a UMC pastor from the fast-declining Pacific Northwest Conference, even though the United Methodist Church officially forbids same-sex marriage in its Book of Discipline. I for one can’t help sympathizing a little with Charles Peguy: “Homer is new this morning, and perhaps nothing is as old as today’s newspaper.”


4 Responses to There’s Got to Be Something More Than This, Or, This Author is Far Too Grouchy to be a Millennial

  1. eMatters says:

    “For the other side, those media-darlings Westboro Baptist Church represent the traditionalists.”

    Did they remember to mention that Fred Phelps is a Democrat? Didn’t think so. Somehow they always forget that. (He ran as one in the 90’s.) I love pointing that out to Leftists when they use him as an example of a hater (I agree that he’s a true hater, and an un-biblical one at that). They reflexively deny it, then research it and find out it is true, then try to rationalize it away. Great fun!

  2. Dan Trabue says:

    Bart…

    My friend Shane Ayers and I have talked about the dehumanizing effects of our current public discourse before. The bias of our social innovators demands a high toll: the impoverishment of rhetoric.

    Setting aside the irony, by all means Bart, let’s enrich the rhetoric and humanize the discourse. Let’s have an honest conversation with give and take, questions and answers.

    Other than your religious biases, is there any rational or moral reason why people should not support marriage equity for gay folk?

    Increasingly, your “side” is seen to be opposing obvious moral improvements – we believe in marriage as a moral good – gay or straight and you seem to reject this moral good in favor of religious biases.

    If you can’t answer this question, you will continue to lose support. But I am open to hearing anyone make the very first argument against marriage equity for some reason other than longstanding religious biases.

    Will anyone here be the first? Enrich the rhetoric, improve the conversation, come, let us reason together…

  3. cynthia curran says:

    Well, Phelps is kind of unusual he is probably far right on the social issues and pretty left on the economic issues, probably why Democratic are confused with him since they last person with that position was someone like Lyndon La Roche.

    • eMatters says:

      Do you think the media would “forget” to mention the party affiliation if he was a Republican? You can have fun reading media reports about scandals. If it is a Democrat the affiliation will be buried or ignored completely. If Republican it will be in the headline.

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