Executive Speechwriting: Corporate, Weddings, Retirement

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Pandagon & Shakespeare's Sister Against Catholics? John Edwards' Staffers' Offense (or Not?)

It looks like Senator John Edwards is in a tussle with the media. It seems some of his employees appear to harbor anti-Catholic views and blogged about how they feel. Edwards, in the beginning of a likely run for president, and a Democrat, must balance his need to promote free speech and tolerance, while not denying his own pro gay rights, pro abortion rights views.

See one of the blogs: Senator Edwards comments here; Amanda Marcotte's comments here; and Melissa McEwen's comments here. (all lead to John Edward's blog).

See some other blog comments.

The bloggers, though, apparently have offered weak apologies, saying things like they are sorry if they offended anyone. I guess they think it is OK to bash someone's faith and the standards of that faith.

Edwards is quoted:

"The tone and the sentiment of some of Amanda Marcotte's and Melissa McEwen's posts personally offended me," Edwards' statement read. "It's not how I talk to people, and it's not how I expect the people who work for me to talk to people. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but that kind of intolerant language will not be permitted from anyone on my campaign, whether it's intended as satire, humor or anything else."

Edwards Stands by Bloggers New York Times

One of the bloggers suggested she isn't anti-Catholic because she went to Loyola University and voted for John Kerry. Catholic universities and colleges are not famous for exclusively drawing in Catholics, or those who are even believers in a diety. Voting for John Kerry hardly indicates pro-Catholicism. Kerry himself was barely conveniently Catholic when election time came.

This, naturally, begets the question where religion should be involved in politics. While the Catholic guy demanding Edwards should fire the bloggers was entering the political stream via religion, it was the political people who first made statements about Catholicism. In other words, Edwards' staff made statements against Catholics. That's as bad as if they had made a proCatholic statement.

I expect a religious person to stand up and want to change the political world from the outside. However, once becoming a political leader (or employed by one) making derogatory comments about religion is low. I wished that the political people who keep their fingers out of religion.

Still, it is a free country, and, that freedom is one thing we have that I love, Hillary Clinton loves, even George Bush loves.

As found quoted on the Shakespeare's Sister blog

"The Catholic church is not about to let something like compassion for girls get in the way of using the state as an instrument to force women to bear more tithing Catholics," Marcotte wrote on the blog Pandagon on Dec. 26, in an excerpt cited by Donohue.

Among the McEwan posts that Donohue listed was one she posted on Feb. 21, 2006, on her site, Shakespeare's Sister. She questioned what religious conservatives don't understand about "keeping your noses out of our britches, our beds and our families?"

As it turns out, the blogs are not kept by journalists. They are kept by young people, speaking their minds. Their views are predictable, consistent to the letter with the common blogger. Blog comments seem largely in lne with supporters, though, generously, the bloggers are not shutting out differeing views. However, the necesary professionalism is not evident and may ultimately cost John Edwards a real shot against the more decorous staff of Hillary Clinton. This ought not be a deciding (or even influencing) factor, but it will be a notch against Edwards as he tries to move forward.

He should have ignored it all. Instead, by commenting, he let it matter. It did not matter when Donahue spoke up. Rather, Edwards validated it. He lifted up Donahue into media credibility, and made two obscure blogs into popular relevancy.

As a non-conservative myself, and as a proponent of freedom of speech in all forms, this becomes not a matter of freedom, but wisdom. As I posted on the Padagon.net and Shakespeare's Sister blogs:

I've always wondered what freedom of speech REALLY is, and who is allowed to have it. Should William Donahue be allowed to speak, as a Catholic, about politics?

Should politically involved people be allowed to speak their opinions about religion? How political? If Edwards said it, the clamor would be as loud as can be. But a low-level staffer being shutdown?

It reminds me of the whole Muslim cartoon issue. The freedom exists, but when is it wise?

In the end, I think Edwards, Donahue, Marcotte, and McEwen are merely doing what they believe will help this country, employing their freedom of speech. Until we all agree, there will be offenses. There's no good reason to go out of way to offend, but we ought not shirk when it happens. We all need thicker skins. All of us. I support the whole lot, even when I disagree with them.

That's the pondering of the day, soon to become a forgotten matter.

Let freedom ring (but so loud?).

No comments: