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Late Night FDL: Cheap Shots and Christ on Sale

The NYT’s Charles Blow tried to make a funny about Romney’s magic underwear, failed, and got smacked around for it, but what I want to talk about is this statement:

? @thepubliceditor: I applaud @CharlesMBlow for apologizing for his tweet on Romney. Criticism based on religion is inappropriate, on Twitter or anywhere else.

Blow really should have been reprimanded for not being able to come up with anything better than the magic underwear thing. You work at the Times, man, put your shoulder into it! Have one of your interns look up something about Mormonism that all of Twitter hasn’t adequately addressed before now.

Unfunny schoolyard cracks that Conan O’Brien’s writers would have passed on are indeed inappropriate. However, criticism based on religion is most assuredly appropriate, at least, as appropriate as criticism based on anything else.

We can’t sit here and rule things out of bounds to talk about on the basis of somebody said the word “god” and now that means we all have to stop questioning. Faith is used too often as some kind of prophylactic against criticism in public life, an instant protection against having to explain one’s positions and justify one’s actions. “I believe” has come to mean “now you can’t object, because I invoked the Jesus Pokémon, regardless of what insane shit comes out of my mouth next.”

Which is a pity, because in the best traditions of faith doctrine can be the result of long periods of learned argument and study, and talking about one’s faith doesn’t have to be a threat to that faith. Sensible criticism about a politician’s faith would, one can hope, prompt a deeper explanation of how that faith informs a candidate’s actions.

In Romney’s case, that would mean exploring a candidate’s explicit view of his campaign as some kind of affirmation that AMERICA IS TEH AWESOMEST SEZ GOD and go fuck a French mime if you think differently. So I can see why his campaign wouldn’t exactly welcome that discussion.


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Allison Hantschel

Allison Hantschel

Allison Hantschel is a 10-year veteran of the newspaper business. She publishes First Draft, a writing and politics blog, with her partners Holden, Jude and Scout. She is the author of the books Chicago's Historic Irish Pubs (2011, Arcadia Publishing, with Mike Danahey) and It Doesn’t End With Us: The Story of the Daily Cardinal, about a great liberal journalism institution (2007, Heritage Books). She also edited the anthology “Special Plans: The Blogs on Douglas Feith and the Faulty Intelligence That Led to War” (2005, William, James & Co.) Her work has appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the Daily Southtown, Sirens Magazine, and Alternet. She lives in Chicago with her husband, two ferrets, and approximately 60 tons of books.