For John, BLUF: One person's wedge issue is another person's something. Nothing to see here; just move along.
This morning, on City Life, the Host, Lawyer George Anthes, brought up the issue of Duck Dynasty Patriarch Phil Robertson's interview with GQ, in which Mr Robertson said he thought it sinful to engage in homosexual behavior, beastiality and adultery.♠ The guests were Lawyer Dick Howe and Businesswoman Muriel (Mimi) Parseghian. From the Guests was the suggestion that bringing up this issue, along with the issue of prayer at the beginning of City Council Meetings,♥ was bring up a wedge issue.
As we all know, the wedge is the simplest tool known to man (or woman). There should be a warning in that. The problem in trying to discredit a discussion with the epithet "wedge issue" is that those who first made a point about what Mr Robertson said were making a wedge issue. They are trying to shave off Mr Robertson and show that he (and his ilk) was outside what is acceptable mainstream American thinking. What I don't know is if they just thought he was out of the mainstream with one thing he said or with all of the things he noted as being sinful. Is adultery sinful? Is it at least unethical?
As for creating wedges, this item with Mr Robertson seems to cut in both directions. Apparently the Restaurant Chain Cracker Barrel,♦ responding to the original uproar, said it would stop selling Duck Dynasty gear in its restaurants. Customers objected. This from The LA Times:
You told us we made a mistake. And, you weren't shy about it. You wrote, you called and you took to social media to express your thoughts and feelings. You flat out told us we were wrong. We listened. Today, we are putting all our Duck Dynasty products back in our stores.What Phil Robertson said would not have come to my attention, as I neither watch Duck Dynasty nor read GQ, without the brouhaha over his listing of possible sins. The real question is the limits we are prepared to put on the opinions of others. If our opinions are out of the mainstream should we keep our mouths shut? Today we deplore the fact that in the past homosexuals were not able to keep photos of themselves with their spouse on their desk.♣ Will people in the future feel they are not free to openly state that they are a practicing Roman Catholic or Baptist★ for fear that it would be taken as indicating beliefs that homosexual activity is sinful, a belief that is out of the mainstream of acceptable polite conversation?
One other thing from the show this AM. Dick Howe brought up the fact that Christmas used to be banned in Massachusetts, and so it was. The rest of the story is that it was banned because of religious reasons, not secular. Back when the Meeting House was both the Church and the Town Hall and the Citizens could slip from one role to the other without getting up, the Puritans thought that Christmas was an abominable Papist contrivance and something to be avoided by all right thinking people. So, if you happen to go to Mass this Christmas Eve (or Christmas Day), remember that it is because of the First Amendment that you are able to go there. Otherwise, the Puritans would still be banning it as a publicly observable holy day of obligation.
Regards — Cliff
♠ Some claimed that Mr Robertson was equating homosexual activity with beastiality (zoophilia), which, in the sense he was talking about what he saw as sin, he was. But, then, he was also equating both to adultery, and some other things.
♥ In Eighth grade, after transferring from a town of 2800, with six Roman Catholic and one Christian Science family and the rest Protestants, to a more mixed community (my best friends were a German and a Jew) I observed that the use of the Our Father in classrooms was not just coercive of Roman Catholics (to do it the Protestant way) but of young members of other faith communities. It was something that needed to be dropped.
♦ It may be an acquired taste. I like Cracker Barrel, but my wife doesn't.
♣ Especially in the US Military, where such a photo would suggest grounds for dismissal.
★ I think Muslims are safe for now, since people are affaid they will go off and burn down some federal facility, like the CIA compound in Benghazi. A view that is totally irrational, but effective in protecting Muslims from some secular humanist irrationalism.