7 July 2005
No hot licks, either
The Dan Hicks/Tulsa Zoo dustup made it to NPR this week, which means that I'm almost, but not quite, up on the matter.
The Wallace Perspective follows up:
After giving some thought to Dan Hicks' request for equal representation of his religion, the board felt adding a Creationism display did not meet the criteria of equal representation. Instead, they did an intensive study of the Ganesha statue. Here is what they found:
- The statue is near the elephant exhibit.
- The god looks an awful lot like an elephant.
So the only way to be fair would be to build a statue of Jesus next to the primate exhibit.
Wallace expects to catch flak for this remark; I figure the least I could do is to help out, especially since I thought essentially the same thing at one point. (If nothing else, this proves that I don't write up everything that comes into my head, for which all of you should be grateful.)
Posted at 4:43 PM to Soonerland
But the whole f***ing point is that they had no problem putting up the Ganesha statue once the idea popped into their little heads, but same people would fight to the death before putting up a Jesus statute next to anything!!! It's the double standard that is applied to anything Judeo/Christian that makes my head want to explode. The same people who fight to remove microscopic crosses which accurately represent historical contexts also fight to keep another religion's stone God. For the love of Pete, can we have on standard!!! They all go...or they all stay.
I don't think the Establishment Clause calls for a quota system.
The simplest thing to do here would be to lose Ganesha, but I don't think the zoo sees that as an option, perhaps because it's too simple, but more likely because they don't want to look like they're giving any ground. I object more to that mindset than I do to the presence of an artifact.
Oh I agree the Establishment Clause does not call for a quota system or even support any notion of separation of Church and State. The wording, which the Supreme Court has long forgot is that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion." Accordingly, congress and every other branch of the government can do all sorts of things all the way up to the point where it affects the "establishment of religion" which is a pretty high hurdle if words are to have any meaning.
The only problem is that the clause has been bastardized over the years to mean something which it clears does not. The Supreme Court cases dealing with religion, including the latest two, only mention the clause in passing and focus entirely on other precedent...with each prior case getting farther and farther away from the actual words of the Constitution. The Court(s) play telephone* by going from one decision to another without sufficiently relying on the actual words in the controlling document. It's insane!
* "Telephone" is the game where one person tells another something who then tells a different person who passes it on down a line until it gets to the end and winds up nothing like the original message.
Since Christians ARE the majority in the U.S. it should stand to reason there are going to be intrusions into the public venue (it is the nature of humans to let such a significant portion of their lives do so). You can't turn around without a church on a corner or tune in the radio or t.v without some religous agenda being thrust at you. I think that is expected at some level because of this majority view. It is,however, more than a bit disconcerting that such a thing as the Ganesh statue, which so obviously was an attempt at a cultural anthromorphic presentation of the elephant, would be categorized as an attack on the balanced nature of religious presentation.
There just seems to be a lot of folks with a fixation on being "right" as the majority rather than being "right" with the majority of their fellow human beings (or their God ... whichever one(s) they follow ... ). Rising above it all would seem better than descending into the trenches of the embittered religio-cultural war ... of course many people view such warfare (crusade, jihad, etc.) as the truest expression of their piety.
On that basis we shall probably be at war forever.