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The last acceptable prejudice Print E-mail
By Philip Jenkins   
Wednesday, 06 March 2013

Expressions of anti-Catholic bigotry scarcely come as a surprise. Over the years, we have come to expect that media treatments of the Church, its clergy and its faithful will be negative, if not highly offensive, and Catholic organizations try to confront the worst manifestations of prejudice. When such controversies erupt, the defenders of the various shows or productions commonly invoke a free speech defense. These productions are just legitimate commentary, we hear, so offended Catholics should just lighten up, and learn not to be hyper-sensitive. Sometimes, defenders just deny that the allegedly anti-Catholic works are anything like as hostile as they initially seem to be. All these arguments, though, miss one central point, namely that similarly controversial attacks would be tolerated against literally no other group, whether that group is religious, political or ethnic.
 
The issue should not be whether film X or art exhibit Y is deliberately intending to affront Catholics. We should rather ask whether comparable expressions would be allowed if they caused outrage or offense to any other group, whether or not that degree of offense seems reasonable or understandable to outsiders. If the answer is yes, that our society will indeed tolerate controversial or offensive presentations of other groups — of Muslims and Jews, African-Americans and Latinos, Asian-Americans and Native Americans, gays and lesbians — then Catholics should not protest that they are being singled out for unfair treatment. If, however, controversy is out of bounds for these other groups — as it assuredly is — then we certainly should not lighten up, and the Catholic League is going to be in business for a very long time to come. – from The New Anti-Catholicism

 

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