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What is sacred and what is profane in contemporary western society?



Rethinking Our Approach to God and Politics

On December 8th, 2018, Kyler Murray, quarterback for the Oklahoma Sooners, was awarded the Heisman Trophy.

Before Murray could finish his acceptance speech, the secret social media police were already hard at work. In Gestapo-like fashion, social justice zealots combed through Murray’s Twitter history—all 4700 tweets—frantically searching for any hints of sacrilege against the altar of political correctness. And indeed, they found that six years ago, a 15-year-old Murray used homosexual slurs when referring to his friends on Twitter. Murray’s achievement was already being ripped away before he could accept it.

One must admire the tenacity of the PC police.

Through sheer will, they have shaped the decisions of such powerful institutions as the media and universities. Their tactics are so thorough that the fear of being exposed as a bigot has seeped into everyday conversations. When in a public setting, one must carefully analyze his/her/their words, closing off any avenue where he/she/they/zie/sie/ey/ve/tey/e (list courtesy of the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee) could be condemned as a racist, sexist, homophobe.

Ironically, the same people who want to discuss gender relations don’t want to entertain discussion of how men and women might be different. Blasphemy against the holy doctrines of feminism is unacceptable.   

Let us not forget how the Nobel laureate, Tim Hunt, ruined his career through a lighthearted joke concerning women in science. The quip was only 39 words: “Let me tell you about my trouble with girls. Three things happen when they are in the lab. You fall in love with them, they fall in love with you, and when you criticize them, they cry.”

Usually, people receive uncomfortable laughter and perhaps some expressions of disapproval when they tell a bad joke, not a permanently tarnished reputation. Clearly, Hunt’s comment was perceived to be far worse than simple crass banter.

Hunt had violated the feminist first commandment: all men and women are equal physically and metaphysically. There should not be any discrepancies between how a man treats a woman versus how he treats another man.

So far, the Left’s plan to intensify the severity of reactions against perceived bigotry is working. Forty percent of American Millennials are in favor of government censorship of statements that are offensive to minorities. The situation is grimmer in Europe where 49% favor censorship legislation versus the mere 46% who are against it.

Some might argue that the best way to combat this trend is to take up the mantle of the extreme opposite of censorship—free speech absolutism. This position calls for the literal interpretation of the First  Amendment, in particular that the phrase “Congress shall make no law” prohibits both federal and state governments from passing any laws that may abridge an individual’s right of speech.  This basically libertarian position is rather easy to defend: if a person’s speech is not directly infringing on my own natural rights, why should I care? After all, freedom to the average American is simply the ability to forge one’s own destiny; America is a nation of individuals who each carry different lifestyles but are all connected to a love of liberty and justice for all—E pluribus unum.

However, to take up this position would be to miss the significance of the Left’s strategy. It’s clear that they have taken advantage of a simple fact that is rooted in Western legal tradition: speech carries weight. For instance, the ancient Romans had laws against calumnia—defamation made against a person’s honor. Honor to a Roman was a religious matter; a dishonored man could be considered sacer—unclean in the face of the gods. Someone who is sacer can be killed by anyone. A person who falsely dishonors another would face the same punishment.

As the Romans understood, what is considered reprehensible speech is intimately connected to society’s religion. In fascist and communist regimes, the state is a god, and to speak out against it is punishable by death.

In today’s society, equality is a god, and to speak discriminately is punishable by shunning.  

For fear of social castigation, Christians, by and large, have reneged on the commitment to actively proselytize and defend the Word.  As a satanic idol is unveiled at the Arkansas Capitol building, we stand down. As “Piss Christ”, a photograph of a small crucifix submerged in the artist’s urine, is proudly displayed in a New York museum, we turn a blind eye. As children are erroneously taught that America was never a Christian nation, we bury our heads in the sand. Meanwhile, by their brave passion, social justice warriors have successfully torn down Confederate monuments, thwarted conservative speaking events, and pushed the narrative of a racist United States.

If we want people to treat God as God, we need to change our approach.

Christ teaches us to turn the other cheek, but He also says that there are times to sell your cloak and buy a sword (Luke 22:36). It’s up to us to judge well.

Jorge Plaza is a sophomore studying philosophy and economics. On campus, Jorge plays cello in the Notre Dame Symphony Orchestra and is a member of the O’Neill interhall football team. You can contact him at jplaza@nd.edu.

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