I’m not going to link the original articles that I’m disagreeing with, so you’ll have a little catching up to do. Not to worry; those that make it here are bright enough to do a bit of mental exercise. I have faith in you.
You may recall me mentioning RageBaiting a bit ago; here are two examples:
(1) A photo of Mike Pence swearing in Sen. Kirsten Sinema on a law book, linking to an ‘article’ that says he “died a little inside” because it was not a bible, she’s openly bisexual, and he’s “a religious bigot”.
(2) A pic of Rep. Tlaib captioned “Trump-loving conservative Christians rage” because she was sworn in on a Koran.
Now, I want to be clear here: I’m confident that there are, in point of fact, people in the TwitterVerse who truly are raging because not one but two Reps opted to be sworn in on a Koran this time around — and, horror of horrors! one of them plans to wear a hijab during her term of service. (There are people in the TwitterVerse raging about all sorts of random incoherencies, from Dillinger Shot JFK to cutesy dog costumes. I sympathize with the latter.) I have no comments to make about Pence’s interior save to mention that, if he died a little inside every time something offended his refined morality, he’d have been buried shortly after the commencement of the campaign in what by now would have become a widening circle of blighted desert.
What I am objecting to, however, is the contention that these ‘articles’ are news.
In the wake of the passing of such publications as The Weekly Standard, Interview, Look, and several others, there remains one thriving sector in what, for lack of suitable words, must (alas!) be called journalism. Your outrage is a highly profitable industry, and these memes were designed specifically to appeal to that surge of self-righteous indignation you feel whenever you click them.
In the internet marketplace, what you click, you support. So when you do give in to that base impulse, you’re not only rewarding these people for fabricating false outrage. You’re actually subsidizing them to make more of it.
Toilet paper — this is actually true — was invented in the 1850s, but people refused to buy it on the theory that the Sears catalog comes free. (Yes, this is on topic. Shut up and keep reading, dammit.) As I was saying (before you so rudely interrupted!) — commercial toilet paper didn’t actually become profitable until it was advertised as a way to prevent irritation from the cheap inks used on the printed stuff. (Later on, as technology improved, a guarantee of splinter-free wipes and a lack of paper cuts was a big boost to sales.)
My point (and I do have one!) is that, while I might have used an old copy of Interview if pressed, the ‘articles’ to which I refer above are objects that, even if printed, I’d decline to soil myself with for fear of what might rub off on me.
On the other hand, I want to treat this discussion fairly — insofar as is possible, at least.
An objection has been raised by a serious-minded person who I’ve come to respect. His contention is that no oath of office should ever be administered on any religious text, due to the doctrine of Separation of Church and State. Instead, he suggests a copy of the Constitution be used.
To an extent, he does make an interesting point; moreover, as copies of the Constitution are often employed in this fashion, there are those who surely agree. Nevertheless, I’m compelled to object.
The Separation doctrine applies only to churches governing and the government meddling in churches. It cannot be used to separate out parts inside a person, leaving their faith behind them at the door as they walk through. People don’t work like that; they don’t function if sliced into bits.
Oaths are personal by nature, and should be taken only on those things one feels are sacred. Oh, there are people who believe our Constitution is one of those things, but if there’s a Muslim, let them swear on a Koran. If ever we elect an editor, perhaps a Strunk & White would serve. As for me, I’ll assert and affirm, thanks all the same.
The point is, the oath isn’t an empty ritual, and it’s not about the audience. It’s about trying to bind a human to perform according to their highest ideals and best possible judgment. We want them to be more than human — to be perfect — during their period of service, and to do so by an act of sheer will.
Senator Sinema? Let her swear on “Atlas Shrugged” for all I care.
(A note on pictures: The first is an image stolen from an article in The Hill, one in which Sinema is inaccurately portrayed as being sworn in on a copy of the Constitution. According to her office, she used a volume of Arizona law; to my eye, that’s the Supreme Court Record from the House party library. It’s still a book of law no matter how you slice it, but even The Hill screwed this one up (which isn’t like them). I’ll credit them, but I ain’t linking this crap. They get far too many RageClicks as it is.
PS: That’s not a cross behind Pence. It’s a window pane. Subliminal message there, maybe?)