A really good column from Jonah Goldberg. I missed the Law and Order episode he is writing about – I only watch the old syndicated things, and then, only when I am bleary/sick.
But it is an eminently sensible “cool yer jets” to the wild hoardes screaming “Theocracy!” these past few weeks. Here are a few excerpts, but you’ll want to read the whole thing.
I should point out that Christian conservatives have never done anything like this. Indeed, the only remotely similar episode in recent memory concerned Karla Faye Tucker, the white female ax murderer who also happened to be a born-again Christian. Some conservative Christians – and many other anti-death penalty advocates – argued she should be spared the death penalty but not absolved of her crime. George W. Bush – the supposedly theocratic Christian – was the governor of Texas at the time, and was empowered to halt the execution. His response to such requests: No dice. “I have concluded that judgments about the heart and soul of an individual on death row are best left to a higher authority,” he declared. “May God bless Karla Faye Tucker, and God bless her victims and their families.”
Why take pains to point out that TV fiction doesn’t match reality? Because the original conceit of “Law & Order” was that it tackled the thorny legal and moral issues associated with actual murders “ripped from the headlines.” In its early years, the show handled Tawana Brawley, the Central Park jogger, Bernie Goetz and other real crimes…
…But the complete, outrageous implausibility of the episode’s plot wasn’t the most infuriating part. Several times, various characters opine that the Christians’ legal tactics might work given “what’s happening in this country right now.” I half expected Pat Robertson to burst through McCoy’s office spraying holy water screaming, “Exorcist” style, “The power of Christ compels you!”
The complexity of what conservative Christians really believe is lost on the writers of “Law & Order” – not surprising for a Hollywood show about New York that blends both coastal sensibilities perfectly. The fact that more and more headlines are being ripped from “red” America creates challenges for writers – like having to plausibly depict midtown Manhattan as a hotbed of evangelical, anti-abortion fervor (as they have more than once). But such challenges are minor compared to the dilemma of making their paranoia seem real.
I grew up in New York City, I know New York City, and I have this to tell my fellow New Yorkers: You are perfectly safe from the Christians hordes. None of the stuff supposedly “happening in America right now” is actually affecting Dowd or Krugman or the “L&O” writing teams. Pharmacies in New York and L.A. are still filling prescriptions for the “morning after” pill, schools are still teaching evolution, abortion clinics are humming along. And don’t e-mail me in a tizzy about gay marriage bans. Gay marriage didn’t exist under Bill Clinton either.
Amen, Mr. Goldberg, and thank you.