One of the things I did in the undisclosed location was mainline media. Hotel life is lonely, and you find yourself leaving the TV on, if only for the comfort of hearing another human voice. I hardly ever watch cable news, so I took the opportunity to sample all that was available — MSNBC, CNN, Fox. And all I can say is: I fear for my country, if people who watch this stuff consider themselves well-informed.
But that’s nothing compared to commercial talk radio, where lies, misconceptions and wrong-os fly by at the speed of sound, uncorrected. Yesterday I set the button on scan and picked up a show somewhere on the AM dial. Turned out it was O’Reilly’s, with a guest host, someone named Napolitano. The topic was whether John Kerry is a good enough Catholic to receive communion, although the host and caller were on a side road, discussing his first marriage.
“The church rarely, rarely grants annulments, and never grants contested annulments, and the first Mrs. Kerry contested this annulment,” the host said. “So we have to ask, is his marriage to Theresa Heinz illicit in the eyes of the church?”
Sure, we have to ask that question because it’s really so important. Only how can a guy with an Italian name hosting a right-wing news show talk such crap? Rarely? Does this guy actually know any Catholics? I haven’t stepped into a church in going on five years, and I can probably fill up my fingers with couples granted annulments just in my social circle, and some of them were contested by ex-spouses. They’re about as hard to get as anything that costs a few hundred bucks, involves lots of paperwork and requires a wait of several months. Like ordering a foreign sports car, only way less expensive.
alex said on May 12, 2004 at 1:06 pm
I doubt all the hoo-ha about Kerry’s spiritual purity is going to have any effect on Catholics. If you saw the documentary on the birth of the pill, you may remember that Searle was chickenshit about marketing it publicly for several years precisely because the company feared a Catholic backlash. Doctors prescribed it quietly to their patients�until Searle discovered its enormously booming sales were owing mostly to word of mouth among Catholic women, the pill’s most enthusiastic customers.
Let’s face it�Catholics identify with someone lapsed, not someone holier than thou. If they have any doubts about their own salvation, it probably makes them feel good to know they’re in the same company as the president.
It’s not like the religious wacko crowd is going to vote for Kerry anyway, so he’d do well to devote as little energy as possible to fending off these kinds of assaults. The Clintons lost a fair amount of respect in their cynical attempts to look churchy for the benefit of their enemies. Reagan’s gift, if you’ll recall, is that he kissed off all the fringe left people who wouldn’t have voted for him. The only politicians who have to play the religious piety game are those who stand to lose if they don’t.
The right-wing talkers are merely preaching to their own converts and using Kerry’s religion to hold him up to standards that nobody lives by. If that’s all the better they can do to assail his character, perhaps he’s not such a weak contender after all.
Michael G said on May 12, 2004 at 2:31 pm
Atrios has been doing well on this religion business.
Nance said on May 12, 2004 at 3:47 pm
I’m more interested in the accuracy thing, at least in this case. When even a non-practicing Catholics knows how common annulments are, you wonder how anyone who doesn’t would feel qualified to discuss it on the radio. Oh, wait — we’re talking O’Reilly’s show here.
deb said on May 12, 2004 at 6:41 pm
for the uninitiated, annulments not only require cash, paperwork, and a long wait, but the stomach for telling a complete stranger the most intimate details of your married life — information which will then be passed on to an entire TEAM of complete strangers who will pass judgment on the sanctity of your union.
Nance said on May 12, 2004 at 6:58 pm
Yes, what Deb said, plus this: I’ve never known a person to be refused an annulment (although admittedly, my experience is strictly anecdotal). All you need to know is that Frank Sinatra was married four times, and received three annulments.
But remember: Catholics don’t believe in divorce.
caholic said on May 14, 2004 at 6:15 am
interesting, I know a lady who has been divorced from her husband for 25 years. He physically abused her. She left him fleeing for her life one night when he started punching her in the face while she was asleep. He was swearing he was going to kill her.
She filed for an annulment recently. Her ex-husband, who is antagonistic towards the Church and extremely antagonistic towards her, said that he didn’t want either an annulment nor a reconciliation. He just doesn’t want an annulment because he knows it will distress her. Twenty five years down the road, there isn’t much coroboration to come by. And because of that, she was denied an annulment.