Friday, August 18, 2006
With all of the wringing of hands after Virginia Senator George Allen mockingly called a worker for his opponent's campaign "Macaca", you would think that Senator Allen also burned a cross on S.R. Sidarth's lawn. While I think Allen's excuse that he thought the word meant "mohawk" to be laughable, this has been blown completely out of proportion. Allen made a dumb comment, got called on it, and apologized for it.
Does Allen's dumb remark merit the kind of media coverage that has followed it? No, it does not. The whining and crying about Allen's choice of word says a lot more about his critics than it does about him. A U.S. Senate race should be about the records, issue positions and policy proposals of the candidates, not about a silly off-the-cuff remark directed at an opponent's campaign worker.
It is not smart for a U.S. Senator to point out opposing political operatives in the crowd anyway, because it makes him look petty, even if the remark carried no animus whatsoever. Allen should have stayed above the fray and ignored Sidarth instead of pointing him out.
In Europe, another kind of political correctness is surfacing, this time related to Madonna's tour and a "crucifixion" scene in her act. Madonna's act is certainly cruse, offensive and blasphemous, but she will answer for her life before God. Since she has not harmed anyone, she should not be hounded by the German government for her act. If hurt feelings are justification for government censorship, virtually any speech or art in the public arena could be subject to legal sanctions as people look for ways to be offended.
Frankly, I am more offended by people who demand government step in and restrict freedom of expression than I am by Madonna's blasphemous act. As has been the case dozens of times before, Madonna has gotten exactly what she wanted with this stunt: lots of free media attention to promote her tour and album. She knows exactly what buttons to push to get free advertising.