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By Diogenes ( articles ) | Oct 03, 2006


UPS image in the Washington Post

Political cartoonist Pat Oliphant indulges his antipathy to the Church in his most recent effort, tee-ing off on Rep. Foley's celebration of diversity in order to backhand the priesthood. Oliphant's anti-Catholic imagination is beginning to creak, as he attempted the same joke eight or nine years ago, with a one-gloved Michael Jackson standing outside St. Paedophilia's and asking to become a priest.

The cartoon, obviously, is intended to be offensive, and it's semi-successful in its goal. But there's another sense in which its appearance is encouraging. As long as the editors of the Washington Post (and the other papers that run the cartoon) are asymmetrically eager to go after the Catholic Church -- and to contradict their own sanctimoniously propounded principles in doing so -- it proves the Church must be doing something right. The time to worry is when the Post becomes solicitous of Catholic sensitivities.

More telling still, Oliphant's jab at sexual hypocrisy is, in spite of itself, an acknowledgment that the Church's teaching still has the power to sting. Feeble as his attempt may be, the jab hinges on the covert understanding that man-boy venery is bad. In that respect Oliphant's malice is a rogue shell that explodes in the breech of the artillery piece: to treat pederasty as risibly wicked does more damage, in the long run, to the Washington Post's Style section than it does to the Catholic Church, and that goes double for the editorial page. After all, who is it that's beating the drums for a change in sexual recreations, and who wants to defend the absolute moral norm? When the laughter dies (right quickly in this instance), what remains erect and intact is the moral force of Catholic teaching.

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