Some tiny creature, mad with wrath,

Is coming nearer on the path.

--Edward Gorey

Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S. Outlying Islands

Writer, lawyer, cyclist, rock climber, wanderer of dark residential streets, friend.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Bible Cooties?

Brian over at DCH calls attention to this post at Crooked Timber as much for the comment thread as for the content of the post itself, which follows in its entirety:

Gwydion the Magician (whom I’m guessing from his title must be some kind of pagan) has “issues” with Alaskan Airlines (and quite right too):

Alaskan Airlines, I discovered, does not deign to serve its transcontinental passengers anything resembling a full meal. All we got on a 6 hour flight was a crappy sandwich. The IFE comes as a small portable DVD player that costs 10 bucks. But the particular feature of the Airline that pissed me off was the little Christian verse they include on each meal tray. I know this is America, where God-fearing zealots control the government. But inflicting Christianity on a captive audience of fee-paying passengers is just too much.


Gwydion, a new blogger to me, also provides in his post a link to a Salon column on this very issue, and this response from Alaska Airlines:

"The meal prayer card has been a simple tradition on our flights for over 20 years. The quotes have application across many Judeo-Christian beliefs and are shared as a gesture of thanks which reflect the beliefs of this country's founding as in the Declaration of Independence, the Gettysburg Address, Pledge of Allegiance and every U.S. coin and dollar you handle. Alaska Airlines is an international carrier with very diverse customers, and we have no intentions of offending anyone or their beliefs. An overwhelming majority of our customers have indicated they appreciate the gesture, and those who don't are not forced to read it. We do appreciate hearing from you, and look forward to welcoming you on board another flight in the future."

Here's my question: Who gives a damn? Seriously!? I'm positively rabid about anything resembling a government endorsement (or constraint) of religion; an Establishment Clause absolutist. But last time I checked, private businesses, with certain limited exceptions pertaining to narrowly defined discriminatory practices, can do whatever they want!

It's responses like this, which really do suggest a fear of what one commenter calls "bible cooties" for all I can discern, that give a bad name to those of us who have carefully bounded arguments based on matters of principle readily derived from the text of the Establishment Clause.

This is a very Christian country, lub it or leave it, and I and people like me need as much credibility as we can muster to resist a substantial infusion of Christian arcana and symbolism into official-dom. With people who are supposedly on my side whingeing about such trivia as whether Alaska Airlines chooses to put a prayer on some piece of paper that comes on your meal tray the whole issue gets buried amid a mocking backlash I wholeheartedly endorse, even though nobody makes the distinction among lefties that I am making here, and I sink to the bottom with the drama queens like cinderblocks tied to my ankle as well.

I'm all for certain incidents of what is so unfairly called "political correctness," and I do tend left on virtually every issue, but could we please grow some skin, and could we please start thinking strategically about this long-term campaign instead of reflexively firing off into the inky blackness every time we think we hear something move in the brush?

Seriously -- what Alaska Airlines does on its planes is none of anyone's business except consumers'. If you don't like it, fly another airline. In America, when it comes to private industry, we vote with our wallets, end of story.


Post a Comment

<< Home

eXTReMe Tracker