Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Forget flood. Interview Mammon.

A senior clergyman resigned Monday over St. Paul Cathedral's handling of anti-capitalist protesters camped outside the iconic church, the second cleric lost in a tense standoff involving God, mammon and their earthly representatives.

Maybe the LAT doesn't mind spending a few extra lines on the overheated prose, given that it's investing 570 words in the story. But when the provincial press chops things down to the 200-plus range, the morality play in the lede should have been the first thing to go.

The broader point is that newspapers should be careful about taking sides. That's true in empirical disputes and even more so in nonempirical ones. We don't get to proclaim who's on the side of the angels and who's a minion of Basement Cat. We don't rule on which scriptures are divinely revealed, and we don't declare that one set of mortals or another is doing God's work. Period.

You might now ask whether your correspondent has a sense of humor. Yes. And I'll be happy to use it if you write something funny.

I have this further complaint from the longer version of the story:

Together with Westminster Abbey, the domed cathedral is Britain's most famous house of worship. Built in the 17th century by the architect Christopher Wren, it was the site of the 1981 wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer.

As random ex cathedra opinions go, the "most famous" here isn't too offensive. I wonder, though, if a wedding 30 years ago is the single most iconic thing we can come up with to explain the fame. (There's the little matter of the Blitz, for example.) That put me in mind of the 1A clip from last week shown here. For a paper that's effectively given up on coverage of the outside world, it's a depressing sign of what it takes --- zomg WILLS AND KATE!!1!!1!!! -- to get an international story on the front page. And if a paper like the LA Times can't run a story about how another advanced English-speaking democracy is handing the Occupy movement without invoking the Windsors, Western Civ is in danger.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

And why doesn't Mammon get a capital?

3:01 PM, November 01, 2011  
Blogger The Ridger, FCD said...

Occupy is on the side of Mammon now?

6:13 PM, November 01, 2011  
Blogger fev said...

So if Occupy gives mammon its capital, is everybody going to be happy? Even the tea party? Even the AP Stylebook?

11:46 PM, November 01, 2011  
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