Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Bad Times today

I am usually of the view that The Times is at least a bit better than most others in its coverage of the US, but today it disappoints with two stories.

First off was Simon Freedman, who writes about the new indictments against Tom Delay covered by the BBC yesterday. While the headline avoids the standard BBC ploy of linking Bush with the scandal, Freedman does give us this:
A Texas grand jury lodged a new indictment against the former House Majority Leader just hours after his defence team applied to have a similar charge brought last week struck out on a technicality.
And just what might the “technicality” be?

His lawyers last night argued that the indictment should be dismissed since the law did not come into force until 2003 - a year after the alleged acts.
I see. So, in Freedman’s view, it is a mere “technicality” that an action must, well, actually be illegal in order to be able to prosecute someone for engaging in it. I guess something should be done about such an irritating loophole in the law.

In another article, religious correspondent Ruth Gledhill writes about a new "teaching document" issued by the Catholic heirarchy in Britain which acknowledges that some parts of the Bible are not actually true. Which is all well and good. But then Gledhill throws in this gratuitous reference to the US:

The document is timely, coming as it does amid the rise of the religious Right, in particular in the US.

The notion of the US as not only increasingly religious, but indeed increasingly ruled by religiosity in public life, is a notion that seems to permeate all British media analyses of the US. It is a rarely, if ever, examined premise that is simply taken on as received wisdom.

Gledhill's reference to the "rise of the religious Right" in the US is a perfect case in point. Who constitutes this "religious Right? How has its "rise" manifested itself? What evidence is there that the body politic of the US is any more religious (or even more religiously "right") today than it was 25, or 50, or 100 years ago? (My own view is that on the whole it is almost certainly less religious today than at any time in its past.)

Does Gledhill have any answers to these questions? I'd be surprised if she's ever even considered them. Yet here she is nonetheless, passing off the notion that the US has witnessed a "rise" of the "religious Right" as an unquestionable fact. And increasingly, I don't doubt, the British public is accepting it as such.


Blogger Robert Englund said...

Since the law under which Delay was indicted wasn't enacted until after the alleged incident, doesn't that constitute an "ex post facto" application of the law? If so, then I would have thought that an indictment in this case is quite possibly prohibited by the Constitution.

7:39 AM  
Anonymous tired & excitable said...

Re religion --
You'll have to look long and hard before you find real live actual Americans who believe the US is more religious than it ever used to be. And you'll have to wait even longer before Gledhill and her creepy media kin come up with any credible evidence to back up their bigotry.

As is so often the case, the Brits get it exactly backwards. The point is not the rise of religion in the US but its failure to fall as far or as fast as it has in the UK. One result is that social values in the US, while in constant and usually healthy evolution, are still coherent -- unlike, oh say, in Britain.

Today's Brit elites, no surprise, remain true only to themselves, oblivious to yet another elephant in the middle of the living room.

8:02 AM  

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