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March 20, 2005

On Hate-Driven Paranoia

In an article published in the business section of The Chicago Tribune on March 15th and written by Becky Yerak, we discover just how disgusting the Religious Right has become. For those who don’t believe in tourism, Marshall Field’s is a major Chicago-area department store chain recently purchased by Federated Department Stores. This story takes place in Field’s lavish main store, in a building created by architect Daniel Burnham and illuminated by a wondrous Louis Tiffany skylight. I excerpt from the Tribune article:

“When Marshall Field's employed a Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs theme for its 2004 holiday festivities, the Chicago-born retailer received some complaints that it was promoting the homosexual lifestyle, an executive said recently.

The concerned citizens divined that there was a "hidden gay agenda" in Field's theme "because seven men were living together," Gregory Clark, vice president of creative services for Field's in Minneapolis, recounted last month at a Retail Advertising & Marketing Association conference in Chicago.


The brouhaha over the seven dwarfs didn't bedevil Field's financial results. The chain finished the year with a 3 percent rise in same-store sales.

A staid and austere newspaper, the Tribune did not publish this piece under the headline “Snow White Is A Fag-Hag.” But given the reputed similarities between Walter Disney and Michael Jackson, perhaps this time the Right had it right.

Posted by Mike Gold at March 20, 2005 07:37 PM

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I'd suggest somebody start making films with the original Grimm's Fairy Tales.

I'd just be sitting back with a fine craft-brew watching the 700 Club getting all frosty over that one.

You know back in the day, I used to think that show was a really clever comedy show. Who woulda guessed they were serious?

Posted by: JR Judt at March 21, 2005 12:27 AM

Clearly, Mike, you don't share the values of the
Religious Right, but labeling them disgusting based
on "some complaints" is poor logic.
Would it be fair for me to say blacks are crooks
bacause "some blacks" commit crimes?

Posted by: nash at March 21, 2005 07:30 PM

re: "Would it be fair for me to say blacks are crooks bacause "some blacks" commit crimes?"

Well, maybe if black crooks formed a really large, well-funded lobby to press their agenda in Congress, and had their own armada of televsion and radio stations spewing out screeds extolling the virtues of black crookery, and pressured text book publishers into omitting any references that might suggest that many blacks may not be crooks, we might mistakenly assume that many or most blacks are crooks.

Posted by: Rick Oliver at March 21, 2005 09:22 PM

Lots of groups (including liberal blacks) have
well funded lobbies to press their agendas in
Congress, and the major news media spew out far more
liberal than religious propaganda. Same is true for
All of that sidesteps my point. Based on the
excerpt that Mike quoted, the retailer received
"some complaints". That hardly constitutes an
indictment of the entire Religious Right.

Posted by: nash at March 21, 2005 10:05 PM

Here's the thing about "hidden gay agendas": I find that people are most afraid of things they themselves would do.

It's my belief, anyway.

Posted by: Mike Flynn at March 21, 2005 10:19 PM


I didn't sidestep your point, but you totally missed mine. Yes, lots of groups have well-funded lobbies, but black crooks ain't one of them. The "few complaints" about the alleged homosexual dwarves is not an isolated incident; they are part of a general pattern of intolerance exhibited by the more vocal, extremist elements of the religious right.

I'm sure there are lot of reasonable, rational folks who are deeply religious and also politically conservative -- but they don't appear to be the ones calling the shots in the political arena.

So forgive all us "liberals" (I voted for Ford and Reagan and never voted for Clinton) for perceiving a tinge of lunatic fringe in what we perhaps over-generalize as the "religious right".

Posted by: Rick Oliver at March 22, 2005 07:52 AM

Rick-- it's the over generalization I object to, and
I'd feel the same if all liberals were characterized
as communists just because a few are, or all gays
were labeled promiscuous due to the actions of a few.
As an atheist, I've never felt persecuted or
threatened by the religious right. I'm much more
worried about the Federal Gov't, and I don't care
which party is in office. Neither party ever seems
to meet a big government solution they don't like,
so government on all levels just keeps getting bigger and more oppressive.

Posted by: nash at March 22, 2005 03:21 PM

"As an atheist, I've never felt persecuted or
threatened by the religious right." I envy you. Where do you live? I wish I can say the same, and I come from a Blue state -- Illinois -- and I live in the Blue state of Connecticut. I get nailed by liberals who think atheists are Satanic. Or, at the very least, morally bankrupt.

Posted by: Mike Gold at March 22, 2005 03:42 PM

Mike, did you really mean liberals think atheists
are Satanic? If so, I'm surprised.
I grew up in a small California town. Raised a few
adult eyebrows in Boy Scouts when I told them I was
an atheist. A few people have told me they pitied
me. That's about it. Most religious people I know
are nice people.
I just don't think it's useful or accurate to
demonize or stereotype one's political adversaries.
Liberals irritate the crap out of me, but I don't
think they're evil (or disgusting), I just think
they're wrong about many things. Most liberals
I know are nice people.

Posted by: nash at March 22, 2005 05:04 PM

"I get nailed by liberals who think atheists are Satanic" means I generally don't get nailed by liberals who think atheists aren't Satanic.

I wish I were there when you told the Boy Scouts you were an atheist. I wonder if they'd let you be a Scoutmaster? I don't mean this sarcastically. I just don't know.

It certainly is useful to demonize one's political and social adversaries. It's a lot of fun, and it makes me feel better. Besides, it's a time-honored tradition. There's a little bit of Rush in us all.

But, for the record, most people I know are nice people -- as individuals. The problems come in when we start to get together in "us" vs. "them" groups. I'm not the least bit opposed to religion -- ANY religion. Even human sacrifice, if the human is a willing adult who (and here's the rub) is making his or her choice freely and fully informed. But it is the unfortunate nature of most if not all monotheistic religions to impose their precepts on others -- sometimes in ugly and violent ways that seem, to me, to be hypocritical. If you're an atheist and you want to buy a car in Illinois on Sunday or a drink in Connecticut on Sunday or go to a shopping mall Macy's in Bergen County New Jersey in Sunday, you're screwed.

And those examples are the mildest I can conceive. At the other end we have the Inquisition, the Crusades, Ireland, the Middle East...

Posted by: Mike Gold at March 22, 2005 05:21 PM

I feel both very fortunate and very afraid given my home address, then...

Posted by: Dwight Williams at March 27, 2005 09:58 PM

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