The very concept of “religious liberty,” many conservatives will tell you, is at the center of the founding of America. While that may be true, many of those same modern-day conservatives — especially their friends on the radical and religious right — have bastardized that very concept. Today, the New York Times gave the phrase “religious liberty,” and its speaker, Mitt Romney, their due, by placing the term in what are commonly known as “scare quotes.”
Scare quotes are what anti-gay hate groups, from NOM, the National Organization For Marriage, to the American Family Association, to every right wing homophobic blogger use when the print “gay marriage,” as in “there is no such thing as gay marriage,” or “gay,” as in, “gays don’t really exist.”
So, when the New York Times editorial board yesterday published a scathing editorial, “The Darkening Tone of the Primaries,” it made several journalists on both sides of the fence stand up and take notice.
The other journalist who commented was the VP of the National Gay and Lesbian Journalists Association (NGLJA), Michael Triplett, who responded,
Here is the phrase, in context, and highlighted:
The remark was in keeping with the callous tone of the campaign for the Florida primary, in which Mr. Romney handily beat Newt Gingrich. Even in his victory speech Tuesday night, Mr. Romney hinted darkly at the tone of the campaign to come. He accused President Obama of ordering “religious organizations to violate their conscience” and vowed to defend religious liberty.
It was a reference to the Obama administration’s requirement that large religious institutions, like hospitals and universities, provide insurance coverage for birth control. He was promising to defend the Roman Catholic Church’s “religious liberty” to deprive its tens of thousands of employees and university students of their own liberty.
Tellingly, that was a cheap remark stolen from Mr. Gingrich, who had accused Mr. Romney of the same thing for a similar action he took while governor of Massachusetts. He even claimed, absurdly, that Mr. Romney took kosher food out of the mouths of Holocaust survivors.
It’s about time. In fact, a quick search through the Times‘ archives show it’s the first time they’ve done so. Hopefully, it won’t be the last. Words have meaning, and it’s important to be as precise as possible.
I applaud the Times for their astute identification of the GOP’s hypocrisy.
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