More fun with comments

The following brief exchange is from the comments section to my recent post. I’d mentioned that Martin Yanosek – a commenter from Stanley Fish’s original NYT piece – wasn’t being clear. Did he agree with Fish, or did he agree with the judges? Or, improbably, both?

Anyway, he found my blog and cleared things up as best he could. I admit I’m still in the dark about his reasoning, though, and I’ve begun to suspect he may have been one of the judges in Strasbourg.

Martin Yanosek says:

Hello there, Mr. Di Martino! I agree with the court and, although I admire Dr. Fish’s analysis, I think Italian parents should be allowed to let their kids study in the presence of the crucifix. You’re right, though. I don’t know about “all” Italian parents. Only God does! You do believe in God, dontcha!?*

Oh, Mr. Di Martino, I see that I missed answering your question about how the crucifix is Christianity’s greatest symbol. In its evolution as a symbol one must take into consideration the cosmic irony of the crucifix’s meaning over time. The crucifix’s meaning has evolved from that of a purely utilitarian implement of torture to today’s meaning of everlasting life. I think the tremendous irony inherent in the evolution of the crucifix’s meaning is what makes it Christianity’s greatest symbol. I hope I answered your question. Regards, Martin Yanosek

Marc Alan Di Martino says:

Martin, I appreciate you taking a moment to clarify your stance. That said, your position is still unclear. You wrote, “If the Vatican was headquartered on Long Island I would probably disagree with the court’s ruling.” Why is that? Were that the case, and by your logic, American parents would have the right to have their children educated “in the presence of Christianity’s greatest symbol.” Or is it okay if it’s in a country you don’t live in, but not okay when it’s in yours?

As for the symbol itself, does it matter at all that most Christian denominations don’t recognize the crucifix as their symbol? Not to mention non-Christians and non-theists – which is quite a lot of us, even here in Italy. Don’t we have the right to have our children educated in the presence of our symbols? Or are we expected to submit before the irony of the holy Roman torture device?

Martin Yanosek says:

Long Island doesn’t have the tradition of Roman Catholicism that Italy does. Long Island has more of a Great Gatsby tradition. Without our traditions life would be as shaky as a fiddler on the roof of St. Peter’s Basilica! We should submit to the irony of everlasting life! Peace be with you, Mr. Di Martino! Amen.

Marc Alan Di Martino says: 

Just to recap, Italy has numerous traditions other than Roman Catholicism. It’s still just another religious confession, and it’s not even the oldest one we have. Shalom, Mr. Yanosek.


Fun with comments

Stanley Fish has a great Opinionator piece on the Lautsi vs. Italy ruling in the NYT. Read the whole thing; if I were so erudite, it’s what I’d have written in my post. Granted, mine was a sudden burst of WTF!? Fish nails it. (h/t goes to Stewart and Greg simultaneously!)

The comments are great, too. Here are some that stood out for me:

“While living in Italy a few years ago I felt sufficated by the constant displays of crucifixes — in my daughter’s day care center (Italy has excellent public pre-schools), post offices, city hall, etc. That, plus displays of the madonna, etc. in the same public places. I don’t know if this is the same case referred to by Mr. Fish, but I was rooting for the parents of a Muslim child who had brought suit that the presence of a crucifix at school discriminated against their child. The standard response — that the crucifix is a cultural symbol — makes sense to no one but Catholic Italians.” (mmsch)

“Italy is a Christian country. The cross is a symbol of Christianity. Why is it that you don’t complain or mention that in Islamic countries they have Muslim symbols in their schools and that in Israel they have Jewish symbols in their schools? Why is it that the Christians have to be tolerant of everyone else but you give a pass to the above mentioned religions? Do you think for one minute the Muslims or Jews would worry about offending Christians in their countries? I doubt it. How about an article on how tolerant the people of Saudi Arabia are and how they let non Muslims practice their religion in that country? And how Islam is so welcoming and tolerates non Muslims in their countries. Ask the Coptic Christians in Egypt about how they are allowed to display their faith at all without getting killed by Muslims. I missed your article on that one. Let’s just show how intolerant the Christians are and give others a pass on their prejudices. Yea let’s do that!” (vonvondavont)

“Given all that is going on in the world, this wasn’t worth reading. Of all the things to write about.” (Vern Edwards)

“How about this. The cross has been displayed there for years. You should be looking at the cross and thinking of that- thinking of what that means. If you don’t like it, leave. And that’s from someone who hasn’t been to church services in 20 years.” (MacBones)

“However flawed the court’s reasoning is about the crucifix, Italian parents have the right to have their children educated in the presence of Christianity’s greatest symbol. If the Vatican was headquartered on Long Island I would probably disagree with the court’s ruling. You’re analysis is superb, Dr. Fish! And the fish is also a great symbol of the Christian faith. I always knew you were one of us!” (Martin Yanosek)

I can’t quite follow the logic of that last one. Does Mr. Yanosek agree with the judges or with Fish? And how is the crucifix “Christianity’s greatest symbol?” And why does he think “Italian parents” are all Catholics?

I have people like him in mind when I write this blog; I’d appreciate it if more people got the simple idea into their heads that Italy is not a Catholic country populated exclusively by Catholics. It’s more diverse than that, even if the Strasbourgians have just fed the rest us to the lions.

Lautsi vs. Italy: UAAR press conference

Raffaele Carcano has a great moment (below, in Italian) when he notes that, in Pakistan, a Christian may be put to death for “offending” Islam. How might that sit with Italy’s defenders of the faith? After all, it’s a question of tradition.

By the logic of yesterday’s decision, why not return to outright proselytizing, forced masses, or kidnapping children from non-Catholic families? Why stop at the presence of the crucifix? Hell, let’s make a quantum leap back to the dark ages, dust off the iron maidens and fill those torture chambers. Because that’s the direction Europe is now pointing in.

It’s been a dark week here in the European Union.