Monday, January 19, 2009

Who wants to watch a prayer anyway?

A Chalicesseur e-mailed me yesterday, asking if the Rev. Gene Robinson* were cut from the program for the big inauguration kickoff because she had watched it on TV and hadn't seen the prayer. (The event was exclusively covered by HBO, but HBO made it available to just about everybody and has it viewable for free on the web.)

I poked around and found out a couple of mentions of how the Rev. Robinson did speak, HBO just didn't show it. They are saying the Obama campaign told them not to bother.

Needless to say, some people are treating this as a big conspiracy worthy of the same sort of breathless attention they no doubt gave the government's secret plan to bring down the twin towers and crash airplanes full of innocent people to get at secret stores of gold beneath the world trade center.

Honestly, lots of stuff in Washington starts with opening prayers, and as far as I know those prayers are rarely televised because, honestly, very few people actually give a damn about the prayer. (For what it's worth as far as I can tell nobody actually gives a damn about this prayer, only about the man giving it. This post would not exist had Obama picked a less famous liberal religious figure to give the invocation**. If you do care about the content of the prayer, the text is right here. It's a perfectly nice prayer, but nothing controversial.)

As someone who follows police brutality and poorly-justified-police-raid cases***, I'm no stranger to, say, multiple cameras that mysteriously all stop working at convenient times,but I don't really see a conspiracy behind the show's speaker problems that made Robinson's works inaudible to a portion of the crowd. Also, I don't particularly object to HBO and/or the Obama campaign's decision to not show the prayer. I'm generally all about not making people sit through prayers they don't care about and I'm fairly certain almost everyone who watched the program was there to see Garth Brooks and Tom Hanks.

I will say though, that the signs are piling up that gay rights is not a hill that Obama particularly wants to die on, particularly as a matter of PR. I have mixed feelings on that. I have a lot of sympathy for gay rights and its supporters. I don't have a lot of sympathy for the fact that Obama's actual appointments of gays and lesbians to good jobs seems to be ignored in the face of a bunch of fussing about a symbolic gesture.

And I still don't know what it means that now three ministers have been used to attack Obama and he hasn't taken office yet.



*He's the gay Episcopal bishop that the conservative Episcopalians have their panties in a twist about. Obama put him on the program after the fuss about featuring Rick Warren broke out.

** Unless he were a UU. But hey, we were good enough for Obama's grandmother's funeral, and that's saying something...

*** Remember? I also have a liberal civil rights issue that I care passionately about that nobody else gives a damn about. (Ironically, the only time I've seen people care about it is in the killing of Oscar Grant in the BART shooting and in that case, the cop involved seems genuinely remorseful and has quit the force. That doesn't sound like much, but just so you know, it pretty much never turns out that way.)


Anonymous said...

Why did she think you would know?

PG said...

I'm less concerned about the number of jobs in the Administration for LGBT folks, and more concerned about repealing DOMA (which makes a mess for taxes, census, etc.) and allowing gays to serve openly in the military. I'd also be interested in having the feds monitor child placement for fostering and adoption in states that have made unmarried people ineligible for such roles, to ensure that this attempt to screw with gay people doesn't also completely screw over the kids. I'm a big believer in collecting data today to make the argument you want ready for tomorrow -- and I think Obama is too.