“Spiritual Correctness”

The impulse that led conservatives to intervene in a family’s bitter debate over a feeding tube is the same one that makes them turn a debate over a Senate rule on filibusters into a litmus test of spiritual correctness. Surely no holier-than-thou Hollywood pontificator could be harder to take than the sanctimonious Bill Frist, who, unlike Barbra Streisand, can’t even sing.
—Frank Rich, The New York Times

That’s the first time I’ve heard the word “spiritual correctness” and I was shocked at the force of the term. Could liberals have gotten their act together and finally adopted Lakoff’s theory of framing the debate?

But a simple network search shows that the term is most used during the heyday of political correctness as either applying political correct terminology to spiritual issues (such as saying, “the reason I’m dieting is for health reasons, not to look better” or implying that all spirituality is equal.

And yet, “spiritual correctness” defines exactly how I feel right now about the right-wing frames: “culture of life,” “fiscally liberal, socially conservative,” “family values,” and “partial-birth abortions.”

A “culture of life” is an ironic term for the most death-obsessed people in America: When I went to get my running shoes, I was so disgusted with the Terri Schaivo media circus playing out on MSNBC in the store that I made an adequate case that convinced the owner that he was sick of the whole thing too—he subsequently switched the channel to ESPN. And after the Terri Schaivo thing played out we were on the Pope death watch. (And people wonder why I haven’t hooked up my TV.)

How “fiscally liberal” is it to gut social security, (or should I say, “privatize”) in the face of everything we’ve learned in the last 30 years of economic theory concerning public finance?

I’m of the social class that I’d never have to worry about abortions, even if they were made illegal. Why do I have to care about dialation and extraction when there are already laws preventing it from being used in the third trimester? And just because I’m a Catholic, does that force me to be “pro-life” but not anti-war? When did my religion get hijacked by a bunch of evangelical right-wingers with socialist tendencies?

Here is this wonderful term, “spiritual correctness” that describes what most of America probably feels about turning Terri Schiavo into a “culture of life” issue without knowing anything about her life or death. But are these “progressives” using this frame?

No instead, they’re probably still doing mental masturbation on how they got Howard Dean to run the DNC. As if any one of us cares what that dysfunctional political organization does.

P.S. Being bereft of a TV puts me out of the loop: the Frank Rich article was the first I heard mention of Jessica Simpson telling Gale Norton, the Secretary of the Interior, “You’ve done a nice job decorating the White House”. I guess some people’s whole reason for being is to make Britney Spears look a little smarter. WWCPS?

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