- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 12, 2000

Toon time

"At the 2002 Academy Awards, an Oscar will go not just to a Leo or a Gwyneth, but also to a Buzz, a Simba or a Babs the Chicken. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has added a new category for the first time in 20 years: animated features.

"This news comes at the height of the Washington-Hollywood spat over violence and sex in mainstream movies. But as politicians threaten censorship and movie executives moan about their First Amendment rights, it seems moviegoers have always voted with their pocketbooks: The top-grossing movies almost always have G or PG ratings.

"Nothing illustrates this point better than animation. 'Toy Story II,' 'Chicken Run,' 'Antz,' 'A Bug's Life' and 'Tarzan,' taken together, have brought in more than $1 billion in global box-office receipts, not to mention video and merchandising revenue. It's those kinds of returns that have made the Academy take respectful notice, at last, of animation."

Kimberly A. Strassel, writing on "Movie-Goers Toon Out Sex and Violence," in Tuesday's Wall Street Journal

Godless America

"In the year of our Lord 2000, the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals told the State of Ohio to drop its motto, 'With God, all things are possible.' The American Civil Liberties Union persuaded the court that this line from the Bible violated the U.S. Constitution the Constitution of a nation where the founding documents explicitly invoke the Creator.

"The Cleveland Plain Dealer ran a contest for a replacement motto. No one cited Dostoevsky, who wrote that without God, everything is permitted; but one came close: 'With a lack of values, anything is probable.'

"This court decision is just one among countless examples of the marginalization of religion in American public life, a process that has been accelerating for the past half-century and has come to seem to many citizens to be equivalent to the American Way.

"Christianity, of course, will survive in the United States; in fact, the faith has always prospered under pressure, and the mild constraints America now places upon Christianity may actually help explain the degree to which the faith is flourishing today.

"One can point to surging enrollments at evangelical colleges, a proliferation of religious magazines, an increasing cohort of self-confident Christian scholars and academic organizations, a wide range of thriving faith-based organizations devoted to social welfare, and much more …

"But what about America? Its public discourse is increasingly marked by an aggressive secularism … . America is well on its way toward a divided society in which a powerful elite, hostile toward religion and worse yet, unable to comprehend religious motives, imposes its spiritual views on an increasingly restive majority."

Edward E. Ericson Jr., writing on "America's Religious Disconnect," in the November/December issue of American Outlook

Morality and violence

"Like presidential elections and the Olympics, political denunciations of Hollywood violence have become a bedrock quadrennial American tradition… .

"Despite all of the posturing, nobody is addressing the real problem with Hollywood: It's not the violence at all, but the message of moral relativism… .

"When Dirty Harry killed, he may have been defying the legal order but he was still confirming the moral order… . Action heroes from Perseus to Captain Kirk have always taken the law into their own hands; they are men of action, with a well-defined sense of moral right… .

"Violence in popular entertainment, then, has a complicated history; it's neither new nor especially harmful. What really is new is the trendy moral relativism that characterizes so many movies and TV shows."

Jonah Goldberg, writing on "Violent Fantasy," in the Oct. 23 issue of National Review

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