Biff America: Opinions are like old friends
VAIL CO, Colorado
It got ugly on Facebook last week: I might have “re-lost” some of my old friends.
One of the beauties of that social media is the ability to reconnect with bygone buddies who assumed I was dead.
Over the past couple of years, I have made contact with countless old friends, serving to remind them why they never liked me in high school.
For the most part, we all have tread on safe ground, avoiding controversial subjects and, instead, reminiscing about old times (such as how I went through my entire freshman year with my fly down) and catching up on one another’s lives. We have steered clear of sensitive subjects (such as the fact that Weasel O’Malley went to jail for goat abuse or that Dicky Sheely is now dating a girl with an Adam’s apple).
The fastest way to inject tension into a casual relationship is to discuss religion or politics. I would guess roughly 80 percent of my old friends were raised Roman Catholic, but there is no telling which of them has gone over to the dark side of Episcopalian (Catholic Lite), so I don’t ask.
Decades have come and gone since I’ve hung out with those people, so I take nothing for granted. Though, back in the day most of my friends were freaky anarchists with an obsession for hedonistic pursuits and immediate gratification, my guess is many of them now own sweater vests and comfort-waist jeans.
I don’t mean to imply that I grew up in the inner city or the wrong side of the tracks. Certainly, there were many in my class who were well-adjusted, studious and with little or no criminal inclinations, but their parents would not let them hang with me.
Times change, as do people. Though I’ve enjoyed getting to know again some pals from my past, I have no desire to try to convert them from what they are now to what they once were. So I have been very careful to stay away from any topics political or Vatican. But all that went by the wayside last week when my buddy Roscoe, a well-respected author and columnist, posted a column slamming the Obama administration’s requirement that religious organizations’ insurance cover birth control for their employees.
What followed was a snark-storm of replies, rebuttals, rejoinders and retorts – and those were only the R words.
My old friends lined up on either side of this contentious issue.
Now bear in mind most who commented grew up attending either the “Immaculate Conception” or the “Holy Cross” Catholic churches. My family originally attended Immaculate Conception, but then we became part of a splinter group that built our own church closer to the Cross Roads Cafe, where many of our parents went to Sunday After-Church-Beer-Brunch.
After Roscoe’s original post, I felt honor-bound to weigh in on the side of HHS (Health and Human Services) saying that since more than 90 percent of Catholic women claimed to have, at some time, taken birth control, this wasn’t an invasion of religious freedom but more one of population practicality. I added that the only Vatican-endorsed form of child prevention was the rhythm method, so if insurers won’t pay for the pill, at least they could give the insured a tambourine to bring to bed.
I have to say, other than my snarky comments, most (but not all) arguments were reasonable and stuck to the philosophical implications and political precedents.
Perhaps I should not have countered Booger Barrett’s assertion that government has no business dictating policy to faith based organizations by reminding him of the time he wet the bed, 50 years ago, at church camp – but I resented his pontificating.
I thought I made a good point that if we allow religious organizations to deny coverage for the illnesses resulting from behavior of which they don’t approve, will that allow them to deny coverage to those suffering from STD or AIDS? But to that Slick Bouldrey parried my intellectual thrust by bringing up my freshman year fly-at-half-mast fiasco. Luckily for us all, a compromise was offered and both sides – church and state – made concessions to a arrive at, hopefully, equal dissatisfaction to both.
Since that misstep, we have all gone back to safer subjects.
But the lesson learned is there are many ways to look at life, Religion and politics; friends – new and old – can see the same thing from different vantage points. Opinions, like beauty, are in the eye of the beholder.
Just ask Dick Sheely … unbeknownst to him, he’s dating a dude.
Jeffrey Bergeron, under the alias of Biff America, can be seen on TV-8-Summit and read in several newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.