Tuesday, July 05, 2005

A Brickbat for The Times

Adam Cohen in yesterday's New York Times brings to our attention the story of a North Carolina judge who last month refused to allow Muslim witnesses to swear on the Qur'an, saying that if he allowed that, someone who worshiped brick walls might want to swear on a brick.

On the strength of Cohen's piece, I was prepared to hurl a brickbat of my own at the judge, W. Douglas Albright—something along the lines of ". . . and a religious pluralist might want to swear at the judge"—but Cohen apparently got it wrong. A local paper, the Greensboro News & Record, reported last month that it was not judge Albright who made the "brick wall" comment, but rather a spokesman for the state Administrative Office of the Courts in Raleigh.

Judge Albright may still deserve criticism for preventing the use of the Qur'an on the grounds that state law mentions only the "Holy Scriptures", and "Everybody understands what the holy scriptures are. If they don't, we're in a mess." Or not. After all, questions of church/state separation aside, we're talking about North Carolina here, and there's no doubt what the legislature had in mind when it used that phrase.

But a big raspberry to that AOC spokesman, Dick Ellis. This is one of the stupidest things said about religion since Lt. Gen. William Boykin's celebrated disquisition on comparative religion: "I knew that my god was a real god and his [Allah] was an idol".

And, really: who, if anyone, is doing the fact checking at The Times these days?

Update, 7/13/05:
The Times printed a correction today. Don't know if it was my e-mail to the Editorial Page editor that did the trick, but meseems that the Times' phrasing is eerily similar to what I sent.