When we’re upset with some newspaper column or editorial, we usually just write a letter to the editor. But in the case of a recent remark by a columnist for the Buffalo News, we also took our complaint to the editor and senior vice president, Murray Light.
On February 4, Mary Kunz wrote a short comment on the significance of the feast of St. Blase. She managed to get the day wrong (she said it was January 31, not February 3), but that was the least of her problems. She said that this feast “cracks up non-Catholics, and we can see why.” Then she enumerated her reasons.
“First,” she offered, “there’s the idea of a saint specializing in ailments of the throat. Then there’s the way everyone lines up for the annual Blessing of the Throat, administered by a priest holding two candles in a V around your neck. Finally, there are the memories of the old days, when they actually lighted the candles, and when everyone knew some kid whose hair got singed.” It ended with a quip about a “St. Blazay,” who comments, “Yeah, through the intercession of…What? (yawn). Oh yeah, OK. What the heck, I’ll, like, try to protect you from all ailments of the throat, and, uh, whatever.”
To the letters editor, we said, “Perhaps Kunz gets a kick out of Yom Kippur as well, or maybe it’s Kwanzaa that gets her off, and surely Ramadan must be an occasion for a good belly laugh.” We also asked to know about her religious affiliation and ethnicity so that “we might be able to honor her in just the same fashion.”
To Mr. Light, we expressed astonishment that he would allow such a piece, and then asked whether he could send any “similar snide commentaries that have been printed against Jews.”
It should be obvious that our intent, here, is not to take satisfaction with anti-Semitism—we denounce it as virulently as we do any other form of bigotry. But to get our point across, sometimes we need to make the offenders wince, and since they clearly don’t wince at Catholic bashing, maybe this will open their eyes.
Just before we went to press, we heard from Ms. Kunz. While she is not happy with our response, she certainly got the point.