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July 9, 2013

outrageI feel compelled to add a quick follow-up to yesterday’s post about the Busch Stadium crosses (“sermon on the mound”? “crossed up”? …still trying to come up with a catchy name for this saga), because things have really gotten ugly: In the wake of John Mozeliak’s instruction to the grounds crew not to scratch crosses into the pitchers’ mound, demonstrators are being tear-gassed, baseball-loving Christians are afraid to come out of their St. Louis homes, and Clydesdales are trampling worshipers to death in front of the old courthouse.

Oh, whoops, that’s not actually happening at all! But you wouldn’t know it to read some of the coverage of this story in the media and the blogosphere, according to which the cross-art was discontinued not because Mozeliak made a calm and rational business decision to keep religious iconography off the playing field, but because there was “outrage!” and “uproar!” from legions of “offended” anti-Christian types.

Hmm. Really, was there? I’ve followed this story pretty closely, and aside from a few furious online commenters, the tone of the objections to the mound-cross has been about as passionate as Tony La Russa on Ambien. In the column that first called attention to the cross, here’s how worked up the Post Dispatch’s Bill McClellan got (shield your children’s delicate eyes):

I’m not pretending it’s a big deal. But still, I have an uneasy feeling about a cross etched on the mound.


And that’s been the mood of most of the folks who’d rather not see Christian symbols at the ballpark: It’s not the end of the world, but it really doesn’t belong there. If anything, the bulk of the energy and anger has come from those who are angry that their chosen religious symbol is no longer on display at a sports arena. Here are a few recent reader comments from St. Louis’s alternative, free-thinking Riverfront Times:

I suppose next the Reddit Atheist Circlejerker will want them to remove any crosses on their chains or remove any Jesus related tattoos.

there’s always a few bitter losers that have to burn calories ruining someone’s day.

Why is this even a thing? Do you need attention so bad that you want to stir a stick in religious bullshit? Really? F*ck off.

Predictably, though, those reporting on this story have mostly ascribed the OUTRAGE! to the anti-cross brigade. Even HardballTalk’s Craig Calcaterra, a self-proclaimed agnostic and a fantastically reliable advocate for progressive values and social justice,* bought into the spin, writing “People were offended, see, because, I dunno, it turned them into Christians against their will or something” and citing “outrage” as the reason for Mozeliak’s decision.

And I’m pointing that out—calmly, without outrage—because it’s such a common and overlooked tactic of the privileged classes: If you accuse marginalized people of oversensitivity, then you never have to look at your own undersensitivity. Quick: What’s the number-one charge lobbed at feminists? Right: That we’re hypersensitive, humorless, and offended by everything in the universe. The problem isn’t that sexism is unjust, harmful, and pervasive—it’s that feminists are never happy with anything, amirite?

We have seen plenty of true outrage the last several weeks, from the Texas Legislature to Tahrir Square; to suggest that the reaction to the mound-cross merits the same terminology is a huge inaccuracy at best and a cynical attempt to mock and trivialize the detractors at worst. Let’s be clear, friends: the only uprising at Busch Stadium is going to be the one that happens if Mike Matheny pulls Adam Wainwright too early tonight.


* I mean this, and I have no small amount of guilt for naming him here when he’s such an ally in almost every way. If I weren’t late for a lunch meeting, I’d find some other example to use.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. historiophiliac permalink
    July 9, 2013 4:20 pm

    I can’t decide if this is an echo chamber effect, a conscious effort to discredit those with thoughtful complaints on the matter, or an attempt to be too clever by seeming above the fray. In any case, the assumption seems to be that Mozeliak has some thin skin or lacks fortitude when facing a few columnists. And, really, if a few mild posts can unsettle baseball GM’s so much, why am I still having to endure “God Bless America”?

    • July 9, 2013 4:29 pm

      Probably some of each. I also find it amusing that the people who are most apt to defend mound-crosses (or Paula Deen or whatever) are often the same people who believe in the free market’s mystical capacity to solve all of society’s problems while doing no earthly wrong…..until the Food Network decides that Paula’s no longer a very good investment, or that a cross on the mound is likely to alienate some of the paying customers.

      Let’s talk about something more important: I now know that you have awesome hair, historio.

      • historiophiliac permalink
        July 9, 2013 4:53 pm

        To quote from the great Peanuts comic strip: People expect more of you when you have naturally curly hair.

      • July 9, 2013 5:15 pm

        Kozma empathizes.

      • historiophiliac permalink
        July 9, 2013 5:16 pm

        Awwww. 😦

      • historiophiliac permalink
        July 9, 2013 5:17 pm

        Relatedly, I think he’s Jewish.

  2. Gamera the Brave permalink
    July 25, 2013 6:27 am

    Gamera is likewise Jewish – but being a 200-foot-tall fire-breathing Japanese turtle, his hair is just kinda wavy. Wait – I’m being told that Gamera has no hair. On a momentarily serious note, I just discovered your blog and Twitter feed last night, after our brief chat on HBT. Right on, you can totally write! Interesting stuff!
    And I think we still have to endure “God Bless America” because of our intense cultural fascination with Kate Smith, and the year 1938. Or maybe just some cultural intertia…

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