Here’s how this week’s arts and culture column begins:

One effect of social media is that the world seems increasingly to resemble a giant courtroom with the combatants shrieking at each other, “J’accuse!!” I accuse, I accuse, I accuse.

“J’accuse!” was of course the opening salvo, in an open letter by Émile Zola to the president of the French Republic, of what came to be known as the Dreyfus affair. Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish officer, had been accused of treason by the French army.

Nowadays, colleagues spy on co-workers, friends rat out friends, political leaders at the highest level bully, name-call, insinuate, gossip, and slander. News is so biased, depending on the outlet’s audience, that we hardly dare hope for anything remotely approaching the objective truth. Egregiously substandard behavior is foisted off as the fault of deranged “libs,” some form of “identity discrimination,” or the egregiously substandard behavior of one’s enemies. “You can’t accuse me! I accuse you!”



  1. “Everything must be unmasked. Everyone must be exposed.” Yet how ironic that everyone has to go around with masks on their faces. I can hardly recognize people.

    Possibly the most forgotten Commandment is the 8th: “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.”

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      Yes, Ron, it’s astonishing–people I thought I knew suddenly appointing themselves moral arbiters of the universe and demanding my credentials as a decent human being because I failed to mouth certain catch-phrases or slogans…people who shape their day by picking fights where none exist…To my mind the culture, right and left, has ceded responsibility for its attitude towards life and everything in it to the media. If the media says we should be terrified, we’re terrified. If the media demands that we hate a certain group, we hate that group and band together with others who hate that group. If the media directs us to be outraged, we adopt a blanket sense of outrage.
      I don’t watch or listen to any of it–I read, so I have a sense of what’s going on, but I refuse to believe that I have a moral responsibility never to emjoy or celebrate anything because someone, somewhere, is suffering or has suffered or will suffer.

      Ironically, that’s the viewpoint of one deeply-in-error misinterpretation of Catholicism, which the secular culture has attacked and criticized (with good reason) for ages. Now all on their own, they’ve adopted this grim, Puritanical way of thinking themselves, and are turning it on each other…inevitably, such a stance is profoundly anti-life. People who REALLY care, are REALLY enlightend, the thinking goes for example, would never bring a child into this dreadful world…So there’s a real sorrow there, and a real tragedy. Because in turning against our neighbor, as you say, we are obviously really turning against ourselves…

      1. Heather, thanks for reminding us of what should be our Christian witness. Here’s a quote from Camus that seems pertinent, too.
        “. . . I make myself remember that everyone has a rendezvous with himself: that he knows it and will doubtless be keeping it soon. Immediately he seems like a brother once more; solitudes unite those society separates.” – Albert Camus

  2. You keep ’em comin’, dear Heather! Outstanding “rules” of a chosen life! Am on my knees prayerful to remember……when I do not!

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      Thank you, Glenda! Oh right, lest I forget! On our knees is the best possible place from which to seek the truth…Here we are at December 17th and the O antiphons and 8 days until Christmas. So beautiful, so exciting…