by Conor Friedersdorf
In a debate about the so-called Ground Zero mosque at a family dinner, I hit upon an analogy that seemed to persuade my interlocutors just a little bit. We were talking about the 9/11 families, some of whom are upset and offended by the project.
Here's the analogy I want to try out. Imagine a suburban street where three kids in a single family were molested by a Catholic priest, who was subsequently transferred by the archbishop to a faraway parish, and never prosecuted. Nine years later, a devout Catholic woman who lives five or six doors down decides that she's going to start a prayer group for orthodox Catholics -- they'll meet once a week in her living room, and occasionally a local priest, recently graduated from a far away seminary, will attend.
Even if we believe that it is irrational for the mother of the molested kids to be upset by this prayer group on her street, it's easy enough to understand her reaction. Had she joined an activist group critical of the Catholic Church in the aftermath of the molestation, it's easy to imagine that group backing the mother. As evident is the fact that the devout Catholic woman isn't culpable for molestations in the Catholic church -- in fact, even though we understand why her prayer group upsets the neighbor, it is perfectly plausible that the prayer group organizers never imagined that their plan would be upsetting or controversial. In their minds (and in fact), they're as opposed to child molestation as anyone, and it's easy to see why they'd be offended by any implication to the contrary.