Saturday, April 28, 2007

Crackdown on Psychics

The obvious joke: They didn't see it coming.

Philadelphia police have begun to enforce an old law against fortune-telling. Now, Father A. holds no brief for these charlatans, and feels a confusing mixture of sadness and contempt for the deluded nitwits who actually make decisions based on this sort of mumbo-jumbo. (And yes, we are thinking of Nancy Reagan and her Vassar-educated astrologer).

On the other hand ... and we really hate to say it ... what about free speech?

Click the link to read a local report on the case. We are especially troubled by the guy who claims that Jesus was a fortune-teller, and that he is himself therefore just like Jesus. *Sigh* Paging Simon Magus.

And if these were the Middle Ages, or some theocratic hellhole like Calvin's Geneva or [insert modern Middle Eastern nation here], rousting a few spiritual quacks would be par for the course. (See under: Michael Servetus). But these are, or at any rate were until recently, the United States of America. Land of the .... you know. And this is Philadelphia, home of that bell. You know the one I mean. Big brass thing, crack on one side. That one.

But we live in a strange new world, in which reporters go to jail for refusing to tell which administration official lied about what; in which the President says "we do not torture," while organizing torture on an international scale; in which wiretapping and eavesdropping are so common that we don't know how common they may be; in which the fairly liberal mayor of New York organized his own nationwide infiltration of church and community groups, a la J. Edgar Hoover. The old verities -- that is, civil and human rights -- seem to be passing quickly away. So it is no surprise that Philadelphia would give up on the First Amendment.

And anyway, in a nation losing its way as quickly as this, fortune-tellers may really qualify as enemies of the state.

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