Barry Saunders, a columnist for The News & Observer, is being accused of anti-Catholic bias. At issue is a sentence in a piece about the Duke lacrosse case. Here’s what Saunders said about the three players who were falsely accused of rape and are now apparently seeking a lot of money for their trouble:
How about a compromise figure? Instead of $30 million, how about a fish sandwich, a Yoo-hoo and a one-way Greyhound bus ticket?
The reference to a fish sandwich and the fact that two of the three players are Catholic has set off an angry reaction from the lacrosse crowd. Here’s an example:
Does the News & Observer endorse anti-Catholic remarks? “Fish sandwiches” sounds an awful lot like “fish eaters”!
Linda Williams, an assistant managing editor at the paper, says it’s a cultural misunderstanding. Perhaps, but selecting a main course without religious connotations may have avoided the whole issue and kept the focus on Saunders’ message.
UPDATE: Here’s what one of my colleagues, a Catholic from Wisconsin, told me after I mentioned the column to her:
I am absolutely positively sure that I never ever ever would have read the reference to a fish sandwich as anti-Catholic (macaroni and cheese, maybe; fish sandwich, never). Seems to me that some folks have way too little to think about and do.
The more I think about this, the more I think the outrage is a convenient contrivance, picked up and spread by those who are still miffed at the media coverage of the lacrosse case.