By Bertram de Souza
This isn’t about the merits of State Issue 6 on the Nov. 4 general election ballot in Ohio, or about the Catholic Church’s involvement in the presidential election through the veil of abortion.
It is about the hypocrisy of the individuals opposing the $600 million full-service casino/hotel that would be built in Clinton County if voters approve the constitutional amendment. And about the hypocrisy of the hierarchy of the American Catholic Church in again making the sanctity of life the defining issue for the faithful.
First the gambling issue. To borrow a well-worn phrase from the movie Casablanca, “Round up the usual suspects” — to identify the opposition. Topping the list are two of the most prominent elected officials in Ohio, Gov. Ted Strickland and U.S. Sen. George V. Voinovich. The fact that one is a Democrat and the other a Republican makes their case against the casino all the more compelling.
Strickland and Voinovich teamed up two years ago to defeat the gambling initiative that would have placed slot machines in the seven horse-racing tracks in the state and in two free-standing casinos in downtown Cleveland.
Voinovich has long opposed gambling, arguing that low-income people are most likely to be economically victimized, that the social costs are enormous and that the increase in the number of addicts would be a burden on the state.
Yet, during his eight years as governor, the Republican made no attempt to end state-sanctioned gambling: the lottery (along with instant games that cost from $1 to $20 a ticket), horse racing and bingo.
Voinovich’s successor, Bob Taft, also a Republican, expanded the state lottery to include the Mega Millions game that’s offered in 12 states.
Then Democrat Strickland took over from Taft and the Ohio Lottery began Sunday drawing, a bunch of other games and not too long ago launched Keno — which is popular in casinos.
Bars and restaurants in Ohio make it possible for patrons to eat, drink and gamble.
There also has been talk that residents will soon be able to play the lottery online.
And yet, the opposition to State Issue 6 is being led by two individuals with the power to turn Ohio into a gambling-free zone.
It should be pointed out that two years ago, when this writer noted the hypocrisy in Ohio toward casino gambling, the governor’s spokesman contended that Strickland was not opposed to it. He did, however, have a problem with the profits from a casino enriching just a few people.
But Strickland has yet to propose a plan whereby the people of Ohio would be the profiteers.
The opposition is also being driven by the Ohio Roundtable, a conservative group that has taken positions on many social issues.
But while the Roundtable has opposed the expansion of gambling, it has paid only lip service to ending the state lottery. Why? Because like other right-wing organizations, it realizes that the loss of the hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue would send the state into a tailspin. The first victim would be education, which the right-wingers have a direct stake in through charter schools and the voucher system.
How do you spell hypocrites?
As for the Catholic Church (this writer’s Catholicism is rooted in St. Francis Xavier), the hierarchy’s warning of fire and damnation for Catholic elected officials who may be personally opposed to abortion but believe in a woman’s right to choose is the height of hypocrisy.
Why? Because while these princes of the church insist that the protection of the innocent is sacred, they have been comparatively lukewarm to the child-abuse scandal that has rocked the foundation of the church.
While action has been taken against pedophile priests, nothing has been done to any of the bishops who were aware of the criminal and immoral behavior of those who wrapped themselves in the cloak of holiness.
Thus the question: If life is so precious, why haven’t those who were enablers been punished?
So when the bishops tell Catholic officeholders that they are not permitted to receive Holy Communion if they do not adhere to the church’s ban on abortion, their hypocrisy is palpable.