Opinion Opinion L.A.

You can't be happy in Iran, you can't be gay in Pennsylvania

For a good time, forget Tehran, where dancing to 'Happy' can get you busted
Shh, don't tell Ellen DeGeneres, but she's no role model, says a Catholic school principal

In the immortal words of one Rodney King, “Can we all get along?” Apparently, when religion gets in the way, maybe not.

Need proof? Look over there, in inane Iran, and over here, in silly Philly.

In Tehran, people were arrested this week for appearing in a YouTube video set to the Pharrell Williams song “Happy.” Their crime? Apparently, dancing — though maybe you’re not supposed to be happy in Iran either.

As CNN reported: “Tehran Police Chief Hossein Sajedinia ordered the arrests of the three men and three women for helping make an ‘obscene video clip that offended the public morals and was released in cyberspace,’ the Iranian Students’ News Agency reported Wednesday. Authorities forced the young people to repent on state TV.”

As in:

POLICE: “Just what were you doing?”

MISERABLE VIDEO STARS: “Uh, we were dancing and being happy. We’re so sorry. We repent. We promise we’ll never dance or be happy again.”

Fortunately, someone on Wednesday got a clue, and the six were freed, though not the director of the video. Perhaps it helped that Hassan Rouhani — you know, Iran’s president — issued this tweet (or someone did, using his Twitter account; and if it wasn’t Rouhani, stand by for some more fun confessions): “#Happiness is our people’s right. We shouldn’t be too hard on behaviors caused by joy.”

No, we shouldn’t. But in the name of religion, we apparently are.

Meanwhile, lest you think the thought police are confined to Iran, we have the case of the “Great Ellen DeGeneres Photo Flap,” right here in the good-ole U.S. of A.

As Philly.com reported: “The principal of a Catholic school in Bucks County is apologizing to parents for using a photo of Ellen DeGeneres on an invitation to an Oscars-themed graduation dance, and is demanding students return them to be destroyed.

“It was ‘completely wrong’ to use DeGeneres’ picture because the lesbian celebrity ‘lives her life outside the teachings of the Catholic Church,’ St. Andrew Elementary School Principal Nancy Matteo wrote in an email to parents on Tuesday.”

Seriously? Yes. And here you thought DeGeneres’ biggest failing was “Open House.”

But it gets worse:

“The image on the graduation-dance invitation appears to be a promotional shot of DeGeneres holding an Oscar statue taken in advance of this year’s event, and the top of the invitation reads ‘Live from the red carpet.’

“In the email, Matteo says she was ‘obviously NOT thinking’ when she let the invitation to the June 8 dance be distributed with DeGeneres’ photo.

“ ‘Perhaps I was distracted by the Oscar,’ she wrote, calling the entertainer a ‘poor role model.’

 “ ‘A role model, as defined by Webster’s Dictionary, is a person who is unusually effective or inspiring in some social role, job, position, etc.,’ the email says. ‘This does not describe her at all. We work so hard to be good role models and then I go and do something stupid!’ ”

Uh, no, principal, that wasn’t stupid. What you’re doing now is stupid.

Ellen DeGeneres is a comedian. She’s a talk show host. She hosts the Oscars. She’s actually really funny. Her act is even pretty clean — somewhat refreshing in this day and age.

Oh yea, and she’s a lesbian.


Some of the kids at that Catholic school are lesbians too. And it isn’t easy for them. And you just made it a whole lot worse, because you and others apparently are sure that God hates gays — or at least that is the message you are sending to those kids.

Well, some folks in Iran think their god hates dancing, and women who don’t wear scarves.

All I can say to that is: Folks, if that’s what your god thinks, and demands of you, you need to get a new god.

Or, if that’s too hard, at least keep your god out of our lives.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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