To endorse such action as civil disobedience is to endorse the view of the racist, anti-Semitic, anti-Catholic Ku Klux Klan organizer Thomas E. Watson, who defended the agitation that led to the lynching of Leo Frank by saying, "When mobs are no longer possible, liberty is dead."
What, then, about the cardinal's suggestion that people who object to this film ought not watch or contribute financially to KCET?
Boycotts also make me uneasy. They have a badly checkered history, and have more often been instruments of bigotry than of benevolent social purpose. Perhaps more to the point, in a society as diverse as ours, they almost always provoke a backlash and, therefore, are ineffective. At last report, KCET had received about as much in new contributions from people who object to the cardinal's position as it has lost from those who agree with him.
On the other hand, Cardinal Mahony's insistence that KCET owes viewers an apology for its callous lapse in editorial judgment seems to me entirely correct. It is correct because the decision by a public broadcasting station to air the uncritical depiction of a hate crime affronts America's unique conception of moral progress.