On the need for the continued separation of church and state.

We are feeling pained in the Pond this morning.

It is the pain of the accused quarterback that is nagging our spines.

No, not Michael Vick, he of the dogfighting predilections. Nor, indeed, of his onetime quarterbacking brother, Marcus, who has been variously accused of brandishing guns, stomping on other players and asking 15-year-old girls to have sex with other men.

It is the plight of Jimmy Clausen that is today causing us grief. Clausen is not a character in Superman. He is part of something far more omnipotent. He is the budding quarterback for God’s own school, Notre Dame.

And he has committed a mortal sin.

He drove a 23-year-old to a place of iniquity. Yes, a liquor store. images2.jpg

There, the friend bought vodka, whiskey and beer. It was an upscale liquor store. Jimmy, who stayed in the car with another Notre dame freshman, was arrested by Excise officers for driving someone to make a legal purchase.

Jimmy, you see, is only 19.

The 23-year-old was also arrested. For inducing a minor to ban alcohol. And the other freshman in the car? Well, nothing,

Now if only these two had gone the same way as that other prescient footballer, Pat Tillman, and taken their skills to Iraq, they would have been able to drink as much as they wanted. In fact, to survive, they would have needed to drink as much as they wanted. If they had survived, they would also have enjoyed a citation. For bravery.

Yet the state of Indiana feels it is worth employing no doubt highly trained people to snoop on boys of fighting age (in dog years) when they pop out for a smidgen of Smirnoff.

My brain has this morning been invaded with alternative scenarios in which Jimmy might have been punished. Driving his friend to a Nordstrom store to buy Tommy Bahama shirts. Or, worse, tasseled loafers.

But my abiding angst is this.

I don’t know if Jimmy is a Catholic or not. But where would the Indiana State Police stand if Jimmy went to Mass and participated in the Communion ritual where they eat wafers made by nuns from Wyoming and drink wine from, well, the local liquor store?

Sometimes, one simply doesn’t have the answers. And it’s awful living with that fact.

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