The media’s all in a hubbub today about Rep. Louis Gohmert of (of course) Texas. And it’s all about the following comment (all quotes sourced from CBS News, just so nobody accuses me of piracy!):
“Well, once you make it 10, then why would you draw the line at 10? What’s wrong with nine? Or 11?” he asked, referring to the possibility of banning high-capacity ammunition clips for non-military citizens. “And the problem is once you draw that limit; it’s kind of like marriage when you say it’s not a man and a woman anymore, then why not have three men and one woman, or four women and one man, or why not, you know, somebody has a love for an animal?”
“There is no clear place to draw the line once you eliminate the traditional marriage and it’s the same once you, you draw, you remove, the – or you start putting limits on what guns can be used, then it’s just really easy to have laws that make them all illegal,” he added.
I mean, really, I don’t see what everybody’s so confused about. It’s very simple and straightforward. I refer, of course, to Rep. Gohmert, rather than his tortured logic. But, lest you assume that he was trying to bash homosexuals while making a poorly thought out argument against gun control, his spokesperson Kimberly Willingham reassures us:
“He was clearly making the slippery-slope argument that if the factual definition of marriage, that pre-exists governments instituted by men, is changed to suit the desires of the few, then there is no limit to where the lines are drawn,” she said.
Because, you know, there’s one universal definition of marriage out there, all across the vast history and cultures of mankind, and even beyond! Marriage is factually defined, and predates governments, which were instituted by men.
And you know, she’s right! Marriage does pre-exist governments, and other things instituted by men! Just look at how common monogamous, heterosexual relationships are among God’s other creations! Why, just the other day, I had to turn down an invitation to the wedding of two charming squirrels down the road. You see, one of them was a grey squirrel, and the other one was a black squirrel. Now, I’m not against the mixing of the blood, but it’s very clear in the Bible that marriage is supposed to be within your own tribe, not with outsiders.
That, and I was a little worried that I might run into Rep. Gohmert on the buffet table.
Now, after reading all of that, you might be joining some of my friends in being ashamed that you share the same species as good ol’ Louis. Well, I’ve got a theory about that.
You see, I’ve got this idea that’s forming in my head. Gohmert and his ilk are actually trying to become a separate species, homo phobiens! Note, if you will, the common shared species traits that aren’t held in common with the more common, and typically more evolutionarily successful, homo sapiens!
- Tend to gather in insular communities of their own kind
- Interbreed almost exclusively within their own kind
- This is a clear precursor to speciation, when they will lose the ability to interbreed with homo sapiens altogether.
- Note, if you will, the photograph of Rep. Gohmert in the linked article; I’d say he’s pretty good evidence that this point may not be that far off now.
- Successfully occupy a very specific, very narrow ecological niche in which homo sapiens cannot or will not compete (every ecology needs its bottom feeders)
- Random mutations become more pronounced in the biological community
- Consider, if you will, the impressive ability to truly believe in an omnipotent creator who can be stopped cold by an 1/8th of an inch of latex, clear evidence that the portion of the cranium devoted to the brain has begun to shrink to accommodate the larger mouth typical of the ecological niche they are attempting to fill!
- Another branch of this species is clearly developing a very peculiar evolutionary trait, born with a natural body configuration that puts their head in closer proximity to the source of that which they consume. I dub this sub-species homo phobiens ouroborous.
I could go further, but really, the evidence speaks for itself. Unfortunately, I doubt that this new species is long for this world. Their natural environment is constantly being eroded away in the name of progress and, eventually, there simply won’t be enough left for them to eat without being forced beneath a sustainable population. Like the dodo bird, homo phobiens will be wiped out by another species that fills their ecological niche, perhaps a resurgence in the population of hobo sapiens. I like to think that, when it happens, they will have no more understanding of their fate than that last dodo, standing there vapidly staring at the onrushing destruction of its species, wondering if this new creature with the long stick that made booming noises was friendly.
But honestly, I think they know it. Consider, if you will, the sheer amount of effort expended to avoid being taught about evolution. Clearly, they simply cannot accept the inevitability of their own extinction.
The Catholic church has declared that, unless changes are made in Washington D.C., it will have no choice but to suspend social services in that district.
Now, what changes does it want? Does it want the city to evict any abortion providers there? Does it feel that the city’s crime rates are evidence that their services aren’t doing anything, and they would be better applied elsewhere? Does it feel that the politicians who work there are too sinful to service the district?
Nope! What it wants changed is a proposed ordinance that would make it necessary for the Church to extend the same benefits to married gay employees that it does to married straight employees.
This ordinance would not make it necessary for the Church to perform or provide space for gay marriages. It would only make it necessary for them to not discriminate against gay employees. Employees. They can feel free to sermonize against the evils of homosexuality all they want. They can feel free to tell those employees, day in and day out, that they don’t deserve to have their relationships recognized, or to receive the blessings of the Lord. They can feel free to bar their doors to gay couples who want to get married.
All they have to do is recognize gay married couples as having the same legal rights as straight ones. Because it’s the law, and… well, they’re not that exempt from the law.
What was it that Christ said again? Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s? At any rate.
If they’re required to do this horrible, despicable thing, they’re going to cut off all services to D.C. charities, leaving thousands without support just as winter’s rolling in, because they simply can’t stomach the idea that the gay employees providing those services have the same legal, secular rights as the straight ones.
And they expect to win this fight. Why? Because they hope desperately that they can throw the blame on the politicians, instead of themselves. The politicians, by taking the rights of the gays over the well-being of the homeless, those heartless bastards. The gay community itself, for not backing down and asking the politicians to stop when the threat was made. Everybody except the Church, at least in the eyes of the faithful.
They’re turning the homeless and needy of Washington D.C. into hostages, ladies and gentlemen. Think about that for a minute. “Do what I want, or I will do something you don’t want me to do that harms an innocent third party.” What is that? Hostage taking. Extortion.
And if they do get away with it – which they just might – it will send a very, very dangerous message. They will see that they can get away with all manner of similar stunts.
“This neighborhood is home to an abortion provider. We’re outta here – we’re pulling a Lot, and not even looking back to make sure the Lord will smite you, ’cause we know he will.”
“This state recognizes gay marriages. We simply cannot, in good faith, provide services in Iowa anymore. The faithful may still enter, for to do otherwise would be contrary to God’s will, but the doors of the church are otherwise barred. So sorry – blame your politicians. Connecticut too, by the way. We’re just packing up and moving to Maine. Anybody who voted in support of it? Welcome to excommunication, and GTFO.”
They can’t get away with this. Yeah, everybody on the outside who hears about this think it’s ridiculous, but the people inside who are true believers… many of them will probably accept that this is a Sodom and Gomorrah situation, and the Church’s judgment. I really hope they don’t, and believe that eventually this sort of jackassery will result in a schism of substantial proportions. Already, the attitude of organized Christian churches in general is driving many otherwise faithful individuals away from the churches, Catholic or otherwise. Eventually, they’re going to have to split up… or they’re going to cause a new Reformation.
Can’t wait for that to happen, as long as there’s not as much burning of villages in the process.
So, what is it that often makes BTD come to the forefront? Typically, it’s the thought that everybody else is just like you, or at least that they should be. This sort of mentality causes BTD to come charging out, screaming that everybody else is stupid or evil, and needs to be taught the error of their ways.
It’s not always something like racism though. Consider, if you will, groceries. You go out, and pick up some peanut oil to use for making dinner. You go ahead and use it, whip up a stir fry, and serve it up. Your dinner partner, on tasting it, completely freaks out about you using peanut oil. They storm out, and you find yourself staring in shock, trying to figure out just where this psychotic episode came from.
Well, obviously, you don’t think that using peanut oil is a big deal. Freaking out like this is ridiculous. Unless you realize that you’re eating dinner with somebody who’s allergic to peanuts, and who is probably off trying to stave off anaphylactic shock right this moment.
Of course, to them, the idea of that they’d have to *say* they’re allergic is as ridiculous as you thought their reaction was. How could you not have ever noticed? Or, if you did know, how could you have forgotten?
A simple mistake can end up being a major fight, all because neither side recognizes that, from the other person’s point of view, they didn’t do anything wrong.
I’ve seen things like this – equally ridiculous things, often – break up several friendships during my life. I spend a lot of my time online, in festering pools of Internet Drama. Binary Thought Disorder is the leading cause of these sort of things – “I am right, how can you possibly not see it, go away and never come back.”
What people need to try and do is recognize that their perspective on reality isn’t the only accurate one. Just because you can’t possibly see any way that somebody would, say, be sexually attracted to their own sex, it doesn’t mean that people who *are* have to be wrong. And the fact that they do doesn’t mean you’re wrong, either. You’re both right, for your particular circumstances, and both wrong, for the other person’s.
We’ve all been taught, since we were kids, that we’re supposed to be different from other people. And that we’re supposed to respect those differences. But I don’t think it’s something that we lose as we get older – I think that we’re just piss-poor at teaching it to kids. The end results include things like the ‘debates’ between conservatives and liberals – a great sound and fury, signifying nothing, because neither side is willing to budge an inch to look at why the other side feels the way they do.
Why do liberals want universal, government-provided health care? Because they obviously want to undermine capitalism and reduce the people to slaves of a government they’re dependent on.
Why do conservatives not want it? Because they’re obviously psychotic racist hypocrites who can’t grasp how much better they’d be when the same guys who run the DMV are running the health system.
Obviously, neither side is 100% correct… but try saying that, and you’ll find the one thing they can agree on. That they don’t like being told the Emperor’s nekkid.
It’s official. The world is suffering from a pandemic.
No, not H1N1. That’s on its way there, but that’s a disease you can medicate, and they’re finding better medications already. The real pandemic that’s destroying society has been around for millenia, if not since the beginning of time… but that doesn’t make it any less destructive.
This disease is known as BTD – binary thought disorder. It’s that disease that everybody who reflexively disagrees with you suffers from… and that you probably do too. The symptoms include a steadfast belief that you are right, and everybody who disagrees with you is wrong, which can result in feelings of pity, irritation, or even hostility towards them.
Of course, BTD isn’t an actual disease. Instead, it’s a way of being for much of the world. A closed-minded inability to accept that people have the same information as you do but disagree with it – all without being misguided, stupid, or outright evil – is something that manifests among people of all political, religious, and racial stripes. The right falls into it – witness the last 8 years or so. The left falls into it – witness the last 8 years or so. Religious people fall into it – look at the Crusades, the Holocaust, and the very concept of jihad, among other things. Atheists fall into it too – just look at the vitriol that’s sometimes been vented at people like Dave Ramsey, who simply express that they have religious views, or the legal battles over so much as mentioning the concept of God at a school.
Why is BTD a problem? Well, I hope that’s obvious. It’s pretty well responsible for a good number of the wars and atrocities throughout history. It’s responsible for any of several thousand other crimes, fights, injuries, and ruined relationships. But it falls apart under logic.
BTD involves a thought process that demonizes the ‘other.’ It assumes that all criteria are equal – for example, the valuation of the afterlife. Let’s take a look at religion, shall we? Here’s the standard argument.
There is no scientific proof that God exists, let alone that the afterlife does.
Following religious doctrine involves making choices in life that restrict our enjoyment of life, in exchange for the promise of a utopic afterlife.
That’s immensely simplifying things, but it’s the basics. Now, if you believe, in defiance of the lack of empirical proof, that the afterlife exists and that your God is real, then you’ll be a religious person. Why wouldn’t you? You’ve got an eternity of paradise promised to you, in exchange for a short-term restriction on your activities. Further, when you work in the concept of Hell, you have a duty to try and convert others – failure to do so is to condemn the souls of non-believers.
Anybody who has the knowledge that following God’s rules and accepting His faith will bring you to paradise, while failure will condemn you to Hell, but who fails to convert, must be either foolish or actively evil, serving the great evil of their faith of choice.
However, if you don’t believe? There is no proof of an afterlife – all we know really exists is the here and now. Therefore, following religious strictures is inherently foolish. You’re exchanging your freedom in life for absolutely nothing. Without scientific proof that God or the afterlife exists, you’re trading in the only life you’re going to have for squat… and even if the afterlife does exist, you’re gambling on whether or not any given book is actually correct about how to get the good seats when you get there. If you’re wrong – and you’ve got no way to know you’re not – then you’ll end up in Hell anyways.
Anybody who tries to promulgate religious belief, given these facts, must be foolish at best, or evil at worst, trying to manipulate the beliefs of people to control them.
But ultimately, it’s a matter of varying values. The person who believes in God and religion and accepts these teachings whole-heartedly places greater value on their potential afterlife – which they do believe exists – than the atheist does – who doesn’t believe it exists.
There’s no actual proof that either person is right or wrong… simply an absence of such proof. Atheists have as much blind faith in their beliefs as the religious fanatic does. And yet, both sides will cite endless amounts of ‘proof’ that they are right, the other is wrong, until such a point in time as they decide that the stubborn refusal of the other to so much as accept that they might be wrong drives them to give up… or to blows.
BTD has also created the vast quantities of hypocrisy we tend to see. Remember a few years ago, when protesting what the government was trying to do was considered the highest form or patriotism? Great, when you were protesting W and the Iraq war. Now, when the other side is protesting Obamacare, it’s unamerican or a sign that you’ve been duped by The Great Evil… exactly the same things that the Right said about the Left during those protests. What’s the difference? Well… now it’s the Right protesting, and the Left being told they’re wrong.
BTD is the greatest threat to modern civilization. And if we can’t get past it, our society is doomed to tear itself apart, just as every civilization that has come before has eventually fallen to pieces. How do we do that? I’m not sure… but I’ve got some ideas. I’ll be getting into those over the next few weeks.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;”
For such a seemingly simple concept, it’s astounding how much hullaballoo has been caused by this – not only by people who want to ignore it, but by people who want to take it to an extreme.
The First Amendment is very clear on the subject of religion. Congress cannot pass a law declaring a state religion (and, by extension, one tends to extend that to other governmental bodies). Neither can it pass a law prohibiting anybody from exercising their religion freely. The problem is that most people tend to ignore one half or the other. Right now, in the nearby city of Madison, the Freedom from Religion Foundation has begun a billboard campaign, trying to push people away from religion. They have every right to do so.
However, I take exception to their apparent belief that religious belief is harmful, and needs to be stopped. Religion is not inherently good, but neither is it inherently harmful, or evil. Faith has been used to justify travesties throughout history, yes. But, similarly, so has opposition to faith. Is it fair to call the Holocaust a crime motivated by overzealous faith, any more than it is to call it an attack on it? The Crusades?
I’ve been on both sides of the stick myself, as well. Going through high school, I was often looked askance at for my interest in alternate religions, growing up in a very religious city. At the same time, I’ve had people tell me that to believe in anything that’s beyond our current understanding of the world is an affront to science and a sign of sheer stupidity. Believing in magic and spirits, in particular, was a weakness rather than a sign of an open mind.
Of course, both sides have plenty of quotes and arguments they can trot out. Of course they do – there have been prominent thinkers who were atheists as surely as there have been ones who were deeply religious. Darwin and Einstein were religious. Da Vinci was religious. Mark Twain, not so much.
The problem, as is often the case, is binary thinking disease. You’re either for me, or against me. You’re either right, or you’re wrong. You’re either an atheist, or a religious zealot who thinks we should bring back stoning. You’re either for God, and going to heaven, or against him, and going to Hell.
Neither approach is the one laid out in the First Amendment. Neither approach fulfills the spirit of our law, or is truly free. The only approach that does, and that is true religious freedom, is the middle road. You are free to believe in God, Buddha, science, the Maid Mother and Crone, or whoever you will. You are free to display whatever you want on your lawn – or at your city hall, for that matter – at holidays, just as long as you don’t make it a matter of law. Don’t force people to believe what you’re putting up, and go ahead and let people who believe otherwise put their own displays up.
And then don’t go vandalizing the displays.
Green Bay tried that a few years ago; unfortunately, some assholes decided to vandalize the displays, because they didn’t want to see them. The city actually tried to take the right approach, but that wasn’t good enough for somebody.
The Establishment Clause is a crucial part of the First Amendment… but so is the free exercise part. Ultimately, the message is freedom of religion… not freedom to make everybody else believe what you do.
Okay, after a bit of a break….
Gay Marriage. Nobody’s come out with any reasons – let alone good ones – why gay marriage should be illegal from a non-religious point of view, so let’s move on, shall we?
Religious reasons! I’ve seen three major ones, all Judeo-Christian in origin.
1: The Legacy of Sodom
When God wiped out Sodom and Gomorrah, according to this argument, he did it because the men of Sodom engaged in homosexual activity, particularly attempting to rape the two angels God had sent down to check on Lot and tell him to get out of Dodge.
2: The Leviticus Charge
Leviticus 18:22, according to King James’ version of the Bible. “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination” Based on this, the argument goes, all homosexuality is sinful, and homosexual marriage is a greater sin yet, as it places the Church in the position of supporting it.
3: Paul at Work
Romans 1 – Paul’s Letter to the Romans includes several references to homosexuality, such as this one. “For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence [sic] of their error which was meet.” Clearly, Paul is railing against homosexuality as sinful and abominable, and it can’t be allowed. As with the Leviticus argument, clearly gay marriage is similarly horrifying.
Now, taking each of the three arguments in order.
Sodom and Gomorrah.
Was the sin which the city was destroyed for really homosexuality? Remember – the angels were sent there for a reason. God was already going to trash the place if they couldn’t find sufficient ‘good men.’ Further, what is Lot’s reaction to this? To offer his daughters to the men of Sodom, after which Lot is still considered a good man.
So, the only interpretation of that is that God felt it was proper to offer his daughters to these men rather than to let them at the angels in his house. Does this mean that the Bible feels that it’s less of a sin for a father to throw his daughters to the proverbial wolves than to allow homosexual activity? Not necessarily.
Let’s break down what exactly happens in Genesis. Two angels come on down to a sinful city which God is already pretty much ready to smite. Lot invites them into his home and, knowing what the others in the city are like, presses upon them how important it is that they stay with him. When they’re getting ready for the night, things go thoroughly pear-shaped, the Angels get Lot and everybody in his family who believes him out, and the place is struck down with fire and brimstone. Points to raise:
1: The men of Sodom intended to force themselves upon the angels. Homosexuality, perhaps. Bestiality, by the definition often used by biblical scholars, definitely. Rape? Most definitely. Does it not occur to anybody that arguing that the tale of Sodom and Gomorrah is strictly about homosexuality is like arguing that it’s fine to commit rape – just don’t commit it against an animal, or against a member of the same sex, because *that* would be wrong? Of all the sins evident in Genesis 19, perhaps the most egregious one is the one that people consider last.
2: It should also be remembered that there’s another sin here that most people don’t recognize – inhospitality. These days, being inhospitable is bad manners. However, in the ancient world hospitality was one of the most critical ‘manners’ to develop – you would die yourself before letting your guests be injured, and your guests would not harm you. It was the critical factor that let people be hospitable, or visit people. The powerful taboo can be seen in several folktales of the region, where thieves would break into a house, taste a white powder they found (thinking it sugar), and after realizing they’d tasted the salt in their victim’s house – creating a bond of hospitality, even by accident – leave without taking a thing. Similarly, in the tale of Ali Baba, the bandit leader would take no salt because it would have created a hospitality bond. Killing everybody in the house? That wasn’t a problem. Killing your *host* and his family? Not even a rampaging bandit out for revenge would do that.
Considering that Lot wasn’t struck down for offering his daughters up, it becomes clear that the sin of Sodom may well have been inhospitality, not homosexuality. This argument becomes stronger when you add in Leviticus 19:34, which says that any stranger who dwells with you shall be treated as having been born among you.
The Leviticus Argument
Ah, Leviticus 18:22 – is there any more loved passage for those who are against homosexuals? (Actually, yes, as we’ll soon see). Leaving aside that Leviticus only speaks about male homosexuality, not female – and any arguments about whether or not the translation was valid – let’s look at the other things Leviticus allows and disallows, shall we?
Butchering animals as religious sacrifice: ALLOWED (Leviticus 1, 2, several others – it goes on for some time detailing how.)
Eating bread with yeast: FORBIDDEN (Leviticus 6:16-17)
Eating rabbit, pork, or shrimp: FORBIDDEN (Leviticus 11)
Spreading rumors: FORBIDDEN (Leviticus 19:16 – sorry, Enquirer!)
Slavery: ALLOWED (Leviticus 25:44-46)
Now… we’ve decided that, apparently, Leviticus was wrong about all of these things. So why is 18:22 so special, that *it* isn’t wrong, but all these others are?
Paul and the Romans
Paul’s letter to the Romans makes it pretty darned clear what he thinks of homosexuality – it’s worthy of death. But, while he goes and says this in Romans 1… let’s take a look at Romans 2, shall we?
All of Romans 2 is about man not judging man – elaborating on Christ’s “let he among you who is without sin cast the first stone.” God may judge, but man should not – MAY not – do so, for he himself is sinful.
Personally, I think there’s a line to be drawn there, and I’m really not so sure about Paul as moral compass, but that’s for reasons of my own – the fact is that even Paul is saying ‘yes, that’s bad, but let God handle it.’
Further, by making gay marriage illegal – or keeping it that way, either way – it ignores the simple fact that not everybody is a member of a faith that believes in these arguments. If you’re an atheist – or if you’re pagan – then these arguments don’t even come up, leaving the argument against gay marriage with even less of a leg to stand on.
So, what other arguments do you have, and how do you justify applying it to other people outside your faith?
Part 3, assuming nothing else comes up, will be on my ideas for what ought to be done about all this.
And thanks for your patience, people who really disagree with me – this stint pissing off social conservatives, I’ll be sure to nail the social liberals for a while next.
With thanks to the folks at the Sex is Fun podcast for coining the word.
I’m going to handle this one as a multi-parter, mostly in the interest of trying to get some comments/interaction on the subject.
Gay Marriage. It’s the highlight of political campaigns, for and against. It’s the subject of protests and rallies – for, and against. Personally, I support it wholeheartedly. A lot of people I know in my state don’t – it’s one of those that approved the whole ‘one man, one woman’ line.
Let me be the first to say that anybody vandalizing the property of or threatening those who supported Prop 8 should go turn themselves in now. So lemme wait while you do that, okay?
*twiddles thumbs, plays a couple rounds of Gemcraft*
Hmm… oh, ready? Good. Now, here we go.
Gay marriage… what’s the big deal? There are religious arguments against it, I’ll grant you (and more on those later), but I live in the USA. In this country, we’ve got this little document called the Constitution, and it demands a separation between church and state. So your religious arguments fall apart right there.
What good reason is there – governmentally – to deny gay couples equal access to health care that straight couples can have? What reason is there to make it harder for them to inherit? Why can’t two guys or girls sign the same piece of paper that a guy and a girl can? I have yet to hear one compelling argument against gay marriage from a non-religious standpoint. So if you’ve got one, please post it – I’d love to hear it, and to open up the discussion. The comments section is there for a reason.
Next week, the religious end of things….
With thanks to GamePolitics for first bringing this story up in a place I haunt….
So, a board game out there parodying religious violence. With figures like Buddha wielding a chaingun.
And, of course, folks are getting all bent out of shape about it.
May I ask… why?
I mean, c’mon people, learn to laugh a bit! And even if we ignore the (to me, obvious) humorous potential here… maybe we should think a bit about the actual message in the game.
This game is not anti-religious. It’s anti-zealot, if anything. Throughout history, religion has done wonders for causing violence. The ultimate irony, to my mind, is that the peaceful ones have often proven the most bloodthirsty (you want examples? I’ve got ’em, but they’re rather obvious.) This isn’t because of factors directly in the religion, but in the people who’ve warped them after their founders’ deaths. And yet, most people perpetrating it believe fully that their god is on their side.
Really, the absurdity of pitting Buddha-with-a-chaingun against Cross-wielding Jesus pales in comparison to the fact that, historically, their FOLLOWERS have been duking it out for centuries.
Maybe you don’t like the fact that your god is being portrayed as violent in this game, as a destructive force. Be that as it may, keep things in perspective.
This is a game.
A board game.
If tiny plastic Jesus behaving violently shatters or damages your faith, you were probably already having more than a few issues with it of your own.
If you haven’t heard it from Donna Brazile, I’m sure you have from Tom Brokaw.
“Jesus Christ was a community organizer. Pontius Pilate was a governor.”
It’s a line that has a nice bit of punch to it, especially if you buy the idea that Sarah Palin was slamming all community organizers when she said that being a mayor “was like being a community organizer, except that a mayor has responsibilities,” and not just one man who apparently thought that being a community organizer qualified him for the Presidency (and two autobiographies before his fiftieth birthday.)
I hate pithy slogans like that, which pack a lot of punch and little substance. And believe me, this one packs very little substance. But just for fun, let’s analyze it, shall we?
First off, the obvious implications. If you just pointed out that “Jesus Christ was a community organizer,” I’d let it slide as an attempt to demonstrate just how offensive her remark had been. But by following it up with “Pontius Pilate was a governor,” you immediately, and not at all subtly, link it to Palin, the only governor involved here.
And by linking it to Palin through ‘governor,’ you link it to the only person involved here who was a community organizer – Barack Obama.
So, as a counterpoint to saying that she had more responsibilities than Barack Obama, the Democrats are comparing her to Pontius Pilate, one of history’s more reviled figures, and taking the chance to also compare their boy to Jesus Christ, one of history’s more respected figures.
Even I, a Pagan by faith and choice, find this statement offensive. Not only because of the attack on Sarah Palin (who certainly doesn’t live up to Pilate’s career history or path), and not only because of the arrogance of anybody claiming that Obama and Christ are on approximately the same level, but also because of the fact that you’re belittling Christ’s actual résumé.
Now, let’s throw out the issue of miracles, rising from the dead, and/or actually being the physical Son of God. Let’s just look at what Christ actually was.
He was a rabbi – a priest, a teacher, and a healer. He was also a community organizer, granted, but he was much more than that. He created a philosophy (and religion) that has endured for two thousand years in one form or another. He advocated peace in the face of many of his own people clamoring for war. He absolved the people who killed him of guilt, and ministered not only to his own people but to their mortal enemies. He took a tax collector – a person often thought of as an enemy collaborator in his time – as one of his disciples.
As a community organizer and rabbi, he taught a far stronger message of unity and strength than Obama has, one carried out through his actions as well as his words.
Now, all of this is just getting worked up about the statement itself, and not the inanity of the statement itself. Let’s carry the statement – and linking Christ with Obama and Pilate with Palin – through to its logical conclusion, shall we? Just for fun.
Christ was arrested by the High Priest’s men, and taken to his house, where he was questioned. Throughout the (rather brutal) interrogation, he declined to defend himself in the least, according to two of the four gospels. Instead, he made a non-response that was basically a plea of nolo contendre at the time (“that’s what you say” rather than “uhm, no.”) According to a third, he actually confessed to the crime of claiming he was the Son of God – blasphemy under Jewish law of the time.
(For the record, yes, that is arguably a case of the Bible contradicting itself… but that’s a subject for another post.)
After this, he was led to Pilate. There, the High Priest and his men accused him of sedition against the Roman state – a crime punishable by death, which blasphemy wasn’t under Roman law. Pilate asked Christ if that was true… and Christ responded with the same non-answer as before. It worked better with Pilate than it did with Caiaphas and crew – he said he found no fault in him, and pretty well bent over backwards to try and keep him out of trouble. (Luke 23:1 through 23:24)
He offered to release a Rabbi who was accused of speaking out against Rome to the people – something that probably would have raised quite a few eyebrows back in Rome – and instead they told him to release a murderer. And so, as the law required – as his oath as a governor required – as the very people who hated him as the symbol of their oppression required – he had Christ executed. (Luke 23:18 through 23:24 – see what I mean about letting emotion rule over thought being a bad thing?)
Frankly, Pilate did more to defend Christ than Christ did, according to the Gospel of Luke. He only had him executed when threatened with rioting on the part of the people he was supposed to be governing. Which would have resulted in the Legionairres having to go out and start killing folks. Which he really didn’t want.
Now, if we’re going to carry the Palin = Pilate/Obama = Christ equation through to fruition, what would that involve? Hmm….
It would involve Obama being found guilty of some manner of horrible crime by pillars of the black community… Jesse Jackson, perhaps?
It would involve those people trumping up charges of treason against him, and a trial in which he plead guilty, despite the efforts of the Judge and Prosecutor and everybody else in the system trying to convince him not to. The Judge, refusing to accept that plea, holds the trial, and packs the jury with as many supposedly sympathetic voices as possible, but they still convinct him.
At this point, President Palin (because no governor and no vice president has the authority to do this) offers to pardon him, because she and everybody else on the side of the ‘oppressors’ can see that he’s innocent (a little thick maybe, for not defending himself, but innocent.)
With pen in hand, and about to put the last flourish on her signature and allow him to go free, the public outcry from his own community threatens riots that will require the institution of Martial Law. Rather than see that happen, she allows the legally required sentence to be carried out, and Obama to be executed.
A rather ridiculous scenario, don’t you think?
I think rather higher of the black community and their leaders than that… and of Barack Obama.
Still, I think I’ll take the real Jesus Christ over a community organizer.