Richard Land, Bocephus and the Scandal of Evangelical Ethics

Hank Williams Jr. lost his job with ESPN recently after saying on a talk show that President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden are “the enemy” and comparing them to “Hitler.”

Williams, sometimes known as “Bocephus,” had a long-time gig singing before the Monday night NFL game every week. That gig is now over because the sports network reasonably decided that allowing an inflammatory idiot to Godwin the pregame show wasn’t the best way to get a national TV audience ready for some football. Ratings have not suffered from his dismissal.

ESPN did what any responsible business would do. They did what every responsible organization does when confronted with a public employee saying the sorts of things that Williams said. Comments like Williams’ would get any employee fired or suspended or at least disciplined almost anywhere.

Almost anywhere, but not everywhere. Because not every organization is a responsible organization. Not every organization has even the minimal ethical standards of Monday Night Football.

We should note that Bocephus’ role in the Monday night broadcasts did not require him to be an ethical or spiritual role model. He was there to warm up the audience with his catch phrase and his redneck charm (and because we all still love his dad’s songs). Williams was never hired to lead the NFL’s “ethics commission.” He was just an entertainer — but even an entertainer is required to meet minimal standards of decency and honesty. When he failed to meet even those minimal standards, Bocephus lost his job.

Whatever minimal ethical standards the Southern Baptist Convention has, they are far below those of Monday Night Football. Richard Land — who has served for more than 20 years as the president of the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission — has a long track record of saying things even more outrageously inflammatory and maliciously dishonest than what Hank Williams Jr. said. And yet his standing is undiminished as the convention’s chief spokesman for “ethics.” Bocephus was fired and has made himself a pariah in the sports community. Richard Land still has his job, has not credibly apologized, has not been disciplined, and remains a respected expert on ethics in the SBC and in the broader evangelical community.

That’s astonishing. Richard Land’s job is to teach and promote ethics on behalf of the largest Protestant denomination in the United States, yet his ethical violations as a public speaker exceed those of a bumpkin entertainer fired by ESPN. The ad hoc, informal community of football fandom apparently has higher ethical standards than the ad hoc, informal community of American evangelicalism.

This suggests that anyone who hopes to become an ethical person would be better off watching football on television every Monday night than attending worship at a Southern Baptist church every Sunday morning. Monday Night Football might not make you a better person, but the Southern Baptist Convention has long employed an “ethics” spokesman who seems determined to make you a worse one.

Neither Williams’ dismissal nor Land’s continued employment is controversial in the respective communities of sports broadcasting and evangelicalism. ESPN’s decision to part ways with Bocephus was widely viewed by football fans as sadly necessary and proper. His own vile words left them with no other responsible choice. Land’s ongoing role with the SBC, despite his vile words, has never been seriously questioned within the SBC hierarchy. His claims that gays prey on children and his calling a respected Jewish scholar “Mengele” has never stirred any hint of controversy among those who hold power in the SBC.

The example of Richard Land’s undiminished standing as a respected evangelical ethical expert might lead one to suspect that there is nothing one could say or do that might put one’s job in jeopardy in the evangelical world. But as we’ve seen in a series of recent examples discussed here, that’s not the case. Calvin College professor John Schneider was pushed into “early retirement” for questioning the idea of a “historical” Adam and Eve. Activists and media figures have encouraged Grove City College to rethink its employment of psychology professor Warren Throckmorton due to his refusal to deny the science disproving their belief in religious “reparative therapy” for gays. The same cast of characters has questioned Eastern Nazarene College’s continued support for Karl Giberson, a physicist who teaches actual physics, and Randall J. Stephens, a historian who teaches actual history. Their so-called “offense” was, again, arguing that Christians should stick to the facts. The activists and self-proclaimed bishops upset with all of these professors urge wealthy conservative donors to all of those colleges to pressure the schools to silence or remove such unacceptably truthful professors.

Consider this pattern. Speaking the truth is “controversial” and can get you in a lot of trouble. Outrageous lies, on the other hand, do nothing to diminish your job security or your standing as a respected expert on ethics.

In the American evangelical community, no shame or scandal or disapproval comes from bearing false witness against one’s neighbor — provided one targets the right neighbors. Such outright lies do not create controversy, but a refusal to lie is seen as making waves. Refusing to bear false witness against certain neighbors can put your job in jeopardy.

How did evangelicalism reach this point? How did it come to be that bearing false witness against certain of our neighbors isn’t just tolerated, but required?

The answer, I think, is that for all the talk of Jesus’ “sacrificial atonement,” evangelicals do not rely on Christ for their justification or vindication. They seek that justification elsewhere — from the sacrifice of scapegoats. Foremost among those scapegoats are GLBT people and women who have abortions.

The vilification of these scapegoats is of paramount importance in evangelicalism. It is more important than any belief in vindication through Christ. And this new core doctrine reshapes evangelical ethics to such an extent that bearing false witness against those scapegoats is mandatory.

Lying about gays, lesbians, bisexuals or transgendered persons will never get you in trouble with the leading spokesmen for American evangelicals. They do not consider such lies to be unethical. They consider such lies to be an ethical obligation.

Lying about women who have abortions or the doctors who perform them will never get you in trouble with the leading spokesmen for American evangelicals. They do not consider such lies to be unethical. They consider such lies to be an ethical obligation.

That’s not a good place to be.

 

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  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    I suspect that they believe themselves “perfect” by nature, graced by God with all his perfection.  If they have any imperfections at it, they reason it must be the result of some Satanic agency acting through an unwitting mortal proxy.  

    Which, as you said, is not a good place to be.  It is quite uncomfortable there.

  • WingedBeast

    No, they’d never say that they’re perfect.

    I’ve run into this kind of attitude from many a person in many a context.  They’re what I call the “theoretically fallible.”

    Ask these people “can you be wrong?”  They’ll answer “yes” because answering “no” is a flaw too glaring to ignore.  Ask these people “is there even an inkling of a thought that you might be mistaken about homosexuality” “No!  There’s absolutely no chance!”

    Theoretically, they’re fallible.  In practice, they believe themselves infallible.  Or at least, in practice, they believe in horrific consequences for admitting to potential fallibility of their beliefs.

  • Anonymous

    I thought I was wrong once, but it turned out I wasn’t?

  • arc

    Isn’t everyone in pretty much this situation, though?  You, presumably, think you’re fallible, and therefore wrong about at least some of what you believe.  But you do actually believe everything you believe nevertheless, and some of those things you probably believe quite strongly, and are particularly disinclined to believe you could be wrong about.

    It sounds a bit like the paradox of the preface, in fact:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Preface_paradox

  • WingedBeast

    No, we’re not all in this situation.  Most people can discuss their beliefs, even deeply held beliefs, with the capacity to challenge those beliefs.  At least, we do ideally.

    It’s not that I think that it’s completely and utterly impossible for me to be wrong about the Theory of Evolution, the absense of any actual deities in reality, or the wrongness of Magic Line Sociological Theory.  It’s that I currently hold those beliefs and do not believe myself to be mistaken.

    There *is* a difference between strongly believing oneself correct and believing it impossible for oneself to be mistaken.

  • arc

     

    There *is* a difference between strongly believing oneself correct and believing it impossible for oneself to be mistaken.

    Yes, but we’re not talking about people who say that they’re infallible – you said that they do admit to being ‘theoretically fallible’, and I’m not sure I understand the distinction between the ‘theoretically fallible, but in practice infallible’ people whom you criticise, and people like yourself who are in some sense ‘practically fallible’ but just very, very sure.

    Is it just that you’ll admit to the specific possibility of fallibility when it comes to evolution, whereas they won’t admit to a similar specific possibility of fallibility about homosexuality? 

    Or is there some greater difference? I mean, it seems to me that there’s probably not a lot of difference in ‘practical sureness’ in the two cases – the ‘practically fallible but very sure’ people are still sure enough to stand their ground and fight for what they believe in, e.g. in school board disputes about science curricula, etc?

    You’re ‘practically fallible, but very very sure’ about evolution and atheism – but could there be things that you are actually only ‘theoretically fallible’ on?  What about simple mathematical truths or simple moral matters (e.g. killing innocents for fun)?

  • WingedBeast

    Yes, we’re talkng about people who would admit to making mistakes, but not to the possibility that they could be mistaken right now.

    And, yes, the difference lies in the fact that reality, if it’s different than what I believe, can intrude.  Evidence can be brought up to change my mind, even if it would have to be amazing evidence by this point.

    We’re talking, in part, about people who will never believe otherwise, no matter what evidence is brought before them, people who will never allow you to present evidence because they know, ahead of time, that it can’t possibly be anything.

    Because I’m ready to be wrong, I’m ready to give serious consideration to evidence that would suggest I am wrong.  I’m not shutting down the conversation entirely.

  • Matri

    arc, you must not have met any creationists in your life. I suggest seeking one out for conversation.

    It will be a very enlightening experience for you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=581585394 Nicholas Kapur

    Yes, but we’re not talking about people who say that they’re infallible –
    you said that they do admit to being ‘theoretically fallible’, and I’m
    not sure I understand the distinction between the ‘theoretically
    fallible, but in practice infallible’ people whom you criticise, and
    people like yourself who are in some sense ‘practically fallible’ but
    just very, very sure.

    Is it just that you’ll admit to the
    specific possibility of fallibility when it comes to evolution, whereas
    they won’t admit to a similar specific possibility of fallibility about
    homosexuality? 

    Or is there some greater difference? I mean, it
    seems to me that there’s probably not a lot of difference in ‘practical
    sureness’ in the two cases – the ‘practically fallible but very sure’
    people are still sure enough to stand their ground and fight for what
    they believe in, e.g. in school board disputes about science curricula,
    etc?

    You’re ‘practically fallible, but very very sure’ about
    evolution and atheism – but could there be things that you are actually
    only ‘theoretically fallible’ on?  What about simple mathematical truths
    or simple moral matters (e.g. killing innocents for fun)?

    We could do this all day until we end up at “how do we know we really exist?” Ultimately, it comes down to a simple bullshit test, backed up by some reasonable measure for fallibility recognition.

    For instance, I used to worry about this exact thing. If I’m accusing members of the Religious Right of being closed-minded or unwilling to accept other people’s viewpoints or overly certain in their own correctness — and yet I have no intention of accepting that they may be right about the topic under discussion, then am I not guilty of the same things I accuse them of?

    The answer, it turns out, is no. No, I’m not. Because looking back, it is not even close to true that I don’t take in new ideas and accept them and adjust my worldview accordingly. It’s just that over the last five years, all of the good ideas have moved me farther to the left.

    Before I started calling complete and total bullshit on privileged, wishy-washy positions on LGBT rights, I had to learn from the Prop 8 trial exactly why marriage matters and civil unions are second-class fuckery. Before I ran around calling sexism on every politician, church, and advertising campaign, I had to learn all about feminism, and I live in Texas, so I had to learn that shit from scratch. In elementary school I thought religion was necessary but sometimes made people stupid, and then I learned that religion was completely unnecessary and always made people stupid, and then I learned that there was more to Christianity than exclusive claims to the truth of the universe that will keep you out of Hell, and then I learned that there was more to religion than Christianity, and then I learned that people and religions and approaches to spirituality are infinitely diverse and Richard Dawkins is an asshat. And I learned all that by reading the words of people who, unlike me, are not atheist.

    So don’t tell me that I’m as stuck in my own infallibility as the people we’re talking about. I spend every damn day seeking out new ideas, and I alter my understanding of the world almost as often. It’s not my fault if mainstream Evangelical Christianity only has ideas that are complete bullshit, or that I already know from experience how and why they are bullshit.

  • Caravelle

    I’m reminded of a nice guy who came onto Talk Origins a few months ago, a Christian who had up to then accepted evolution but who was starting to be compelled by YEC theologically speaking, and who wanted to know whether there was any space for it scientifically.

    It was interesting being in the position of explaining, yeah, I know we look close-minded to be telling you point-blank that there is NO space for YEC in science, there are NO good YEC scientific arguments, evolution and old Earth are as solid as scientific facts get and if you want to continue in YEC you’ll have to throw all of science out of window… but it’s all true dammit. As you’ll see for yourself if you research the question.
    (to his credit I think he did)

  • Tonio

    I admit to being confused by how others use the word “belief.” I had understood the word to mean the holding of a proposition of fact exclusive of evidence, or the holding of a proposition of value where evidence isn’t involved. (An example of the latter is “I believe Rashomon is the greatest movie of all time.”) But the word seems to be often used for the holding of any sort of proposition. I was thinking that when a proposition of fact is derived from evidence, perhaps there should be a separate word for that.

  • Caravelle

    I was thinking that when a proposition of fact is derived from
    evidence, perhaps there should be a separate word for that.

    “I think” ?
    I could be wrong because I’m being infected by the French use of the words, but it seems to me words like “believe” or “know” and all are used way too often and too sloppily in common parlance to be redefined into philosophically rigorous concepts. I mean, you can try but I’m not sure enough people would follow.

    (actually, screw French, I finally checked a dictionary and here’s what the first google result says :
    be·lieve play_w2(“B0170900”) (b-lv)v. be·lieved, be·liev·ing, be·lieves
    v.tr.1. To accept as true or real: Do you believe the news stories?2. To credit with veracity: I believe you.3. To expect or suppose; think: I believe they will arrive shortly.
    v.intr.1. To have firm faith, especially religious faith.2. To have faith, confidence, or trust: I believe in your ability to solve the problem.3. To have confidence in the truth or value of something: We believe in free speech.4. To have an opinion; think: They have already left, I believe.
    Idioms: believe (one’s) ears To trust what one has heard.
    believe (one’s) eyes To trust what one has seen.

    Not a word about evidence or the lack thereof, and only one example out of seven is about religion)

  • http://stealingcommas.blogspot.com/ chris the cynic

    Often times with things like this I find that dictionaries are unhelpful. I’m glad I checked anyway because in this case the dictionary (Merriam Webster being the first to come up on Google) describes the word as I have observed it used, describes it well, and describes it succinctly:

    transitive verb
    1a : to consider to be true or honest
    b : to accept the word or evidence of

    2: to hold as an opinion

    In my experience if you believe a proposition that means you consider it to be true.  If you believe a source of information (be it a person or a process) then you consider the source to be trustworthy.  (It should be pointed out that there is a difference between trustworthy and honest.  You can disbelieve people without believing them liars.)

    You would seem to define believe entirely as the thing listed as 2.  I’ve certainly seen it used that way a lot, but it seems to me that I see one of the 1 definitions used more often.

    I believe that, in the real number system, if I multiply any number by zero the result will be zero.  I believe this because I have done the proof myself and could do it again it need be.  If after proving it I didn’t believe it, then the only way I know to define that state of affairs is “delusional”.  I’m guessing that, as you define belief, it would be impossible for me to believe that given that I’ve proven it.

    [Added]
    No idea how I managed to miss Caravelle’s post saying much the same thing two hours before my own.

    I also wanted to add that in my experience belief without proof already has a term, that being faith.

    There are varying degrees of faith because “without proof” can be anywhere from “The evidence suggests this is true but isn’t completely conclusive,” to “there’s no evidence for this,” to, “The evidence is overwhelmingly against this,” to, “I have conclusively demonstrated this is false.”

    The less evidence in support of something (or more evidence against it) there is the more faith is necessary to believe that it is true.

  • Tonio

    I believe that, in the real number system, if I multiply any number by
    zero the result will be zero.  I believe this because I have done the
    proof myself and could do it again it need be.  If after proving it I
    didn’t believe it, then the only way I know to define that state of
    affairs is “delusional”.  I’m guessing that, as you define belief, it
    would be impossible for me to believe that given that I’ve proven it.

    No, I’m defining belief as holding that the result will be zero without attempting the proof.

    There are varying degrees of faith because “without proof” can be
    anywhere from “The evidence suggests this is true but isn’t completely
    conclusive,” to “there’s no evidence for this,” to, “The evidence is
    overwhelmingly against this,” to, “I have conclusively demonstrated this
    is false.”

    I see no point in having faith in any of those circumstances. Even with the first one, I would caution against holding that it’s true, but instead hold a position that includes a fair-sized caveat.

  • http://stealingcommas.blogspot.com/ chris the cynic

    No, I’m defining belief as holding that the result will be zero without attempting the proof.

    And the question becomes: why?

    Why are you defining belief that way?  Can you find anyone else who defines belief that way?  Why do you believe that it is meaningful to define belief that way?  What have you observed that makes you think that defining belief that way will allow for meaningful communication with others?

    If you want to change the definition of belief that’s a fine goal to have, I suppose, but I’m interested in your reasons.

    I see no point in having faith in any of those circumstances.

    And you are telling me this why?  Usually when people completely change the topic they provide some indication as to why they are doing it or some way of placing it into context.  You haven’t done that.

    Does the fact you see no point in having faith mean that you disagree with the definition of faith I presented?  I don’t think it does.  I don’t think it can.  Your response seems to me to be built on a foundation of accepting the definition of faith presented as correct.  If you don’t start from a position of accepting the definition then it seems to me that your response becomes meaningless.  But, then, why say it?  It doesn’t read like you’re saying that to agree.  In fact your words seem vaguely confrontational to me but I am unable to determine what they are confronting.

  • Tonio

    Sorry, I didn’t realize my response would sound confrontational. I’m actually less interested in defining “belief” than in distinguishing between three general varieties of holding propositions of fact to be true: based on evidence, irrespective of evidence, and despite contrary evidence. I would prefer that all three categories have separate terms, and I’ve heard the word “belief” applied often to the first two varieties, and sometimes to all three. The reason for that preference is that I want to know whether a given proposition of fact is indeed true. That’s distinct from, but related to, the reasons someone might believe the proposition to be true.

    And I wasn’t necessarily disagreeing with the definition of faith. Instead, I was questioning the reasons to have faith in the first place.

  • Caravelle

    Went to that Wikipedia link to the paradox of the preface and I’m not seeing what’s paradoxical about it. It’s not like the book is both error-free and containing errors; it’s the author who has different reasons to think both one and the other. But having rational reasons to think both one thing and its opposite isn’t paradoxical; it’s what always happens when you don’t have enough information to tell one way or the other. It’s every active scientific controversy in existence. And in this case the author doesn’t have enough information to tell whether errors remain or not, because by definition the preface refers to the residual errors his best proof-reading was unable to pick up.

  • William

    I felt exactly the same, and then followed where it links to the “Lottery Paradox” which is similarly non-paradoxical, but also sheds some light. In brief, the Lottery Paradox is: 1) You rationally believe a single, given lottery ticket is not a winner; 2) This holds for every ticket, so you therefore believe that *none* of the tickets are winners, but 3) because of the rules, you believe at least one ticket is a winner — inconsistent with 2.

    But this is crap because you only believe each individual ticket is *probably* not a winner, just as the author can believe her book *probably* doesn’t have any errors in it, but seeing as she just got done thanking a list of expert volunteer editors, it’s polite to take the blame for any oversights.

  • Caravelle

    p { margin-bottom: 0.21cm; }

    I guess it reflects something that occurred to me as a
    teenager, which is that when you talk about a future event having,
    say, 50% odds of happening, it will still either happen or not
    happen, 100% or 0%. It won’t half-happen. Given that, what does “50%
    odds of happening” even mean ?

    What it means is that our brains are completely rubbish
    at “getting” probabilities. But it’s not a paradox.

    (for a better answer, I’ve been reading Jayne’s
    “Probabilities: the logic of science”, where he sees
    probabilities as a measure of uncertainty. It’s very interesting)

     

  • http://stealingcommas.blogspot.com/ chris the cynic

    I was thinking about something similar in the context of a time travel story where the future wasn’t determined (from any give point you could travel to many different possible futures) but a time traveler had to point out that it was nowhere near as uncertain as people tend to give it credit for.

    The example the traveler used was a gamma ray burst.  People might say that one could come and wipe us out at any moment, but in fact that isn’t true.  We don’t know if one will hit earth by the time the day is over, and we can assign a probability to the possibility it will happen, but this isn’t because the future is uncertain but rather that our knowledge of the present is incomplete.  If one will hit then at this moment in the present it’s already on it’s way and if we knew that we would correctly say that that the probability of being hit was 100%.

    A lot of things people think about as uncertainty about the future is actually a result of a lack of knowledge of the present.  It becomes not so much, what are the odds X will happen as, what are the odds, given what we know, that we live in a universe where X will happen.

    In theory a 50% chance of something happening in the future means that if you were to examine all possible futures 50% of them would have X happening (assuming all futures have an equal probability of being true) or something similar to that (if possible futures do not all have equal probability of being true.)  In practice you need to also consider possible presents.  Maybe 100% of all possible futures have the event happening but it’s impossible for you to know that because you lack crucial information about the present and it turns out that there’s a 50% chance a randomly chosen universe in which you had the information you have about the present would be such that X happened in the future.

    And … sorry, what was I talking about?

  • Caravelle

    And … sorry, what was I talking about?

    Exactly what Jayne was saying, apparently :)
    (to be clear I’ve only read a small part of the book, and I haven’t gone back to it for a few months so I can hardly speak with authority here)

  • Lori

     In brief, the Lottery Paradox is: 1) You rationally believe a single, given lottery ticket is not a winner; 2) This holds for every ticket, so you therefore believe that *none* of the tickets are winners, but 3) because of the rules, you believe at least one ticket is a winner — inconsistent with 2.

    But this is crap because you only believe each individual ticket is *probably* not a winner, 

     

    There’s also only probably a winner. It’s possible (although highly unlikely) for a given drawing to have no winners. And of course if you’re talking about just the big jackpot it’s much more likely that you’re correct to assume that all the tickets are non-winners. 

  • hf

    you only believe each individual ticket is *probably* not a winner, just
    as the author can believe her book *probably* doesn’t have any errors
    in it,

    Pretty close. If you have 99% certainty about a large enough number of distinct claims, individually, that means you believe with high certainty that you got at least one of them wrong. But you should still bet heavily on each individual claim, if you get the chance to do this for lots of them, because you should expect to win much more money than you lose.

    Any resemblance to the actions of people who think “theory” means an unreliable guess is almost certainly coincidental.

  • arc

    A paradox isn’t necessary a logical paradox, though – it can be as weak as an unintuitive consequence of intuitive assumptions. 

    And the case is a bit stronger than you’ve made it out to be.  Sure, it’s common enough for suspicions to cut both ways.  It’s less common to have strong arguments that sound very convincing that cut both ways, and that’s enough to count as a paradox in my opinion.

    “I stand by each and every statement in this book.  But some of them are wrong. ” certainly sounds paradoxical to me. 

  • Anonymous

    On another community where I hang out, there’s a Catholic who’s got RTC views on homosexuality, and has in the past commented on threads of support for QUILTBAG rights with “Well, I’M not signing, because it goes against my religion.” (The other resident Catholics called her out.) Later on, she changed her avatar on another site to a nasty dig at “Gay Rights People,” something like “I want my rainbow back,” and I pm’d her. We exchanged increasingly frustrated messages, I did my best to be civil, until she finally said “I don’t have to question my position, I know I’m right.”

    When someone flat-out tells you they will not even consider questioning their position, there is no longer anything to be gained, ground or otherwise, by continuing debate or discussion. This holds true for RTCs, End-Of-The-Worlders, as Rhysus points out below, and pretty much anyone whose ‘argument’ is “I don’t care what the evidence is, I know I’m right.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jonathan-Pelikan/100000903137143 Jonathan Pelikan

    Fred, are you sure you aren’t a preacher?

    If you aren’t, you should be. You’re a shining example of Christianity and this blog has done more for Jesus’ image among filthy hippies like me than the entire Right. I’m an atheist but I can have nothing but respect for your perspective and beliefs as they are expressed and demonstrated so beautifully.

    As opposed to… the Southern Baptist Convention. If they want to put forth a spokesman like that, then they shouldn’t be too surprised when I apply the Driftglass Doctrine to them. Fuck em. The only solution for the Right is a bulldozer and a pit to one side of American Politics big enough for the job.

  • http://mordicai.livejournal.com Mordicai

    So wait, are they the Pharisees or the Sadducees?

  • Joshua

    So wait, are they the Pharisees or the Sadducees?

    Nitpick: Many of the Pharisees and Sadducees were great people, with I think some wonderful ethical teaching.

  • http://mordicai.livejournal.com Mordicai

    Sure, if we were discussing this in a historical context; from a Biblical & pithy perspective of Western Culture, the Ps & Ss are stand-ins for corrupt religious hegemonies that have lost sight of their core tennents…much that same way that the Philistines had a pretty great civilization, but have had their name co-opted by the march of idiom.

  • Joshua

    Sure, if we were discussing this in a historical context

    Yeah, although modern rabbinical Judaism descends from the Pharisees and I do believe a number of Jewish people read this site, so how ancient-history it might feel may vary between readers.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again–with some fundamentalists it’s not what you say or do that’s important but rather your alignment.  If you are aligned with Good then you can neither say nor do wrong.  If you are not aligned with Good then all you have part in is tainted.

  • Mr. Heartland

    Yup.  Fundamentalism at it’s core, here in else where, isn’t really about retrieving a pure form of the culturally dominant religion.  In truth it is much less concerned about Christian orthodoxy (Or, in other cultures, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu orthodoxy, etc.) than it is about preserving social orthodoxy.  It is a castle for the last stand of essentialism (Whatever we choose to do is good because we as White bourgeois Americans are good, not because of what the action is.)  against the modernist ideals of reason and self-invention (OMFG, Humanism!)  It should be no surprise then that their demonizations of the other go beyond your more mundane idiot-on-the-barstool bigotry, but rather is expressed in a tone of epic, bombastic, heavy metal war poetry.  Fundamentalism expresses itself in the language of siege and desperation because it is in fact a willful choice to besiege oneself. 

  • Tonio

    I suspect some of that involves preserving social hierarchy as well, since modern American fundamentalism arose during a time when Jim Crow was very much in force. To Southern whites who lacked economic status and education, modernism may have been threatening partly because it valued science and intellectualism, which they translated into scientists and intellectuals ranking above them in the hierarchy. That may explain their reaction to Darwin, which could easily be interpreted as humans being “no better” than animals instead of ranking above them.

  • Mr. Heartland

    Yes absolutely. This brand of ostentatious , “Real True” Christianity does serve as a replacement for whiteness as the go-to claim for automatic, unquestionable social exceptionalism.  And the same could be said for the larger conservative movement, which seems to grow ever more doctrinaire and obsessed with orthodoxy as our society grows ever more heterodox, and seems to respond to the growing access to information and different ideas with an ever louder insistence that conservatism is the organic default of American opinion.      

  • http://johnm55.wordpress.com/ johnm55

    I am trying to work out whether they know they are lying or whether they are so convinced that the Bible is the only source of truth and that their interpretation of it is so absolutely correct that whatever they say is the truth.
    Neither place is a good place to be. You have either willingly joined “Liars for Jesus” or you are completely unteachable, which if I remember correctly from my days inside evangelicalism was a sin even worse than lying. At least that’s what I was accused of when I defended science against their interpretation of the Bible.

  • http://thatbeerguy.blogspot.com Chris Doggett

    Fred’s written in past (a looong time ago) that there are a couple of categories of ‘Liars for Jesus’, and Richard Land seems to fall into one or more categories. Arguably, he might belong to a fourth category of folks who intentionally promote falsehoods.

    And as Lori points out, the ethics of the SBC and NFL are actually quite similar: “Is this going to cost us more than it earns for us?”

  • Lori

     Whatever minimal ethical standards the Southern Baptist Convention has, they are far below those of Monday Night Football.  

    I don’t think this is true. I think the SBC has exactly the same ethical standards as Monday Night Football. Namely, if it’s going to cost us it has to go.

    I think the real difference between the SBC and MNF is summed up nicely here: 

    Neither Williams’ dismissal nor Land’s continued employment is controversial in the respective communities of sports broadcasting and evangelicalism. ESPN’s decision to part ways with Bocephus was widely viewed by football fans as sadly necessary and proper. His own vile words left them with no other responsible choice. Land’s ongoing role with the SBC, despite his vile words, has never been seriously questioned within the SBC hierarchy. His claims that gays prey on children and his calling a respected Jewish scholar “Mengele” has never stirred any hint of controversy among those who hold power in the SBC.  

    Most football fans understand that you can’t Goodwin the MNF opening number and keep your job. Most SBC fans* apparently have no such understanding about Goodwining public discourse and supposedly Christian ethics. The fact that the SBC has the same ethics as Monday Night Football reflects very poorly on the SBC. The fact that the same set of ethics created two such different outcomes reflects even more poorly on SBC fans. 

    *Yes, I phrased it that way on purpose. If people are going to treat religion and politics as nothing more than team sports in which they have a rooting interest then they’re fans.

  • Out-cast

    Dear Fred, 
    How do I give you money? 

    Sincerely, Lurker. 

  • Anonymous

    Clicking on his ads might give him money. I don’t know what his arrangement with Patheos is. I have adblock (add-on for Mozilla) and this is one site that I have adblock turned off.

  • http://lightningbug.blogspot.com lightning

    When you have to lie to support your position, you need to seriously reexamine your position.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    One can rationalize lies a great deal, especially if one starts with incorrect assumptions.

  • Ian needs a nickname

    Land warned that gay rights activists seek to “reduce [Christians] to the level of the Ku Klux Klan” so that they will be ostracized by society
    Correction: Gay rights activists warn that Richard Land is reducing the Southern Baptists to the level of the Klu Klux Klan.  

  • Anonymous

    Tribalism.  It’s all about tribalism for them.

    Their racket hasn’t had anything to do with Jesus for eons.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Land warned that gay rights activists seek to “reduce [Christians] to the level of the Ku Klux Klan” so that they will be ostracized by society

    Land does realize that the KKK got reduced to the status of a shunned hate group because they were acting in a hateful manner and abusing cultural hegemony to make put-upon minorities suffer, right?  

    What does that say about what he is trying to defend?  That his brand of Christianity resembles a hate group?  Because you cannot get away with that shit forever in this country.  As King said, “The arc of history is long but it bends toward justice.”  If he does not want Christians to be ostracized, he would be better served removing the hate sometimes associated with that label.  

  • Anonymous

    Unfortunately for everyone involved, they don’t see their hateful speech as being hateful. They see it as being Tough Love. These are severely broken people, who were undoubtedly abused during their childhoods under the auspices of right-wing fundamentalist Christianism, who are now projecting their own self-hatred and anger out onto other people. Nothing makes them more angry than seeing someone express themselves freely, because these right-wingers simply cannot do that. Ted Haggard, to use a well-known example, might want to have a meaningful, intimate relationship with a man, but he can’t do that. So, he fell into the trap of having a destructive secret life that probably only further reinforced his negative feelings about homosexuals/homosexuality.

    Also, Hank Williams Jr is a moron. But Hank III is the man, and an amazing musician.

  • Lori

     Also, Hank Williams Jr is a moron. But Hank III is the man, and an amazing musician.  

    It obviously skipped a generation. 

  • Anonymous

    Now that’s not fair, In his younger days Hank jr crafted some fine butt kickin country songs. He’s an idiot, but that doesnt preclude musical talent.

  • Lori

    For a very long time now Bocephus’ idiocy has been on far better display than his talent. Whatever else Jr may be, he is definitely not “the man”. 

  • http://leftcheek.blogspot.com Jas-nDye

    uh, yep.

    My time in Oklahoma trying to help my mom (who has bi-polar disorder) trying to find a church in her new environs has convinced me that the whole denomination is beyond the pale – it’s like there’s something evil over their trails…
    Slavery?

  • Matri

    I’d like to say I’m shocked but quite frankly, after being forced to endure them thrusting their shenanigans into public for a decade, I can sadly say with full conviction that I’ve been expecting them do this for quite a while now.

  • Tom S

    I confused ‘Bocephus’ with ‘Boethius’ in that headline. I was sorely disappointed.

  • http://twitter.com/Rhysdux Rhysdux

    I spent the past week in a shelter, thanks to Storm Alfred blacking out the Northeast. While I was there, I ran into a woman who claimed to be a “spiritual healer” and who said that she could just pray away my genetic illness.

    Now, I wish that she could. But the illness is built into my chromosomes. I know this. It is not going to go away just because I want it to do so.

    I said this to her. She became very angry. “Who told you that? DOCTORS? I bet they’re giving you all kinds of medicine for your legs, aren’t they?”

    “No, they’re not. There is a treatment, but it doesn’t involve medicine.”

    Total lack of comprehension from her.  To her, treatment HAD to involve medicine, and medicine had to cause all the illnesses in the world. So she disregarded what I said and went on with her spiel. (Seriously, it felt like a telemarketer’s script.)

    “I could pray with you,” she said, radiating obnoxious good cheer. “You should read the Bible. And–” here she named some other book about healing and Christianity. “I had CANCER and I prayed and I got better!”

    “Excellent!” I meant it. Cancer practically gallops in my family; I hate it almost as much as I do my genetic condition. “I’m glad that you went into remission–”

    And she froze, and stared at me. She was both angry and afraid, and it took me a while to realize that she was scared by the word I’d used. The one that said that her illness could come back. Not that it would, but that it could.

    I didn’t intend to be mean, and I didn’t want to scare her. It’s just that after having seen several family members die of cancer, I know that the cancer going away doesn’t mean that you’re healed…or that you had anything to do with its departure. Sometimes there are spontaneous remissions, but that doesn’t make them cures.

    I used the word that I would have used with my family members who HAD cancer–and I terrified the woman.

    She got out of my vicinity in a hurry. But I ran into her again in about an hour on my way to the ladies’ room.

    She and a bunch of people were sitting around talking about aliens, science fiction, apocalyptic movies, etc. Well, I didn’t care what SHE had to say, but the other people sounded pretty intelligent, so I stopped to listen.

    Big mistake. She started babbling about 2012 and how the world was going to end in June of next year. Meteors and volcanoes, she thought. “Then we will all be made perfect!” she exclaimed. “And in October 2012, the world will be made new again!”

    She was really looking forward to this. And at the same time, she was scared to death, sweat pouring down her face as she sobbed.

    Okay. I didn’t HAVE to say anything. But the phobia about 2012 gets in my craw. Damn Roland Emmerich and his wildly inaccurate disaster flicks.

    “I thought that was the end of the Mayan calendar,” I said. “Like December 31st is the end of the Western calendar.”

    She stared at me as if she couldn’t understand what I was getting at. 

    “You don’t think that New Year’s Eve is the day the world’s going to end,” I said, with more certainty than I felt. “Or when any other calendar ends. So why that one?” I really did want to know, because  I cannot understand why anyone would choose to believe this nonsense.

    “Well, that’s the end of an age!”

    “Yes. That’s how the Mayans measured time.  They didn’t think in terms of years–or not JUST years–but ages, eras, things like that.”

    “Why didn’t they continue it, then!”

    “I imagine they thought that they’d have time to do so but that an age tens of thousands of years in the future wasn’t all that pressing.”

    “They knew they were going to go extinct!”

    “Mayans aren’t extinct. There are plenty of Mayans still around. The culture was destroyed by the Spanish, but the people–oh yeah, they’re around. Central America, mostly. I’ve met some.”

    Now, for some reason, this shocked her more than anything. She was very, very invested in believing that the Mayans had foreseen their own end and the end of the world. The notion that the Mayans hadn’t died off–how could this be?

    “They must be extinct,” she whispered. “They could not have survived.”

    “I guess it’s like American Indians,” said one guy with an oxygen tube. “They’re not running around in teepees these days. A lot of them are running casinos instead.”

    Look of blank incomprehension from her. She had a very definite picture of the world, and none of this fit.

    “Maybe the aliens saved them,” she said at last.

    “Aliens,” said a young man who was playing a computer game on his laptop. Just his tone said that this was ridiculous.

    “Yes! Aliens! Angels are really aliens, you know. Do you KNOW what angels look like in the Bible?” This last was directed at me.

    “You mean wheels with eyes? Or entities with six wings and heads of flame? Or four-headed monsters?”

    “Yes! Why do you think they look like that?!”

    “Ancient Hebrew symbolism?” It had never occurred to me that the descriptions of angels were anything else.

    Her face crumpled, and I realized I’d failed again. She really needed to believe in her monstrous alien angels, and the fact that I didn’t was, in some way, battering at her belief system. She couldn’t deal with even the mildest dissent. The fact that someone didn’t believe her theories called them into question. She had to believe that she could prevent cancer by praying, because that meant she was in control of her own health. She had to believe that the world was going to end and be fixed, because then she didn’t have to be anxious about the future. She had to believe that the Mayan people were extinct rather than very much alive, because then she didn’t have to deal with the notion that American society could change so drastically that she might not even recognize it, but that Americans themselves would go on.

    I was just opening my mouth to apologize when she did something that flabbergasted me.

    “Anyway,” she said in a disdainful tone, “the end of the world in June 2012 isn’t the REAL end of the world. It’s a SPIRITUAL end. The end of evil. All evil will disappear.”

    The rest of us exchanged glances. This was NOT what she’d said five minutes ago.

    “Didn’t you say that the world was going to literally end in June and be remade in October?” asked Oxygen Tube Guy.

    “It’s the end of evil,” she said patiently. “Human beings will stop being evil.”

    “But that’s not what you said before,” said Oxygen Tube Guy.

    “Yes, it is!”

    “No, it’s not. You were talking about meteors smashing into the world–”

    “I said nothing of the sort!”

    And she had. She had said it not five minutes before. But, looking at her aggrieved and martyred expression, I realized that she didn’t remember saying it. She’d convinced herself that  she’d always believed this–and that the rest of us were picking on her. I don’t think she remembered one fact that I cited…or anything that Oxygen Tube Guy said, either.

    I never before saw someone so invested in lies that she couldn’t even cope with a different point of view existing.

    It does make me wonder about the Real True Christians, though.

  • Paul D.

    I nominate this for interesting comment of the month.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Wow. I never thought the 1984-esque “War with Eurasia” transition into “War with Eastasia” ever occurred that way in real life.

  • http://twitter.com/Rhysdux Rhysdux

    Wow. I never thought the 1984-esque “War with Eurasia” transition into “War with Eastasia” ever occurred that way in real life.

    Neither did I. Before last Monday, I would have said that doing so was impossible. It blew my mind.

  • Matri

    My conversational experience with them has not been dissimilar.

  • http://entomologist.livejournal.com/ Alex

    I wonder how she would have reacted if someone had been taping her with a cellphone camera and played back the video of her saying the things she then denied having said.  I suppose someone that unmoored from reality probably could probably convince herself on the spot that there are demonically possessed cameras that instantly and silently edit video to show what their owners want them to, or some such nonsense.

  • Matri

    That was my thought as well, except that I think she would make a scene before Security arrives to escort her out.

  • EriktR

    I  think the most popular statement is something along the lines of, “You took that out of context” or “I misspoke, but what I really meant was [move goalposts to this point instead]”. A particularly courageous person can turn it around and imply that you’re some kind of imbecile by suggesting that you simply misinterpreted what they said.

    I know this because this is similar to what people do in internet debates, which tend to feature equally infallible records of what people have said before. There’s nothing more entertaining than catching someone in an obvious mistake or fabrication, noticing them slow-w-w-wly realize what they’ve done, and watch as they quickly try to backtrack. It’s even riskier (and surprisingly more common) on the Internet because there is always that record; the women in Rhysdux’s story couldn’t possibly have expected that someone would pull out a cellphone camera recording of the conversation, but people who do that same thing in the Internet for some reason think that no one else can see their previous posts.

  • Cowboy Diva

    um, Fred? One would think you were trying to get Richard Land fired.

  • Tonio

    I still remember Hank Jr. saying during the 2008 campaign that Obama was “not one of us.” In that Fox News clip, when he was asked who the enemy was, the pause before he belts out “Obama” was very suspicious. My theory? He remembered just in time that he was on national television, and not in a barroom where he might feel free to say things like “That car wasn’t fit for a white man to ride in.”

  • Anonymous

    This has always been one of the things that I dislike the most about the evangelical community: the willingness to tolerate and even support the most brazen and transparent charlatans, hucksters and con men to ever walk the earth.  It’s almost like these people genuinely want to be deceived.

  • Anonymous

    It’s a lot easier than thinking I suppose.

    Q. Why is my stuff posting twice?! A. Because only a very small part of my brain actually made it as far as the 21st century I suppose…

  • Bificommander

    An important part of RTCism is that humans are flawed, since that’s the reason they all deserve hell if it wasn’t for God being so generous that he’ll let your flaws slide if you suck up enough. So if asked, they’ll claim to be able to be wrong.

    But the Bible can never be wrong, and somehow when they read the Bible they can never be wrong about what it means. That’s how they get out of that problem. They just claim the inerrant Bible says homosexuality is wrong, implying that they can’t be mistaken in getting that message from the Bible, and presto: Their claim that homosexuality is wrong becomes unassailable, and any pesky facts must be wrong because they do not come from the only infallible source. Even if, like Fred, those counterarguments come from the Bible, they should be discarded, because they already got the only true message out.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Cule/100001621659800 Michael Cule

    The step that says ‘I’m always right when I interpret the Bible’ is the one that doesn’t make sense since it is perfectly clear that interpretations differ between traditions and individuals.

    Which leads to such nonsense as holding that anyone disagreeing with you is directly inspired by Satan or that people who disagree with you don’t really mean what they say.

  • Demonhype

    “I’m not infallible, but God is, and when I say homosexuals are an abomination deserving of death I can’t possibly be wrong because then God would be wrong!”

    Yes, they are technically claiming infallibility.  They just do so by humbly claiming themselves to be fallible then projecting their own opinions into the mouth of their God who they claim to be infallible.  It’s the ultimate ventriloquist act–I didn’t say it, Howdy Doody did, and I’m not always right but Howdy Doody is always right…and never mind the hand up his ass, pay no attention to the hand up his ass….

  • Anonymous

    The most  unforgiveable aspect of RTCs like Richard Land et al ~ even to a humanist like me ~ is that they make Christ after their own mean, spiteful, hating little image.

  • WingedBeast

    Tonio, Caravelle and Chris have given you definitional responses that take care of the issue.

    Veejayem, in all honesty, isn’t making Christ after one’s own moral image something all Christians do?  I’m aware fo precious few who have changed their views on morality based on reading of Christ in the bible.  But, I know of a great many Christians who’s views on morality define, for them, the character of Christ (for good or ill).

  • Anonymous

    Good point WingedBeast, I hadn’t thought my response through.

  • Les Elkins

    Regarding ‘comparing them to Hitler’….

    Nonononononononononono. You’re not reading what you’re linking to. Judging from the comments, no one is.

    The quote is really that Obama Playing Golf With Boehner is like Hitler Playing Golf With Netanyahu.

    He said A::B is like C::D, and you’re saying “He said A is C!!!!”.

    No.

    I notice nobody is going around complaining that he said Boehner is Netanyahu.

    Yes, he did call Obama ‘the enemy’, but that doesn’t seem to be what he was fired for, and that certainly seems to be just de regueur for political discourse on both sides these days, unfortunately.

  • Lori

     He said A::B is like C::D, and you’re saying “He said A is C!!!!”.

    No.

    In formal logic, this is true. Bocephus was not trafficking in formal logic. It’s either disingenuous or terribly naive to expect people to act as if he was. 

    I notice nobody is going around complaining that he said Boehner is Netanyahu. 

    There’s no reason to complain about it. The target audience for Jr’s remark doesn’t think comparing someone to Netanyahu is negative, so that part wasn’t an insult. 

  • Les Elkins

    “In formal logic, this is true. Bocephus was not trafficking in formal
    logic. It’s either disingenuous or terribly naive to expect people to
    act as if he was. ”

    Once I went on spelunking with a relative. The guide pointed out that the bat population in that cave was low, and said they were having a problem with good old boys shooting the bats with shotguns as they slept. My relative said in his finest southern drawl “Shootin’ those bats with a shotgun’s like taking a nucular warhead to a marshmallow”. I don’t think anybody in that cavern had trafficked in formal logic before, but they didn’t think my relative called a shotgun a nuclear warhead.

    I think this is an example of people hearing what they want to hear…..

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

    Les Elkins

    Do you think that when your relative said “Shooting bats with a shotgun is like shooting a marshmallow with a nuclear warhead” he meant “shooting bats with a shotgun is an unnecessary or disproportionate”? I think that’s the issue here; the relationship between Obama and Boehner is not similar at all to the relationship with Adolf Hitler, the genocidal dictator who killed 10 million Jews, and Benjamin Netanyahu, a Jewish leader. They can’t even be realistically compared in the same way that a shotgun is like a nuclear warhead in that they’re both weapons.

    Obama is not an anti-Semite or even a low-level mass murderer. They’re not even in the same category of things and the relationship between Democrats and Republicans — which, at worst, involves saying mean things to each other on TV — is nothing like the relationship between a genocidal dictator and his victims of choice. Do you see how that analogy is flawed in the way your relative’s analogy isn’t?

  • Les Elkins

    In the original statement I continue to think the simplest interpretation is more or less “people who hate each other don’t play golf,” but yes, did include Hitler in the analogy so I guess it’s not possible to ignore Godwin’s law even off the internet.

    Isn’t there enough that the man did say that people don’t have to over-interpret what he didn’t?

  • Tonio

    I continue to think the simplest interpretation is more or less “people who hate each other don’t play golf”

    Except he insisted that “they’re the enemy,” so with the Hitler reference, the simplest interpretation is that “this is good against evil.”

    Isn’t there enough that the man did say that people don’t have to over-interpret what he didn’t?

    I’ve heard enough of his songs to know that he’s the chief musical purveyor of white male resentment, with Toby Keith a close second. The first one that comes to mind is “If the South Woulda Won,” a combination of historical revisionism and law-and-order authoritarianism. Not only does the song ignore slavery, it also peddles a whites-only idea of Southern culture.

  • Tonio

    chief musical purveyor of white male resentment

    I should probably also mention Ted Nugent, although he’s known for expressing resentment when he’s not holding a guitar. And including David Allen Coe would be too obvious.

  • William

    Can’t let this stand. While Toby Keith isn’t exactly a paragon of progressivism (or really politically consistent at all, for that matter. He used to be a Democrat I suppose and he still comes out with high praise for Obama, but he also had a lot of praise for Mrs. Palin, so I don’t try to think about it much. Dude just loves America…), I really can’t think of anything in his work that strikes me as purveying white male resentment. Aggressive at times, perhaps too nostalgic for a misremembered past, but as far as country music goes he’s not even in the same realm of disgusting as ol’ Bocephus.

  • Tonio

    You’re right that Keith is not as disgusting as Hank. Besides the traits that you mentioned, there’s also the jingoism of “Beer for My Horses” and “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue” and the misogyny of “I Wanna Talk About Me,” and it’s those four things in combination that suggest white male resentment.

  • Lori

      the misogyny of “I Wanna Talk About Me,”  

    I can’t believe I’m doing this, but I’m going to stick up for Toby on this one. The humor is not everyone’s cup of tea, but I don’t think it’s misogynist. It plays on a tired stereotype about women talking all the time, but it’s not nearly enough mean about it to be truly offensive. If I took a minute I could come up with many, many songs that are far worse. 

    If you want to talk about misogyny in country music I think it’s tough to top Garth Brooks’ “Mamma’s in the Graveyard, Papa’s in the Pen”. Holy crap. Every time I hear that song I want to punch ol’ Garth in the neck. For all that he’s sort of a big ass I don’t think Toby Keith has anything in his oeuvre that even approaches that. 

  • Tonio

    I hadn’t heard that Garth song, and checking the lyrics, yes, it’s astoundingly brutal. My issue with the Keith song was that it appears to not just ridicule women, but also encourage male listeners to think of themselves as victims who aren’t being listened to. It might help to describe the song as encouraging resentment, which for me places it in a special category apart from songs whose messages are more misogynist.

    The larger context is that too many of the “we’re from the country” songs play to resentment to various degrees. Bocephus’ “A Country Boy Can Survive” is among the worst. But even the more innocuous entries adopt an anti-intellectual tone and a victim mentality, often defining “country people” by what they’re not. It wouldn’t be fair to call these songs racist. It’s more like the crowds at Talledega being almost entirely white, where one gets the feeling that an entire culture is trying to define itself according to skin color.

  • Lori

     It might help to describe the song asencouraging resentment, which for me places it in a special category apart from songs whose messages are more misogynist.  

    Have you listened to the song, or just read the lyrics? If you’ve actually listened to it, did you honestly think the point of it was that the singer is seething with resentment and encouraging others to feel the same? Really? 

  • Tonio

    I’ve heard the song a few times, and I would agree that the song is somewhat light-hearted and comical in its delivery, but it also seems passive-aggressive. It didn’t help that the first time I heard it, the DJ launched into his own gripe about all married women allegedly acting that way, and then ridiculed the panel on The View as “cackling hens.”

  • Lori

     I’ve heard the song a few times, and I would agree that the song is somewhat light-hearted and comical in its delivery, but it also seems passive-aggressive. It didn’t help that the first time I heard it, the DJ launched into his own gripe about all married women allegedly acting that way, and then ridiculed the panel on The View as “cackling hens.”  

    I tend to think it’s less passive-aggressive than “putting it right out there-mildly annoyed”. The DJ however sounds like a total ass. 

  • Anonymous

    “[T]he simplest interpretation is more or less “people who hate each other don’t play golf.”
     
    You need to consider that Williams was identifying with Boehner in the analogy, not making a dispassionate comparison, so the point is to view it like Netanyahu playing golf with Hitler- not like the two enemies playing golf together.
     
    Also, the relationship between Hitler and Netanyahu would not be one of mere mutual hate, nor would it be construed as such by most listeners. It would be a relationship between predator and victim, would be interpreted by Williams’ in-the-know audience as the relationship between mythological evil and protector of the good. So if Williams did mean “people who hate each other don’t play golf” then this downgrading of The Final Solution to a mutual abhorance is even more offensive than the initial interpretaion.

  • Anonymous

     I continue to think the simplest interpretation is more or less “people who hate each other don’t play golf,”

    Really? Because there are lots of people who simply hate each other he could have used: Tom and Jerry, Bugs and Daffy, Garfield and Nermal. And yet instead he chose a brutal dictator culturally known as the most evil man to ever exist and for unleashing a world war, and the prime minister who hadn’t been born yet of a country that didn’t exist yet.

  • Caravelle

    You seem adorably innocent of what a rhetorical trick is, how they work, why people use them, and what their effects on the listener are.

    It would be cute if there weren’t people saying similar things out of pure disingenuousness.

  • http://twitter.com/shay_guy Shay Guy

    It’s all applied psychology in the end, isn’t it? (Which makes it a pain in the neck if you’re trying to develop a thorough pseudo-axiomatic understanding of how communication and society work, like I am.)

  • Caravelle

    It’s all applied psychology in the end, isn’t it? (Which makes it a pain
    in the neck if you’re trying to develop a thorough pseudo-axiomatic
    understanding of how communication and society work, like I am.)

    Good luck with that :)

    I’m not really bothered by this stuff anymore. Possibly since I heard of people who’d done an experiment to figure out if brains learn grammar (or was it spelling ?) by abstracting a rule and applying it, or by going by whatever they’re most exposed to. The experiment indicated the latter. At first I was baffled because I would have sworn the rule one made so much more sense, but then I realized that for a brain that has obscene amounts of memory but tight constraints of processing speed the latter would probably work best. (even more so since I learned about neural networks and realized that huge amounts of memory aren’t even necessary, it’s all about reinforcing certain pathways)

    Since then I assume that humans aren’t finely-tuned programs but evolutionary kludges of whatever works best and it fits remarkably well.

    In fact if you really want to mess with your mind read the Parable of the Blue-Minimizing Robot. Dunno if it’s an accurate description of any aspect of our psychology, but if it is it would be creepy.

  • Lori

     I think this is an example of people hearing what they want to hear…..  

     

    You’re absolutely correct, this is exactly what the situation is. You’re simply wrong about who is hearing only what he wants to hear. 

  • Tonio

    Les, I heard that clip a week ago, and have read the transcript three times. For me, the issue isn’t whether Hank Jr. compared Obama to Hitler. Instead, it’s that his rant had earmarks of appealing to white resentment without directly mentioning race. The “Come on,” the “a lot of people do,” “they’re the enemy,” and that suspicious pause before belting out “Obama!” Not individually but together in context. Again, this is a man who has bashed Obama before using racial euphemisms. As I think about it now, ESPN could have simply had concerns about the Hitler comment and asked to speak with Hank, and behind closed doors he could have said something more openly racist.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/5OPDTGMVEFDYDKHEXSNNWOFNWY Jim

    Also, Les, you start out by saying that it’s not a comparison and use as partial proof the observation that no one thinks Boehner is Netanyahu.

    “Compare” and “is” are two different things, as you yourself observed.

  • Les Elkins

    True enough. Should have been Boehner compared to Netanyahu, not ‘is’.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=581585394 Nicholas Kapur

    Hank said:

    Obama : Boehner :: Hitler : Netanyahu

    Les Elkins said:

    (Obama : Boehner :: Hitler : Netanyahu) :: (Shotgun : Bat :: Nuke : Marshmallow)

    Obvious conclusion:

    Les Elkins : Analogies :: Michelle Bachmann : Modern Medical Science

  • Anonymous

    If a train leaves station A at 3 pm and travels west at 100 mph and a second train leaves station B…

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

    Are you saying that Les Elkins IS Michele Bachmann!!?!??!!?!?!

  • Les Elkins

    Apparently, but there’s a logic gap there that I’m missing….

  • Anonymous

    It’s no use to try to reason with people like Land or his followers, these are the kinds of people that would buy this monstrosity and then claim with a straight face that Christians are persecuted in this country. http://crossspangledbanner.com/

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Speaking of American flags. I’ve seen people in the USA get amazingly worked up over misplacements of the flag in TV shows and movies. It’s like someone turned the Jesus cross upside down to hear them wail on and on and on about it.

    Thank providence the majority of Canadians I know are positively indifferent about our national flag. Sure, I might notice if someone hung one the wrong way so the maple leaf points down instead of up and I’d think it was a bit stupid, but I wouldn’t treat it like someone just shat all over my freakin’ couch.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

    I’m really surprised to hear that. Most people don’t even know what the Flag Code is, much less know enough to recognize if someone isn’t displaying is correctly in a TV show. Was it people in real life or pundits who were getting worked up over it?

  • Lori

    Policing the Flag Code is A Thing with a certain segment of the (supposedly) hyper-patriotic Right. Doing something wrong to/with the flag is proof that teh librals hate ‘merica. 

    The best part is that I’d bet money I can’t afford to lose that most of them personally violate the Flag Code on a regular basis. The most common violation around here is leaving the flag up 24/7 without lighting it. 

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    Probably pundits.  The WHARRGARBL must flow…

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Was RL people as far as I know, on Web forums. All the usual blah blah blah pontificating about how they would never disrespect the flag, et cetera.

    Like the time some TV show about the army didn’t dip the flag right, or summat.

  • P J Evans

     It’s funny that the people who get most worked up about how the flag is displayed are the same ones who want to put it on everything, including clothes (which really is against the flag code). I always wonder what they’d do with people burning flags in protest, but using flags that are too worn for normal use. (Or if they even know that burning is the proper method of disposing of worn flags.)

  • Lori

     I always wonder what they’d do with people burning flags in protest, but using flags that are too worn for normal use. (Or if they even know that burning is the proper method of disposing of worn flags.)  

     

    In fairness, while burning is the proper method of flag disposal there are some rules about how it’s done and no matter how worn the flag is, your typical protest burning doesn’t meet the requirements. 

    What I can’t figure out is how someone can claim to be patriotic and still feel that the country is in any way damaged by flag burning. My perception of America is a wee bit stronger than that. Of course, I’m not from an honor based subculture so there’s a whole lot that makes no real sense to me. 

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    It’s like someone turned the Jesus cross upside down to hear them wail on and on and on about it.

    IIRC, an upside-down cross represents the martyrdom of St. Peter.

    Sure, I might notice if someone hung one the wrong way so the maple leaf points down instead of up and I’d think it was a bit stupid, but I wouldn’t treat it like someone just shat all over my freakin’ couch.

    I seem to recall that actually happened at a US/Canada event (some sports thing?  I forget) about a decade ago.  The Canadians were good sports about it…

  • Lori

     IIRC, an upside-down cross represents the martyrdom of St. Peter.  

     

    Hanging the American flag upside down is a distress signal. When you see the flag upside down at a protest there’s a good chance the person is making a point, not desecrating it or too stupid to know how to hang it or whatever other pearl-clutching notion certain people flap their yaps about. 

  • Jenora Feuer

    The 1992 World Series, game 2, Toronto Blue Jays vs the Atlanta Braves:

    Before the game started, during the performance of the National Anthems
    of the United States and Canada, the U.S. Marine Corps Color Guard
    accidentally flew the flag of Canada upside down.  The Corps apologized for the error and took pains to carry the flag
    properly prior to Game 3 in Toronto after insisting that they would be
    honored to do so.

  • Rikalous

    IIRC, an upside-down cross represents the martyrdom of St. Peter.

    Yeah, he asked to be crucified upside down because he didn’t feel worthy to die the same way Jesus did.

  • Tonio

    The inverted cross has nothing to do with Satan? I can already hear King Diamond’s face falling. (With all that makeup, it made a loud crash when it hit the floor.)

  • vsm

    Yeah, he asked to be crucified upside down because he didn’t feel worthy to die the same way Jesus did

    Back in the day, my surprisingly cynical Religious Education teacher pointed out to us ten-year-olds how it also meant he’d die a lot faster than someone crucified the normal way. That bit always stuch with me for some reason.

  • Joshua

    Much as I love the Bible and Christian history, how the hell is a detailed discussion of crucifixion suitable for a class of ten-year-olds?

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Kids can learn at a pretty young age what that’s all about. I remember around that age reading a story about kids being sad at the holes in Jesus’s wrists and him saying not to be upset because it meant through him they had everlasting life.

  • vsm

    She didn’t go into Passion of the Christ level detail. She just mentioned that the classic style could take several days to kill you and was really painful, while an older man like Peter would probably have stroke pretty soon hanging upside down.

    Details of his death are, of course, only found in church tradition that didn’t get written down until two centuries after Peter took his place at the pearly gates.

  • Lori

     Much as I love the Bible and Christian history, how the hell is a detailed discussion of crucifixion suitable for a class of ten-year-olds?  

     

    Have you hung around with many ten year olds recently? They can be a surprisingly blood-thirsty lot. 

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    I seem to recall that actually happened at a US/Canada event (some sports thing?  I forget) about a decade ago.

    Someone shat on @Invisible_Neutrino:disqus ‘s couch?

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    E-hem. Nobody has ever done that to my couch. :P Not even a house pet. :P

  • Mkkuhner

    I liked Molly Ivins’ comment back during one of the attempts to get an anti-flag-burning amendment to the Constitution:  rough paraphrase “For George Bush’s last birthday he had a cake with an American flag on it, and you know what?  He ate it.”  (I think this would have been Bush Sr.)

    It is certainly startling to encounter people–and they seem more numerous on the Right–who have trouble with the difference between symbol and reality, who are afraid of fiction or regard it as a form of lying, who can’t tolerate make-believe, or who don’t make any distinction between saying something and quoting someone else saying it.  I don’t know where this comes from.

    My mother taught college English for decades and said that she expected to have one student per class group (of 20-35) who did not understand satire and was baffled and offended by satirical writing.

    I’ve come to feel that the ability to pretend, to be mentally playful and flexible, is a key adult capacity which our society doesn’t do enough to encourage and preserve, and that lack of it leads directly to a lot of the pathologies we see in American political discourse.

  • Tonio

    Yes, it was George H.W. Bush. Here is what Ivins wrote: “Bush’s last birthday cake was in the form of the American flag, and he ate it – stars, stripes and all. Think about where that flag wound up. I call that descecration.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=581585394 Nicholas Kapur

    “I stand by each and every statement in this book.  But some of them are wrong.” certainly sounds paradoxical to me.

    Well, I think that depends on the context. I can think of a lot of people for whom such a statement would just be further evidence that they’re incompetent, double-thinking jackasses. But in the right hands, it could mean, “I stand by and take personal responsibility for the words I have written. Of course, as I continue the lifelong journey of learning, I will likely discover that some of the things I have said are wrong — at which point I will obviously no longer stand by those statements.”

    I’m not sure exactly what you’re responding to, so that may be irrelevant to (or in support of) the point you were trying to make, but there it is.

  • arc

    I was responding to Caravelle’s deflatory response to my mentioning of the paradox of the prefix  – and I could have sworn I pressed ‘reply to’!

    In that context, the writer is both careful and competent, so has excellent reasons for believing each statement in the book when taken individually – but also has excellent reasons for believing that some of them are wrong.

    Let’s put it this way:

    I know A
    I know B
    I know C…
    I know Z

    and I also know that at least one of A, B, C… Z are false.

    I think you have to be setting the bar for paradox pretty high if that doesn’t count as paradoxical.

  • Caravelle

    I think you have to be setting the bar for paradox pretty high if that doesn’t count as paradoxical.

    … Or you have to assume that “know” != “absolute certainty”. Which I don’t think is a such a high bar.

    But whatever. I’m not a philosopher or logician, they’re the one that come up with concepts and call them “paradoxes”, I’m sure there are many, many other things called “paradoxes” out there that I wouldn’t personally use that word for. And anyway all paradoxes, even those I would call “paradoxes”, are merely a reflection of humans’ lack of understanding instead of genuine contradictions. Probably. I just hadn’t ever come across that particular one and it surprised me.

  • arc

     Goodness, are people ever inclined to read a lot into my question to WingedBeast. 

    I’m not saying that there’s no difference between creationists and
    open-minded liberally sorts, and I’m not pushing for universal
    scepticism, or anything like that, I was just trying to work out what distinction WingedBeast was making or trying to make when referring to people as ‘theoretically fallible’.  It seems to me after reading their replies that the really big difference between the ‘theoretically fallible’ and more reasonable people is just that they’re very closed-minded on a lot of topics, and while people have discussed what this means in this forum in more detail, it’s not really news (not that it needs to be – I just thought it might have been). I had half an idea that WingedBeast was picking out some important difference over and above closed-mindedness, but I’m now thinking I was wrong about that and the label ‘theoretically fallible’ was merely pointedly pointing out that some of them do officially admit to fallibility but this is a pretty empty gesture – i.e. the only difference between a closed-minded person who isn’t ‘theortically fallible’ and one that is, is just this empty gesture.

     

  • Lori

     I think you have to be setting the bar for paradox pretty high if that doesn’t count as paradoxical.  

    I wouldn’t call your example paradoxical so much as phoney. The example you gave earlier doesn’t fit that construct at all. Under what circumstances would a person say both “I know these 4 things” and “I know one of these 4 things is untrue” (for equal values of the word “know”)? That’s not paradoxical, it’s ridiculous. 

    It seems like you’re working way too hard trying to get to “Everyone does it” from a very odd angle. 

  • arc

    Everyone who’s intellectually honest is in this position, of taking themselves to know a whole lot of stuff, and also taking themselves to know that some of what they take themselves to know is false. 

    Of course, almost no-one would put it in the stark terms that I have done.  So the paradoxical nature of one’s beliefs about one’s own beliefs isn’t usually made clear.

    And I didn’t say ‘four things’, I used 26, and that is important.

    If you’re not completely and utterly certain of every single one of your beliefs (give them probability 1 in the language of probability), you’re just very very sure, then you should be progressively less sure of conjunctions of your beliefs, and progressively more sure that at least one of them is false.

    If you’re not doing that, you’re not rational.

    If you’re going to say you know that one of 4 things is false, then you weren’t sure enough about any one of them to count as knowledge.  But there will be some number at which you become pretty sure that there’s a false on in there somewhere – 26 is plausible, but perhaps it’s actually 100 or 10000 or something.

    I can discuss this mathematically, if you want.

  • Lori

     I can discuss this mathematically, if you want.  

     

    Strangely, I’m not feeling the urge to be talked down to more about the math. I took probabilities so I don’t need your help with that. 

    What I could use some help with is this—what is your point? I keep thinking I know what it is and then you post more and the point slips away again. 

  • arc

    I don’t really have a point, Lori, I’m just responding to other people’s comments – I thought the ‘theoretically fallible’ mentioned by WingedBeast seemed a bit like the preface paradox,
    Caravell didn’t feel it was parodoxical, but I still think it is, and because I had a bit of ‘reply to this’ fail Nicholas Kapur thought I was still talking about creationists or something.

    I then put the preface paradox starkly to show why I think it deserves the
    name ‘paradox’.  You called that ‘phoney’, and referred to  ‘4 things’,
    so it seemed to me you weren’t understanding what I was saying (because,
    y’know, I don’t think it’s phoney, and I didn’t refer to just 4
    things), so I tried to clarify.

    Now you seem to think I’m talking down to you, which is unfortunate. You also seem to think I have some kind of agenda, which seems to be a common misapprehension – Nicholas Kapur responded to me earlier as though I was saying ‘no-one can know anything at all, and in addition there’s no such thing as an open-minded person, especially not you, N.K.’, and such a presupposition might also make some sense of Matri’s supposition that I’m living a blissful existence entirely unblemished by closed-minded dogmatic sorts. 

    All I was doing was trying to get some clarification from WingedBeast as to what they were getting at with ‘theoretically fallible’, and after that to explain why I still think the preface paradox is paradoxical.

    (It’s a paradox that can be explained with the help of probability, as I have just indicated, but many paradoxes do have explanations. )

  • Lori

    OT, but related to the misogyny tangent—The fetal personhood amendment in Mississippi failed. If they can’t get that crap passed in Mississippi I have some hope that they won’t be able to push it through anywhere. I’ll take that as good news for women. 

  • Emcee, cubed

    OT, but related to the misogyny tangent—The fetal personhood amendment
    in Mississippi failed. If they can’t get that crap passed in
    Mississippi I have some hope that they won’t be able to push it through
    anywhere. I’ll take that as good news for women.

    Also, Maine repealed their voter-supression law, Ohio gave back collective bargaining to public employees, and Mr. “Papers Please” Pearce got recalled in Arizona. All in all, a pretty good day.

  • Emcee, cubed

    And one more I forgot: Democrats kept control of the Iowa Senate, derailing Republican plans to repeal marriage equality in the state.

  • Emcee, cubed

    And I just learned of a new one: A Democratic victory in a NC school board election derails Republican plans to re-segregate schools.

  • Lori

    It was a pretty good night for gay & lesbian candidates.

    -The mayor of Houston, an out lesbian, won reelection.

    -Daniel Hernandez, the staffer who helped save Gabby Giffords, won a seat on the Tucson school board.

    -Several cities elected their first openly gay city council members.

    It seems that at least so far the GOP efforts to make people believe that every bad thing happening in America is the fault of liberals and teh ghay seems to have failed. Here’s hoping that trend continues.

     

  • Tonio

    Wow, I wasn’t expecting the Democrats to do so well last night…

    Anyway, the core reason “I Wanna Talk About Me” doesn’t sit well with me is because women generally don’t receive the benefit of listening from men. They’re belittled when they speak their minds, treated as though their opinion matters less because of their gender. Mansplaining. So when a man complains that he doesn’t have a chance to talk to a woman, it sounds to me like misplaced entitlement because of the larger societal context.

    Gene Weingarten dissects this same entitlement in a more saddening context. Sad partly because there are plenty of men who, in his situation, would whine about unfair it is to be suspected of domestic abuse, acting like they’re in a worse position than the women who are actually abused.

  • Lori

     Anyway, the core reason “I Wanna Talk About Me” doesn’t sit well with me is because women generally don’t receive the benefit of listening from men. They’re belittled when they speak their minds, treated as though their opinion matters less because of their gender. Mansplaining. So when aman complains that he doesn’t have a chance to talk to a woman, it sounds to me like misplaced entitlement because of the larger societal context.  

    There are also men whose wive really are a lot more talkative than they are and who feel like they have trouble getting a word in edgewise. 

    There are also men who rarely talk about themselves in any real way and who have wives who would love for them to do so, so there’s some irony there (although that’s may be unintentional).  

    There is nothing in the song about the guy wanting to explain women’s issue to the woman. There is nothing in the song where the guy says that the woman is wrong about anything. There is nothing in the song where the guy says that he doesn’t want the woman to talk. In fact he says he loves her talking. She just does a lot of it and he wished he got to do a bit more. So, I don’t think there’s some underlying commentary on mansplaining and or a yowl of thrwarted entitlement to always have the floor. There’s certainly nothing in it that has anything to do with domestic abuse. 

    The song strikes you the way it strikes you, and you obviously don’t have to like it. I do think you’re hearing more than is there though. 

    And with that I have to be done with this because I can’t believe I’n defending that butthead Toby Keith. 

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    I don’t think much of either the song or Toby Keith myself, but I always read it as being less about “I don’t get a chance to talk because my partner talks too much” and more of a (playful) lament that it’s not socially acceptable for a man to talk about mundane, touchy-feely-small-talky things: that he’s complaining about the expectation that wanting to talk about your day and your feelings and your “dreams and your crazy schemes” and “The ones that you despise and the ones you idolize” aren’t the sort of things men are allowed to want to talk about. I notice, for instance, he doesn’t mention wanting to talk about sports or politics or automechanics or any of the other traditional “manly” topics. 

    Still total First World Problems, but it makes me wonder.

  • Lori

     I notice, for instance, he doesn’t mention wanting to talk about sports or politics or automechanics or any of the other traditional “manly” topics.   

    I hadn’t noticed that, but you have a point. 

  • Tonio

    I don’t think there’s some underlying commentary on mansplaining and or a
    yowl of thrwarted entitlement to always have the floor. There’s
    certainly nothing in it that has anything to do with domestic abuse.

    Yes, and I wasn’t arguing the opposite. I was using the Weingarten story partly as an analogy to make my point, which was that people in privileged positions risk sounding resentful and entitled when they air grievances. I know a few men like Toby and often they seem angry for no obvious reason, and that’s part of the context I mentioned earlier.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Sad partly because there are plenty of men who, in his situation, would whine about unfair it is to be suspected of domestic abuse, acting like they’re in a worse position than the women who are actually abused.

    As a man, I do not whine about the unfairness of me being assumed to be a potential batterer until proven otherwise.  But that certainly does engender in me a certain degree of self-hatred.  There is only so many times you can hear about such asshole men before you start to feel like you share the blame for having the luck to be born with the same shaped chromosomes as those guys, and feel like you deserve to be beaten for it.  

    I do feel tired of taking that blame for the actions of others, but I never direct that frustration at women.  I direct it at the guys who propagate such infractions, and I wish I had more of an outlet for directly “correcting” their abhorrent behavior.  

  • Anonymous

    “I was responding to Caravelle’s deflatory response to my mentioning of the paradox of the prefix  – and I could have sworn I pressed ‘reply to’! 

    In that context, the writer is both careful and competent, so has excellent reasons for believing each statement in the book when taken individually – but also has excellent reasons for believing that some of them are wrong. 

    Let’s put it this way: 

    I know A
    I know B
    I know C…
    I know Z

    and I also know that at least one of A, B, C… Z are false.

    I think you have to be setting the bar for paradox pretty high if that doesn’t count as paradoxical.”
    No, as far as I can see it’s only a problem if you equivocate on the meaning of know. Since in the problem you “know” things with less than 100% certainty you can’t apply the methods of deductive logic* (deductive logic is invalid if you don’t trust your premises, every logic textbook makes that point in the first chapter). If you apply probabilistic reasoning as is appropriate you find no contradiction at all. Here’s a toy example with simple numbers for clarity:

    Say I “know” a fact x if Pr(x)>=90%.

    Then if I “know” 25 facts, assigning each a probability of 91%, and the truth of each is independent of any of the others, then I also “know” that at least one of them is wrong because (91%)^25 < 10%.

    *From the wiki page on the lottery paradox the three assumptions that generate it are
    1. It is rational to accept a proposition that is very likely true,
    2. It is not rational to accept a proposition that is known to be inconsistent, and
    3. If it is rational to accept a proposition A and it is rational to accept another proposition A', then it is rational to accept A & A'

    (3) isn't a valid principle of probabilistic reasoning, so you either have to give it up, or give up (1) and restrict yourself to the small number of things you can deduce from absolutely knows premises. (You could also give up (2) and become a dialetheist, but most people prefer to avoid biting that particular bullet.)

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    Slack, everybody, I refer you to an essay by Thomas Merton, Moral Theology of the Devil.”
    (The above is an excerpt of the high points.  Full essay here.)