A post on my wife’s Facebook page yesterday caught my eye because it was a hilarious satire against fundamentalist Christians who use scripture as justification for degrading gay people.
It was brand new to me, but, in fact, it’s been around quite awhile, I learned.
The passage satirizing conservative radio talk host Dr. Laura Schlessinger’s anti-gay diatribes initially went viral on the internet in the first year of the new millennium, and it has a very interesting and checkered history (read a fact-check summary here on Snopes.com).
But more on that later. The classic satire (below) is the thing to focus on:
I wish I had written it myself. In fact, the satire is so wonderful that quite a few people have wished they had written it.
Dear Dr. Laura:
Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God’s Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination … End of debate.
I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some other elements of God’s Laws and how to follow them.
- Leviticus 25:44 states that I may possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighbouring nations.
A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can’t I own Canadians?
- I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?
- I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of Menstrual uncleanliness – Lev.15: 19-24.
The problem is how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offence.
- When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odour for the Lord – Lev.1:9.
The problem is my neighbours. They claim the odour is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?
- I have a neighbour who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death.
Am I morally obligated to kill him myself, or should I ask the police to do it?
- A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination, Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don’t agree. Can you settle this? Are there ‘degrees’ of abomination?
- Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle-room here?
- Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?
- I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?
- My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev.19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? Lev.24:10-16. Couldn’t we just burn them to death at a private family affair, like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)
I know you have studied these things extensively and thus enjoy considerable expertise in such matters, so I’m confident you can help.
Thank you again for reminding us that God’s word is eternal and unchanging.
Your adoring fan.
James M. Kauffman, Ed.D. Professor Emeritus, Dept. Of Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education University of Virginia (It would be a damn shame if we couldn’t own a Canadian)
Although the initial open letter posted on the internet carried the byline of James M. Kauffman, shown above, another person — K. James Atkinson — then claimed authorship. Kauffman has since denied authorship. In 2003, a Halifax Daily News reporter, Jane Kansas, republished the satire with a few minor alterations under her own name, signing it “Yours truly, Jane.” The Guardian newspaper in the United Kingdom in 2000 reportedly claimed the author was “Steve Turner.”
But in its fact-check of this literary attribution confusion, Snopes.com wrote:
“As a counter to the ‘homosexuality is wrong because the Bible says so’ argument Dr. Laura frequently offered, Kent Ashcraft penned and sent her a letter that became an Internet-circulated piece after its author e-mailed a copy to one friend whom he thought would find it amusing. She in turn forwarded the item to several of her friends, and the letter went viral within a couple of weeks.”
The original text of Ashcraft’s letter is here.
But who cares who wrote it. It’s hilarious and smart nonetheless. For fans of the West Wing television series, one of its many now-classic scenes — see YouTube clip here — includes paraphrased dialogue crafted from this “Dear Dr. Laura” letter.
Ironically, on one level, what motivated the entire incident is now a complete “never mind.” Dr. Laura has since endured the indignity of nude photos of herself published unwittingly on the internet by an ex-paramour who was married at the time (speaking of sexual morality), has since left her Orthodox Judaic faith of the 1990s (and now leans Christian apparently), and has fulsomely retracted her once horrid attacks against gay people as “biological mistakes.”
But we can be thankful that what remains of this whole imbroglio is its best part: a sparkling, instructive satire. Enjoy an oldy that is still a goody.
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