Richard Land, Bocephus and the Scandal of Evangelical Ethics

Richard Land, Bocephus and the Scandal of Evangelical Ethics November 7, 2011

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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  • 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)

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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)

     

  • 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?

  • 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. 

  • 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).

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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. 

  • 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

    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.

  • 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…..

  • 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

    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)

  • 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?

  • 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.

  • 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. 

  • 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.

  • 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…

  • 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/

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

  • 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.

  • 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

    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…

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    Probably pundits.  The WHARRGARBL must flow…

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Les Elkins

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

  • 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.

  • 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

    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.”

  • Les Elkins

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

  • 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.      

  • 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.

  • 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.)

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.)

  • Anonymous

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

  • 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…