‘Nothing to do with it’

‘Nothing to do with it’ December 2, 2023

• Ron DeSantis is a weird guy, so I’m still trying to figure out whether the following anecdote offers some general, wider insight into the whole of white right-wing of America or if it’s just a product of the fact that Ron DeSantis is a weird guy.


The Florida governor made news recently when he was interviewed by Jake Tapper on CNN’s “State of the Union.” Tapper invited DeSantis to condemn Elon Musk’s recent antisemitic statements (not Musk’s most recent antisemitic statements, or the additional antisemitic statements he made while supposedly apologizing for those, the statements before those). DeSantis bobbed and weaved to avoid doing so.

That’s why this was news. “Governor of Florida Refuses to Condemn Antisemitism” is news. It’s not good news, but it’s news.

But I want to highlight another portion of this interview in which DeSantis said something very, very strange.

Tapper brought up DeSantis’ criticism of his opponent in the Republican Secondary, Nikki Haley, whom DeSantis mocked for expressing empathy after seeing the video of the murder of George Floyd. The interview gets jumbled at this point as it becomes clearer that Ron DeSantis does not know what “empathy” means:

TAPPER: Yes, yes. Let me just ask my question. I think what Governor Haley was going for — and I don’t speak for her — but I think what she was going for is, like, watching the video is painful for Americans to see. And do you not think that empathy is an important quality for a U.S. president?

DESANTIS: Of course, it is. Nobody’s saying that. But to say that the actions of one police officer means that Americans in Iowa or Texas or Florida, that it should be painful for them, when they had nothing to do with it, that does not make any sense.

DeSantis seems to think that empathy means guilt. He seems to think that the only reason anyone would feel bad watching a man slowly choking to death would be if they were personally complicit in the murder.

Tapper hadn’t mentioned guilt, or complicity, and he hadn’t in any way suggest that he was asking about some kind of pang of conscience. His question doesn’t even really allow for such notions to be introduced here. Yet that is all Ron DeSantis heard and all he was apparently able to hear.

He couldn’t imagine why watching another person’s death would be “painful” to anyone who was not personally to blame for that death. So he figures Tapper must be suggesting that seeing that awful video made people feel guilty.

That’s a very odd leap. Like, does Ron DeSantis get all angry and indignant when those Sarah MacLachlan ads for the ASPCA come on? Does he shout back at the television “I had nothing to do with that! That does not make any sense!”?

Is this actual sociopathy or is it just some kind of defense-mechanism DeSantis developed to avoid responsibility for the world beyond his immediate person? Maybe he has a conscience, but has so successfully shouted it down for so many years by screaming “I didn’t own any slaves!!1!” that he’s now trained himself to respond to the pangs of empathy this same way.

I dunno. But, Lordy, Ron DeSantis is a weird guy.

• The extra-biblical “literal” Hell of eternal conscious torment is extremely important to Al Mohler’s religion and ego, so it’s not surprising that Mohler would dance a little jig over the death of Bishop Carlton Pearson, who gave up a lucrative Pentecostal mega-church pastorate when he rejected the folklore of “Hell.”

Here we have an addendum to what Charles Dickens taught us in “A Christmas Carol” about speaking appropriately of the dead. Dickens urged us to live lives that would ensure that most others would mourn our deaths and celebrate our lives. A corollary to that is that if you live such a life as to be mourned by normal, decent people, you will also be vilified in death as you were in life by people who are, instead, like Al Mohler.

It speaks very highly of Bishop Pearson that Mohler speaks about his death in much the same way he spoke about Rachel Held Evans’ death four years ago.

Anyway, at the end of a column in which Mohler manages to use the words “heresy,” “heretic,” or “heretical” 22 times, he says this: “Pearson … put the destiny of his own eternal soul at risk.”

That statement is utterly incompatible with Mohler’s purported soteriology. Granted, that soteriology isn’t terribly consistent. Just a few paragraphs earlier, Mohler writes that “We are called to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved.” That seems suspiciously Arminian, but we’ll let that pass, simply noting instead that it’s utterly contradicted by his assertion that Pearson’s failure to affirm Correct Orthodox Doctrine put the destiny of his eternal soul at risk.

This is another example of what I’ve sometimes called Calvinism-ism — the believe that salvation is contingent on the intellectual affirmation of specific doctrines about salvation.

“If you don’t believe in Hell, then you’re going to Hell” is, frankly, a hell of a soteriology if you think about it.

• I read this article when it posted back in October, “The reality of roadkill in Pennsylvania“:

According to the Game Commission, Pennsylvania drivers face some of the highest risks of vehicle collision with a deer or other large animal … all year long. The commonwealth led the country in animal-collision insurance claims in 2022-23. State drivers have a 1-in-59 chance of a vehicular accident involving a big game animal, most commonly deer, one of the highest rates in the nation.

Ever since, I’ve quoted that stat to a couple dozen friends, relatives, and co-workers — 1-out-of-59 drivers in Pennsylvania will hit a deer (or get hit by a deer). Because that seems low, especially here in Chester County. I don’t think I’ve spoken to 59 people about this yet, but I’ve already heard many stories. Several people have more than one story.

Anyway, I should probably stop writing about this just in case some insurance company stumbles across this blog and decides to hike rates for everybody here in Chesco. But if you’re ever driving in my neighborhood, especially around dusk, be careful. If somebody flashes their headlights at you it’s not because of a speed trap, but you’re still gonna want to slow down.

• I like this new track from Katy Kirby.

The video reminds me of one of my favorite bits from Sarah Bessey: “And someday, I’ll throw my arms around you when you break up that table to use it for kindling and toss it out the window to the outside. We’ll build a bonfire and we’ll dance around the old arguments together, laughing.”

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