Thursday, January 21, 2010

Crazy by any other name is still crazy

Amid Haiti's decent into Hell, we see our old friends Pat "Gays caused 9/11" Robertson and Rush "Take the bone out of your nose" Limbaugh once again overflowing with the rancid milk of compassionate conservatism.

From CNN:

Robertson, the host of the "700 Club," blamed the tragedy on something that "happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it."
The Haitians "were under the heel of the French. You know, Napoleon III and whatever," Robertson said on his broadcast Wednesday. "And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, 'We will serve you if you will get us free from the French.' True story. And so, the devil said, 'OK, it's a deal.' "
Native Haitians defeated French colonists in 1804 and declared independence.
"You know, the Haitians revolted and got themselves free. But ever since, they have been cursed by one thing after the other."

Video here

Not to be outdone, Limbaugh, the secular Tweedledum to Robertson's Tweedledee, said the whole Trying-to-save-some-lives-Haiti thing was just a political stunt by Barack Obama:

From TPM

Limbaugh, on the other hand, suggested that the Obama administration would use contributions to the Red Cross to gather information about donors.
"Would you trust that the money is going to go to Haiti?" Limbaugh said. "Would you trust that your name is going to end up on a mailing list for the Obama people to start asking you for campaign donations for him and other causes?"
He also said Obama was so quick to begin assistance to Haiti in order to boost his "credibility with the black community, in the both light-skinned and dark-skinned black community in this country."

Now, I've calmed down sufficiently since first reading these comments that I no longer advocate nailing Pat Robertson's testicles to a plank and nailing the plank to a slow moving train crawling through Port-Au-Prince, though I think the Rude Pundit might be onto a good way to make the gruesome twosome of some use.

I've argued elsewhere (comment 32) that everyone has their role to play in society, even if only as a bad example - In the case of Rush Limbaugh for instance, we at least have a walking, waddling, talking, bloviating, living specimen of the perfect braying asshole, a textbook example of the kind of person you can point to and say to your kids, "Don't ever be like that."

Reasonable people can disagree as to whether Rush's mouth should, in the immortal words of Wammo, simply be filled in with cement -- I know, there's that whole "freedom of speech" thing to consider, but in the case of Pat Robertson I have to ask: If his constantly hyperoffensive comments weren't couched in religious terms, wouldn't he be in an institution by now?

How crazy does someone have to be before the authorities come around and throw a net over them? If he were blaming the earthquake in Haiti on giant cockroaches from Venus or claiming the voices in his head were those of the mole-people living under Idaho communicating with him telepathically, he would have been put away by now in a little room and dress in a nice white coat with extra-long sleeves. But since he ties all his crazy to Jesus and has managed to convince a bunch of idiots to send him a lot of money, our society doesn't consider him mentally ill.

It seems as long as you claim it's a matter of religious belief, you can pretty much do or say whatever you want, whether it's marry a half-dozen 15-year-olds, beat your spouse, refuse to eat pork, eschew the use of technology, keep and handle poisonous snakes or wage war to ethnically cleanse a patch of desert you claim is promised to you in your holy book. No one dares to call you crazy, no one is allowed to snicker at your heartfelt belief that the position of the entrails of the dead bird foretell the future or that the bread and wine magically become the body of a long dead teacher.

As long as you can tie your particular brand of crazy to a religion, you aren't a fruitcake, you're a "person of faith."

Don't misunderstand me, I don't necessarily think that anyone who believes in a god or gods is necessarily crazy or that all religious belief must be stamped out - I'm merely questioning why the western notion of religious freedom that originally meant that the state would not dictate
which church you wouldl be forced to attend or ban minority religions has somehow come to be a free pass for all manner of anti-social behavior. I don't care if your religion tell you not to eat shellfish or get an abortion or have your body put up on a pillar to eaten by vultures when you die, but as soon as your beliefs start to impinge on others, whether through denying blood transfusions to children too young to make a properly informed decision or harrassing people entering Red Lobster (or Planned Parenthood) or banning books from libraries because they contain words or ideas that offend your religious sensibilities or burning "witches" --your right to religious tolerance ends.

Do you think Al-Quaida would be able to recruit people to blow themselves up for purely secular reasons? Would society have put up with an organization that protected serial child-rapists if that organization had been a network of peewee hockey leagues instead of the Catholic Church? Why is it that celebrity pastor Rick Warren's megachurch doesn't have to pay taxes whether it makes a profit or not, but the Red Cross or Doctors Without Borders must prove they aren't turning a profit in order to keep their tax-free status?

Some would argue that religious organizations of whatever denomination or affliation offer spiritual and emotional comfort to people in their lives, but, I would argue, so do distilleries, movie theaters, brothel and the Grateful Dead. Why should churches get a tax break?

If some guy in the park tell you he gets radio messages in his head from the 23rd dimension or that he hears the voice of Nicolai Tesla or Napoleon in his head telling him to do things, or that he can give people he doesn't like cancer just by thinking about it or put a curse on you, you rightly assume that he is probably schizophrenic or suffering from some other form of mental illness. But George Bush, the Pope and Pat Robertson - and thousands, if not millions, of others - all claim to that god has spoken to them and that He has answered their prayers or guided their actions or cured someone's illness at their request and they are respected, even lauded, for their faith and piety.

It is enough to make one question our societal commitment to science and reason.

"One man's theology is another man's belly laugh"
-Robert Heinlein

Still, it is reassuring to see that some people have their priorities in order. What a fiend we have in Jesus!

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