Thursday, July 12, 2007

We need a new H.L. Mencken

Once again I subjected myself to a bit of cable news last evening. Some ingenuous talking head named Viqueira asserted that people in DC were truly surprised that a "family values" conservative like Senator Vitter (R-LA) had frequented prostitutes for much of his career.

Whence these DC pundits and their buffoonery? Nobody with any sense is ever surprised to hear of a politician who frequents prostitutes, or who solicits sex in public restrooms, or who cheats on his or her spouse. And people with true discernment, honed by decades of studious attention to history and current events, are in fact least surprised by the exposure of family values conservatives as deeply hypocritical on these matters. Where has this Viqueira character been? Has he heard of Bob Barr, Bob Livingstone, Robert Packwood, Mark Foley, Newt Gingrich, or Henry Hyde? And the culprits who spew hypocritical fire and brimstone from the hallowed halls of government are of course accompanied by those who do so from the pulpit: Jimmy Swaggart, Jim Bakker, and most recently Ted Haggart. I shall end my list there, but could continue it until carpal tunnel swelled my wrists beyond endurance.

Journalists do many a dis-service in the United States. One of their worst offenses is feigning surprise at this sort of behavior by public representatives of the Moral Majority. Were they to practise actual journalism, they would of course know that most of the family values conservatives and Christian rightists are not at all concerned with Jesus and standards of moral behavior. The most fiery Bible thumpers in government want one paramount result: that slavish drooling mobs of mindless ignorami--preached at mercilessly by retrograde theocrats and small-town Torquemada wannabes, flumoxed by screeds about homosexual cults, secular humanist abortion factories, and the End of Times--will turn out en masse to pull levers marked R in elections.

Tom DeLay and Ralph Reed can howl about Jesus for hours each day, tearing their garments and wearing hair shirts, but nobody with a ninth grade education would be surprised if either were caught pissing in the baptismal font or using pages from Leviticus to clean up santorum after visiting a homosexual brothel. Their true Lord and Saviour is Manon, and were they instructed to blaspheme mightily in exchange for a fat check from a Big Pharma outfit or Indian casino, either gentleman would pucker eagerly at the raising of Baphomet's tail. Their supposed Christianity is an illusion designed to lure voters with emotionally potent oversimplifications. Tom DeLay and Ralph Reed know, after all, that regardless what happens to the law books, their girlfriends, daughters, and sons will always have access to safe abortions, cocaine, hookers, and pornography.

To journalists like Viqueira I suggest one simple tactic to avert future surprise: the next time an elected official enthuses about the Christian principles upon which America was supposedly founded, ask for specifics. What precisely are the scriptural prescriptions for an egalitarian democratic republic? Where in the Bible can I find them? What evidence of Biblical or theological underpinnings exist in our deeply secular Constitution?

I would like to point out that for nearly two thousand years Christian history was anything BUT democratic, and that Americans who believe that the Bible had anything to do with the political theorizing of the principal Founders of our Republic are in dire need of history lessons. The Founders sought keenly to evade any influence of Christian theology in the business of government. History taught them valuable lessons. The bloody centuries in Europe from the fall of Rome up through the seventeenth century were rife with examples of Christian values at work. And on the intolerant shores of the Puritan northeast, where Quakers were whipped, witches broiled, crushed and drowned, and savages converted under penalty of death the Founders saw further evidence that Christian principles rarely had anything to do with the message of the Christ. These men founded our country on ENLIGHTENMENT principles of secular humanism, NOT Christian principles.

I do not doubt some Democrats shall fall victim to the DC Madam phone list. But Democrats are not railing about private sexual behavior to the same degree as their Republican counterparts. I for one fully support Larry Flynt's mission to out these hypocrites.

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