"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Divided by Jerks

P.J. O'Rourke (for my money easily the best political humorist around) has a biting alternative inaugural address he would like to see Bush deliver. After reading it, I wish he'd deliver it, too. His thesis is that America is divided because there are jerks living here. He arranges the speech around the Ten Commandments. Here's a smidge:

We are all sinners. But jerks revel in their sins. You can tell by their reaction to the Ten Commandments. Post those Ten Commandments in a courthouse or a statehouse, in a public school or a public park, and the jerks go crazy. Why is that? Christians believe in the Ten Commandments. So do Muslims. Jews, too, obviously. Show the Ten Commandments to Hindus, Buddhists, Confucians, or to people with just good will and common sense and nobody says, "Whoa! That's all wrong!"

And another . . .

"Thou shalt not kill." Why, in the opinion of jerks, is it wrong to kill a baby but all right to kill a baby that's so little he hasn't been born yet? And why do the same jerks who favor abortion oppose the death penalty? We can imagine people so full of loving kindness that they can accept neither the abortionist nor the executioner. We can even imagine people so cold-hearted that they embrace them both. But it takes a real jerk to argue in favor of killing perfect innocents and letting Terry Nichols live.

7 comments:

Jay D. Homnick said...

Thank you, Hunter, P.J. is pitch perfect, as usual. And I'm perfectly willing for him to be first as long as you count me second.

Tlaloc said...

The problem may stem from the idea that those who waste their time and energy _posting_ the ten commandments are invariable the ones who don't live by it.

Why would you feel the need to push your beliefs on others rather than simply live by them yourself?

Jay D. Homnick said...

Does it not say "Liberty and justice for all" over the courthouse? The posting of great civilizing principles in prominent locations is a feature of all great civilizations and cultures. Only jerks feel "pushed" by this, says P.J. O'Rourke.

Hunter Baker said...

It's the same old story, Tlaloc. Cultures are made of something. They are woven together from traditions, religion, families, history, etc. The Rawlsian theory of justice advocates have never accepted that. There is no such thing a naked public square. It will be clothed with something. It's just a matter of who will be allowed to contribute fabric and tailoring.

Tlaloc said...

Jay: "Does it not say "Liberty and justice for all" over the courthouse?"

Indeed. The "for all" part is what is at stake. Not "for those who follow a particular religion." For all.


"The posting of great civilizing principles in prominent locations is a feature of all great civilizations and cultures."

Then you have any number of secular documents such as the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, the Constitution, even the Magna Carta which serve that purpose while not offending the separation of church and state.


Hunter: "It's the same old story, Tlaloc. Cultures are made of something. They are woven together from traditions, religion, families, history, etc."

So of the great many things that have "woven" together to create the current US why do you pick out the ten commandmants for special treatment?

"There is no such thing a naked public square. It will be clothed with something. It's just a matter of who will be allowed to contribute fabric and tailoring."

To use your metaphor it can be clothed in neutral colors. You insist it should be hot pink as that color has meaning to you but to everyone else it is an eyesore. Why is your personal taste worth so much more than say a wiccan?

Hunter Baker said...

Because it ain't my personal taste that's at stake here. However much one may wish it so, the Wiccan religion hasn't had much impact on the formation of Western civilization, much less America. We're made out of Judeo-Christian stuff, not Wiccan stuff or Islamic stuff, or Hindu stuff. There are nations that are made out of that stuff (well, not Wiccan stuff) and I'd be a prig to immigrate and demand they alter their "civil religion."

Tlaloc said...

"Because it ain't my personal taste that's at stake here. However much one may wish it so, the Wiccan religion hasn't had much impact on the formation of Western civilization, much less America."

Well given hw much of Christianity is taken from pagan religions that's debatable. Easter, christmas, etc. Beyond that no single religion has as much of a central place in America as the freedom from religons. Christianity is not part of the Constitution or Bill of Rights while the freedom from it is in the First Amendment.


"We're made out of Judeo-Christian stuff, not Wiccan stuff or Islamic stuff, or Hindu stuff."

Not really true. You are made of Judeo-Christian stuff. A goodly number of your neighbors are not and are quite happy not to have you assume otherwise.


"There are nations that are made out of that stuff (well, not Wiccan stuff) and I'd be a prig to immigrate and demand they alter their "civil religion."

Nations like Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan? Christianity is not the US "civil religion." Secularity is.