Wednesday, October 6, 2010

To Glenn Beck: Compassion Is Not A Dirty Word

To Glenn Beck:

Doubtless, you are getting more mail from critics than supporters about your mockery of the Cranick family's tragedy. If you are getting as much mail in support, however, it is time for most of us to rethink America's values. 

Would you have mocked them quite as much if a family member had died in the fire instead of "just" their family pets? The chilling answer to that is: probably. However, it's possible that you were only following in the footsteps of Brian Fischer who said that letting the house burn was really "the Christian thing to do." I've always thought that phrase to be the most righteously arrogant one in the English language. Both you and Fischer, however, have made it sound rather ...evil. 

What you did for "social justice" you're now doing for "compassion." What you have against both those admirable human traits is beyond comprehension. By mocking the Cranick family, you also mocked all of the people who are compassionate. Did you mock any of the people helping in Haiti? After Katrina? If the World Trade Center had not paid their property taxes, would you have mocked the firemen of 9/11? Would you have mocked The Good Samaritan? 

You're probably scoffing at the critics right now, but if those critics are coming from your base, it may be time to think about some form of apology. A simple "explanation" will not be sufficient.

Just a thought.

Dan Vojir
a bleeding heart liberal

OK. I got that out of my system. I'd do another one for Bryan Fischer, but I'm still a compassionate being: I don't criticize imbeciles.

I am concerned, instead, about the road religion in this country has been taking. I believe it all started when Jerry Falwell declared, "Jesus was not a sissy." Jesus then slowly evolved into a Rambo-like figure, fitting the image of a redneck more than a preacher of love and forgiveness.

Demonizing Gays And Abusing Puppies; How the Radical Religious Right Is Killing Us With Kindness, Neglect, And One Proposition At A Time

I can demonize with the best of 'em. First, because I know when I'm demonizing something or someone. Secondly, I can sense fear and know when to use it. But most of all, I can use hyperbole and make it seem possible. For example, I can say that "the Religious Right wants gay teens to commit suicide." I didn't qualify the statement by saying "some" of the Religious Right. I played upon progressives' fears by using the word "suicide" and demonized by using "wants." Then back up the statement with something, like posting a clip of a pulpit personality ranting about the "destructive gay lifestyle." It's really rather simple, isn't it? 

Which is why "social conservatives" and Religious Right leaders demonize all the time. It has a simple formula that's quick and cheap (unless, of course, you're insecure about your ability to demonize and think you need billboards and stuff). Demonizing, of course, is not new to religion, but Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) have strong "we -are-the-only-religion" doctrines and therefore lend themselves to demonizing everyone else on a large, all-inclusive scale: It's alway "us" vs "them" and "them" is immediately demonized. In her book, The Origin Of Satan, Elaine Pagels puts the process of Christian demonizing neatly:
"Jesus' followers did not invent the practice of demonizing enemies within their own group... they drew upon  traditions they shared with other first-century Jewish sects. ..The Essenes never admitted Gentiles to their movement. But the followers of Jesus did - cautiously and provisionally at first, and against the wishes of some members. But as the Christian movement became increasingly Gentile during the second century and later, the identification of Satan primarily with the Jewish enemies of Jesus, borne along in Christian tradition over centuries, would fuel the fires of anti-Semitism."
  - Elaine Pagels, The Origin of Satan ( Vintage, 1996, p. 34)

OK, enough of Demonizing 101. Let's go on to today's primary issue: how the Radical Religious Right (RRR) will be working its demonizing "agenda" into the country's ballot boxes this November. 

This coming election day, the RRR's "agenda" will be split between Tea Baggers and Republicans. Most of the Tea Party will be focusing on less government (always good for the RRR), while the Republican Party will concentrate on the RRR's other ideals: eradicating abortion, eradicating the "gay agenda," erasing the idea of global warming, slowly promoting the ideas of Dominionism and "Christian Only" republicanism, promoting the status quo (doing nothing), repealing as much "progressive" legislation as possible and promoting capitalism. They will, of course, cover everything with a beautiful cloak they call: "for the good of the country." 

Now let's look at some of the propositions and amendments that are on state ballots. There's a great website called that lists and parses (impartially) all propositions for Nov. as well as ones in previous years and ones that are coming up in  the  future. So, from, here goes (my own demonizing is in red):


Proposition B - "Puppy Mill Cruelty" legislation. RRR: We love puppies, but not to the extent that we have to expand government to protect them. (Translation: "who cares?")


Measure 74 - State to license marijuana farmers who can distribute crop to medical marijuana dispensaries. RRR: More crime! Costs too much! Too much regulation!! (Plus: We wouldn't be getting any money out of it!) NOTE: There are 26 local propositions concerning legalization of marijuana nationwide.


Question 1 - Allow citizens to bear arms in the state. RRR: The U.S. Constitution isn't enough! And tear out that part in the KANSAS Constitution about " no standing armies and militias"! (Bo Gritz will love us forever)
Question 2 - (file this one in the "WTF?" category) Eliminate mental illness as a voting disqualification. RRR: "These people are our friends. They are everyday Kansans. They have jobs, pay taxes and vote." (They also shoot guns)


Proposition 107 - Amend Civil Rights Act to effectively ban all affirmative action legislation. RRR: "We should be judging people on their character and their merit and not their skin color or their sex..."  (But ya do, Blanche, ya do). 
Proposition 203  - Legalization of Medical Marijuana. RRR: "Saying that this is for medicine for sick people is an absolute smokescreen." ("Smokescreen" - get it? How witty!) 
Proposition 302 - Repeal of Arizona's First Things First Program (state's "Head Start" program). RRR: "Unless it's helping people who truly can't help themselves, no, we shouldn't do it." (How compassionate)


Amendment 63 - Protect the individual’s right to make health care decisions. RRR: "This is not just to address the mandate in Obama-care, this is to make sure Colorado never becomes like Massachusetts where government puts a gun to your head and says you will buy a private product whether you want it or not." (But how many people won't be able to afford health care's rising costs and premiums, Hmmm?) NOTE: for a list of state attorneys general who oppose "Obamacare," click HERE.

Proposition 23 - Suspend AB 32, the Global Warming Act of 2006.  RRR: "This has been the blind leading the blind, political correctness that has collapsed the economy in California. California already has the fifth-cleanest air in the country, so why are we doing this when no one else is?" (Gee Whiz! Fifth! Hallelujiah! We can start polluting MORE again!) 


Amendment: Personal right to hunt and fish within state laws and property rights. RRR: "prevent radical animal rights activists and an increasingly urban state legislature from one day shutting down the activities." ("Durn city folks wants to take away our rights to hunt possum!" - NOTE: the opposition call this bill "frivolous and unnecessary, or as one PETA activist said: "If people have a right to hunt, why not a right to shop or golf?")
Underneath it all

The cool thing about is that it lists all the things that were proposed for state votes but didn't make it - this time. Herein lies the true treachery (demonization mine) of  the RRR: a look at what they're trying to pass and will definitely try again:

Propositions nullifying Health Care Reform: such as Washington State's Health Insurance Freedom Act. States with similar "anti-ObamaCare" measures still in the works: Idaho, Colorado, Oklahoma, Arizona, Missouri, Georgia, Maine, Florida, Louisian, Ohio, Kansas (of course).

Personhood Amendments: Would recognize the personhood of the unborn from the earliest stages of life. States in which the amendment was proposed: Colorado, Nevada 

California Free Exercise of Religion Amendment: Creates Special Constitutional Rule for Speech Based on the Bible. (Reconstructionists want this one in a bad way!)

Oklahoma "Sharia Law" Amendment: no explanation necessary.

Ohio Immigration Reform Initiative: Let's all be like Arizona.

There's also the laws they hope to stop from ever getting off the ground: In particular, the Safe Schools Improvement Act which would include anti-bullying measures protecting LGBT youth. The RRR's reasoning: we don't want homosexual "indoctrination" of our youth. Extension: "we couldn't care less about your queer kids committing suicide, just keeps your filthy hands off our kids. But of, course, we'll tell you that we care about ALL the kids."

So the homophobic, racist RRR wants gay teens to commit suicide, doesn't care about abused puppies, people who use marijuana to ease pain, or planet earth, loves racial profiling, wants anyone who spouts the Bible to be exempt from law,  wants all crazies to carry guns, and wants us all to believe that they're really spewing all this crap "for the good of the country."

OK., that's my demonizing for the day. But before you sign off, take a look at Michelangelo Signorile's take on demonizing as he finally gets enough of the RRR's "blamelessness" in last month's teen suicides: