“Were such things here as we do speak about?
Or have we eaten on the insane root
that takes the reason prisoner?”
(William Shakespeare, in Macbeth)
By the time this year’s presidential election is held, twelve full years will have passed since I wrote an essay critique of what were, to my eyes, current and troubling political issues implicit in the November 2004 re-election of George W. Bush. I find it curious that today, fresh manifestations of those same troubling issues remain on the front burner and include, in particular, the Republican cry for more war in the M.E. (this time against ISIL, itself a most likely consequence of Bush’s illicit war in Iraq that was well underway on election day ’04), along with their demands that abortion/stem cell research/LGBT marriage be disallowed and that their version of “religious freedom” be never limited.
Simple question: Why? Why does such nonsense continue day after day, month after month, year after year, election after election? “Have we eaten on the insane root
that takes the reason prisoner?” Seems a fairly safe bet, actually. See below.
November 06, 2004
I know and well understand that this topic is one which is quick to wear out its welcome, but nevertheless I think it’s critical that no one should stick their head in sand in the hope that it’ll go away, because it won’t, it’s here to stay. Unfortunately.
As I’ve said many times before, I really and truly do not care what others believe, which church they attend (or don’t attend), or anything else that has anything to do with religion — it is, absolutely, a personal matter and should forever stay as such.
But I must confess that I become very troubled when what should be private religious matters are placed front and center upon the public stage, and when such matters are blatantly used to not only influence an election along dogmatic lines but also to shove a particular brand of said dogma down *everyone’s* throat via any legal means possible — ranging from local law to Constitutional amendment — my hackles quickly raise, as does my blood pressure.
There seems to be a differential that’s developed which I don’t think I quite understand: why the apparent urge to either legislate or constitutionally enshrine someone’s particular version of morality? I can easily understand that not all men wish to marry other men, but I wonder why that’s simply not left to personal choice? I made the heterosexual choice without difficulty, actually, but I cannot for the life of me understand why it’s important that anyone be told any given choice is right or wrong. My advice is that if you’re a man and don’t want to marry a man, then don’t; likewise, if you’re a woman who doesn’t want to marry a woman, then don’t. And if you’re a man who doesn’t want to marry a woman, don’t, and v.v. How hard can it be to grasp?
Likewise abortion — if a woman doesn’t want an abortion, she surely shouldn’t have one forced on her; nor, if she deems it appropriate, should she be denied. As with marriage, no one is forcing anyone to do anything, it’s a matter of personal choice, of personal responsibility. Isn’t that enough? Do we really need a Constitutional amendment to help keep things straight?
As with embryonic stem cell research — if it offends, don’t get involved. And if it offends, then even those offended, should they come down with a disease made curable via embryonic stem cells, have every right to refuse the cure.
A long time ago someone wrote about what many seem to believe to be the eternal gravity of the moral arguments, the gravitas, if you will. “Gravitas,” they wrote, is “the heavy tread of moral earnestness [which] becomes a bore if it is not accompanied by the light step of intelligence.”
Those must have been the good old days when ‘moral earnestness’ only qualified as being a ‘bore’ and not a threat to the First amendment!
But the bottom line, really, is that it’s precisely these completely illogical arguments which apparently swung attentions away from the *real* issues of the environment, the economy and the impact of deficits and tax cuts thereupon, the war in Iraq with its demonstrably false original premises plus the incredible mismanagement thereof virtually since day one, the domestic health care crisis, ad ad ad ad ad infinitum/nauseam. In other words, the apparent “swing” votes, i.e. the votes upon which the election turned, were offered based on what the pundits have called “moral values.” In other words, it’s not immoral to preemptively invade a country, destroy its cities, allow its museums and ammo dumps to be looted, and in the process kill or force the deaths of an estimated 100,000 people — but to allow two people who love each other the privilege of a legal union, NEVER! To insist that science research the potential benefits of embryonic stem cell derivatives, NEVER! To “pray” for the return of those more sane times when abortions were carried out in back alleys rather than hospitals or clinics, YEEHAW!
I freely admit that I see the Bible as being an authority on nothing at all, but once again it’s surely not my decision as to how someone else might feel about that same book.
On the other hand, sometimes I do wonder how the moralists among us might feel were the pendulum to swing to its opposite margin, and there soon appeared proposals afoot and legislation pending that would disallow any and all public displays and utterances of Biblical concepts, that churches would be taxed exactly the same as any other business or corporation, depending on size and income etc., that the only legal place to pray would be — staying with Biblical principle — in one’s own closet.
That’s not likely to ever occur, of course, but it is something to ponder in the sense that were any ‘assault’ on religion ever to be proposed, even indirect in the forms of public prohibitions or taxation, it would immediately bring forward cries of Constitutional violation, and more. Yet, here we are in a situation where religious leaders and their respective flocks not only demand the imposition of religion-based laws, but also maintain that their “religious liberty” allows them the privilege of imposing their beliefs on everyone else. It’s also well and proper to rewrite public school science textbooks as a means to substitute Biblical creationism for legitimate and well-researched scientific theory.
I propose that something is very much awry with the situation as it now stands, and the likelihood is virtually a 100% certainty that it will get worse before (if ever) corrective measures are applied.
Meanwhile, there have been calls from leaders of both sides to reconcile our differences, to get on with solving problems instead. But how can that be, when a foundational portion of one side’s program is little more than a direct (and currently irrevocable, or so it seems) slap in the face of the other side(s) of the issue?
I’d like to see this nation get on with business as well as the next man, but am NOT willing to rent out the basement of the hen house to the foxes. Personally, I’d happily settle for the sort of true church-state separation as specified in Article I of the Bill of Rights: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . . , but am not optimistic at all that such will prove the case ever again in my lifetime.
No matter how much times change, the more they remain the same. Or maybe “people” should be substituted for ‘times’?
Speaking of eating “on the insane root that takes the reason prisoner” — back to the present. Here are a small handful of links which point to topics and events that highlight tidbits of today’s political and religious silliness. They’re but a tiny part of the overall, of course, and they don’t reveal any more crazy than we’re already well aware of, but still . . . well, you know. 😯
“Either it’s the wildest coincidence ever that horrible diseases follow immoral conduct, or, it’s God saying, ‘There’s a penalty for that kind of conduct.’ I’m leaning towards there’s a penalty for it.” (Phil Robertson)
“I am thrilled to have Phil’s support for our campaign. The Robertsons are a strong family of great Christian faith and conservative values.” (Ted Cruz)
“It was as if there was a presence of the Holy Spirit in the room and we all were at awe, and Ted, all that came out of his mouth, he said, ‘Here am I Lord, use me. Here am I Lord, I surrender to whatever Your will for my life is.’ And it was at that time that he felt a peace about running for president of the United States.” (Rafael Cruz)
As for the oft-shouted desire for complete “RELIGIOUS FREEDOM!” — it quite obviously is not deemed by America’s political far-right movement to apply uniformly to all religions, to all “beliefs” (including non-belief) that citizens of America might consider their own . . .
[S]ince last Friday, conservative outlets such as Fox News, the Daily Caller, Breitbart News, and the Washington Times have all rushed to deride Obama’s visit, most accusing the Islamic Society of Baltimore of having “historic” or “deep” ties to extremism or “radical Islam.” Herman Cain told Fox News that the visit amounted to Obama “want[ing] to go kissy kissy with the Muslim Brotherhood” . . .
Apparently what seemed to be the obvious conclusion a dozen years ago still applies:
No matter how much times (and people) change, the more they remain the same.
“And thereby hangs a tale.”