Saturday :: Apr 15, 2006

They Killed Jesus - AND, What They Did To George!

by pessimist

I really hate South Park - almost as much as I hate Micro$oft! (Remind me to tell you about that sometime!) The producers of South Park never miss an opportunity to push extreme satire too far. Case in point:

'South Park,' Censored Over Mohammed, Hits Jesus
Posted on Apr. 13, 2006

The creators of “South Park,” censored by Comedy Central when they attempted to show an image of the prophet Muhammed, aired instead
an image of Jesus Christ defecating on President Bush and the American flag.

And Matt Stone claims to be Republican!

'South Park' aims at censors, hits Bush, Jesus

It's the second run-in over religion in a few months for the satirists. Comedy Central pulled a March rerun of a "South Park" episode that mocked Scientologists. Isaac Hayes, a Scientologist who voiced the Chef character on the show, resigned in protest over the episode. "South Park" again got the last word last month with an episode where Chef was seemingly killed and mourned as a jolly guy whose brains were scrambled by the "Super Adventure Club," which turns its members into pedophiles.

Parker and Stone were angered when told by Comedy Central several weeks ago that they could not run an image of Mohammed, according to a person close to the show who didn't want to be identified because of the issue's sensitivity. In Wednesday's episode, the character Kyle is shown trying to persuade a Fox network executive to air an uncensored "Family Guy" even though it had an image of Mohammed. "Either it's all OK, or none of it is," Kyle said. "Do the right thing."

Is this the right thing?

Only last week, "South Park" won broadcasting's prestigious Peabody. Awards director Horace Newcomb said at the time that by its offensiveness, the show "reminds us of the need for being tolerant."

Someone has a better idea of what 'The Right Thing' is:

A frequent "South Park" critic, William Donohue of the anti-defamation group Catholic League, called on Parker and Stone to resign out of principle for being censored. "The ultimate hypocrite is not Comedy Central -- that's their decision not to show the image of Mohammed or not -- it's Parker and Stone," he said.
"Like little whores, they'll sit there and grab the bucks.
They'll sit there and they'll whine and they'll take their shot at Jesus.
That's their stock in trade."

Using [and abusing!] Jesus is not just a tactic restricted to television cartoon producers. It can be performed by more common men as well:

Some members of polygamy sect fleeing as law closes in
By Gwen Florio and Brian Passey, USA TODAY Apr 13, 2006

Even though polygamy is illegal in Utah and banned by Arizona's Constitution, authorities haven't prosecuted people simply on those grounds. The real-life drama playing out in this isolated community mirrors the darker themes of the new HBO series Big Love. That show features a polygamous family living in suburban Salt Lake City, surrounded by mainstream Mormons.

Allow me to state here that I don't support these people on religious or moral grounds, but I do need to point out that these folks have been openly living as polygamists since they broke away from the mainstream LDS church:

The nation's largest polygamist sect - founded in defiance of the mainstream Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' ban on polygamy more than a century ago - is under pressure as never before. Its members are being evicted for tax evasion here [Hildale, Utah] and in adjoining Colorado City, Ariz., and police officers in both towns are being forced to choose between their jobs and plural marriage. Peace Officer Standards and Training groups in Utah and Arizona are warning police in Hildale and Colorado City they could be decertified if they practice polygamy or refuse to enforce legal action against the group.

The question I now raise is: Why crackdown now?

It took Warren Steed Jeffs' excesses as the leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints to get authorities' attention. [T]he Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is resisting what its members see as the secular world's anti-polygamy stance. Jeffs has headed the sect since 2002. His pronouncements have been so outlandish that some in the famously closed sect, last year classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, began to speak publicly against him.

Still - so much attention? Is Jeffs a threat?

Authorities are mindful of talk
that sect members here, who number about 6,000,
have vowed not to submit.
Gary Engels, an investigator for the Mohave County, Ariz. Attorney's Office, said Jeffs' followers are a constant presence in his life, , trailing him in SUVs with tinted windows and swerving toward him. "You'd be dumb not to worry" about safety in that situation, Engels said.

Sounds like how Republicans treat the rest of us all too often!

"They ought to be concerned, really," said Ross Chatwin, a former member who disobeyed orders to give up his wife and six children. "I think there's a good chance there would be a standoff. Warren has predicted he would be a martyr," he said.

Haven't we seen this sorry tale before? Jim Jones in Guyana, Ruby Ridge, Waco??? So why aren't authorities taking action before the residents can prepare their defenses? They have already begun to gather:

[M]embers are leaving these twin towns and building compounds in West Texas [Eldorado, Texas], southwestern Colorado [Mancos, Colo.] and South Dakota's Black Hills [Pringle, S.D.]. Engels - a one-man outpost in the community - watches as residents and even whole buildings vanish, presumably carted off to the new compounds.

So what are they afraid of, leaving their homes in Arizona after being openly polygamous for so long?

Engels has a tape of one sermon in which Jeffs' muted, singsong voice can be heard denouncing black people as "uncouth, or rude and filthy ... low in their habits, wild."

Jeffs should talk! Didn't he learn from the Charlie Manson that this approach doesn't work?

Chatwin, who refused to relinquish his wife, said he knows of men whose wives and children were reassigned to more-favored members. Women have said in court documents that when still teenagers, they were given as brides to much older men who were already married, and young men - the so-called Lost Boys - have stated in court documents that they were forced out of the community so as not to provide romantic distractions for girls their own age.

Engels said several people have told him Jeffs, 50, whose visage now graces FBI posters as well as outsize portraits in the sect's private schools, marries one young woman a month and that he has as many as 50 wives.

"Most people don't realize things like this go on in this country," he said.

Perhaps the answer to the question I pose above - Why Now? - can be glimpsed in this next article. Maybe Jeffs' version of Christianity isn't considered as True Belief by another sect: The Federal Government Of 'God's Owned By US' Party:

Theocons and Theocrats
May 1, 2006 issue of The Nation

Is theocracy in the United States (1) a legitimate fear, as some liberals argue; (2) a joke, given the nation's rising secular population and moral laxity; (3) a worrisome bias of major GOP constituencies and pressure groups; or (4) all of the above?

The last, I would argue.

As early as 1988, Ohio academician John Green, a specialist in religious political behavior, had commented on how the growing correlation between frequent church attendance and Republican presidential voting was starting to raise a US parallel to the religious parties of Europe, most notably the Christian Democrats in Germany and Italy. By 2000-04, this correlation was much stronger, and political journalists began to speak of the "religious gap" that was replacing the "gender gap."

As a great power, a large heterogeneous nation like the United States goes about as far in a theocratic direction as it can when it meets the unfortunate criteria on display in George W. Bush's Washington:

* an elected leader who believes himself in some way to be speaking for God [similar to Jeffs];
* a ruling party that represents religious true believers and seeks to mobilize the nation's churches [similar in some respects to the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints];
* the conviction of many rank-and-file Republicans that government should be guided by religion and religious leaders [similar in many respects to Jeffs' followers];
* and White House implementation of domestic and international political agendas that seem to be driven by religious motivations and biblical worldviews [again, similar to Jeffs' claims].

More telling still, in the years since 1988 dozens of reports have quoted Bush the Younger telling ministers, supporters and foreign officials that God wanted him to run for President and that God speaks through him. In mid-2004 one Pennsylvania newspaper reported his telling a local Amish audience, "I trust God speaks through me. Without that, I couldn't do my job." Reports that he told Middle Eastern leaders that God told him to invade Iraq have been denied by the White House, but this is clearly the sort of language he uses from time to time.

The upshot of this escalating religiosity on the part of the Republican national leadership has been an escalating and parallel religiosity on the part of the Republican rank and file. Those voting Republican for President since 1988 have become increasingly religious in motivation.

Representative Christopher Shays of Connecticut expressed regrets that:

"[T]he Republican Party of Lincoln has become a party of theocracy."

And not for the first time, as this author reveals:

The President Who Died for Us
Published: April 14, 2006

THIS year, Good Friday, the day commemorating Christ's crucifixion, falls on April 14, as it did in 1865.

On that evening, in the balcony box of Ford's Theater in Washington, John Wilkes Booth fired a handmade .41-caliber derringer ball into the back of Abraham Lincoln's head. In the days that followed Lincoln's death, his mourning compatriots rushed to compare him to Jesus, Moses and George Washington. At a mass assembly in Manhattan five hours after Lincoln's death, James A. Garfield — the Ohio congressman who would become the second assassinated president 16 years later — voiced the common hesitancy, then went on to claim the analogy: "It may be almost impious to say it, but it does seem that Lincoln's death parallels that of the Son of God."

Thomas Nast's 1866 painting President Lincoln Entering Richmond (commemorating his surprise stroll into the capital of the Confederacy on April 4, 1865, shortly after Robert E. Lee's retreat) reinforced the sentiment: Lincoln shepherded his people just as Jesus did. The president walked into Richmond before Holy Week the way Jesus rode into Jerusalem before Passover: humbly, not triumphantly. Both men were enveloped by exuberant admirers.

Lincoln, who after 1862 had spoken repeatedly of his dependence on God and Providence,
had never referred much to Jesus.
Despite the Good Friday coincidence, the Jesus parallel was not an obvious one for 19th-century Americans to make. The Protestant population, then as now, included a vigilant evangelical minority who thought that Jesus, sinless on earth, was defamed every time ordinary sinners presumed to imitate him. No mere mortal could be put beside Jesus on a moral balance scale.

But Honest Abe overwhelmed the usual evangelical reticence — by April 1865 the majority of Northerners and Southern blacks took him as no ordinary person. He had been offering his body and soul all through the war and his final sacrifice, providentially appointed for Good Friday, showed that God had surely marked him for sacred service. Jesus had saved humanity, or at least some portion of it, from eternal damnation. Lincoln had saved the nation from the civic equivalent of damnation: the dissolution that had always bedeviled republics.

"Jesus Christ died for the world,"said the Rev. C. B. Crane in Hartford.
"Abraham Lincoln died for his country."
Radical Republicans revealed a political reason for comparing Lincoln to Jesus. Trying to explain why a rational Providence had permitted Lincoln to die, they decided that the savior of the nation had proved himself too Christ-like, too softhearted, too "womanly," for the necessarily punitive job of "reconstructing" the postwar South. God in his wisdom had put Andrew Johnson in place for the messy task of enacting justice.

Like God wanted THIS MAN to be predsidense???
AS IF!!!
Many Protestants also displayed a religious motive for emphasizing the resemblance between Lincoln and Christ. They made the president a virtual holy man because they wished retroactively to make him a morally impeccable and believing Christian. They considered theater-going, a favorite pastime of the president, as morally dubious; his choice of the stage for recreation on this day of crucifixion made them sick at heart.
The barrage of Jesus comparisons offered a camouflaging aura of piety
for a man who had enjoyed lowbrow, off-color humor as much as play-acting.

Just as Karl's media blasphemy today offers Red Staters a Potemkin visage for the drug-addict / alcoholic military deserter who reported dabbled (to be generous) in homosexual exploration and who has been accused of rape at least one.

"It's GOOD to be the King!

But I digress.

The small minority of Jews and Catholics, equally awed by Lincoln's bodily sacrifice, joined Protestants in hailing the president's uncommon virtues: forgiveness, mercy, defense of the poor and the oppressed. Catholics joined Protestants in noting his Christ-like habits of brooding in private and keeping his own counsel.

Nearly everyone joined in heralding Lincoln's phrase "with malice toward none, with charity for all", which Christian mourners hailed as the heart of the Gospel. Those words from his second inaugural address, delivered just six weeks before his death, turned up on hand-scrawled banners all over the Union. People mounted them, along with black-bordered flags and photographs of Lincoln, in the windows of their homes and shops.

Most American Christians turned to the Jesus analogy because they realized how much they loved Lincoln. They took his loss as personal, often comparing it to a death in the family. Many felt attached to Lincoln almost as they felt attached to Jesus. The striving rail-splitter from Illinois and the simple carpenter from Nazareth resembled them, the people.

Seven score and one years have passed since Good Friday 1865, and Lincoln has always remained his own man. In his final years, he had set his own course by balancing a pressing sense of the rule of Providence with a persistent belief in the power of reason. Still, he can — and should — stand as historic demonstration that a republican hero's sacrifice for the people comes very close to Christ's ideals of self-denial and self-giving.

Richard Wightman Fox is writing a book about the aftermath of Lincoln's assassination.

Liberals and progressives are often accused by the wrong-wing of using situational ethics when deciding what action is right and what is wrong. Based on the comparison I have made (with the help of media reports) between the 'leadership' of Warren Steed Jeffs and that of George Dubai-yah Bu$h, those empowered to enforce the morally universalistic law of the land while they selectively ignore the crimes and misdeeds of those within the inner circle of Bu$hCo clearly demonstrate situational ethics in action. (inaction?)

Situational ethics also defines why Trey Parker and Matt Stone can blithely lambaste and besmirch religious and patriotic icons (and George, too) while decrying vehemently when someone 'intolerant' decides to limit their 'creativity'.

It's also why Red State America can think of itself as Christian
while their Thief Executive daily violates the majority of the Ten Commandments
(a 'quaint' document, perhaps? Ask Gonzales.).

If that isn't selective morality, then no one knows what it is - especially not those adherents of the Topper$' Republican Radical Religiou$ sect.

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