Flavin's Corner  October 2003

Idiots, Liars and Fools

Do you profess a belief in God?  Are you against abortion?  The death penalty?  Do you abhor the wearing of fur or the eating of meat?  These and other equally controversial questions are often used as cultural indicators of personal bias.  Common sense (read: consensual science) holds that God is a fictive creation akin to Sherlock Holmes, Tarzan and Frodo Baggins, and the answers to the other questions are essentially irrelevant, as ethical and moral fads come and go unpredictably.  Only an idiot, liar or fool would insist their literary God is real, all others are false, and seek to punish those who don’t believe as they do.  It’s elementary, actually.

Tucker Carlson, the boyish and bowtie-wearing Republican pundit and co-host of CNN’s Crossfire, is an easy example of an idiot (OFr. idiot < L. idiota < Gr. idiotes; one without professional knowledge, an ignorant).  Recently, while discussing the removal of a “Ten Commandments” monument from the rotunda of Alabama's state judicial building with (if I remember correctly) a representative from the ACLU, the representative made the valid point that the monument in Alabama was engraved with one of three popular versions of the Ten Commandments (in English, no less) and, as such, was unfair to those who held the other two versions as sacred.  Carlson sputtered, scoffed, and attempted to ridicule the representative from the ACLU by announcing that this claim of alternative versions of the Ten Commandments was grounds for a new theological breakthrough. Crossfire ended several minutes later.  That evening ABC World News Tonight led with the monument story and in its first minute displayed a graphic showing the differences between the accepted Jewish, Catholic and Protestant versions of the Ten Commandments.  Carlson is an idiot, seemingly secure in his ignorance and ready to attack when confronted with ideas not previously embedded in his narrow belief system.

[Note: Robert Novak, Chicago Sun-Times and syndicated columnist, as well as Carlson’s fellow Republican pundit on Crossfire, mentioned the name of a CIA "operative" in a July 14, 2003 column, but it’s only been in the last week that the Justice Department has initiated a probe in an effort (yeah; right) to identify two Bush administration officials alleged to have leaked the information.  It’s a felony to make unauthorized disclosures concerning covert agents.  There’s been some bluster about a journalist’s right to protect sources of late, yet Novak still earns the idiot tag.  Novak’s idiocy is the result of being so sleazy and desperate to appease his conservative peeps and pimps that he’d risk compromising national security operations and possibly jeopardize someone’s life.  He called the CIA, they asked him not to publish the name and he did it anyway.  Now, Novak claims he named a CIA "analyst," which is not a felony.  The original column contained the term "operative" and the Sun-Times and every newspaper that printed Novak's spew should be brought up on charges.  Idiots.] 

George W. Bush, the President of the United States of America and the dry drunk leader of the so-called “Free World,” may be used as a convenient example of a liar (ME. leigher, leghere < AS. leogere “a liar” from leogan “to lie”).  Bush publically professes a belief in God, holds that his actions are dictated by God’s will (both figuratively and literally) and though elected (sic) to a secular office has time and again, much like a missionary, used a minority Christian interpretation of Jewish scripture to advance his immediate goals.  He’s a liar and is playing the God Game.  Bush was a spoiled rich kid who abused himself with alcohol and cocaine.  His education and military service took a backseat to spoiled rich kid behavior.  He worshiped his father’s wallet.  At some point (probably after a threat from the father’s wallet), Bush exchanged one set of abuses for another.  Alcohol and cocaine were replaced by God, Jesus and lying to America.  It’s in the eyes.  Bush is not a religious man, rather he's chosen to use the rhetoric he believes will shield him from scrutiny.  Criticize God, Jesus, the Ten Commandments or a presidential opinion and it’s un-American or worse.  Bush used the expression “religion and fake religion” in a recent interview, perhaps ostensibly to refer to a perceived difference between the Taliban and Bin Laden’s radical interpretations of Islam and other versions of Islam which haven’t gotten around to declaring open war on the rest of the planet yet.  I suspect Bush knows a thing or three about fake religion.

[Note: Though the above attempts to call into question Bush’s use (read: abuse) of religion, in no way should it be construed that I do not support recent actions in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Sure, better speech writers would have limited the WMD material, but the deeds needed doing.  I have no complaint with our efforts abroad.]

His Holiness Pope John Paul II (née Karol Jósef Wojtyla), spiritual leader to over one billion Roman Catholics and intrepid frequent flier, is in my opinion the best example of a fool (ME. fool, fole, fol < OFr. fol < LL. follus, follis < L. follis, a pair of bellows, a windbag, an allusion to the puffed cheeks of a buffoon).  The Holy Father may be one of the kindest of actors to currently perform on the terrestrial stage, but is a fool because of his handling of the ongoing sexual abuse scandals in the Church.  As Shepard, he’s provided guidance to his flock and sought to clear up the confusion regarding the trial of Galileo Galilei, explicitly exonerated the Jewish people from any wrongdoing concerning the crucifixion of Jesus, has publically supported many basic tenets of modern science and has even gone on record as regarding Hell as a metaphorical psychological condition and not a physical place of torment and punishment.  Yet, as children continue to be victimized by clergy, he foolishly believes matters will mysteriously work out and that women and married men may not celebrate mass and have no place in tomorrow’s Church, other than as readers and entertainers.  As a youngster, I was moved by Anthony Quinn’s film portrayal of a pope, in 1968's The Shoes of the Fisherman, who liquidated the assets of the Church to alleviate hunger and prevent war.  I took comfort in the personal fantasy that when the Church was pressed to do the right thing, it would be done.  I sadly regard His Holiness Pope John Paul II as a fool who cares more for the infallibility of Office and the antiquated traditions generated by sexually confused and dysfunctional men than following the path begun by that Cynic philosopher from Nazareth nearly two thousand years ago.  I offer my sincerest thoughts and well wishes to him as his health declines and I hope he doesn't suffer.  Suffering will always remain the problem and not the answer. 

In a perfect world one would be free to profess a belief (ME. beleve, beleafe < AS. geleafa “belief” from gelefan “to believe”) and not be afraid of others who believe differently.  'Belief' is an acceptance of something as true without sufficient proof to establish factuality.  We are often taught to respect the beliefs of others, while the hard lesson of fearing the beliefs of some is assumed as learned by anyone having extended contact with politics and/or religion (read: just about everyone).

Most of us, at one time or another, have behaved idiotically, been purposely deceitful, and acted foolishly.  Few, if any, are perfect.  The chronic repetition of idiocy, lying or foolishness may or may not be harmful to the perpetrators; I’m unaware of any studies in this area.  However, for those who have to live (and die) by the whims of idiots, liars and fools, the harm is established in the facts of yesterday’s history and today’s news.  Tomorrow?  Anything is possible. 

awaiting the King's return,

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