Using The Bible as an Elitist Bastard Weapon

by Karen Simon, special to En Tequila Es Verdad

Editor’s Note: Karen Simon is one of our regular commenters here, and she’s proven to be wise and wonderful and a boon to thought-provoking conversation. Alas, she hasn’t a blog of her own. But she wanted to join the rest of us Elitist Bastards, and so I post her submission here. How could I resist after that title? Enjoy!

My naughty little indulgence is to disarm intolerant fundies with their own weapon , the Bible.

When I hear someone spouting intolerance in the name of God and a verse from the Bible to support said intolerance I can quickly come up with at least three or four verses that not only refute their argument but also condemns them as the bigoted assholes they are.

The beauty of the Bible is that the the authorship is so vast and the opinions expressed so varied that you can justify almost anything.

Why it is so useful for my purposes is that as a Christian I am not trying to tell them not to believe in God so they trust me. They can’t call me a liar because I just quoted their divinely inspired owners manual, but I just trumped them.

What to do? Usually they just walk away stunned , angry and confused because they don’t have the critical thinking tools necessary for a legitimate argument because they are taught never to search and never to question. It would be a much more tolerant and happy world if we allowed ourselves and others to be questioners and searchers.

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Friends, Americans, countrymen, lend me your dictionaries!

Allow me to introduce myself. I am Nicole Palmby. You killed grammar. Prepare to die.

Okay, not really. But I needed some sort of introduction for my first post as sub-blogger of Dana’s Wonderful World of Snark. I am Nicole Palmby. And while you may not have killed grammar, it certainly is on its deathbed, and, as grammar is my mama, I plan to avenge its impending death.

I wrote this article late last week and edited it earlier this week, but I was a little reluctant to post it following Kaden‘s beautiful piece on grade inflation. I think, though, that what I have to say needs to be said, and I look forward to what you have to say about it, as well. Enjoy.

—–

My current day gig is shaping the literary, grammatical, and writing minds of the future leaders of your local Target team.

Okay. Maybe that’s an unfair assumption. I could be shaping the minds of future political leaders. For example, I could be grading the vocabulary assignments of the next George W. Bush! Some days I feel like I am.

Regardless of the future endeavors of the attitude-wielding, SMS-ing, bleary-eyed nodes of apathy, I am entrusted to ensure each pile of flip-flops and hoodie is able to identify the theme of classic but boring novel title here> and write a competent, even if uninteresting, five-paragraph essay.

Anyone who knows me might smile and mutter some comment about the ease of my vocation–“You mean you get to talk about books and writing all day and get paid for it? Man! Your life is rough, innit?”–but let me assure you that getting paid to talk about books and writing is not what it once was.

There was a time during which schools valued the education gifted to their students (because education really is a gift) and parents cared about what their children were doing all day. It wasn’t so long ago that students went to school because they knew they had to, and the community was proud if it was the custodian of a “good district.”

It seems that while the days of the “good school districts” still exist (I teach in one), much of what makes a school “good” has morphed into something wholly unrecognizable.

It used to be that, upon graduation, students were not only capable of writing a five-paragraph essay, but an 8- to 10-page research paper in MLA style with print sources. They understood the mechanics of the English language. They were able to communicate their thoughts and ideas effectively within those mechanics.

However, I have received numerous essays this year completed–grudgingly, mind you–in what is known as text-speak. Yes, that’s right: English Honors students turned in formal essays that used the number 2 instead of “to” (and in place of “two” AND “too,” for that matter), used “ur” for “you’re” and “yr” for “your.”

While I love the ease technology gives my workload, I can’t help but shake my head at the price American children are paying for the conveniences they have. My junior students–also Honors–have difficulty placing apostrophes properly. They can’t tell me the difference between “there,” “their,” and “they’re.”

Programs that proofread, while I admit they can be helpful, have created a dependency. Students have no accountability for their own writing skills. After all, why should they remember that it should be “all right” not “alright” when Microsoft Word in its infinite wisdom makes the correction for them as soon as they strike the next key?

When I was younger and still taking math classes, my teachers usually allowed us to use calculators to check our work–after we had done the problems ourselves. Their logic was simple: you have to know the long way before you can use the shortcut. I think the same logic should follow in writing. Yes, you do need to know to correct the spelling of “there” to “their” so that when, later, the computer does it for you, you’ll know why.

Students today put no value on their education.

Although perhaps I shouldn’t put all the blame on the students. If they could they’d text and watch Flavor of Love all day. They don’t know enough to value their education.

Besides, it isn’t only students who devalue education in the United States. Some parents have a decreasing amount of involvement in their (not they’re) children’s educations. They blindly trust that the school is taking care of things.

Unfortunately, when a school budget is dangled by a thread of standardized test scores, many schools find themselves focusing the curriculum on test-taking skills rather than academic skills. I don’t agree with the practice, but when it comes down to teaching “real” curriculum or not having to eliminate instructional positions, I can’t say I’d act any differently.

I have my opinions about standardized testing, but that’s for another carnival.

Regardless, there is still a significant decline in the emphasis put on education in our nation. And yet, college enrollment (and graduation) is higher than ever. What kind of message are we sending to our children when they barely graduate high school and are admitted to colleges and universities once thought of as prestigious?

The result is a nation of employees who rely on the automatic proofreader in their word processors, and who are unable to be accountable for what they write.

The written word is a powerful weapon. Writers wield whole worlds with their pens, and, unlike surgeons, lawyers, and real estate agents, there is no examination that must be passed in order to become certified. Anyone can become a writer with just an idea, paper, and pen.

And instead of sanctifying this power, we reduce it to busywork assignments, let students take it for granted, and eventually, take it for granted ourselves. In fact, a colleague of mine suggested encouraging students to take their notes in text-speak in order to practice summarizing and resist the urge to write every single word. What an optimistic way of ensuring students are incapable of doing what every employee must do at one time or another: write intelligently, following general writing standards.

Unfortunately, this travesty has become so widespread as to be seen in every media outlet all over the world. Just today, in fact, while watching TV, the closed captioning on the television clearly read “presidentsy” instead of “presidency.” Really? I mean, really?

As what often feels like a single, tiny voice shouting into the wind, I fear there will be no end to the apathy toward the English language. Today prepositions are generally accepted at the ends of sentences. (I’m guilty of this myself when the “proper” grammatical construction reads/sounds awkward.) What happens tomorrow? “You’re” and “your” become one interchangeable word? Come on. (Oops! Preposition!)

Are Americans really so lazy that we’ve gone from omitting the “u” in various words—color, honor, etc.—to accepting English essays that use “yr” in place of “your,” which should really be “you’re”? I’m curious what Lynne Truss would say about American students (and adults, for that matter) English education and writing styles.

As a writer, as a teacher, as an American, I urge citizens and political leaders to work to effect (and that’s effect, not affect) a change in the state of English education in the United States. Write to your senators, representatives, school board presidents, governors…whoever will listen! We need to act fast or No Fear Shakespeare will become Shakespeare for Americans, and the Bard’s famous line, “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears” (Julius Caesar III.ii.74) will quickly become “Peeps, lstn ↑!!1!”

Submissions!

(Repost from the official Carnival of the Elitist Bastards site)

Just a few hours left! If you’re planning to sail with us, time to jump on board.

Gmail’s acting strangely. To be safe, cc me on your submissions: dhunterauthor at yahoo dot com.

Here’s the list of contributors so far:

Brian
Ames
Etha
Lirone
Blake
Mike
Efrique
Cousinavi
Bitter
John Pieret
George W.
Paul
NP

If you don’t see your name on the list, and it should be there, please do resubmit your link to me at dhunterauthor at yahoo dot com.

Paul’s got some new badges up in the sidebar – WE HAZ ELITUST BASTARDETTES!! Grab a badge, show your Elitist Bastard pride, and have your grog ready for the maiden voyage on Saturday!

Kaden: A few quick updates

Hey bloggers!

Well, our wonderful hostess should be picking from the dozen or so options for a banner for the Carnival right about now. In the meantime, a few orders of business.

I wanted to post the fourth segment in the Academia series, but I don’t know what to say. I don’t want to bore everyone with accounts of my experience that has no valuable insights. Perhaps if there is anything in particular that people would like to hear more about? I’m not sure what an eighteen year old would know that would interest the general population but I got a few comments on my earlier posts, so there must be someone other than Dana slogging through all this crap I write.

Next, before the Carnival gets right under way, I wanted to invite you all to a preliminary round of applause for our wonderful Dana, for being the flag carrier and putting this carnival together! I figure that my hoorah’s might go buried beneath the various contributions, so I’m abusing my godly powers of co-blogger and taking the initiative! Ha!

In addition to Dana, thank you to those who helped out with suggestions for the banner, names for the celebrated egg heads, and our awesome badge-maker.

So as preparations come to their close, I hope everyone has fun. This carnival could have some implications for me; see, with the people I know, the high school and virtual environment I saunter through, and the generation I’m growing up in, Dana hit the nail on the head when she explained how elitism is seen in a negative light. At first I thought that this carnival was supposed to be mocking elitists, because the idea of celebrating them was entirely foreign to me, so this should be quite an experience! I look forward to everyone’s contributions.

And everything changes
And nothing is truly lost
-Neil Gaiman

(I have got to get my own sign-off phrase…)

Carnival Business #5

Postdated to stay up until the bitter end.

Just a few short days left to get your submissions in for the Carnival of the Elitist Bastards! Email your links to elitistbastardscarnival@gmail.com by the end of day, Friday. Our maiden voyage launches Saturday, May 31st. Don’t miss the boat!

Kaden’s working on a title bar. If you want to be part of the creative process, or just an opinionated bastard as well as an elitist one, get your suggestions in asap.

All aboard! Eggheads, Unite!

Happy Hour Discurso

Today’s opining on the public discourse.

Usually, I try to go a bit further afield than The Carpetbagger Report on Fridays, because I can spend more than 20 minutes hunting down political fuckwittery for your reading pleasure. However. Today is the last day before the first ever Carnival of the Elitist Bastards launches.

I have a boatload of entries to sort through and organize.

I haven’t even written my bloody entry.

Carpetbagger it is! Thank you, Steve, for finding all the tasty tidbits so I don’t have to. What do you have for us today, sir?

Oh, now, this could get interesting:

WASHINGTON (CNN) — Former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan said Friday he would be willing to comply with a rumored Congressional subpoena to discuss the administration’s handling of pre-war intelligence, telling CNN’s Wolf Blitzer he’d be “glad to share my views” if asked to testify.


Steve Benen asks the important question: “And what about the White House?”

In today’s press briefing, Dana Perino suggested the White House could put a stop to this.

QUESTION: Could the White House block him from testifying, if he wanted to testify? Or how does that work?

PERINO: Conceivably?

QUESTION: Yes.

PERINO: Hypothetically, which I’m not supposed to answer a hypothetical, yes, I think so. The law would allow for that. But by saying that, I’m not suggesting that that’s what would happen or not happen.


Not surprisingly, this isn’t about classified information, but rather, executive privilege — which might apply, even if McClellan were willing to appear voluntarily.


There you have it, my darlings. The White House is desperate to shut Scottie up. You should really skip over and have a look at the amazing batch of fuckery Steve’s collected on this – the Right Wing Noise Machine (patent pending) has been kicked into overdrive trying to discredit dear ol’ Scottie. They’re terrified.

I’m amused. Wexler & Co. seem delighted – the actual watchdogs in Congress are salivating. If they were cats, they’d be purring. They’ve got a claw hooked gently in their victim, and they’re just waiting for the right moment to reel in and bite. This should prove a very interesting summer indeed.

And it only gets worse for the White House:

Twenty former U.S. attorneys, both Republicans and Democrats, urged a federal judge Thursday to intervene in a constitutional battle over whether two White House officials should be forced to testify before Congress about the firings of nine U.S. attorneys. The former top prosecutors, including two who served under President Bush, argue in court papers that the judge should reject the Bush administration’s assertion of blanket immunity for presidential chief of staff Joshua Bolten and former White House counsel Harriet Miers in the congressional investigation.


Struggle, little White House. Try to flee. But the cat always wins over the mouse, and every dog will have its day.

I feel a change coming. I feel a drumbeat. Do you? I think the people are finally fed up with the lies, obfuscation, manipulation and stupidity. McCain, on the other hand, can’t seem to get enough of it.

He’s spectacularly wrong about Iraq – again.

He’s moving goalposts to cover up his stupidity – again.

He’s using the United States military for political gain – again.

He’s not practicing what he’s preaching – again and again and again.

This is all from just the last week, my darlings.

If there’s anyone in the cantina who still thought McCain wouldn’t be such a bad choice, who bought into his straight-talkin’ maverick marlarkey, I do believe it’s time for you to think again.

Moderate Christians: If You Wanted to Clean Your Own House, You’d Best Fetch Your Brooms Now

It’s time to sweep the cockroaches off the public stage and back into the cracks where they belong.

Coral Ridge Ministries hosted the Reclaiming America for Christ conference in March of this year. The conference didn’t gain the media scrutiny it should – after all, there was no angry black man ranting from the pulpit. It’s stocked to overflowing with rich white fuckers spewing venom, hate and ignorance, and we all know the media has bags full of free passes they hand out for rich white fuckers who spew venom et al, at least until an outraged blogging community forces so much attention on matters that a few of them end up treated sarcastically on ABC so that the media can claim its independence from… well, you know.

Cute illusion, that, and useful as far as it goes, but an illusion only. When the right-wing fucktards can get a Dunkin’ Donuts commercial pulled over the terrorist-idolizing properties of a black-and-white paisley scarf, but no attention is paid to the terrorist-idolizing speeches of far right evangelicals, you know something’s rotten and the media’s refusing to admit it can smell.

Observe:

“I am not here to call the church to partisan action,” Perkins explained. “I am not here advocating for a political party. I am here advocating for Christian citizenship.”

Lest any of the assembled miss the point, Perkins offered up the story of Phineas, grandson of Moses’ brother Aaron, from Numbers 25. Phineas was rewarded by God with an “everlasting priesthood” for killing an Israelite and his Midian lover because God had forbidden the mixing of the men of Israel with the women of that tribe.

The story is, essentially, the vindication of the criminalization of “miscegenation” — a sentiment consistent with Perkins’ past courting of such racist groups as the Ku Klux Klan and the Council of Conservative Citizens, America’s largest white supremacist organization, according to journalist Max Blumenthal. (Perkins bought, on behalf of political client Senator Woody Jenkins, a phone-bank list from former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke.)

[snip]

“We read that Phineas arose and he took action…,” Perkins said.

“Not only is prayer required…I warn you that if you begin to pray for our nation that, at some point in time, you’re gonna be prayin’ and you’re gonna feel a tap on your shoulder and hear, ‘Son, daughter, I’ve heard your prayer; now I want you to do something about it.’”

Just in case his message should be misconstrued, however, Perkins offered this caveat: “Now, let me be clear, in case the media’s here,” he said, “I’m not advocating you go home and get a pitchfork out of your storage shed and run into your neighbor’s house.” Phineas, the Bible tells us, used a javelin.


Stop. Let’s take note of several things here.

1. Tony Perkins believes that one day, God will literally tap these frothing haters on the shoulder and direct them to do something about their prayers. We know what the prayers of the theocons are, don’t we? Rid the world of non-believers, homosexuals, abortion providers, Muslims, and sundry other undesirables; bring about Armageddon; bring America back to their narrow brand of noxious Christianity. Can we guess what the “do something about their prayers” might be?

2. In case not, consider carefully the story he tells. A man murders two people for no greater crime than some intertribal nookie in the Tabernacle, and is granted “everlasting priesthood.” Seems like this “Thou shalt not kill” thing comes with a fuckload of exceptions.

3. Take especial note of that “in case the media’s here” line. What might he have said if there was no possibility of somewhat sane people with recording devices being present, I wonder?

Prup at The Reality-Based Community calls Perkins’ speech a “dog-whistle shout-out to Christian Identity terrorists.” And he has some nervous-making detail on the subtext of that speech that should have you feeling very thoughtful indeed after reading it.

Anne Coulter, another august speaker at the conference, has no such sense of subtlety:

In her remarks to those who pledged to reclaim the nation for Christ, Ann Coulter equated the lives of aborted fetuses with those of the doctors and abortion clinic workers who were murdered by anti-abortion
terrorists.

“Those few abortionists were shot or, depending on your point of view, had a procedure with a rifle performed on them,” Coulter told her audience, which responded with laughter.


Ah, yes, those perfect Christians. They do so lurves them a good, clean joke about murdering doctors.

And what does the media do with people who surreptitiously celebrate and encourage such acts of domestic terrorism? They invite them on to speak – over and over and over and over again. While a Dunkin’ Donuts gets booted for having Rachael Ray dressed in the wrong sort of scarf.

Let me be crystal clear: these fuckwits aren’t Christians. I know it, and you know it. They wallow in the darkest, filthiest verses of the Bible. To them, Christian love is something you administer with a rifle. They lambast divorce, but they happily divorced reality long ago. And they’re taken seriously in our political and spiritual arenas.

They want nothing less than a theocracy, dictated by them, with only their views aired and practiced. They’ll advocate any means to get there, up to and including violence and terrorism. Those things, they say, are righteous as long as they are the ones doing them.

They’re making Christianity look less like a religion and more like a dangerous pathology that must be quarantined every day.

So, moderate Christians: if you want to rescue a shred of your faith intact, I’d suggest you get busy now. Get up, get loud, and sweep these fuckers out of power before they pick up their javelins and their rifles and murder your faith.