Ridiculing the ridiculous

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As the Republican primary election battle trudges on, and as the rhetorical and demagogic circus continues, hilarity ensues on the open media as candidates insist on making unintelligible propositions.

This week’s headliner was Rick Santorum, who has recently taken center stage in the republican Blue Collar Comedy Tour. In a statement he issued in Columbus, Ohio, Santorum claimed that president Obama bases his agenda on “some phony theology. Not a theology based on the Bible – a different theology”. He said this, by the way, while ironically breaking both the fourth and the tenth commandments, as he worked on the Sabbath and did so while coveting another man’s job.

Not to be outdone by any fellow Catholic, the illustrious Newt Gingrich, still dripping from his recent baptism into the Catholic Church, and still riled up about the birth control fiasco, had claimed that during president Obama’s “war on religion”, the president had dared to think that as the democratically elected leader of the sovereign United States of America, he could actually legislate something without the agreement of a supposedly infallible German cleric who holds the title of Bishop of Rome. Gingrich continued to claim that this is but a part of the half century long campaign by “secularists [to] get between man and God”.

Before you start scratching your head, trying to figure out how a supposed omnipotent omniscient omnipresent creator deity can be kept away from his pious human creatures – by other non pious human creatures, not to mention how someone like Gingrich might have found out about this cosmic tragedy, you might fist consider what kind of fool might take any of this piffle seriously. As it happens, many of the credulous fools that are being address happen to consider themselves Tea Party “patriots”, and believe that the US is a Christian nation, based on Christian principals laid down by the founding fathers. And yet, we have only to read the words of John Adams who wrote that “the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion”. James Madison had proclaimed that “The Constitution of the U.S. forbids everything like an establishment of a national religion”. Benjamin Franklin had written that “Lighthouses are more useful than churches”. Thomas Jefferson wrote about “building a wall of separation between church and state”. And the first amendment states quite unambiguously that “Congress shall make NO law respecting an establishment of religion”. This amendment also ensures that the free exercise of religion will not be prohibited, but political “pundits” of the sort that thinks birth control options prohibit people’s freedoms, have their work cut out for them if they want to explain how giving people more options constitutes a prohibition. In light of the clear conflict here, one should ask oneself a simple question: what is more in line with traditional American values – options, opportunities and individual freedom to decide, or the restrictive edicts of the Catholic Church? It seems perfectly clear, therefore, that both Santorum and Gingrich believe the freedom of a theocratic organization to restrict people’s choices is more important than the freedom of individual Americans to decide for themselves.

Running on a patriotic platform while spewing nonsense that flies in the face of American values? Revering a theocratic organization that condemns birth control pills but condones Viagra? Accusing an elected US president who values the constitutional separation of church and state of having a phony theology? Thomas Jefferson knew very well how to respond to nonsense like this when he wrote about the Catholic Church that “Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions”.

Hear, hear, Mr. Jefferson.

Let me second that motion, and continue ridiculing the ridiculous.

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