Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Focus on the Families, Not the Old Testament

In the wake of the awful events of Friday, December 14, in Newtown, Connecticut, it's hard to feel anything but shock, anger and profound sadness. Nonetheless, no tragedy is so horrific that at least one high-profile Bible-thumper will feel no shame in using the atrocity as an excuse to promote his old-timey agenda. Three days after the incomprehensible killings, Focus On The Family founder James Dobson shared some choice comments with the world:

I think we have turned our back on the scripture and on God almighty and I think he has allowed judgment to fall upon us. I think that's what's going on.”

When we are confronted with something as horrifying, heartbreaking and senseless as the cold-blooded murder of 26 people in an elementary school, we want to understand, to find some meaning. While there's been a lot of talk about how it might have been prevented, I still can't begin to fathom why it happened.

But James Dobson has a pretty good hunch.

I mean millions of people have decided that God doesn't exist, or he's irrelevant to me and we have killed 54 million babies and the institution of marriage is right on the verge of a complete redefinition. Believe me, that is going to have consequences, too.”

I'm no theologian, but I think Dobson is implying that, in addition to feeling ignored, God was angry about the termination of unborn children...so consequently He killed 20 children. Can that be right? Again, I don't watch enough Religion and Ethics Newsweekly to have any claim of expertise in this area, but I think it's fair to say that unless you have a raging hard-on for the vengeful early books of the Bible, such an explanation is completely loony.

Generally I try not to level the term "moron" at anybody other than myself, but when you ignore all the facts and instead attribute horrific monstrosities exclusively to things on your pre-existing list of grievances, it does technically classify you as a moron. The world is having a large-scale discussion about mental health issues and gun laws, and the moron James Dobson stands up and says, “Duh, it’s because of abortion. And the Gays. Duh!!”

I "get" God better than you do.

Now, about that abortion explanation. Abortions are legally performed in Australia, too, and yet there have been no mass shooting rampages Down Under since last century. Though I suppose I shouldn’t jump to conclusions—maybe God really wants to confer judgment on the Ozzies too, but his almighty hands are tied on account of the rapid-fire gun restrictions that were enacted there a while back, which Nicholas Kristof recently detailed:

In Australia in 1996, a mass killing of 35 people galvanized the nation’s conservative prime minister to ban certain rapid-fire long guns. The “national firearms agreement,” as it was known, led to the buyback of 650,000 guns and to tighter rules for licensing and safe storage of those remaining in public hands. 

The law did not end gun ownership in Australia. It reduced the number of firearms in private hands by one-fifth, and they were the kinds most likely to be used in mass shootings.

In the 18 years before the law, Australia suffered 13 mass shootings — but not one in the 14 years after the law took full effect. The murder rate with firearms has dropped by more than 40 percent, according to data compiled by the Harvard Injury Control Research Center, and the suicide rate with firearms has dropped by more than half.

Given the effectiveness of that legislation, we'd better not enact anything similar here in the U.S. If God is no longer allowed to send a psychotic angel of death to murder our 1st graders with an assault rifle, how will we know when He's unhappy with the bearing of our national moral compass?

Dobson is at least half-right about one thing, though: “The institution of marriage is on the verge of complete redefinition. Believe me, that is going to have consequences, too.”

It sure will! Much like the redefinition of the right to vote had consequences, namely that voting is no longer the exclusive right of white male property owners. (Dobson strikes me as the kind of guy who would’ve opposed those changes, too.)

(This, too, is a picture of that guy.)

Of course, it’s not surprising that someone as rationally-challenged as Dobson would fail to realize that the goal of the Marriage Equality movement is not so much a “complete redefinition" of marriage as it is an “addendum” to marriage, to the effect of, “Also gays can too.”

I know it's because I'm an imbecile myself and thus I often have a hard time accepting reality, but I still find it shocking and utterly dismaying that people like The Moron James Dobson remain in such prominent and apparently influential positions in this country. Now, like TMJD, I'm not very good at suppressing my opinions, but even I can recognize that, no matter how strongly you feel, there are times in life when you just need to shut the fuck up. For future reference, Mr. Dobson, when parents of murdered school children are desperately trying to understand what has just happened to them—and your immediate urge is to proclaim that God is angry because people aren't religious enough anymore—that is one of those times.

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