Archive - Jul 2007

July 2nd

Comparative Fantasy

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Memo to Bob Riley and Unnamed Dude: YOU ARE BOTH EQUALLY DUMB.

One of the things we atheists occasionally find a bit crazy-making is the relative level of credibility given to what seems to us to be roughly equivalent delusions. This struck me yesterday as I pondered two completely unconnected news stories. One involves Bob Riley, and one involves an anonymous individual who, for the sake of simplicity, I will dub Crazy Q. Sumbitch.

Bob Riley is the governor of Alabama. Crazy Q. Sumbitch is a random crazy motherfucker on the streets of New York. One, faced with a real problem, turned to a mythological solution. The other, faced with a mythological problem, turned to a real solution. Both, to me, are crazy, but only one of them would be hauled off by the police.

Governor Bob Riley has a problem. That problem is drought. You can add "water" to the great list of nouns that Alabama doesn't have enough of. Drought's a bitch, there's no doubt about that. Faced with drought, a state's executive could do any number of things. Order water conservation measures, perhaps. Or maybe acknowledge that the situation that's held sway for the past few decades is in fact unsustainable, and start preparing your state for the inevitable. If Riley was feeling REALLY pressured, he could even throw his support behind Kyoto. Wouldn't help this year, of course, but nothing wrong with thinking long-term.

Or he could ask his invisible sky daddy to bring rain to his sorry-ass state. And encourage the entire citizenry to do the same, under the unlikely principle that God is more likely to hear you if everybody's shouting at once.

Yes, Riley has issued an official state proclamation declaring June 30 through July 7 as "Days Of Prayer For Rain". Even ignoring the potential church-state issues that raises - which isn't easy - is that really the kind of action we want to see from our leaders? ACTUAL QUOTE TIME!

"Throughout our history, Alabamians have turned in prayer to God to humbly ask for His blessings and to hold us steady during times of difficulty." - Governor Bob Riley. Except that Governor Riley isn't asking his citizens to pray to be held steady until the rain comes. No, they're just asking for the water directly.

To Alabamans, including the head of the Alabama Farmers Federation and the Alabama Farmers Market Association, this makes perfect sense, so much so that they were willing to offer supportive quotes on the Governor's press release. Yet I can't help but think they wouldn't be NEARLY as supportive of a man's right to beat the living shit out of a vampire in a Burger King parking lot.

I think we can all follow that segue and assume that I'm now talking about Crazy Q. Sumbitch of New York, because that's just what he did. Beat the shit out of a vampire in a Burger King parking lot.

OK, it wasn't a vampire. But he THOUGHT it was. He BELIEVED it was. We know this, because that's the sentiment he expressed to the Burger King employees who happened to be in the parking lot at the time. They were concerned, you see, because from their perspective, some crazy sumbitch had just tackled the STRAY PEACOCK they'd been feeding bread crumbs to and was pounding it so bad it eventually had to be euthanized.

Both men saw a threat their fellow man. Both men took action based upon their belief in the supernatural to try to eliminate that threat. And neither one of them actually accomplished a goddamn thing. And we all may want to THINK that I'm just being snarky and deliberately emphasizing the similarities and downplaying the difference, but ask yourselves this. If there was a verse in Corinthians that had God providing rain in exchange for the sacrifice of a peacock, how long do you think it would be before the steps of the Alabama governor's mansion were littered with the corpses of every brightly-feathered bird in a ten mile radius?

Exactly. Maybe add an extra ten minutes in case PETA gets word and protests. Tops.