« December 2007 »

Memo to Mitt Romney: YEAH, FUCK YOU TOO.

Now, I want to make clear right from the outset, as an atheist, I'm not interested in Mitt Romney's approval, disapproval, inclusion, or derision. Mitt Romney is not seeking the atheist vote, and atheists sure as fuck aren't seeking Mitt Romney. Unless they're multibillionaire atheists. But there are some fascinating things about Mitt Romney's speech on religion from last Thursday that speak to how fucked up the whole process is.

And first and foremost amongst that was the constant comparison to JFK's speech on religion in 196. Something the Romney campaign must have pushed for, given how prevalent it was in the days leading up to his oh-so-important speech. Here we are in 2007, watching Mitt Romney try to appease fundamentalist Christians by attempting to pick up the mantle of John Kennedy while simultaneously stepping all over that same mantle. It was a tricky balancing act. Did Mitt pull it off? Depends on who you ask. He certainly said some colossally stupid shit in the process, though.

Of course, I have to address the ridiculous and oft-quoted bit from his speech: "Freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom. Freedom opens the windows of the soul so that man can discover his most profound beliefs and commune with God. Freedom and religion endure together, or perish alone." The most astonishing thing about this quote is that both sides of it are complete bullshit.

The bit about freedom requiring religion is just hoary old right-wing "Godless Commie" bullshit from people who will lie to you about the millions who died at the hands of "atheist" dictators like Stalin. Been there, done that, refuted your T-shirt. But the second half, about religion requiring freedom, is bullshit too. All kinds of religions have survived and thrived despite being under the thumb of slavery, oppression, or both. Christians, Hindus, Jews three or four times... if religion required freedom, there'd be a lot more atheists around.

What Romney actually means is that the open practice of religion requires freedom, or at the very least sharing the same tastes in religion as whoever's in charge. Which is one thing religion has in common with masturbation and playing Manhunt 2. They're all easier, and more fun, when The Man isn't hassling you and trying to keep you from doing them. So yes, Mitt. Freedom requires freedom. Thanks for calling everyone out to the Poppy Bush Library to tell us that, Captain Truism.

His next stupid thing is a bit subtle, because it requires context. Romney clearly wants to establish boundaries for what candidates are asked about religion, and more importantly, he wants to establish those boundaries at the point where they benefit him most. So let's look at the question he DOES answer:

"There is one fundamental question about which I often am asked. What do I believe about Jesus Christ?" (His answer: He's awesome!) But here's the question he won't answer:

"There are some who would have a presidential candidate describe and explain his church's distinctive doctrines. To do so would enable the very religious test the founders prohibited in the Constitution." Got that? We can ask candidates how they feel about Jesus, but the instant we go into any more detail than that, whoops, we run afoul of that pesky Constitution thing.

I'm sure there's nothing Romney would love more than to spend hours waxing philosophical about magic underwear, Jesus in the Americas, and Kobol. But the Founding Fathers (who, by the way, all loved Jesus and want you too as well) wisely decided he shouldn't.

Let me save you some time. You want to know what all the candidates think about Jesus? They like him. They're pro-Jesus. Not a one of them has an anti-Jesus position paper. Some of them think Jesus hates fucking, some of them think Jesus is a cookie, and some think Jesus hung out with the Native Americans, but they all love Jesus. You're not going to get any distinctions at Romney's preferred level of detail, that's for damn sure.

Some people think Romney did not include those of us without a faith in his speech, but he did! How much more inclusive can you be towards people of all faiths than to tell people of no faith that they are, actually, a people of a faith? And that faith is wrong? That's really fucking inclusive, that is:

They seek to remove from the public domain any acknowledgment of God. Religion is seen as merely a private affair with no place in public life. It is as if they are intent on establishing a new religion in America – the religion of secularism. They are wrong." Honestly, Mitt, I'm feeling a bit TOO included right now. I'm sure that stake is both warm and cozy, but I'd rather just sit quietly over here and worship secularism for a bit, OK?

But the single dumbest thing about Mitt's speech is this. JFK's speech in 64 was notable largely because it contained sentiments few people had heard from a politician before. Romney's sentiments, on the other hand, was full of the same bullshit we've been hearing from fundamentalists, Rush, and Fox News for a decade. We're a Christian nation. As long as you're Christian, that's fine. Nothing wrong with mangers at City Hall, the Godly Pledge of Godly Allegiance, or that thing on the money. And anyone who thinks otherwise MUST BE STOPPED. The only parts of his speech not lifted wholesale from the Fundie's Big Book Of Talking Points can be summarized in five words:

"Pretend I'm not a Mormon." Which is easy for me to do, since it's all pretend anyway.