Saturday, February 12, 2005

Jinx McHue redux.


And just like a regular outbreak of cold sores, Mr. Jinx McHue is back with a predictably asinine posting on his site Shock and Blog (or, as I prefer to call it, Schlock and Barf), in which McHue takes your humble correspondent to task for ... well, I'm not quite sure what since the subject of his post has nothing to do with me. But, as we've seen before, McHue is quite impervious to the lance of mere reason so what else is new?

Now, normally, I'd just ignore his rantings since, as I've posted a number of times, I really don't care what McHue or his conservative nutbar buddies choose to write on their own blogs. Sadly, however, McHue has raised the stakes this time, which necessitates a reply from me.

As you can see from this posting, McHue discusses an Alabama state representative named Alvin Holmes who very foolishly made a bet on what Scripture does or does not say about what The Big Guy thinks about marriage. He (McHue, not The Big Guy) seems to think it clever to refer to me indirectly, which is fine and, normally, I'd just ignore his infantile prose and open another beer.

However, as you can see (and, yes, you might as well read his article since we'll be discussing it in some detail), McHue doesn't stop there. Instead, he links to what I'm assuming is the motivating article at the website of one David Limbaugh. (For those of you unfamiliar with the name, David Limbaugh is the self-absorbed, pretentious, semi-literate, bloviating conservative wingnut Limbaugh brother who is not the OxyContin addict. For all I know.)

Again, by itself, that's still not enough for me to give a shit one way or the other until you notice that, in an obvious fit of self-adoration, McHue left a "trackback" at the bottom of Limbaugh's article, inviting Limbaugh's audience to visit his blog. Sadly, this means that all of Limbaugh's groupies who read his work might, indeed, follow the trackback link, get to McHue's article and follow the link from there to this blog.

What this means is that, sadly, I'm going to have to launch a pre-emptive strike against McHue's silliness. That is, I have little choice but to lay a beatdown on McHue that will leave him pissing blood for a day or two, mostly as a warning to any little freepers who show up here itching for a fight. And, no, I won't take it personally if you're bored to tears by this. I am, too, but honour is at stake. And I will at least try to be entertaining and educational.

Now, about Rep. Holmes who, according to Limbaugh, "promised on the floor of the House to give $700 to any person who could show him a biblical passage stating that marriage is to be between man and woman." Quite simply, in making this promise, Holmes was being incredibly foolish, for at least a couple of reasons.

First, it's almost meaningless to say that you're going to prove any position whatsoever from the Bible. The biggest problem in even trying something like this is the massive differences in philosophy between the Old and New Testaments.

In the Old Testament, God is simply, well, a Jerk. He's not particularly tolerant, and spends a lot of time just smiting the crap out of people. You can pretty much open the Old Testament at any page and put your finger down at random and, chances are, someone is getting the bejeezus smitten out of them for something.

The New Testament, however, is a different beast. In the New Testament, Jesus is a much more Southern California, tie-dyed t-shirt, hot tub, live and let live kind of guy (who just happens to hang out with a dozen other guys who just happen to all wear loose-fitting robes that allow easy access ... but that's neither here nor there). Love thy neighbour, turn the other cheek, that sort of thing. And given these obvious differences, it's pretty meaningless to say that you're going to "prove" anything from Scripture unless you can at least narrow it down to one of the Testaments.

The second problem in trying to "prove" anything from Scripture is that, because the Bible is such a seething mass of inconsistencies and contradictions, it's actually not that hard to prove pretty much anything you want.

Take capital punishment. (Please.) If you support capital punishment, you might point to Deuteronomy 19:21: "Show no pity: life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot." On the other hand, if you're opposed, you might latch onto the commandment that states that "Thou shalt not kill.", or perhaps Jesus' admonition to turn the other cheek. See how easy that is? The lesson here is that it's ridiculously simple to prove almost anything from Scripture simply because Scripture itself takes both sides of most every issue anyway.

For this very reason, it also means that it's unspeakably foolish for someone to make a bet on Scripture not saying something, as Holmes did. If you read carefully, you'll see that Holmes was basing his entire case on Scripture not containing a particular type of passage. And that means he's almost certainly doomed to failure.

So, does Holmes actually lose his bet? Oh, yes. You bet. But you at least have to work to prove that. Consider Limbaugh's evidence list. The first passage he cites refers to creating a "companion" for man. And, actually, I don't think that qualifies. I see nothing there about marriage, so I'm going to have to reject that one.

Limbaugh's second example talks about man and woman joining into one. Touching, to be sure, but still not definitive proof. So, no that doesn't count either. In my opinion, you have to work your way down Limbaugh's list to 1 Corinthians 7, which opens with:

Now for the matters you wrote about: It is good for a man not to marry. But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband.

And while I'm a bit creeped out about that "good for a man not to marry" part, it should be obvious that, yes, this is the smoking gun that buries Holmes. I don't think there's any doubt that this refers to opposite-sex marriage, and Holmes should stop weaseling and cough up that $700 (now, as I read it, up to $5,000).

At this point, one might argue whether that's actually what that passage is saying; that is, is that the proper interpretation? And this is exactly how Holmes tries to get out of paying:

"Anybody could have any interpretation they want of the Bible," he said Thursday, "but that's not my interpretation."

But why should Holmes' interpretation be the deciding vote? McHue links to blogger Don Johnson, who correctly calls Holmes on this tacky weaseling:

That is obviously a ridiculous and unsavory way to handle the wager, but let's clarify just why. Holmes initial claim was that the Bible didn't dictate that marriage is to be between a man and a woman. He was so sure of this supposed fact that he wagered $700.00 just to make the point. Now in order to make this claim, and in order for the wager to work, he had to be appealing to some common, objective standard of literary interpretation. After all, he was appealing to scripture for vindication of his position and putting money on the fact that his position was correct.

If you are going to appeal to a book for proof of your position or challenge people with monetary rewards to prove you wrong, you have to expect people to be able to interpret that book the same way you do. I assume that would mean some sort of "plain sense" reading of the text - taking the words at face value. You can't make a wager or support your position based on a floating, subjective standard of interpretation such as the one Mr. Holmes appealed to when confronted with the texts. It destroys the support for your initial proposition and makes the bet ridiculous.

And Johnson is dead right. If Holmes is going to base his entire argument on Scripture, he has to allow what most people would consider a fair and reasonable interpretation of the text. And, from where I sit, 1 Corinthians 7 pretty much puts the nail in Holmes' case.

So, after all this careful reasoning and Scriptural analysis, why is McHue such a total dickhead? First, he dragged me into this without thinking that, given that I like to consider things with at least a minimum of logic and critical analysis, I might actually agree that Holmes lost that bet and should pay up. And he did, and he should.

More to the point, given that I had no idea who Rep. Holmes is, had never heard of this idiotic wager and hadn't posted so much as a single word on any of this, it's pretty asinine and patronizing for McHue to write of Holmes' tap dancing that "CanadianCynic would no doubt approve." Really? And McHue can conclude that out of absolutely thin air, with not a shred of evidence to support it? Gosh, by the same logic, I guess I can surmise that, although I don't know McHue personally or have any idea of his sexual preferences, he "would no doubt approve" of getting boned, slowly and lovingly, up the ass by former White House journalist and gay army stud Jeff Gannon.

It's not like I'd care one way or the other about that but, if I were Mr. McHue, I'd at least make sure the kids weren't in the room. It might be awkward later when they're asking Mommy what that big, crew-cut army man was doing to Daddy when Daddy was down on his hands and knees and squealing like a pig. If you know what I mean.

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