Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Insightful political commentary, etc.

Thanks to Smitty for the hard-hitting expose about Jesus and Elvis, plus moderating the comments, while I was out of pocket Tuesday evening. The man is owed cheeseburgers and beers for his labors, so hit the tip jar, people. (Second rarest sentence in the English language: "Thanks for picking up the tab, McCain." Because of extremely low wages, newspapermen are cheapskate moochers, and I've eaten enough free food to alleviate Third World famine.)

Update blogging is in order: Now, it's time to address something that needs to be said: I naturally expect that, when I blog about gay rights/gay marriage in terms of God and sin and Anglo-American legal tradition, gay people are going to take umbrage. It is inevitable.

During CPAC, I met conservative lesbian Cynthia Yockey, and Miss Yockey gives me a very gentle and friendly Rule 2 rejoinder on my belief in biblical authority. (Note to self: Resist temptation presented by opportunity for brilliant double-entendre.)

As is my wont (and Miss Yockey can ask commenter Victor about this), I will avoid engaging the specifics of her critique, and instead focus strategically on holding more defensible terrain. To wit, refuting the routine slander that alleges that Bible believers:
  • Hate gay people.
  • Are ignorant of the reality of gayness.
  • Suffer from twisted sexual "repression."
  • Lack familiarity with scientific evidence.
  • Wish to deprive gay people of their rights.
These are lies, Miss Yockey. And who is called "the father of lies"? ( Church Lady voice.) Satan!
Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.
-- John 8:44 KJV
Miss Yockey, if you will read that chapter, you will find that Jesus spoke those words prophetically. The scribes and Pharisees, jealous of Jesus' influence, were indeed already plotting his death. They kept questioning him, trying to trip him up so he would say something that would either justify his religious condemnation as a heretic, or else that would be seen as subversive of Roman authority and justify his condemnation for sedition.

John 8 begins with one of the most famous of these incidents, "the woman caught in adultery." As everyone knows, Christ challenged the woman's accusers, "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her" (John 8:7), and all of them walked away.

This woman quite literally owed Jesus her life. What transpired next?

When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?
She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

-- Romans 8:10-11
Jesus did not condemn the woman, but he nonetheless commanded her to "sin no more."

Now, Miss Yockey, do not read that passage and think of yourself. Think of me. You have no idea how often I have cheated death. One night when I was 19, I consumed the better part of a half-gallon of psilocybin mushroom tea and tooted up a goodly amount of Bolivian flake cocaine.

Having started smoking pot as a 14-year-old, I'd done (and dealt) many drugs by the time I was 19. But psilocybin and cocaine I'd never tried and, as I did not realize at that time, I was under tremendous stress. My mother died when I was 16, I'd barely graduated high school, I'd goofed off so badly in college that I was on the verge of flunking out and -- this was the real heavy one -- my conscience was burdened with knowledge of my own sins.

By the time the psilocybin really kicked in, I had practically forgotten about that half-gallon of magic mushroom tea, whose effects I'd never before experienced. And as anyone who has ever done a lot of coke will tell you, that stuff makes you feel smarter than Einstein, a euphoria that borders on a sense of omniscience.

To say that I freaked completely out is to understate the case. I've always been about half-crazy, but for about 10 days there, I was 110% crazy, and when my older brother finally got me to the emergency room -- oh, that was a wild ride -- the doctor didn't need to examine me much before he spoke those three fateful words: Nurse, Thorazine, please.

Recovering from that experience was a long, hard road, and I went so low that many doubted I'd ever recover, period. All that splendid talent, such once-promising genius, seemed destined to either institutionalization or else slumping along as a dim shadow of his former self.

However, people were praying for me, and people were willing to help me. I returned to college a year later, with only one last chance to make good or flunk out, and thus forfeit the full-tuition scholarship that the state of Alabama granted to the children of disabled veterans. My father had been quite nearly killed by German shrapnel while serving in France in 1944. (His Purple Heart and other medals hang on the wall beside my desk as I type this.) The merit of my father's service had been rewarded with a scholarship for me -- an opportunity I was on the verge of wasting.

I made Dean's List that semester, my still-unstable psychological condition compelling me for the first time in my life to develop systematic study habits. It happened that one of my classes that semester was Introduction to Psychology, where I learned that long-term treatment with anti-psychotic drugs produces a debilitating side-effect known as tardic dyskinesia. So I weaned myself off the meds and, slowly, fought my way back to something like my old half-crazy self.

Now, Miss Yockey, I could elaborate at length all the miracles that God has wrought in my life over the past three decades. If you should ever see me write about angels, trust that there are angels, sent in answer to prayer, and "some have entertained angels unawares" (Hebrews 13:2).

"Go thou and sin no more," Jesus said to the woman who owed him her life. Miss Yockey, if you think I've spent the past 30 years without sinning, you're crazier than me. The apostle Paul once said, "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief" (I Timothy 1:15), but if Paul was chief of sinners, I'm definitely part of the tribe. The only one of the Seven Deadly Sins at which I have not excelled is gluttony, being skinny by nature. (On the other hand, I've gained 25 pounds since my Speedo glory, and can't resist a buffet, so I guess I'm a perfect 7-for-7 in the deadly sins.)

Last fall, I got an Instalanche for a post titled, "Is babe-blogging a sin?" And in all good conscience, I contend it is not. One of the happy blessings of advancing age is that my appreciation of beauty steadily becomes more aesthetic than erotic. (My extremely beautiful wife is skeptical of such assertions, with ample reason given the fact that she is the mother of our six children. The main reason we don't have seven is that I manage to keep myself almost constantly in the doghouse.)

Make no mistake: Lust remains a real temptation, and quite dangerous, and I would hate to think that I was leading others to perdition by such silliness as "Sarah Palin bikini pics" or "Old School upskirt." But if you think about it for two seconds, this is the Internet. Everybody reading this is one quick Google search away from as much raw porn as they want.

So if there are recovering pornoholics out there who need a little methadone to help them get off the heroin, a little Christina Hendricks is relatively benign. (Don't you agree, Dr. Vodka?) If by happy accident that random porn-Googler finds himself reading a right-wing blog run by a homophobic hillbilly holy roller . . .

Miss Yockey, I don't believe in accidents. I've been involved in too many conspiracies, and have been the recipient of too many prayed-for blessings (e.g., Mrs. Other McCain) to think that things "just happen." The person who is reading this is no more reading it by accident than I am writing it by accident.

BTW, did I ever tell you about the time my 1973 VW Beetle went head-on into a pickup truck, and I walked away with nothing worse than a headache? One of many potentially deadly encounters I've survived. If you believe in accidents, how is it that I'm even here to be writing this?

Richard Spencer recently paid me the fine compliment of noting that, in my Taki's Magazine columns, I have shown an ability to write about sex in a funny, engaging way that is not preachy or boring, as is most conservative writing about sex. Such is the tragic dimension of human nature and the decadent situation of contemporary culture that, it seems to me, we must learn to laugh about sex or else it will drive us to despair. Ted Haggard, Jim McGreevey, Mark Foley, Eliot Spitzer, the Big Sexy -- oh, wait a minute. Never mind. Failure to send a promised box of Godiva chocolate isn't all that scandalous.

My point is that sexual sin seems nowadays so widespread that even the most respected and eminent persons might appear in the tabloid sex-scandal headlines tomorrow. And whatever your sins are, or my sins are, or the Big Sexy's sins are, the fact that they're not splashed in 96-point type on the front of the New York Post doesn't mean our sins are unknown. You know your sins, and I know my sins. And if we have sinned against others (which I most certainly have), then those against whom we have sinned are also aware of our sins.

Is there a God who is aware of all our sins? I believe there is, and I believe His judgment is far more to be feared -- because it is eternal and righteous -- than any judgment man can make. We are sinners in the hands of an angry God.

Now, at last, the gay thing. As I look at the clock just now, it's 3:50 a.m. ET, and a couple of guys somewhere in Atlanta are strolling out of an after-hours disco, arm in arm, on their way to an eagerly anticipated carnal satisfaction. Sinners.

Simultaneously, however, it is 12:50 a.m. in Modesto, California, where a pimply teenage boy -- with the assistance of a 4-pack of wine coolers -- has finally gotten to third base with his girlfriend. Sinners.

To quote the American poet Bob Seger, they've only got one thing in common, they've got the fire down below.

Will you accuse me of "ignorance" or "hate"? You haven't the slightest idea what I've known or who I've loved. (Or what I've loved and who I've known.) As for the charge that I am unfamiliar with scientific evidence, that can be easily refuted, if necessary. Everybody knows I'm not "sexually repressed." More like irrepressible.

Ask my friend Michael Petrelis how much I hate gay men. Ask Tammy Bruce how much I hate lesbians. Ask Lynn Conway or Dierdre McCloskey how much I hate transsexuals. Far from wishing to deprive them of their rights, I will stand up for their rights -- especially their First Amendment right to tell meddling politicians to go straight to hell, or their Second Amendment right to defend themselves against assault.

Miss Yockey, you have yourself said that I am irresistible, and you may have thought you were joking. But ask anyone who's met my wife . . . well, she's gotten better at resisting me, but it's a difficult feat to accomplish. My late mother said that I could accomplish anything, if I ever put my mind to it, and please don't tell me my mother lied.

The question of resistance, however, brings me to a conundrum that long contemplation has not resolved in my mind: Are "gay" and "straight" mutually exclusive categories? Would a Venn diagram show them as non-intersecting circles? Is Andrew Sullivan utterly incapable of erotic interest in a woman? Could Camille Paglia ever feel attraction toward a man?

I answer: "No," "no," "maybe," and "it would certainly be nice to think so." I do not doubt, Miss Yockey, that you and your partner are happy together. But if somehow you were to become so unhappy as to split up, or if by misfortune you were widowed (as it were), I would not automatically rule out the possibility that your next partner could be male. More amazing things have certainly happened.

Teenage dopehead psycho becomes notorious right-wing journalist with beautiful wife and six kids? Impossible.

My dear grandmother used to say that I missed my calling, and should have been a preacher. Well, if you miss one calling, you never know what the next calling will be. And if you ignore that one, and are called again . . . But God keeps calling and calling, like the finance company wanting to have a friendly discussion about my 2004 Kia Optima. And by the time you finally answer the call, maybe you're so messed up that the only use God has for you is as a perpetually impoverished blogger. (Hey, it's not His fault that I didn't answer the first call.)

Well, it's 5 a.m. now, and Mrs. Other McCain's alarm clock is set for 5:30 a.m., so we'll see how irresistible I am when I bring her a fresh hot cup of coffee. But if I'm not entirely irresistible, what about God? Can I resist God, Miss Yockey? Can you?

You did not read this by accident, did you? My original career goal was to be a rock star. I been bloggin' all night, my hands are wet on the keys . . .

UPDATE 6 a.m. ET: OK, so it turns out I am resistible. But I did bring her the coffee and thought of something: Am I privileging patriarchal heteronormativity, or whatever they call it in Women's Studies course nowadays?

Do I appear an arrogant chauvinist, to suppose that if Cynthia Yockey and her partner woke up this morning to find Brad Pitt standing there with two fresh hot cups of coffee, that they'd decide to have a Brad sandwich for breakfast?

Excuse me while I leave you to contemplate that scenario. As an old football junkie, my bet is that Brad would put it in the end zone, even if he didn't make the two-point conversion.

UPDATE 6:10 a.m.: Just talked to Mrs. Other McCain again. Sly humor: "I don't know!"

Trying hard to maintain family values while talking about baseball. Which reminds me that today the Braves play the Phillies in spring training. Who's pitching and who's catching? No, who's on first! I don't know! Third base!

UPDATE 7:15 a.m.: Professor Glenn Reynolds: "It figures this would come from a lesbian." Ah, so two can play the old double-entendre game, eh? Well, back at ya, Professor!

Nothing says "family values" like ZZ Top . . .

I'm going to have to ask blogospheric neologian William Jacobson what to call it when the Professor sends me traffic via a carom shot off a lesbian blogger. Or perhaps Gunnery Sergeant Hartman will have some suggestions.


  1. Thinking about this post all morning, I keep going back to the adage - "Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin."

    And yes, you would have been a fine preacher. One with a brain, even.

  2. "Love the sinner, hate the sin."

    Hmmm. Actually, it's more like I'm confessing a problematic affection for sin. I'm a sinner, too. God is the one hating on sin.

  3. Yes, Virginia, there is a Rule #6 - Post cool music videos once in a while - practiced twice in this thread.


  4. I read the blogger, but I can hear the preacher in my head. Well done, sir.

  5. Was I supposed to laugh at this? I hope so...I laughed most of the way through...except for the scriptural parts, of course. it...I now have a place to link for the best counter yet to the accusations I get on my blog---those accusations of how "homophobic", judgmental, and small-minded I am about the sin of homosexuality.

    Well done, sinner, well done.

  6. I've responded to the Newly Conservative Lesbian, with an extensive bit on the "God Hates Shrimp" fallacy in which her response to you committed, in spades.

  7. This post is such a brilliant exposition of the conservative mind towards homosexuality that I'm going to link it, and make a permanent link on my blog to it.

    At some point, when my grad student poor behind can afford to, I'll hit the tip jar, and it will be for this post.

    Wonderfully said RS McCain.