Very early in my blogging career, I decided that I wasn’t going to act as a clearing-house for stories covered by national newspapers. The only kinds of readers I was interested in attracting were people who didn’t need me to tell them about the day’s events. I’m not a goddamned anchorman.
And so I won’t bother to comment on the The New York Times’s story that David Berkowitz (the “Son of Sam”) has apparently been “born again.” I’ll only ask: Is that good news for everybody who didn’t get shot during his first life? Anyway, he’s now apparently having conversations with the voice of a god instead of a dog. Does he speak to it backwards?
However, I will tell you about a story covered locally here in Jesus-yucky. I don’t really object to the story being run; it’s a national first, so maybe it is news. What pisses me off is the headline: Liberty School teaches country’s beginnings. That’s a blatant falsehood, and the editors responsible should be fired immediately.
Vacation Liberty School is a money-raising, power-grabbing scheme by Glenn Beck. Naturally, its debut incarnation appeared miraculously here in the BlewGas state. Under the guise of “teaching” about the early days of America, Beck and his minions are stressing nine principles.
- America is good.
- I believe in God and He is the center of my life.
- I must always try to be a more honest person than I was yesterday.
- The family is sacred. My spouse and I are the ultimate authority, not the government.
- If you break the law you pay the penalty. Justice is blind and no one is above it.
- I have a right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, but there is no guarantee of equal results.
- I work hard for what I have and I will share it with who I want to. Government cannot force me to be charitable.
- It is not un-American to disagree with authority or to share my personal opinion.
- The government works for me. I do not answer to them, they answer to me.
I happen to agree heartily with a few of those points, particularly numbers 6 and 8. I have no philosophical problem with number 5 — although it should definitely apply to big corporations, too — or number 7 (except for its grammar), even though it’s merely a pose aimed at avoiding societal responsibility. (It should apply when taxpayers fund faith-based initiatives, but, of course, its proponents won’t, or can’t, make that connection.) Number 9 sounds nice, but the government doesn’t actually work for any one person; it works for the collective public. To do so effectively, it might actually have to work against certain specific individuals, like murderers, child molesters, and would-be theocrats.
Number 3 is silly, but not bad, even though it assumes that there are gradations of honesty (there aren’t). The attendees of Liberty School wouldn’t need such a principle unless they’d started off on the lying end of the spectrum, so it doesn’t hurt to ask them to try to be more truthful. Of course, the text is ironic, because Glenn Beck has made a name for himself by misrepresenting everything he discusses. He ought to be forced to read that sentence aloud every waking minute of his day, and it should be piped into his head when he’s sleeping.
The other numbers are pure bullshit. For example: The belief that one’s country is good merely because it’s one’s country is a recipe for disaster. And it contradicts number 8. Of course, the people likely to go to Vacation Liberty School don’t understand self-contradicting principles, or they wouldn’t be so gung-ho about the appropriately ordered “number 2.” The third item is non-historical; except in the case of John Adams, I don’t think there’s any indication that the rest of the Founding Fathers gave a rat’s ass what their spouses thought. (Of course, it is possible that Madison kowtowed to his wife when he had a hankering for ice cream.)
In case you’re wondering, Georgetown’s Vacation Liberty School was held at a – oh, you’ll never guess! – a Baptist church. Surprised?