The Falwell ConundrumThe post I wrote when Jerry Falwell died presented a bit of a conundrum. I intensely dislike some people, but I'm not much for harboring true hate - especially when the person is no longer around. I heard my mother's admonition to not say bad things about the dead as I tried to find a way of expressing the intense dislike I had for the man.
Some would say the post was too strong, others that it wasn't strong enough and they'd both be right. I didn't unleash the full measure of anger I have, but I also didn't let him off the hook. That's why I settled on the idea that it wasn't my job to judge him. I figured that if he believed in God, a fit dispensation was his God's problem.
When Jerry and the other purveyors of hate take their anti-social positions, they believe they're doing God's work as they see it. I don't think they get up each morning and say, "How can I condemn homosexuals to swimming in an eternal lake of fire." They get up and say, "How can I save homosexuals from swimming in the eternal lake of fire."
Whether you agree their demonization tactics are right, they nevertheless are their convictions. Those convictions - however misplaced I think they are - are what allows Jerry and his ilk to stick to their twisted ideas in the face of damning condemnation from decent people. We usually think of strong convictions as something admirable, but even crapweasels have them and when they do, they're bad for everyone.
From what I know about religion and the opinions of many deeply religious people, the interpretations Jerry made were wrong, but I also acknowledge that the Bible is more metaphorical than precise blueprint. That perception gap is precisely why mankind has fought over religion for eons. The Bible can simultaneously represent everything or nothing depending on a reader's point of view.
I'm an atheist - a "pagan" in Jerry's words - but I can't prove there is no God just as Jerry couldn't prove there is. It all boils down to a subjective choice, based on how we interpret the "evidence" of our beliefs.
Many of Jerry's obituaries were much stronger than mine. Those writers rightfully ascribed to him the injustices he'd perpetrated and felt all that pent up anger burst forth when he died. I agree with the strength of their dislike for the man. People have every right to be pissed off by his saying innocent people caused 9/11 - it pissed me off too. Had he been around, I would have had to fight a powerful urge to take a poke at the despicable simpleton. I can even understand the temptation of many people to "piss on Jerry's grave". Jerry did no worse himself, although I'm sure he would have made it sound a little more socially acceptable.
The man is dead. I'm glad the attacks he launched on decent people will be no more, but I'm not glad he's dead. I would have been equally pleased - and quite shocked - if he'd simply seen the error of his ways and repented in life. I can't see that flogging him after he's gone accomplishes much. I don't think there's an afterlife, so I don't think he's going to hell or heaven. Neither will dying reverse the hate he spewed. There are plenty more bigots where he came from.
So my conundrum is this - what's the best way to show my mighty disagreement with the man without turning myself into the very same hate mongers he was?
I'm still not sure I know the answer.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Wednesday, May 16, 2007