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October 6, 1998


Republican Prudery and the Old Testament

Whenever I have occasion to dip into the Old Testament, which is more often than you would think, the laws governing sexual matters and the vindictiveness of the Old-Testament God, when those laws are broken, remind me of Republicans and their putative moral superiority in matters of sex and all things else. Republican politicians, when taking the high road (when are they not taking the high road?), often wrap themselves in the holy robes of Moses or some other OT prophet exhorting the Israelites to give up worshipping the god Baal-peor, or Dagon, or Ashtaroth, or Ammon..

They've obviously seen too many sappy Hollywood flicks, in which an actor like Charlton Heston delivers the 10 commandments to the backsliding fun- loving Israelites, who, no matter how many times they've been warned and massacred by Yahweh, go on having sex with the Canaanites, or Philistines, or some other randy heathens.

But when it comes to their own sexual sins, these same Republicans, as Senator Henry Hyde put it in reference to himself, are guilty of nothing more than "youthful indiscretions." Hyde was 42 at the time of his "youthful indiscretion." Republicans tend to think in black and white biblical categories-- right and wrong, good and evil, pure or impure -- and true to their source, they assign divinely sanctioned brutal punishments to be meted out to sexual offenders of all stripes and to other offenders too. One wonders if they have any acquaintance with the New Testament. The only turned-cheeks they recognize are the up-turned cheeks of one bent over to receive on the fundaments the lashes of the divine wrath. Though let me add, I don't believe that Henry Hyde is one the backside punishers. Not all Republicans are Dan- Burton hypocrites.

Take the Mob.Reg., a Republican mouthpiece if there ever was one, in a recent editorial ("Ken Starr's Report Trumps Bill Clinton's Contrition," 9/12/98), the only proof of contrition the editorialist will allow Bill Clinton is resignation from office. If Clinton stays in office it proves he's not contrite and if he quits, it proves he is contrite. "Real contrition," the editorialist intones, "requires more than fine words; it requires resignation." There can be no other proof than the proof that resignation from office proves. Pardon me but did I miss something here? Isn't there something screwy about the editorialist's circular reasoning? Clinton can sin whether he's in or out. You can't guarantee contrition, and especially you can't guarantee it by specifying that a particular act guarantees contrition. Where the hell does the editorialist get off setting the requirements for contrition? But those who write editorials for the Mob.Reg., like the Republican pols they so admire, habitually and arrogantly imply that they are privy to God's innermost thoughts.

What the rigid moralists have trouble understanding is that contrition is one of those "maybe" things that give humans so much trouble. Maybe he or she is contrite and maybe he or she isn't. We'll just have to wait and see. If contrition could be guaranteed, faith would be obsolete. Fair-minded persons, willing to put aside political agendas, and willing to give the matter a little thought, know that real contrition is no easy row to hoe. People who take up religion seriously spend their lifetime trying to achieve real contrition. But for some Republicans to admit that is contrary to Republican prudery, which while real enough, is also very conveniently a shrewd political ploy that has worked effectively time and time again to rally the "moral majority." Ironically, though the moral majority this time is turning out to be an "immoral majority."

Talk about contrition, like talk about salvation, is cheap, and, more often than not, is a way of evading realities and actions that are measurable in terms of their real impact on the lives of others. The only real measure we may have of Clinton's contrition is what he does, henceforth, in the office he was elected to. But the Mob.Reg., in its splenetic hatred for Clinton, would deny him that opportunity. Those Republicans will not forgive Clinton no matter what he does. The Mob.Reg. doesn't want contrition; the Republicans who run it want vindictive Old Testament punishment; they want Clinton driven from office or better yet what they would really like to see is Yahweh slaughter Clinton the way he slew Onan for spilling his seed when Yahweh specifically ordered Onan to plant his seed in Tamar. Clinton, in Republican eyes is guiltier than Onan; he spilled his seeds on Monica's blue dress, apparently in his efforts to adhere to some perverted notion about what is or isn't a sexual act. But this is a poor comparison. Clinton is more like Noah in his drunken stupor

discovered naked by the voyeuristic Ken Starr, and when Clinton curses him the way Noah curses Ham for uncovering his nakedness, the Republicans with a great show of zeal and love for the welfare and morals of children everywhere attack Clinton mercilessly for lacking the requisite degree of contrition, and yet have nothing at all to say about Ken Starr's prurience which has left Clinton entirely naked for the whole world to see. The man's insufferable; I'll bet he was the kid in grammar school who finked on all the other kids. And spare us that crap about Clinton's perjury. Sure he perjured himself, but so did just about every other President at one time or another, only they weren't so dumb about it and they weren't hounded by Republicans or Democrats out to get the President of the United States.

When the Mob.Reg. wants to get someone and punish him or her, whether it be Dr. Whiddon or White-Spunner, it puts the story on the front page and then editorializes about it in some sanctimonious way. But when Republican Senator Shelby's son, Claude, was arrested for possession of hashish, the story was put on page 2B of the Metro section at the bottom of the page and there was no editorial about it. See the July-29 issue. There's only one person who has the right to get Clinton for his sexual misdemeanors and that's Hillary Clinton, but Republican critics are unhappy with her charitableness. They would have Hillary emulate Michal, Saul's daughter and King David's wife, who saw King David, oblivious of public concern, flash his royal penis while frolicking before the Ark of the Covenant. Michal despised David in her heart and that's what the Repubs want Hillary to do--despise Bill for wrong-doing with the presidential penis. Incidentally, if you're thinking David's crime was an innocent one, consider that King David, one of the great heroes of the OT, was also an adulterer and a murderer (see 2 Samuels 11).

-- Tom Brennan

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