Wednesday, May 6, 2015

I Suppose Everyone Needs a Hobby

Does anybody here remember Brainbeau? No? Well, you're missing out, because Brainbeau was the man with the solution to all the world's problems. I first became aware of him thanks to Ivan Stang's book High Weirdness By Mail, and the link above goes into more detail than the brief overview in that book.

Brainbeau's real name was George E. Lemon. He was a veteran of World War II who pioneered the use of a medium never before employed on a large scale by kooks, the classified ad. After he retired, he essentially took up being Brainbeau as his hobby. He would run inexpensive ads in various publications, and when people wrote to him he would send them more sheets of ads containing snippets of his wisdom.

So Lemon is a good example of somebody who found something worthwhile, or at least extremely amusing, to do during his retirement. Not all of his ideas were ridiculous, either. His concept of the "50/50 split" for businesses is in fact what my friends and I did without knowing it years ago when we set up a company to manage our independent computer consulting gigs. However, the idea that it would end war, inflation, unemployment... let's just say that part of it needed some work.

Unfortunately these days kooks seem to be far less innocuous than Brainbeau. A retired woman in Nebraska recently filed a lawsuit against "all homosexuals," whatever that means in legal parlance. The bizarre petition shows an ignorance of both the law and the Bible, and while I suppose it gives her something to do during her retirement, I and many others would probably have been far happier had she stuck to posting weird classified ads. She even wrote the whole thing out in cursive, which has to be a sign of the apocalypse or something.

Here's the text of the woman's lawsuit, transcribed as written with my commentary. It's more attention than this nonsense deserves, but one of the things I truly enjoy is pointing out holes in theological reasoning. When I was in High School I attended a conservative evangelical church for about six months, but I didn't last long because I had previously read the entire Bible and figured out pretty quickly how wrong their arguments were. Sadly, people like Sylvia Ann Driskell are still making them.

I Sylvia Ann Driskell
Ambassador for Plaintiffs
God, and His, Son, Jesus Christ

Their Given Name Homosexuals
Their, Alis Gay

Just as a point, you do need to name a defendant. Otherwise I could just file a lawsuit against "assholes," which I grant would be kind of awesome.

Ambassador: I Sylvia Ann Driskell ambassador for Plaintiffs do set forth on this 30 day of 2015 in writing this Petition to the United State District Court of Omaha, Omaha, Nebraska On behalf of the Plintiffs: God, and His, Son, Jesus Christ.

Ambassador: I Sylvia Ann Driskell ambassador for the Plaintiffs: God, and His, Son, Jesus Christ: Petition Your Honor, and Court of the United State District Court of Omaha, Omaha, Nebraka, To be heard in the matter of homosexuality. Is Homosexuality a sin, or not a sin,

First and most importantly, this is not a relevant question for the courts. "Sin" is a religious matter, and the establishment clause precludes any ruling on it. So this is just goofy right out of the gate and I'm basically wasting my time responding to it. Oh well.

Defendant’s Homosexuals: The Homosexuals say that its not a sin to be a homosexual, An they have the right to marry, to be parents, And God doesn’t care that their homosexuals, because He loves them.

"Sin" and rights are completely unrelated. Why would anyone who is not a Christian care whether or not the Christian religion considers their behavior sinful? Or does Driskell think non-Christians like me don't exist?

Ambassador: I Sylvia Ann Driskell, refer Your Honor to paragraph 3, line 2 of Defendant’s, Homosexuals say that its not a sin, to be a homosexual.

Plaintiff’s: God tells his children in Leviticus Chapter 18 verse 22. Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind. It is abomination.

Plaintiff’s: God also tells his Children in Romans Chapter 1 verse 26, 27. Romans 1:26. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affection: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: Romans Chapter 1, verse 27. And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; Men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.

I think it's pretty difficult to argue that Christianity does not consider homosexuality a sin. Driskell doesn't actually need to quote the Bible here, she need only quote the theology of her church. But again, said theology has no bearing on the nature of civil law, so in this context she's pushing a meaningless point.

Ambassador: I Sylvia Ann Driskell: Your Honor, I’ve heard the boasting of the Defendant: the Homosexuals on the world news; from the young, to the old; to the rich an famous, and to the not so rich an famous; How they were tired of hiding in the closet, and how glad they are to be coming out of the closet.

Plaintiff’s: God, tells his Children in Romans Chapter 1, vere 28, And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient.

Ambassador: I Sylvia Ann Driskell, Contend that homosexuality is a sin, and that they the homosexuals know it is a sin to live a life of homosexuality. Why else would they have been hiding in a closet.

Of course, the fact that in some places gay people face discrimination and sometimes violence has nothing to do with it. Right...

Ambassador: I Sylvia Ann Driskell, refer to Webster Dictionary for the definition of sin: sin the willful breaking of religious or moral law.

Defendant’s Homosexuals: In regards to paragraph 3 line 2 They the homosexuals, say they have the right to marry.

Plaintiff’s God: God’s word tells his children in Jenesis chapter 2 verse 24. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother and shall cleanse unto his wife and they shall be one flesh.

The word "only" is not present in Genesis. From the standpoint of legal reasoning this line may not be exclusionary.

Ambassador: I Sylvia Ann Driskell refer to the Webster Dictionary for the definitions of the word marry. 1 to join as husband and wife 2 to talk as husband or wife.

Because a dictionary definition constitutes a legal argument?

Defendant’s Homosexuals: In regards to paragraph 3 line 3 They the homosexuals, say they have the right to be parents.

Ambassador: I Sylvia Ann Driskell refer to Webster Dictionary for the definition for parent. 1. A father or mother. 2. Any organism in relation to its offspring.

Same-sex parents are in fact "fathers or mothers," and many gay parents are raising their biological offspring. Granted, only one parent of a same-sex couple is generally the biological parent, but if that's something Driskell wants to outlaw it has to apply to step-parents as well. And what about adoptive parents? Should they owe Driskell damages as well?

Ambassador: I Sylvia Ann Driskell write these words to You, Your Honor: every good Father and Mother knows that its not just being able to give life to a child that makes a parent.

Ambassador: I, Sylvia Ann Driskell contend a good parent is not just a father or a mother that tells their children whats right; it’s the parent that walks the walk, and that talks, the talk, who are the example of what they teach, that’s why their children know right from wrong.

And if said parent aren't Christian? Presumably, the morality that they teach their children will be different than what Driskell believes in. If we follow this to its conclusion, it would require that only Christians raise children. So I shouldn't be a parent either, according to her - but I am. Fortunately for me, the United States is not a Christian theocracy.

Ambassador: I Sylvia Ann Driskell, write, As well, we also know that if a child is raised in a home of liers, an deceivers, and thieves that it is reasonable to believe that child will grow up to be one of the three, are all three.

Gay people are thieves? That's news to me. Perhaps the "lier" and "deceiver" comments refer to being in the closet, which Driskell mentions above, but otherwise? I don't see any reason to assume gay people are less honest than anyone else.

Plaintiff’s: God tells the parents in Proverbs chapter 22 verse 6. Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Defendant’s Homosexuals: I regards to paragraph 3, line 3. They the homosexuals, say that God doesn’t care, that their homosexuals, because he loves them.

Actually, that's not the argument at all. The doesn't care one way or the other who God loves or hates. The argument is that studies have shown children do just as well with same-sex parents as with opposite-sex ones.

Plaintiff’s God: God tells his children in Romans chapter 1, verse 18. For the wrath of God is reveald from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness

Plaintiff’s God: God also tells his children in Romans 1, verse 24. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lust of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves.

Plaintiff’s God: God tells his children in Romans chapter 1, verse 25. Who change the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed, for ever. Amen.

Defendant’s Homosexuals: In regards to paragraph 3, line 4. Because God loves them.

Again, that's not the argument for same-sex couples to be granted equal rights. The law doesn't care who God loves, and hopefully it never will.

Ambassador: I Sylvia Ann Driskell, contend thats the only statement the defendants have rights God loves them so much that He gave his Son, and Jesus gave his life for them.

Plaintiff’s God: God prophecies of His, Son, Jesus Christ, in Isaiah chapter 53, verse 5. But he was wounded for Our transgression, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are heald.

Isaiah chapter 53, verse 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. Isaiah chapter 55 verse 7 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; And to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

Plaintiff’s Jesus Christ: In Luke chapter 23, verse 34. Then said Jesus, Father forgive them; for they know not what they do.

This last point is actually significant, because even though it's pretty clear that the major Christian denominations consider homosexuality a sin, it is also a tenet of the religion that Jesus forgives sinners. Jesus does not require every person to be "without sin," and in fact a pretty solid case can be argued from the Gospels that Jesus himself considered being free of sin impossible. That is, in fact, the whole point of the death and resurrection of Christ, to overcome the legalistic path to salvation offered by previous religious systems.

Evangelical Christians are Protestants, and there are two main strands of Protestant theology on this issue. The first is Calvinism, which states that God chooses the elect from the beginning of time. Under Calvinism, people are either saved or not saved, and whether or not a person is a member of the elect is the sole prerogative of God. So laws against same-sex marriage have no bearing whatsoever on the salvation of anyone.

The second strand is Lutheranism, which states that people are saved by faith, which is a natural response to grace unilaterally offered by God. It sounds like it leaves a little more room for individual choice, but in fact as Luther saw it the faith response was automatic and irresistible. So again, the choice is left up to God. So again, laws against same-sex marriage have no bearing whatsoever on the salvation of anyone.

Even though she sounds like an evangelical, Driskell might be Roman Catholic. But that doesn't help her either. Catholics, like Lutherans, believe that salvation is unilaterally offered by God, though their theological system is more complex and includes the concept of Purgatory, which Protestants reject. So once more, laws against same-sex marriage have no bearing whatsoever on the salvation of anyone.

Maybe her argument is that God won't extend salvation to those who live in countries with laws that contradict the Bible, but the entire story of Jesus contradicts that notion. Jesus was said to have been born in Palestine under Roman rule, which included all sorts of laws that the Christian God would have hated. But that was the very time and place that salvation was offered. So one more time, laws against same-sex marriage have no bearing whatsoever on the salvation of anyone.

Believing otherwise is heresy. So if Driskell thinks otherwise she's a heretic, and that's a far worse sin than being gay.

Ambassador: I Sylvia Ann Driskell, wish to address You, Your Honor, and the United State District Court of Omaha, Omaha, Nebraska.

I write not in few words, So I hope you, Your Honor, and The United State District Court of Omaha, Omaha, Nebraska; will indulge me, in my writing.

Never before has Our great Nation the United State of America and Our great state of Nebraska; been besiege by sin:
The way to destroy any nation, or state is to destroy its morals; look what happen to Sodom and Gomorrah two city because of the same immoral behavior that represent in our nation, in our states, and our cities; God destroy them.

If God could have found ten righteous people among them he would’ve spared them.

Except that Sodom and Gomorrah were only destroyed over the issue of homosexuality in the minds of modern evangelicals, who don't understand that passage in context. The violation of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah was the violation of the principle of hospitality, which is much less significant in our culture than it was to the cultures of the ancient Middle East.

I’m sixty six years old, an I never thought that I would see the day in which our Great Nation or Our Great State of Nebraska would become so compliant to the complicity of some peoples lewd behavior.

Why are judges passing laws, so sinners can break religious and moral laws?

Because church and state are separate in the United States. Full stop. Whether or not a particular religion approves of the behavior allowed by a law is irrelevant. Personally, my religion has no problem with same-sex marriage. And I have the same religious rights that Driskell does.

Will all the judges of this Nation, judge God to be a lier?

For God has said; that all unrighteousness is sin, and that homosexuality is abomination

And, Sylvia Ann Driskell, religious freedom isn't free. You obviously believe the nonsense being peddled by the Poor Oppressed Christian crowd that America is a Christian nation, and non-Christians should (I guess) just get the hell out.

Ambassador: I Sylvia Ann Driskell: I have written this Petition to the United State District Court of Omaha, Omaha, Nebraska, and to you, Your Honor.

Because I feel its is imperative to do so. Life as a nation, as States, and as Cities need to start standing up for the moral principles on which our, Great Nation, Our, Great States, and Our, Great Cities were founded on.
Lamentations 3:22

It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed because his compassions fail not.
ambassador Sylvia Ann Driskell

It also is not clear what sort of damages Driskell is seeking in her lawsuit. Does she (wrongly, see above) believe that her salvation is being jeopardized by laws allowing same-sex marriage? If so, what does she think her salvation is worth? I imagine that losing an eternity in paradise would be worth a lot, but without some estimate of said damages there's no way that this suit can go forward.

Of course, it won't anyway, because it's ridiculous.

I'll wrap this up by asking one more time, what is it with the gays? Seriously, it's as if homosexuality and abortion are the only sins the Bible mentions, because they're the only issues these folks seem to care about. Did Driskell file a lawsuit against Wall Street banks for exploiting the poor? Of course not, presumably because most of those bankers weren't gay.

As a point, the Bible does not classify homosexuality as more sinful than any of the other things prohibited under Jewish law, and evangelical Christians pick and choose which of those laws to follow anyway. And the Bible explicitly permits abortion, as a child is not considered fully alive until birth and Jewish law weighs the rights of the mother against those of the child, just current United States law does.

But too many self-identified Christians don't seem to understand either of those points, and in my experience it's because they don't actually read their Bibles and think about what the stories mean. They listen to the interpretations of whatever pastor they happen to follow, even when those interpretations are obviously wrong to anyone familiar with the text.

So read your Bibles, Christians! Then you can decide on what genuine spirituality means for yourselves, instead of following some bozo whose main goal in life is securing donations and reinforcing tribal identities.

UPDATE: Well, that was fast. Driskell's suit was totally dismissed by federal judge John Gerrard.

In a strongly worded opinion, the judge said it is not up to the court to decide whether homosexuality is sinful. Gerrard said Driskell lacked subject matter jurisdiction and cannot sue a class of unidentified defendants. Driskell did not set forth a factual or legal basis for a federal claim.

Yeah, that all sounds about right. But it also means that my proposed lawsuit against "assholes" will never make it through the courts, which is a bit of a shame.

Technorati Digg This Stumble Stumble


I. A. E. said...

"And the Bible explicitly permits abortion, as a child is not considered fully alive until birth and Jewish law weighs the rights of the mother against those of the child, just current United States law does."

I have a feeling that some Poor Oppressed Christian is going to use this as further 'evidence' that the Bible is the basis for America's legal system.

Scott Stenwick said...

They are welcome to do so. But it would mean that they would have to stop pushing for those abortion bans that they seem to love so much.

Nerd said...

In the ancient world, it was a common practice to "expose" children. This meant that if you didn't want your baby, you'd leave it on the steps of a temple, or on a hillside. If someone wanted it, they'd pick it up and keep it. Oedipus was "exposed" in this way.

Jesus never condemned this practice, that I am aware of. Then again, Jesus didn't bring the law, he brought the New Covenant.