Monday, September 28, 2015

Practice and Punishment

By Bob Ferris

"The Bible says beware of false prophets. And there are people out there, you know, spreading noise about how much can get done. I mean this whole notion that we're going to shut down the government to get rid of Obamacare in 2013 -- this plan never had a chance" Outgoing Speaker of the House John Boehner on CBS Face the Nation September 27, 2015 
My head is spinning as I look at the recent news and certain combinations of events.  It makes me want to call down thunder and lightning, but I will not and there is a very good reason.  Here are some bolt worthy examples:

The original Boston Tea Party was in protest of corporate influence on governance not in support of corporate influence on governance

  • The Speaker of the House resigns due to conservative corporate pressure poorly masked as a grassroots’ rebellion driven by the so-called Tea Party which is antithetical to the mission and philosophies of the historic protesters from Boston for which it is named and further enabled by a lawsuit launched by a group known as Citizen’s United that argues for the right of corporations to be citizens.

Adulterous behavior in Colonial times was frequently punished with public whippings and occasionally by death.

  • County Clerk Kim Davis a bigoted, thrice-married, adulterer with illegitimate children who continues to break the law in Kentucky is given an award by the Family Research Council a group that champions family values. 

Those unable to pay their debts in Colonial America were placed in Debtor's Prisons.  This was discontinued on the federal level in 1833.

In the Massachusetts Colony bearing false witness was considered a capital offense.

Attendance at religious services in Colonial America was mandatory as were contributions.  Failure to comply was met with fines and often corporal punishment.

Social transgressions in Colonial America were often met with tar and feathers or worse.

    Hanging was a common solution in Colonial America and a fairly straight-forward affair when you were responsible for someone's death.
  • And the Koch brothers remain alive and free still making an embarrassment of riches even though their products and industrial processes externalize environmental costs, shorten people’s lives (1,2) and have directly killed US citizens.

Interestingly all the above conditions are presently allowed by a remarkable and visionary document known as the US Constitution that permits these activities yet protects the practitioners who transgress from the punishments that are often proscribed by the very belief systems they are free to practice because of this document.  Moreover, the Constitution was designed to evolve as a living document and eventually shielded citizens from other past abuses and barriers to equal opportunities such as debtor’s prison, slavery, and women not having the vote even though they could run for federal offices.  

To argue that the Constitution is based on Biblical law or that it is enabling Sharia law is a falsehood and turns logic completely on its head.  Ironically, many of those making these arguments or advocating for the supremacy of God’s law should thank their lucky stars that the Constitution exists to protect them from being beaten, burned, crushed, or jailed as their religions or past policies in colonies would demand for their actions.  In fact as we look at some of the iconic folks offered up in this current set of debates to return us to core values and freer times such as Kim Davis, Donald Trump and the Kochs these folks would have in pre-Constitutional times been respectively whipped in the town square or killed, explaining the subtle difference between personal and business bankruptcy from behind bars in a rat infested cell, or hung because they caused an illegal death.

Much of the above goes far beyond the debate between Republican and Democratic policies and travels deeply into the absurd.  In this it is disappointing that elements of the electorate seem so easily mislead into to following or voting for candidates who are saying—almost preaching—one thing while clearly acting against the best interests of their constituents in regards to critical issues such as economic equity, health care, aging infrastructure, education costs, and climate change.  In this many seem to confuse the religious zealotry of the Founding Colonists like Cotton Mather with the religious tolerance of the Founding Fathers such as George Washington.  It is a shame we have to fight this fundamental fight all over again, but of course we must.

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