Pat Boone, citing a “vitriol” against believers like himself, told Alan Colmes Thursday that “there should be regulations that prohibit blasphemy” after Saturday Night Live, in a movie parody poked fun at Christianity’s persecution complex – you know, because it’s genuinely funny that the world’s largest religion thinks it’s being persecuted.
“Vitriol,” of course, used in the conservative sense, is a code word for people who don’t think a few people like Boone ought to tell us what we can and cannot do or say. For Boone and Colmes, it is absolutely not vitriol to condemn people who chose not to abide by their rules. An example of this is Boone telling Glenn Beck that the SNL crew are going to hell for their movie parody, which you can watch below.
Here’s the SNL clip. Judge for yourself:
Asked by Colmes if he would “regulate restrictions” on what was said, Boone first said no before saying yes, so when Colmes asked Boone,
“Would you “like the FCC to declare that a show like Saturday Night Live or any other show can’t do that kind of humor?” Boone answered, “You cannot do blasphemy, yes.”
Really? Keep in mind, you can’t blaspheme Boone’s god, but you can blaspheme other gods. Say, Allah, for example. Because Pat Boone’s Bible.
In The Age of Reason, Thomas Paine wrote that on the contrary, it is the Bible that is “a book of lies, wickedness, and blasphemy.”
Thomas Jefferson, in his Notes on the State of Virginia (Query XVII), railed against oppressive religious laws of the sort Boone advocates, writing that “The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”
In fact, argued Jefferson, “It is error alone which needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself. Subject opinion to coercion: whom will you make your inquisitors? Fallible men; men governed by bad passions, by private as well as public reasons.”
Men like Pat Boone.
Jefferson was far from alone. John Adams wrote to Thomas Jefferson in 1825,
“We think ourselves possessed, or at least we boast that we are so, of liberty of conscience on all subjects and of the right of free inquiry and private judgment in all cases, and yet how far are we from these exalted privileges in fact. There exists, I believe, throughout the whole Christian world, a law which makes it blasphemy to deny, or to doubt the divine inspiration of all the books of the Old and New Testaments, from Genesis to Revelations. In most countries of Europe it is punished by fire at the stake, or the rack, or the wheel. In England itself, it is punished by boring through the tongue with a red-hot poker. In America it is not much better; even in our Massachusetts, which, I believe, upon the whole, is as temperate and moderate in religious zeal as most of the States, a law was made in the latter end of the last century, repealing the cruel punishments of the former laws, but substituting fine and imprisonment upon all those blasphemies upon any book of the Old Testament or New. Now, what free inquiry, when a writer must surely encounter the risk of fine or imprisonment for adducing any arguments for investigation into the divine authority of those books?…I think such laws a great embarrassment, great obstructions to the improvement of the human mind. Books that cannot bear examination, certainly ought not to be established as divine inspiration by penal laws… but as long as they continue in force as laws, the human mind must make an awkward and clumsy progress in its investigations. I wish they were repealed…” (Adams to Jefferson, January 23, 1825).
Obviously, the Founding Fathers felt differently about blasphemy laws and they gave us the United States Constitution, which rendered religion a level playing field where we can all believe what we want without being punished for it.
As Jefferson went on to say in Notes on the State of Virginia, the pursuit for uniformity through Boone’s hoped for coercion has rendered “one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites.” And the First Amendment by legislating freedom of religion outlaws coercion.
Boone’s argument is that the American people, “not a few people in robes” – a not-so-veiled reference to the Supreme Court – ought to decide what is legal and not legal. Here again we not only see the conservative’s true feelings towards the constitutionally-appointed Supreme Court laid out, but an argument that the majority rules.
The problem with this is that not only were the Founders opposed to these sorts of “excesses of democracy” that allowed majorities to oppress minorities, but when these majorities go against conservative wishes, the first people to appeal to the Supreme Court or to the idea of laws that impose minority will on the majority, are conservatives like Boone.
As Jefferson said, one half the world is exposed as fools and the other half, Boone included, as hypocrites. Not only that, but conservatives are opposed to the idea of a “living” Constitution that is constantly reinterpreted but want rules that are by necessity the same thing because the will of the people is constantly changing.
What Boone really wants a monolithic, unchanging morality that is not supported by the majority of the people. He claims “at least 90 percent of the American public” want blasphemy laws even though every poll shows him to be lying, or at least, woefully ill-informed.
And we can’t have laws based solely on the wishful thinking of people like Pat Boone and their prejudices. Pat Boone, like any Christian feeling persecuted in this country of all countries, needs to put on his big boy britches and man up.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.