Saturday, May 19, 2007

Letter to the Editor

I had a letter to the editor get published in LEO (the local independent paper) about two weeks ago. It's the final letter in the Erosia section of the Derby week edition, published on 05/02/07.

The background leading up to my letter includes certain statements made by Al Mohler first being mentioned in Brown's column on March 20th, and Ray Rieck's letter a week later defending Mohler, appearing in the same edition as George's full article on the topic. Both Brown's column and George's article are worth reading. Two weeks later, on April 10th, a letter to the editor critical of Mohler and Rieck appeared, written by Michael Lenhart, and a week after that two more critical letters appeared, written by Bryan Hurst and Richard Hodge. Two weeks after that, on May 2nd, they printed my letter, which I'll reproduce below.

With that context in view, and keeping in mind that the Erosia section of LEO has a pretty small word limit, I offer the letter I wrote as my blog entry for today. The only editing I've applied to it has been to restore my original spacing and instances of emphasis (which were correctly reproduced in the print edition but not the online version), and to add links for clarification and convenience.

I can already see the fundamentalist retorts to last week's letters from Hurst and Hodge. In defending Rieck and Mohler, we'll get the standard party line: "Oh, that's the Old Testament, but we now live under the 'new covenant'!" Or, they'll turn to their misogynist hero Paul, and say "The NT condemns homosexuality too, it's right there in 1Corinthians6:9 and 1Timothy1:10!"

They'll forget, of course, that those verses don't say anything about lesbians. They'll ignore, in a stunning feat of cognitive insouciance, that the Old Testament makes up nearly 80% of their Holy Bible, and contains a couple versions of their beloved "10 Commandments" and that neat fairy tale about Noah living within walking distance of all the animals on the planet. While rushing to force their particular literal interpretation on everybody, they will continue to hypocritically ignore the parts that they don't really like as much. Oppressing gay people is easy, but it's hard to run a communist church (Acts2:44-46, 4:32-37). Biblical homophobia fits right in with their modern fundamentalism, but most happily ignore the commands for women to be absolutely silent in church and only submissively ask questions of their husbands at home (1Corinthians14:33b-35). It is instinct to defend Mohler or to argue for outright discrimination against homosexuals everywhere, but it's easy to forget The Rules when it comes to men never having long hair and women always having both long hair and prayer hats (1Corinthians11:2-16).

Which is more astonishing? That such people want to force others to live by 2,000-year-old bigoted social taboos, or that they so obviously pick-and-choose which parts to pontificate about, conveniently ignoring the parts that don't serve their hatred?

The Louisville Eccentric Observer (LEO) has been in publication for 17 years and is distributed every Wednesday. It is available for free at over 900 locations in Louisville and Southern Indiana, and also online.


Derek Timothy said...

** Please read this comment before submitting your own.

The word count limit for submissions to Erosia is 250 words (which, try as I did, I still broke by 26 words). This is a fairly limiting constraint, and writing short-form opinion pieces turned out to take a little more ingenuity than I expected before I actually did it. Such writing obviously lends itself to a polemical tone, and there is little room to delve into detail or nuance. Please keep the word limit I was operating under in consideration as you ponder my letter, and also make sure to remember that I specifically noted the kind of retort I was attempting to anticipate.

With this in view, if you choose to offer a rebuttal or response to my letter to the editor, please constrain it to less than 500 words max (the equivalent of about one typed page, single-spaced and in 12-point font, or about double the length of this comment). Multi-page comments tend to breed even longer responses, and that can get pretty unwieldy and isn't always conducive to real conversation. Picking one specific point to write about would also be kind (but not demanded) and appreciated, allowing any discussion that might spring up to be focused on that particular point until it is resolved, at which time another point could be raised.

At my discretion, responses that break the 500 word limit may be deleted and returned to you (so you do not lose the work and time you spent typing it), with the invitation that you try again with a shorter and more focused note. Thank you.

Nedra said...

Good words.

catgivens said...

Your letter is like fresh air, Derek.