Aurora Shooting, Rick Warren, Gun Control, and the Palins

I want to start off this post by saying that my thoughts and prayers go out to the victims of the Aurora shooting and their families. This event was a horrific tragedy, and I doubt it will ever be forgotten. Now, there are a few things I want to talk about, related and unrelated to the shooting. First of all, Rick Warren was apparently disgruntled that he had not been in the news lately. I had become acquainted with Warren’s sliminess back in 2008-2009, when he released a video supporting Proposition 8, said he saw same sex marriage as equivalent to incest, polygamy, and pedophilia, and was then rewarded by getting to deliver the invocation at Barack Obama’s inauguration. (Which is another reminder of how far Barack Obama has come on gay rights.) Some time later, I was doing some research on the history of white supremacist theology in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) and read about racist preacher and two-term SBC president Wallie Amos Criswell. Apparently, Warren had once skipped class to see him preach and later declared him the greatest American minister of the 20th century. Now think about that statement for a minute. I would hardly have expected Warren to declare someone like William Sloane Coffin, A. Powell Davies, Dana Greeley, or Gene Robinson the greatest American minister of the 20th century, even though I would consider all four to be contenders. But Warren also placed Criswell above Billy Graham and Martin Luther King, Jr, the latter of whom I would consider to probably be the best American minister of the 20th century. However, Mr. Warren had not been in the spotlight for quite some time. Rather than simply continuing to quietly engage in philanthropy, Warren decided to thrust himself back into the public eye by posting a very strange tweet shortly after the Aurora shooting: “When students are taught they are no different from animals, they act like it.” The tweet is confusing, random, and weird, but let’s try to analyze it. First of all, humans are scientifically classified as animals. We may have a higher intelligence level than most animals, but we are still an animal species. Second, what exactly did he mean? The general consensus is that Warren was blaming the shooting on the teaching of evolution. The idea that evolution encourages murder is so strange that I have a hard time knowing exactly how to respond. Is Warren saying that evolution is synonymous with Atheism? That is illogical. A little less than half of all Americans believe in Creationism—a poll taken in June showed 46 percent. Yet a great majority of Americans are Christian. Maybe Warren was saying that evolution promotes survival of the fittest/moral relativism. This point is even stranger. Survival of the fittest as promoted by scientists is a scientific theory about how the natural world works. It is not a moral ideology for how society should be run. As for moral relativism, I see no connection. Again, evolution is not mutually exclusive with religion. And moral absolutism is not contingent on the existence of a deity. Think about it: in order for moral absolutism to exist, there have to be natural, eternal moral principles that apply constantly. A moral principle that only exists because a deity said so is actually not an example of moral absolutism, because in that scenario, the moral principle does not occur naturally—it is instituted by someone. In effect, saying that God creates morality rather than simply enforcing it is actually a modified form of moral relativism. Now, less ridiculous but still inaccurate has been the claim that stricter gun control would make tragedies like the Aurora shooting less common. The logic here does not hold water. It might make some sense that gun control would reduce crimes of passion, but premeditated murder? Do we really believe that someone planning to commit a murder is going to worry about a law against owning a gun? This misunderstanding of killers’ minds is the same kind of logic that leads people to believe that the death penalty is a deterrent to murder. Finally, another individual seems to be going the route of Rick Warren, struggling to stay in the spotlight just like the slimy preacher. Two months ago, Bristol Palin published an editorial criticizing President Obama for supporting same sex marriage and saying that marriage had been between a man and a woman for millennia and that children needed a mother and father. Of course, if we went with thousands of years of tradition, polygamy would be allowed, and marital rape would be considered an oxymoron. And the idea of children doing better with a mother and father than with two mothers or two fathers is not only illogical but has never been supported by a single legitimate study. Recently, however, Bristol Palin’s views on gay rights were brought up again when an episode of her reality show aired, painting her family in a not-so positive light. Her son, Tripp Palin, wanted to go in a hotel swimming pool, and Bristol would not let him. Young Tripp proceeded to go on a tirade against his mother and Auntie Willow. At one point, Bristol warns Tripp that, “God is watching you.” In addition to millions of people. Pout for the camera! Tripp then calls his aunt some word that starts with f. Some people are claiming that it’s the infamous anti-gay slur that rhymes with “maggot.” Bristol is claiming it was the crude but comparatively less offensive word that rhymes with “duck.” The former word was infamously used online by Willow at one point, and given Sarah and Bristol’s views about gay people, I would not be surprised if Tripp did indeed use an anti-gay slur that he picked up from family members. However, it does not really affect my opinion of Bristol if he actually said the other f word. She’s still homophobic and hypocritical. Additionally, why are she and Willow still in the spotlight? Let’s rattle off some names: Geraldine Ferraro, Lloyd Bentsen, Jack Kemp, Joe Lieberman, John Edwards. These are the people who ran for vice president but never actually held the office for the 20 years before Palin’s time as John McCain’s running mate. John Edwards’ family has been in the news a lot since 2004, but almost never for anything good. But has anyone seen a reality show called, Leading as a Lieberman about the escapades of Joe Lieberman’s grandchildren? Were Jack Kemp’s kids (even the ones who played professional football) ever on the cover of People? But before I end this post and hopefully never have to blog about the Palin family again, I want to address one other thing regarding Bristol. In her anti-gay marriage article, she also took a little shot at President Obama’s parenting, saying, “While it’s great to listen to your kids’ ideas, there’s also a time when dads simply need to be dads.” But here’s what Bristol had to say recently: “I’m doing a terrible job disciplining Tripp.” Maybe he just likes attention from the media. I can’t imagine where he got that from.

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