Equal Protection

Governor Bentley of Alabama

“Anybody here today who has not accepted Jesus Christ as their savior, I’m telling you, you’re not my brother and you’re not my sister.” — Alabama’s new governor, moments after his inauguration

I seem to recall some Jewish guy expressing a somewhat different opinion.

Alabama governors are famous for putting their feet in their mouths, but this one may have beaten the speed record ….

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26 Responses to Equal Protection

  1. dennis January 19, 2011 at 8:24 pm #

    It must be tough to be an atheist in Dixie.

    • Rad Geek January 19, 2011 at 8:59 pm #

      Well, you do get asked “So what church do you go to?” a lot.

      Mostly, though, it depends on how supportive your family and your immediate circle of friends are. It was relatively easy for me; not so much for other kids.

      • Sergio Méndez January 20, 2011 at 7:50 pm #


        I remember when I met you on #atheism on Dalnet…I always wondered why the topic of atheism and the philosophical discusions around the issue, have become so rare (even non existent) in your blog since so many years ago.

  2. Anon73 January 20, 2011 at 2:19 am #

    Yes it is quite difficult, I still to the present day have to stay mute on religious questions when visiting relatives since arguing about the existence of God, Jesus, etc is likely to cause more problems than it solves.

  3. Nathan Byrd January 20, 2011 at 3:56 pm #

    Keep in mind these statements attributed to Jesus as well:

    Matthew 10:35-37

    Matthew 12:48-50

  4. David Gordon January 21, 2011 at 5:18 pm #

    Neighbors need not be brothers or sisters.

    • MBH January 24, 2011 at 1:47 am #

      Nope. Just Selves.

  5. Neil January 26, 2011 at 6:04 pm #

    Off-topic, but:


    ^^^^ not a good sign…?

    • Nathan Byrd January 26, 2011 at 10:53 pm #

      Ouch. I hope someone archived it all.

    • Black Bloke January 28, 2011 at 3:16 pm #

      That’s exactly what I was coming here to write about. It’s been down for a while (at least a week). but the Google Cache and Webarchive still have al of that.

      I think Richard O’Hammer might be responsible for maintaining that page.

      • Roderick January 29, 2011 at 11:33 pm #

        No, Rich does FNF, not LNF. (Long story.) Anyway, LNF periodically goes offline and we have to hunt down Wayne Dawson to renew it. In the meantime, it’s all on Wayback. (Unlike this blog, for some reason.)

        • Rad Geek January 30, 2011 at 5:38 am #

          Wayback/Internet Archive has a significant time lag between when they begin archiving a website and when they begin making the archives publicly available. I don’t know whether aaeblog.com is old enough yet to start showing up when requested, or if you’re still in the archived-but-hidden time window.

  6. Bob January 27, 2011 at 9:49 pm #

    I was a bit confused about precisely what he wanted to say. He might have meant:

    1) As a strongly committed Christian, I can only have close personal relationships with others who are similarly committed.

    Or, he might have meant:

    2) As a strongly committed Christian, I regard anyone not similarly committed as falling outside the scope of my legitimate personal concern.

    The first interpretation would seem to be fairly unobjectionable. After all, deep personal relationships do seem to require some sort of shared commitment between both parties, and where one party is committed to something so central to his practical identity as Christianity, it would be understandably difficult to develop or sustain a robust friendship with someone who rejected those commitments.

    If, however, he intends the latter, then he’s just flying in the face of the plain spirit of the New Testament as a whole. It’s not at all contrary to that spirit for believers to consider themselves bound to one another in special ways. It is thus contrary for them to consider themselves free of any significant relationship to non-believers.

    • MBH January 27, 2011 at 11:51 pm #

      “As a strongly committed Christian, I can only have close personal relationships with others who are similarly committed” […] would seem to be fairly unobjectionable.

      Objection. “Being Christian” says absolutely nothing about one’s commitments. “Being Christian” only necessarily says something about the symbols in use. It would be the equivalent of saying “As someone who only writes in cursive, I will not communicate with people who write in print.” If by “commitments” you mean “allegiance to a set of symbols”, then I’d object that is objectionable.

      • Anon January 28, 2011 at 2:38 am #

        This objection can be raised against all words and concepts (being necessarily verbalized), especially out of context like this. ‘Christian’ no doubt does convey a great deal about one’s commitments to an audience of his fellow church-goers. While his usage of the symbol is no doubt idiosyncratic, there will certainly be a great deal of overlap in this context. You pointed out recently that the symbol ‘anarchist’ is used by anarchists in a completely different way than most people use it, and that they should therefore abandon it. Would not the common usage of ‘Christian’ as a referent to a set of values and commitments invalidate your usage of it here as an empty signifier, following your logic?

        • MBH January 28, 2011 at 6:02 am #

          This objection very much cannot be raised against all concepts. If the concept in question is ‘the form of a triangle’, then to say, “I accept this particular form of a triangle and no other,” is senseless. If you accept that particular form, then you simultaneously accept other instances of that very form. You cannot sensibly accept a universal form with the caveat that you only intend the acceptance to be non-universal. Even C.S. Lewis retells the form of Christ in a lion. Was that un-Christian of him? Would a Christian be damned if he considered Lewis a brother — a man who dared to see Christ’s form as universal?

          I never say anything is wrong with the concept ‘anarchy’. I say the word is stupid, not the concept. The concept is elucidatory; the word is a muddle. The word is ladder-language; if you actually understood it, you’d move beyond it. But hey, training wheels have their place and time.

  7. Bob January 28, 2011 at 9:25 am #

    The problem with the objection is that it’s false. Of course, it’s true that for many people, ‘being Christian’ does in fact say little or nothing about their commitments (though, if there is any sense to the comparison to writing in cursive, it will need to be explained to me, since it seems like a double category mistake). But in fact, for most evangelicals of this stripe — the have-you-accepted-Jesus-as-your-personal-savior stripe — it *does* involve a set of serious commitments, and they use their symbols to express those commitments and their membership in groups centered around them. Among those commitments are to love one’s neighbor and to evangelize; the first one ought to preclude saying things that sound divisive and hostile, and the second one ought to have made the people of Alabama wary of giving the man a political office.

    So, unless you’re willing to maintain that nobody should ever describe themselves as holding to a certain conception of the world that makes it impossible for them to have a deep and important relationship with others who do not share that conception, then your objection goes nowhere. Of course, if you’re simply pointing out that there would be better ways to say that, then you’re right.

    • MBH January 28, 2011 at 10:35 am #

      Bob, if the Evangelicals cannot understand that the very beauty of their religion rests in Christ’s message of universal Love and forgiveness, and his return means ubiquitous Love and forgiveness, then any actions they take “on behalf of Christ” will — at best — produce no effect, and — at worst — block the return. If you mean to say that they intend commitment to Christ, then fine. But an intention to do X is not necessarily a commitment to do X. If they picture a snap-shot decision to be Christian (along with consistent appearances at community events) as sufficient criterion — without an understanding of salvation as a process — then their commitment may be to the church, but not to the Holy Spirit. You’re really raping Christ’s message if you equate commitment to church with commitment to Christ. I’m sure the Spirit forgives you though.

      • Anon January 28, 2011 at 12:43 pm #

        Do you read what people write before responding or do you just have a set of buzz words and phrases you copy and paste into each reply? All of your posts read like a variation of the postmodernism generator (http://www.elsewhere.org/pomo/).

        • MBH January 29, 2011 at 4:51 am #

          Dude, seriously? I’ve never read Derrida — I’ve never read any postmodern writer (save a few excerpts from Lacan that I didn’t like). I dig David Jones/James Joyce-style high modernism. Maybe you count Wittgenstein as postmodern — but then, I have no idea why you would think that.

          If this counts as me “morphing” when you think you have me pinned down, then I would suggest you realize that it’s not me who morphs. You don’t grasp where I’m coming from.

          But I have a pretty good sense where you’re coming from: you don’t have a rebuttal to what you’re responding to.

        • Roderick January 29, 2011 at 11:37 pm #


          The reason you sound like a postmodernism generator is that you keep repeating idiosyncratic phrases that nobody understands and half the time it’s impossible to figure out how your comments relate to what they’re comments on. Maybe we’re all too dumb to grasp your insights, but if so, these are the only brains we’ve got.

        • MBH January 30, 2011 at 9:44 am #


          Maybe we’re all too dumb to grasp your insights […]

          To insinuate that you are dumb would be like Wittgenstein suggesting that Frege was dumb. I believe you would call that an “overstatement,” and I’d agree.

          The reason you sound like a postmodernism generator is that you keep repeating idiosyncratic phrases that nobody understands […]

          The idea that “idiosyncratic phrases” are inherently not understandable — which is the suggestion time and again — is just fucking crazy. Especially within a group of supposedly open-minded free-thinkers. I don’t mean to call everyone here phonies, but when you start to dismiss something because you don’t understand it, please, by all means, tell me what else I’m supposed to think. Impatience toward what you don’t understand is better than violence toward what you don’t understand, but you’re still on that spectrum. Do you think that because you self-classify as ‘anarchist’ you’re somehow immune from prejudice?

          […] these are the only brains we’ve got.

          And they’re more than adequate for what I’m saying! I wouldn’t be able to say what I say without being in the constant presence of your wetware for, what, seven years now? All I ask is that we stop pretending that ‘anarchy’ automatically prevents outside-the-box thinking. Maybe we accept the proposition that embracing ‘anarchy’ glues us to a perspective in the same way embracing ‘conservatism’ glues us to a perspective. Maybe ‘anarchy’ is a more broad perspective, but if Wittgenstein teaches anything, it’s that no perspective-gluing makes sense. And Wittgenstein probably felt that he was engaging in dialogue with people super-glued to their perspective.

        • MBH January 30, 2011 at 3:14 pm #

          The role of Open Source in Egypt. More understandable?

    • MBH January 28, 2011 at 10:42 am #

      Oh and Bob, The Trinity Killer fits your criteria for commitment to Christ. Miiiiiiight wanna’ re-evaluate the concept.

  8. Fleebloaup McFolloemts January 31, 2011 at 1:00 am #

    So everyone in the South is an idiot. What’s new?


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