Sunday 8 July 2012

Dr. Laura Schlessinger: Using the Bible for Evil

From time to time, somebody passes on to me one of a myriad of chain emails making the rounds of Inboxes everywhere. Some are funny; some are a fount of misinformation and once in a blue moon, I get one which piques my curiosity.

As a little background, radio talk show host Dr. Laura Schlessinger got herself into hot water in the late 1990s for making a number of negative comments about homosexuality and in some cases backing up her rhetoric with quotes from the Bible. She declared homosexuality a "biological error" but didn't stop there; she went on to compare gay men to pedophiles. Obviously this created quite a stir in the gay community but those who were fighting for the end of sexual discrimination also took exception. John Aravosis, an American Democratic political consultant, writer, gay activist and blogger, started StopDrLaura.Com in 2000 to boycott Schlessinger's first television show.

Here is the full text of the email I received which is a modified version of the original 2000 chain email:

Sent: Saturday, July 07, 2012 6:44 PM


Below is a brilliant and humorous response to the notion that the bible is the ultimate justification for any conflicting viewpoint in this day and age.

On her radio show, Dr Laura Schlesinger said that, as an observant Orthodox Jew, homosexuality is an abomination according to Leviticus 18:22, and cannot be condoned under any circumstance. The following response is an open letter to Dr. Laura, written by a U.S. man, and posted on the Internet. It's funny, as well as informative:

Dear Dr. Laura:

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination ... End of debate.

I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some other elements of God's Laws and how to follow them.

1. Leviticus 25:44 states that I may possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?

2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

3. I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of Menstrual uncleanliness - Lev.15: 19-24. The problem is how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

4. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord - Lev.1:9. The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

5. I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself, or should I ask the police to do it?

6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination, Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this? Are there 'degrees' of abomination?

7. Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle-room here?

8. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?

9. I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

10. My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev.19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? Lev.24:10-16. Couldn't we just burn them to death at a private family affair, like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

I know you have studied these things extensively and thus enjoy considerable expertise in such matters, so I'm confident you can help.

Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal and unchanging.

Your adoring fan,

James M. Kauffman, Ed.D. Professor Emeritus, Dept. Of Curriculum,
Instruction, and Special Education University of Virginia

P.S. It would be a damn shame if we couldn't own a Canadian.

Ah, Ms. Schlessinger, you do know how to raise the ire of some of your listeners. Tell us what you really think. (You will note I didn't say Dr. Schlessinger because she's not a doctor. She doesn't even have a Ph.D.)

As an aside, Schlessinger sealed her fate in 2010 when she used the N word on her radio show and subsequently ended her radio show. She apparently continues on Sirius satellite radio.

I was intrigued by the veracity of the email. Was it really emailed to Schlessinger or was this just wishful thinking on the part of some irate but Bible-savvy listener?

Snopes.Com has a wonderful and informative article on the whole debacle and I couldn't help comparing it to the outrageous comments of Rush Limbaugh about Sandra Fluke. You would like to think society is making progress then the news reports the statements of somebody, politician, celebrity, or so-called expert which leave you with your jaw hitting the floor. WTF? Where in heaven's name did that come from? Of course, I ofttimes add that some of what we think are changes in our society are more of a thin veneer. Stand around the office water cooler when people are relaxed, not seeing any recorders or cell phone cameras, and listen to what comes out of their mouths. There may be a tad more humor with sexual, racial or homophobic overtones than you would care to know.

Snopes also pointed out that the Dr. Laura email did not escape the attention of Aaron Sorkin, create of the television series The West Wing. In the episode The Midterms, written by Sorkin himself first airing on October 18, 2000, he incorporates part of the email into the storyline. From Wikipedia's summary of the episode's plot:

On the night of the election, the White House hosts a reception for talk radio hosts. Amongst them is a conservative advice show host, Dr. Jenna Jacobs (a caricature of Dr. Laura Schlessinger, played by Claire Yarlett). When the President joins the reception, Jacobs remains seated, and the President notices her. He attacks Jacobs' position on homosexuality by listing off other Scriptural taboos — touching a pig's skin, wearing clothing woven of two different threads, etc. He ends with the admonishment, "In this building, when the President stands, nobody sits." The embarrassed Jacobs hesitantly rises, and the President tells Toby that this is how he beat his old foe. Sam takes some of her appetizers. (Wikipedia: The Midterms: Plot)

Uploaded by janitic on Nov 23, 2007
West Wing - Dr. Jacobs - Bible References - Owned by Prez.

Final Word
We've come a long way. But we have a long way to go. During the 2010 debates of the GOP candidates, I heard Michele Bachman and Rick Santorum come out squarely against gay marriage. What issues are at the forefront of my mind? How about the economy, global warming, sickness, war, famine? I can think of a number of issues just a tad more important than somebody's antiquated, myopic, misinterpreted biblical views to justify the most egregious of attitudes towards our fellow human beings. We are all in this together. How about a little peace, love, and understanding?

References - Sep 5/2007
Letter to Dr. Laura

Wikipedia: The West Wing
The West Wing is an American television serial drama created by Aaron Sorkin that was originally broadcast on NBC from September 22, 1999 to May 14, 2006.

Wikipedia: The Midterms
"The Midterms" is the 25th episode of The West Wing and the third episode of the second season.

Real-life connections
The fictional "Dr. Jenna Jacobs" is scolded by President Bartlet, who criticizes her views on homosexuality, and points out she is not a doctor in any field related to morality, ethics, or theology. He quotes from the Bible to point out the inconsistency of condemning certain sins but not others. Show creator Aaron Sorkin admitted to modeling Bartlet's diatribe on an anonymous "Letter to Dr. Laura," which was a popular viral email at the time relating to Dr. Laura Schlessinger's daily radio show "The Dr. Laura Program".

Wikipedia: Laura Schlessinger
Laura Catherine Schlessinger (born January 16, 1947) is an American talk radio host, socially conservative commentator and author. Her radio program consists mainly of her responses to callers' requests for personal advice and has occasionally featured her short monologues on social and political topics. Her website says that her show "preaches, teaches, and nags about morals, values and ethics."
Schlessinger called homosexuality a "biological error", said that homosexuality was acceptable as long it was not public, and said that homosexuals should not attempt to adopt children. She regularly compared gay parenting to pedophilia by reiterating her view that "a huge portion of the male homosexual populace is predatory on young boys."

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Noticed your blog. Just want to correct error: I NEVER quoted any bible versus with respect to any issue related to homosexuality. That is a construct developed by certain media types to attempt to discredit me as a fund raising ploy. Thank you for the opportunity to clarity. DR LAURA SCHLESSINGER