Friday, November 12, 2004

Offred in the Republic of Gilead

mtnRoughneck is freakin me out.

I read one article he recommended, remembering his acknowledgment that it might be a bit "tin-foil hattish." Once I got past the retching that came from seeing a picture of Jesus at the top with W's face implanted, I read on. He is right: it is both scary, and it reads like a conspiracy theory.

Now let me say, I am coming to embrace the idea that maybe I am a sucker for such things. Just after I wrote about the fact that we have no way to know or not know whether the results of the recent election were on the up-and-up, All Things Considered dismissed people with such doubts as conspiracy theorists.

Thank you, Robert Siegel. At least other listeners felt the same way.

But I will acknowledge that that first article, when combined with other articles mtnRoughneck has more recently noted, is FREAKING ME OUT.

Quit it!

(You can read more of his reflections at Whiskey Tango.)

Then last night I had dinner with friends that involved inevitable election lamentations and much gnashing of teeth. One friend noted that he had seen a student outside our campus library with a table and a petition and selling t-shirts about SAVE THE FORESTS. You have to choose your battles, my friend said. So when I asked him what his battle was, he said Church And State. As we talked, I realized how many of the civil liberties issues that I care about come back to that increasingly flimsy wall.

Meanwhile, the Religious Right has let the dogs loose on Arlen Specter. The website of radical cleric James Dobson asks, "Are you concerned about the possibility of pro-abortion U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter assuming the chairmanship of the all-important Senate Judiciary Committee? There's still more you can do to help get a more qualified candidate installed."

(Elsewhere radical cleric Dobson advises dating couples: "Be careful to defend the 'line of respect,' even during a dating relationship. A man should open doors for a woman on a formal evening; a woman should speak respectfully of her escort when in public, etc. If you don't preserve this delicate line when the foundations of marriage are being laid, it will be virtually impossible to construct them later." He encourages prospective couples to consider, "Who will lead in the relationship? What does that really mean?" and notes that premarital sex is bad because "Though it's an old-fashioned notion, perhaps it's still true that men do not respect "easy" women and often become bored with those who have held nothing in reserve.")

Maybe the idea of Arlen Specter as a liberal freaks me out just as bad as Whiskey Tango. And it was on NPR, too, so this is not some little behind-the-scenes thing.

A good source for information about current and recent attacks on the wall dividing these two is the watchdog and advocacy group, Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

For now I am keeping my ears open and rereading The Handmaid's Tale.

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