Forget Mossad. I’ll Ask God To Do It.   Leave a comment

Quote Number Three.

“May his days be few;  may another take his place of leadership.”

Kansas House Speaker Mike O’Neal, Psalm 109

OK, let’s start with the supposition that Speaker of the Kansas House, Mike O’Neal is quite obviously a meathead. (Sorry, as Speaker of the Kansas House, we must grant him his due: he’s the Honorable Meathead.) The Speaker/Meathead let fly a clearly thoughtless and racist reference to the First Lady, Michelle Obama. Speaker Meathead subsequently suggested that he was “just forwarding a humorous email”. Have politicians not yet learned to ignore the childish ways of the internet? All he had to do was smile to himself about the Michelle Obama email—as it appears he did find amusement in it—and delete the message. End of story. Instead, he forwarded the email and added his own endorsement of the content. The Lawrence (Kansas) Journal World reported it this way:

House Speaker Mike O’Neal, R-Hutchinson, on Thursday issued an apology for an email he forwarded to fellow House Republicans that refers to first lady Michelle Obama as “Mrs. YoMama” and compares a photograph of her to a picture of the Grinch. “Twins separated at birth?” the subject line of the email says. The email includes a picture of Mrs. Obama next to one of the Grinch. It has been making the rounds on the Internet. Mrs. Obama’s hair appears to be swept up by the wind, and O’Neal writes, “Sorry, just had to forward this latest holiday message! I’ve had worse hair days but this is pretty funny.”  The forwarded portion of the email also states, “I’m sure you’ll join me in wishing Mrs. YoMama a wonderful, long Hawaii Christmas vacation — at our expense, of course.” The Obamas spent the holidays in President Barack Obama’s home state of Hawaii.

I don’t fault Speaker Meathead for receiving the email. After all, the email went viral in many circles. I fault him for not having more than an ounce of decorum. He could have simply deleted it and moved on. As for the words of the Bible (the aforementioned Psalm 109) becoming part of the conservative 2012 game plan, it just moves the rhetoric further into crazyland.

I wrote earlier this week that there are no random accidental utterances when it comes to politicians; no “oops” moments instantly forgivable for one random act of incivility followed by a perfunctory apology. What comes out of the mouths of these calculating feeders at the governmental trough, is with the full knowledge of the meaning of their words, a recognition of the target, and a complete desire to appeal to a like-minded audience. While Kansas seems slightly less crazy than South Carolina—Speaker Meathead, that’s a compliment—Kansas is nevertheless a very red state. Please remember that Kansas is the state where Scott Philip Roeder shot and killed Dr. George Tiller on the steps of the Reformation Lutheran Church in Wichita after services one quiet Sunday morning in May 2009. His defense was “justification” as Tiller was a qualified doctor offering abortion services to those who requested them. In the New York Times story on the trial’s outcome, attention was paid to the “justification” defense:

On May 31 [testifying at the trial, the defendant,] Mr. Roeder admitted, he walked into the church and shot Dr. Tiller point-blank in the forehead. Mr. Roeder testified that he believed that all abortions amounted to murder and that Dr. Tiller was breaking abortion laws.  Mr. Roeder’s defense team had hoped the judge in the case, Warren Wilbert, would instruct jurors that they could take into account Mr. Roeder’s motive and consider a lesser conviction of voluntary manslaughter if they believed he held, as Kansas law states, “an unreasonable but honest belief that circumstances existed that justified deadly force.”  But the judge ruled that the circumstances did not meet the requirements for such a conviction, and jurors on Friday were essentially given two choices: convict Mr. Roeder of pre-meditated murder or send him home.  Mr. Roeder will be sentenced in March; the conviction carries a life sentence, but prosecutors say they hope to ensure that he is not eligible for parole for 50 years. He was also convicted of aggravated assault for aiming his gun at other church members as he fled. Mr. Roeder’s defense team plans to appeal.

We can all be thankful that the jury rejected justification. Mr. Roeder has been put away and we’ll (hopefully) not be seeing him again in this lifetime. The jury took just 37 minutes to reach a verdict.

Hey Scott: If the murder was so righteous why did you threaten other members, that is non-abortion performing members of the congregation as you escaped? Why not “Man-Up” and simply wait for the authorities? Not only did he run away, once in custody, he embraced an equivalent of the Twinkie Defense. It was justified due to the abortions Tiller was performing.

Carrying the “What murder?” defense a step further, perhaps Roeder was having an over-stimulated moment and didn’t really mean to kill the doctor when he shot him in the head. Hell, he probably didn’t understand the physics associated with a metal projectile, powered by, oh, let’s say, GUNPOWDER, leaving the barrel of a handgun, pointed in the direction of another human being, and the lethal effect it might have on human tissue and important internal organs. The extreme anti-abortion fanatics have long pushed for “taking action” against abortion providers. Many law-and-order conservatives, including those maintaining the website dedicated to Mr. Roeder, continue to believe he did the right thing: “Our purpose is to be a blessing to our dear brother Scott and biblically defend his actions.”  Defend his actions? Biblically? Hello? Is anyone in there? Anyone memorize the 6th Commandment back in Sunday School? As Roeder amply proved, it only takes one true believer, and this country is always just one true believer away from another murder. Law be damned. Order will be enforced. Somebody’s order anyway.

For the record, I am not an advocate of abortion, and for the record, I do not believe that the government—federal, state, local, imagined—has any right to dictate to any individual what rights they have when it pertains to their person, being, life form, living entity, soul, etc. But a woman who chooses to have an abortion has already made a difficult and personal decision, which is hers to make. It’s her body, not mine or yours or anyone’s.

Which brings me back to the words from Psalms. I’ve long been fascinated by the ability of true believers to selectively use the Bible to further their agenda. Even the commandments are subject to interpretation: “Thou Shalt Not Kill” does not, from my childhood bible classes, contain an exception clause, i.e., “Thou Shalt Not Kill, Except When You Believe It Is Totally Necessary.” (More on selective Biblical adherence in a later post.)

The entire passage from Psalms 109 is linked to this blog-posting’s quote, but suffice to say, if one chooses to contextualize the words into fervent anti-abortion rhetoric, it’s plausible to see how a person on the edge—Scott Roeder, for example—can interpret the words of of the Bible—or the exhortations of friends and others—as marching orders. Within the anti-Obama movement there are those from the religious right who have begun to simply cite (and include on a featured bumper-sticker) Psalm 109, Verse 8 as a political mantra:

 Verse 8: May his days be few; may another take his place of leadership. 

O’Neal and others can suggest that they’re only talking about the 2012 election. However, by continuing the reading one can see how the words can be turned into a mission statement by other Scott Roeders of the world:

 Verse 9: May his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow.

In the 2008 election campaign (late 2007 actually), John McCain was handed a perfect opportunity to take the high road. He chose not to. A supporter referred to (then) Senator Hillary Clinton as a bitch and McCain let it slide. As Ruth Rosen pointed out,

Sen. John McCain has a woman problem. As many people remember, a supporter asked him last November “how are we going to beat that bitch?” His response, after a good old boy’s chuckle, was “That’s an excellent question.” He then went on to discuss his superior poll ratings and ended with a dutiful statement about how much he respected Sen. Hillary Clinton.

“That’s an excellent question”. That’s an excellent question? Hello? John? The lights are on but nobody’s home? Until our elected and non-elected leadership take time to choose their fighting words more carefully, we’re likely to see more of the craziness and less of the much-needed sanity. To Speaker of the Kansas House O’Neal, it’s time for you, too, to “Man Up”. Stop responding to your base instincts. Join the human race. Show leadership and challenge others to do the same. I’ll even start by resisting the temptation to call you a meathead again. At least after this is published.

Prior: When Saying “Sorry” Just Isn’t Enough

David Steffen

© David Steffen 2012


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