Link commentary

Radley Balko's morning links were a treasure trove. The highlights:

Police Officer Seeks Protection FROM the Police

When he opened his locker at the NYPD’s 42nd Precinct, Officer Frank Palestro was greeted with a symbolic death threat: A mousetrap with his name on it.

Palestro, who was one of three elected precinct delegates to the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, had been outed as a “rat” for reporting acts of official corruption ordered by Lt. Susana Seda, a former midnight platoon commander who is mired in scandal.

The whistleblower “was transferred to another command for his safety,” reports the February 24 New York Daily News.

...

Lt. Seda, according to Palestro, “told everybody I was a `f****** rat’” because he acted in the interests of the public and conscientious street officers, rather than corrupt figures further up the chain of command. Accordingly, the nine-year police veteran and union rep is being offered protection akin to that extended to defectors from criminal syndicates. [emphasis mine]

They're the largest, best organized, most dangerous gang of all, don't forget it.

God wants gays dead, says beauty queen Lauren Ashley

CARRIE Prejean isn't the only beauty queen open to expressing her objection to same-sex marriage.

Miss Beverly Hills 2010 Lauren Ashley is also speaking out in support of traditional nuptials, Fox News reported.

"The Bible says that marriage is between a man and a woman," Ms Ashley told Fox News.

"In Leviticus it says: 'If man lies with mankind as he would lie with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death and their blood shall be upon them.'

"The Bible is pretty black and white.

"I feel like God himself created mankind and he loves everyone, and he has the best for everyone.

...

"If he says that having sex with someone of your same gender is going to bring death upon you, that's a pretty stern warning, and he knows more than we do about life."

Ms Ashley, 23, will be representing Beverly Hills in the Miss California pageant in November.

Her statements mirror former Miss California Carrie Prejean's answer to a question about same-sex marriage in last year's Miss USA pageant.

That's a direct quote from the book! I agree that it's appalling that anyone would have that belief, but Lauren Ashley is only one of billions who trusts that book. She's given us a good reason to reject the whole thing. It's just plain hypocritical for people who base their religion on this text to get worked up about her comments.

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Yes, she does directly quote

Yes, she does directly quote the old testament book of Leviticus. Unfortunately for her, she probably attended a church that doesn't place great emphasis on individual bible reading. According to the new testament Jesus Christ died on the cross so that we would no longer be bound by the law of the old testament. Leviticus is full of rituals that must take place before someone may enter a temple, it also details what kind of sacrifices are required upon the altar.

Christians do not have to follow those laws anymore.

The problem is, religiously minded folks (Pharisees, essentially) run the churches around the nation. The churches are closely wed to the status quo and help serve the interests of the welfare/warfare state. It naturally follows that the "religious leaders" would continue to inaccurately preach the bible, knowing for a fact that few - if any - of the sheep will actually read the whole thing in its entirety.

The purpose behind this selective teaching is obvious when you realize that tithing is old testament. I think George Carlin said something very funny about this in his book When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops?. Why should you tithe when the pastor drives a Cadillac and has a new suit for every weekend? I saw no reason for this when I attended church, and was one of the huge reasons I abandoned hierarchical religion.

Selective teaching enforces the balkanization of the people, steals money from their purse, obfuscates and confuses the real teachings of Christ (that uber-hippie) and perpetuates the patriarchal myths of an agricultural slave sect that relishes in genital mutilation of infants.

Christ has been misrepresented since his death, mostly by catholics and now by other forms of hierarchically organized religion. They profit from the deceit and willful omission.

Luke 17:21 (King James Version)

21Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.

A more secular and modern quote:

Hospitaller: I put no stock in religion. By the word religion I have seen the lunacy of fanatics of every denomination be called the will of god. I have seen too much religion in the eyes of too many murderers. Holiness is in right action, and courage on behalf of those who cannot defend themselves, and goodness. What god desires is here
[points to head]
Hospitaller: and here
[points to heart]
Hospitaller: and what you decide to do every day, you will be a good man - or not.

I can tell you one thing, I have not been to church since I was 18. I do not want to be guilty by association.

According to the new

According to the new testament Jesus Christ died on the cross so that we would no longer be bound by the law of the old testament.

One of the laws mentioned in the old testament is the prohibition against murder. I seriously doubt that Jesus died on the cross so that we would no longer be bound by the law against murder.

I conclude, then, that there is some nonempty subset of laws present in the old testament which are not abrogated by Jesus Christ dying on the cross. You have given no reason to believe that the law against homosexuality is not among those laws.

I looked up the source. It's Leviticus 18:22. I skimmed all of Leviticus 18. Most of it is stuff that we are well-advised to practice, for reasons that have nothing to do with religion. Don't have sex with relatives. Don't have sex with animals. I doubt that Christ died on the cross so that we would be able to have sex with our children and our parents, with our brothers and sisters, and with our pets.

One of the laws mentioned in

One of the laws mentioned in the old testament is the prohibition against murder.

Yep, and it is restated on many occasions throughout the new testament. Any redundancy is for a reason, the rest can be dropped. The new testament can be read as a standalone, that is how it was written.

The two books had been separate and treated as such. Acts 15 (NKJV) says something about Simon Peter and the Council of Jerusalem, rejecting the gentile pharisees who wished to cling to the Mosaic law.

I conclude, then,

Your conclusion is based on incomplete data.

Edited to remove trolling. Didn't realize it was constant who got my goat...

In the New Testament also,

In the New Testament also, homosexuality is condemned, or so it appears to my naive eyes. I'm sure you have an answer for this as well, just as you were ready with an answer for the old testament. I merely mention it because you haven't yet given that additional argument, and here is your opportunity.

I make no pretense of being knowledgeable about Christianity. I merely googled it and immediately found mention. As you doubtless already know, I am talking about passages from Romans, Corinthians, and Timothy mentioned here.

Entirely aside from the explicit mentions of homosexuality in the New Testament, it does not seem to me all that reasonable to hold that we should consider all practices not explicitly condemned in the New Testament as permissible. Rather, it seems much more reasonable to understand Jesus as abrogating all and only the obviously religious edicts. For example, the law against murder is widespread among mankind and is therefore not tied to the worship of Yahweh. In contrast, the prohibition against eating pork, or against cooking meat in milk, or against working on the Sabbath, are all obviously tied to the worship of Yahweh. It seems wholly reasonable to interpret Jesus, who is a religious authority, as setting aside religious law, i.e., the laws that have their origin in the Hebrew religion.

Moreover, considering that the New Testament is a collection of writings by diverse people, it seems pretty easy for some important and necessary law to slip through the cracks. What if there is no mention in the New Testament condemning slavery? Or condemning excessive punishment for minor crimes? Even if these two examples appear in the New Testament, it seems unlikely to me that the New Testament explicitly mentions every law that we probably want to keep on the books and that, were Jesus asked about it, he would say something like, "are you dense? Of course that should still be considered wrong."

Romans 1 is an open letter

Romans 1 is an open letter written by a Jewish apostle to the church in Rome. Paul is attempting to wrestle with the need to follow mosaic law without condemning those who do not, the gentiles. He is simply putting his letter into context for those who have not read the old testament.

You cannot just pick and choose chapter and verse like the selective teachers of religiosity. To understand the Bible you need historical context and the complete text, not just a verse. Otherwise it is simply sloganeering. I am not accusing you of this, I am just pointing out that you are coming at this trap from the dangerous direction of organized religion.

1 Corinthians 6 calls MANY peoples unwashed so as to elucidate that these folks are the peers by which you will be judged if you take a fellow Christian before a court. By court, I mean a place of judgement. Surely it says that they will not inherit the kingdom, only because they are non-believers. Again, any bit of text can be made to say anything if it is removed from context.

My NKJV doesn't have the same quote from first Timothy chapter one. Another thing to be weary of, many translations and editions. I wish I knew Greek.

It seems wholly reasonable to interpret Jesus, who is a religious authority, as setting aside religious law, i.e., the laws that have their origin in the Hebrew religion.

This is where I disagree with the bulk of Christians. The bible can be interpreted many ways, the bulk of them being wrong. Religious prejudices shine through in the analysis of the text, eisegesis by definition.

If a law is left out, it is because it is not the law of the church that must be followed. Romans has some interesting things to say further on about that. You have to remember that it is a book written by men (and if you believe the fable, divinely inspired) for the purpose of spreading the faith.

Despite what the Catholic church - or any who would have a vested interest in controlling individuals through religion - may say; The new testament (or even the old) was never intended to be an irrefutable, unassailable, complete codex of holy law.

it seems unlikely to me that the New Testament explicitly mentions every law that we probably want to keep on the books and that, were Jesus asked about it, he would say something like, "are you dense? Of course that should still be considered wrong."

I should inform you that your understanding of Christ is not the same as the one I possess. If you were a Christian, I would warn you that you are wandering into dangerous territory.

Although, most church leaders would inform you that it is best to ignore this post-ecclesiastical crypto-christian.

This may be going in a

This may be going in a different direction that I originally intended, but if the earlier code is inane (as large parts of it are) than what good is a new covenant that updates/fulfills/whatever the first covenant? This has always been one of my problems with disparaging the old law but embracing the new. I honestly don't know what the arguments are in favor of this practice.