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In conjunction with the philosophical meta-question of "Can you have too much freedom?" (assuming there is such a thing) and the derivative "Can there be too much tolerance?", comes the as vexingly important "Can you have too little intolerance?" conundrum. The resounding answer, courtesy of the American Family Association (AMA), is an unequivocal yes.


In the name of the oxymoronic concept of religious freedom (picked apart here), AMA vehemently postulates that, yes, there is a limit to the lack of intolerance and discrimination that can be socially exhibited below which all hell breaks loose (metaphorically speaking). In the heels of a campaign to promote businesses in that do not discriminate based on sexual orientation in States like Arkansas that have legislated the right to do just that, AMA launched a counter-campaign to paint this initiative as discriminatory and repressive. They even went to the length of listing the businesses that have signed up to it.


Now, I do not know personally many devout Bible Belt Christians but I am cautiously guessing that they wouldn't caught themselves dead having their hair coiffed in "Xpress Yourself Salon" in Biloxi MS, socializing in "Molly's Cauldron" in Prattville AL, or shopping frivolously for trinkets in the "Eye Candy by Tiara" store in Greer SC. So it is truly a mystery why are they warning their conservative brethren about such places, unless they are prone to sinning or their devoutness to Madonna tends to be more musical than spiritual.


AMA's and similar conservative groups' "reasoning" behind their activism rests primarily on a  methodological logic of contorted linguistics. Per this approach, words and their underlying meaning, are appropriated into the axiomatic framework of beliefs that they are championing and distorted to seamlessly fit in and support the core underlying principles. In the more extreme cases, the "processed" concepts are inverted into their antonyms but promoted with the same valence of their "default" understanding.


Case in point the concept of "freedom", which partnered with that of religion, is transformed into a mechanism of constricting or depriving that very same thing it purportedly represents from targeted subgroups. In essence the concept is drained of its universality, as it is dimmed primarily applicable to a certain subgroup (the religious), and decoupled from the basic rule of its applicability, namely that individual freedoms should not infringe on those of others. Ironically, although they ignore the latter prerequisite from the promulgation of their beliefs, they do use it hypocritically as an argument against their detractors.


The concept of "discrimination" is another one twisted into a semantic knot and turned inside out, whereby those who do not discriminate (in this case against LGBT persons) are recast as those that do (against the faithful). To any rational mind, this is just intellectual acrobatics, plain sophistry (relabeling their own discrimination as "religious convictions"), devoid of even theoretical traction.


An even more egregious examples in this tactic of linguistic misrepresentation is those of "science" and "history". A quick glance at the AMA's shop under the heading of "Homeschooling: Science" reveals scoops like the "Footprints in Creation DVD", a "biblical account of our beginnings" and the "Noah’s Ark: Thinking Outside the Box DVD", a documentary on "the authority and inerrancy of God’s Word" and the ark's reality as it "is affirmed from the pages of Scripture and the most recent of research". In the "Homeschooling: History" section, there is "The Healing Prophet: Solanus Casey: DVD", about the forthcoming first American-born male Saint, and the "What Hath Darwin Wrought? DVD", linking the evolution theory to Nazi atrocities. All in all, serving superstition as science and ideology as history.


May 16, 2014 | US MADNESS

Religious Fundamentalism: Linguistic Contortions

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