Once upon a time, television stations didn't stay on 24 hours a day, probably because there were few readily-available sources of inexpensive — or, better yet, free — material to fill time. And so they would sign off around one in the morning and come back at five-ish, perhaps with the playing of the National Anthem. Channel 9 in Oklahoma City, I remember, also threw in a brief Bible passage, specifically Psalm 33, verse 16: "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord."

You don't see that sort of thing anymore, mostly because there are informercials to be run and (marginal) dollars to be made. But most of us, I suspect, know somebody who is happy not to see that sort of thing anymore, not because there's such an overwhelming need for Proactiv Solution and Sham-Wows, but because it's an unwelcome intrusion of the spiritual into a life being carefully channeled into the secular.

And indeed, objections can be raised to Psalm 33:16. "You mean all those other nations are not blessed? What kind of God plays favorites? My God [name presumably available on request] is fair." Well, okay, fine. We will stipulate, based on that statement, that the world, by definition, is also fair, because it was created so. Problem solved. At least we won't have to worry about the horrid unfairness of life, because God does not permit such a thing; everyone always ends up with exactly the same status, both sides of the grave. "You've got to be kidding me," they say; funny, but I was just about to say the same thing.

An objection slightly more sophisticated derives from the definition of "nation," which does not necessarily mean an entity that has, for instance, a National Anthem. But it, too, founders on the question of "fairness," since it reflects the existence of a Chosen People, and how dare a deity choose a people? Now I come from the school of thought which says "Um, like I'm gonna tell a deity what to do? I don't think so." This, of course, rouses their Revolutionary Spirit: "You gotta fight for your right to ... um, whatever it is you have the right to do." Just for fun, ask them where these rights come from, and if they're still coherent, have them specify the rights in question. It usually won't take too long before they get down to what they value most, which is copulation without consequences. "Your right to party," indeed. Anent which, Beastie Boy Mike D has said:

"We might have reinforced certain values of some people in our audience when our own values were actually totally different. There were tons of guys singing along to 'Fight for Your Right' who were oblivious to the fact it was a total goof on them."

I need hardly point out that resentment of the idea of American exceptionalism is pretty common among these folks; in fact, we have an entire Administration dedicated to the proposition that we're no better than [fill in name of Third World hellhole which has nothing to recommend it but which claims to have universal health care]. However, this resentment probably doesn't derive from Psalm 33, but from the fact that there exist Psalms at all. "Jesus," they'll tell you with a straight face, "was a community organizer." To me, this suggests an experiment: put several such to death, and see what happens in three days.

The Vent

  24 April 2011

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