Why does anyone care what the hell Pat Robertson says?
ROBERTSON: [S]omething happened a long time ago in Haiti and people might not want to talk about it. They were under the heel of the French. Napoleon the Third and whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, “We will serve you if you get us free from the prince.” True story. And so the devil said, “OK, it’s a deal.” They kicked the French out, the Haitians revolted and got themselves free.
The problem with Pat Robertson isn’t his insane ranting of gibberish about a mythical devil. We have bums on street corners ranting nonsense about demons, swarms of bats or aliens in their pants everyday as they hector us for spare change. (Which, by the way, is all Robertson is doing.) This isn’t the first time he’s spewed outrageous, incendiary speech to get his face on as many networks as possible so he can fleece the faithful once again. Remember his proclamation that Katrina was god’s judgment on abortion? Yeah, he’s always been a raving nutcase conman, one who makes backdoor deals with scum like Liberian dictator Charles Taylor while begging for money to send “relief”. The only difference between him and Robert Mitchum in The Night of the Hunter is that Robertson doesn’t have love and hate cynically tattooed on his knuckles, but apart from that, they are both predatory animals using their wiles to get the almighty dollar.
No, the problem isn’t Pat Robertson and the thousands of other faith-based flim flam artists we’re infected with.
The problem is us.
The problem is that we were raised to treat anyone who drapes themselves in mythology and calls it “faith” with respect. Instead of laughing in their lying faces, we put them on television. Instead of holding them to task for their hypocrisy we write checks. We take them seriously.
Why? Because our raising tells us to. Because society tells us to. Hell, even our money tells us to. In God We Trust.
Now, like most people who take an active role in maintaining their grip on reality, I don’t watch cable news, so I don’t know how much press this ponzi scheme slinging hysteric got, but I gather quite a bit. And from what I’ve read, people are debating what he said as if he wasn’t some gibbering fool on a street corner, but rather a serious person discussing serious things. We take at least a passive role in continuing his delusions out of the “respect” for “people of faith” instilled in us from birth.
This respect turns a blind eye to a church that devotes its energies to sheltering child molesters, instead of shutting them down via the RICO act, as we have done with other criminal conspiracies such as the mafia.
This respect allows fundamentalists to clog our courts with battles to erect statues to their delusion on the courthouse lawn, instead of prosecuting them under statutes against frivolous lawsuits and fining them into silence.
Our respect continues the discrimination against gays championed by people who supposedly follow the golden rule.
No, the problem isn’t the actively vile speech of Pat Robertson and his ugly ilk. It’s the passive silence we give to the mass hysteria of faith via our respect. It’s the credence we give to shared delusion that is the problem. Its the acceptance of unreality in lieu of reason, faith over fact, that opens the door to anything. Just as a simple paper cut opens the body to infection, this respect for the unbelievable opens our minds to an infection of falsehood. Put another way, if you believe in this, you’ll believe in anything.
Until we remove the unwarranted suspension of reality that our “respect” fosters, we’ll never be rid of the Pat Robertsons of the world. Gays will still be second class humans. Palestinians will still be subject to apartheid by the “chosen people”. Children will continue to be violated by perverts with no real recourse. Young men will still strap bombs to their chests and blow up their brothers. This is a myth that kills.
And we’re supposed to respect it? That is perhaps the ultimate delusion.