I think I’ve bitten my tongue long enough with regard to that wicked woman in Kentucky who keeps making all the headlines.
The Eye of the Tiger bit where Mike Huckabee held her hand up like she just knocked out Mr. T, and the dumb hick crowd cheered like 13-year-old girls at a Bieber concert? Much too much.
Brothers and sisters, the gloves are coming off. So forgive the ad hominem, I have no patience for self-righteous stupidity and intolerance, much less the flouting of the U.S. Constitution and the hijacking of the banner of religious freedom.
America has a great history of honorable people standing up for freedom of religion, and perhaps more to the point, freedom from religion. Mike Huckabee and that woman at his side in Rowan County, Kentucky, are not among them. They are an insult to them.
Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John Adams, Walt Whitman, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Robert G. Ingersoll, Clarence Darrow, John Dewey, Albert Einstein, Isaac Asimov, Carl Sagan, Walter Kaufmann, these are heroes for religious liberty. These are those who broke their lances against religious zealots like Huckabee and Co., who would establish America as a totalitarian Christian theocracy. These are those deserving of praise and reverence.
Let’s go back to the beginning.
Recognizing the long and bloody history of western civilization due to the never-ending sectarian struggle for religious supremacy, Jefferson, Madison, and Adams set out specifically to render the United States a secular Republic. They achieved it too, an incredible and singular accomplishment in the world at that time.
And they had plenty of opposition. “Give me liberty or give me death” Patrick Henry, like Huckabee and the woman at his side in Kentucky, didn’t think too highly of non-Christian liberty. He introduced a bill to the Virginia legislature calling for state support for Christianity.
Instead of institutionalizing Christianity, the legislature took up Jefferson’s Virginia Act for Establishing Religious Freedom, in which he made famous the “separation of church and state” construction that has been cited repeatedly down through the history of American jurisprudence.
After it passed, Jefferson wrote that the law “meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew, the Gentile, the Christian and the Mahometan, the Hindoo and Infidel of every denomination.”
Jefferson had the act listed as an accomplishment on his gravestone. He did not list the Presidency.
Jefferson, Madison and Adams fought so hard for the establishment of a secular Republic precisely because they were so aware of the divisiveness of institutionalized religion. They were keenly aware of the history of the land’s early puritan settlers, who made habits of hanging Quakers who challenged their stringent dogma, crushing accused witches with heavy rocks, and banishing citizens who did not conform.
Huckabee and the woman at his side in Kentucky are the ideological descendants of those zealot settlers, not the founders of our Republic. They are the ideological descendants of all those many figures cascading through history who sought to justify their wicked use of power by dint of supernatural superstition, always a populist appeal. Those cheering them are the bloodthirsty masses, the ones who cheered when Mary Queen of Scots and Lady Jane Grey lost their heads.
As we can—I think safely—assume Huckabee and his friend have not bothered to read Jefferson’s Virginia Act, nor, for that matter, Madison’s Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments, we can also assume they are unfamiliar with John Stuart Mill’s harm principle, from his book On Liberty.
(Yes, sad as it is to say, Mike Hucakbee is no great thinker, of our or any other time. Unfortunately for the American public discourse, he’s not even a great reader.)
Mill’s harm principle holds that the actions of individuals should only be limited to prevent harm to other individuals.
To put it another way—and employ the use of an old American aphorism—your liberty to swing your fist ends where my nose begins.
I think other writers have done quite enough over the past several weeks to deconstruct Huckabee’s new friend, her personal hypocrisy, ignorance of the concept of judicial review, and flagrant violation of the rule of law.
I do note that she took an oath of office in which she solemnly swore she “will not knowingly or willingly commit any malfeasance of office, and will faithfully execute the duties of my office without favor, affection or partiality, so help me God.”
Puts me in mind of ol’ Numbers 30:2, “If a man vow a vow unto the LORD, or swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond; he shall not break his word, he shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth.”
Creeping shit, they can’t even read and follow their own book.
Then there’s Deuteronomy 17:12, “Anyone arrogant enough to reject the verdict of the judge… must die.”
It’s thee Eye of the Tiger, it’s the Thrill of the Fight…
D.C. DeWitt is a writer and man of sport and leisure. He has also written for Government Executive online, the National Journal’s Hotline, and The New York Observer’s Politicker.com. He is the Associate Editor of The Athens NEWS in Athens, Ohio. DeWitt can be found on Facebook and Twitter @DC_DeWitt.