Thursday, March 10, 2005

Censorship Always Fails

But thanks to Saint Augustine, the Christian right ceaselessly tries to censor everything from cuss words to lace panties. The Bible never mentions Original Sin. In Ezekiel 18, God says only that the sinner will die and his children are innocent. But when a convert rises to the top of a religious movement, the old ways of revering God are never good enough. Comes on the scene, a certain Aurelius Augustinus Augustine of Hippo--354 AD to 430 AD. Augustine was a poster boy for all kinds of raunchy behavior, including having a son by a whore. But when Augustine finally got religion (he was baptized in 387) he was more spiritual than Jesus and repented of his sinful ways more than St. Paul. Augustine eventually became the Bishop of Hippo. Along the path to his becoming a Saint, Augustine promoted the idea of Original Sin into a full-blown tenet of the Christian movement. The concept and term “original sin” were first used by the 2nd century theologian, Tertullian. And what it means is that because Adam fell under the spell of Eve and brought sin into the Garden of Eden, we all are sinners when we are born. But Augustine, in his missionary zeal to protect God's elite from going to hell, went further than Tertullian. Augustine said that since man was inherently evil when he came into the world because of the sinful, ugly, nasty, act of his parents having had sex in order to conceive him, the church must guide the state to repress, punish and restrain the vast majority of people who are evil. Because, unless stopped, the original sin in all of us will destroy the few good people God had decided should be saved from hell. Whew! Well, the early Christian church bought it. And every 30 or 40 years, a bunch of reformers, who historically are always proven to be worse sinners than those they want to reform, rise up and start screaming, Repent! And historically, it never works. Prohibition didn’t work, Nazism didn’t work, the Catholic Church’s banning books and movies didn’t work, McCarthyism didn’t work, the KuKluxKlan didn’t work. But those who fear their own smarmy inclinations keep trying. Frank Rich has another terrific column in the New York Times this morning, The Greatest Dirty Joke Ever Told. It’s about the current batch of reformers who are trying to censor our lives for our own good. And, of course, this latest attempt at censorship by a bunch of people looking at their own inadequacies and perversions and deciding the world needs to be protected from people like them, is doomed. The thing is, we don’t even have to fight this gaggle of fanatics who want to repress, punish and restrain. Their effort will fall of its own weight. Censorship always has and always will fail.

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