Friday, August 26, 2005

From Cliff Clavin to Hugo Chavez

It is a little known fact that we are all born with a extra bone in our heads. This bone serves a very important function. It helps us control what we say and whether or not we ought to say it. The bone slowly dissolves as we age and, eventually, the bone completely disappears. This explains why our more senior citizens often will make outrageous statements, seemingly oblivious or unconcerned with the possible ramifications. As examples, I cite the utterances from the likes of Jimmy Carter, Robert Byrd, Dick Durbin, Ted Kennedy and Pat Robertson.

Yes, I said Pat Robertson.

He's made some outrageous statements over the last few years, the most recent of which was:
"You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he [Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez] thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it," Robertson said. "It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war ... and I don't think any oil shipments will stop."

In Robertson's defense, he didn't just pull the idea out of thin air. He was responding to Chavez's repeated claims that the U.S. has been planning to kill him - a charge which is clearly bogus. If the U.S. wanted him dead, he would be. Personally, if Chavez is acting to promote Islamofacist terrorism against the U.S., it won't bother me too much if he prematurely shuffles off this mortal coil - with extreme prejudice. Having said that, I would never publicly call for the assassination of the leader of a country with which we were not at war.

This admittedly meager defense does not excuse his irresponsible statement. Pat Robertson, like it or not, is a Christian leader. What he does and says impacts on every other Christian and Christian ministry in America. His thoughtless statements put other Christians in the position of either distancing themselves from Robertson or trying to defend him.

Robertson's statement was also outrageous because there is no up side to it. Sure, Robertson is getting attention, but it's all negative attention and that's one thing he already has in abundance. It also makes Chavez a more sympathetic figure by giving legitimacy to his paranoid claims. Worst of all, it ensures that what Robertson was advocating will not happen. Even if the U.S. was planning to assassinate Chavez, there is no way it could be done now, politically speaking.

When public figures start flicking lit cigarettes into the old growth forest of mass media, it's time to take away their smoking privileges.