Scott on November 16, 2005 at 3:03 pm
My esteemed colleague John has done a masterful job of placing the Michael Newdow-”In God We Trust” thing in perspective.
What I have to add to the discussion about Mr. Newdow is nothing but complete and total puzzlement. Though I agree with John in everything he said in his post about Newdow, I have to ask myself WHY this nut job is getting any attention at all?!? Why is the media giving his voice an outlet?
Isn’t he just like the guy who tries to sue the government for reading his mind and planting thoughts in his head, or the woman who believes that the government is allowing her to be regularly kidnapped by aliens so that she can give birth to the first alien/human cross-breeds, or the people who believe that there are documents out there that can prove that the whole moon landing/space program thing was a farce, a lie perpetrated on the American people and the world by our government?
In short, isn’t Michael Newdow just a screwball that should be sent on his way with a sad shake of our heads and a discrete call to the funny farm giving his exact location (after we have taken all sharp objects away from him, of course).
Over the past two days, I have heard Mike Newdow interviewed on two different radio talk shows in the L.A. area…790 KABC and 640 KFI. In both interviews, Mr. Newdow (or Rev. Dr. Newdow as he calls himself on his website — www.restorethepledge.com) was very articulate and verbose in espousing his beliefs, his outrage, his “wisdom,” etc. And at the same time, Rev. Dr. Newdow’s demeanor was so odd that I found myself wishing that I could observe him as he spoke to see if my visual perception matched my auditory perception. I honestly found myself wondering if I was experiencing a Nixon-Kennedy Debate moment where what one saw visually would contrast greatly with what one heard. (To be honest, I’m not old enough to have seen that legendary debate, I’ve just read about it in books).
As he spoke in these interviews, he sounded like the proverbial “crazy guy” (sorry ’bout the politically-incorrect wordage, perhaps I should say “mentally unstable child of the universe) who believes that the entire world is crazy and he’s the only sane one. He sounded puzzled as to why all logical, intelligent, well-reasoned citizens of the U.S. didn’t agree with his positions. It is obvious that he is under the impression that he is the victim of some sort of witch-hunt and/or right-wing conspiracy to read his mind/put thoughts in his head/plant alien embryos in his body/send him to a sound stage in Burbank that is decorated like the Sea of Tranquility on the Moon.
When asked very direct questions by the interviewers, he typically provided an answer that sounded great with lots of big words and Constitutional-sounding rationale, but he never actually got around to answering the questions. In nearly every case he sounded as though his answer was at least semi-thought-out, but for a different question.
When pressed further by the interviewers for a more specific answer to some of these very specific questions, he would say something along the lines of, “Well, that gets back to the words of the Constitution ” and would then begin to recite entire passages from the U.S. Constitution as though that was answering the question that he couldn’t himself answer. He almost reminded me of Dustin Hoffman’s character in “Rain Man,” reciting things pulled from his brain that gave him comfort but that gave him no wisdom.
If nothing else, Mr./Rev./Dr. Newdow seems to be of the belief that if you have memorized portions of the Constitution you get to win the argument! Forget the fact that there are many people who make their living as Constitutional scholars and Constitutional jurists who completely disagree with Newdow and his view of our founding fathers’ handiwork. (Don’t forget…we are all crazy and only HE is sane!)
In both radio interviews, he made the claim that his current lawsuit dealing with “In God We Trust” on the currency of the U.S. is analogous to the civil rights struggles of the 50′s and the whole segregation of the South mentality (white and colored bathrooms and all). In both interviews he made the same comparisons, and in both interviews the radio hosts tried to point out to him that his situation in filing lawsuits against an idea that he doesn’t agree with and the problem of racism, prejudice, and segregation are nothing alike. At that point, in both interviews, Newdow’s response was to start reciting portions of the Constitution that he believed supported his argument. He didn’t seem to be able to explain the actual thought processes that lead him down the path linking his atheism-based lawsuits to the Civil Rights Movement that focused attention on racism and prejudice in the South. Honestly, I don’t think there IS any thought processes to explain his conclusions. I think it just makes him feel better about himself to feel as though he is being persecuted.
I won’t even begin to explain how aggravating his kind of absurd hyperbole is when dealing with an issue. That will have to come in another posting!
Back to Newdow. One of the really frustrating things about both interviews was how Newdow came across to the listener. He sounded like an incredibly arrogant and condescending fool. I guess that kind of attitude should be expected. Anyone who claims to be an atheist is claiming that they KNOW there is no god, even though to actually KNOW that there is no god they would have to be a god themselves with the ability to be all places in the entire universe at once. As he spoke about his beliefs and explained his reasons behind this current lawsuit (and his previous ones related to the Pledge of Allegiance), his patronizing tone and condescension did far more harm to his case than the weirdness of his ideology.
So again, WHY is ANYONE giving his guy ANY notice? Is he being played-up, like Anna Nichole Smith, Paris Hilton, Michael Jackson and Ted Turner, for the sheer, pathetic entertainment value?
If so, he stopped being amusing a long time ago.
And by the way, I mentioned his “Reverend” and “Doctor” titles. These come from his website that describes the religious institutions that he has founded over the years (two of them). I guess Mr. Newdow, as Joey Tribiani from “Friends” before him, has discovered that anyone can be ordained over the internet.
As for his advanced/doctorate degree, the website claims that in 1998 he received his Doctor of the Universe degree. I am assuming that he is having fun with visitors to his site. Obviously, to receive an advanced degree in Universe studies, it would need to have been awarded to him by God, whom Newdow doesn’t believe in.
But don’t worry, Mr./Rev./Dr. Newdow. You may not believe in God, but God believes in you. (Now if God could just get you to shut up!)
Category: Atheism |