Throw a Reporter “Off This F—ing Balcony” Day

BalconyAN OPEN LETTER TO THE CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

On January 28, 2014, Representative Michael Grimm (R-NY-11) issued a direct verbal threat to a reporter inside the Capitol building by saying “I’ll break you in half” and “throw you off this f—ing balcony,” which was a direct violation of D.C. law (District of Columbia Official Code, Division IV, Title 22, Subtitle I, Chapter 4, § 22-407).

Threats to do bodily harm.

Whoever is convicted in the District of threats to do bodily harm shall be fined not more than $ 500 or imprisoned not more than 6 months, or both, and, in addition thereto, or in lieu thereof, may be required to give bond to keep the peace for a period not exceeding 1 year.

Rep. Grimm was never arrested for his actions, and Congress has taken no punitive action against him. By its inaction, the US Congress is essentially condoning a Congressperson’s right to threaten to kill average Americans, though conversely, when average Americans threaten the life of a public official, they are prosecuted to the full extent of the law. In keeping with this double standard and to codify for all time this special status, I propose the following:

RESOLUTION

Expressing support for designation of January 28, annually, as “Throw a Reporter “Off This F—ing Balcony” Day”.

Whereas Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY-11) has never been expelled, censured, or even reprimanded by Congress after he threatened to kill a reporter who displeased him by throwing the reporter off a balcony inside the Capitol and to break the reporter in half: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the House of Representatives, that Congress–

(1) decrees the designation of “Throw a Reporter ‘Off This F—ing Balcony’ Day” (also known as “Break a Boy in Half Day”);

(2) allows, and indeed encourages, each Congressperson to threaten to do bodily harm up to and including death threats to any one (1) reporter or other American citizen or resident alien who displeases the Congressperson;

(3) denies the right to make such threats to another Congressperson or member of the current power structure including influential or potentially influential staffers, donors, lobbyists, or government contractors. Making threats on any day of the year outside of January 28th is forbidden and may result in having to issue an “If I offended anyone…” type of half-assed apology; and

(4) establishes that no Congressperson shall ever be expelled, censured, reprimanded, in any way criticized, or given the evil eye for threatening to kill a reporter who would have the gall to ask a difficult question that might actually help inform the voting public.

Please sign the White House petition to bring this issue to their attention.

As this is the Bible Funmentionables blog, I offer the following passages which lend biblical support to the idea of breaking your enemies and throwing them down to their deaths. (illustrating the Bible Funmentionables’ Core Principle #5: In American politics, nothing trumps a well reasoned political argument like a quote from the Bible.)

Break the arm of the wicked and evil man. —Psalm 10:15

And Indian burns to the mischievous.

I will break you in pieces, and ye shall fall like a pleasant vessel. —Jeremiah 25:34

Questionable translations make for the most perplexing analogies.

The army of Judah captured another 10,000 men and took them to the top of a cliff and threw them off, dashing them to pieces on the rocks below. —2 Chronicles 25:12

At some point wouldn’t they not be landing on rocks anymore?

Throw her down!” Jehu yelled. So they threw Jezebel out the window, and her blood spattered against the wall and on the horses and Jehu trampled her body under his horses’ hooves. —2 Kings 9:33

The Bible rarely leaves out a pointlessly gory detail.

When the dragon saw that he was thrown down to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the boy. Two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, so that she might be nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent. —Revelation 12:13-14

The book of Revelation probably made sense once upon a time, and times, or maybe it was just half a time.

Now I have always been reluctant to believe that we have what you would call a Ruling Class in this country—a political establishment that is collectively more concerned about holding on to their own positions of power and sources of wealth than they are about the welfare of the country as a whole. When a reporter can be given a death threat by a sitting a Congressman annoyed by his question (in the Capitol and with cameras rolling, for God’s sake!) and there is no official reprimand, it begs the question: Do we now have an American Ruling Class that prefers to operate by its own set of rules, that expects not to be held accountable by an inquiring press, and that is more responsive to the needs of big money donors which keep the Ruling Class in power than to average Americans?

The answer to that question is revealed daily by the actions and inactions of those in power.

Please Sign the Petition here!

Michael Morris is the author of Bible Funmentionables: A Lighthearted Look at the Wildest Verses You’ve NEVER Been Told!, which features all of the shocking and hilarious verses that your minister, rabbi, or charismatic cult leader is afraid to preach.

And the B-Fun’s Pope of the Year Award Goes to…

PopeoftheYearThe winner of the 2013 Triple (Pointy) Crown—Time’s Person of the Year, Esquire’s Best Dressed Man of 2013 (Really!), AND Bible Funmentionable’s prestigious Pope of the Year Award—is former the chemical technician and bouncer, the BA from Buenas Aires, Pope Francis!

Granted, choosing Pope Benedict instead of Francis was about as likely as Obama winning Constitutional Law Professor of the Year. But Frances earned this award the way Obama won his Nobel Peace Prize—by having the guy in the job before you suck so bad in comparison.

What did he do that made headlines?

• He chose to not wear red shoes. (So did I, but am I Pope? [SDIBAIP])

• As archbishop he cooked his own meals. (SDIBAIP)

• He paid his hotel bill. (SDIBAIP)

• He took the bus. (SDIBAIP)

So he didn’t become Pope of the Year from those facts alone. Let’s try another list:

What did Pope Francis say that was apontifical? (And even angered conservative Catholics)

• “Proselytism is solemn nonsense”

• “If someone is gay…who am I to judge?”

• “We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage, and the use of contraceptive methods.”

• “An economy of exclusion and inequality…kills.”

• “Trickle-down theories …(have) never been confirmed by the facts.”

• “There are priests who don’t baptize the children of single mothers because they weren’t conceived in the sanctity of marriage. These are today’s hypocrites.”

• “I like it when someone tells me ‘I don’t agree.”

• “Every man is the image of God, whether he is a believer or not.”

• “I love tango.”

Since I have lampooned Pope Benedict in the past, I felt it was necessary to give Pope Francis credit where credit is due. When a church leader at the Pope’s level publicly seeks to find common ground with non-believers and non-Catholics instead of demonizing them, that small step is worth noting and encouraging.

And in that spirit, I’m not going to quote the Bible on what it says you should do to non-believers. Although the Pope would probably like to discuss with me those parts of the Bible where I say, “I don’t agree.”

The best news in all of this is having a religious leader who states that he personally openly welcomes dissenting views. If all religious people had this attitude the world would be a noticeably better place.

Michael Morris is the author of Bible Funmentionables: A Lighthearted Look at the Wildest Verses You’ve NEVER Been Told!, which features all of the shocking and hilarious verses that your minister, rabbi, or charismatic cult leader is afraid to preach.

The Original Blasphemy Ban

Since the release of “Innocence of Muslims”—the laughable (yet surprisingly unfunny) excuse for a movie that actually makes the film Blues Brothers 2000 look like The Blues Brothers—some Muslim leaders have sought to work with the U.N. to make blasphemy illegal everywhere in the world. This has provoked a lively discussion about freedom of speech vs. freedom from blasphemy.

In the U.S. many people, including President Obama, appreciate that our freedom of speech includes the freedom to speak our minds about the religions of the world without any government interference. In some other countries, where governments routinely control what qualifies as allowable speech, there is more of an expectation that governments should punish citizens for using insulting religious speech.

But let’s not get the mistaken notion that punishment for blasphemy is a uniquely Muslim idea. The Bible clearly comes down on the side of freedom FROM blasphemy as opposed to freedom of speech.

And he that blasphemeth the name of the Lord, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him: as well the stranger, as he that is born in the land, when he blasphemeth the name of the Lord, shall be put to death. —Leviticus 24:16

and this

Thus saith the Lord God, “Yet in this your fathers have blasphemed me, in that they have committed a trespass against me.” —Ezekiel 20:27

And it’s not just the Old Testament that highlights blasphemy. Jesus himself warns:

Wherefore I say unto you, all manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men, but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. —Matthew 12:31 

No one likes to be insulted, but why is it that only one institution, religion, has its own name for insults hurled against it. I don’t call it blasphemy when someone berates my kid’s soccer team or ridicules the all-time best movie trilogy ever made on planet Earth!

The difficult thing about blasphemy is that it is, like beauty, obscenity, and an appreciation for celebrity knitting, all in the mind of the beholder. There is no way to define exactly when an honest complaint or critique of religion become offensive enough to reach the level of blasphemy. A mormon may take offense at any reference to magic underwear, I mean “sacred garments,” and a Scientologist may violently disagree with my positive review of the latest Nicole Kidman film.

So when you hear Muslims talking about the need for anti-blasphemy laws in the U.S., remember that all this talk of blasphemy began in a book that predates the Koran. It took a few thousand years for most in the Western world to accept the idea of freedom of speech over freedom from blasphemy, so maybe there is hope that more people in predominantly Muslim countries will come around to this way of thinking, ideally before the next millennium is through.

Michael Morris is the author of Bible Funmentionables: A Lighthearted Look at the Wildest Verses You’ve NEVER Been Told!, which features all of the shocking and hilarious verses that your minister, rabbi, or charismatic cult leader is afraid to preach.

Don’t Worry, Threat on Obama Is Just a Funny Bible Quote

Some of our leaders are admittedly not the most tech-savvy.

But what happens when you combine the modern know-how of forwarding an e-mail with the intense anti-Obama attitude of Kansas’ Speaker of the House? You get Mike O’Neal, who recently e-mailed what he thought was a hilarious bumper sticker that suggested we should “Pray for Obama. Psalms 109:8.”

Let his days be few, and let another take his office. —Psalms 109:8

Some have taken offense that a prominent public figure would promote a Bible verse that urges God to execute the speedy demise of an enemy. You would think that a public official would think twice before suggesting anyone bump off a President. Rather than deviously sending out a threatening political statement, it’s much more likely that Speaker O’Neal was thoughtlessly giddy after learning a fact about his sacred scripture that some of us long ago discovered: the Bible contains some surprising and at times downright laughable little gems.

O’Neal defended the use of the quote by saying that he just meant the second half of the quote, not the whole part about the killing thing. What we’ve learned in this particular news story is that some conservative Christians, who often complain about people using such quotes out of context, are more than eager to use them out of context when it suits their purposes.

So what is the missing context of Psalms 109:8? If the phrase “Let his days be few” isn’t clear enough, the verse that follows makes it clearer than a Soldier of Fortune classified ad.

May his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow. —Psalms 109:9

So if Bible believers don’t have a problem exploring the Bible’s wild side, I’m sure that Speaker O’Neal won’t mind if I offer a few suggestions for a “Pray for O’Neal” bumper sticker. We’re all just having some fun here, right Mike?

1. Pray for O’Neal: Luke 6:35   But love your enemies, and do them good.

2. Pray for O’Neal: Psalms 34:13   Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile.

3. Pray for O’Neal: Psalms 38:5   My wounds stink and are corrupt because of my foolishness.

You will notice that it is actually possible to find appropriate quotes from the Bible that don’t contemplate killing anyone. (Of course, you may have to search around a bit to find them.)

On the somewhat serious side, this does lead to an interesting legal situation:

• Psalms 109:8 threatens to shorten someone’s life.

• The verse is tied to the President of the United States.

• Biblical literalists undoubtedly believe God could make good on this threat if he wanted to.

• It is illegal to make physical threats against the President.

So are they allowed to make this threatening statement with impunity by saying that it’s just a joke? Have you tried making a threat on an airplane and then claiming it was just a joke? If so, I hope your flight crew had the absolutely best sense of humor in the whole, entire world and that you had a good lawyer all lined up.

So I do think that O’Neal’s usage of Psalm 109 was extremely injudicious, mean-spirited toward Obama and to those who respectfully pray for our leaders, AND it was meant as a joke. I also think that violence-encouraging political speech is to be avoided for the good of us all. But, on the other hand, if this episode indicates that Christians are willing to lighten up and explore the unconventional passages of the Bible, then welcome aboard!

Michael Morris is the author of Bible Funmentionables: A Lighthearted Look at the Wildest Verses You’ve NEVER Been Told!, which features all of the shocking and hilarious verses that your minister, rabbi, or charismatic cult leader is afraid to preach.