One of the most singularly asinine claims that might be floated in any discussion is the one that follows the pattern that, “doing X will send the wrong message.” Characterizing such infantile twaddle as “asinine” is almost certainly an offense to all those statements in the world that are genuinely (but only) asinine. What makes such statements so unqualifiedly despicable is that they are all built around the fatuous presupposition that any act or statement is so unambiguously closed in its meaning that it can only send one, equally closed and unambiguous, message. Such childishness is of a piece with those who claim to take the Bible (or any other text) “literally,” as though the “literal” interpretation of any text were even possible in the abstract, much less actualizable in the concrete. I’ll have a few words to say on this latter topic at the end.
What brought this to mind was a brief news story on the radio this AM, that mentioned how the Illinois legislative branch was considering a measure to decriminalize (note: NOT legalize, because that would generate huge amounts of revenue for the state, and we can’t allow that to happen … ) possession of small amounts of marijuana (I forget how much exactly). In addition, the bill would specify how much THC one could have in one’s system to be considered legally impaired for driving. Several law enforcement and “concerned citizens” groups oppose such actions on the grounds that it would “send the wrong message” to our delicate and oh-so-easily influenced youth. Well, as soon as the “wrong message” meme surfaces, you know the persons throwing this claim about are either stupid, lying, or both. So let us look at stupid first, lying second, and finish (as promised) with “textual literalism.” Continue reading