Someone posted a link to a video of an Arizona pastor referring to Levitical law to make a point that AIDS could be cured by Christmas if we were to obey the Old Testament injunction that says homoerotic acts should carry the death penalty. Putting aside for the moment the misconceptions about HIV's preferences, such ghastly pronouncements falling on hundreds of ears are bound to find some receptive, fertile ground in which to grow and flourish.
I'm waiting to see if the pastor in question will be charged with spreading hate. If he is, a cadre of followers will no doubt emerge to cry "freedom of speech, freedom of religion!" and make out that the pastor is the victim here; it happens frequently.
This may sound alarmist, but I sense that the number of people being drawn into that comfort zone characterized by legalistic, arbitrary, deductive, black/white thinking is growing. Fortunately, it's not a majority in North America yet, but because of the quieter, more tolerant voices of liberalism, conservative bombast is ending up punching far above its weight class. In Canada, the relatively-solid 38% have ruled the roost for the past eight years, producing reams of ideologically-driven legislation, much of it so bad that the supreme court has had to step in to prevent the pernicious disregard of the constitution.
My experiences as a classroom teacher have informed my conviction that there is real harm awaiting us if liberalism can't find a way to unite against creeping, retrograde thinking. I've observed that among teachers you're always bound to find many who teach kids and others who teach curriculum. For the latter, the curriculum is the law book to be applied with equal vigour and the same expectations to every kid in class; good teachers, meanwhile, measure success by the growth in skills, self-confidence and socialization of the individual child, whether or not the curriculum has been mastered as prescribed. Too-simply put, probably, curriculum teachers drive the less-endowed into deviance, the kid-teachers produce well-adjusted citizens who retain with dignity the attributes with which they were born.
Even so, the conservative mind clings to the sanctity of the curriculum, demands standardized testing, imposes on teachers restrictive, deductively-arrived-at parameters that seem to be logical but waste the skills and understandings gained in professional training. This is the conservative mind at work. For the Arizona pastor, the Bible is the curriculum and under its apparent dictates, every student must be taught the same as every other one.
My point today is finally that unless we mean to be governed by Harperism into the foreseeable or distant future, liberals will need to eat some crow and give the population a viable progressive, social democratic choice. In Canada today, I want to see the Liberal and NDP unite to form the Liberal Democratic Party of Canada (LDPC) and the Green Party to take over as the "third party of conscience."
The clock is ticking, people. Great harms of all kinds are very real possibilities. The times require you and me to act.