Saturday, January 3, 2009

The Idiot Factor

Justin Timberlake, Janet Jackson and former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore must have gone to the same school. They all use the same ineffective methods of persuasion.

While liberals and conservatives have been trying to win their respective sides of the culture war through incrementalism, Justin, Janet and Roy end up throwing wrenches into the very causes they hope to further.

It's the old story of successful frog boiling: If you toss the live frog into boiling water he'll hop out, but if you put him into tepid water then slowly bring it to a boil he'll be cooked before he realizes it.

The cognoscente on both sides, though the liberals do it more effectively, seek to boil the frog slowly, and so the public accedes to their viewpoint without ever knowing they've been manipulated. But then a Roy Moore does his Ten Commandments dance and prostitutes something God meant to be holy or Janet and Justin bow at the altar of shock -- and their causes are set back, not advanced as they'd hoped.

Though at the opposite ends of the morality spectrum, Roy and Justin-Janet are really the enemies of their own goals. Roy wants more people to be Christians, but his methods smack most of shove-it-down-my-throatism, and so even fewer are likely to be brought into the kingdom of God. Justin-Janet hope, on the other hand, to bring more free expression, but their Super Bowl halftime display instead was so offensive to most people that NBC ended up editing out a planned breast shot from its Thursday night ER episode.

Without the Super Bowl fiasco, the ER shot would have gone little noticed, and incrementalism would have won a small battle toward its eventual goal. Now, we'll have to wait a few years longer before public nudity becomes a constitutional right.

By the same token, Roy Moore flashing his breastplate of righteousness has made it more difficult for me to convince people of their need to know Jesus Christ as savior. If only there were a way for the church to fine Roy's inappropriate behavior -- but, alas, most of its members agree with him.

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