Dover Bitch

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Can of Corn

It's not always that you can pinpoint exactly when somebody goes from "generally full of crap" to "there is no reason to ever take this person seriously again." But it's always fun when you can forever link some bloviator to a particularly stupid or unseemly outburst or flawed interpretation of reality.

Like when Christopher Hitchens suggested that Ahmed Chalabi was capable of cracking U.S. government encryption using nothing but his own marvelous brain. Good stuff.

Today, DB is reminded of the night that holier-than-God ear polluter Dennis Prager transformed, in this blogger's mind, from just another opinionated radio guy to a shiny-object-chasing goofball. It was August 11, 1995.

The night before was Baseball Night at Dodger Stadium, when fans in attendance were all given souvenir baseballs. Dodgers outfielder Raul Mondesi was tossed out of the game for arguing a call and manager Tommy Lasorda was ejected soon after. You know where this is going, right?

After fans threw the balls on the field for the third time, the umpires called the game in favor of the Cardinals. Baseballs rained down all over the field. It was the first (and only) forfeit in Major League Baseball since 1979.

Needless to say, Prager found in this a perfect example of the deteriorating morals of the entire planet. Put aside for a moment the fact that Dodger fans used to throw "spears fashioned from umbrella ribs at Giant outfielders" from the roof of the Ginny Flats next to "New" Washington Park in Brooklyn. Or that the Dodgers got their name from Manhattanites in the 1890's, who came to Eastern Park to watch the games and were amused by the way the Brooklyn fans needed to avoid getting hit by the electric trolley cars. As many as one person a week was killed by a trolley there.

No, a few hundred fans throwing baseballs in protest is perfect evidence of the disintegration of our moral fabric. But forget about all that. It was obvious Prager was going to make hay out of this episode. It was his show itself that was ridiculous.

First, he blamed the fans for being such awful human beings. He went on a rant about the horrible state of society, etc. Then, a caller told him that the Dodgers did not make an announcement that the game could be forfeited.

What? How could the Dodgers be so irresponsible? Now Prager ranted about the Dodgers and how they should have done this and that, etc. Then, a caller told him that it's up to the umpires to make an announcement.

What? How could the umpires be so irresponsible? Didn't they know what would happen? Weren't they aware of the downward spiral of human behavior (that began when Jimmy Carter failed to keep the Shah of Iran in power and went into overdrive when Bill Clinton was elected president)?

Rant, rant, rant. The whole thing was such a joke... this post just cannot do it justice.

So when DB saw that Prager claimed Muslim Congressman Keith Ellison wanted to be sworn into office on a copy of the Koran, an act which "undermines American civilization," that brought back all these fun memories.

What a jerk. The Constitution, which doesn't care what religion you are, is the foundation of American civilization. What is wrong with people like Prager? Or Glenn Beck (whose own "there is no reason to ever take this person seriously again" moment involved Ellison)?

It's not just holier-than-thou. It's the-right-kind-of-holy-and-still-holier-than-thou.

[edited the part about the umbrellas for accuracy -- DB]

UPDATE: Prager was on CNN's Paula Zahn Now tonight. What a moron.

PAULA ZAHN: Radio host and columnist Dennis Prager has written that a swearing in using the Koran would undermine the fabric of American civilization. He joins us tonight from Los Angeles, along with UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh. And here with me in New York is Daisy Khan, the executive director of the American Society for Muslim Advancing. Welcome all.

Dennis, I want to start with you tonight and start off by reading a small part of the editorial you wrote, where you said "when all elected officials, take the oath of office, with their hands on the very same book, they all affirm that some unifying value system underlies American civilization. If Keith Ellison is allowed it change that, he will be doing more damage to the unity of America than the terrorists of 9/11."

How can you charge that someone expressing religious freedom would be causing the kind of damage that the 9/11 terrorists did?

DENNIS PRAGER, RADIO HOST: Well the issue isn't expressing religious freedom. As I also wrote in there, I would fight for his right to worship as a Muslim, to run for Congress as a Muslim. That's not the issue.

The issue is exactly as you put it earlier. What is the book that these people affirm as the central text of American life? Now some people will say the Constitution. But the Constitution derives its legitimacy from that Bible. Secular congressmen have all used the Bible. They don't believe in it.

Mormons do not ask for the book of Mormon. If a scientologist ran, would he ask for Dianetics by L. Ron Hubbard? If a racist ran, would he ask for Mein Kampf? We are starting a very unfortunate further unraveling of the fabric of American life. That's my worry.

ZAHN: Eugene, does the Constitution say anything about using a religion text when being sworn in for Congress?

EUGENE VOLOKH, UCLA LAW PROFESSOR: Well it actually does say a couple of things. First, it doesn't even require congressman to use any religious text or any religious component. It specifically provides that they may affirm, rather than swearing. That was for the benefit of people who have a religious objection to invoking God in an oath.

Quakers were a traditional example. And for example, President Herbert Hoover was sworn in without putting his hand on any book. So already we've departed from Dennis's vision of everybody swearing on the same book.

It also says no religious text shall be used for government office. And when you're required to swear on the book of a religion that is different from you, not traditionally you've done it, that would be an impermissible religious test. More importantly, the purpose of an oath....

ZAHN: ... OK, we've just lost Eugene. A quick reaction, Dennis from you, before we hear from Daisy?

PRAGER: Well, there's no religious test. The issue is what is the work that he wishes that we wish to affirm as our central text? There's no religious test. I want Muslims to run for office, I want atheists, I want Buddhists. It is no religious test of Keith Ellison. It is what decision does he wish to convey? What message to the American people? Do our values derive from the Bible or from the Koran? That is to me, the question. No religious test of Keith Ellison.

Mein Kampf? What a complete jackass.

UPDATE II: Crooks & Liars has yet another appearance by Prager, this time on Fox News.

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