Friday, May 08, 2009

Whores or the Whores of Bablyon

Photo of morning skyline of San Francisco with low glowering clouds
It was a dark and stormy morning, and your faithful scribbler was walking the dog when a terrible thought occurred to him ... what if we treated the Whores of Babylon the way we treat whores.

So let's think for a moment about that original Whore of Babylon, who appears in the most laughably ludicrous book in the bible, Revelations. Now, the constant reader will know that I hold that religious history is endlessly fascinating, but theology is just bunk. So in that spirit, I offer an excerpt derived from the excellent and indispensable Skeptics Annotated Bible, and then I will offer a little freelance theology which, like all theology, will be bunk:

Revelation 17
17:1 And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters:
17:2 With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.
17:3 So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.
17:4 And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication:
17:8 The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.
17:12 And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast.
17:13 These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast.
17:14 These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.

Obviously the text is talking about bankers. I mean they sleep with kings, they are the acknowledged abominations of the earth, and they feed the beast. And the kings are of one mind and give all their power to the beast, that is the bankers. Now the Lamb is obviously Obama ... I mean if you change the 'O' to 'L' and flip the 'b' with the final 'a' and then pronounce the resulting double 'aa' as in 'baa', you get Laamb ... bray it aloud, Laamb ... Obama ... Laamb ... Obama. See!

I defy anyone to tell me that the official theology of the whack job fundies makes any more sense than this. For crying out loud, the Jehovah's Witnesses say that 17.8 refers to the League of Nations and the United Nations. Surely it is no more far-fetched to take Lamb and make it Obama. That reminds me of one of the most hilarious of the old late night evangelists that I used to watch when I was a grad student ... Gene Scott, deceased these four years ... who used to scratch indecipherable nonsense on a blackboard that proved that he knew the inner dissection of the words of the Bible. He always styled himself Dr. Gene Scott ... he got his doctorate in education from Stanford, but he evidently lost any commitment to proof or rationality after he fled the hallowed halls. All skeptics miss the sublime comedy act of the late, ludicrous Dr. Scott.

But I digress.

photo of glass building in downtown San Francisco with reflection of an older building
So bankers are the whores of Babylon, and there is much ritualistic if not literal flaying of these whores in the public press. Everybody wants a piece of them. Well, that would be everybody but the Department of Justice who apparently wants no part of prosecuting them for obvious fraud and malfeasance. And everybody but the Congress who still cannot bring themselves to rein in the insane executive salary self-indulgence. And everybody but the stress test "doctors" who apparently took a page from the fat, tattered tome of the aforementioned Dr. Scott when the stresses to which they exposed their subjects were apparently somewhat less than the stresses under which the rest of us labor. And, well, everybody but our sainted Laamb, Obama himself, who appears to be slowly draining the air out of the big balloon of financial re-regulation. It is of a piece, alas, with a seeming slow deflation of everything in the Obama Laamb, and I shall return to that.

In other words, when it comes to bankers, the notorious and ubiquitous tough talk of American public life amounts to nothing. They steal what they want and all the fulminations and chalkboard antics and fevered press conferences keep adding up to nothing. They fornicate with kings and "the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of [their] fornication." Face it, we are a society in which millions figured they were millionaires because they were drunk with the worthless paper upon which their fortunes were based. And face it, we took the tainted wine and we drank it deep.

Well ... "they took the koolaid, we got screwed." By the whores of Babylon.

photo of a billboard in San Francisco with the image of a man looking down, and there are green leaves above the billboard
Meanwhile, there are other whores in the news. Several attorneys general, evidently taking a break from their breathless efforts to track down the whores of Babylon, have taken it upon themselves to close down the erotic services listing on Craigslist. The South Carolinian exemplar ... proving again some 149 years later that many of the worst ideas in American life originate in South Carolina ... has threatened criminal prosecution. Craigslist to its credit has declined, at least so far. They state that they have a legitimate business interest in keeping the services ads out of the personals area. But more importantly, they argue that what people post is not the responsibility of the service which allows people free speech.

But I do not want to argue about free speech here. I want to argue that the state has no business monitoring fornication. The reactionaries who have nearly destroyed the capacity of the United States to govern itself with the Reaganite obscenity that "government is the problem" never shrink from expanding the intrusion of government into private lives. Feel-good-for-themselves liberals too often chime in with support for the continued criminalization of prostitution by bleating, Laamb-like, that many prostitutes are oppressed by their pimps, or that many prostitutes are enslaved or trafficked, or that many prostitutes are addicted to drugs. But those are not arguments ... beating up your whore is illegal, and trafficking in human beings is illegal, and drugs perversely are also illegal. Making prostitution illegal only creates space in which to oppress that portion of whores who are beaten, trafficked, or besotted.

Of course, the vast majority of fornicating occurs in a gray zone. Isn't the kept woman a whore by the definition applied to Craigslisters? Isn't the wife who only screws the hubbie whom she hates in exchange for goodies a whore too? Isn't the hot dude who trades sex with the slick codger in unspoken exchange for clothes or bling a whore? You see, the difference between sugar and whores is the explicit statement. And our fatuous, preening, red-tied moral guardians ab-whore directness of speech. I mean, people have sex ... even 'publicans. But saying you have sex is just not allowed. And publishing it on Craigslist gets these tight-necked fulminators into a briny palpitating sweat.

To paraphrase the ghoulish Revelations, the whore is arrayed in purple and scarlet color, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication ... in other words, the whore dares to be proud of herself. And dare to speak, dare to be open, dare to parade your joy in pleasure and service. Dare, and the nervous, beady-browed haters and revilers will bring their loathing upon you.

I say, leave the whores alone. Bring it into the open, and chase down the pimps and the traffickers. Let people who want to have sex have sex. And let those who want to, or have to, pay for it make an honest deal with an honest hooker.

photo of a reflection of a skyscraper in a pool in downtown San Francisco
You see, it is a world upside down. The banker whores of Babylon not merely survive the conflagration they have brought upon everyone else but prosper and pile up their riches even higher. And the little minds of South Carolinians decide to target again and once again the meek and defenceless, the painted women and barefoot men who do not have filthy lucre and do not have a "golden cup" in which to collect their fornications.

Now upside down worlds are hardly a novelty. But we are in this new era, and the seeming slow deflation of everything in the Obama Laamb zone is the more deflating thereby. We know he is "no drama Obama" but he seems to be turning into the "little slam Laamb" the guy who pops out when the bases are loaded and then says that is bipartisanship. They took down some of their "fierce" pro-gay language from the White House web site ... no announcement on that one, even though they have telegraphed that they are unwilling to spend political capital on the repeal of DOMA or the end of the anti-democratic don't-ask-don't-tell. No one expects Obama to fight every fight, but there is a sinking feeling abroad that his bipartisanship shtick is a cover for shrinking from any fight. Certainly this unexpected Supreme Court opportunity will tell us a lot.

I am not in despair about the Laamb, but I have my eyes open, and I am waiting. We are all waiting.

photo of a bronze statue of a horse's ass in downtown San Francisco
We are waiting to find out who will stand taller in this new era ... the whores or the whores of Babylon. Stand up for the whores. And screw the whores of Babylon. Otherwise, the era of the Laamb will be a horse's ass.

Photos by Arod of sundry sights from downtown San Francisco ... except the top photo which was taken in the street in front of my apartment.

Meanwhile, aside, something I notice about the Giants' pitcher Barry Zito this year is that he has the look and nerves of a guy who desperately wants to win ... gone is the cool. I gotta hand it to Brian Wilson ... I think he made the guy vulnerable, and the winners loathe defeat so thoroughly that it hurts. Scoreless through five against the Manny-less Dodgers.

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