Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Rose & Mose

Two unrelated news items noticed in the past few days:

Lila Rose Rides Again

The pro-life UCLA Advocate, under the leadership of editor-in-chief Lila Rose, have busted Planned Parenthood yet again. (Links to previous investigations conducted by this intrepid young cub may be found here and here.) Targeting Idaho, a state in which it is legal to secretly tape a phone conversation, the Advocate had an actor pose as a prospective donor with an unusual request:

Donor: Wonderful. I want to specify that abortion to help a minority group - would that be possible?

Kersey: Absolutely.

Donor: Like the black community for example?

Kersey: Certainly.

Donor: OK, so the abortion I can give money specifically for a black baby, that would be the purpose.

Kersey: Absolutely. If you wanted to designate that you wanted your gift to be used to help (an) African-American woman in need, then we would certainly make sure that that gift was earmarked specifically for that purpose.

Donor: Great. Because I really face trouble with affirmative action, and I don't want my kids being disadvantaged, you know, against black kids. I just had a baby; I want to put it in his name, you know.

Kersey: Mmhmm, absolutely.

Donor: So that's definitely possible.

Kersey: Oh, always, always.

Donor: So I just wanna - can I put this in the name of my son?

Kersey: Absolutely.

Donor: Yeah, he's trying to get into colleges, and he's going to be applying, you know, he's just ... really faced troubles with affirmative action.

Kersey: Mmhmm.

Donor: And we don't, you know, we just think, you know, the less black kids out there the better.

Kersey: (Laughs) Understandable, understandable.
Um, David, let me, if I may, just get some sort of specific general information so we can set this up the right way. You said you wanted to put it in your son's name, and you would like this designated specifically to assist (an) African-American woman who's looking to terminate a pregnancy.

Donor: Exactly, and yeah, I wanna protect my son, so he can get into college.

Kersey: All right. Excuse my hesitation, um, um, this is the first time I've had a donor call and make this kind of request, so I'm excited, and I wanna make sure I don't leave anything out.

The full story and transcript may be found at The Idaho Statesman. Hat tip for the link to the Susan B. Anthony List (named for American history's best-known pro-life feminist.)

The Advocate also has tapes from several other states, but is waiting for responses from Idaho and Ohio (from whence they released a similar exchange) before releasing them.

Old-fashioned investigative reporting. I love it!


Moses' Long Strange Trip

Psychology professor Benny Shanon of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem went on a trip to the Amazon, where he went on another sort of trip entirely: one produced by a local hallucinatory plant potion. Since then, he's used the stuff hundreds of times and written a book about the plant. Why do I envision something along the lines of In a Gadda Da Vida or maybe those plays that Tennessee Williams turned out during the 60's that never see the stage anymore?

At any rate, Shanon's long strange trip "enlightened" him to posit a hypothesis about the religious experience of Moses and the Children of Israel at the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai, which he subsequently published in the philosophy journal Time and Mind. He suggested that the ancient Israelites may have used Middle Eastern desert plants (in particular, wild rue or acacia) in religious ceremonies and that these may have produced the events described in the book of Exodus:

And all the people perceived the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the voice of the horn, and the mountain smoking.

Which leaves me wondering: does one really need hallucinogens to see thunder and lightning, perhaps followed by smoke if the vegetation up there was dry, on an isolated mountaintop?

Shanon is a proponent of the religion-has-its-roots-in-the-use-of-psychotropics school of anthropology, presumably because no one could ever have a religious experience while stone cold sober. He figures the burning bush story is evidence Moses was trippin' years before he led the Children to the Promised Land as well.

Aside from the obvious issue of why the Children would follow some stoner across a desert through forty years of misery, I'm absolutely disinclined to buy this one. Moses wasn't chasing spiritual jollies when he encountered that bush, he was busy watching his father-in-law's sheep. I'm no aggie, but it seems to me that getting high while trying to hold off predators and keep together a herd of beasts not known for their intellect is not good animal husbandry.

It's no accident that many cultures which were known to use psychotropics in worship or fortunetelling kept the use limited to a select few on specific occasions. Life was pretty darn dangerous for primitive people: having large segments of the population or individuals critical to community survival one toke over the line could have spelled disaster.

The full story is here.

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