Two brief updates for the curious...
The first comes to us courtesy of Pure Pedantry and relates a tale that should make all of our blood run cold: the subpoena of a blogger. Specifically, Kathleen Seidel of Neurodiversity.com has been tagged to offer testimony on a case relating to the vaccine/autism hoopla. Not only that, however, she has also been asked to produce some records. What records you ask? Well... a lot. From Pure Pedantry:
9. The subpoena commands production of "all documents pertaining to the setup, financing, running, research, maintaining the website http://www.neurodiversity.com" - including but not limited to material mentioning the plaintiffs - and the names of all persons "helping, paying or facilitating in any fashion" my endeavors. The subpoena demands bank statements, cancelled checks, donation records, tax returns, Freedom of Information Act requests, LexisNexis® and PACER usage records. The subpoena demands copies of all of my communications concerning any issue which is included on my website, including communications with representatives of the federal government, the pharmaceutical industry, advocacy groups, non-governmental organizations, political action groups, profit or non-profit entities, journals, editorial boards, scientific boards, academic boards, medical licensing boards, any "religious groups (Muslim or otherwise), or individuals with religious affiliations," and any other "concerned individuals."
As you've probably guessed this is little more than an attempt to intimidate a critic of the vaccine/autism argument and is utterly loathesome. Given the sorts of tactics routinely employed by the anti-vaccination camp I know that I shouldn't be surprised by this but, hey, I still am. What can you do?
The other bit of internet madness I commend to your attention comes to us courtesy of Conservapedia and, in particular, Andy Schlafly. Many of you are probably aware of the parable in the bible (John 7:53-8:11) where a crowd brings an adultress to Jesus and asks what he would do. After they press him for an answer, he replies "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone." It is, perhaps, one of the most famous bible passages at least in part becuase it is said to exemplify the spirit of Christian mercy and humility.
Well, that's according to me anyway. Ask Andy Schlafly and he'll tell you something different:
The conservative, evangelical translation of the Bible (NIV) flatly says "The earliest and most reliable manuscripts and other ancient witnesses do not have John 7:53-8:11."
Amid this scholarship, why is the emphasis on this passage increasing? The answer lies in its liberal message: do not criticize or punish immoral conduct unless you are perfect yourself. But one need not be perfect before he can recognize wrongdoing in himself. The Mosaic laws clearly state death as a punishment for sin. So the argument that an individual must be perfect is not relevant. The God-ordained government has the responsibility for punishment. Civilized society may not depend on stoning to deter immoral crimes, but it does depend on retribution enforced by people who are themselves sinners.
So, basically, this passage is just another example of a liberal trick. Now, it does appear to be the case that the passage in question was added after the rest of the Gospel of John was written. That said, most experts also agree that the Gospel of John was itself written by a presently unidentified non-eyewitness. Thus, Schlafly's criticism doesn't really carry a great deal of weight. And, perhaps more importantly, is it necessarily a good idea to specifically attempt to carve out a passage that is generally taken to exemplify one of the best things about your own faith?
Well, since that passage seems to imply that the death penalty is bad, Schlafly says yes. I guess it's good to know that when it comes down to a choice between Jesus and capital punishment, Schlafly knows who comes out on top.
Good to know? Yes. Reassuring? No.