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Sex & Death

[whitespace] Paula Jones and the separation illusion

By Bob Harris

THERE'S AN OBSCURE religious group whose beliefs are so extreme you may have trouble believing they're real. (The story came to my attention courtesy of The Progressive and Church & State magazines and the investigative newsletter The Consortium, all of which rule.)

The group wants to replace the U.S. Constitution with a theocratic government not unlike Iran's under the ayatollah: all laws would descend from their leader's version of God's law. The penalty for adultery? Death. Fornication? Death. Homosexuality? Death. Heresy? Death. Apostasy? Death. Red wine with white meat? Death. Bogarting the TV remote? Death. White shoes after Labor Day? Death.

OK, I'm obviously kidding about the last three, but from the first five you pretty much get the idea.

They call themselves "Christian Reconstructionists," although I don't remember anything in the Gospels about Jesus running around sentencing people to death. Maybe I should check again. There seem to be more versions of Christ these days than there were when I was a kid.

The main guy who came up with this stuff, R. J. Rushdoony, has every right to do so under the Bill of Rights he so dislikes, and so far no one has declared his house a "compound," which is a good thing if you dig free speech.

(Still, if Rushdoony advocated replacing the government with, say, a communist dictatorship instead of a religious one, the FBI would probably react with slightly greater interest. Evidently some forms of repression are preferable to others.)

In 1982, Rushdoony was on the founding board of a certain legal group created, in Rushdoony's later words, to pursue "our plans." This legal group's founder had earlier done research in Rushdoony's library and published a book called The Separation Illusion, describing religious coexistence as "blasphemy," deriding public schools as "satanic," and portraying Jews, atheists, and other people who believe in the separation of church and state as "sons of darkness." Which presumably would include Thomas Jefferson, if he were still around.

And here's the punch line: The author of The Separation Illusion is none other than John Whitehead--the wrinkly guy who shows up representing Paula Jones several times a week on Nightline or CNN. (Paula's new slogan: "Actionable torts--never had 'em, never will.")

And the legal group that Whitehead founded, with support from R. J. Rushdoony, is the Rutherford Institute--the very folks who, according to the Los Angeles Times, have provided the quarter of a million dollars' worth of legal work recently driving the Paula Jones case.

Whoa. Now, to be fair, Whitehead says he's not now a Reconstructionist himself and Rushdoony is no longer on the Rutherford board.

OK. But even so, Whitehead has reportedly flat-out asserted that democracy is "heresy" (which Rushdoony might therefore in turn consider a capital offense), that "Christians are a spiritual race chosen to serve as the sons of God," and that, for those who don't care for that arrangement, "doom happens to be their lot."

Yikes.

It ain't easy to make Bill Clinton look like the lesser of two evils, but shazam ...

I DRIVE a 10-year old car with 100,000 miles on it and only one headlight. It's teaching me a lot about race relations in this country.

(OK, that probably doesn't make any sense yet, but if you're a longtime reader you know I don't let that stop me. Come on along for the ride.)

And by the way, if you don't already know, I'm about as white as a Tic-Tac factory owned by the Promise Keepers: blond hair, blue eyes, pale skin, born in Ohio, rugby shirts from the Gap. Any whiter, I'm an Osmond. You need to know that to understand what follows.

See, my old car with only the one headlight is technically violating some safety law or another, which means I could get pulled over and hassled at any time. Y'know what? That thing blew more than six months ago, and the police haven't batted an eye at me. I've driven past hundreds of cops in a dozen states, and I've never had a problem.

Most of my friends are white, and none of them ever say anything, either. It doesn't even cross anyone's mind. No big deal.

But darn if almost every black person I drive with--friend or new acquaintance, here in L.A. or on the road--doesn't immediately point out the blown headlight, since it must have just happened, or else I would have gotten it fixed already. In their world, driving around with one headlight is just asking for trouble.

Is it possible that their experiences with police just are a little different from mine?

Yup. A recent study looked at a random stretch of I-95 in Maryland, and black Americans were pulled over five times more often than their numbers would indicate. Last week, the House Judiciary Committee recommended the Congress should ask the Justice Department to follow up with a broader study.

Personally, I don't need to wait for the Justice results. The difference is so obvious you only need one light to see it.

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From the April 9-15, 1998 issue of the Sonoma County Independent.

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