Keating was an icon of the Old Testament morality that defines American culture.
Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. It is the opium of the people. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. – Karl Marx
The Economist‘s obit is a must-read.
Mr Keating was so doughty in this holy war that Richard Nixon appointed him in 1969 to the national commission on obscenity. When the commission produced a feeble report, Mr Keating dissented. He wrote that “Never in Rome, Greece or the most debauched nation in history has such utter filth been projected to all parts of a nation.” At meetings of his 300-chapter organisation, Citizens for Decency through Law, he would stride round with a big red Bible in his hand. Sundays saw him devoutly at Mass, with thousands of dollars given to Catholic causes. Such was his local influence that when the Supreme Court ruled that obscenity should be judged by “community standards”, every adult theatre in Cincinnati closed down.
Strange, then, that this knight on a white charger—as he saw himself—was also the man who bilked 23,000 investors out of their savings. The total loss was $250m-288m, and the cost to the taxpayer $3.4 billion. In 1984 he had bought Lincoln Savings, a savings and loan association based in Irvine, California, and turned it into a piggy bank for his own American Continental Corporation. He persuaded Lincoln investors to swap their secured bonds for ACC’s junk ones, claiming that these too were backed by the government. Then he speculated freely in foreign exchange, risky development and tracts of raw cactus desert. Staff were exhorted to prey on “the weak, meek and ignorant”.
In an S&R e-mail discussion this morning, Jim Booth put it this way:
What is fascinating is that the guy saw himself as a highly moral individual because of his opposition to porn/”obscenity.” But his beliefs and behavior about making money by any means, no matter how unethical, borders on the sociopathic – and pornographic.
There is a fascinating study to be done on how the connections between morality and ethics have been severed from each other even as the meanings of each term have been blurred.
The examples of this severing and blurring are abundant – getting at what these examples tell us about our culture(s) would be an epic quest, methinks.
Jim raises an interesting issue. America is an obsessively moralistic culture, and has been since the Puritans invaded. Our morality is a curious thing, though. Its sense of what constitutes sin is all about the bedroom. Illicit sex is of the devil – fornication, adultery, sodomy … nudity, “indecent” behavior of all sorts, up to and including clothing that displays any female flesh below the neck. Not only is illicit sex impure, there’s often a measure of guilt associated even with the sanctioned congress of the marital bed. If you were raised Southern Baptist, you know what I’m talking about here. From the standpoint of developmental psychology, it’s very, very hard to make X a bad thing without a license but a good thing with a license.
So sex, the reason we’re all here, is evil. But violence? A movie that depicts a thousand people being blown into 100,000 pieces is PG. Where did we get this kind of insensitivity from?
We thank thee, Lord, that on this day we have sent six hundred heathen souls to hell! – Rev. Increase Mather
While New Testament Jesus was a messenger of justice through love, Old Testament Yahweh was an advocate of justice through the sword. Love the sinner vs. kill the sinner, especially if the sinner is an infidel of some sort. We can howl in protest all we like, but America is an Old Testament Republic, and the doctrine that Mass Murderer God and Baby Jesus are the same, well, that only complicates grand dysfunction.
The same mentality permeates the other half of the odd, apparently contradictory Keating case: wealth vs. poverty. In Keating’s morality, it was just fine – advisable, even – to fuck “the weak, meek and ignorant.” To separate 23,000 people from an average of $12,521 apiece (that’s $26,407 in 2014 money), hey, caveat emptor, bitches. If Grandma has to eat catfood to survive, that’s okay as long as she isn’t masturbating.
And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. – Matthew 19:24, Hippie New Testament Bullshit Version
Wait, there’s more.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
Again, from the Hippie NT Bullshit Version.
It isn’t just that Charles Keating is straight out of Leviticus, it’s that the dominant strain of contemporary American religion, over the past couple of generations especially, has so rabidly promoted this primitive, hateful theology. It does not matter how badly you destroy the lives of the less fortunate, so long as you make a big public show of sexual repression. (I’m not even going to get into the subject of how many conservative leaders are doing in private that which they’re legislating against in public.)
It isn’t that Keating was an OT gangsta, it’s that so many people, so many millions of those on whom he’d still be preying today if he were alive and had the kind of society he wanted, have expended so much energy to enabling his Church of Jesus Christ Sociopath. It’s like a hundred million virgins, lined up and begging for the privilege of being sacrificed to the volcano.
In that e-mail discussion with the rest of the Scrogues this morning I concluded with an observation, and I’ll share it here.
Marx was wrong. Religion isn’t the opiate of the masses. It’s the Matrix.