Friday, August 11, 2006


Elvis, ID, and What They Have in Common

RSR, always curious about the many varieties of human behavior, was reading an article about how Mel Gibson should have handled the PR fallout from the widely publicized anti-Semitic tirade he delivered after being arrested on a drunken driving charge.

In the article, Harvey Levin, founder of the celebrity muckraking Web site,/ a lawyer, and veteran broadcast journalist, told Dennis McDougal of the New York Times:

“Celebrities like Michael Jackson and Elvis retreat into their psychological houses and purposely turn off their personal alarms — their friends and family,” he said. “So they’ll say, ‘You know, I think the world rotates on the back of a turtle,’ and all they hear is ‘Right on!’” What friends and family should say, he continued, is more like, ‘What are you, an idiot?!”
The line about the turtle reminded RSR of the story of the old lady who told the philosopher Bertrand Russell at the end of a lecture, "What you have told us is rubbish. The world is really a flat plate supported on the back of a giant tortoise."

But what really struck us was the similarity between the isolated celebrity -- Elvis, Michael Jackson, Mel Gibson, take your pick-- and the creationist or intelligent design theorist.

After the Scopes decision, biblical literalists didn't exactly go away, but they did retreat into their own institutions -- their churches, their Christian academies, and their bible colleges. They didn't get out much and as a consequence nobody paid much attention to what they were saying.

Now that they've been emboldened by the rightward drift of the political climate, and because they are increasingly moving into secular institutions such as public schools and universities, they're saying in public what they once said only in private.

Like the isolated celebrity, the Elvis-Christians had grown accustomed -- in the echo chamber of church and bible school – to hearing nothing but a heartfelt “Right on!” Now, however, they’ve ventured out of that hermetic world and they’re quite surprised when people look at them incredulously and exclaim, ‘What are you, an idiot?!”


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