Anecdotal Evidence Watch

Anecdotal Evidence Watch. Who's the laziest columnist of them all? David Limbaugh certainly appears to be striving for that distinction with this opening to a column on Christian-bashing (titled "Yet more assaults on Christianity"):

Based on stories I continue to encounter, the war against Christianity is escalating and becoming increasingly hysterical. Could it be that those attacking are motivated more by an antipathy toward Christianity than an affinity for religious freedom?

Limbaugh then proceeds to complain about the latest peregrinations of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Americans United for the Separation of Church and State (AU). The ACLU, for instance, has recently brought suit over a sign posted outside a Louisiana town saying "Jesus is Lord over Franklinton." (The sign appeared on a state road and was built by a parish road crew, according to Limbaugh.) Meanwhile, Americans United is peeved about the use of "the Capitol Rotunda for [congressional] prayer sessions."

You'd be forgiven for wondering what's so out of the ordinary here. Whatever one may think of them politically, the ACLU and AU have been around for some time, and they're pretty consistent when it comes to the kind of activism they engage in. The actions described by Limbaugh amount to typical manifestations of these groups' concern about sectarian religious messages in the public arena.

Granted, some of it does seem a tad petulant. The ACLU and AU are, after all, advocacy groups with funders to please. But how does any of this show that "the war against Christianity in America is escalating and becoming increasingly hysterical?"

Based upon this one David Limbaugh op-ed -- plus stories we continue to encounter -- Idea Log has to say that this columnist is becoming increasingly ridiculous.

More Anti-Liberal Hate Speech. Idea Log dug up that Limbaugh column at the online conservative repository Townhall.com; while there, we encountered something even more rhetorically dishonest. Here's another columnist, Linda Bowles:

I would not be at all surprised to see John Walker Lindh appear on stage as the keynote speaker at the next Democrat National Convention. The theme of his speech would likely be international tolerance and understanding.

This is known as a vicious and irrational smear tactic. It is closely related to the practice of dehumanizing your ideological opponent (which Bowles also does):

Watching the media and the lawyers operate makes it easy to believe that this would be a better world if all the liberals wallowing in the filth and muck of current events would take a bath.

But look on the bright side. At the very end of her column, Bowles finally defines the "liberals" upon whom she has heaped such abuse. And the "dogma" she attributes to these uncouth politicos isn't one you're likely to recognize:

It is liberal dogma that human life is an accident, and that we are but pawns at the mercy of an indifferent universe. There is no basis for judgment, for blame, for accountability, for punishment or for claims of superiority . . . We must win the war against unbelief and nihilism within and around ourselves before we can win a war "to the death" with terrorism.

Whew. For a second there, we thought Linda Bowles might be talking about liberals.

The Case for Book-Burning. Yes, you read that right. Jeremy Lott puts the pro-conflagration argument quite nicely in Reason Online, reporting on a "holy bonfire" for Harry Potter books held by a pastor in New Mexico named Jack Brock. As Lott notes, "more than a dozen big press outfits, including The Associated Press, CNN, and the BBC, showed up to cover the spectacle." The result was wonderful PR for Harry Potter:

When a concerned citizen takes it upon himself to publicly burn books, it invites press coverage. Which, in turn, invites outraged charges of "censorship" by enlightened souls everywhere. Which, in turn, invites more press coverage -- and on and on.

The upshot is inevitably an outcome similar to the one in New Mexico . . . disproportionate protest and ridicule for the burners, bigger sales and near immortality for the targeted book.

No wonder Salman Rushdie's writing regularly for The New York Times!