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An Exhibition of Conservative Paranoia

Exhibit 22: The First Thing We Do, Let's Kill All the Adulterers

WorldNetDaily's Joseph Farah declares that you shouldn't be punished for murdering someone whose behavior offends you.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 2/10/2003

It's not often you find people who are not Ann Coulter endorse killing people who haven't broken any laws in articles printed in major publications, but that is indeed what WorldNetDaily's Joseph Farah does in a Jan. 30 column. (Just to humor WND, we will consider it a "major publication" if for no other reason than it repeatedly insists that it is.)

Farah doesn't actually come out and say that, of course. The column is ostensibly a recounting of the case of Clara Harris, currently on trial for murder for running down and killing her estranged, philandering husband with her Mercedes. Farah makes sure to refer to Harris' husband as "the creep" at every opportunity. It all builds up to a logical end for Farah: If a person's behavior personally offends you, it's OK to kill 'em.

"I say: Free Clara Harris. We need more women like her. Live like her," Farah proudly states. "If I were on that jury, I would find Clara Harris not guilty. After she was sprung, I'd give her a medal. She did the world a favor. She may have acted emotionally. She may be sorry for what she has done. But, frankly, she did the right thing. That creep deserved what he got."

Huh? Did Farah rent "In the Bedroom" recently? If he did, it was probably a heavily expurgated version offered by one of those movie-sanitizing companies that WND also happens to promote. Whatever the case, Farah appears to want the right to be judge, jury and executioner of those who fail to live up to his moral standards in the absence of anyone else doing this grim duty. As he explains it:

There is no accountability any more for the kind of wanton irresponsibility David "The Creep" Harris showed toward his wife and his children. There's no penalty any more for adultery, for abandonment of one's spouse and children. The state doesn't get involved – except to divide up the property and sort out custody issues. No one is punished.

And that, I believe, is why America's families are crumbling at such an alarming rate.

People are no longer accountable to anyone. They don't believe they are accountable to God. They don't believe they are accountable to their spouses. And they don't believe they are accountable to their children. They are not accountable to the state, as no-fault divorce laws have made certain.

Needless to say, condoning murder is a controversial position and has been the subject of comments from both sides in WND's letters section. A few days later, on Feb. 5, Farah takes another stab at it because "I guess some of my readers just don't get the point." Interesting that Farah doesn't think it's his fault because people object to his condoning of murder.

Individuals must be held accountable for personal immorality or our world will quickly become a cesspool," Farah declares again. "No-fault divorce and no-fault marriages are wreaking havoc on our culture. There is no accountability any more for the kind of wanton irresponsibility David Harris showed toward his wife and his children."

Farah then goes contradictory, first noting "Not that any of this is the government's business," then appearing to lament that governments have sought to "overturn all laws against adultery and other so-called 'victimless,' consensual sex crimes."

And, as with everything else conservatives consider bad, it can all be traced back to one Clinton or another: "It took Bill Clinton's official brand of get-it-while-you-can misogyny to swing the nation's moral pendulum back to where it was prior to 'Fatal Attraction.'" (Again, we assume, the sanitized version. But if you censor all the sex, violence and foul language out of that movie, what's left?) Could this be a secret wish on Farah's part for Hillary to pull a Clara Harris on Bill? Farah, of course, will never say it outright.

Farah's solution to all this -- well, aside from murder with impunity -- is a return to the wonderful days when "courageous clerics and wise elders practiced excommunication, disfellowshipping and shunning of moral reprobates who didn't put their families first."

Now, few people would disagree that David Harris was a lout and adulterer and perhaps deserved to feel some sort of societal and/or legal discomfort for ruining his marriage. Endorsing the killing of Mr. Harris, though, puts Farah way outside the legal and theological mainstream.

Take a gander at the Ten Commandments. "Thou shalt not commit adultery" is there, of course, but so is "Thou shalt not kill." As Farah himself says, "You have to admit, this is a pretty good starting point for the law." He even calls them "basic, simple, straightforward commandments." No "killing is OK if another commandment is broken" or "killing is OK if the guy's a slimeball" clause here.

Let's take it a step further. Another commandment states, "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor." Like adultery, frowned upon but generally not against the law. Dishonest and distorted news reporting can certainly be considered a subset of "bearing false witness." That is something WorldNetDaily does on a regular basis -- take, for instance, its repeated declaration that Sen. Patty Murray was "praising" Osama bin Laden when she merely used him as a point of comparison. (And, of course, there's that whole "independent news site" charade WND insists on playing. And then there's the plagarism. We could go on....)

So we have ourselves a commandment violation. By extending Farah's reasoning, I have the right -- as an aggrieved reader who has been lied to and whose trust in WND has once again been violated, and because WND's continued existence is evidence that it has not been held accountable for its behavior -- to commit an act of violence against Farah, who is ultimately responsible for this violation as leader of the offending organization, and not suffer any legal repercussions for doing so. I would be fighting against "personal immorality" that could turn the country into a "cesspool," you see. Certainly Farah himself would back me up on such a noble cause.

That, of course, is taking things to the extreme that Farah's line of thinking leads. Unlike Farah, I do not endorse violence or vigilantism; detailing WND's distortions and hypocrisy in this space for all to see is much more satisfying. Besides -- as conservatives like to remind us when it suits their purposes -- we are a nation of laws, not of men. While neither adultery nor distorting the views of another for partisan political gain will normally place one afoul of the law, taking the life of another does. That is why Clara Harris is on trial.

Unsurprisingly, Farah has a partisan double standard when it comes to openly criticizing the moral failings of others. To cite one example, for all of their beating up on Bill Clinton, Farah and WND maintained a stony silence on Matthew Glavin, who was forced to resign as head of the Southeastern Legal Foundation -- the conservative group that led an effort to pull Bill Clinton's law license -- after he was caught fondling himself and an undercover officer in a park. According to a site search, there are 21 stories at WND that refer to Glavin, like this one of him offering an election analysis, but no story mentions the park incident. It would have done nothing to advance WND's political agenda.

And Farah wonders why he might be considered "uncomfortably extreme." Well, gee, when you condone murder, people will tend to feel that way.

My diagnosis: Just another conservative imposing his morality on others. And, needless to say, he's written a book detailing how wonderful the world would be if we all lived like he did. I'm not sure there's a cure for such delusions of grandeur. As long Farah's endorsement of murder doesn't expand to anyone he thinks is in his way, I think we're OK.

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