Friday, September 16, 2011

Birds Do It, Bees Do It, But the Ultra-Orthodox Jews Hate It

"It," of course, is LGBT [whisper] sex. You know, frolic between consenting adults who happen to share a gender, perhaps -- I mean, who can tell? Oy, the kids these days! In New York's 9th Congressional district a whole slew of Orthodox Jews, registered Democrats outnumbering registered The-Other-Kind by 3-1, really, really don't like the idea of tolerating same-sex couples. It's not natural! Okay, maybe in the animal kingdom and maybe only in song, though the closest even a genius like (shhhh!) gay Cole Porter could have got to reality is "Penguins do it...," making for an interesting conundrum should he have wished to rhyme the word "penguin." (You can imagine the composer's dulled enthusiasm for the original line's reverse: "Bees do it, birds do it..." What next? "Even educated turds do it?" Perish the (scatological) thought. No, really, perish it, sinner!)

It should come then as little surprise that the intolerant Ortho voters of New York's Fighting 9th would vote against "David observant Orthodox Jew, a reliable Israel hawk, and a self-proclaimed 'Scoop' Jackson fan," according to Hendrick Hertzberg in his column noting Weprin's defeat to "Republican Bob Turner, a Roman Catholic former television executive who has never so much as set foot on Israeli soil, sand, or pavement."
I think the thing that gets me isn't so much the intolerance of a group for whom that word could be -- and was -- worn as a badge. That's bad. Nor am I particularly irked that Ed "I love New York, but not its lesbians, gays, bis or transsexuals" Koch turned coat for Turner. Nor do I mind that the Ortho voting block might have been offended enough of the Tweeting 9th's previous incumbent's peccadillo to pull the other lever, if you will, even if that other lever led to the election of a former television executive of "The Jerry Springer Show," that bastion of good taste.

What I find appallingly un-American is that rabbis in the district instructed their flocks how to vote, and the flocks dutifully voted their rabbis' demands: "It is therefore Assur [forbidden according to Torah law] to vote for, campaign for, publicly honor, fund, or otherwise support the campaign of Assemblyman David Weprin, now running to succeed Anthony Weiner in the 9th Congressional district." Um, okay, I guess to preserve the sanctity of my, uh, Jewish soul, had I one, I must vote Republican.
When Christian ministers consort to influence their flocks how to vote, nay, how to think, I'm appalled but not surprised. Christian zealots see the world as theirs and the believers congregate to do their masters' bidding because it hastens the glory of the afterlife or, at least, keeps the "other" at bay. When the Jews do it it's somehow worse than appalling. Considering the age and defiant survivor-ship of our faith in the face of centuries of intolerance, I consider Judaism as, ironically, a most modern of religions, eschewing the afterlife for a now-life of doing good deeds and leaving a legacy of a world made better. How on earth -- or in heaven's eyes -- are we making the world a better place with fatwas aimed at groups of individuals, and their supporters, whose behavior is none of our goddamn business? All that nonsense is in the Old Testament. This is the New World, isn't it? Or maybe we're just arriving at the surly gates of a new New Order.

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