Death to rebellious children: What the Fuqua?
Every so often, you come across a story that just blows your mind. There are plenty of people who have extreme right-wing views or a peculiarly warped fondness for Old Testament notions of justice, but to find someone who combines the two in spades while running for political office is new to me.
Charlie Fuqua is a Republican candidate for the Arkansas House of Representatives, and he believes in the death penalty for “rebellious children”, because the Bible says it’s OK. Still, don’t worry – he’s not a nutter or anything. He explains:
This passage does not give parents blanket authority to kill their children. They must follow the proper procedure in order to have the death penalty executed against their children. I cannot think of one instance in the Scripture where parents had their child put to death.
On that subject, I can think of at least one, but maybe Fuqua’s speaking about following the “due process” described in Deut 21:18-21 (which is some way short of the sort of legal safeguards I’d want for myself), or maybe he holds the death of Jephthah’s daughter against God, rather than Jephthah. You do wonder, though, if it’s occurred to him that there may have been many thousands that weren’t recorded.
Still, if no one’s actually going to take advantage of this opportunity for judicial filicide, as he suggests, what’s the point of proposing such a bloodthirsty legal innovation other than as a piercingly loud dog whistle to the religious right? Fuqua’s got an answer to that:
Even though this procedure would rarely be used, if it were the law of land, it would give parents authority. Children would know that their parents had authority and it would be a tremendous incentive for children to give proper respect to their parents.
So that’s alright, then. I’m glad no one’s proposing anything grotesquely brutal and illiberal just so that children might be slightly less lippy.
Right now, you’re probably thinking one of two things. If you’re a Christian, your first thought will be that he’s missing the point, that Jesus changed all that. And if you’re an atheist, you’re most likely of the opinion that at least he doesn’t try to explain away the nasty bits, and follows the vile bits as well as the nice, fluffy bits. (Independently of those, I’ll allow the possibility that Poe’s Law might have crossed your mind.)
But neither view’s quite right. Christians still regard the Old Testament as holy scripture, and while Jesus presented a different, friendlier face, he said he came to fulfil the Law, not to abolish it, and that text remains in the Bible to be grappled with. And Fuqua may accept this passage as God’s will, but given his casual attitude to wearing mixed fibres, eating pork and shellfish and most of the rest of the Mosaic Law, this looks less like intellectual honesty and more like cherry-picking.
And I haven’t even mentioned his fear that liberals and Muslims are conspiring to stir up a “bloody revolution”. It scares me that he could even be considered as a political candidate.
Photo by orangeacid, used under Attribution License