Monday, August 13, 2007

Conspicuous Consumption Alert (Jeebus Edition)


What do you get for the Bible-loving hunter who already has everything?

Why, a camouflage Bible cover, of course!

Reuters reporter Ed Stoddard recently discovered that you can buy camouflage Bible covers, and he thinks that such an item is just astonishing. He half-assedly tries to make some larger sociological point about what these covers mean ("camouflaged Bibles, a curious product which says a lot about American culture."), but he falls right on his face in the attempt.

Such products are classically American and highlight cultural traits which are especially pronounced in the South.

The first is a love affair with all things cam [sic], from pick-up trucks to baseball hats to shotguns.

"Men in the South love camo, it's just another way to communicate that they are an outdoorsman," said Lingner.

These products also highlight the U.S. evangelical love affair with hunting, fishing and the great outdoors.

A U.S. survey of licensed hunters and anglers last year commissioned by the National Wildlife Federation found half of those polled identified themselves as evangelical Christians.

Evangelical Christians, who number 60 million in the United States, are a key base of support for the Republican Party, which helps to explain its stand on a number of issues including its strident opposition to gun control. Hunters don't take kindly to restrictions on their weapons of choice.

Man, this is stupid. And what poor use of statistics! First--how many licensed hunters and fishers are there in the US? That seems like something we should be told. It turns out that, as of 2000, there were about 45 million fishing and hunting licenses sold in the US (Thanks, US Fish and Wildlife Service!). So we'll say that roughly 23 million hunters or fishers are evangelical Christians. Now where does Mr. Stoddard get off extrapolating the views of those 23 million to all evangelicals? He seems to be (intentionally or not, I make no claim either way) conflating all hunters & fishers with evangelical Christians. Even if you could do that, evangelical Christians are not some monolithic bloc of zombies. They do have differences of opinions on lots of issues (gasp!), and playing otherwise is just stupid.

The same could be said for hunters. For the record, there are quite a few outdoorsmen and -women who are in favor of things like gun control (see the American Hunters and Shooters Association if you don't believe me). As far as the GOP's "strident opposition to gun control," you know who's responsible for that? The fucking NRA. They happen to be responsible for a lot of Democrats' "strident opposition to gun control," too, asshole. The NRA doesn't speak for hunters, or evangelicals, or any particular group. The NRA speaks for the NRA, and they're damn good at getting what they want.

What bugs me most about the entire article, though, is the David Brooks-like faux astonishment at finding a "cute" news item in the hinterlands. First of all, if you search for "camouflage Bible covers," you get a lot more places to look than just the Christian Outdoorsman. And they're not new, either. Secondly, that goddamn condescending "Why, look at what curious customs these countrified rubes have!" tone really bothers me. Can we put this bullshit wannabe anthropology to rest, please? It's insulting to everyone. Please, please, dear reporters--don't take the David Brooks path. I know it seems easy, but it cheapens us all. Oh, and Mr. Stoddard--I checked all of these stats and stuff in about five minutes using this newfangled thing called "Google." You might want to look into that.

Finally, on to some Bible shit. Wouldn't a camouflaged Bible really be an insult to that Jesus guy? You know, the one who said that you're not supposed to light a candle and then put it under a bushel? (As an aside, that always made sense to me when I was a kid. I mean, you wouldn't want to set your bushel on fire, would you? Where would you get another one at that time of night?) Seriously, hunting people, are you really concerned that the goddamn deer (or whatever you're shooting at) are going to see your Bible and get spooked? How are you gonna explain that one on Judgment Day?

"My son, why didst thou hide thine light under a bushel, as I didst so clearly enjoin thee not to do?"

"Uh, yeah, sorry, lord, but there was this deer that I didst wanted for a trophy, and, uh..."

"A trophy? But didst I not also tell thee to not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth?"

"Well, yeah, but thou seest--hey! Are you gonna let me in or not?"

"I kind of have to forgive you, don't I? After all, I'm Jesus H. Christ! I've just been fuckin' with you! Come on in! Oh, and forget about all that "thee" and "thou" shit. Nobody's talked that way for three hundred years. Anyway, the reception for newbies is by MLK's place at noon. Don't be late."

Cross-posted over at First Draft just for the hell of it.

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