Monday, January 29, 2007

My new, stupid project

So, rather naively, I thought it would be fun and also easy to scan through the Rambam's version od the 613 commandments and rate each one as "liberal," "conservative" or "neither."

Rarely, have I felt so stupid.

First, is the problem of defintions (What is liberal? What is a conservative? Do I judge them all as theocons? Or as libertarians?)

Second, is it offensive to liberalism to require people to believe in God, and to serve Him? For the purpose of this project I decided no; and because liberterians are vote with conservatives who and liberterians dislike being told what to do, I marked the commandments having to do directly with God as "neither."

Then, third, there's the fact that there are so many commandments and so many of them are altogether irrelevant: sacrifices, zavim, the redemption of donkeys. I marked them all "nuetral" on the theory that my eyes were glazing over, and I was about to fall over from boredom, but maybe that was a mistake.

For instance, Liberals aren't supposed to like religiously based laws, but the sacrifices were, in reality, a tax that served to keep a whole class of people fed and employed.

But those people were clerics.

But they weren't clerics in the sense that they told people how to live their lives; the kohanim administered the temple; they didn' t go around harrassing unwed mothers and so on.

In fact, there seems to be nothing about the ritual law that tells people what to think or otherwise penalizes them for thinking wrong thoughts. Its just that they are compulsory (ie: You must bring this offering, and you must prepare it this way) a fact that should offend libertarians most of all.

Anyway, I'm up to "Honoring the Kohanim" and I am going to mark it "C" because liberals don't like dynasties or hereditary power, and the kehuna was no meritocracy.

Update: There has to be a methodology I can use to make this easier. Meanhile I'm at "Tumah of a menstruant." No 21st century conservative would want this commandment to become public policy; if anything, they'd embrace it as an existing ritual because it's an old tradition and vagually mysoginistic. So does it get a C or an N?

Back to the begining (rats): Ok, I've got a methodology: What I will do is ask myself this question about each commandment: "Which party, in 2007, is more likely to propose and support this as a matter of policy." That means the GOP gets "Believe in God" but the Dems get "say the shma twice daily" It also means that every last one of the uniquely Jewish/Hebrew/Israelite ritual law gets an N for "neither" because, today, no one is likely to propose or support rules for sacrifices, menstruents and so on.

Update: Finished the positive commandments: Democrats are winning 29-20.

Update: I reviewed and corrected my scoring. Now its 25-24 in favor of the Democrats. Reason: I decided that the GOP was more likely to favor the death penalty, so I put the following four commandments in the GOP's column:
Beheading transgressors of certain commandments
Strangling transgressors of certain commandments
Burning transgressors of certain commandments
Stoning transgressors of certain commandments

Update: The negatives are even less relevant than the positives. I've done 120 so far and only one (Not leaving the body of an executed criminal hanging overnight) could be put into either category. Care to guess where I put it?

Semi Final Results: Ok, finished the negatives. They picked up a little bit at 210. The semi-final results for the negatives are: GOP 17, Democrats 31 --meaning (wait for it) the God might be a Democrat?

I'll have much more to say on this later.

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