Burning in the Bible Belt: Right Wing theology at work

In the spirit of fiscal responsibility, the fire department of Obion County,Tennessee, stood by and watched as the home of Gene Crannick burned to the ground. Because he forgot to pay the $75 fire department service fee this year. Crannick offered to pay whatever it took to put out the fire. His neighbors volunteered to pay the fee (or even $500), if the department would put out the fire but the fire chief (who was playing golf nearby) said no dice – let it burn.

Thankfully no one was inside at the time (would that have made any difference, though?) but his pets, three dogs and a cat were killed. Well, I guess Crannick had it coming. People need to be held accountable, especially in this day and age. According to Glenn Beck, self-proclaimed Christian leader of the far Right:

And it goes nowhere if you go onto “compassion, compassion, compassion, compassion” or well, “they should’ve put it out, what is the fire department for?” […] If you don’t pay the 75 dollars then that hurts the fire department. They can’t use those resources, and you’d be spongeing off your neighbor’s resources. […] It’s important for America to have this debate. This is the kind of stuff that’s going to have to happen, we are going to have to have these kinds of things.

Of course, I’m not sure if allowing a man’s house to burn down, with living creatures inside, is exactly what Jesus would do, but we’ll have to wait to hear more on that from Beck and other Right Wing Christians. Then I’d like to ask, if government is so incompetent, as many conservative/libertarians claim, then do we really want to rely on bureaucratic paper pushing careerists to determine whose house burns and whose doesn’t? What if there was a filing error? Oops!

But what about those dogs and that cat? Allowing them to burn up in the fire, doesn’t that amount to cruelty to animals? According to state statute Title 39. Criminal Offenses. Chapter 14. Offenses Against Property. Part 2. Animals it seems that this fire department in the Bible Belt knowingly broke Tennessee law. Aside from any other laws that might come from a somewhat Higher Authority.


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  1. #1 by spray payment on October 6, 2010 - 2:01 pm

    What a load of malarkey. I hope this becomes the new lightning rod for the stupidity of the conservative right’s anti-government stance. No real solutions, just a bunch of rhetoric. And when someone dies, just blame the stupidity of others.

    We’ve been through the firefighting for a fee dilemma before, in the early 1800’s, and it was solved by banning pay to spray. I guess someone repealed that act during the GW administration.

    • #2 by Christian Beyer on October 6, 2010 - 7:19 pm

      Yeah, I think that was in Early American New York. They found out it didn’t really work to anyone’s benefit to let any house burn, seeing as how close they all were. But I do believe it has always been left up to the local municipality. In spite of my rhetoric, I think these folks in Tennessee have been doing this for some time now.

  2. #3 by David on October 6, 2010 - 2:45 pm

    Exactly how is this the ‘right wing’s’ fault? Just seems like bad judgement by the local fire department. Really has nothing to do with religion. It’s a bad model. They should bill for services provided, like a hospital or ambulance company would do.

    • #4 by Christian Beyer on October 6, 2010 - 3:32 pm

      Ah, David, it’s because the conservatives (or libertarians – I get confused) like Beck are the ones who are defending this fire department while criticizing those ‘progressives’ who are condemning their actions. And it plays into the whole Tea Party idea of ways in which to keep taxes lower – like fees for services. Liberals are opposed to this in that it favors those who can afford it.

      There are a couple of reasons why I’ve linked this event to religion:

      1. The Tea Party, Glenn Beck, Palin etc have been putting God at the forefront of their political movement, claiming to be upholding Biblical and particularly the supposedly Christian ideals of the founding fathers.

      2. This incident has taken place in the Bible Belt, where probably 9 out 10 people are professing Evangelicals.

      3. I think that for one to say they follow Jesus and also condone this type of behavior, especially if it is in order to save a few bucks, is particularly hypocritical.

      Welcome, btw.

  3. #5 by David on October 6, 2010 - 6:14 pm

    Sorry, I don’t buy it. It’s liberals, who often will say “If we don’t raise taxes we’ll have to cut services.” that scare people into voting for tax increases, while all the while it’s the unions who are reaping the rewards. The fact is, lower tax rates usually mean more tax revenue.
    The truth is that fire fighting services are paid in property taxes. The poor seldom would pay directly, though maybe in their rent. I don’t know about this specific case. The Tea Party is all for having the lowest taxes possible while providing essential public safety services-fire-fighting being one, police being another.

    Having God at the forefront of our morality does nothing but make us think of our neighbor when we do something. I don’t believe anyone has said that this was a right action to take. What people have been saying is that they should have saved the home, then presented the homeowner/his insurance company with a bill.

  4. #6 by Christian Beyer on October 6, 2010 - 7:02 pm

    Not Glenn Beck, read the quote above. And the other link as well.

    I agree, though, that most people, Tea Party or otherwise, would not condone this. And of course, my rhetoric is a tad exaggerated, in order to make a point. But.. there are some prominent people on the Right besides Glenn Beck who have made a case for this (was it Jonah Goldberg at NR?) as well. Though this situation may be an extreme example, it has occurred, and guys like Beck have said that it needs to occur again, in order for people to be responsible.

    The problem with knowing what the Tea Party wants is that it is such a large umbrella that there is not a real consensus on anything other than government is big, taxes need to decrease and Obama is socialist. Added to that is a large variety of other special interests from immigration reform, the danger of unions (yours), evolution being taught in schools, the supposed danger of Islam etc etc.

    I’m all for lower taxes, less regulation and smaller government – I was a Bill Buckley conservative for over 35 years. But I don’t want to see the EPA folded up, I don’t believe that what is good for America is always good for the world, I don’t trust Big Business (and don’t want them to be subsidized any longer) and though I am a Christian, do not believe this was ever intended to be, nor ever was, a Christian country. And I don’t think Obama is an enemy of the state nor is there a Bilderberger conspiracy (nor any other conspiracy).

    If the Right Wing in general, and the Tea Party specifically, could let go of all this extraneous crap, then I might even consider joining. Except for all that anger. And the sloppy history lessons.

    And I really don’t think folks like Beck or Palin are thinking too much of others, outside of a source of revenue, no matter how often they invoke God. I mean, at least not by what they are saying or doing.

  5. #7 by logiopsychopath on October 6, 2010 - 8:21 pm

    I wonder if the fire chief is a deacon.

  6. #9 by 1sttime0ffender on October 7, 2010 - 12:10 am

    You know, I gotta say it sounds terrible but it is not an uncommon situation. As a former paramedic I understand that there is a man, probably a nice man, in some room with a calculator who has to make an objective decision about what a department can and cannot afford. He essentially has to put a price tag on what a life is worth. Its a job I know I wouldn’t want. Its a job I am sure he(or maybe she) doesn’t want. I worked a rural area( usually populated by lower income people) who couldn’t afford an ambulance bill. Would I ever had denied service based on the ability to pay? No. But that is because I worked the front line. I couldn’t be objective. In my opinion(be it ever so humble) a lot of people in government have lost this objectivity. The curtain is pulled back and I am afraid to say that there is no great and powerful Oz figuring the logistics of what our country needs to achieve.

  7. #10 by David on October 7, 2010 - 12:13 pm

    I didn’t hear the context, but I think Beck is saying that this type of incident needs to happen more in order to expose the real issue, which is “What are we getting for our tax dollar?”.
    To know what the “Tea Party” wants, you only need to ask the candidates supported by them. It’s pretty simple. Put government back in its place-to protect and to serve. Simplify the tax code, simplify the law, simplify the government. There is no totally Christian ideology, though I would suspect that most Tea Partyers are Christian (just as I would suspect most Republicans and Democrats would identify themselves as Christians [whether they are or not]). Everyone, regardless of who, has an agenda. You misunderstand my dislike of unions-I have nothing wrong with unions in the private sector, especially when they were begun to protect the common worker. What I have a problem with is public sector unions, and unions as they are today. In my experience, they do nothing but suck money, whether from union members or the government or business. The main reason many jobs are headed abroad is because unions (and big government)have made production of goods too expensive, so they find a place where people will make them cheaper and better. And for your information, most of us (some fundamentalists aside) have no problem teaching evolution in schools. We do have a problem teaching Darwinian evolution in schools. Evolution, as a theory, goes back at least 1700 years. Darwinism takes God out of the process, and has been proven wrong over and over. Also, most don’t think Islam is an issue, but radical Islam is. Just as you think radical Fundamentalism is a problem. Any ‘far’ anything is usually off base.
    We agree on a lot in your next paragraph. I don’t think any tea partyer (let’s just say most) don’t want the EPA abolished (just shrunk), Big Business should not be subsidized (nor should any business, let the free market decided the fate of any business), and have you noticed how businesses like GM, Chrysler, and GE have been in the pockets of our government, including our president? Our nation was founded on the principals of God, but 90% of the world worships God, they just have different ideas of him. Most people don’t think Obama is an enemy of the state. They disagree with him, and are trying to find any AHA! they can to figure out how to get him out. Most Christians, though, know that we should be praying for him-he’s got a tough job, and any decision he makes, much of the country will oppose. I do think he doesn’t really care for ‘the people’ because he hasn’t done anything to up the misery index. He’s an idealogue, someone without much compassion.

    • #11 by Christian Beyer on October 7, 2010 - 1:21 pm

      I agree with you about the unions. I have friends in the unions who are very upset when the company they work for, which may be failing, wants to move them from 35 hours a week up to 37 or cut their vacation time from 4 weeks a year to three. Sorry, but, I’ve never enjoyed that so it’s hard for me to sympathize.

      I remember hearing about a small business man – a clock maker – who had employed the same people, and their children, for over a generation. The employees elected a representative and he told the employer that, regrettably, they had decided to join a union. No offense, just business. When the staff arrived for work the next day they found the plant closed.

      The demands that you cite – the things that the Tea Party would like to see happen – may be all well and good but there is not much depth to these proposals. And, again, they are a bit selective. How are these things to be accomplished? What are some of the possible side effects that are not being considered by the majority? For example, there is a lot of talk about a flat tax – but does that mean no more tax deductions for anyone? Beck suggests a 10-15% flat tax with no deductions. Simple. Do the middle class members of the Tea Party realize that they would be paying more in taxes? Of course Beck, who makes about $32 million a year would see his rate drop by at least half.

      I am not sure that you are correct in your assessment as to what our nation was founded on. There were many sources that inspired the founders, from Greek and Roman political discourse to the Bible to Hobbs and Lock and even the Iroquois. But yes, most were theists, but not all were Christian. I don’t think so many people object to the idea of the US as a “nation under God” as they would a nation under Jesus. And that, unfortunately, is the position that the neo-Conservatives are projecting.

      Relatedly, if you are teaching science, then there is no room for “God in the process”. If your faith is strong, it should not be threatened by objective secular scientific study and in fact you might just continue to see God in the process. But it would not be right to force your vision upon others. Leave that to the preachers.

      Maybe most of the Right don’t see Obama as enemy of the state (though I think they definitely do) but their leaders have made numerous statements to that effect. To assert that Obama is an ideologue without much compassion is suggesting the same sort of thing – a President with no compassion for the people is no friend of the state. It implies that he possesses a self-serving mentality, not the mentality that the ultimate public servant should have. Then factor in the numerous comparisons to fascists and communists in general and Hitler in particular (Beck, Goldberg and others) and it is clear to see in what regard the Right holds him. Keep in mind that I have written on this blog about how certain people on the Left spoke so foolishly about Bush and Reagan. Talking in the extreme is rarely convincing. Unless it is me talking about Glenn Beck et al. 😉

  8. #12 by David on October 7, 2010 - 6:02 pm

    While they may be short on details, so was the president when he was elected (which is why he’s so ineffective now). The way we’re headed right now, we’ll be doing what Greece did the last two years, and what much of Europe is doing-imploding. I think the simpler the tax code, the more difficult it is to defraud. I get sick when I see these ads on TV “I had a 300,000 tax bill, but my lawyer got it knocked down to 3,000.” For the record, most TV ads make me ill…I think a 15% flat tax on all people who make over X dollars is a way to go. Or a consumption tax. The IRS Tax Code is full of holes. So are our borders. Personally, I don’t identify with either party-Bush ran me away from the Republicans, and the divisionist Democrats ran me away from them. I vote my conscience, to the best I can ascertain. I’m close enough to Pelosi’s district to wish I could move a few yards, just so I could get rid of her. Congress sells out the people, and that’s what I’m sick of. 70% of Americans don’t want the health care bill they shoved down our throats, same amount, pretty close, is suspicious of TARP, and there’s just too many people out of work. Too much focus on keeping abortion in play, not enough focus on putting Americans back to work.

  9. #13 by Chistian on October 7, 2010 - 10:27 pm

    Good points. Why we need to keep talking and stop demonizing. (Aside from those demonizing demons on TV) 🙂

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