January 05, 2006

Concentrated paranoia

I always wondered how much paranoia you could get into one room before hitting critical mass. Now, thanks to Tuesday's Power Hour, I know.

During the second hour, Texe "Conspiracy Boy" Marrs was Dave VonKleist and Joyce Riley's guest, promoting his book, about the Illuminati. (Booga booga!) To borrow a turn of phrase from Phil Johnson, neither party ever met a conspiracy theory they didn't like. During the interview, Conspiracy Boy "revealed" what Fox News, generally hailed by conservative Americans as an alternative to the more liberal "mainstream" media, is "really" all about. Amongst his "proofs":

  • Jesus, in Luke 13:32, calls Herod a "fox" - a symbol for Satan.
  • F is the 6th letter of the alphabet, O is the 15th (1 + 5 = 6), and X is the 24th (2 + . . . oh, you know the routine).
  • The searchlights in Fox News' logo form an inverted triangle, which points downward to Satan.

As usual, a little bit of basic critical thinking deflates Conspiracy Boy's wild claims. Specifically:

  • Foxes are proverbially cunning. No doubt Jesus is alluding to Herod's character: like his father Herod the Great (who sought the infant Jesus' death [Matt. 2;16]), Herod Antipas was paranoid and treacherous. Conspiracy Boy also ignores the half-dozen or so other times in the Bible that a fox symbolizes something benign (e.g. Song 2:15, Matt. 8:20).
  • It's awfully convenient for Conspiracy Boy that "fox" just happens to work out this way in English, a language that didn't exist in any form until 400 years after Revelation was written. It is poor hermeneutics to read a meaning into the Bible that its original readers would not have understood. Furthermore, Rev. 13:18 says that the "number of the beast" is six hundred and sixty-six - not three sixes. This is a common error of prophecy buffs. Neither Greek nor Hebrew used the decimal system for counting. For that matter, neither did English before the introduction of arabic numerals in the tenth century.
  • When something as basic and ubiquitous as a triangle becomes a secret symbol of Evil, it's no wonder Conspiracy Boy sees Satan under every rock. He actually explained during the program that if a triangle points downward, it points to Satan. So you would think that a triangle pointing upward points to God, right? Wrong - it symbolizes Satan overthrowing the kingdom of God. (I suppose that a triangle pointing to the left or right symbolizes "Hey, look over there! It's Satan!")

Finally, of course, the real reason that Fox News is called Fox News is because it is a subsidiary of the Twentieth Century Fox media conglomeration, which was the product of a 1935 merger between Twentieth Century Pictures and the Fox Film Corporation. The latter was founded in 1914 by William Fox. In other words, it's an accident of history.

Conspiracy Boy (like many conspirinauts) suffers from an affliction known as parallelomania, a hermeneutical fallacy that overplays the similarities between texts and then attempts to draw meaningful connections between them. Form critics, for example, see superficial parallels between the stories of the Old Testament and the myths of the surrounding pagan cultures, and conclude that the Bible must be based upon them. Assuming that in some cases a triangle is an occult symbol, there's no rule that says every instance is. (Otherwise we're in deep trouble every time we approach a yield sign.) I'm sure that there are many legitimate criticisms of Fox News, but I sincerely doubt that their secretly being in league with Satan is one of them. Shame on Texe Marrs for fanning the flames of paranoia, and shame on The Power Hour for uncritically providing him with a soapbox to tell his lies.