Groan, another Internet tale

Look at the quote below, found in a Slate article:

According to Christian mythology, the hemlock plant became poisonous after growing on the hillside of Jesus’ crucifixion. When his blood touched the plant, it turned forever toxic.

Now, some of you may be saying that you have never heard any such thing. Well, neither have I. In fact, the statement above does not even make sense. Why not? Well, in the Greek world, the death of Socrates in the 320’s BC was well-known. Plato had written of it and he had made it clear that Socrates had died by ingesting hemlock. No Christian in the Greek world would have believed that hemlock became poisonous because of the Crucifixion because they already knew it to be poisonous.

So, I did a Google search. And, it turns out that I could not find the story. What I could find is that various people speculate that the vinegar and gall, or vinegar and myrrh, or vinegar that John said he finally drank at the end was actually a drugged drink of vinegar and hemlock. The purpose of the drink was both to ease the criminal’s suffering and to speed the end. This is the idea that the book, The Passover Plot, follows. The book claims that Jesus was drugged and his breathing was depressed so that he only appeared to be dead. This is the “swoon theory” that has no support left today.

So, from where did that first quote come? Well, maybe there was some medieval myth somewhere about hemlock becoming poisonous after the Crucifixion, but I certainly did not find it. This means that if that myth was around sometime in the Middle Ages, it must not have lasted a long time.

It appears to me that this is some bad writing and an indication of the failure of an editor to question a particularly tendentious statement. Sadly, I half expect that I will see it in a Facebook post that purports to show how stupid Christians are.

Some indicators of why the problems in Ferguson

Look at the video above about two police officers in the Saint Louis area. If you are wondering at the why of the rampant distrust that exists in the Ferguson area, this will give you some indication. Note that I am NOT saying that all officers are like the above, but it only takes a few like the above to cause serious harm to community relationships. But, even worse, the recorded comments were not simply made on social media, but were made by the police officer as a speaker at a local Oath Keepers meeting.

Oath Keepers styles itself as “a non-partisan association of current and formerly serving military, reserves, National Guard, veterans, Peace Officers, and Fire Fighters who will fulfill the Oath we swore, with the support of like minded citizens who take an Oath to stand with us, to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, so help us God. Our Oath is to the Constitution … Our motto is ‘Not on our watch!’”

Oath Keepers was formed in 2009 out of the fear that ran rampant when a black man was elected President and fear mongers said that he would change and gut the Constitution. Various of the members in Saint Louis can be heard laughing and agreeing as the speaker spoke of President Obama being an illegal alien and going on a rant against women on combat duty, etc. He was never asked to stop speaking, nor was he booed down. It was only after the film was leaked that the local chapter suddenly set out a disclaimer. While Oath Keepers in Saint Louis would not encompass all Saint Louis law enforcement, various of the officers at that meeting would also have been on the streets of Ferguson, patrolling the area during the initial days of demonstration. Even worse, some of the same officers would have been patrolling the streets all along, carrying those attitudes with them. Can you understand why there would be serious distrust of law enforcement by black residents?

In reality, Oath Keepers is an organization that foments treason and disobedience. It makes itself the judge of the Constitution and the laws. “At regular ceremonies in every state, members reaffirm their official oaths of service, pledging to protect the Constitution—but then they go a step further, vowing to disobey ‘unconstitutional’ orders from what they view as an increasingly tyrannical government, – Mother Jones 2010 article.” Members of Oath Keepers will decide for themselves what laws they obey and which they will not. If you watch the news, there has been an increasing willingness by law enforcement officers in various states to openly state that they will not enforce certain laws, even if approved.

It is no wonder, then, that the police in Ferguson first reacted as though they were facing an insurrection rather than demonstrations. They saw no problem in violating First Amendment rights, since they were the interpreters of the Constitution. Peaceful protests were broken up violently. Journalists in a McDonald’s were arrested in violation of their rights. One of them even commented that it was a good thing that he was white because he knew he would be released. Even old 1950’s tactics were used when the zoning laws were used against a church that was housing a first aid station for injured protesters. Shades of tactics from the 1950’s!

You can read, and hear, the church’s story on a local Fox News channel,

The bottom line is that Ferguson residents have good reason to fear the police. Frankly, given the strong influence of groups like Oath Keepers in our law enforcement venues, maybe we should all be a little concerned.