Friday, June 14, 2013

Whose Interests He Serves

It was classic, brilliant Limbaugh.

Rush Limbugh on Thursday applauded the decision by owner Robert Kraft of the New England Patriots to sign quarterback Tim Tebow, late of the Denver Broncos and the New York Jets,   At first glance, the high-living,  free-wheeling talk show host merely was pandering to the cultural right, maintaining Tebow is "someone who believes in spirituality, but very competitive and works hard, and has a great attitude (and is a) first-rate person."

Avoiding reference to "religious faith" (a phrase upon which he probably would choke), Limbaugh then lauded the former Florida Gator for his "spirituality" but seamlessly slammed what is arguably the favorite whipping boy of the victimized, put-upon right: the media.   He claimed "I mean, Tebow's spirituality is the reason the media hates him.  Tebow's spirituality is the reason he's made fun of by the media.  Tebow's spirituality is the reason people are so afraid of what he might bring to a locker room."

But wasn't done.  "Kraft," Rush added, "said something else there that is true about Tebow, and it's an intangible.  He's a winner. But he's not conventional. So it's interesting. It's a heartwarming thing."

Limbaugh long has been close with the Kraft family.  Yet, he invokes the owner of the Patriots less to commend an owner he knows than to give credit to those billionaires known as NFL owners and, in a larger sense, corporate heads generally.  In Rush's telling, it's not Bill Bellichick, he of the three Super Bowl rings as a head coach (two additional as a coordinator), who signed football's best-known Christian and so defied the liberal, godless media: it's the owner.   Somehow, it's not 31 other NFL teams which passed on Tebow, but the media and everyone else who hates him because of his "spirituality."

Tebow (an exceptional, and large, athlete) may prove a valuable contribution to the perennially successful Patriot franchise, with many an observer arguing that if anyone can make him an actual professional football player, it's the fabulously successful (if unscrupulous) Bellichick.    But make no mistake about it:  Rush, as he has reminded listeners many times, knows football.  And he knows the primary reason teams passed on Tebow is that he cannot throw. Rumor has it that an ability to pass is an asset for a quarterback.

Rush's favorable references to "spirituality" is a nod to the listeners of his for whom religion is important, as well as to those who couldn't find their way to a house of worship without a GPS but are convinced all liberals are immoral, conniving atheists.  However, as their hero extols the virtue of spirituality, they might consider (hat tip to Alternet)

Young people who consider themselves “spiritual but not religious” are more likely to commit property crimes than those who identify as just “religious” or “spiritual and religious,” according to one  study from Baylor University, a Baptist institution.

Researchers surveyed participants to see how often they had committed crimes in the previous 12 months, and found that loosey-goosey spiritual types (just kidding! you’re great!) were more likely to commit vandalism, theft and burglary than religious people; the study also found that agnostics and atheists were less likely than spiritual people to commit such crimes.

“Calling oneself ‘spiritual but not religious’ turned out to more of an antisocial characteristic, unlike identifying oneself as religious,” said Baylor researcher Aaron Franzen, a doctoral candidate and study co-author.

It is a hard time to be spiritual, scientifically speaking: researchers from University College London recently  found that that this group is more prone to “anxiety disorders, phobias and neuroses” than atheists, agnostics and religious people.

That is not to suggest that Tim Tebow will be holding up a convenience store or breaking into your home.   Highly religious people such as Tebow are less likely than most people to commit a property crime than others- especially "spiritual" individuals-  possibly because

they fear "supernatural sanctions" as well as criminal punishment and feel shame about deviance, are bonded to conventional society, exercise high self control in part because of parents who also are likely to be religious, and associate with peers who reinforce their behavior and beliefs.

The researchers appear not to have reported whether the 43.8% of the subjects who consider themselves neither religious nor spiritual were likely to commit property crimes. Nonetheless, it is instructive that Limbaugh poses as a pal to the "spiritual- then  (inaccurately) characterizes Tim Tebow as exclusively, peculiarly, "spiritual," a category of persons especially prone to "anxiety disorders, phobias and neuroses."

Clearly, that would not concern a man who is unconcerned about the 11.5% who are spiritual but not religious, 6.8% who are religious but not spiritual, or the 27.9% who are both spiritual and religious, but only about the 1% who control 40% of the nation's wealth.

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