The Curse of Oak Island show returned last night, and once again I am not planning to watch the series because I find the show unfathomably boring. I tried to sit through the premiere, but I just don’t care about watching old men dig holes—and this show is all about digging big, wet, dirty holes. But the sonar operator working in the 10X site on the island claims that advanced imaging technology indicates a 90% certainty that 10X contains a human skeleton and a treasure chest. I’d be willing give odds that it contains neither since Canadian law (Criminal Code sec. 182) requires law enforcement and (when relevant) certified anthropologists to investigate, record, and report any human remains found in Canada. If the production actually uncovered human remains while they were filming these episodes earlier this year, there would have been a record of it and we should have heard about the discovery long before the episodes made it to air. Do you think History would waste a promotional opportunity like that?
History also debuted Hunting Hitler, another program I have no interest in watching, at least until they start exploring Hitler’s escape into the hollow earth, or how ancient astronauts or Fallen Angels rescued him. The bad reviews the show received (“…cynically trading off Hitler’s name…”) suggest I’m right to ignore it.
We’ll find out tomorrow how many people watched the programs last night.
Meanwhile, I have a few odds and ends to mention on what is otherwise a slow fringe history day.
First, I ended up in a Live Science article yesterday about Ben Carson’s weird pyramid ideas because I found and translated Bernhard von Breydenbach’s 1486 debunking of the claim. What’s weird is that the author of the Live Science article must have read my blog post in order to cite it and link to it, and yet somehow still attributed the claim that the pyramids were the granaries of Joseph to Gregory of Tours in the sixth century when I clearly explain that Julius Honorius was the first to record the claim, based on preexisting folk belief, somewhere between 50 and 150 years earlier.
Carson is as good a reason as any to mention something that happened this week that really made me angry. I try not to comment directly on politics in this blog, but it’s increasingly clear that pseudoscientific ideas about pyramids, creationism, and Fallen Angels/demonic influence are only the visible tip of a larger iceberg, a sort of quasi-acceptable way of forcing a particularly ruthless brand of extremist Christianity into American life. To that end, last week Republican presidential candidates Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, and Bobby Jindal made a joint appearance with Pastor Kevin Swanson at the National Religious Liberties Conference. Swanson is an extremist who emphasized that the Bible demands death for gays, despite claiming that he does not wish to see gay people actually executed until after the government gives them time to convert to heterosexuality and repent their sins.
Another speaker at the conference, Phillip Kayser, distributed a pamphlet calling for the death penalty not just for homosexuality but also for breaking the Sabbath, insulting God, or leaving the Christian religion. However, he said that killing the gays should only be necessary if they sodomize one another in the presence of three or more witnesses.
The conference’s organizers encouraged true Christians to disobey laws they disagreed with, and they asserted that religious liberty applied only to those who have true (i.e. conservative) Christian beliefs, adding that social justice and liberal politics exclude someone from being a true Christian.
Despite appearing at a conference in which Swanson urged Christians to disrupt gay weddings and to advocate for Biblical capital punishment, all three presidential candidates—two of whom are sitting government officials—I can’t find any evidence that any of them condemned Swanson’s remarks or took issue with the idea of government-sanctioned execution of gays.
Swanson, for his part, claimed that criticism of his views on the Rachael Maddow show and other programs was an effort by the liberal media to suppress Christianity.
In short, the kooky ideas about angels and pyramids and Noah’s Ark are a type of Trojan horse, designed to create “harmless” intrusions of Biblical literalism as wedges that can later be expanded into what, in their darkest hearts, reactionary fundamentalists hope will be a counter-revolution that will install an oppressive conservative theocracy.
Finally, I need to mention something that I don’t want to give too much attention. You will remember that in the spring a Canadian gigantologist named Scott Reaney (a.k.a. S. M. Raen) falsely accused me of stealing public domain newspaper articles from him and then accused me of being a member of ISIS and a pedophile. Reaney decided this week to start harassing me again, launching a blog called “Jason Colavito - Fraud” on the Canadian Blogspot website in which he repeated his libelous claims alongside pictures of me, writing them in the first person as though they were my words and larded with personal insults and juvenile name-calling. This would appear to be an act of what Canadian law terms “defamatory libel,” a criminal offense in Canada.
The trouble is that I don’t live in Canada, and I have no idea what the procedure is to try to stop an obviously troubled person from harassing me with a campaign of vile and disgusting lies. If there are any Canadian lawyers in my audience, I’d be grateful to find out what I can do from another country and with no money to sue him across borders.
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I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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