I’ve never been inclined to having heroes. I consider myself a heroic figure and was always supposed to be someone else’s. But possibly I haven’t earned it. So at the moment, I have two heroes. Right now, I’ll just name one of them: Dan Savage, who I recently had the pleasure of meeting at a book-signing in Washington, D.C.
I suppose between the fact that I would have never gotten to my prom were it not for gay guys, and the fact that my college (Oberlin) had one of the first, if not the first, gay student associations, I have always supported gay rights. I would say I was a big supporter, except I haven’t done anything in particular — or any major thing, anyway — for much of anyone, besides myself, over the last blah-batty-blah years.
But I will do this.
In his newish book, American Savage, Dan savages not just opponents of gay marriage, but also opponents of much stronger gun laws (because of the much higher rates we Americans kill or fellow countrymen, you know), and opponents of what President Obama tried to enact as a universal health care system, except the compromised version isn’t so hot. So Dan Savage refers to it as a lesser evil. Better than the evil of having no Obamacare (no longer considered a disparaging term by the Administration) at all.
In Chapter 15, “Still Evil. Less Evil. But Still Evil,” the author points out the use by the anti-healthcare faction a statement by one Jimmy John, owner of a sandwich chain. Jimmy John said that to provide health care to his employees, he would have to raise the price of every Jimmy John’s sandwich by 50 cents. Also, a faction of the so-called “Christian” right has opted to oppose Obamacare on the basis that it isn’t Christian, wouldn’t be sanctioned by the Bible (and I’ll leave you to read Savage’s book to hear that argument). One of these major opponents is the biblically-named Peter LaBarbera.
So Dan Savage ends Chapter 15 of American Savage with a satirical play that tickled my funnybone. Here it is, with apologies to worshippers of Quetzalcoatl. Love Dan as I do, he does seem to choose which god to insult. Safer, those gods of the extinct.
Jesus And the Huge Asshole
A one-act play by Dan Savage
Curtain. Jesus Christ is sitting in a garden in quiet contemplation. One of Jesus’s followers, Peter LaBarbera, approaches Jesus.
JESUS: Yes, Peter?
PETER: I want a Jimmy John’s sandwich and a bag of chips.
JESUS: Okay, Peter. So go get a sandwich and a bag of chips.
PETER: I can’t, Jesus.
JESUS: [After a long pause.] Why not, Peter?
PETER: Because, Jesus, the price of a Jimmy John’s sandwich just went up fifty cents thanks to Obamacare, and now I can’t afford to get a sandwich and a bag of chips. I can only afford a sandwich.
JESUS: You are an asshole.
PETER: Excuse me, Jesus?
JESUS: Are you deaf? I said, YOU ARE AN ASSHOLE. You’re seriously standing there bitching about having to pay a little more for a sandwich?
PETER: You don’t understand, Jesus, the government is forcing me to pay more–
JESUS: Shut the fuck up. I was crucified for your sins and all I asked in return was for you people to be nice to each other–
PETER: But the government–
JESUS: Shut the fuck up, Peter. All I asked was for your people to be nice to each other. And you’re teling me that you’re not willing to pay fifty cents more for a fucking sandwich so that the guy who made it for you can go see a doctor when he’s sick? You’re not a Christian.
PETER: But I go to church, Jesus, and I hate gay people so hard!
JESUS: Not good enough, Peter. Stop bothering me and go worship Thor or Quetzalcoatl or Isis instead, okay? I don’t want you calling yourself a Christian anymore. You’re a dick.
PETER: I can’t beieve Jesus just called me a dick.
JESUS: Yeah, well, you are a dick. I sacrificed my life for you, and you can’t sacrifice a bag of chips for the sandwich guy? Or scrounge up the extra fifty fucking cents? Dick.
PETER: With all due respect, Jesus, I don’t think you fully appreciate the implications of the Affordable Care Act. The state is using its coercive authority to collect taxes in order to provide health care to the poor in what amounts to a massive redistributionist welfare scheme that, yes, in the final accounting makes health care more available to some, Jesus, but it does so while driving up the cost of Jimmy John’s sandwiches for all. And this is not the kind of private charity that you encouraged your followers to engage in. This is socialism, Jesus. Socialism!
JESUS: Do you remember that render-unto-Caesar shit I talked about in the Bible? When I said, basically, “Pay your fucking taxes and don’t bitch about it.” Remember that?
PETER: Yes, of course, but–
JESUS: Shut up, Peter. When I said, “Render unto Caesar,” I was talking to Jews about paying taxes to Romans. Romanswho turned arond and spent the tax money they collected from Jews on swords and armor for Roman soldiers who they sent to Israel to oppress the Jews. The Romans were coercing the living shit out of the Jews, Peter, and I told them to shut up and pay up. And here you are bitching about the Caesar Obamulus using a few of your precious tax dollars to provide people with health insurance — people including you, members of your own family, other Christians, the guy who made your lousy sandwich, the kids of the guy who made your lousy sandwich. You have got to be fucking kiddig me.
PETER: But Jesus! It’s socialism!
JESUS: Love one another as I have loved you, the Greatest Commandment, do unto others as you wuld have themdo unto you, take care of the poor, take care of the sick, give away all that you have and follow me — does any of this shit ring a bell? Any of it, you stupid asshole?
PETER: Okay, Jesus! Okay! I’m sorry! I’ll go worship Quetzalcoatl instead!