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January 12, 2008


"It's great for students and great for skeptics who have a short attention span, like Bill Handel."

Bill managed to make it through law school, pass the bar exam, build a successful practice, and build a successful radio program in the second largest market in the country. We all should have such an attention span :).

If one is a skeptic or a student in history or classics this book may do more harm than good. It happens that Amazon has some cool features including one that allows one to search prospective books for key words.

So I went to the linked Amazon site and went to the "search this book" section. Noting the claims on the jacket, I typed in "limited government" and got a few hits. among them was this:

"1. on Page 59:
"... "The Bible is one of the most genocidal books in history," agrees the leftist theoretician Noam Chomsky. "The first thing [governments should] do is ban the Old Testament. ..."

Sounds bad, but ever the skeptic, I googled the quotes and found out the following.

"You can find things in the traditional religions which are very benign and decent and wonderful and so on, but I mean, the Bible is probably the most genocidal book in the literary canon. The God of the Bible—not only did he order His chosen people to carry out literal genocide—I mean, wipe out every Amalekite to the last man, woman, child, and, you know, donkey and so on, because hundreds of years ago they got in your way when you were trying to cross the desert—not only did He do things like that, but, after all, the God of the Bible was ready to destroy every living creature on earth because some humans irritated Him.

This is from an interview with Wallace Shawn in the autumn 2004 edition of Final Edition.


I could find no SOURCED reference to "history" as opposed to "literary canon" and I checked at least 20 or so references. One has to wonder if Hutchinson actually read Chomsky as opposed to quote mining on the internet.

Going on I checked, "The first thing [governments should] do is ban the Old Testament." + noam chomsky and got 0 hits. However if one googles, "The first thing they would do is ban the Old Testament." + noam chomsky we get the following:

"Take any country that has laws against hate crimes, inspiring hatred and genocide and so on. The first thing they would do is ban the Old Testament. There's nothing like it in the literary canon that exalts genocide, to that extent. ..."

Talk at the University of Houston, Texas, October 18, 2002


The first half of the sentence calls into question the thoroughness of Mr. Hutchinson's research, the last half his honesty as the inclusion of [governments should] hardly seems justified by any honest reading of what Chomsky actually said. Also Chomsky is low hanging fruit that conservative hacks find easy to pick - using Chomsky, like Ward Churchill, as a foil is just too easy.

If one comes up with something this problematic with the first hit on a random search, one has to ask if recommending this as a source on the truthfulness of the Bible is a good idea. I also searched out several other terms and found other problematic references.

It turns out that this PIG book is part of a series by the conservative publishing house, Regnery.


There is a marketing dictum that narrowing the focus broadens the appeal. Introducing debatable, at best, and spurious, at worst items into ones witness seems strange. If one was concerned with spreading the Gospel, why choose a book that will needlessly turn a large segment of the population off to it? Just asking.

The absence of footnotes is a problem. In my opinion, concern for historical and theological correctness should make the use of footnotes for quotes such as these, essential.

I've heard of people who like Chomsky's ideas and people who dislike Chomsy's ideas. This is the first time I've seen them described as "low-hanging fruit." Good stuff.

By the way, good old wikipedia (which is neither necessarily good and definitely not old), seems to show a rather favorabl opinion of Chomsky and his ideas. Not "low hanging fruit" at all:

What follows is from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noam_Chomsky

Avram Noam Chomsky (Hebrew: אברם נועם חומסקי) (born December 7, 1928) is an American linguist, philosopher, political activist, author, and lecturer. He is an Institute Professor and professor emeritus of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Chomsky is credited with the creation of the theory of generative grammar, considered to be one of the most significant contributions to the field of linguistics made in the 20th century. He also helped spark the cognitive revolution in psychology through his review of B. F. Skinner's Verbal Behavior, in which he challenged the behaviorist approach to the study of behavior and language dominant in the 1950s. His naturalistic approach to the study of language has affected the philosophy of language and mind. He is also credited with the establishment of the Chomsky hierarchy, a classification of formal languages in terms of their generative power.

According to the Arts and Humanities Citation Index in 1992, Chomsky was cited as a source more often than any other living scholar during the 1980–1992 time period, and was the eighth-most cited scholar in any time period.[2][3][4]

Beginning with his critique of the Vietnam War in the 1960s, Chomsky has become more widely known—especially internationally—for his media criticism and politics. He is generally considered to be a key intellectual figure within the left wing of United States politics. Chomsky is widely known for his political activism, and for his criticism of the foreign policy of the United States and other governments.

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