Sunday, May 8, 2011

Failed Messiah nothistory

The blog failedmessiah.com made a great nothistory pick this week.  The orthodox Jewish paper Der Zitung (literally, "The Newspaper") published this picture:



Notice the problem?  The invisible Hillary Clinton.  It seems they find photographs of women inherently sexually provocative, so they resorted to fauxtography.  This is nothistory at two levels.  First, because it misrepresents the event itself, and second, because the idea that a policy of removing women's images is somehow a holy act is a false reading of the history of Jewish teachings, specifically the ancient teaching of geneivat da'at (literally, "stealing knowledge/thought"), which forbids misrepresentation or deceit.  This teaching originated in second century Babylon and has been reinforced and expanded upon by Judaic scholars ever since. 

There is no historic Jewish teaching or recognized rabbinic authority that provides a blanket condemnation of the viewing of female images.  The only discussion of the issue that I can find or have ever heard of was some years ago in reference to one of the Holocaust museums' images of nude concentrations camp victims.  Some orthodox Jews protested that the images violated the modesty of the women, because of their nudity; there was no claim that the portrayal of women per se was sinful and no objection to the images of clothed women.  For the tortured logic of using a false reading of historical teachings to justify misrepresenting a historical event, Der Zitung wins a nothistory squared award.

Kudos, Failed Messiah.

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