I’m Spartacus! Er… no…ummm, wait a minute!

I just heard an interesting thing as I was flipping past Sean Hannity’s show (I always flip past unless I spot a guest I am interested in).

Michelle Malkin, who is usually apt when she speaks, made a strikingly bad analogy tonight.

Hannity asked her if Pres. Obama could fight off many states passing laws along the lines of the Arizona law.

As most wonks are prone to do on TV she launched herself boldly at the question:

Well, I think that there’s a Spartacus effect here, and you remember the famous scene from the movie where Spartacus stood up and so many others stood up with him – and it was the massive effect of so many people braving "the slings and arrows" that caused an immunity, because… no, they can’t sue everybody ….

I think she forgot something really important about that movie.

You know the famous scene (without the little Shakespearean reference, of course)…


Hey Michelle.  Remember what happens next?

All the rebels get crucified together with Spartacus, instead of just Spartacus alone, remember?

I wouldn’t call that immunity.  Not exactly immunity.

The Obama Administration can’t sue everyone, is it?

See, Law VIII of the Fat Man’s Laws of the House of God.

Now if she was thinking instead of the original colonies hanging together, so that would not hang separately, that would be a different matter.

Which makes me remember one of the coolest themes of any show I have ever heard on TV, the beginning of the John Adams series on HBO a while back…. with that great waving "Join, Or Die" flag flapping away and the glimpse of other flags from the period.


Okay… I’m done.

Except for the fact that whenever I think of the old Spartacus movie, I get the sound and image of Tony Curtis with that heavy Bronx accent introducing himself as a poet named Antoninus, "a singher of swongs".

Okay… I am really done.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. JPG says:

    Father Z.,
    With all due respect I do not recall rule VII of the House of God. Certain ones bear mentioning such as “if I ever have a BMS(best medical student) who does not triple my work I’ll kiss his feet. I have lived this. As to the John Adams everyone should read the book as well as see the series.
    For years it seemed Jefferson has been glorified over Adams and McCullough’s book extols the virtues of a President who worked hard, was learned, and lived frugally and did not die in debt. Although personally ambitious he discouraged his family from dynastic aspirations and the sense of entitlement which follows. A true model of the American ideal. [And the theme is great, too!]

  2. Supertradmum says:

    I am convinced that many in America do not have a clue that this present president intends to limit democracy as we know it as his philosophical background is not only socialist in economic matters, but truly tyrannical in that he does not trust us.

    Today a Clinton appointed judge overthrew the police ability to check on immigration status. All Spartacus’ followers were killed-that is part of the point of the movie. But, the spirit of true freedom goes on, even in the face of martyrdom.

  3. Clinton says:

    Law VIII is “they can always hurt you more”.

    This administration has limitless access to money and lawyers, and also seems to have no qualms about demonizing any group standing
    in its way.

    What to do? As Preserved Killick would say, “Wise as serpents ain’t in it!”.

  4. Jerry says:

    @JPG – Law VIII is “They can always hurt you more.”

    Law VII is “Age + BUN = Lasix dose.” I don’t think you want that one. :)

  5. Athanasius says:

    I’m glad to see you are not bamboozled by heretic hannity.

  6. Spartacus is beloved of Communists. I think Christians have other role models from classical antiquity.

  7. Ed the Roman says:

    I skip Hannity even when the guest is interesting.

    It’s funny, the slamming of FNC I hear, and the disbelief that I watch it, is almost all based on two FNC shows that I do not watch.

  8. Andrew says:

    A much more significant law is being overlooked here. It is described by St. Jerome in his Letter No. 7:

    “In my rustic vernacular country, God is the stomach, and folks live from day to day and holiness is determined by wealth. Moreover, the pot has a fitting cover (as the popular saying goes), Lupicinus the Priest (here we can substitute POTUS): namely that an inexperienced captain is in charge of a leaking ship, and the blind lead the blind into a pit, and such is the leader, as those who are being lead.”

    What’s the point of all this? We got a leader whom we have collectively chosen. We’re sort of looking in the mirror when we look at him.

  9. dans0622 says:

    Hannity is repetitive but ok on the radio. I’ve never watched his tv show. Malkin almost always strikes me as being an angry woman with a superiority complex. I hope and pray both of them will fully practice and preach their faith….soon.

    Supertradmum: many in America don’t have a clue about anything of importance. But, they can tell you how long Lindsay Lohan has been in jail or repeat, verbatim, Mel Gibson’s latest rant.


  10. irishgirl says:

    That ‘John Adams’ theme was pretty cool, Father Z!

    Wish we had leaders of his calibre these days-we’re stuck with dishonest, corrupt, and dangerous ones.

    Amen, Dan! I agree with your response to Supertradmum!

  11. jmhj5 says:

    Well done Father!!!! You use your gifts very well! Thank You!

  12. Tantum Ergo says:

    Hold on there, Fr. Z… Michelle Malkin may have something there after all.
    Ages ago,Saturday Night Live ran an episode called “What if Sparticus had a Piper Cub?”
    Kinda makes you think.

  13. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Mark Scott Abeln –

    Of the top of my head (instead of doing any proper Spartacus and ‘Spartacism’ homework): could it be that Spartacus is made into a sort of completely this-worldly figure, hopefully looking to, and working for – by justifiable revolutionary violence – the ‘glorious proletarian future’: a figure meant to substitute for Our Lord in the religion-ersatz (or is it ersatz religion?) of Communism?

  14. Sid says:

    I must disagree with JPG on one point. Currently Jefferson is not glorified over Adams. On the contrary, both the Cultural Marxists (who control our universities) and the Neoconservatives (Hannity and Malkin among them) denigrate Jefferson. The current cult of Adams is a Neoconservative project. The both Neoconservatives and Cultural Marxists love anything Federalist and centralist.

    Point of fact: Adams’ glorious moment was keeping the USA out of the French Revolutionary Wars by defusing the XYZ affair. Adams’ other glorious moment: seeing the danger of Hamilton and keeping him out of Adams’ administration. Alas, his reputation is ruined by the Alien and Sedition Acts (the forerunner to the Patriot Act), just as Jackson’s reputation is ruined by the Indian Removal Bill and the Force Bill.

    Point of Fact: The Federal US was the creature of sovereign states in a compact with each other, setting up the Federal authority as the agent of the states. Of the states, by the states, for the states. This was clearly understood in the period 1787-1790. Had Story’s, Webster’s, and Lincoln’s view of the Constitution (supremacy of the Federal authority over the states) been held in 1787, the Constitution would never have been ratified. As it was NC and RI didn’t ratify it until the Bill of Rights was adopted.

    Point of conjecture: Someone in AZ has been reading the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions.

    And Adams’ most distinguished descendant rightly called politics “the systematic organization of hatreds”.

  15. JulieC says:

    Nice to see the Don’t Tread on Me flag on the John Adams intro. I keep a large yellow one in my garage handy at a moment’s notice for waving at Tea Party rallies.

  16. asophist says:

    We Americans have nothing to be proud of in our 18th century revolution. My own ancestors, who remained rightly loyal to their sovereign (albeit they were Anglicans) and were forced to flee to New Brunswick after the revolutionaries burnt down their home, took away their cattle and all other means of sustinence and livelihood and threatened their very lives (in fact, some were lost). No, John Adams has no hero value for me and mine.

  17. PostCatholic says:

    The feeling was mutual, asophist:

    “Can a free government possibly exist with the Roman Catholic religion?”
    -Letter to Thomas Jefferson, May 19, 1821

    “The Church of Rome has made it an article of faith that no man can be saved out of their church, and all other religious sects approach this dreadful opinion in proportion to their ignorance, and the influence of ignorant or wicked priests.
    Diary and Autobiography

    “God is an essence that we know nothing of. Until this awful blasphemy [the divine incarnation] is got rid of, there never will be any liberal science in the world.”

    Both Presidents Adams and their wives are interred at United First Parish (Unitarian) in Quincy, an active Unitarian Universalist congregation. John Adams donated its pulpit.

  18. PostCatholic says:

    I’ve just had it pointed out to me that the last Adams quote which I posted above is an amalgamation by the BBC of two sentences written in separate letters a few years apart. While John Adams did say those things, he did not say them together. The quote is therefore spurious, and in the interest of fair debate and honesty, please consider it withdrawn.

  19. JonM says:

    What aphorist’s post reminds us of is the need for balance in assessing early American history.

    What we like to ignore as Catholics is that the Founders of America were uniformly Freemasons, deeply opposed to the one holy catholic and apostolic Church, and generally were materialists/naturalists.

    The concept that we the people have the right to rebel seems to directly contradict what Jesus preached and how the Apostles conducted their ministries.

    As aphorist points out, Loyalists were not afforded the same treatment as those supporting the break from England.

    History is nuanced and therefore much more interesting.

  20. Jordanes says:

    JonM said: The Founders of America were uniformly Freemasons, deeply opposed to the one holy catholic and apostolic Church, and generally were materialists/naturalists.

    Charles Caroll of Carrollton also was a Freemason, deeply opposed to the Church to which he belonged?

    George Washington became a Freemason in his youth, but after a few years he dropped out and just had no use for that society any longer. He was a *former* Mason (or maybe he just said that to throw people off the trail of the conspiracy?).

    Most of the U.S. Founders were Protestants, not materialists/naturalists, though there were a number of Unitarians, Deists and agnostics among them too.

  21. JonM says:


    Before I go further, it is important not to think I am working with only black and white. Rather, my intention was to support asophist in his comments that man made heroes often get glamorized, twisted, and dramatized. This is certainly the case in Simon Bolivar, Mazzini, Churchill, and Bismark.

    Early American history is no different.

    Regarding Charles Caroll, he is believed to be the only Catholic signer to the Declaration of Independence. Assuming that he was a practicing Catholic and assuming he did intend to keep his faith as the anchor of his live, that does not therefore mean that whatever he did was correct.

    Regarding George Washington, he was not a former Freemason. Lithographs are pretty common of him in full masonic dress during his presidency. Further, he wrote positively of the network of Freemasonic lodges in America.

    Many Catholics today don’t exactly exhibit excellent public practice of the faith. So, over 200 years ago you can rest assured that many Protestants were lukewarm, hetrodox (by their standards), and generally opposed to the supernatural.

    It simply cannot be denied that the spirit of humanist enlightenment reigned in that era. Again, the point is that there has to be balance to the discussion. Most of the Founders of America had nothing but pure venom for the Church and it is wrong to simply pretend this isn’t important.

  22. Jordanes says:

    Jon, Charles Carroll certainly was the only Catholic signer to the Declaration of Independence (unless one or more of the other signers kept their Catholicism a complete secret). He was indeed a practicing Catholic, and I’ve never read anything about him to suspect the authenticity of his faith. But yet, it does not mean that whatever he did was correct. My point was that he wasn’t a Freemason, not that he was right to sign the Declaration of Independence.

    Regarding George Washington, he was not a former Freemason.

    To correct what I said, I admit “former” Freemason is inaccurate. I should have said “inactive,” not former. Well, mostly inactive.

    Lithographs are pretty common of him in full masonic dress during his presidency.

    They show him in Masonic dress as president, but I have not yet found any such lithographs and paintings that were made during his presidency, however — only those that were made after his death by Masons. I’m not saying they don’t exist, but I’ve only seen 19th century lithographs and paintings of him as a Freemason.

    Further, he wrote positively of the network of Freemasonic lodges in America.

    True –, though it’s interesting that so little primary sources exist to back up most claims of Washington’s Masonic activities or to authenticate many of the letters he is said to have written. He also reportedly said in a letter of 25 Sept. 1798, in reference to whether or not he was an active Mason, in order to “to correct an error …, of my presiding over English Lodges in this country. The fact is I preside over none, nor have I been in one more than once or twice within the last thirty years….”

    If that statement is correct, then most of the Masonic activities that Masons have traditionally claimed for him (in the absence of actual historical evidence, mind you) could not be genuine. Some of the activities are documented, but most are just later Masonic traditions or legends.

    Anyway, the fact remains that the American Founders were not uniformly Masons (whatever the Masons themselves may say), and while a good number were sternly opposed to Catholicism, it doesn’t appear to be true of most. There’s really a lot less “there” there than some people think when it comes to the thesis that the United States was birthed by the Freemasons.

  23. Supertradmum says:

    Charles Carroll, sometimes called Carrolton, was indeed a practicing Catholic and a member of a prestigious Catholic family, which included in extension the first bishop of the United States, John Carroll. The Catholic laymen of that family signed a congratulations to Washington on his election. The history of the family is well-documented and a shortened version may be found at http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03381b.htm

    There has never been any historical doubt as to Charles Carroll’s Catholicity. As to Freemasonry, Pope Clement Xll, in 1738 was the first Pope to condemn the movement, followed by re-statements and clarifications of this condemnation by Benedict XIV in 1751, Pius VII in 1821, Leo XII in 1825, Pius VIII in 1825, Pius IX in 1846,1864,1865, 1869;Leo XIII in 1881, 1882, 1884, 1887, 1890, 1892, 1884, 1902; Baltimore Convocation of Bishops in 1884; Benedict XV in 1917; John Paul LL and Cardinal Ratzinger n 1993.

    As to Catholics or Anglicans at the time of the American Revolution actually knowing of the original condemnations, that is another story. Because of the suppression of the Jesuits at a crucial time and because of the lack of correspondence in the important years of the birth of our nation, one would have to prove that all Catholics knew and non-Catholics would know of the dangers and condemnations of Masonry. I imagine some of the Masons knew, as the condemnations were repeated in Europe and promulgated in anti-Catholic literature there.

    But, to state that Catholics in early American politics were Masons is a gross exaggeration and over-simplification. As to non-Catholics, one can only say that some of the Founding Fathers were Masons and some were not. Masons, PBS and the History Channel like to make claims that America is and always was a successful Masonic experiment. This also is a gross exaggeration made to make Masonry look like a positive, instead of a negative and downright evil movement.

  24. annieoakley says:

    Another great song re John Adams was sung by his character in the film “1776”:


  25. Jack Hughes says:

    I quite like the opening theme to the HBO series (never seen it)

    Regarding aphorist’s post I’m reminded of the ‘Loyalist’ Charicter Col. Leyroy in the “Sharpe” novels and Alexander De Tourqville’s quote “The American Republic will endure until Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with its own money”

    small musings from a monarchist Brit who despises the current government, the dunderheads we kicked out and wishes that the Royal Family would actually behave.

  26. Clinton says:

    Regarding the government’s lawsuit against Arizona– this administration is suing not on the basis of any unconstitutionality of the
    Arizona law, but because this state law duplicates and pre-empts federal laws that the federal government does not choose to enforce.

    I’m not a lawyer, but isn’t the federal government in this lawsuit telling all 50 states that not only can they not pass their own laws
    when an administration fails to enforce federal legislation, but also that states cannot enforce federal laws and regs? Would that mean
    states could ignore, say, federally mandated speed limits and minimum drinking ages until Washington sends down some feds to enforce
    those laws? Offhand, I can think of dozens of federal regulations I’d love to be able to blow off.

    I know both Holder and Napolitano admitted that neither had bothered to read the 10 pages of the Arizona law. Is it possible that
    they’ve both brought that same level of zeal and competence to the framing of this lawsuit?

  27. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Perhaps a sort of snapshot of the (bewildering) complexity of the European situation: before becoming Holy Roman Emperor in 1745, Francis I had been initiated into a lodge at the Hague by Lord Chesterfield in 1731 and later that year became master in a lodge Sir Robert Walpole, the Prime Minister of England, had at his home; he was apparently undaunted by the Bull ‘In eminenti’ of 1738 for 1743 found him Grand Master of the lodge at Vienna when it was closed by order of his wife, the Empress Maria Theresa of Austria.

    In 1974, John Robert’s wrote (in ‘The Mythology of the Secret Societies’), of ‘In eminenti’, “If we try to penetrate the motives which underlay the first Bull, we cannot hope for certainty until we have access to much better documentation than is at present available”: I do not know if the last 36 years have provided that yet, or not. Apparently, there is no certain gloss on what Clement XII meant (and Benedict XIV repeated in the Bull ‘Providas’ in 1751) about “other just and reasonable motives known to us”.

    I do not know that Benedict XVI would agree with Clement XII that the association of persons of different religious faiths was in itself bad: Charles Carroll certainly did not find it so for the purposes of signing the Declaration of Independence or, later, as Senator in the First Federal Congress of 1789, when (together with Daniel Carroll in the House) he had “the honor of shaping the first Ten Amendments, the American Bill of Rights” (to quote an address by Peter Guilday, digested in ‘The Church and Its People’ (1956) ). (In 1765, on his return after an education at the English Jesuit College of St. Omer and the College of Louis le Grand in Paris, and the Middle Temple in London, Charles Carroll as a Catholic was a disenfranchised citizen of Maryland, denied the public exercise of his religion.)

    Of another of the grounds stated in ‘In eminenti’, “the misuse of the oath of secrecy”, Roberts writes, the Pope “could not be asked to tolerate a secrecy which endangered the practice of confession, and, therefore, the sacrament of absolution”. Interestingly, John Adams objected to this same Masonic secrecy, or as he puts it, “the wonderful power of enabling and compelling all men, and I suppose, all women to keep a secret. If this art can be applied, to set aside the ordinary maxims of society, and introduce politics and disobedience to government, and still keep the secret, it must be obvious that such science and such societies may be perverted to all the ill purposes which have been suspected” (in the ‘Salem Gazette’, 25 Dec. 1798, as quoted by Vernon Stauffer in the book version of his doctoral dissertation, ‘New England and the Bavarian Illuminati’ (Columbia UP, 1918: variously reprinted – I have that by the curious ‘Invisible College Press’ in 2005) ).

    It must be noted that in 1798, the public question of whether or not American Masonry had been secretly hijacked by the Illuminati – as had demonstrably been the case a decade earlier in Bavaria and elsewhere in Europe, was an exceedingly lively and controversial one.

    Reading (as I work my way through Gustav Schnürer’s fascinating study of the Catholic Church and culture in the 18th century, first published in 1941, but, so far as I can see, not yet available in English) about the ‘absolutist statist’ ambitions of generations of various monarchs such as “His Catholic Majesty” of Spain, France’s “Most Christian King”, and the “Rex Fidelissimus” of Portugal, among others, to the emphatic disadvantage of the Church – for example, even Maria Theresa in 1750 emphatically renewed the state ban on the publication of the Breviary text of the Office of Pope St. Gregory VII because it referred to him as a “fearless fighter” against Emperor Henry IV – I suspect the Carrolls and all their brothers and sisters in the Faith in the American Republic were happily far better off than countless subjects in formally ‘Catholic’ monarchies.

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