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Why can't I own a Canadian?

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Why can't I own a Canadian? is the commonly used name for a satirical letter that went on to become an Internet meme and a source of confusing results from Google Suggest — the system employed by Google to suggest search strings based on what the user has already typed in to the search box.[1]

The letter was written as a response to Dr. Laura Schlessinger, a radio personality who at that time practiced Orthodox Judaism,[note 1] condemning homosexuality by citing Leviticus 18:22, which says "Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination." The letter is a rather snarky response, drawing attention to Schlessinger's cherry picking from scripture (although not mentioning Proverbs 31:10, which requires "virtuous women" to be seamstresses and clothing merchants, dress in purple, and make sure everyone else in their household is dressed in red.)

The exact origins and authorship of the letter, and whether it really was sent directly to Laura Schlessinger, are unknown. The name most frequently attached to it is James M. Kauffman, a special education scholar in Virginia who has since received a ton of funny hate mail.[2]

The text of the letter[edit]

The original source for the letter is unclear, so what follows is a version retrieved from the Humanists of Utah website:

Dear Dr. Laura:

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate. I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some of the other specific laws and how to follow them:

When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord — Leviticus 1:9. The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanlinessLeviticus 15:19-24. The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

Leviticus 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?

I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?

A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination — Leviticus 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this?

Leviticus 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?

Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Leviticus 19:27. How should they die?

I know from Leviticus 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

My uncle has a farm. He violates Leviticus 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? — Leviticus 24:10-16. Couldn't we just burn them to death at a private family affair like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Leviticus 20:14)

I know you have studied these things extensively, so I am confident you can help. Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal and unchanging.

Your devoted fan,



Many have used this letter and the logic behind it to mock particularly extreme members of the religious right. In 2000, it appeared in an episode of The West Wing, where President Bartlet used excerpts of it to respond to a character named Jenna Jacobs. In 2004, the letter was once again circulated against George W. Bush in order to make fun of his views of same-sex marriage.[3]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. This is considered more polite than describing her as being a bigoted and deluded wingnut armed with a microphone.