Read between the lines

What's the hidden message in ultraconservatism? And: Is God really in the details?


Salon Staff
April 29, 2005 9:39PM (UTC)

Private Life

Bad Thoughts V: "Go Cheney Yourself!"

E Fulton - 09:08 a.m. Pacific Time - April 27, 2005 - #6343 of 6379

Conservatives omit several important words in their whining about being oppressed, so in order to understand them you have to add those skipped words back in. For example:

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Liberals are against people of faith (forcing their faith on other people and intruding on the constitutional notion of religious freedom for all people).

Conservatives can't say anything (openly offensive to minority groups, factually incorrect, and otherwise lacking any substance) these days without (hearing other people say that hate-filled and meritless comments are inappropriate, which is really just more speech, not a limit on anyone's free speech at all, and) having (to hide behind some faux-rebel posture by claiming victimization from nonexistent) political correctness being (")forced(") on them.

We have to (use wedge issues to spark a) fight to (distract from our inability to create sound economic, social or foreign policies and) preserve our (political dominance among people for whom) morals (is an easy shorthand for "homophobia,") and (we hope that our) family (members and staff won't expose our hypocrisy and lack of) integrity (, so that we can lie about doing things we say we're) against (and continue our craven approach to) the attacks by (us against) homosexuals and liberals, whose (behavior is no more) immoral (than ours, but our) agenda (is more important, because it gives us power, even if our use of it) will ruin our country.

Christians are (most assuredly not) the most persecuted group in the country, (and) what (we want to do) with liberals (is to claim their call for social justice by) making sure that (we keep harping on false claims that) no one can say "Merry Christmas" and (insisting on inappropriate and sacrilegious uses of our own religious iconography to force the) prohibiting (of) any religious display (by government entities, which we know shouldn't be displaying religious messages anyway).

See? They're really just using a shorthand that makes interpreting their messages a little trickier, but once you see what's not being said in context, it makes perfect, if Machiavellian and totalitarian, sense.

Politics

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The war on gays

Tessie - 07:45 a.m. Pacific Time - April 26, 2005 - #72 of 87

It is perfectly legal -- and constitutional -- to discriminate against gays and lesbians.

Ah, yes, here it is, right here:

We the People of the United States, except the gay people, in Order to form a more perfect heterosexual Union, establish heterosexual Justice, insure domestic Tranquility for straight people, provide for the common defence of straight people, promote the general heterosexual Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves, but not the gay people, and our Posterity, of which the gay people can't have anyway, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United Heterosexual States of America.

Mind and Spirit

Atheism: We're here, He's not, get used to it!

schroeder - 08:48 p.m. Pacific Time - April 25, 2005 - #214 of 242

They're not equally valid theories. Strictly speaking, neither is a theory. A theory is what happens when someone observes something factual and tries to make sense of it. For example, Issac Newton noticed that everything tends to fall towards the earth. He came up with a theory that anything with mass exerts a force called gravity. Nice theory. Over time, experimentation and math both confirmed that this was in fact true, so it graduated from theory to accepted fact.

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Evolution is an accepted fact. There is a mountain of scientific evidence that supports the idea that evolution in fact actually happened, and virtually none that supports the idea that it didn't. There are theories about evolution -- why it happens, how quickly it happens, whether humans could ever evolve into superheroes with admantine claws -- but evolution itself is fact.

Intelligent Design is, in fact, the opposite of a theory. Instead of observing something and drawing a conclusion, I.D. proponents start with their conclusion -- we were created by a magical pixie -- and then try and corral whichever ideas might support that. It's the George W. Bush approach to science -- instead of saying, "Al Qaeda attacked us, therefore we should go after Al Qaeda", I.D. says, "We want to attack Iraq, and we'll use whatever justification convinces someone at any particular moment.

Besides, I.D. doesn't pass the common-sense test. If we're so intelligently designed, why do we have an appendix? Why is the most important organ in the body (the heart) serviced by two tiny, easily clogged articles? Why do horses, magnificent half-ton animals that can run as fast as most people drive, have tiny, brittle, ankles that, when broken, almost never heal properly? Why do dogs eat their own poop? Why are we smart enough to question every aspect of existence but not smart enough to come up with any answers? Why are we smart enough to see our self-destructive behavior but not smart enough to stop it?

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Because it's not a perfect system. We're not masterfully constructed -- we're just good enough to keep the generations rolling, as is everything in nature. I don't find that depressing. In fact, I find it inspiring. If we were designed by someone, then we're not much better than the computer I'm typing this into -- it's never going to do anything that isn't programmed into it.

But if we weren't designed, if we just happened, well that's pretty amazing, that all nature requires of us is to eat and procreate, but we went ahead and created art and poetry and the Pyramids and New York City and the birth control pill and the iPod and Buffy and Fear of a Black Planet and online message boards where people can waste their time discussing philosophy with strangers.

I often feel like we're just at the beginning of the interesting part of human history. The world was around for hundreds of millions of years before we were here, and we were here for tens of thousands before we learned to do anything interesting. But look at what we've done over the last 6,000, or the last 600, or the last 60. (The last six are maybe a bad example.) Now think about what we could do in the next 60, or the next 600, or the next 6,000, assuming we don't make the earth completely unlivable.

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One thing I hate about religion is that it takes all the credit away from people -- anything good that people sweated over gets ascribed to the Almighty. I may have mentioned this upthread -- a quarterback thanks God for a playoff win, when he should be thanking his offensive line and his receivers and that coach who pushed him in high school.

Likewise, saying that God designed everything and controls our fate takes credit away from us, and also robs us of our potential. If we've come this far on our own -- from living in caves to arguing philosophy and making art -- there's theoretically no limit to how far we can go. If we were designed, then all we can do is what we were made to do (for most of us, float in a lake of fire while a guy with trendy facial hair pokes us with a trident, apparently).

Posts of the week is an ongoing feature of Table Talk, Salon's vibrant community forum. Older posts of the week may be found here in TT. Want to join the discussion? Sign up here.


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