Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Bigoted Is as Bigoted Does


I always warn people that I have strong opinions that many people may not want to hear. I'm as partisan as I can be, and unapologetic for that. And sometimes we just don't like public figures, and sometimes they say things that make us crazy.

But honestly, to me it matters not whether someone is from the left or the right - a bigot is a bigot, and an extremist is never going to win people over. Take a look at Rick Santorum if you don't believe me - oh wait, he's gone. Yes, he influenced an election and appealed to the 25% of extremists in this country, but most of us are not that person, no matter what party we are. Eventually he had to leave the stage. Paul Ryan was just attacked by the Catholic Church for being uncharitable and misinterpreting the Bible, and yet he believes he is the most devout and worthy member of that august institution.


On the Democratic side, we have our share of  religious opinions, and while Atheists want to be considered the  most opened-minded and enlightened people for rejecting organized religion, they can also be zealots. Try this - read the comments under any news story about religion and you will find a comment by some pompous jerk mocking people for belief in the "flying spaghetti monster" or the "imaginary being in the sky." Why is that enlightened? You are just attacking people for their beliefs, which is what some (not all) evangelical zealots do.


If you want people to listen to your point of view, just do something simple - be polite, think about your audience, think about the taste level. Just think. That's what President Obama does and he doesn't make many of these stupid mistakes. Don't use hate as a weapon all the time - it's doesn't work.

Please go read a List of Logical Fallacies and some of you might see what you've been wrong that gets you into trouble on the Internets.

Ad hominem (‘personal attack’; ‘poisoning the well’): L. "to the man;"
Def- attacking a person’s habits, personality, or reputation;
Ex- "His argument must be false because people say he’s a liar."

Bulverism: (named for C.S. Lewis’s imaginary character: Ezekiel Bulver) Def- attacking a person’s identity (race/gender/religion);
Ex- "You only think that because you’re a (man/woman; Black/White;
Catholic/Baptist; Democrat/Republican; Christian/Atheist; etc.)"

Straw Man (‘misrepresentation’):
Def- misrepresenting the opponent's argument; exaggerating or oversimplifying
Ex- "Einstein's theory must be false! It makes everything relative--even truth!"

3. Either/or (‘false dilemma’):
Def- limiting the possible answers to only two; oversimplification;
Ex- "If you think that, you must be either stupid or half-asleep."

We see all of those and more in political debate. The Mitt Romney Etch-A-Sketch joke is an ad hominem, but the twist is that Romney's own manager stated that erasing past statements was part of an election strategy. So the joke became a delicious irony that  tickled the humor of the public. However, when Ted Nugent and Rush Limbaugh attack President Obama or Sandra Fluke in vile language and spread lies about them, it's just not funny. Lies are not always jokes - sometimes they are just slurs, insults, and crazy-speech.

On many political forums, people make "sweeping generalities" - or what I call "throw out the baby with the bathwater" statements about other parts of the country they know little or nothing about. If Rick Perry in Texas makes some stupid remark about "wantin' to secede" because mean old Obama is forcing him to take medicaid funding (horrors) then some idiot will automatically write "Why do we need Texas anyway? Let them secede or merge with Mexico" as if every person in Texas is a Rick Perry clone. People don't realize how those statements bother Democrats who live in those states and fight for every vote. Rick Perry doesn't speak for the vast majority of Texans, and even the most right-leaning Texan would probably like to keep his United States Citizenship, don't you think? In most cases, the red states are split 50/50 so that conservatives win by very small margins, even in presidential races. Things are not cut and dried the way they seem on political forum or TV shows.


Let's recall it wasn't that long ago that the Dixie Chicks were lambasted and shunned for having the gall to say that not everyone from Texas was identical to George Bush. Obviously a false equivalency doesn't exist among "all the people down in Texas." Or in Tennessee where I live, or in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, or even South Carolina. The South has a diversity beyond a red-state status, just as the more liberal "blue states" actually have their share of card-carrying NRA members, evangelicals, tea partiers, and apocalypse-any-minute survivalists. There is no "one type" of person from any state, and to dismiss people based on geography is a rampant type of bigotry on the internet. Democrats are just as guilty of this as Republicans who think everyone in Massachusetts or New York is pro-abortion and loves President Obama.

Some people think that everyone south of the Mason Dixon line is automatically (a) a Christian or (b) a bigot. And the converse is true - there are those who say everyone north of Kentucky is automatically enlightened and immensely free of bigotry or prejudice of any kind. To anyone who believes that, I must ask if they've followed the careers of Michelle Bachman in Minnesota or Scott Walker in Wisconsin? 'Cause they are up there, you know - in a northerly direction. Sarah Palin was way up northerty-north in Alaska - where she saw Russia from her porch. Her husband belonged to a secessionist group, but that doesn't convince me that everyone in Alaska should be cut loose from the country due to Todd's extremism. Californians sometimes call themselves "Left Coasters" which is a cute tag-line, but that big blue state also gave us Ronald and Nancy Reagan, as well as Arnold Schwarzenegger. The United States is like that, even if we love to broad-brush the conversation.

Both sides of the political debate use Bulverism, Straw Man, and False dilemma every day because we are a divided society and people have become so extreme that real discourse is almost not possible. "You're either with me or agin' me, dadgummit!" And the internet makes it easy to throw down the gauntlet and "take a stand" as if your life depends on it, or as if our society will crumble if they don't. I think that's how the Civil War started, but never mind . . . That doesn't mean that either side is "right" in all cases. Many right-wingers will say that "all" Democrats are communists and baby killers, for instance, when most Democrats are actually just pro-choice, not pro-abortion. Many on the left will say that Christians are either Evangelicals or Tea Party members - ignoring the many Christians who work daily to re-elect President Obama.

It doesn't matter who is spewing this nonsense - it's not logical. Everyone starts to sound like Archie Bunker. A glance at any discussion about the Trayvon Martin case proves there is plenty of bigotry to go around on all sides. It's shocking.

I've always been both a Democrat and a Christian. That doesn't mean I believe that the Bible is correct about everything, but that also doesn't mean that Jesus was wrong about everything. I find the teachings of Jesus quite soothing after a day of reading insults to women, talk of cutting children out of food programs, and hate-filled screeds about shooting the President or anyone who gets in the way of gun rights. I don't think Jesus would have a chance of even getting on the radio in these days and times, and if he did the Left would say he was too "mild-mannered" and too bipartisan, while the Right would slam him for persecuting the money-lenders and saying that rich people aren't bound for glory.


Please go read some famous quotes from smart people in the past if you want your words to resonate:

"We must make a personal attack when there is no argumentative basis for our speech”
~ Marcus Tullius Cicero

"A bigot delights in public ridicule, for he begins to think he is a martyr." ~ Sydney Smith

Bigot: One who is obstinately and zealously attached to an opinion that you do not entertain.”
~ Ambrose Bierce

And to those I would add the old proverb: "Two wrongs don't make a right."


To me it's just as bad for Monica Crowley on Fox to attack Sandra Fluke with some homophobic slur as it is for anti-bullying gay activist Dan Savage to attack Christian teenagers as "pansy-aZZes" for walking out on his captive-audience diatribe against the Bible. I recently wasted a couple of days gathering their statements and public reaction on my other blog, Snark Amendment because I think it's good to archive this stuff, which is ephemeral and tends to get erased when no one is looking.

And these are just great examples of two-sides to the same coin (to be proverbial again).

Photobucket Photobucket

Monica Crowley Becomes a Bigoted Internet Meme

Irony Lost on Dan Savage as He Bullies Christians (Now with Nearly Non-Apology Apology

I love the irony and the jokes, and of course twas ever thus that freedom of speech also means freedom to make a fool of yourself by acting like a mean little girl as the bitter Crowley did, or stepping in your own bulls****, to quote the ever-eloquent Savage (who seems to know only one unimaginative noun).

A blogger writing in near obscurity -- like me -- who expects that few people will ever read this post, can have a fixed point of view and maybe only offend someone about once a month, but when you have a large audience hanging on your every word, then you have to engage brain much more before putting mouth in gear. And also remember that the internet is forever. That is something Mitt Romney keeps forgetting as he rewrites his old opinions on everything from Student Loans to Osama Bin Laden. We remember this stuff, we really do. And we will call you out on it!


  1. SIP, I am very impressed. Since I just found out about your new site today, I'm certain I have missed some important information. I wanted to comment on this post because I think it is very important. Living in Texas, most of my friends are Republicans. We usually try to avoid politics in our discussions, but we don't believe the one other is stupid.

    1. Thanks for the comment! I was hoping you would find your way here. :)

      I feel the same way in Tennessee - I don't see the other side as stupid in any way. But there is often a vocal minority leading the Republican pack here in my state, and they give us a bad reputation for ridiculous legislation. Basically TN is split right down the middle philosphically, and we have a Republican Governor who is a centrist in that he is just as environmentally friendly as Governor Bredeson was before him. We also have many independent voters who don't identify with either party. The main thing with all the so-called red states, people should realize that it's a mixed bag and not all one view.

      Not everyone in North Carolina is a bigot, for instance, even though they passed that anti-gay marriage amendment yesterday. Large groups of voters around major cities like Raleigh and Ashville voted against it, yet people are calling for a boycott of the whole state. But NC is likely to swing for Obama in November, which is why our party in TN sends groups across the border to get out the vote.