Saturday, December 8, 2007

Surely The Winning Idiocy

It's always a tough field to pick from when you try to pick out the stupidest or most pandering comment made by a Presidential candidate in any given election season. With the stellar* quality of some of the candidates, especially on the Republican side, it may seem hubristic to declare a tentative winner with so long left in the ever more interminable contest, but it really is difficult to see how anyone could top "Mitt" Romney's idiocy from yesterday's speech:
Freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom. [...] Freedom and religion endure together, or perish alone.
I have followed politics reasonably closely for all my adult life, and therefore bear little respect for any politician, and certainly the toxic meltdown** of the Republican party over the last few decades has produced many a jaw-droppingly stupid soundbite; I have also made a lifelong study of religion, and therefore bear little respect for any given religion, and certainly the Mormons are second only to the Scientologists in the jaw-dropping stupidity of their precepts.

Still: what the FUCK? Did that consummate ass just manage to out-stupid Shrub? I believe so.

I recognize that the kind of simple-minded unreasoning faith that Shrub espouses*** is sadly endemic to much of American culture; the proportion of voters who consider the ability to believe in pregnant virgins and re-animated corpses to be an asset in the person who gets to control the nuclear (or even nucular) weapons is truly retch-worthy.

I also recognize that the word 'freedom' is valued by politicians, particularly American politicians and most especially neoconservative Republican politicians, more for its value as a knee-jerk trigger to jingoism than for any actual semantic content. Still, I thought the blatant misuse of the term pioneered by Commander Codpiece would set the standard for some time; after all, justifying the rapid-fire reduction of actual American freedoms by claiming an existential threat from "those who hate our freedoms" takes an appalling level of chutzpah.

His would-be successor may well have outdone even that hypocrisy, though. Look at it again:

Freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom. [...] Freedom and religion endure together, or perish alone.
By this logic repressive theocracies simply don't exist; how could Iranians, for example, lack freedom when they are so deeply religious? Obviously the complete lack of open homosexuality noted by President Ahmadinejad is a completely free choice coincidentally shared by all Iranians, and the draconian prison sentences inspired directly from the hadith are simply an amusing cultural irrelevancy.

There must also be a terrifically inconspicuous subculture of strongly religious people hiding in countries like the Netherlands, to enable their manifest freedom. The easy attitudes toward drugs, sex, and political activism in Amsterdam, for example, must surely be the result of deeply committed (and deeply hidden) religious zealots.

You may wonder why the Founding Fathers, being the fans of freedom they were, were so perverse as to make a big point of separating church and state; didn't they know that religion and freedom are inseparable? Perhaps they simply lacked the perspective of being members of the Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter-Day Saints, a creed which was forced to abandon a major precept of their faith (polygamy) by force of law - backed up, as always, by force of arms - because it conflicted with the religious precepts of their more numerous and powerful neighbors.

No, of course not. It is simply that they were by and large rationalists, products of the Enlightenment who weren't in those days impelled quite so strongly to pander to the demented fuckwits who prefer faith to reason no matter what the cost in thwarted scientific progress, in domestic disharmony and division, and in endless needless wars abroad.

It's 2007, and here in America (the land that likes to consider itself the vanguard of the future) we can't even consider the idea that it might not be necessary or even desirable for our supreme leader to believe in millennia-old agrarian myths. No, we have to spend our time debating whether we can accept an overlay of transparent deception from a more recent era on top, or whether we must insist on leaders who acknowledge only the purest of old hokum in this age of science and reason.

That is the actual issue which grips what passes for minds amongst the great American public; not whether we can accept as a leader someone who espouses lunatic idiocy, but only whether the particular style of lunatic idiocy is sufficiently mainstream. The inertia of popular irrationality is all that saves us from an acolyte of L.Ron Hubbard getting hold of the levers of power. and I still don't doubt the sheeple would pick a Scientologist over a rationalist.

After all, what's 'free' about examining the evidence the world presents you with, applying your best reason and logic to it, elucidating for yourself how it all works, then independently deciding what to do about it?

No, 'free' means you believe in a religion; that unity lies in believing your church is right and the others are wrong, heretical; that freedom lies in submitting to the inabrogable commands of a supreme being; that truth lies in accepting the precepts of your faith despite any evidence.

War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength.


* For this purpose, 'stellar' includes black holes; strange beyond reason, dense beyond belief.

** Of course, the "Grand Old Party" has tended generally downward since Lincoln's tenure or thereabouts, but the rate of descent has markedly accelerated in recent times.

***Shrub's sincerity is known only to himself; I've never been able to decide if he's a shrewd bastard who pretends to stupidity for tactical advantage, or possibly through sheer love of duplicity, or if it's simply that his idiocy is so profound as to mimic genius.

1 comment:

Grumpy Lion said...


The entire speech was so objectionable that I wasted an entire day commenting the whole damn thing. But the bit you ranted on was incredibly foul, even for The Mitten. Or Willard as he likes to be called...