“Just look at the bloodlines”

12 10 2008

Times have changed. Time was when an Ann Coulter could spout off a line like “We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity,” or muse dreamily about what might have been if Timothy McVeigh had bombed the New York Times, and it would barely have raised more than a guffaw among the right-wing chattering classes. It certainly wouldn’t have harmed Bush’s re-election prospects.

In 2008, the ritual brainfarting that ensues each time a drooling authoritarian follower decides to open its mouth is embarrassing the Republican presidential team. Said team, of course, executed the initial shooting of itself in the foot with its desperate attempts to link Obama to terrorism. As this footage of a McCain rally in Ohio demonstrates (and where you’ll hear the “bloodlines” soundbite), where authoritarian leaders lead, authoritarian followers follow, with consequences by turns outrageous, racist and stupid:

There’s even more in this NBC report, in which political analyst Richard Wolffe advises the Republican team to take a leaf out of the Australian conservatives’ playbook and engage in dogwhistle politics rather than foghorn politics which, he suggests, will turn off the swing voters and independents.

As you can see, much has changed since 2004. The fallout from the Obama=terrorist smear campaign now has McCain and Palin at loggerheads.

HT to OK WASSUP and Evolutionary Middleman.


22 09 2008

YourMorals.org is a website produced by a group of social psychologists researching the interplay between morality and politics. In their own words:

Our goal was to create a site that would be useful and interesting to users, particularly ethics classes and seminars, and that would also allow us to test a variety of theories about moral psychology. One of our main goals is to foster understanding across the political spectrum. Almost everyone cares about morality, and we want to understand –and to help others understand — the many different ways that people care.

This is a laudable project, although all it tells us essentially is that which we should already know: that conservatives and progressives not only can have different ideas about right and wrong on at least some moral questions, but will also differ on what morality itself is all about. (Progressives emphasise the harm principle; for conservatives, emotion and disgust are also important.) Still, the culture wars can only benefit by the promotion of a more widespread understanding of where the opposition is coming from.

YourMorals.org is not a single test but rather a series of tests, with more tests being added to and subtracted from the list in accordance with the needs of the researchers. You have to register with an email address in order to take the tests, but I think this kind of research is worth supporting.

Also worth a read is an Edge article by one of the researchers, Jonathan Haidt. In “What Makes People Vote Republican?” Haidt argues that Republicans have been successful because they have a better grasp of the “full specrum of American moral concerns,” and if the Democrats wish to replicate that success they should look for ways to appeal to those concerns—ingroup/loyalty, purity/sanctity and authority/respect (the three Durkheimian foundations, as Haidt puts it).

HT: The Barefoot Bum.

Things they’d have difficulty believing in Salt Lake City XIX

22 06 2008

The week in fundie . . .

  1. Religion as child abuse: members of a religious cult known as the Grail Movement kept a seven-year-old boy “chained in a closet as relatives hacked off pieces of his flesh to eat.” The Grail Movement makes the Manson family sound like the Hanson family: in 2000, its spiritual leader Jiří Adam “had his followers sign all their property over to him and forced the women into hard labor on at least two of his properties.” Detectives compared the victims to Auschwitz inmates. (Via Pharyngula)
  2. Anti-gay activist and quack Paul Cameron is in Russia to support the local authorities’ crackdown on gay rights marches, and welcomes the embrace of his ideas by the sociology department at Moscow State University, a school which has

    distributed a brochure to all students that approvingly quotes the ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion,’ blames Freemasons and Zionists for the world wars, and claims that they control U.S. and British policy and the global financial system.

    (Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion)

  3. The Bilerico Project reports on a gay rights supporter who collapsed at a demonstration outside San Francisco’s City Hall–to the cheers of a group of loving Christian anti-gay protestors, one of whom was chanting “Satan Got You!” and “What is the Devil whispering in your ear?” (Via Dispatches From the Culture Wars) Read the rest of this entry »