Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Do you cherish liberty, or not?

or, Why I am mostly done with "mainstream conservatives"

LibertyConservatives in America today - or maybe it is just Republicans - have morphed mostly into a strange parody of the 1970s Democrats. Big government is OK as long as we suggest it. (Is the prescription drug program the largest entitlement since Social Security?) Not to mention the expansion of police powers under the war on (some) drugs. Everything is forgiven - pork, etc. - as long as conservative Christian views are maintained.

This rant has been a long time in the making, and to better explain I am going to break the first rule of Fight Club. I had been a member of a blogging community of conservative women, namely the Cotillion. But one day in a discussion, it became clear to me that since I was not heterosexual and married I was a second class member. I didn't have the same "perspective" as the mothers in the group. (Maybe I was a third class member because a couple of single women were getting worked over nearly as much as me.) Since that wasn't acceptable, I opted out. It cost me about 80 or so permanent links to the blog plus any number of links to individual posts, (killed my standing in the TTLB ecosystem!) but some things aren't worth the hassle.

It became clear that polarization in politics was complete. Both the Left (who I argued with regularly) and the Right have adopted dogmatic positions - usually diametrically opposed - and are firmly encamped. No discussion is possible. To admit discussion is to question the dogma, and "religious wars" will be fought defending the dogma. No study, no evidence, no argument will change anyone's position. That is the nature of dogma.

The surprise the Republicans experienced on election night is part of this. They don't even consider that they are pissing off people. They are right, and everyone else is in league with the devil. (Why change leadership after a defeat? We were right, it is just that people are too stupid to agree with us. That should win lots of votes in the next election.) So when their view of the world conflicts with reality? They turn up O'Reilly and have faith in secret poles, or that the poles are biased.... I'm surprised they haven't trotted out the electronic voting machines as the source of their downfall. (But I guess the Dems have a lock on that issue.)

This started - or was finally triggered yesterday - by a post and the associated comments on a topic I actually have very little interest in: divorce. Villainous Company: Idiot... Suffice it to say, I found the vehemence of the attacks out of line considering that not one of the commenters were directly impacted by anything in the situation. Except of course that most of the commenters are firmly in the marriage/fidelity population and look askance at anyone considering divorce. No, that isn't strong enough. Ad hominem attacks, vehement attacks, proclaiming that their concept of marriage was right, and any other viewpoint was stupid or evil or whatever.

It bothered me for while, until I realized what the problem is. It is an attack on a piece of the dogma. "Marriage is until death." Not in America it isn't, not with 50% (or whatever the number is today) of marriages ending in divorce. That disturbs them to the point where name calling became the order of the day. The title of the post itself is indicative of where things started. If half (or whatever) of all marriages end in divorce, are half of all married people evil, or idiots or infidels?

When I pointed out that no one commenting was directly impacted by the situation, I was told to "get a grip." They were worried because of the impact divorce has "on the innocent, the children."

Oh yes, the children. Is it better to come from a broken home or to live in one? I don't know for a marriage as the one described; I do know that some research suggests it isn't good for children to witness domestic violence, so perhaps they would allow one to leave a violent relationship. Though I got quite a bit of "a vow is a vow..." kind on non-arguments.

But the "for the children" argument is always trotted out, whenever someone wants to curtail liberty.

Why are anti-gay marriage amendments passing all over the country? In part to protect the children from that influence - as if "influence" had anything to do with why people are gay. Why are gays restricted from adopting children? Being foster parents? Oh yeah,... Couldn't have anything to do with prejudice or gay cooties now could it? Thousands of gays are legally married in the UK, how, exactly, does that impact you - assuming you aren't gay and living in the UK - or decrease the "sanctity of your marriage? It doesn't.

In the 1950s it was Miscongenation of the Races. Interracial marriages could not be permitted because it was to protect the children.... when it wasn't just out of good old fashioned racism.

These same conservatives want to severely censor the internet to "protect the children." They can't keep their kids off the net, they can't control what their kids see on the net - or they are not willing to try - and so they want to control everything that anyone can see. (I thought it was the Democrats who trotted out the "It takes a village to raise a child" speech.) No, they passed the "Communications Decency Act" to regulate all of the internet everywhere. Based on a "standard" that would let them exclude anything they didn't like. Because it was "for the children." At least it got thrown out. (My suggestion that no one under 18 be allowed to use the net was not met with much enthusiasm. I mean if you want to control what kids can see, keep them off the 'net.)

In short conservatives (or at least Republicans) have become a self-referencing, dogmatic, echo-chamber, with little or no input from anyone, where no dissenting voices can be heard. It isn't surprising that they lost in such a landslide. (And don't think that it was the Democrats who "won." People voted against the Republicans more than for anyone else.) They have become the perfect opposite of the Left (which is also a dogmatic echo-chamber).

Both the Democrats and the Republicans are interested in public control of the individual - public control in line with their thinking. Censor the internet to control what you can know - and therefore what you can think. Censor speech (under hate speech) and control what you can say - and therefore the thoughts you can discuss. Control what you eat, where you work, when you retire, .... the list is actually quite long.

A plague on both their houses.

(What we really need are some new parties.)

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