Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Fanatics


“There are three things that Black people need to tell the truth about. Number one: Rodney King should've gotten his ass beat for being drunk in a Honda a white part of Los Angeles.” Eddie in “Barbershop.”

Steve Sailer asked a month or more ago why causes seem to choose the morally ambiguous examples to go to the mat over.  In that instance, he was referring to the Trayvon Martin case, in which it rapidly became clear that Martin was not turning out to be a poster child for clear innocence, nor Zimmerman for clear guilt.

I thought of that again last night when attending a program about Grace Metalious at the local library.  Both her defenders and her critics painted themselves into ridiculous corners to make their points, and in the end, she was neither a particularly worthy target for the moralisers nor an especially innocent martyr for early feminist consciousness.  See also Sylvia Plath.

Similarly, I have long wondered why fundamentalists picked evolution versus Six-Day Creation as the hill to die on.  How is that in your top ten doctrines we need to follow Jesus? All causes, all groups, seem to hit these moments when the faithful look up to the top of the battle-standard and say “Wait.  Is that the best example we could find?”

I think Sponge-Headed Scienceman hits it when discussing the Nigerian email scams.  The mistakes are intentional, built in, in order to identify only the most gullible readers.  They don’t want to waste their time on the one-in-a-hundred who might get fooled into considering it with a good sales pitch.  They are looking for the one in a hundred thousand they can wrap up quickly and get some money out of. They don’t want to make the appeal any more believable.

Sometimes, causes are not looking for a sense of the broad support they might be able to count on if they play their cards right.  They are looking for the fanatics, the people who will man the ramparts even when they’re dead wrong.  I suspect there is some survival value for people in this, for it echoes the tribal, nepotistic cultures which will defend their own even when their own are criminals.  But even more, there is survival value in this for those who would be leaders.  Leaders want a head count of the fanatics following them, the folks who will die on every hill, as this might be a better measure of what they can get accomplished - than a count of supporters who will only come out when the cause is really clear.

I suspect dictators understand this intuitively.

11 comments:

Sam L. said...

Grace Metalious. Took me a minute to realize why I knew the name. I'm old enough. Peyton Place; the horror, the horror... Sin! Porn! Available cheap in paperback undeer the counter and over the counter at a bookstore near me!

Texan99 said...

I'm inclined to agree with you in principle, except that I've run into some avid creationists, and that doesn't seem to be what motivates them. I think it's more that their understanding of evolution is inconsistent with the existence of God the creator, and it feels as though it would be incredibly dangerous to let that nefarious idea get a mental foothold. As far as I can tell, it's a completely sincere viewpoint, not one calculated to whip up fanaticism.

For that matter, the more fanatical believers in evolution also seem to feel their belief has great argumentative power on the question of the existence of God, and they get pretty excited about the mere notion of discussing with young students how it is that human beings have been at each other hammer and tongs over this controversy for so many years -- as if merely exposing students to the creationists' arguments would infect them, instead of demonstrating the greater support for the evolutionary view. Those fundies will get their claws in the poor students!

It seems to be the fear of the "slippery slope" -- if you go wrong on this one idea, other fatal errors will follow inexorably. So this is where we must take a stand.

Der Hahn said...

It seems to me the more fantical folks are the ones who push for Biblical literalism even against potential supporters who prefer a 'soft' reconcilliation of evolution with the Creation accounts. It seems the hills that get died on are the 4,000 year old Earth/God made fossils to test us/Six days means 184 hours.

Sam L. said...

God works in mysterious ways, his wonders to perform.

We cannot truly understand some fairly simple things, so why do some think they understand the truly complex?

Assistant Village Idiot said...

T99, I think that has been the result of the concerted efforts of the fanatics, who have convinced the general evangelical population that they should be uneasy about anything that undermines literalism. People want to be reasonable, but the implied risk that they are turning their backs on God somehow is a powerful disincentive.

I think something similar happens with black causes. Most African-Americans don't want to be saddled with people being complete knuckleheads or criminals, and amongst themselves, say so. But there is a queasy feeling that admitting that publicly undermines the power of the group and encourages racists, so they go along.

Gringo said...

AVI- did you know people who knew Grace Metalious? You both hail from Manchester, right?

Any stories you shared at the library?

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Yes, I posted on it about 6 years ago. Grace DeRepentigny lived two blocks away from my mother's family, and was a year older than my uncle. He was in 7th G at Straw school when she was in 8th (we think), and were at Central high school after. I believe she moved again during that time. He didn't think much of her. Her younger sister Bunny was slightly older than my mother and my Aunt Cynthia, and would pull them over to put on little dramas and comedies at her house. It's possible that Grace was part of that, as she liked that sort of thing as well. But she was five years older than my mother, so that may have been too much of a stretch, even when trying to find younger children to play the less-choice roles.

My mother's first case as a brand-new probation officer fresh out of school was Bunny, who was caught, as my uncle puts it "peddling her ass downtown." After I posted in 2006, I got an email from a couple who wanted know if I knew more about Bunny. They were connected in some way with her son, who she had dropped off at the children's orphanage and he didn't know where she had gone after. I was sad that I had no more to tell them.

Texan99 said...

The problem of literalism bothers me, too. I don't feel free to discount anything the BIble says casually, but at the same time there are many things in it that I can't take literally. Evolution, for instance, seems to me so incontrovertible that I'd just be lying if I said I took anything in the Bible to disprove it. (Which says nothing, of course, about what role God had in the process.) But once I say that words in the Bible may be mistaken or misunderstood, I have to be careful which ones I'm willing to let go by the wayside because I find them inconvenient. I don't believe the Church Fathers (or any Judeo-Christians) were infallible, but I have to assume God had a reason for revealing himself the way He did, and that I'm not free simply to make up different theories. So I try to stick to what He told us to do and be, and not worry too much about what the Bible says about natural history billions of years ago.

Gringo said...

AVI, thanks for the stories. Fascinating.

ymarsakar said...

Similarly, I have long wondered why fundamentalists picked evolution versus Six-Day Creation as the hill to die on.

The Six Days content can easily be explained by the fact that humans back then couldn't count past 100, even using roman numerals. Thus six to the 10^6 would be just as accurate as six days, to the people back then, divinely inspired or not.

The evolution thing is a crusade against unbelievers, though, and people realize that fighting unbelievers, like the Left's religion, is a better fight than the easy task of re adjusting your own religion's dogma and interpretation. People do the latter all the time, but winning a jihad or a crusade against an unbeliever, someone that refuses to convert to your religion, has more worth in God's eyes.

The more difficult challenge is the more virtuous challenge.

ymarsakar said...

The Left believes Deus Ex Machina created the universe, meaning their scientific priesthood or Hussein messiahs.

The Christians believe God did it.

The Islamos believe Mohammed and their Allah did it.

So the question of how long it took is not that important compared to whose authority we are under.

By defeating the unbelievers on this source, this changes the metaphysics. Because if your god didn't create the universe and my god did, then my god is stronger than your god. Pretty simple.

If you win the case that my god created the universe in 6 X 10^66 days.... instead of six days... that don't matter, cause it still ain't your god in charge here.