I comment regularly in the letters section of my regional newspaper. It’s probably as close to a social life as anything else I have, other than my regular Saturday night role playing game session on line. It’s a good time, and I can usually work satire and parody in to my commentary and reactions to the commentary of others, which is half the fun, when I think about it. Often that comes in the form of stating the opinions of various right wing religious god-botherers, gun-fondlers, and others in as ridiculous a form as I can think of, if for no other reason than to point out the silliness of their position. Unfortunately, these people are often nearly impossible to parody. Which brings me to Poe’s Law.
I am learning that I must include a sarcasm tag if I am going to indulge, as I have been mistaken for someone who really means the most ridiculous statements. I have been told to think before I post, that I am a horible human being, and that I should have my computer taken away.
The sad thing is that I’ve been taken in myself by a group on Facebook that makes the Westboro Baptist Church look like a bunch of bleeding heart liberals. It took me all of half an hour to look them up and figure out it was a hoax, but I was actually quite impressed by their attention to detail.
I’m not a big fan of fundamentalism. Personally I think that the Christian Right is as big a threat to our democracy as anything ISIS can think of.
But in the long run, the only real defense against fanatacism of any kind is to find the chinks in its adherents armor of belief, at least to the point where their certainty conflicts with observable reality. That won’t help with the 27% that are completely nuts, but those are not the dangerous ones. It’s the ones that can be persuaded to vote with the nuts despite knowing better, because they they are willingly distracted by the shiny objects of tribalism, fear and anger.
Not to go all Godwin, but these are the same tactics used by fascist regimes of the past to take power. Get people to blame their troubles on a convenient scapegoat and profit. Any group can fit the bill, whether it be the poor, who are freeloading from the rest of us, the Muslims, who are all bloodthirsty terrorists, the LGBTs, who are out to recruit our children and force Godfearing people to perform wedding ceremonies, the illegal immigrants who are taking our jobs and soaking up welfare, or the liberals, who want to do whatever, the Right has lots and lots of paranoid fantasies which they use to scare and anger people from realizing they’re voting away the hardfought rights of the past that they no longer even value because they take them for granted.
The worst part is that mockery and satire don’t work like they used to. One must have a modicum of self awareness before that can happen, and many of the leading figures of the Tea Party and their ilk appear to either have none or can ill afford to admit that they are mockable, which means that being outraged at the most trivial of things, and a distinct lack of humor about having it pointed out, becomes their stock in trade.
So in the end, what’s left? All we can do is try to point out ridiculousness as we see it, and hope someday that the purveyors of this stuff will be laughed out of power. I’m not holding my breath on that,, but I’m doing my part.