How Do You Talk To An Idiocon?

AJ has the Necroneocon also for sale at Lothlorien Path... Recently,we learned how wingnuts teach EACH OTHER to talk. (Chicken Soup For The Wingnut Soul) But here's a guide for the rest of us.(Continued)
Wadena has a post today that got me thinking about some of the discussions in the last comment thread, on the differences between Idiocons and the ideological conservative, and the differences in motivation. I truly believe that 'the right' have made an industry out of their puppet show... and lately we've gotten into some discussions about how we've responded to that. We talked about the purposes of blogging, as one way... we started to talk about perspective, hypocrisy, and how we relate to the wingnuts we encounter. And it seems necessary to make the distinction between actions that are based on self promotion and theocentrism, and those that are based on an earnest interpretation of one's spiritual guidebook(s).

So here is the question I tried to contemplate at Rev.Gisher's:

How do you talk to a wingnut?

In the last comment box, I suggested that we not try to speak at people or 'preach', but, rather, ask questions. It has been my experience that people who want to impose their religious views, for example, will invariably resort to things like:"What do you have against God anyway? Why is it so bad to have the Ten Commendments displayed, anyway? Can't hurt!"

Well, it depends on how you view the argument. I view it not as a debate of God, but a debate of Amendment Uno, Seperation of Church and state. And a 'proper use of resources' discussion. A discussion about the financial endorsement of a religious perspective. A subsidy toward what is already tax exempt.

But how do we get people to stop saying we are attacking prayer, Christmas, baby Jesus, or God? How do we reel in the discussion that goes awry, that bends toward the ridiculous?

How do we keep it from being mauled by their tithing hands?


AJ said...


An honest answer?
You can't.
At least not always.
In the greatest respect for Billy's ideas of finding common ground, although it is indeed something to strive for,
it is inherently impossible to accomplish.

Consider Westboro Baptist in Kansas. For whatever reason you might have to disagree, -say you were 'open- sex-minded'- they would think you fundamentally- a priori-evil, by your words of disagreement and disengage further conversation with their logical rational that you belonged to Satan.
It is what fueled the Crusades 1000 years ago, and what is fueling the war now.
End discussion.
My point is that there are fundamental opposites throughout the universe, even matter has -anti-matter, which has been proved at CERN.

Thanks for the Kudos,btw.

Lily said...

Good comment, AJ. But I think there is a difference between, as I said, those that are part of earnest sincere religious mindsets and those that use their capitalization of the 'right' for self promotion and silliness. The people that spew hate and venom to sell more books and make more idiots watch FOX. Its a game to people like that! Sport. Folly.

I don't need to disclose my religion here or elsewhere to say that I think public money is not intended for the endorsement of a particular theocentric view... I can say that I believe they have their own resources to promote their message and use their tax breaks to their advantage...I can say that I am in favor of free speech and the free open expression of religious sentiments etc, such as greetings etc. but this is very different than using taxpayer money to fund faith based policy.

I am not against religion. I am not against god, Jesus, or any of that. I find that religion has beauty and serenity when not used as a conduit of hate. I just really take the Constitution to be more than a piece of paper -as Lew put it!!!!!- for the Prez to wipe his ass with.

Wadena said...

I thought maybe you'd be totally covered up in snow by now.


How do we talk to these strange people?

I have talked to a lot of them. I was an official member of one of their churches and regularly attended several others for periods of time.

I try not to talk to them anymore. If I never talk to another one it will be ok with me.

If it did any good....I would.

It doesn't, in my experience.

Why not talk to the wind, the rain, the grass, the trees.....things that will give you comfort and oxygen and water and good, solid, logical answers?

If the FundaGelicals come to my blog.....I delete them. In real life you can get sent to jail for that, I think.

Oh....wait. That's an answer to "Why do we blog?" isn't it?

Ok....that's a couple of entries back. Never mind.

So hows the snow? Winter Olympics. Cool. Clean. White. Nice.


Lew Scannon said...

The first amendment was not about separation of church and state, rather it was about establishment of religion. This is an arguement I had to clarify at one time or another in the days when I used to write to the local paper and correct the thumpers who know everything about the Bible and nothing about the Constitution.
It depends on the situation as to how i will deal with the Christian right. For instance, last week I was at my boys school when the man seated next to me went off about how they were going to prosecute the reporters who leaked the government wiretapping story for high treason and how this was a good thing. Not wanted to cause a scene, I simply chose not to respond, because you know, I could have unloaded on him with my full fury right there and then until he cried like a little baby.
I used to work for a different company six years ago, and my boss was the most pompous arrogant self righteous conservative Christian on the block, rather than unleash my full fury on him, I just got my little digs in here and there, when it was appropriate. The whole company was a breeding ground for Christian deformity, so one day I wrote a little joke and posted it on the water cooler, the company intranet spot for posting little things.
I was responding to a "joke" that had been on there for a couple months and I found it neither funny, nor appropriate and it went like this: "Liberal-Manure salesman with a mouthful of samples".
I responded with this (and I swear I wrote it, although my brother swears I didn't):"What's the difference between a conservative's mind and Bill Clinton's Bible? Every once in a while, Bill Clinton opens his Bible". It was removed by the moderator in a day.

Lily said...

"The first amendment was not about separation of church and state, rather it was about establishment of religion"

Yes, there is 'establishment' which also pertains to this discussion because using federal resources to 'endorse' a religious view can be construed AS establishment. It also speaks to preferential treatment but there are cases where the term "God" has not been seen as violation as this can be seen as generally applicable...Second, sep. is addressed, see particularly a few lines in:

As per Cornell University Law:

"Two clauses in the First Amendment guarantee freedom of religion. The establishment clause prohibits the government from passing legislation to establish an official religion or preferring one religion over another. It enforces the "separation of church and state. Some governmental activity related to religion has been declared constitutional by the Supreme Court. For example, providing bus transportation for parochial school students and the enforcement of "blue laws" is not prohibited. The free exercise clause prohibits the government, in most instances, from interfering with a persons practice of their religion."

Lew- I am not sure why you believe the First Amendment does not address seperation.

Lew Scannon said...

But does it actually say "separation of church and state"? I believe that phrase comes from the writings of Thomas Jefferson. While it mayt address the isue, because it does not say this outright, the conservatives claim it is not in there, which is the point I was trying to make.

Wadena said...

The Jefferson letter has been used to reveal the intent of the somewhat vague "establishment" wording, as I recall.

I used to (back when I talked to them) tell the FundaGelicals that the Constitution gives us freedom OF and freedom FROM religion.

Then they would make the sign of the cross and back away from me and then start looking for rocks.

And I would run

tp said...

I understand your dilemma here, and the debate about literal text versus founder's intentions versus stare decisis versus 'virtual' text has been ongoing. But we can say that the establishment clause, irrespective of the language delineating distinct separation, is sufficient to restrict preferential expression just on the basis of establishment alone. Further:

"Board of Education of Kiryas Joel Village School District v. Grumet ,Justice David Souter concluded that "government should not prefer one religion to another, or religion to irreligion." Affirms establishment clause and favors separation by default.

Actions of the state that endorse, subsidize, establish, etc. are prohibited, and using publically held property or utilizing public money comingled with the expression of a religion is not permissable under Establishment. Certain forms of 'ceremonial' language have been upheld as permissable, as in the cases of the Pledge, currency, public oaths, and ceremonial use of a deity.

But in cases using public property to display religious preferential messages, for example, both the establishment and precedent/ascribed meaning have been supported and this has been ruled impermissable.

Lily said...

Separationists versus accommodationists..perhaps is what you mean. There is the wording and there is the 'historical application' because as you know, law is not a static document and this forms part of the basis for neocons that say it is irrelevant. It is a document that has years of very relevant law attached to its foundations, and you cannot really look at law in terms of what is literally explicitly stated, although establishment does seem sufficient in arguing against actions that might be construed as 'establishing' or preferentially favoring religion.

Yes, there is a degree of debate as to the wording, of course, but there are many reasons that are quite lengthy as to why many of us believe that the separation notion is substantiated. The debate is summarized well at this site

"A separationists reading of the First Amendment would, for example, prohibit government from favoring religion over non-religion, using tax dollars to underwrite religious activities, or requiring people to be exposed to religious practices in the course of everyday governmental activity. A classic summary of the broad interpretation is given in Everson v. Board of Education ."

"Accomodationists hold to any one of a number of "narrow" interpretations of the First Amendment clause, i.e., interpretations that allow the government considerable latitude in supporting or promoting religious beliefs and practices. Extreme accomodationists hold that the First Amendment was intended to bar only the establishment of a state church or religion, and that most types of aid that do not reach this level of favoritism are legal."

Omnipotent Poobah said...

Despite my reputation as a curmudgeon, I more often than not treat them respectfully and politely. It drives them nuts because they aren't expecting it and therefore are unprepared when a reasoned debate breaks out instead of a foamy mouthed fight. Very elegant. Very effective.

When that doesn't work I try other tactics. This past week the Watchtower folks came by. I politely told them I wasn't interested, but they insisted on yammering on anyway.

My solution?

I told them I had to go because I was downloading a shitload of porn and I didn't want to miss anything. Before closing the door, I started unbuckling my pants.

Crude, but equally effective.

Rex Kramer, Danger Seeker said...

Speaking for conservatives everywhere (as it is my Constitutional right to do,) I ask that you people not ask us any questions. It's not that we object to intellectual discourse so much as it is, well, quite frankly, we don't want to talk with you people. Talk AT you, certainly...but talk WITH? That indicates some sort of equality, and we're having none of that.

Driving Down a One-Way Street,


CV Rick said...


This is a great topic. How do we talk to them? I've had my successes and my failures in that arena.

It seems that there is some support behind the stereotypes we have about them: Researchers help define what makes a political conservative

some of the common psychological factors linked to political conservatism include:

* Fear and aggression
* Dogmatism and intolerance of ambiguity
* Uncertainty avoidance
* Need for cognitive closure
* Terror management

What that means is that they need a "right" and "wrong" or a black/white issue with good guys and bad guys. They also need for their guys to be the good guys . . . and, as a result, they need unfailing loyalty.

Asking them questions is a great tactic. "Don't you think that the following is possible?" or "Isn't it feasible that they knew the oil was running out and they just felt that they needed to lie to us to come up with a reason to go get it?"

If you keep asking them leading questions they might not realize that you are giving them information without pounding them over the head with it.

Earl Bockenfeld said...

I tend to place a lot of faith in the word of this Iraqi prisoner who makes a statement like this:

"They just wanted to humiliate us in any shape or form they could," Sabber said. "I wish I knew why. I was sure, however, that their actions were not the same as the values and morals of the American people."

I'm sitting here in awe of Muslims, cast by "Christians" into the role of martyrs, responding in a way that reflects what, to me, is the essence of Christianity. And the essence of Islam, too, I'm sure. And every other faith. And every non-religious ethical tradition worthy of the name. It's a reminder of how little the boundaries between religions, and between religious and secular, really matter in comparison to the difference between those who believe in the power of love to overcome evil, and those who not only meet evil with evil, but come to see it as their noblest aspiration...Jeanne of Body&Soul

So people in the US don't believe in torture ... unless it works then it's utilitarian? And they are more strongly against torture if it means maybe one of their compatriots might be tortured?

Instead of moral principles, we're reduced to self-interest when it comes to torture? I'm thinking that we'd better face the fact that our highest values are not high at all, and that we've been kidding ourselves for years about the nobility and cultural superiority of America. The fact is that there are a lot of really good people in this country, but their voices are deliberately drowned out.

But when self-described Christians are choosing to replicate the history of their faith in reverse, casting themselves in the villains' place, while somehow still claiming the innocence of holy victims, it looks more like pathology than political spin. They remind me of Alex in A Clockwork Orange, aroused by Christian iconography, fantasizing himself as a Roman soldier. Then throw in something too twisted for Alex --fantasizing himself, simultaneously, as a martyr.

Sick. Just sick, these Clockwork Christians.

Neil Shakespeare said...

I am constantly attacking the Baby Jesus, but nobody's taking me seriously! I'm feeling neglected by the Christian Right, goddammit!

Anonymous said...

Earl, don't forget Alex's (Clockwork Orange) other favorite biblical fantasy of himself being fed plump grapes by the beautiful handmaidens (my personal fav). And even Alex knew he was only PRETENDING to be interested in the bible as a way to curry favor with the prison pastor who could procure his release from jail ... a noble cause, unlike the "Clockwork Christians" you refer to who really seem to have religion or at least the appearance of religiosity. Concepts which scare the crap out of me more than any nebulous terrorist group. I always thought the American Freedom-of-Religion thing boiled down to "do whatever you want, just keep it out of my face" & I can live with that. D.K.

Lew Scannon said...

Two things I teach my children in terms they'll understand:
"Fear is the path to the Dark Side."
"Only a Sith deals in absolutes."

tp said...

Omnipotent Poobah and others have made some great points about self-ascribed moral authority and hypocrisy, that relate to how the world view us and engage with us. We also seem to think its permissable to torture via other countries using puppet torture. We also support torturing regimes, and we also ignore oppressive regimes that don't have a palace built on oil.

All so very well said.

Anonymous said...

Lew- this part does not seem incompatible with the notion that the First Amendment has been subject to some controversy, your position though seems to favor the conservative view though rather than a separationsist's.
Lily wrote:
"I view it not as a debate of God, but a debate of Amendment Uno, Separation of Church and state. And a 'proper use of resources' discussion. A discussion about the financial endorsement of a religious perspective. A subsidy toward what is already tax exempt."

Isn't that pretty much what the debate is about, interpretation of establishment, and the way the sides have taken that question toward their ends?

AJ said...

Omni, so that was YOU last Saterday afternoon??

Shame. Im telling mom.

Left of Center said...

I refused my first communion when I was ten years old. My parents were not "down" with that. I was told non Christians went to hell. I wasn't going to have a part in any religion that thought that way. Growing up a I spent alot of time studying religion, and gaining historical perspective on it. I now live in the southern US and am exposed to "Evangelicals" nearly daily. They blather on and on as if everyone believes exactly as they do. I just nod, and try to envision a lion feasting on their entrails.

Anonymous said...

LOC, it took me til I was 14 & somehow stumbled across a Time Life Book series on the Evolution of Man. After that, I viewed the bible in the same category as Myths & Legends ... more interesting for what it tells us about ourselves than any diety. D.K.

rev. billy bob gisher ©2005 said...

by the way definitive rectum, you might just be one of the most obscenely creative people I've ever known. as far as I'm concerned, I think you're ready for promote, your material is way sharp, but you have to help me out, should I consider you more humorous, or should I consider you more of a pundit? I hate labels, but unfortunately, you got to organize your crap somehow. let me know when you a chance. you might even qualify for philosophy, what the heck do I know.

rev. billy bob gisher ©2005 said...

AJ if you see this, what is up with big Brother? where does he wander off to?

Lew Scannon said...

As you know, I'm not down with the whole Christian thing, nor do I want my tax dollars being allocated to any religion, America has always been a secular nation, I'm just saying, from the wing nut point of view 'separation of church and state is not in the Constitution.' The trouble is, these people have been told secularism is a religion (when in reality, it is of things not religious or sacred)by those wishing not only to control them, but you and I as well.

rev. billy bob gisher ©2005 said...

separation of state is not in the Constitution? where did you get your law degree...Kmart?

rev. billy bob gisher ©2005 said...

see that's the problem, the founding fathers weren't pinheads, they were well educated people. they didn't draw a picture for you with crayons, because unfortunately, they did not consider that morons would ever start looking at the document. morons don't understand things like "intent", nor do they understand legalese. if they don't find the actual words " separation of church and state" in the constitution or the bill of rights, these dipshits, presume it is is not in there. stop signs work real good for these clowns, because it says stop clearly on the sign. but a stop sign isn't a law. is something that you must honor, which is required by law, that you will not understand, because you're a moron.

oh rectum of Grodon, send these stupid dipsticks over to read my Sunday sermon, it's broken down in Mr. Rogers speak, so that they do not need a law degree, to comprehend it. and it deals with the matter, in a way they can understand, and makes them go actually read their own Bible, which most of them have never done. if they cannot understand my Sunday sermon, I will work up a nice crayon drawing for them.

rev. billy bob gisher ©2005 said...

"Good comment, AJ. But I think there is a difference between, as I said, those that are part of earnest sincere religious mindsets and those that use their capitalization of the 'right' for self promotion and silliness. The people that spew hate and venom to sell more books and make more idiots watch FOX. Its a game to people like that! Sport. Folly."

nicely done, accurately said, and to AJ, it is not impossible, is already being done, and the reason, is because it is really only a tiny minority, is actually running things on both sides. take a look at AJ Gilmartin, and hammerswing, who both were making comments the last two days. both are very conservative, very religious, but also capable of free thought, and they're far more of them and you think, the media finds the extremes more entertaining, which I believe anus of Grodin, already accurately covered. you are being fed the bone brains, the foamers at the mouth, by the media, really from both sides, because they are far more incendiary, and they get better ratings.the middle ground is boring. it is not impossible, really nothing is impossible, there are just things that you refuse to accept, or that not enough thought has been put into. those are the things that seem impossible.

all of this, requires both sides to recognize just how full of crap the extreme leaders on each side are. that can happen too, if enough of us work at it together.

The Definitive Rectum of Charles Grodin said...

"all of this, requires both sides to recognize just how full of crap the extreme leaders on each side are."

But Rev. Gisher, I myself am an extreme leader. And by definition, I am full of crap.

Lily said...

Rev. Gisher: What do you mean, humorous or pundits? Are you suggesting that our genre is not readily apparent? Not easily discerned by your ministry? Humopunditry? Snarkapontification? Waxing Moronic?

Politicopathology is our genre. Gotta label for that, bitch? :)

Are you trying to figure out which IRS taxation category we fall into?

"Let me assure you that there is nothing at all funny about Lose The Noose.We're about service. In my home state of Virginia, we Democrats..."

AJ said...

Home state of Virginia??
You mean..we're..omg..

Anyway,I did not mean to offend REV, and I respect what you and others are doing.
This is part, perhaps, of my 'sin' for lack of a better word, or conspiracy mind set perhaps, to see that what you call possible is possible.
I hope you are right.I take no pleasure of being "right", and will work with you under your flag only because it's the right thing to do.

But in my "defense", I offer your own words that prove my case:
"..you are being fed the bone brains, the foamers at the mouth, by the media, really from both sides, because they are far more incendiary, and they get better ratings..."

And that is my point. The powers that be, the ones that have money, power, and control, are not stupid, did not get where they are being stupid and will use everything at their disposal to keep divisions intact.
Remember the old saying:
Divide & Conquer

Short of a miracle, this is what is happening.
But perhaps that is what you mean,
and if so,I humbly apologize and say I fully agree.

Lily said...

No, I was mocking the Democratic rebuttal to the state of the union address...I'm not in Virginia.

Reichsminister Karl said...

You will be in Virginia soon - we are relocating the likes of you. Show up tomorrow at your nearest railhead, and climb onto the cattle car. We know where you live, and we know your IP address. Resistance is futile.

AJ said...


You dareth to mock MY
God appointed Governor???

I believe that is against the law,
and Karl is right:
Start packin' babe.

The Biblical Voice Of Charlton Heston said...

"relocating the likes of you."

Presumably to an idiot internment camp?

They have those in Virginia, I guess.

AJ I did check Led Zeppelin.I'm onto you, you lugnut.

AJ said...

Does that mean you like me?

The Biblical Voice Of Charlton Heston said...


Anonymous said...

Maybe it means Charlton Heston is also a mechanic. Righty tighty, lefty loosy, he's been known to proclaim.

What about the biblical voice of Charles Grodin? And does he talk out of his ass?

Rory Shock said...

Lily: I think calm question asking is good technique ... especially if they are open ended and make the person think or at least face the often scary prospect of thinking ... e.g. when people run down Hilary Clinton, I usually ask something like ... "Which of her recent positions upsets you the most?" or "In what ways is she worse than her co-Senator from NY, Chuch Schumer?" Most often there is no answer. They have no clue ... they are just repeating the Hilary bash bleat. Then, if I feel like it, I can launch into some version of the you don't like her 'cause she's a woman, etc., speech, or whatever ... or just leave it alone for them to contemplate (or not) ... but that's just one version ... basically putting things in the form of non-threatening questions does take down some of the defensiveness of a lot of people ... although Idiocons seem to be the most angry people around ... you might have to shoot em with at tranq dart before you can even have the beginning of a discussion ... need to work on a list of quiet questions to ask ... rock on ... and by the way ... I'm gonna put a link to this site at www.roryshock.blogspot.com today!!!!

Lily said...

Thanks Rory. I've been bad with linking, and really should update. So many great bloggers out there though! I am not suggesting the 'question' approach works all the time, but it reflects my training in need based communication and conflict resolution...we all use our backgrounds I guess. Thats one of my 'things'.

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