Decency, Bias, and Superstition

  • Over and over, Trump and his team, unable to win arguments on the facts, resort to ad hominem — character assassination;
  • The contrast between conservative insistence on women taking a child to term, rather than abortion, with the mild inconvenience of wearing a mask during a deadly pandemic;
  • Anti-gay legislation in Murfreesboro TN, and other posts about an outed mayor who committed suicide, concerns about contraception and a diminishing population, and Mike Johnson’s take on a “depraved” America in which young people are queer.

Robert Reich, 13 Nov 2023: Have they no sense of decency?, subtitled “Trump and his lackeys are trying to smear Judge Engoron’s law clerk”

Tangential to Trump’s recent “vermin” speech.

Trump’s craziness has been normalized, to our peril.

And Trump and his allies continue to engage in character assassination.

On Friday, Trump Republicans in the House turned their ire on the judge presiding over Trump’s civil fraud trial and his law clerk.

Representative Elise Stefanik, the third-ranking member of the House Republican leadership, filed an ethics complaint against Judge Arthur F. Engoron — claiming that the judge and his law clerk are biased against Trump and calling on Engoron to resign.

This is the latest chapter in the Trump Republican playbook of character assassination and intimidation.

Apparently anyone not willing to give Trump a get-out-of-jail-free card — anyone who cares about the laws he’s broken — is “biased” against him. Rule of law means nothing to him. They know they can’t win on substance, and so resort to ad hominem.

This unflattering courtroom sketch of Trump somehow brought this image to mind: the invisible monster, revealed, in an old episode of Jonny Quest (which years ago I recalled here).


NY Times, Opinion, David French, 12 Nov 2023: The New Republican Party Isn’t Ready for the Post-Roe World

This essay makes an apt comparison I had not thought of before. The lead concerns the number of state elections recently that have upheld abortion rights, such as the recent result in Ohio, to the consternation of Republicans who thought that reversing Roe v Wade had settled the matter. The early part of the article discusses how Republican/conservative morals have collapsed.

There’s no way to spin this result. There’s no way to spin every other pro-choice result in every other red-state referendum. The pro-life movement is in a state of electoral collapse, and I think I know one reason.

In the eight years since the so-called New Right emerged on the scene and Trump began to dominate the Republican landscape, the Republican Party has become less libertarian but more libertine, and libertinism is ultimately incompatible with a holistic pro-life worldview.

I’m not arguing that the pro-choice position is inherently libertine. There are many millions of Americans — including pro-choice Republicans — who arrive at their position through genuine philosophical disagreement with the idea that an unborn child possesses the same inherent worth as anyone else. But I’ve seen Republican libertinism with my own eyes. I know that it distorts the culture of the Republican Party and red America.

The difference between libertarianism and libertinism can be summed up as the difference between rights and desires. A libertarian is concerned with her own liberty but also knows that this liberty ends where yours begins. The entire philosophy of libertarianism depends on a healthy recognition of human dignity. A healthy libertarianism can still be individualistic, but it’s also deeply concerned with both personal virtue and the rights of others. Not all libertarians are pro-life, but a pro-life libertarian will recognize the humanity and dignity of both mother and child.

A libertine, by contrast, is dominated by his desires. The object of his life is to do what he wants, and the object of politics is to give him what he wants. A libertarian is concerned with all forms of state coercion. A libertine rejects any attempt to coerce him personally, but he’s happy to coerce others if that gives him what he wants.

Donald Trump is the consummate libertine. He rejects restraints on his appetites and accountability for his actions. The guiding principle of his worldview is summed up with a simple declaration: I do what I want. Any movement built in his image will be libertine as well.

This is all very interesting, but here’s the point I wanted to capture: forcing women to endure pregnancy, with all its risks and life upheavals, vs the mild inconvenience of wearing masks, to keep other people (or yourself) from dying.

I don’t think the pro-life movement has fully reckoned with the political and cultural fallout from the libertine right-wing response to the Covid pandemic. Here was a movement that was loudly telling women that they had to carry unwanted pregnancies to term, with all the physical transformations, risks and financial uncertainties that come with pregnancy and childbirth, at the same time that millions of its members were also loudly refusing the minor inconveniences of masking and the low risks of vaccination — even if the best science available at the time told us that both masking and vaccination could help protect others from getting the disease.

With predictable consequences.

This do-what-you-want ethos cost a staggering number of American lives. A 2022 study found that there were an estimated 318,981 vaccine-preventable deaths from January 2021 to April 2022. Vaccine hesitancy was so concentrated in Republican America that political affiliation was more relevant than race and ethnicity as an indicator of willingness to take the vaccine. Now there’s evidence from Ohio and Florida that excess mortality rates were significantly higher for Republicans than Democrats after vaccines were widely available.

And this is the party that’s now going to tell American women that respect for human life requires personal sacrifice?


Murfreesboro TN!

LGBTQNation, 16 Nov 2023: This city banned displays of homosexuality in public as “indecent behavior”

The city ordinance presumes to define what behaviors are “patiently offensive to the adult community.” Doesn’t everyplace have laws banning public indecency? What is added by this new ordinance? One guess.


Here is conservative, or maybe troll, morality.

Salon, Amanda Marcotte, 14 Nov 2023: The suicide of a gender non-conforming GOP mayor reveals the incoherence of the right’s culture wars, subtitled “Instead of thanking a Breitbart writer for outing their leader, this conservative Alabama town is outraged”

The basic story of the outing of the mayor (and Baptist minister) of a small Alabama town, F.L. “Bubba” Copeland, who subsequently committed suicide, has been widely reported. What struck me in this piece was this, in the opening paragraph:

For most Americans, viral internet memes are mostly harmless ways to waste time: Trendy TikTok dances, goofy cat videos and Instagram thirst traps. For MAGA nation, however, the hottest online trend of the past couple of years has been digging up images of random queer people, splashing them all over the internet, and inviting the deplorables to threaten them. Libs of TikTok is a Twitter account dedicated to revealing the identities of gender non-conforming people, so that they can be abused by strangers, for no other reason than who they are. The account has 2.6 million followers, but its reach goes way beyond that because the names and pictures of people blasted by Libs of TikTok are then often amplified by right-wing media outlets like Fox News.

The article includes a photo of a grinning young woman holding up an edition of USA Today with an article about Libs of TikTok on the front page. She seems so proud.

She and her ilk are contemptible. And I’m guessing they consider themselves Christians.

Once again: There have always been gays, and gender-nonconforming people, throughout history. Some religions actually acknowledge them. The measure of the maturity of a society is the extent they allow individuals to be themselves, instead of enforcing an authoritarian — and frankly, evolutionary-driven — conformity.


If conservative disapproval of gays, abortion, contraception, and gender-noncomformity doesn’t obviously reveal their concern about (evolutionarily driven) survival of the species (which is at odds with the damage the increasing human population is doing to the planet; the human population could afford to trim down — but this is extremely difficult to do, given those drives), here’s an example, in which he is stating a case he doesn’t understand in terms of things he doesn’t believe in.

Joe.My.God, 16 Nov 2023: Shapiro Host: The Right To Contraception Is Imaginary

(Of course, “rights” are social contracts, not dispensations from imaginary gods. Thus how they’ve changed over the centuries.)

“We in the United States have a dying population. We don’t replace ourselves. It’s literally a dying country. There are fewer Americans every single year, which is why we have to replace those who are not being born with mass migration. So, you’ve got a dying country with a dying Western civilization. And then what does contraception mean? It means divorcing sex from the purpose of sex, from the natural ends of sex, which is procreation. …”

Another example of how when conservatives speak of personal freedom, they don’t mean it. And what is his solution? To force women to give birth when they don’t want to?


One more, from our deeply religious/superstitious new House Speaker.

Rolling Stone, 15 Nov 2023 (via): Mike Johnson: ‘Depraved’ America Deserves God’s Wrath, subtitled “Citing the increase in queer youth, Johnson called American culture ‘dark and depraved’ on a call with a Christian nationalist pastor”

Talking to pastor Jim Garlow on a broadcast of the World Prayer Network, Johnson spoke ominously of America facing a “civilizational moment.” He said, “The only question is: Is God going to allow our nation to enter a time of judgment for our collective sins? … Or is he going to give us one more chance to restore the foundations and return to Him?”

Ick. Sigh. I find the photo above creepy. It shows a conformist mindset I escaped decades ago. Yes, religion binds communities. To imaginary realities.

This entry was posted in conservatives, Psychology, The Gays. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.