What Christians keep telling me

I keep hearing over and over that I think all Christians and anyone else who disagrees with me is plainly stupid. Here are the stats:

In fact, this post from a recently-removed-from-my-blogroll-blog largely had me in mind, as I was told shortly after it was written. But this goes beyond me. Richard Dawkins and other Gnu Atheists get the same crap – so much so that Dawkins even penned a piece about the issue six years ago:

“It is absolutely safe to say that if you meet somebody who claims not to believe in evolution, that person is ignorant, stupid or insane (or wicked, but I’d rather not consider that).” I first wrote that in a book review in the New York Times in 1989, and it has been much quoted against me ever since, as evidence of my arrogance and intolerance. Of course it sounds arrogant, but undisguised clarity is easily mistaken for arrogance. Examine the statement carefully and it turns out to be moderate, almost self-evidently true.

This is largely my position (including beyond the subject of evolution). I think Christian arguments are almost universally awful and I find most creationists to be ignorant, but that does not mean I think every person who holds a contradictory view to me is stupid. Sure, I’ve called people stupid. Sarah Palin comes to mind. Leading creationists who should know better, such as Ken Ham, are obviously lacking in intellect. I have no doubt Andreas Moritz is a dolt. But notice: I keep it specific. I’m not saying all Republicans are stupid because Sarah Palin is stupid. I’m not saying the creationist who hasn’t sat in a biology course since high school is a moron. I am not saying all alt-med quacks are idiots. If I wanted to say any of that, I would say it. I try to be exact in my language; it is unlikely I would ever make such an oversight in my writing.

I have no delusions about how I write. I’m aggressive and unapologetic. I have little patience for bad ideas that have little to no evidence for them. I often pepper my paragraphs with disparaging remarks about the quality of whatever argument it is I am facing. It has long been my view that undeserved respect is…well, undeserved. It would be dishonest of me to pretend I hold something in esteem when the fact is I think it’s just a steaming pile. However, none of this means I think others are morons by virtue of disagreeing with me. Such a conclusion is, I hate to say, just stupid.

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Look what happens when you ignore her

She fades away:

Amid diminishing media interest, Sarah Palin has quit her high-profile bus tour halfway through and returned to Alaska with her family, according to RealClearPolitics.

The move puts a damper on widespread speculations that Palin’s “One Nation” bus tour, which launched on Memorial Day, was a precursor to a potential White House bid for 2012. Palin never made it to her scheduled stops in the key primary states of Iowa and New Hampshire.

RealClearPolitics, which originally broke the story about the bus tour, reported Wednesday on Palin’s “extended hiatus.” The remaining legs of her trip, according to Scott Conroy, are “in limbo” as “Palin and her family have reverted to the friendly confines of summertime Alaska.”

Jon Stewart had a recent interview on FOX Noise where his take-away point was that the media loves sensationalism. Combine that with lazy reporting and we get all this useless coverage of people like Sarah Palin. Ever since John McCain failed to vet her, her career has been about being a slightly-legitimized sort of reality show star – that legitimacy coming almost purely from the media’s unending attention.

I just hope she keeps refusing to tell reporters her schedule, or why she’s doing something, or any other detail of her itinerary. The more the quitter gets ignored, the better.

Palin: I’m an idiot, but I won’t admit it

Sarah Palin is yet another in the long line of Republicans who isn’t familiar or interested in American history:

Sarah Palin insisted Sunday that history was on her side when she claimed that Paul Revere’s famous ride was intended to warn both British soldiers and his fellow colonists.

“You realize that you messed up about Paul Revere, don’t you?” “Fox News Sunday” anchor Chris Wallace asked the potential 2012 presidential candidate.

“I didn’t mess up about Paul Revere,” replied Palin, a paid contributor to the network.

She didn’t, did she? Let’s take a peak:

“He who warned the British that they weren’t gonna be takin’ away our arms by ringing those bells, and makin’ sure as he’s riding his horse through town to send those warning shots and bells that we were going to be sure and we were going to be free, and we were going to be armed.”

Here is the reality of the situation:

The colonists at the time of Revere’s ride were British subjects, with American independence still in the future. But Revere’s own writing and other historical accounts leave little doubt that secrecy was vital to his mission.

The Paul Revere House’s website says that on April 18, 1775, Dr. Joseph Warren, a patriot leader in the Boston area, instructed Revere to ride to Lexington, Mass., to warn Samuel Adams and John Hancock that British troops were marching to arrest them.

In an undated letter posted by the Massachusetts Historical Society, Revere later wrote of the need to keep his activities secret and his suspicion that a member of his tight circle of planners had become a British informant. According to the letter, believed to have been written around 1798, Revere did provide some details of the plan to the soldiers that night, but after he had notified other colonists and under questioning by the Redcoats.

Intercepted and surrounded by British soldiers on his way from Lexington to Concord, Revere revealed “there would be five hundred Americans there in a short time, for I had alarmed the country all the way up,” he wrote.

Revere was probably bluffing the soldiers about the size of any advancing militia, since he had no way of knowing, according to Joel J. Miller, author of “The Revolutionary Paul Revere.” And while he made bells, Revere would never have rung any on that famous night because the Redcoats were under orders to round up people just like him.

“He was riding off as quickly and as quietly as possible,” Miller said. “Paul Revere did not want the Redcoats to know of his mission at all.”

The attacks on Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama has done an excellent job in her role as the First Lady. Her efforts to curb obesity deserve nothing but praise. Being fat is terrible. The only thing worse is being proud of it – I’m looking at you, America.

Unfortunately, in its faux-libertarian, blatantly dishonest attacks, the right has been going after Obama. We have morons like Michele Bachmann who whine about efforts to make poor women aware of tax deductions they can claim in caring for their infants. Then we have the other side of the moron coin, Sarah Palin, claiming that it’s okay to eat, eat, eat all sorts of shit food – despite the heavy evidence that Americans are dying because of the crap they eat. (Do dead people have liberty?) And, of course, there’s Limbaugh. He attacked Obama for eating healthy by lying and claiming she was eating shitty food.

This almost all stems from Obama’s effort to push through a bill last year that decreased the number of hungry students while at the same time funding healthier food for public schools. Conservatives, more willing than ever to lie, keep saying over and over and over “I don’t want to be told what I can and cannot eat!” (Or maybe they’re just that fucking stupid. I don’t know.) The bill changed some government standards for food in public schools. If these people weren’t against the government giving kids shit food, then they shouldn’t be against the government giving them good food. The difference is in quality, not mandates or forced diets or any other nonsense.

What brings this on is the polemics of the argument. Limbaugh showed them perfectly: Michelle Obama had shitty food? SHE HATES YOUR FREEDOM AND IS JUST AN ELITIST!!1!! It’s annoying. We can’t have an honest discussion about this stuff. People who actually give a damn about health are over here saying, hey look, nutrition starts at birth. We need to make sure every child is as healthy as can be. And we also need to make sure we continue those good habits. That doesn’t mean being perfect or not having that big meal at Thanksgiving. It means keeping the salt down, cutting out the trans-fats, boosting the minerals and vitamins; it means exercising – go for a run or a walk, lift weights, play tennis. Every day? If you can, sure. But anyone who isn’t a polemic asshole knows that one doesn’t need to train like a star athlete to be healthy.

Take a look at this typical conservative response I got (via Facebook) about Limbaugh’s failed attack on Obama:

1) You’re right. Ribs are healthy.

2) “Individual splurges”? WAIT a minute! You just said it was healthy? Let’s take a poll: Ribs for dinner – healthy or unhealthy?

It’s this sort of polarization of which I am becoming increasingly intolerant. Anyone who bothered to follow the links from the Limbaugh story knows that Obama had a small serving of lean ribs with a series of healthy sides that most Americans would never touch; she went to that restaurant specifically because it was healthy. What’s more – and I’m sure I’ve lost the polemic audience at this point, what with my use of facts and junk – she was skiing. I personally make it a point to eat some fast food before I take the mountain. I want to give myself the most energy I can for the day because I know how quickly I’m going to burn it off – just because a food is generally not healthy does not mean it is always not healthy. Not that Obama ate unhealthy or had a fatty meal because she went skiing. She actually had a healthy meal. Limbaugh and every supporting conservative either just lied or was willfully ignorant.

That brings me to my next point: fast food. Yes, once in an absolute great while, I will indulge without the reason of some major activity. As shitty as the food is, I’ve never had a problem with admitting how great it tastes. I have it maybe once or twice a month. I’m sure I’ve also gone three or four months without it. And even if I wanted it twice a week, I could get away with it because of my metabolism and healthy activity. Does that make me a hypocrite? Does it make my pro-health arguments invalid? Does it mean Obama would disapprove? Nope, nope, nope. But despite that, I hear one conservative I know give me a shit every time he sees me with a fast food burger. I hate it. Not because it exposes some double-standard – I don’t have that in regards to health. I hate it because it’s an example of the sort of polemics that are more comfortable on conservative radio than in rational discussion. I wish we could banish these arguments wherever they rear their ugly little heads.

But don’t think my motivation here is personal. I’m seeing these pro-fat arguments being made all the time, not just by friends or on Facebook. Polemics are the annoying surface of the issue, but the real problem is that all these conservatives are promoting fatness. It is wrong to not try and be healthy. That doesn’t mean it’s wrong to be fat – though fat people tend to be the chubby face of the problem. It means people ought to make an honest effort to be healthy. That will vary from person to person. (It’s especially frustrating when the lying conservatives pretend like that isn’t true.) America faces a terrible problem right now: we’re getting fat and not enough people are angry about it.

Forcing one side to argue an extreme hurts a very noble cause. And despite the lying and unwillingness to engage in an honest dialogue, I think most conservatives also recognize that obesity is a serious problem. We need to tackle it. If we can get our arms around it. We need to take the politics out of all this, get rid of the asshole-ridden polemics. Michelle Obama is making a very good effort and everyone should be thanking her. We need to follow her lead. Fill our schools with healthy foods. Discourage kids from getting fast food. Make restaurants disclose what they’re feeding us. Encourage more activity. These are good things. Let’s not fight against them because of some unrelated ideology.

Thought of the day

Now that there’s a growing consensus that Sarah Palin does indeed suck, can we all finally admit that her big intro speech to the nation in 2008 sucked just as much? People were fawning over the whole thing, but c’mon. It was terrible. The context around it – an attractive conservative white woman no one knew – created an atmosphere of excitement, but the speech itself? It was rendered poorly. Let’s just admit it.

Michele Bachmann hates history

I thought it was pretty terrible when I heard about this historical rewriting.

Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero announced today that Thomas Lowry, a long-time Lincoln researcher from Woodbridge, VA, confessed on January 12, 2011, to altering an Abraham Lincoln Presidential pardon that is part of the permanent records of the U.S. National Archives. The pardon was for Patrick Murphy, a Civil War soldier in the Union Army who was court-martialed for desertion.

Lowry admitted to changing the date of Murphy’s pardon, written in Lincoln’s hand, from April 14, 1864, to April 14, 1865, the day John Wilkes Booth assassinated Lincoln at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, DC. Having changed the year from 1864 to 1865, Lowry was then able to claim that this pardon was of significant historical relevance because it could be considered one of, if not the final official act by President Lincoln before his assassination.

This is unfortunate. All that makes this any less lamentable is the fact that at least we know the true history of the document and it can no longer have an effect on us.

Too bad that isn’t the case with Michele Bachmann. (Embedding is disabled and WordPress hates embedding CNN videos directly.) She apparently thinks the founding fathers worked tirelessly to end slavery.

The Tea Party fave said that “the very founders that wrote those documents worked tirelessly until slavery was no more in the United States….Men like John Quincy Adams, who would not rest until slavery was extinguished in the country.”

First, John Quincy Adams was not a founding father. Second, no founding father worked tirelessly to end slavery. The one who did the most was Jefferson when he ended the slave trade, but he certainly did not work without tire in order to end the practice all together. Third, virtually all the founding fathers owned black people. Fourth, in case Bachmann or a Bachmann supporter is reading this, let me spell it out: those black people? They were slaves.

Bachmann is said to be looking at a presidential run. As awful as it would be to have such a goof as president, I can’t deny I have a little morbid curiosity. Throw in Sarah Palin and, well, wouldn’t it at least be interesting?

Blood libel

After claiming her rhetoric has nothing to do with violence – one wonders why she took down her violent images and tweets, no? – Sarah Palin has gone and done something else stupid.

Sarah Palin today accused her opponents of manufacturing a “blood libel” by suggesting her rhetoric and campaign tactics had anything to do with the Arizona shootings.

Palin’s bizarre use of language is sure to provoke further controversy. A blood libel refers to a notorious passage in St Matthew where Jews said of the crucifixion: “Let his blood be on our heads.” Later it referred to a medieval myth that Jews killed Christian children as part of a religious ritual. Giffords is Arizona’s first Jewish congresswoman.

I’m more than willing to admit a lack of familiarity with the term “blood libel” before now. But then, I’m not the one using it in a rhetorically correct, but politically horrendous fashion.