Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Bewitched, bothered, and bewildered

O'Donnell Teawitched I suppose I need to write at least one post about the latest teabagger to grace the political stage: Christine O'Donnell.

I don't really want to, because she's so mind-bogglingly ridiculous, but because she could possibly become one of our United States Senators, I feel that I must.

Much has been made of her "I dabbled in witchcraft" statement of twenty-some years ago, but coming from a person raised in a fundamentalist church, I recognize that for the silliness that it is. Based on the fundamentalist viewpoint about witchcraft, the extent of her "dabbling" could have consisted of using a Ouija board. In that sect of faith, everything from gambling to rock music to R-rated movies can be considered flirting with satanic disaster. (Molly Hatchet just sprang to mind.)

So as far as her comments that she dabbled, I don't make too much of it, and I really don't care. Both Wiccans and Satanists have ridiculed her statement, saying that she was not one of them. Frankly, the whole thing has become laughable.

However, what bothers me about this woman (and about so many of the teabaggers...not all, but most) is this particular fundamental Christian outlook and approach to life. That is the religious outlook that I was raised in, and I ran...I ran so far away...and I did so for a reason.

O'Donnell speaks of dabbling in witchcraft; she speaks of masturbation being wrong; she speaks of condoms causing AIDS; she speaks of evolution being a myth and thinks it is a valid argument to wonder why we don't see monkeys today evolving into humans.

All of these claims bear a closer look, because this sort of thinking is indicative of a closed mind and a desire to evangelize. More about that in a moment.

I already mentioned the witchcraft thing. I grew up being taught that rock music and R-rated movies were of the devil. I recall several books and several sermons at church that dissected rock songs and gave details about why they were satanic. Everything from Alice Cooper (a band and persona named after a 17th century witch, and the disgustingly evil song "Only Women Bleed," which these books hysterically proclaimed was about *gasp* menstruation...actually, it's about domestic abuse, dumbasses) to Led Zeppelin singing "Gonna give you every inch of my love" was considered an ungodly and therefore satanic influence. The viewing of movies like "The Exorcist" was claimed to invite demonic possession. The same with seances or playing with a Ouija board. I grew up hearing that if something didn't glorify God, it was not to be listened to because it was a bad influence. Even Halloween was a night when demons ran rampant, just looking for a vulnerable soul to possess. I'm not kidding.

As far as masturbation, what planet is this broad living on? Humans are sexual beings, and it is natural and healthy to figure out how parts work! The suppression of these natural urges was another guilt trip laid on by religion; giving in to such urges also invited demonic possession.

Are you sensing a pattern here?

O'Donnell says that condoms cause AIDS. No, you dim bulb, a VIRUS causes AIDS. Condoms help prevent the transmission of the virus. Yes, of course, we can try to change behavior; but expecting people to not have sex is the height of idiocy. (See above: humans = sexual beings.)

Evolution is not a myth. It is accepted as fact by the vast majority of the scientific community based on fossil evidence, carbon dating, and most recently, DNA analysis. Monkeys did not and do not evolve into humans; we shared a common ancestor and our branches diverged thousands of years ago. This is a common misconception (and in many cases, a deliberate misrepresentation) when it comes to evolution. It is not a straight stick, taking us from apes to is a tree with many branches.

What bothers me about O'Donnell and her ilk is twofold. First, there is what I would call Fruit Fly Syndrome. Yes, I know I go on and on about this, but I think it's a perfect illustration of the lack of intellectual curiosity in some people currently in the political sphere. During the 2008 election, Sarah Palin gave a speech in which she spoke derisively about funding for "fruit fly research in Paris, France." Fruit flies are one of the basic research tools used in science, and they still provide valuable information. Shortly after her speech, a paper was published in which the researchers wrote of their isolation of a gene from fruit flies that looked to be connected to autism in humans. Kind of important, eh? And it's entirely possible that the facility in Paris, France (said so dismissively by Palin) was the Pasteur Institute, one of the most prestigious and important research facilities in the world.

O'Donnell I am truly dismayed by this sort of anti-intellectualism that is being embraced by the teabaggers. Theirs is a world in which everyone doing scientific research is an elitist. Anyone with an education from a premier university is an elitist. Anyone who makes them feel that they are inadequate is an elitist. And anyone who questions their facts and logic (or lack thereof) is most definitely an elitist. This is exactly what we don't want to be doing now. We need to encourage scholarship and advanced education rather than ridiculing it. I have been ridiculed for having a college education, portrayed as some sort of know-it-all with a "fancy" college degree. (Shane and I still laugh about the whole "fancy" designation, and love to insert that word into normal conversation as often as we can.) O'Donnell's question about why monkeys aren't evolving into humans shows a very profound lack of intelligence concerning evolution, and I suspect that her religion dictates that she not question the fundamentalist party line concerning the subject. After all, actually learning more about the subject might lead to further questions, which might lead to doubt, which might lead to a rejection of dogma and fairy tales.

The other thing that bothers me about O'Donnell is something I've written about previously. It's obvious that these types have an agenda and want to force their version of religion onto the rest of us. They love to talk about freedom of religion, but that seems to apply only to their own religion--not anyone else's, and certainly not anyone who doesn't believe or actually subscribes to that whole separation of church and state thing! Newt Gingrich called for the federal government to legislate that Sharia law will never happen here. Oklahoma wants a similar state law. This is ludicrous. Who the fuck is trying to institute Sharia law here?? No one! But people like Palin, O'Donnell, and their like-minded fans seem to have no problem with insertion of their own religion onto the national stage, and think we'd be better off if we did so.

Theocracies are not limited to the Muslim religion. There are people here who wish to institute a theocracy, one of their own choosing. We do not operate that way, and we cannot let them dictate policy based on their religious beliefs. That would be a true perversion of our Constitution...the one that they claim to love so much. We can't let them get away with it.


  1. Beth, you are bewitching, bothersome but defimitely not bewildering. As any Wiccan can tell you one does not dabble in witchcraft any more than one dabbles in swimming the English Channel. As for masturbation, people have been doing it for centuries because we are made so that our hands can easily reach our private parts. Besides, it's fun and you don't have to look your best.

    Monkeys do not eveolve into humans they evolve into better monkeys.

    Religion, ay there's the tough one. When you say "meat" most people think of anything from oranges to bulls, while others think only beef. When you say "religion" thinking people can scoop together a vast number of traditional beliefs and practices, while others think only Christianity. To a foolish fundamentalist, like the subject of your post, there is no other religion. That is a prejudice so hard to shake that it seems to exist in the DNA of the unfortunate group that suffers from it.

    As for elitism, beware. People didn't vote for Adlai Stevenson because he was an egg head, intellectual elitist for the same reason they didnt vote for Thomas Dewey because of his mustache.


  2. As a Delawarean who has had to listen to this candidate babble on, I think you have captured some of her rather well. The lack of intellectual curiosity is amazing. But I think she also has another disturbing aspect I perceive to be the case; she is an attention-seeker who doesn't hold many of the beliefs she espouses. She seems to grasp at ideas and stances that come from a distinct group of disenfranchised voters, with little critical thought behind it. She became a Tea-Party-Bot, with little regard for a factual or textural basis. She is disingenuous, I think, saying things that appeal to the Tea Party base in the primaries. It seems the National GOP handlers feel silence is better for a state-wide electorate. At least I hope it won't work for the electorate...

  3. "Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.'"
    — Isaac Asimov

    Just wanted to pass along a quote that she would have put on t-shirts.

  4. Beth, I thought you would eventually get around to addressing her disturbingly idiotic and amazingly conflicting personal and political statements. I'm with Howard on this one. I think everything you said is true, but the title of media whore really suites her best. As Howard says she doesn't really seem to honestly believe many of the things she says. She says them, to great effect, to get attention. That doesn't make her any less dangerous. If elected nefarious people would use her, to a bad end, I am sure.

    The threat of theocracy is very real here in the states and I don't think most people realize how quickly a theocracy can take hold when it sets seed. History isn't exactly America's forte. The men who founded this nation obviously didn't want a christian theocracy; many spoke against it and thought enough of that belief to write it down for posterity. If they had, they had every opportunity to do so when the nation was being created and when the constitution was being written. They protected religious freedom, but also chose to protect our people from religious governance by creating the separation of religious affairs from state affairs.

    Most of the people who are shouting the loudest about religious freedom and freedom from religious persecution, are what I have come to call new colonialists. They are afraid of WASPs loosing political and monetary dominance and want to make sure everyone else knows the place they want them to stay in. It's rather sad.

  5. I think of this all as just another sign of the dumbing down of this country.

  6. It is hard to make a comment because I simply agree with so much of what you say here, Beth. One of the things that I believe when it comes to religion is that it was more of a tool for the weak to find strength against those who have no other talent or skill than that of mentalism.

    It is sometimes difficult to hold conversations with the faithful... the O'Donnell solution to the evolution question is baffling. When it comes to science, you need to be led to a conclusion with facts but when it comes to religion, the 'missing link' is supposed to appear through faith in magic.

    I have tried to give a western religion a fair hearing in my mind for a lifetime, it seems. But each time the illogic of the philosophy stops me. From essentially the same book and with the same words that has murdered, enslaved and stolen, supported by the same institution that rapes, steals and abuses, I can't barely stand those who denigrate secular or non-theist philosophy.

    It is an insult to my ability to think, which was enable by, if the faithful are correct, the all-knowing sky God. Whatever. Thing is, how can they account for things that were a direct result of belief?


  7. I've decided this time around to pretty much stay clear of blogging politics, but then I do grind my teeth over the religious BS still.

    I'm an Atheist. I'm staying that way. The separation of church & state is such a beautiful thing. Uhm, well, if it worked that way.....

    I'm not liberal & I am not elite..but at least the liberal elite don't shove off any strident, aggressive, noisy religion on me.

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  9. The scary thing is that she is a step up from Palin, because she can actually articulate without writing on her hand.

    Be afraid, very afraid (only because so many currently buy into this bullshit).

  10. As a young boy I confessed to my Roman Catholic priest that I had masturbated, only because I did not wanted to disclose my oral abilities. And in response, the following day his sermon was about “if the hands gives you trouble cut it off.” I knew that my so-called “troubles” were more than my hand. I went into a huge depression afterwards in where I used to vomit at the mentioning of GOD. My parents’ GOD wanted me to be dead! And this is exactly what this media seeker O’Donnell whore wants; for me to be absent.

    Like her base, her limited ability to question is what makes them dangerous. They claim that they stand for Christ while they also stand for death. My Problem with it, is that her base lacks the ability like you said, to differentiate between love and hate. They love to kill! Like her mentor Sarah Palin, that loves to shoot from a helicopter.

  11. I wonder how people who are so deliberately ignorant manage to function in the world. I have in-laws who subscribe to O'Donnell's evangelical fundamentalism; I'm fascinated to watch them do just about anything, wondering how you can get from Point A to Point B in this world without accepting even the most rudimentary science. Call me an elitist. Please.

  12. I heard on CNN that she has a lesbian sister who lives in CA and temporarily moved back to help her sister in her election bid.


I'm funny how, I mean funny like I'm a clown, I amuse you?