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.