Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Mark Morford Thinks I'm and Idiot

I cannot abide. This guy is a terrible writer, and not a thinker by any definition of the term.

There are three basic ways to talk to complete idiots.

I suppose.

The first is to assail them with facts, truths, scientific data, the commonsensical obviousness of it all.

That's not really a "way" to talk to someone, idiot or otherwise. This refers to the content of your message. Ideally, your content should be factual, regardless of tactic, eh?

You do this in the very reasonable expectation that it will nudge them away from the ledge of their more ridiculous and paranoid misconceptions because, well, they're facts, after all, and who can dispute those?

Misconceptions cannot, by definition, be "paranoid". Am I allowed to point out category errors while Morford points out "facts"? Is this an appropriate way for "idiots" to respond to their intellectual superiors?

Why, idiots can, that's who. It is exactly this sort of logical, levelheaded appeal to reason and mental acuity that's doomed to fail, simply because in the idiotosphere, facts are lies and truth is always dubious, whereas hysteria and alarmism resulting in mysterious undercarriage rashes are the only things to be relied upon.

Undercarriage rashes? Is this a reference to STDs? Dude, we in the "idiotosphere" don't typically spend our time worrying about that stuff. How about using a more familiar anecdote to describe our hysteria. Football comparisons are good. Googling "football wiki" will give you the basic background. The men wear form-fitting clothing. You'll dig it.


Yes please.


Scarcely necessary to innumerate, therefore.

You may, for instance, attempt to explain evolution to an extreme fundamentalist Christian.

You might explain to your editor why it's necessary to dredge up this old chestnut when you're 90 minutes from deadline and hungover. He just won't listen. Idiot. Write the column anyway.

You may offer up carbon dating, the fossil record, glaciers, any one of 10,000 irrefutable proofs.

Carbon dating is an "irrefutable proof"? Does Mark know what a "proof" is, or what irrefutability is? Or what carbon dating is?

You may even dare to talk about the Bible as the clever, completely manufactured, man-made piece of heavily politicized, massively edited, literary myth-making it so very much is, using all sorts of sound academic evidence and historical record.

Someone should massively edit this sentence. I mean, there are some pretty serious biblical scholars among us idiots. Do you really want to get in a shootout with this kinda sloppy writing? Of course you don't. That's why you write crappy opinion pieces in SF and get invited to cocktail parties by people who don't realize how utterly banal and unexceptional they are.

You are, of course, insane beyond belief to try this, but sometimes you just can't help it.

Whereas Mark, apparently, can help it just fine.

To the educated mind,

To the educated mind, it seems trifling to begin a paragraph with "To the educated mind."

it seems inconceivable that millions of people will choose rabid ignorance and childish fantasy over, say, a polar bear.

Really? A polar bear is preferable to the entirety of childish fantasy, as a concept? That's not what Mark meant, but that's what he wrote. Cause, you know, he's so smart he doesn't need to convey his point with any measure of clarity.

Permafrost. Rocks. Nag Hammadi.

When talking to an idiot, it is best to shout nouns at them.

Faced with this mountain of factual obviousness, the bewildered fundamentalist will merely leap back

In fairness, no Christian has ever seriously considered the question of rocks. A conundrum of this magnitude is beyond our ken. He's got us there.

as if you just jabbed him with a flaming homosexual cattle prod,

Mark Morford in a nutshell.

and then fall into a swoon about how neat it is that angels can fly.

It is pretty neat. They're everywhere and speak to us in puppy smiles and unicorn dreams. So you can keep your permafrost, Mr. Obviousness.

But it's not just the fundamentalists.

What, the angels thing? Correct. Almost everyone believes in angels, rendering irrelevant the above flight of rhetorical (non-)fancy.

This Rule of Idiocy also explains why, when you show certain jumpy, conservative Americans the irrefutable facts about, say, skyrocketing health care costs that are draining their bank accounts,

They will note that the present health care plan will do precisely nothing to alleviate those costs. That, Mark, is the argument. It's an irrefutable fact, even. Or is the Congressional Budget Office loaded with angel-believing idiots.

and then show how Obama's rather modest overhaul is meant to save members of all ages and genders and party affiliations a significant amount of money

So, what we idiots are supposed to do is ignore the facts, and look at the intentions. It doesn't matter whether Obama's modest overhaul cuts costs. All that matters is that he intends to do so. Obama can do it because he's Obama and you love him. That sounds a bit, I dunno, religious, eh Mark?

while providing basic insurance for their family, they, too, will scream and kick like a child made to eat a single bite of broccoli.

Again, like the STD thing, this isn't really in the idiotowheelhouse. Our kids eat their broccoli. We spank them if they don't, and send them to bed with their Rush Limbaugh stuffed animal. Use another example.

Remember, facts do not matter.

Apparently not.

The actual Obama plan itself does not matter.

Since, actually, there is no actual Obama plan.

Fear of change, fear of the "Other," fear of the scary black socialist president,

Oh good, the race card. Never saw that coming.

fear that yet another important shift is taking place that they cannot understand and which therefore makes them thrash around like a trapped animal?

Trapped animal is much better than the broccoli thing. Immediately after forcing our kids to eat broccoli, we teach them to hunt game, so they never have to eat broccoli again.

This is all that matters.

What is all that matters? My kingdom for an antecedent.

This is why, even when you whip out, say, a fresh article by the goodly old Washington Post

Not this one, though. We idiots don't approve of that kind of thing.

-- not exactly a bastion of lopsided liberalthink --

It is precisely a bastion of lopsided liberalthink.

Go ahead, try it. Or better yet, don't.

We've already read it, after all. We have the internets in the idiotosphere, thanks to rural electrification.

Option two is to try to speak their language, dumb yourself down, engage on the idiot's level as you try to figure out how their minds work
Using lots of commas, for example, in lieu of periods.

-- or more accurately, don't work --
This is pretty sophisticated, so I wanted to explain Mark's joke to my readers (most of whom are obviously idiots). Above, Mark evoked the colloquial use of "work" to abstractly define our thought process. Here, in a brilliant turn of phrase, he is recasting "work" in the literal sense. Literally, our brains don't work, and so you see how he has demeaned us with his flaming gay cattle prod of wit.

This is, as you already sense, a dangerous trap, pure intellectual quicksand. It almost never works, and just makes you feel gross and slimy.
Quicksand never works? That's how this is written. Again, I know what he means, but is his meaning really worth a response? This is a verbose way of saying conservatives are dumb. He made that argument with his (again, brilliant) "work" scenario.

Nevertheless, plenty of shrewd political strategists believe that the best way for Obama and the Dems to get their message across regarding everything from health care reform to new environmental regulation, would be to steal a page from the Glenn Beck/Karl Rove/sociopath's playbook, and start getting stupid.

Who believes this? How do they articulate this belief?

It's all about the bogus catchphrases, the sound bites, the emotional punches-to-the-gut.

Some shrewd political strategists suggest the use of catch phrases, a stylistic convention that was only introduced to political discourse in April of this year.

Death panels! Rationing! Fetus farms! Puppy shredders!

Rick Santorum earned a PETA endorsement for opposing puppy farms. Neither here nor there. Moving on.
Commie medicine! Gay apocalypse! Forced vaccinations!

We already have de facto forced vaccinations. Is it ridiculous to speculate that we will have what we presently have?

Exposed nipples during prime-time!

A Janet Jackson joke. That's keeping it current.

Let one of these inane, completely wrong but oh-so-haunting verbal ticks bite into the below-average American brainstem, and watch your cause bleed all over the headlines.

The brain stem regulates involuntary functions, such as breathing and heartbeat. Is Mark Morford suggesting conservatives are below average w/r/t brain stem functionality? Are we poor at regulating internal temperature? Did anything in Mark's illustrious understand the physiology of the brain stem?

The big snag here is that the Dems, unlike the Republican Party, aren't really beholden to a radical, mal-educated base of fundamentalist crazies to keep them afloat.
Present authorship excluded.

Truly, the political success of the liberal agenda does not depend on the irrational, Bible-crazed "value voter" who's terrified of gays, believes astronomy is a hoax and thinks Jesus spoke perfect English and really liked giving hugs.

Quick comment. If any side is guilty of labeling Jesus as a treacly hug-giver, it is the left. I mean, wouldn't you agree?

In other words, there really is little point in the liberals adopting this strategy, save for the fact that the major media eats it up and it might serve to counterbalance some of the more ridiculous conservative catchphrases.
Liberals cannot demonstrate success using catchphrases. No they can't!

What's more, it could also give the whiny, bickering Dems something slightly cohesive to rally around -- because the truth is, the Democratic Party isn't all that bright, either.

I emphatically agree on this count.

And now we come to option three, easily the finest and most successful approach of all. Alas, it also remains the most difficult to pull off. No one is exactly sure why.
I haven't read it yet, but I can tell you the reason it won't work is that it ignores political reality.

The absolute best way to speak to complete idiots is, of course, not to speak to them at all.

This ignores political reality.

That is, you work around them, ignore them completely, disregard the rants and the spittle and the misspelled protest signs and the fervent prayers for apocalypse on Fox News.

And then the idiots get together and vote you out of office. We are able to find the voting booths by dressing up has crazy homeless people until an Acorn representative spots us and gives us a ride. That's why the exit polling data is skewed. But hey, free whiskey!

Complete refusal to take the fringe nutballs even the slightest bit seriously is the only way to make true progress.
Have fun with that.

This also happens to be the invaluable advice of one Frank Schaeffer, noted author and a former fundamentalist nutball himself, who made a simply superb appearance on Rachel Maddow's show recently, wherein he offered up one of the most articulate, fantastic takedowns of the fundamentalist idiot's mindset in recent history. It's a must-watch. Do it. Do it now.
Advice to TPWK readers. Don't do it, now or in the future. Schaeffer's a dud.

Now, you may argue that, while Schaeffer may be dead right and also rather deserving of being quoted far and wide, it's also true that calling people stupid is no way to advance the debate,

Which, how could it be?

and is itself rather childish and stupid. And you'd be absolutely right.

So what have we learned, Mark?

When you ignore the idiots completely, you are not calling them anything at all.
Correct. And, as an added benefit, you are not calling them idiots.

You are not trying to advance any sort of argument, because there is no debate taking place.

That explains this piece.

You are simply bypassing the giant pothole of ignorance entirely.
No, not necessarily.

You are not kowtowing to the least educated of your voting bloc, like the GOP is so desparetely [sic] fond of doing.

First of all, the word Mark is looking for is "notoriously." Second, he incorrectly spelled his incorrectly used term. Third, he misused the term "bloc". All of this in the process of citing my lack of education.

I'm done.


Anonymous California Moderate said...

Great article!

It's a shame Mark Morford isn't self-aware enough to know that he's guilty of every single foible he tries (and fails) to lampoon his political opponents for.

What a monumental jackass.

12:18 PM  

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