The right wing has become so removed from the mainstream that it's begun to create its own culture. I can sum this new subculture up in one unsurprising word: dumb. Complex issues are boiled down into simple talking points (many of which don't really have anything to do with the issue), repeated ad nauseam, and digested at an entirely emotional level. In right wing world, messages are aimed straight for the gut, not the head, and the result is that those messages are accepted by people who don't use their heads to make decisions. In other words, dumb people. This is why we're finding a new species of pseudo-celebrity rising on the right -- the accidental spokesperson. Think Joe the Plumber; dumb as a stump, unwilling to learn anything, and everywhere.
The newest version of the accidental celebrity is Miss California, Carrie Prejean, who gave a painfully inelegant answer to a question by a pageant judge and celebrity news blogger. Take a moment to compare the reactions to these two D-list celebrities on the left and the right. The right embraced Carrie Prejean, whose fumbling answer has made her the spokesperson for "opposite-marriage," as practically the reincarnation of Thomas Paine. For the left, celebrity news blogger Perez Hilton is still just annoying. Where Carrie Prejean automatically became the face of the right's opposition to marriage equality, Hilton remains an online scandal sheet writer of no great consequence. We really don't care about him one way or another.
But the right sure does. Every hero needs a villain and the mean man calling the pretty lady a "bitch" works well enough. He'll work for a villain, but not much of one. The hero's worth is defined by the strength of the villain and Perez Hilton isn't exactly a powerful enemy. So you've got to build the guy up a little.
Here's Prejean from an interview with James Dobson, via US News & World Report:
I felt as though Satan was trying to tempt me in asking me this question. And then God was in my head and in my heart saying, "Do not compromise this. You need to stand up for me and you need to share with all these people... you need to witness to them and you need to show that you're not willing to compromise that for this title of Miss USA."
If God were in your head, you'd think you'd be a little more eloquent. But Satan was tempting her with the question and Hilton asked it, therefore Hilton is either possessed by, a minion of, or the earthly incarnation of Satan. Now there's a villain.
And here's where things get really interesting. Prejean is now defending the US Constitution from the freakin' devil. After successfully defending her Miss California Crown yesterday (on an issue entirely different from her opposite-marriage advocacy), she put her situation in patriotic terms.
...Prejean, who was accompanied by her parents, took her turn at the lectern, defending herself against "hateful attacks, despicable rumors and false allegations."
"On April 19 on that stage I exercised my freedom of speech, and I was punished for doing so," said Prejean, who described Hilton's question as "politically charged" with a "hidden personal agenda."
"This should not happen in America."
Yeah, this is America and Freedom of Speech means you can say anything you want and everyone has to shut up about it. When you use your speech, it means no one else gets to use theirs. It's first come, first served. The ignorance of what her rights and ours actually are is a hallmark of the right.
Consider an entirely different Carrie Prejean. Asked Hilton's question, she says she's a lesbian who can't wait to marry her sweetheart. Think the right would have the same concern for whatever the hell she seems to think her constitutional rights are then? They'd have torn her apart.
But, as I said, the right wing subculture is dumb. It requires ignorance of those within it. If you don't know what your rights are, all the better. That the First Amendment protects you from the government -- not gay bloggers who might ask you uncomfortable questions at a beauty pageant -- is just a little too much information for the subculture to support. That's what the media refers to as "nuance" and the rest of us refer to as "fact."
So the right wing subculture embraces Prejean's definition of the First Amendment -- I get to have my opinion and you get to shut up -- as Gospel. That they would never give this same consideration to my lesbian version of her is beside the point. Hypocrisy is a big word, full of nuance.
So the misunderstanding of our rights goes on tour in the right wing media. In this case, Bill O'Reilly's show on FOX. Now I'm not saying that O'Reilly's a stupid man. He just has a stupid show, aimed at stupid people, on which he makes stupid statements. He may be brilliant, but let's just say there's no evidence of that. On Monday, O'Reilly regaled the stupid people watching his stupid with show a series of stupid statements.
In the "Factor Follow-up" segment tonight: My newspaper column this week is about the incredibly hypocritical ACLU not sticking up for Miss California's freedom of speech. It's unbelievable. I also suggest respectfully that gay Americans should take the lead in supporting Miss California's right to voice an opinion on gay marriage. After all, gays want freedom of expression, too, do they not? And where are the women's groups, as Carrie Prejean has been called all kinds of vile names?
It's really hard to know where to start. Why would the ACLU care about a beauty pageant -- where is the government involvement there? Just because Prejean says this is a First Amendment issue doesn't mean she's right. And she's not. She said something, now everyone else gets to comment on what she said. By this same logic, why isn't "the incredibly hypocritical" Bill O'Reilly sticking up for those criticizing the beauty queen? Doesn't he want them to enjoy their rights?
And the other two questions are just as inane. Why would gays have to support her? That one doesn't even come close to making sense. And since when have women's groups been big fans of beauty contests?
But that's the right wing subculture. It's inane. You see this ignorance of what the First Amendment guarantees again and again and again. I can sum up the effect of this misunderstanding pretty succinctly; conservatives have rights, you don't. When they attack you for something you've said, that's legitimate criticism. When you attack them for something they've said, it's a freakin' constitutional crisis that really should go before the Supreme Court.
Maybe this is why the Republican party has become so unpopular. The plain fact that they rely on dumb people puts them outside the mainstream. There just aren't enough dumb people out there, so they're trying their damnedest to make us all dumb.
Thankfully, it doesn't seem to be working.
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