Saturday, November 18, 2006

Dan Savage on Borat and Haggard

By Heraclitus

Anyone else notice how Michael always rips me off? I post some stuff on McCain, suddenly he has to post stuff on McCain. I post a WWI poem, suddenly he posts a WWI poem. I link to and quote from Dan Savage's blog post on Santorum's defeat, suddenly Michael links to the same blog post. I'm just sayin'.

Here's Savage's take on the Haggard outing (which I know is a little old now). Bottom line: this proves you can't cure gay. Somehow I expect that the people who are stupid enough to think that you can, that being gay is some kind of disease, won't take note, but what can you do?

Meanwhile, I think it is truly impossible to say who is further beneath contempt, David Brooks or John Tierney. Brooks can be funny when he's writing about Home Depot or such things. What's terrifying is that at some point people somehow got the idea that he knows something about things like Iraq and should be included in adult conversations. Brooks is at his most contemptible, at least in my opinion, when he's pandering to social conservatives, the ignorant and retrograde bigots who compose the worst of the Republican Party. In fact, I almost prefer the outright lunacy of folks like Pam Atlas or Pat Robertson over the pretence Brooks makes at moderation and decency while fellating the most repellant people in the country.

So it's no surprise that Brooks has criticized the Borat movie because Sacha Cohen is an urban elite ridiculing the rubes of fly-over country (apparently Tierney has already made this shamefully dishonest argument, but so witless is Brooks that he can only rip-off his fellow NYT right-wing hack). Nevermind that he ridicules them for being racist, homophobic, sexist and generally mean-spirited and bigoted. And nevermind that he doesn't ridicule these people, he just allows them to expose themselves as the ugly souls they are. You're not allowed to make fun of reliable GOP voters, especially not if you're going to expose them for the knuckle-dragging, mouth-breathing louts that they are (and, by the way, I'm not saying that all GOP voters are the sorts of bigots ridiculed in Borat. I'm not saying that at all. But, quite seriously, David Brooks is.)

What I love about Dan Savage is his ability to cut through self-serving mendacity and moralistic grandstanding like a laser. In this case, he correctly identifies the mixture of self-pity and aggression at the heart of the identity politics that constitute so much of Red State America, and that are the mark of the adult bully. Here's the finale of Savage's response to the call to show greater respect for the "values" of social conservatives:

At bottom it’s really not about respect for their values. It’s about insisting that everyone adopt their values. When we say, “We hear you, homelanders, but we think you’re wrong,” that’s makes ‘em mad. That’s what kills ‘em. They're so insecure that they take our rejection of their oppressive, retrograde political agenda as somehow personally disrespectful—particularly of their religious beliefs. They only way to appease an Allen is to live like one. Not gonna happen.

Yes, yes: It’s bad politics to be openly dismissive of the homelanders, as they wield disproportionate political power, thanks to a stacked Senate and the Electoral College. But we should call the rubes on their hypocrisy, their ignorance, and their fear. And mockery is one way to do it. If it makes the Allens angry, good. Maybe the anger will make him think.

God bless Borat.

The Allen he mentions is from a book he discusses in the post. I highly recommend reading the whole thing.

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  • Gilbert Keith Chesterton wrote that the test of a good religion is that you can joke about it. I think the same thing goes for other social values and politics. If the "Rubes" joke about their values, it's most often a cruel joke at the expense of those who disagree. Pope Benedict has been preaching that it's wrong to offend the feelings of the religious. I think it's fair game and open season.

    The lack of humor is also a good test of any fanatic and if someone is apt to kill you for drawing Mohammed in a funny way or Jesus or Moses or the Pope - I don't feel obligated to dignify their beliefs at all.

    Menken said and famously "We must respect the other fellow's religion, but only in the same sense and to the same extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart."

    It's not that there are no beliefs that I respect, but when belief is composed of superstition and the urge to force it on others - let a thousand comics make jokes.

    By Blogger Capt. Fogg, at 1:28 PM  

  • You know I love you, Heraclitus.

    By Blogger Michael J.W. Stickings, at 6:48 PM  

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