Sunday, July 23, 2006

the outer limits of human stupidity

My friend Mike is smart.
He does philosophy.
He lives in Tasmania.

And he writes.
Here's a little something he had published in crikey.com and tasmaniantimes.com (amongst others) earlier this year in response to the (as it turns out) dismayingly effective efforts of 'far-right' christian minorities in Tasmania to sway voting patterns during the recent(ish) state election campaign, thus re-hashing
their federal successes:
No doubt many have seen the Family First ads aired regularly in the lead up to the last Tasmanian election which go straight for the jugular of the "radical Greens". One of the salient aspects of the Family First party is what it doesn't mention - are they not a front for fundamentalist, backward looking evangelical Christian views? Everyone seems to think they are except them...no information pertaining to Christianity on their websites, no information pertaining to Christianity on their tv ads either. Why do they hide? If they are not a conservative front, but card-carrying “people of God”, why are they not proud? Do we really want a “Christian” groups who utilise deception and silliness but call in grand terms for family values and true morality to be getting a foot-hold in Australian politics? Other than Family First, the other prominant metaphysically-driven group of recent times, the otherwise comical Exclusive Brethren, were seeking to extend the political inroads that they initiated in New Zealand. Their “anonymous” brochure, released in the last two weeks leading up to the Tasmanian election, came complete with a bizarre publicity campaign in the streets of Hobart. On several occasions, a car was seen pulling a trailer festooned with anti-Greenery, under the control of a number of sinister looking occupants wearing zombie and clown masks. (Most disturbing for those of us who recall the film “Jacob’s Ladder”). Again, no crucifixes, not even a “Jesus Saves” bumper sticker.

Christian groups vying for political power in Australia are hampered by the tenets of our constitution1 which, compared to, even those of Germany, France, the U.S. and Canada, is radically secular. To the radical Christians, “secular” equates with “no religion”, because no one religion can be allowed to dominate over others in our current political set up, this being one of the major victories of the liberal democratic tradition which, for better or worse, emphasises plurality, competition, and (some isolated areas) of rational-critical debate. Again, sidestepping questions of the “Tyranny of the Majority”2 the state is run by the people, (that is, politicians, corporates, lobby groups, assorted affluent minorities and a gaggle of citizens, some of which give a toss with the rest remaining largely ambivalent. Ah, democracy). To any fundamentalist, religious plurality under the ultimate control of state power is, to many fundamentalists, synonymous with zero religious tolerance.

If fundamentalism can be split into two groups,3 the first of which adheres to their respective theological determinations, and keep to themselves, the second who remain equally adherent, but seek to convert outsiders, then are not the Exclusive Brethren opting to join the class of the suicide bomber?

Greens, Democrats, Labor, (even some Liberal members) must be labeled as "radical", "extreme" and “immoral” by the radical Christians if they commit the cardinal sin of prioritising the political over the numinous. Though many prominent Libs have also shown they are not averse to lowering themselves to pissing in the pockets of the Hillsong Halfwits (Pentacostello got right into the spirit of the evening, with Howard, as usual, just struggling to give us the impression of keeping up happy appearences, and that, no, he wouldn’t say that this was a clarified example of the ghastly machine effort of pandering to potential Liberal voters.) What an insincere, depthless, illusory public persona the modern politician believes they are compelled to generate.

The grand mission of the radical Christian constituents in Australia seek to address voters of a mildly Christian disposition and generally dim-witted nature and convert them through loose appeals to banalities and superstitions dressed up as things that no-one but serial killers can help but care about. The target are God- fearing people, ready to find easy metaphysical solutions to their apparent (and real) problems. Those parties and individuals which do not visibly and overtly declare their adherence to “family values” (i.e. some reading of Christianity) supposedly threaten those values, yet their accusers deploy the term in the lowliest tone of deception, themselves diluting and desecrating any meaning they may have. What a shame (the) God(s) don’t appear to be noticing their deceptions…I can only hope that the few earnest Christian radicals , deep down, feel the fear of guilt that can only emanate from the thoroughly authentic approach to religion.

Nice one, Mike! I particularly like your sly little Kierkegaardian slip at the end there (the undead [and emaciated] existentialist still moaning somewhere within me approves greatly). But the real pisser is that these pathetic techniques to sway voting patterns actually work. They crudely tap into people's fears and more importantly furnish public perceptions that there is some kind of urgent mandate to fight any even remotely progressive positions in a political system that so chronically lacks the values and principles it espouses. But just what did I expect?!
But if you think Family First are bad (and they are) then check out what some Jehovah's Witnesses in Hobart thought would be a valid contribution to public debate.

Fucked up!

Here's a picture if you can't be bothered checking out the article.

1 Comments:

At 11:50 am, Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

"Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it, you'd have good people doing good things and evil people doing bad things, but for good people to do bad things, it takes religion." Steven Weinberg

 

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