Thursday, June 16, 2005

In which your humble author lays out the conditions of batshit-ness

I take the following to be a reasonably complete list of the factors involved when determining whether one is batshit-crazy Religious Right:

a) Substantive political beliefs and substantive religious beliefs are perfectly co-extensive.
b) Political inquiry and religious inquiry are methodologically intertwined (ie, “Should shellfish be banned from grocery stores? Let’s see what the Bible has to say!”)
c) Bad perm/hair
d) Proclivity for pastels and floral patterns/tacky suits
e) Southern accent
f) Conservative politics

(a) creates a rebuttable presumption of being batshit crazy. To whit, many has been the occasion after which a friend of mine has met my family and then noted that, despite their religious and political beliefs, they are not batshit crazy. “See, I told you so,” I say.

(b) is a world unto itself, so it’ll be useful to delineate some of the more common varieties. In its strong version (b'), political belief is wholly and uncritically determined by religious belief, and isn’t even supplemented by political reasoning as such. This is properly Dominionism or Christian Reconstructionism. A slightly weaker version (b''), which is probably only distinguished by its use of political rhetoric, finds the Dominionist conclusion and then ornaments that argument with political arguments (this is the batshit corollary to a genus of the Public Reason principle, in which respect for democracy is located in the type of rhetoric deployed: so long as a political stance is supported by some secular reasoning, the determination doesn’t run afoul of the requirements of Public Reason, and is legitimate). The weakest (b''') takes religious reasoning as a starting point, and then weighs that against properly political reasoning (ie: “Blasphemy is bad, so it should be probably be banned. On the other hand, the principle of free speech is a valuable contributor to our civic culture. I’ll weigh the two and make a decision”).

(b') is clearly a sufficient condition for being batshit-crazy. I’m inclined to say (b'') is, also, a reliable indicator of being batshit-crazy, although there are some reasonable people that will disagree with me. Against those people, I would argue for the (b'')-batshit thesis by noting its explanatory power: including (b'') as a sufficient condition has the virtue of marking virtually everyone at Townhall as totally insane. (b''') is not a characteristic of the batshit crazy; rather, it simply describes how Christians think through political issues (or how people generally think politics, if we substitute ethical inquiry for religious reasoning [the latter being a subset of the former])

Taken together, (c), (d), and (f) are usually enough to create a rebuttable presumption of being batshit.

Of course, add (e) to the above, and you arrive at this:

I rest my case.