Tuesday, May 03, 2005

BSC Rebuttal to “Conservatives ♥ South Park”

The Blue State Conservatives site has a good rebuttal to the May 1, 2005 NY Times Article written by Frank Rich “Conservatives ♥ South Park”, that tried to debunk Brian C. Anderson’s book “South Park Conservatives”. In his article, Rich claims that the “faith-based right became the new left” and suggests that the Christian fundamentalist zeal to rid the public airwaves of “indecent” programming would lead to a new “political correctness” in which evangelical overlords would dictate what we were allowed to watch based upon their moral values.

In short, Mr. Rich’s article is hyperbole, simple rhetoric designed to portray the evangelical right as mainstream conservatism. Granted, the GOP has its fair share of ideological extremists just as the DNC does, but they are no more indicative of the mainstream Republican agenda any more so than Ward Churchill is indicative of mainstream Democratic doctrine. The difference is that liberal bias in the mainstream American press ensures that conservative embarrassments get a lot more airtime.

Mr. Rich does have a point however. Regarding the activities of some “decency” advocates aligned with the Republican movement to police entertainment subject matter on the airways, Mr. Rich writes:

Should such theocratic conservatives prevail, "South Park" conservatives will be hipper than they ever could have imagined - terminally hip, you might say.

He is right on that point. At present, the mainstream media bends left and now that there are alternatives available to information consumers they are taking their intellect elsewhere, as the book “South Park Conservatives” authoritatively illustrates. If the ultra-conservative elements of the GOP start over-exploiting the recent rightward shift in American attitudes by attempting to impose their morals on mainstream voters, they can expect the same sort of backlash that they benefited from when the liberals attempted the same thing with same-sex marriage. One of the quickest ways the right can undo recent gains is by trying to “clean-up” the airways and censor material they consider objectionable but mainstream America considers entertaining. Personally, I welcome advice on how to entertain myself from the moral majority about as much as Pope Benedict would welcome fashion tips from Marilyn Manson. Letting the religious right, people who are susceptible to delusional interpretations of latent homoeroticism in Spongebob Squarepants cartoons, have a voice about what I should be able to watch on television is completely ludicrous, and I would bet most conservatives would agree with me.

Unfortunately, it is not just far-right fruit loops bestowing believability to Mr. Rich’s dissertations. Recent FCC actions have provided some real concern to those of us who are vehemently opposed to being subject to legislated morality. The Janet Jackson Super Bowl fiasco was a perfect case in point. I was not personally offended by what happened during the halftime show (which my multiple TiVo re-viewings of the incident will certainly attest to) but I was not at all happy that it happened during a family oriented event with no warning to viewers of what was to have transpired. People should have been held accountable for that, namely the performers that committed the act and, to a limited extent, the organizers of the event for not knowing what their performers were up to. Fining every station that broadcast it however was going way too far and I believe that the FCC really overstepped their bounds on that action.

Then you have the repeated persecution of Howard Stern. Now, I will go on record right now and say that I am not a Howard Stern fan by any means. It is not because I find him indecent or offensive, it is just that humor is a very subjective personal trait and I do not find him all that funny. I will be the first to point out however that millions of people DO find him funny and he has developed a rabidly loyal following. Now even though I may not appreciate his humor all that much, that gives me no right to clamor for his show to be thrown off of the air. His fans have a right to listen to him and I have the right to tune into WRIF’s Drew and Mike morning show if I am not enamored with Howard Stern. Turning the dial is not that hard of a thing to do and frankly, if Stern’s product had no entertainment value as his critics imply, he would not have enjoyed the spectacular success that he has. Even though I am not a fan, I wish him all the luck in the world on his new endeavor at Sirius.

Of course, the evangelicals have the fallback argument that their actions are designed to “protect our children” but frankly, if the children’s mothers and fathers are not monitoring what their kids are exposed to, the children are in far greater danger of bad parenting than they are of bad radio.

In my opinion, Mr. Rich is unable to debunk Brian C. Anderson’s “South Park Conservatives” so he is resorting to the tactic of trying to sew hysteria about what the implications could possibly be of a nation seduced by Republicanism. I believe the truth of the matter to be that in 2004, independent voters were not so much seduced by the right as they were repulsed by the left. As a conservative, I believe we now have home court advantage. The independents are ours to lose, which we could easily do by giving the religious right too much sway over the GOP’s domestic policy. If moderate voters feel threatened by the specter of faith-based policymaking in 2008, they could easily cross the aisle. The only thing that would save us then would be a cataclysmic blunder by the DNC, something like nominating Hillary Clinton to run for president in which case the 2008 election would be in the bag.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Granted, the GOP has its fair share of ideological extremists just as the DNC does, but they are no more indicative of the mainstream Republican agenda any more so than Ward Churchill is indicative of mainstream Democratic doctrine. The difference is that liberal bias in the mainstream American press ensures that conservative embarrassments get a lot more airtime.

I don't think that's accurate. Not one member of the mainstream Democratic party even mentioned supporting Ward Churchill, and I highly doubt any members of the Democratic Party subscribe to his interpretation of American policy. With the "religious fringe" of the Republican Party, there is a different story. The Schiavo debacle, these campaigns based on wedge issues and values, direct appeal to the Evangelical crowd, meetings with Evangelical leaders, Bush believing he's doing God's work, and General Boykin claiming we're fighting God's war....a significant part of the Republican party either subscribes to these fringe beliefs, or lays down and lets legislation embodying these radical notions be passed. Alabama wants to ban gay literature? Texas wants to ban sexy cheerleading? Hell, the chairman of the Texas State Republican Party is a self-described Christian Nationalist.
As for liberal media focusing more on conservative embarassments, I don't think thats the case. Despite the fact that most anchors/journalists are liberal, and many station managers and network heads are conservative, what dictates coverage isn't politics, its profit. DeLay gets beaten up now because he's the juiciest scandal around. While the Republicans are in power, their scandals will draw the most attention, and the most viewership. Don't forget how relentless the media were with Clinton during the Lewinsky scandal. Sex scandals trump campaign contribution scandals because they'll draw in more viewers. Remeber the Chandra Levy case? Media bias isn't that simple. And, if you read the same Frank Rich op-ed I did, then you read where he points out times when South Park has lampooned conservatives as well (including the entire case for war in Iraq). Actually, they scathingly satire whoever is ripe for it.

5:28 PM  
Blogger JEP said...

First off, I'd like to thank you for your input. You present a well thought out case and some very good points, many of which I am not going to argue with you about because I share your opinion. For instance, the Schiavo affair was one of the embarrassments that even I thought was unbelievable. Boykin I would also classify as an ideological extremist but, evangelical rhetoric aside, is exactly the kind of person I want in the position he is in. I believe the best person to catch a fundamentalist extremist is another fundamentalist extremist. Its not pretty, but that is the way to win a war. As for Bush believing he is doing God's work, well, I believe he does but not in the way I take it you are implying. Bush is a religious man and I think he will always be convinced he's doing God's work, whether it be by running the globe's only superpower or selling hot dogs at a local bowling alley. I do not for a second believe he is running his war based upon any biblical blueprint.

As for the right's embarrasments getting more airtime, I stand by the statement. I had to search for news about the judicial attempt to alter the Pledge of Allegiance a few years back but had no trouble hearing about an Alabaman anomoly regarding literature tainted by homosexuality. I believe I also did my small part in helping to expose the idiocy for what it was. That is just one example off of the top of my head.

And finally, South Park Conservatism itself. I have not read a single item anywhere where the creaters of South Park proclaimed themselves to be conservative. We adopted them, they didn't adopt us. Still, that's the title non-traditional conservatives are known by these days so it seems like we're stuck with it (personally I prefer PJ O'Rourke's "Republican Party Reptile").

Anyway, once again, I genuinely appreciate the time and thought you put into commenting upon this post and hope that you find The JEP Report interesting enough to keep coming back to.

11:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1. I didn't mean to imply Bush is following a biblical blueprint, but at the same time, the nature of religious conviction, at least in the terms I believe he holds it, is that it makes one uninterested in considering the complexities of a situation and possible alternatives. Black and white ideas of right and wrong have no place in a world full of systemic interaction, where one action has a dozen effects on intended targets, a hundred on unintended targets, and most of them are undesirable outcomes.
2. When the GOP came into power under Gingrich and the Contract with America, they did it because the Democrats disgraced themselves, and the media informed the public. Tom DeLay is bringing that upon his own party now.
3. I also think I oversimplified things. The Pledge of Allegiance has less appeal than the Alabama story because the pledge of allegiance thing annoys everyone. I am staunchly secular and pretty goddamn far left. I don't believe "under god" should be in the pledge. (It was put in during the 50s, in order to affirm our differences from the Communists. I think it was an excellent idea, and in fact, if we ended every spoken phrase with under god, we probably could've ditched all that containtment stuff.) Yet, if some jackass wants to claim its hurting his child to say it, and waste countless taxpayer dollars and time that could be spent deliberating important issues and people's lives, I'm pretty fucking pissed, and pretty uninterestsed in the story.
The Alabama Thing - Gay, Liberal, Open-minded, Socially conservative, or not - except for a very small fringe, Americans can universally agree that we are intelligent enough not to get brainwashed. We hate censorship and find it insulting. The story has more appeal.
3. I could be wrong - this could be my perspective just because I'm at the age where I'm really concentrating on my political identity, but...I think political identity and the makeup of our parties and the applicability of established labels...I think its all undergoing a large shift. Traditional constituencies are being broken up, rhetoric is getting polarized, fewer Americans universally agree with one party's agenda...whereas people didn't mind being called liberals 6 years ago, its an epithet now. Possibly vice versa with conservative.
4. I'm glad I got that post out before I went to my Cinco celebration.

7:36 PM  
Blogger JEP said...

I don't have a whole lot of time so I'll answer briefly point by point (and off the cuff).

1. War sucks. No arguement there. There are serious and mindnumblingly horrific consequences every time military force is unleashed. Those consequences get much worse the longer a situation is left alone however. I believe Bush made the right decisions in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

2. Even if Delay is disgraced out of this, and he very well may be, I seriously doubt he's going to take the GOP down with him. That's just wishful thinking.

3. No arguement - I agree with you (except for the being left thing). I detest political correctness but I detest ANY type of censorship even more.

3. (#2)Once again, I can't argue with anything there. That is my point. I am a Republican, but in no way shape or form align myself with the faith based right. I would guess the myriad of people who voted GOP in 2004 would say the same thing.

4. I too am glad you got that out before Cinquo de Mayo. Since my wife will be giving birth any time now, I have to sit this one out. Enjoy.

9:29 PM  

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