On Edwards, Bloggers, and Religion

Ah, why do I have to be so busy on a news-filled day (no, not Anna Nicole Smith)? I barely saw the computer today. I’d get home, have about 5 minutes before I have to go out again and so on. NPR did not mention Edwards until 4pm or so (that I heard in the car), so when I first got home I only had time to open e-mail, scan about 50 new messages, home in to the one that had the news, open it, get the links and quickly post without more than a quick skim of the statements by Edwards and others, let alone any time to add commentary (except for what the title implied I felt at the time). And then there were comments I did not have time to respond to. And all the other blogospheric responses I was missing…Ah, well. The family is asleep so I’ll try to catch up now.

First, Lane Hudson puts the whole case as clearly and succintly as possible, so if you do not have time and patience for the rest of my post or other links, this is the one to read: Anti-Semite Bigot is Loving to Hate John Edwards
Also very worth reading to understand how the campaign handles netroots, read this: Elizabeth Edwards on “the Sieve”
I’ll add a bunch more links on the bottom later on. Now I’ll try to be as systematic about this as I can.
Personal History and The Disclaimer
Just to put everything clearly up first before any questions arise:
I am not working for the Edwards campaign in any capacity.
Back in Raleigh, the Edwards’ lived a few blocks away from where we lived. Soon after we moved to Chapel Hill, the Edwards’ also moved to Chapel Hill. They are my neighbors. I cannot claim we are best drinking buddies, but we’ve met a few times. I followed John’s political career since he announced his run for Senate against Lauch Faircloth. In summer 1998, when I became the US citizen, one of the questions on the “test” was to name the two current NC senators and I answered “Jesse Helms and Lauch Faircloth, but hopefully not for long”. A few months later I voted in my very first US election and the first vote on the top of the ballot was for Edwards for Senate.
After a few Usenet years in the early 1990s, battling anti-Serbian trolls, I mostly went offline for a while, focusing on grad school and my research instead. But in 2003, disgusted with the GOP rule, the 2000 electoral debacle and the Iraq war, I went back online and researched all the apparent Democratic candidates for President. I liked several of them, but I liked Edwards the best – and by following him for a few years I knew more about him than about the others. In September 2003 I started commenting on his campaign blog. A year later I started my own blog and wrote mostly about politics until after the 2004 election when I switched my blogging focus to science.
Again this year, I like several of the potential candidates, but still believe that Edwards is the best, for a number of reasons. So, I am openly his supporter and have never hidden that. After all these years, I know a number of people associated with the campaign and they know me. That does not mean I know anything about what is happening behind the closed doors although I live about a 100 yards from the HQ. I do not have my “spies” inside the campaign and if I get some news early, that usually means 30 minutes before it is all over CNN, not hours or days ahead.
Would I accept a paying job with the Edwards campaign if offered (unlikely, of course)?
No. I cherish my independence too much. I am pathologically anti-authoritarian in real life (which is not always good for me). I can’t even tell myself what to do without incurring rebellion! I always found it difficult to work for others (my PhD advisor excepted, but I have such huge respect for him and he was never trying to push his authority on me, he earned it through his wisdom). The biggest mistake I make is announce here that I will blog about something. That almost guarantees I will not post about it tomorrow (bye-bye, amylase post). In six months perhaps, more likely never. After all, who am I to dictate to myself what to write about and when!? So, when I write anything on this blog, it is because I want to at the time I want to. I have the deepest admiration for people who are capable of writing on deadline, with an editor approving topics. That is also why I will never be able to work for a political campaign – while I understand the importance of campaign discipline, I am incapable of following it myself.
Why Edwards?
I have opinions on many issues, as does everyone else. There is not a single person in the history of the planet with whom I agree 100% on everything. This is a truism that applies to everyone, of course. Likewise, there is not a single person in the history of the planet with whom I cannot find something, however banal, on which we agree 100%.
We do not pick our friends and enemies by evaluating how many things we agree or disagree on, but on how we stand on a handful of issues that each one of us finds important.
There are perhaps ten people currently considering running for President for Dems and about ten for GOP (plus probably a couple of third-party candidates). That is a very small pool to choose from who to support. Out of that pool, I find I agree with Edwards on issues that are important to me. Plus, I am pragmatic enough to know that he has a reasonable chance to actually win.
What is important to me is going to be biased by my own personal history. While outraged by the Iraq war, that issue is very low on my list of priorities: it is a part of an overall Republican mode of governing and not an isolated issue. Furthermore, the US foreign policy as a whole is very different from what I’d like to see and I am unlikely to see a candidate of any party coming even close to me on this issue, though I trust that any Democrat if elected would pull out of Iraq fast. So, Iraq is off the table for me. It does not incense me with any kind of strong emotional pull as it does some other people for whom the war is the one and only issue in this election.
I guess if I was black, or a woman, or gay, the issues of race, gender and sexual orientation would be #1. I am not. I also see those as parts of general Enlightement principles that can be taken care of once conservative ideology is defeated and marginalized enough so that we can raise new generations of enlightened children. I explained recently why I think Edwards is the man for this bigger-picture job.
I am unemployed and poor, so the issue of poverty as a part of a general issue of the way economic system is set up in the USA is important to me. While I harbor no illusions that the system will be changed any time soon, the way Edwards approaches the issue of poverty and his just-announced health-care proposal, are, IMHO, the best moves in the right direction that can potentially pave the way for more systemic changes further down the line. Yet even that is just a part of the bigger picture of trying to move the country towards modernity.
I was born and raised an atheist. I did not have to go through the painful process of self-doubting and losing my religion. Thus, I am not a fervent atheist – it just comes naturally to me and I cannot imagine being anything else. This is why the issue of religion is lower on my list than that of many US-born atheists who had to go through such a process. As long as the wall between the church and state is kept standing and the fundamentalists are kept on the margins, I have no problem with people believing whatever myths they want to if that makes them happy or feeling more secure.
Now, the anti-atheist sentiment in this country is the result of direct fundamentalist sliming over the centuries and can be addressed by ridiculing and marginalizing the fundamentalists. Part of this ridiculing effort also involves explaining why religious beliefs are irrational and silly. Part of this effort involves exposing all the evils perpetrated in the name of religion over the millenia, including today. But many people have a deep emotional need to believe in something bigger than themselves, and as long as such a need is channelled towards doing good, and not manipulated by Priests of various religions for their own aggrandizement or whatever other political or financial gains, I am fine with that. If the marginalization of fundamentalism happens and thus people understand what atheism is and isn’t and being an atheist is not being a second-order citizen, the rest of the society will slowly secularize itself over the generations as well. More on this, in the context of the Edwards/Marcotte/McEwan saga, below.
Political blogging: personal vs.professional
A blog is a piece of software.
Thus, a blog can be used for various purposes. The word means different things to different people. Many erroneously lump personal political blogs together with campaign blogs and call them all “political blogs”.
Many people who call themselves political bloggers write and read only personal blogs and rarely if ever go to campaign blogs (or big blog-communities like DailyKos). This is how they understand political blogging.
Many people who call themselves political bloggers write and read only posts and Diaries on DailyKos, almost never venturing out to personal or campaign blogs. This is what they think political blogging is.
Many people who call themselves political bloggers write and read only a campaign blog and almost never venture out to personal or community blogs. This is what they think is meant by ‘political blogging’.
The three are very different form each other. My blog is my home – you enter and I hope you are nice to my wife and do not swear in front of my children. A frat-guy’s appartment will have a different tone. A retired schoolteacher’s home will have a different tone yet. DKos and such are public venues and the discourse is fast and harsh. The campaign blogs are businesses – disciplined effort to get a candidate elected.
Many, during the recent Edwards bloggers saga either do not understand the distinction, or purposefully muddied the waters for their own nefarious purposes.
Let me see if I understand the roles Amanda and Melissa are supposed to play.
The way I understand it, Amanda was not hired to move Pandagon over to JRE’08 blog. She was not hired to advise Edwards. She was not hired to be his spokesperson. She was not hired to write opinion pieces. She was not hired to write the campaign blog. She was hired to manage the campaign blog. To take care of technical and visual aspects of it. To try to somewhat control the campaign message there and steer the conversation in the direction favourable to the candidate. She will be dealing with the “campaign blog” type of political bloggers. She is supposed to write an entry every day saying something like “…our candidate gave a speech here today and here is the video of it and here are some media reports on it and links to some blogs on it. Discuss.” It’s a job for which she is eminently qualified.
The way I understand it, Melissa was not hired to move Shakeapeare’s Sister to JRE’08 blog. She was not hired to advise Edwards. She was not hired to be his spokesperson. She was not hired to write opinion pieces. She was not hired to write the campaign blog. She was hired to serve as a communication link or liasion between the campaign and the “personal blog” type of political bloggers. Someone who can e-mail people like me with a 30-minute heads-up on the news, so if I am inclined to blog about it because the news excite me, I will, otherwise I will not. Likewise, if I have something to ask or say or suggest to the campaign, she is the person I can contact. It’s a job for which she is eminently qualified.
For either one of them, what they said on their personal blogs in the past, or even what they may still write there in the future, has nothing to do with their new jobs. I would not submit one of my blog-posts about science to Nature and I would not expect most of my readers to enjoy reading a dry-scientese paper on this blog. Those are two different jobs I perform – the only connection being they both have something to do with science. For Amanda and Melissa the only connection between their blogs and their new jobs is that they both have something to do with politics.
The Rumor Mill and The Wait
Many have complained about the long time it took the campaign to issue any kind of statement. In the meantime, many people swallowed the Salon rumors about firings as true. We need to remind ourselves that we, the bloggers, live not on a 24-hour news cycle but on a 24-second news cycle. We want instant gratification immediatelly pronto right now. The Marcotte/McEwen issue was really big for us, for legitimate reasons (see all the links I posted yesterday for some excellent coverage), but it was not so big if you step back and look at the big picture. There wasn’t barely anything in the MSM about this – after all, Anna Nicole Smith died, and there is trouble in Iraq, and there is Libby trial…. There is another year before Iowa, almost two before the General election. We reacted to a brief AP article that found itself in the NYT and WaPo – something that almost 300 million Americans did not read.
I have no idea what went on in the campaign during the past day or two. But I can imagine, so let me indulge in it for a minute…
I think that some people have this notion that John Edwards and all of his campaign managers and staffers sit around the HQ all day and eat pizza. I’ve been to his HQ a number of times during 2003/2004 bid as well as the current race. There are a few staffers there, extremely busy doing their jobs – crunching numbers, fundrasing, calling people, etc. There are preumably others doing their, somewhat different jobs up in D.C. Others are likely stationed in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina doing their jobs there. Edwards himself is travelling around the country giving speeches and attending fundrasiers a couple of times a day, with some of the staffers travelling with him.
When the hiring of bloggers provoked the silly outrage on Right-wing blogs, they probably – and wisely – decided to ignore it. When the Pickler hit-piece and the Salon rumor provoked all the outrage on the Lefty blogosphere, they probably felt they had to respond somehow. So, I can imagine that a few people were pulled from their normal jobs and assigned to work on this. They were probably not even all in the same part of the country at the time, so they communicated by phone or e-mail. It took them some time to do all this – far longer than our impatience could stand. I can imagine internet-savvy staffers trying to explain that bloggers are not some strange animals but the core supporters who, for the first time in history, can talk back to the campaign as well as to voters, other activists etc. I can imagine the old-time campaign managers being uneasy about being talked to by the bloggers, but they bring enormous campaigning experience they accumulated over many campaigns over decades. Sometimes, this experience suggests that patience is the best course of action.
Then, I guess at some point, they had to call Edwards and tell him what they think. He probably talked to Elizabeth, to Amanda and Shakes, and to his key campaign personnel. But this was a side-show for him today. He had a big event in South Carolina which was much more important than the question of bloggers. Who knows, perhaps some of the last-millenium types suggested firing due to ignorance of the new media landscape. But Edwards understands the Internet and the importance of bloggers/activists/supporters. I have no doubt that, at some point during the day when he had a few minutes to devote to this, he did not have to ponder too long about the decision. It was just a matter of crafting the message that will make everyone happy – excluding the Wingnuts who are irrelevant as they are not potential voters. So, he wrote a statement of support for his bloggers. And he wrote it in a way that calmed down the religious supporters who are many, and just as important for the campaign. I may not like the tone, or even the subtance of it, but that was the most politically savvy message he could make.
The Religion Question
As someone who spent enormous amount of time on his campaign blog back in 03/04 I can tell you that majority of his supporters (just like majority of Americans) are religious. Hundreds of comments and diaries were posted by people who stated that they supported Edwards because his message resonated with what they consider to be their personal religious beliefs. And I respect that even if I believe their progressivism came first and religion is just parasitically riding along, i.e., they are interpreting religion through the prism of their liberal worldviews, just like fundies cherry-pick their beliefs according to their conservative worldviews. Edwards cannot diss them, even if he wanted to (which I doubt as he himself comes from a deeply religious background) – that would be politically suicidal.
It is unfortunate but true that the doctrines of organized religion (as opposed to the personal, emotional need to believe something) are still respected on this planet and this country. Atheists are the last discriminated-against minority in this country. Thirteen states (inlcuding my own NC) have explicit laws precluding atheists from seeking elected positions.
A hundred years ago, women were fighting for their rights. It is still not completely equal, but compared to today, situation a century ago was akin to slavery.
Fifty years ago, the Civil Rights movement, often bloody, resulted in elimination of official seggregation. While racism and seggregation are still alive and well, the comparison between today and half-a-century ago is stark.
The gays are fighting that fight right now, and slowly winning by winning the hearts and minds of the next generation. Even Young Republicans are not as homophobic as their parents are.
The next fight will be over religion. Atheists will need to speak up and stand up for themselves. So many people have no idea what the word ‘atheist’ means except that it has something to do with eating live children. But many of the same people think the same about Liberals. I hope that in 10 or 20 years I can go to a campaign blog of an openly atheist presidential candidate who has realistic chances of winning with nobody batting an eye-lash, and not finding the word ‘atheist’ in scare-quotes in someone’s comments, like this: “atheist”.
But that is the future. Today, we have to play in today’s playing field. And Edwards is a masterful player in this field. Moreover, he has so far been the most courageous candidate, breaking a number of taboos. Talking about poverty. Hiring feminist bloggers. Not firing them under presure from both the religious Left and Right. That takes guts. But it does not mean being unrealistic and unpragmatic about the business of winning elections.
Perhaps I am closer to Kucinich on issues, but Dennis has no sense of how to play to win. And we’ll all have to swallow some of the rhetoric we do not agree with in order to depose the GOP and win. Then change the country and the associated rhetoric with the aid of a Democratic President and Congress. Another small step towards the ideals of Enlightement. It does not happen overnight. It does not happen by swinging at the windmills. It does not happen by foolishly attacking everything at the same time. You have to be savvy to pick your battles and change the world one generation at the time.
Some more good (or important) links:
Chris Bowers: This Isn’t Over
Matt Stoller: Game On
Chris Bowers: Keep Piling On The Pressure
Chris Bowers: This Isn’t Over
Edwards STANDS UP UPDATE: War is declared
Breaking: Edwards Stands Up and Keeps Amanda and Melissa
Edwards Does The Right Thing
The line between work and blog
Ed Cone:
Stay of execution (read the comments)
The Pandagonians:
Chris Clarke
The Shakespearians:
Melissa (read the comments)
Melissa (read the comments)
Hilzoy on Obsidian Wings:
Double Standards
Sara Robinson on Orcinus:
Silencing the Netroots
Talking about the Edwards blogger brouhaha with Taylor Marsh
Who is Amanda-basher Bill Donohue?
Official statement from Edwards: Amanda and Shakes not fired!
Executioner’s Thong: Bless Bloggers!
I am Amanda Marcotte
I am Amanda Marcotte, Part 2:
Huffington Post:
John Edwards Takes One For The Netroots
Edwards Decision To Keep Bloggers May Risk Catholic Vote
John Broder in NYTImes (apparently print edition has more – and better – than the online version): Edwards Learns Blogs Can Cut 2 Ways
Amanda now free to expose the Donohue creature
The ‘Bloggergate’ and related links
The Obligatory Readings of the Day

52 responses to “On Edwards, Bloggers, and Religion

  1. “For either one of them, what they said on their personal blogs in the past, or even what they may still write there in the future, has nothing to do with their new jobs.”
    That is outrageous of you to say, Bora. If you really believed that, you would think that, say, McCain hiring Ann Coulter to be his press secretary was okey-dokey. After all, all those years of political writing she’s done have nothing to do with her new job, right? Amanda is Edwards new-media press secretary – remember the firestorm over Tony Snow? Do you think that was unwarranted? No, what is going on here is you agree with Amanda and Melissa, disagree with Coulter and Snow. Therefore, you want one pair to keep their jobs without reflecting negatively on their boss, yet think the other pair should be fired *and* reflect negatively on their boss.
    And for you to complain about being discriminated against for your beliefs while, in the same post, calling for the marginalization and ridicule of those you disagree with. So, you feel that those who disagree with you should be excluded from power and culture, even with personal attacks if needed, yet complain that they are… trying to exclude you from power and culture, sometimes even with personal attacks? Sounds like you are losing and hate it.

  2. Bora, I think, beside the obvious animosity of repressive religious types for the freewheeling digs Amanda can dish out, there is strong contributing factor that made this blow up so big so fast: The MSM either don’t get blogging or fear blogging, irrespective of the political leanings of its content and are happy to fan flames of outrage against a blogger.

  3. a) She was NOT hired to be a press secretary. A blogmeister is basically a technical job
    b) Let McCain hire Coulter. Fine with me. He is not getting any liberal votes anyway, so if he thinks that move will make it easier for him to win the primaries with the loony Right, that is his decision.
    c) I did not call for marginalization of those I disagree with. I call for marginalization of those who are doing documentable damage to the society through THEIR discrimination which calls for active eliminaiton of evry thought and every person having a thought different from theirs, turning the country into a theorrcay and turning back the clock a few hundred years into a pre-Enlightement nightmare.

  4. Bora – Outstanding post! Thanks for taking the time, and I understand the issue much more clearly now than I did beofr I read your post.
    However, it will be Obama Baby in 2008, so please makes sure you tell Edwards he can start shopping for a bridesmaid’s dress again the next time you see him. HTH

  5. LOL. There is a loooong slog until then. We’ll still see who will be wearing what.

  6. Dude you can write! Your response to Deep Thought’s comment was spot on. Not many people can defend their words that way. Good job.
    I am so sick of people using perceived hypocrisy as a stick with which to beat people. It is possible to have a complicated set of ideas that don’t revolve around binary logic. (ex. good & evil, right & wrong, god & devil) Public people, and the folks who work with them, should be allowed to have diverse opinions that may not be publicly popular.
    Ya Bora!

  7. Matt Stoller lambasts the Religious Democrats for siding with Donohue and not standing up to bigotry.

  8. “a) She was NOT hired to be a press secretary. A blogmeister is basically a technical job”
    Didn’t you just write that Amanda’s job is to *write* for the Edwards blog? I have personally spoken to the technical chief of the Edwards campaign web presence – his name is Aaron and he assures me Amanda’s job is not technical in any way.
    “c) I did not call for marginalization of those I disagree with. I call for marginalization of those who are doing documentable damage to the society through THEIR discrimination which calls for active eliminaiton of evry thought and every person having a thought different from theirs, turning the country into a theorrcay and turning back the clock a few hundred years into a pre-Enlightement nightmare.”
    In short you are saying ‘I am not a bigot ‘cuz they ARE Teh Ev1l!’.
    Religious people live longer, are healthier, demonstrably happier, earn more, give more to charity, and volunteer more of their time. How, again, are they harming society? Is it by disagreeing with your politics?
    And, again, blasting religious Democrats for not backing up someone who insults them and claims she hates them is something you see as bad *for those being insulted*? You are amazing! If Amanda had said those things about Jews, would you say the Jews that are offended are “not standing up to bigotry”? And how, exactly, is supporting a woman who curses and verbally attacks others based upon their beliefs “standing up to” bigotry?!
    Those poor, poor atheists like Bora. The christofascist thecrats keep trying to marginalize them by claiming they are harmful to morals and society. Doesn’t everyone realize that the religious should be marginalized because they are harmful to morals and society? Ya Bora!

  9. Can you read? I bolded the sentence where where I state that she was not hired to write the blog. Amanda was the first person to read this post before I posted it here and she had no complaint that I misunderstood her job description.

    ‘I am not a bigot ‘cuz they ARE Teh Ev1l!’.

    That is, actually, true (although I assume you meant it as parody – trust me, it is not). I am not a bigot because they are bad guys, in a way that is easy to document.
    Read the Stoller link in my previous comment and read this post by Ezra as well.

    Those poor, poor atheists like Bora. The christofascist thecrats keep trying to marginalize them by claiming they are harmful to morals and society. Doesn’t everyone realize that the religious should be marginalized because they are harmful to morals and society?

    This is actually, factually correct (although I assume you meant it as parody – trust me, it is not).
    Also, check the comments on the cross-post of this post here

  10. Bora, don’t you get it? *ALL* bigots truly believe that the people they hate deserve that hatred and the ostracism that follows. That is what bigot *means*.
    You are painting yourself as no different than a Klansman – you just hate Catholics for a slightly different reason, that’s all. “Those I hate aren’t capable of thinking; they are subhuman; they are harmful to the fabric of society; they think they way they do because of mental illness; they deserve our pity, not our contempt”. Those are the words of a bigot, and those are your words here.
    Here’s a test – take what you are saying about Christians and replace “Christian” with “Jew” or “Black”; if you would never write the edited piece, why in the world would you write the original?

  11. I don’t hate Catholics. I despise the politics of the Vatican. There is a difference.
    a) I have no problem with people’s personal beliefs.
    b) I have a problem with people who use organized religion to advance anti-democratic causes, hate-speech and marginalization of women, blacks, gays or minorities, or, for that matter, anyone who opposes their quest for absolute political power, people like Donohue, Dobson, Robertson and Falwell.
    Unfortunately, many members of cults are incapable of dissasociting the cult-leader from the cult-screed from the cult-membership, so they take it personally when someone criticizes their leaders. Case in point, right-wing Catholics misunderstand every public decry of Pope’s policies as personal attacks on them.

  12. You also seem not be good at following directions. In the previous comment I asked you to read Ezra’s post and comments.

  13. Yeah, ol’ Ezra is a hoot. Despite 200+ years of historical anti-Catholicism in America, despite it being a factor in politics to this very day in many quarters, it seems since there are 50 million Catholics you can say whatever you want about them and its A-OK. How many of those catholics are poor? Hispanic? Black? If you mock a poor Hispanic Catholic woman, is that OK, too? After all, since she is now part of a “dominant group”, she can’t be officially offended anymore, according to Ezra.

  14. As for the snide ‘can I read?’ comment, I have spoken to the Edwards Campaign and asked, specifically, about Amanda’s purported role there. It is to write. It is not technical, it is not masterful, it is to write copy and supervise volunteer diarists’ entries and comments.
    Not hard to do, especially since I called way back on the 2nd.

  15. Again, you are incapable of differntiating betwen the Catholic Church and the Catholic people. The former is to be resisted. The latter are people who nobody here is attacking. Stop identifying with the Pope, the Vatican and your faith – those are supposed to be external to your person. Can you be just yourself, and not me-Catholic, me-Papist?

  16. And if you can read, you know that I actually gave a little example of the kinds of “posts” she is supposed to “write”.

  17. Bora,
    Again, I read Pandagon routinely, I correspond with Amanda. Calling all Christians “godbags” is not a criticism of ‘the Church’ it is a criticism of people. Telling me specifically that stay-at-home mothers, including my wife, are “house negroes” is a personal attack on individuals. Besides, isn’t this akin to calling the Jewish religion evil and then protesting that you aren’t referring to individual Jews? Of course it is.
    BTW, the term “Papist” is an offensive slur akin to calling a Black man “nigger”. I assume you didn’t know that, so please keep it in mind.

  18. I’ll check to see if papist really is a slur – I cannot take your word for it, but it is within the domain of the possible as English is my second language and I may not be aware of this.
    Read this:

    And therein lies the big difference between actual bigots like Donohue and the views of Marcotte and McEwen. Donohue attacks people for who they are. Marcotte and McEwen challenge people for what they believe.
    Attacking someone’s religious identity is unacceptable. Attacking their religious views, on the other hand, must be fair game. Saying all “Catholics are bad people” is crazy talk; saying “Catholic ideology on contraception is wrong” is obviously a perfectly acceptable opinion.

    Also, what you call correspondence, Amanda may not think of so highly of….(dunno, never asked her…) Bloggers get mail form all kinds and often tryo to remain polite even to teh craziest cooks unless they are threatening.

  19. As I posted to my blog:

    On John Edwards’ campaign blog, Amanda Marcotte wrote the following:

    My writings on my personal blog Pandagon on the issue of religion are generally satirical in nature and always intended strictly as a criticism of public policies and politics. My intention is never to offend anyone for his or her personal beliefs, and I am sorry if anyone was personally offended by writings meant only as criticisms of public politics. Freedom of religion and freedom of expression are central rights, and the sum of my personal writings is a testament to this fact.

    This coming from the woman who routinely (and insipidly) refers to God as “The Sky Fairy,” who refers to theists in general and Christians in particular as “godbags,” who pimped the thrice discredited article of Gregory Paul and who (along with her koojas) criticized a Christian mother’s blog to the extent that she removed it.
    Call me incredulous, but I think all that is missing is the public proclamation from Amanda Marcotte that she is entering rehab “as a necessary step toward understanding why I did what I did and making sure it never happens again.”

  20. Bora,
    Just be blunt and call me a liar – beating around the bush is more insulting.
    Try here: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/papist
    or here: http://dict.die.net/papist/
    or here: http://www.answers.com/topic/papist
    Let’s see; searching google for the definition and checking the first three dictionary results took me, total (including posting the links) less than 2 minutes. All list it as an offensive, disparaging remark. As someone whose ancestors were executed with signs around their neck reading “papist”, I can tell you the slur originated with those who were dedicated to marginalizing Catholics from society because they were irrational, inferior, and damaging to society.
    Sound familiar?
    So…. “Godbag”, “idiot”, “moron”, “racist”, “fascist”, and “genocidal” are NOT attacks against persons, but only on what they believe? You *seriously* believe that? Or are you just carrying water for Amanda?

  21. How can saying that I’ll check because you are unreliable source equates to calling you a liar? I did not dismiss the claim out of hand, but stated that it is possible it is correct, but I had to verify it independently, as you are biased as a rihtwing catholic yourself – thus not a trustworthy source for this particular issue.

  22. If a Jew told you a words was offensive, would you check? Would you publicly announce that you needed to?If a Black woman, or an Asian, did the same – would you check? And would you announce that you needed to in the comments? Or is it just Conservative Catholics that you distrust? More importantly, what if you were simply unfamiliar with the culture and it was a fringe group? If a Conservative Iranian asked you not to call him a ‘sorkhpusht’ and the dictionary didn’t cover it, would you continue to call him that, assuming he was untrustworthy? If I were to use the word “peechka” (I am unsure of the spelling, but a buddy from Serbia used it in the day) and you were to say ‘that is an offensive word’ and my response is ‘I must confirm that, as you are unreliable’ – how is that different from calling you a liar?

  23. No, I’d get a second, independent source for everything, just to be sure, but especially if the person climing something has a personal interest in the issue.

  24. “Papist” is a disparaging term, though it carries much less force today than the racial term DT cites. Probably many modern Catholics do not know its origin in the context of 17th and 18th century religious disputes. And yes, Catholics did face serious discrimination, especially in the 19th century when most Catholics were immigrants or the children of immigrants from Ireland and southern and eastern Europe. Those dynamics have largely changed over the past fifty years, to the point that Catholics have joined the ranks of America’s dominant classes. The Catholics facing the most serious bigotry right now are immigrants from Latin America, and discrimination against them is based far more on the color of their skin and the language they speak than on their religion. That history is one of several reasons that I find Donohue’s tactics so despicable. By crying bigotry at every politician or blog post, he trivializes the very real bigotry that many have faced and that many still face.

  25. My only recollection of the term papist is from 30 years ago history classes (boring as hell) about Reformation and religious wars from a few centuries ago Europe and it was used to denote one of the sides and not in disparaging terms. I apologize if it is considered a disparaging term today – I had no idea.
    Still, being a woman or black or gay is one’s identity. Being a Catholic is a matter of choice (to some extent, of course, as this kind of stuff is shoved down kids’ throats early in their lives when they cannot resist and is difficult to shed later in life). Being a Catholic adult who actively supports the Pope and the institution of the Catholic church is most definitely a matter of conscious, deliberate and political choice and is thus quite a fair game for criticism and even ridicule.
    You know how Christians say “love the sinner, hate the sin”? Well, it also means “love the believer, hate the belief”, or “love the Catholic, hate the Vatican”. Same thing.

  26. Bigotry is not so narrowly defined. Thus, they laws of the land defend against discrimination on race, gender AND religion. Why? Because your beliefs are what you hold to be true. Just like you and atheism. You complain about being marginalized and attacked for being an atheist, yet expect others to just say ‘oh, well – I get to be mocked’. You are stating that my values, beliefs, and opinions are not “just” inherently less valuable than yours, but that holding them means I deserve less respect than you demand for yourself (I do remember the complaints about attacks on atheists).
    If you want to claim that *my* beliefs are worthy of criticism and ridicule, then you either must admit that yours are *also* worthy of criticism and ridicule, or admit that you are bigoted against religious people.
    You think its acceptable to try to marginalize Christians? Fine, that’s acceptable – as long as you stop complaining that Christians are trying to do the same to you!

  27. John,
    As someone who has been called a papist to his face (and, once, dared to ‘try to make [him] stop’ while the speaker did it) and has had to scrub it off the church every few days for weeks, I assure you – to many, the word is still quite powerful.
    Do you also complain about Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson complaining too much?

  28. You have not read Ezra’s post and the comments there.
    Atheism is INSTITUTIONALLY discrimanted against. Christianity never was.
    And if you have read several of my recent comments, you are disingineous to keep equating yourself as a person with your belief.
    I am Bora. A person. A human.
    Everything else are externals. There are many ways to describe me, but those are not ways to define me. I do not define myself as a Belgrader or Serb or Yugoslav or American or North Carolinian or Chapelhillian or scientist or teacher or atheist or liberal or Edwardsian or blogger. I am also a father, a son, a brother and a husband. I am male, white and straight. Each one of those is a fine description of me but none of those say who I am – they do not define me. Those are artifacts of history – how wher and when I was born and those had influences on my personality – but they are not who I am.
    Yet you persist in defining yourself as a Catholic. Are you really incapable of defining yourself independently from your religious beliefs? Have you really so deeply internalized your faith that you let that define you? Are you really a Catholic first and “Deep Thoughts” second? Is it really impossible for you to be a human at a core, and Catholic as an external decriptor? Because if it is impossible, you have a bigger problem than being ridiculed – you need to seek help. That is a symptom of a serious emotional problem.

  29. I have read Ezra’s post, and I have commented there. I reject his argument as false. And, sorry Bora – as a Catholic I can say that Catholics have been and *are* “institutionally” discriminated against. So have Christians (ever heard of the Middle East? China?).
    You are either deeply confused or disingenuous. If oyu are not ‘defined’ by your atheism, how can you be discriminated against as an atheist? You can just, well, disregard it, can’t you? You claim that attacks on atheists are an attack on you, but deny that an attack on Catholics *can* be an attack on me.
    You do, indeed, define yourself as an atheist (see your own self-description on this very blog) – are *you* emotionally disturbed? Do *you* need help? You refer to your atheism and claim that you are discriminated against because of this ‘external’ – how can that be possible for you, yet not me?

  30. We are talking America, not China here, so don’t look for excuses. As I said, I describe, not define myself as an atheist. My blog description is called “About Me”, not “Me”. And of course I can belong to a group taht is discrinimated against – in this country, that grou arte atheists. How difficult is that to grok?

  31. Let’s get back to the core of this, Bora. You claim that when Amanda salls people “stupid”, “evil”, “fascist”, “ignorant”, “godbags”, “house negroes” (and I am leaving out the expletives) that she is not attacking people, but only what they believe. I say that you are being disingenuous; especially when you also complain about how atheists are ‘slimed’ in this country. Aren’t they just critiquing and ridiculing your beliefs and not you, Bora?
    BTW, aren’t you aware of anti-Catholic sentiment in this country? The KKK? etc? I can turn on the TV and hear anti-Catholic slurs every day in prime time.

  32. Deep Thought, if I said Israel was illegally occupying Palestine and a Jew told me it’s anti-Semitic, I’d tell him to eat shit (in more polite language). Actually, forget the conditional; I’ve had many idiots call me self-loathing for supporting a Palestinian state.
    The Catholic League is just like the clowns at AIPAC who ally with any anti-Semite who hates Arabs more than he hates Jews. Amanda attacks the Pope; therefore, Amanda must hate Catholics.

  33. DT: [Bora] claim[s] that when Amanda salls people “stupid”, “evil”, “fascist”, “ignorant”, “godbags”, “house negroes” (and I am leaving out the expletives) that she is not attacking people, but only what they believe.
    Are you, in fact, making that claim, Bora?

  34. Oy.
    The Very Touchy Catholics are hijacking your comment thread. I take it this is a normal event here?
    Attention Very Touchy Catholics – your religion is on the decline. Pope Benedict scares the children. Most often when I hear the word ‘priest’ it is in the context of Man-Boy love.
    I don’t make the news. I just report it.
    So I can see why you’d be pissed when an athiest doesn’t kowtow to your two thousand years of cultural privelege. You guys just aren’t used to it yet.
    You see, the rest of us have grown used to having folks express opinions that don’t hold us in high esteem. If the dude next door to me is a problem and he’s a Catholic to boot, don’t be surprised if I toss a Pope joke into the conversation.
    Catholics aren’t above ridicule. I haven’t found anyone above it yet.
    Great Post! See you at the Tavern.

  35. Screwy,
    If that neighbor is Black, do you throw in a Black joke, too? If he’s a Jew, do you put your hand over your wallet as a ‘joke’?

  36. And, unlike Catholics who had been elected President (JFK), and almost elected President (the other JFK) again two years ago (with nobody except the extreme Right wing trying to use his catholicism against him), atheists are actively discriminated against not just by state laws, but also by courts.
    Here is a PDF of a study of 70 such cases in which atheists were discriminated against in court decisions. And these were “…only those that were appealed, thus probably just a drop in the bucket, in which an atheist parent lost custody or was instructed by the court to provide “… a plan to the Court of how [he] is going to commence providing some sort of spiritual opportunity for the [children] to learn about God while in [his] custody…..”

  37. In order to end this conversation and possibly return this comment thread to an on-topic discussion rather than a highway for Deep Thoughts’ Waaaaaaahmbulance, I hereby proclaim my willingness to make fun of no one but Catholics for the next forty-eight hours. I will enact this in my personal life. In two days time, I’ll move on and make fun of the next Very Touchy Person Ludicrously Representing An Entire Demographic.

  38. Bora,
    So now its no longer ‘Amanda never insulted anyone personally” but rather ‘atheists are discriminated agianst!’.
    Coturnix is complaining that he is discrimnated against while also announcing he advocates discriminating against others – and *I* am the whiner? Funny.

  39. You are not discriminated against. Catholics are not – have not been in many decades. Not even to mention Christians as a whole. Not in America.
    But atheists are.
    I can insult the Pope without insulting all Catholics. I can ridicule silly Christian beliefs without insulting any individual Christian. It is people who are incapable of divorcing their persons from their belief and from their church-affiliations that have a problem, not me or Amanda.
    Both the Pope and silly religious beliefs are fair game for ridicule and insults. It is up to you if you WANT to pretend that this means I have insulted you personally. How sensitive!

  40. Typical moral cowardice. You whine that your beliefs are mocked yet demand that I allow mine to be mocked or that I be called a whiner.

  41. You are the only one whining. I have no beliefs that can be mocked, so there is nothing I can whine about.
    And speaking of morals, at least mine are internal – integral part of who I am. There is such a thing as moral development in children which religion stunts. I do not have my morals imposed from outside by a book or people or institutions. If those external influences are suddenly to dissappear I will not start stealing, raping and killing, as apparently many religious people would. I am not tempted. Religionists are. What believers have is not morals, it is obedience. There is a difference.

  42. oscarzoalaster

    Coturnix rocks!

  43. Wrong again. Blinded by your assumptions, you forget that I am an adult convert. I was raised in an atheist home and became religious when I found that the Catholic Church reflected my morals. That is the way most religious people are.

  44. No, you are a rare exception. Actually, one can argue that no true atheist ever became religious (how do you start believing in Santa Claus after you already know he does not exist?) – it is people who never gave it a thought (and thus should not be called atheist) who turn onto a particular brand of religious doctrine later in life due to emotional problems, etc.

  45. Trackbacks aren’t working, but I wanted you to know this post has been chosen for the Carnival of the Liberals – Thanks!

  46. Oh, I see. Since you are the final arbiter of morals and reason, it is impossible for anyone to be or become religious for any reason other than ignorance/irrationality or mental/emotional issues because you firmly hold that belief. Thanks for reading my mind, and the minds of the millions of other converts around the world, and telling us that we are wrong in our understanding of our own abilities. We all bow to your superior knowledge.
    And you miunderstood my comment. Most religious believers belong to the denomination they do because it reflects their morals, not because of any imposition. Sure, there are lapsed Catholics and ‘social’ Pentecostals, but they are more rare than you assume.

  47. Most people believe the same shit their parents believe in. Stats easy to find on the Web.
    That is why various religions are geographically clumped.
    So, people who have a “deep emotional need” to believe something pick their parents’, or if that is not feasible, the neighboring religious screed.

  48. Of course, this completely skips the entire ‘where did the religious belief come from’ scheme entirely. And as far as that goes, you are sompletley ignoring that political socialization is slightly stronger than religious socialization – meaning that the most likely reason that you are Liberal is because your parents were Liberal.
    And, again, you are still trying to justify the anti-Catholic, personal, attacks made by Amanda. Edwards, a man you seem to admire, admits that what Amanda wrote was, yes, offensive and something he would not tolerate. These contortions you are going through seem to have no other goal than to deny that the many personal attacks made by Amanda were actually personal and attacks. Amanda seems proud of it, Edwards admits it to be the case – why are you in denial?

  49. In the first paragraph of this post I stated I did not like the way Edwards scolded Amanda. But I understand the political realities – it is, unfortunately, still impossible to call a spade a spade and ridicule religion for what it is – a childish superstition – and get elected. So, I understand why he had to say it the way he did. That does not mean that Amanda was wrong. She, as a private blogger on a personal blog (before she was hired to do the technical aspect of the campaign blog) had every right to call a spade a spade and ridicule people who hold on to childish superstitions. And if you read the so-called “offensive” posts – they are not offensive, they explain Plan B and show why the official Catholic Church position on contraception in general and Plan B in particular ir dangerous and wrong. People who, due to belonging to the Catholic Church do not stand up to the Vatican and prefer to go along with such deleterious policies deserve to be attacked, ridiculed and insulted. Perhaps the pangs of those insults will force some to rethink their strict adherence to the so-called “morals” that some nutty people over in Italy are trying to impose on them.

  50. And you also continue to dodge reality – Amanda has a lot of posts, and a fair number of them are, indeed, rather personal attacks.
    You have been rather straightforward in your opinion that those you disagree with “deserve to be attacked, ridiculed, and insulted.” I assume you do *not* mean physically attacked., BTW, but you might want to clear that up for readers who do not know you as well is do I.
    However, with that attitude I hope you realize that you, too, will be (not physically) attacked, ridiculed, and insulted by your opponents. Indeed, you are asking for it. If that is the way the game is played, Bora, then *you* are just as responsible for the ‘political realities’ you decry as anyone you might call a wingnut.

  51. Yes, verbal attacks, not physical, both by me and targeted at me. That is how it goes. I thought it was obvious and did not need specifying.

  52. Well, since you seemed to think it was impossible to be bigoted against catholics and you complain about attacks on atheists, I assumed you wanted to end such. ah, well – that’s what assumptions will get you.