NEGATIONISM

Look, we all know that conservatives aren't funny. The question of why they aren't funny, however, is considered only rarely. Here is the shortest answer, which has the added benefit of also being the most correct: they are not funny because they don't understand irony. Irony, misdirection, and the unexpected injury (pratfalls, objects striking someone on the cranium, etc) are the three foundations of comedy. The inability to comprehend irony is the reason that all satire written by modern conservatives is beyond awful, reading like something written by a council of 12 year old boys. Irony does not come naturally to a mind that endorses principles like constitutional literalism, biblical fundamentalism, and a cornucopia of economic theories that are demonstrably untrue.

When we see news items like the Oklahoma Legislature banning AP History courses, we are horrified but we also think it is funny. It is not funny like a whoopee cushion or a pie to the face, of course. It is funny in the sense that right-wingers are too stupid to see the irony in their own actions or how much they resemble the groups and ideologies they identify as enemies. Evangelical Christian fundamentalists do not grasp how similar they are, for example, to Islamic extremists. And right-wing culture warriors and historical revisionists will never be able to see how closely their mission to create their own version of reality mimics Stalinist communism. In an effort to ward off the evils of things like socialism, these dipshits are reaching into the bag of tactics employed by the ultimate in socialist boogeymen.

Isn't that what we always accused the Soviet system of doing – and not without some justification? They censored their media, altered history to suit their ideological preferences, and generally created an alternate version of reality that fit their worldview. I've written before about the Soviet concept of "New Socialist Man," the creation of which required:

A total re-imagining of the world – its history, its culture, its religions, its conflicts, and its societies – was to take place in the framework of a radically ideological system of education with the goal of producing the New Socialist Man. He would understand politics, art, economics, and every other subject from the Correct (i.e. Socialist) perspective. As is the case with every revolution, the Soviets and Mao's China understood that a new culture can only be instituted by destroying the old, and destroying the old can only be accomplished through dictating a new historical reality through re-education.

It was the kind of system that would – to throw out a random hypothetical – ban history textbooks that contained any information contradictory to the official party line. It created "unpersons" who literally ceased to exist, erased from photos and the collective cultural consciousness. It relied on the valid belief that one's conception of reality outside of direct experience is limited by the information available.

Of course, the average Oklahoman is too ignorant of history and reality to understand any of this. To grasp the irony of a situation requires a basic level of awareness that is absent here.

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64 Responses to “NEGATIONISM”

  1. Talisker Says:

    Good post.

    It's notable that most Right Wing Culture Warriors do not see themselves as revolutionaries. Instead, they believe they are defending tradition, freedom, and democracy. That is total nonsense, but they really do believe it.

    Lenin, Stalin and Mao were very clear about what they doing: Tearing down the old system and replacing it with a new one, using as much brute force as necessary.

    The RWCW's are odious, but (for now) not so ruthlessly violent. This is a good thing; it means their activities are, for the most part, confined within the existing political structures of the USA and can be fought by peaceful means.

  2. Heisenberg Says:

    A+

  3. Arslan Says:

    Well there is one very important difference- They are right-wing and reactionary, as well as unapologetic pro-capitalists. If you want a more realistic comparison look to Putin's Russia, not the USSR. Just last December they actually rewrote their military doctrine to include a paragraph about threats to the spiritual and cultural memory of their country. Keep in mind this is a country where the constitution far more explicitly defines the state as secular.

  4. Arslan Says:

    As for why they aren't funny, irony is part of it, but the main problem is that their humor is often intended to be satirical, but it isn't true. If you want to satirize someone or something, you have to accurately represent their viewpoint. If you draw a political cartoon where Obama's quoting from Mao's Little Red Book, it just comes off as nonsensical because Obama's never said anything remotely Marxist-sounding in his entire career. It's funny within the conservative bubble, where they "know" that Obama is a Communist, but anyone who hasn't bought into that just stares in confusion.

  5. skwerlhugger Says:

    There's something else going on– rightwingers do not use language the same way you do. They don't use it to communicate facts and specifics and details, they use it to communicate feelings and emotions. So a reactionary like Stephen Moore can announce ACA is a miserable failure with a straight face even though his literal information is blatantly false, because his statements accurately represents his opinions and emotions. The Oklahoma Legislature believes the history curriculum is wrong, because it is not communicating the correct feelings about American history. Picard and Dathon at El-Adrel.

  6. Anonymouse Says:

    I was just discussing this issue a short time ago with some longtime friends who I met while a Russian student in the early 1980s. A good deal of the population of the former Soviet Union understood they were getting propaganda from the state. American rw nutjobs in the 21st century have no idea what they're parroting from their favorite talking-point news is actual fiction.

    The rw sense of humor (based on my relatives and coworkers) seems to be based on cruelty in addition to utterly not true. Their version of hilarity is, "Chelsea Clinton is ugly!!11!!" as well as the above-mentioned cartoons of Obama reading from Mao's little red book. Who can forget the endless repetitions of the 'true story' of a Marine who assaults a college professor because the ebbil perfesser is demanding the class recite that Jesus doesn't exist? Or the ebbil perfesser who demands a diner take its American flags off the table, so the diner owner assaults the ebbil perfesser while the entire diner stands up and cheers.

  7. c u n d gulag Says:

    Conservatives suffer from an "irony deficiency."

  8. doug Says:

    irony poor blood

  9. Matt Says:

    our own jack ass governor mike pence wanted to start a state run new agency with content from his press secretaries:
    http://www.indystar.com/story/news/2015/01/26/pence-starts-state-run-news-outlet-to-compete-with-media/22370005/
    I was totally shocked when I heard about this, but I see now he has backed off that idea. This and his battles with State Superintendent of Education Glenda Ritz (whose win made national news, and who garnered more votes than Pence himself) should be enough to kill off the guy's future political aspirations, but I'm too cynical to actually believe that it will.

  10. freeportguy Says:

    Core similarity between conservatives and Stalin, Mao, ayatollahs and the countless of people they identify as enemies: they are all authoritarians who believe steadfastly that THEIRS is the only way.

    What prevents conservatives from seeing this is the fact that they are like vampires: they cannot see their reflection in a mirror.

  11. jdawg Says:

    The only thing remotely funny about Fox's rancid "1/2 Hour News Hour" was the missing hyphen in the title, and that was probably just a typo.

  12. dharma_dream Says:

    Nail, head. This is the hammer.

  13. Daniel Forbes Says:

    Dear Ed (& Crew):

    A thousand pardons for posting this here, but search though I might both high and low, I find no other way to contact Ed. I really do hope this isn't flogging myself beyond all bounds, but wearing out google yielded no e-mail.

    I write in the spirit of the Gin and Tacos post of 8/1/12, Insecurity: "And the more cops and more guns there are in one place, the more likely that "Something bad will happen" becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. I couldn't wait to get out of there."

    I also write in the spirit of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson: "Uncontrolled search and seizure is one of the first and most effective weapons in the arsenal of every arbitrary government."

    Here's one advance reader's comments on Derail this Train Wreck, soon to be loosed upon the world.

    Not too far in our dystopian future, Mitchell Fremson finds himself a mobile island of sanity battling the winds of a police state gone haywire. Armed only with courage, and principle, and one of the wryest wits to emerge on the literary scene in decades, Fremson leads us on a rollicking and riveting ride along a path at once horrifying and all too plausible. Some may compare Daniel Forbes to Orwell, but the better comparisons are to Kingsley Amis and J. P. Donleavy and Evelyn Waugh – panoramic, biting satirists who recognize a world so mad that only comedy can truly capture its chaos. Derail this Train Wreck is literature’s answer to the “War on Terror.” – Jacob M. Appel, The Man Who Wouldn’t Stand Up, The Biology of Luck, Winner of the Dundee International Book Prize.

    It’s forthcoming from Fomite Press, a literary press with some sixty titles under its belt.

    A few bleak years hence, an ill-stitched, back-bench Cheney of sorts has burrowed his way to the presidency. The police-state hammer falling on short and tall alike, wars rage, Boots deployed like empties tossed from a car window. Americans keep their head down, grasping for the illusion of anonymity in a surveillance state.

    His marriage kaput, my hero, Mitchell Fremson, is too heart-broken to seek apathy’s embrace. When he draws a small line in the sand, a skittish cop spills blood, and Mitch is nailed on every front page in town. Slowly, a movement starts to coalesce around his protest against suspicionless search.

    Chilling and laughable and auguring what waits down the tracks, Derail this Train Wreck traces one hounded soul’s late growth to manhood in a country grown ugly. It was sparked by an NYPD assault. My subsequent, successful free-speech lawsuit against Lincoln Center and the cops was cited by the NYCLU as bolstering free-speech case law. My wife and I kept a phalanx of cops and guards at bay with a simple, principled refusal.

    All well and good and destined to be a small stone down a deep well unless I can somehow drag it into the light. Chapter One was excerpted by the classy Brit lit magazine, berfrois: http://www.berfrois.com/2014/10/derail-this-train-wreck-daniel-forbes/

    Grounded in resisting an over-arching government, it's funny and packs a wallop. I like to think it worthy of a review at Gin and Tacos. Give Chapter One a look-see if you would. Should it appeal, I’d be delighted, obviously, to send you a copy.

    Thanks so much,

    Daniel Forbes
    ddanforbes@aol.com

  14. Daniel Forbes Says:

    Dear Ed:

    I see that my comment is awaiting moderation. I would ask that it be kept private.

    Thanks,

    Daniel Forbes

  15. Xynzee Says:

    The lack of self-awareness is frustrating especially when it comes to satire.
    I noticed this when Beavis and Butthead were big. On the animation film circuit they were great. When you saw the real life "Beavis and Buttheads" doing the, "Heh! Heh! Heh heh! Fire! Fire's cool!" It was cringe worthy because, "Dude! YOU are the joke in that."
    I felt the same way about Team America, because the majority of dipshits watching it would have that it was making them look good. Yes, Matt and Trey you may have had a laugh at the yob's expense, but satire is supposed to make people see how ridiculous they're being.

  16. Monty Says:

    US Rep Pete Sessions (R-Sans Irony) is a paradigm case:

    In early February 2009, Sessions made the following comment about the Republican Party legislative strategy in the House of Representatives: "Insurgency, we understand perhaps a little bit more because of the Taliban," he said, during the 60-minute sitdown. "And that is that they went about systematically understanding how to disrupt and change a person's entire processes."

  17. Ubu Imperator Says:

    Ron Suskind wrote a great article about this phenomenon back in 2004 (http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C05EFD8113BF934A25753C1A9629C8B63). I use the passage below in one of my classes when I'm also teaching about Socialist Realism in the USSR, right about the time that students begin to scoff that no one would actually, you know, *believe* that stuff:

    "In the summer of 2002, after I had written an article in Esquire that the White House didn't like about Bush's former communications director, Karen Hughes, I had a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush [unnamed, but later identified as Karl Rove]. He expressed the White House's displeasure, and then he told me something that at the time I didn't fully comprehend—but which I now believe gets to the very heart of the Bush presidency.

    "The aide said that guys like me were 'in what we call the reality-based community,' which he defined as people who 'believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off 'That's not the way the world really works anymore,' he continued. 'We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality—judiciously, as you will,—we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do'."

  18. Mr. Wonderful Says:

    Dude–may I call you Dude?–I've written about why conservatives aren't funny so much it's not even funny. I'm not sure about your point that they don't understand irony–they understand it the way PeeWee Herman understands childish sarcasm. In their "humor" and comedy they ARE like "a council of 12-year old boys," in the sense that they write and perform for each other's sniggering approval.

    But, especially if you read the stuff at Edroso's place, you realize that they don't understand art or even entertainment. Everything, to them, is political–i.e., like Russian Socialists, as you said. And so all "art," as they create it, is propaganda. Consequently their understanding of human nature, real life, emotional honesty, and the inner contradictions and paradoxes of actual human beings, is fucked.

    Thus, their comedy is entirely based on stereotypes. Every "joke" I've heard the loathsome Greg Guttfield utter takes the form of "the thing about liberals is…" or "Well, X is a liberal–which means…" The reason there is no right wing Stewart (or Daily Show, with its writers) or Colbert (ditto) is, liberal comedians make observations and analyses of actual people saying and doing actual things–and, as someone here has said, it aims at a revelation of truth. Right wingers cite pre-fab stereotypes, and then mock them–to the acclaim of fellow wingers whose idea of humor is the mockery of just those cardboard figures and ideas.

    At bottom, I think this all stems from the fact that (like the Christian fundamentalists you cite), rightwing politics is a cult of sexually and existentially immature boys and girls, angry at the cool kids in high school and desperate for feelings of solidarity with their fellow victims. Their political writings, such as they are, aren't meant to attain truths or solve problems; they're meant to announce and affirm their membership in the club.

    What club? The club of victims of coolness, of dorks terrified of real girls, of people who would rather live with familiar feelings of insecurity and jealousy than spend an hour in therapy learning to understand themselves. And, of course, of sharpies and opportunists, who think (often correctly) they can make a buck exploiting those people.

  19. Anubis Bard Says:

    Interesting. I'd add another aspect of humor, which is "violation" – which I think you probably gloss with misdirection. Humor is about the violation of expectations, which often means transgressing the normal categories and boundaries and tricking your audience into seeing things in a different, unexpected way.

    Well, you can imagine what kind of a can of worms that opens up for people who are threatened by any and all assaults on the rigid orderliness and correctness of their world view. It ain't welcome. Think of any humorless person anywhere on the political spectrum and you're likely to see someone trying to maintain a rigid, but fragile construct of a singular, not-open-to-discussion model of the world. Anything that threatens that – strangers, critiques, reality-testing, or humor is anathema.

  20. Wotan Nichols Says:

    But…but…what about Mallard Fillmore?

  21. Mike D. Says:

    > Evangelical Christian fundamentalists do not grasp how similar they are, for example, to Islamic extremists.

    Three words: Holly Hobby Lobby

  22. Bob Says:

    Late last night I read this:
    http://www.nationalreview.com/article/413940/lucy-and-ethel-take-foggy-bottom-ian-tuttle
    Behold the first sentence of that article. Poor Ian is trying soooooooo hard to be witty and insightful yet succeeds solely in writing an extremely long and mindless sentence. The entire piece is just dreadful – "Anyone? . . . Anyone? . . . Bueller?" Yup, that's the level of humor.
    From the people who believe Jonah Goldberg is funny……

  23. Dookie Says:

    This made me laugh…Rush Limbaugh has said something very similar to this for years, only about why liberals aren't funny, to explain why there had never been a liberal version that could compete with his show.

    I think this is just like the liberal view of intelligence…meaning that liberals find themselves enormously intelligent, or funny, or compassionate, or whatever, while conservatives are not.

    Of course it's not even remotely true, but whatever you need to get through the day without putting a bullet in your head.

  24. nate Says:

    The Daily Show's poke at Mallard Fillmore is the only time that comic ever made me laugh:

    http://feldmanthecat.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/mallard-stewart.jpg

    Well, and the artist's pathetically confused reaction to being lampooned. But that was more laughter in sorrow.

  25. Cato the Censor Says:

    "Dookie" is another word for "crap," isn't it?

  26. Bob Says:

    You know what is funny? Kantian nihilism.

  27. Mo Says:

    The litmus test seems to be if one can laugh at oneself, even if the joke's at one's own expense. "Laughing from a heart full of wrath."

    Conservatives, their antennae so delicately tuned to every little humiliation and stuffed to the eyeballs with resentment, cannot do that.

    You can feed resentment, or you can feed irony, but apparently not both.

    John Stewart is actually funny. Rush Limbaugh only claims to be. Viewers laugh with John Stewart. Limbaugh's listeners merely sneer, spit, and hoist their junk.

  28. drouse Says:

    One of the things that has always frustrated me in talking with people of conservative bent is that the use of of literary allusions or any double entendre that doesn't involve a sex act falls flat. Try it and the likely outcome will be a blank look.

  29. Skepticalist Says:

    Conservatives have no sense of the ridiculous. If by some miracle, they catch on, it's too late. Conservatives demand apologies from themselves for accidently learning the truth.

    The world is ridiculous. The worst way to deal with such a place it is to try to fix it. Not even Jesus Jolly Pleasure Police are good enough. They both blow it because they can't miss out on competing for the biggest asshole prize. It's serious stuff.

    Right leaning right wingers are afraid of everything. They don't get that humor is what liberals use to keep getting out of bed every day. That also scares the shit out of them. They might make a mistake.

    It's ridiculous.

  30. Brutus Says:

    Irony is reversal of meaning carrying the subtext that receivers of the message will perceive the truth behind the façade. So a statement such as “Sure, I’m gonna do that” is understood to mean precisely the opposite: I’m not gonna do that. If conservatives don’t get irony (I’m not convinced they don’t except perhaps within the context of comedy), then they are truly conservative in the sense that they are left behind a reversed style of messaging that everyone else gets it.

    But that doesn’t ring true, does it? It would be closer to the truth that conservatives who pump reverse messages are doing so with some high degree of personal conversion/commitment to the untruth and without subtext. The lack of irony doesn’t mean that they don’t get it; rather, they simply don’t use it reflexively like everyone else. So their literalist interpretation of doctrine is not winking reversal but the signature of true belief.

  31. Arslan Says:

    "I think this is just like the liberal view of intelligence…meaning that liberals find themselves enormously intelligent, or funny, or compassionate, or whatever, while conservatives are not.

    Of course it's not even remotely true, but whatever you need to get through the day without putting a bullet in your head."

    Oh poor conservative. Let me help you out there. First of all, if you have to say you're funny, you're probably not. Second, liberals may over estimate their intelligence, usually because they tend to place too much value in formal education, but compared to your average conservative they are almost always going to come out looking like rocket scientists. It's not so much that conservatives don't know a lot, it's that they seem to have no interest in checking. That's why you still have millions of them who believe that kids can't pray in school or bring Bibles with them- neither of these things have ever been banned in school, and they could easily verify this these days. Will they? Nope.

    Also about your little suicide remark- what political worldview is more likely to lead to suicide? One that is based more on rational observation and tolerance, or one which is convinced that America has been ruined by a nefarious gay-Muslim-Communist conspiracy? The only problem is that folks of the latter persuasion usually only end up putting a bullet in their own head after putting the rest into innocent people.

  32. Beleck Says:

    conservatism is the age old effort to justify the theft of ideas/wealth from others. that may explain the dullness of conservatism. just look at the "humor" or satire that Steven Colbert did at the White House of years back, where Colbert described the various way the Right has destroyed the American Dream. The President et al were all taken aback. shocked by the truth. Truth generally has a liberal bias, otherwise it's not the truth. lol

    and the Right wingers are so jealous of the "Other" as a rule. that explains why so called Christians here are worse than the Al Queda or the Taliban. Our so called Christians are so narcissistic, so blind to their own actions, they have no clue. as they have learned, "Might makes Right" in practice throughout Republican enabling.

    laughing at oneself is the first step to enlightenment, something Right wingers never consider as "dignified". ignorance is their choice and as a result of such high faluting self sense of being "Right" in their lives. they have to keep on pretending they are "Right" less the reality of life show them they are just as human as those "Liberals" they despise. the price of stupidity and hubris is eternal damnation, to put a Christian spin on their immature behavior. only when they grow up and see all humanity as one will they ever be able to let loose and laugh… at life and at themselves.

    They have to keep the "Shield" up/ never let their guard down. Admitting their humanity is not an option for them. that's why they are such Good Two Shoes/Taliban Americans. The price of self-deception is their own humanity

  33. el mago Says:

    So a conservative walks into a bar with a duck on his head . . . oh, never mind.

  34. verbal Says:

    Welcome back! We missed you.

  35. Southern Beale Says:

    I always thought that conservatives aren't funny because truly good comedy–like truly good rock and roll, literature, art, film, etc.—is rebellion against the status quo. And conservatives ARE the status quo.

    That's why conservatives are really only funny when they are pretending to be an oppressed minority. But of course, that isn't comedy, it's tragedy. It's us laughing at them, instead of with them.

  36. Southern Beale Says:

    Beleck,

    As Julian Sanchez once pointed out (and yes, I realize he's a Libertarian): conservatives have adopted the value set of the culture at large, even as they rail against it. And so we have Christians, for example, sequestering themselves to Christian cultural ghettos — they have their own Christian pop music and Christian radio stations and Christian movies and books and magazines, and you can buy this stuff at Christian bookstores, and yet what they all REALLY go head over heels over is when one of their Christian artists "crosses over" and finds "mainstream success."

    The problem with conservatives in general is that they want CULTURAL relevance, and no amount of political power will give them that. They will always be against the culture at large because that is the nature of conservatism. It's always a return to how things used to be, or used to be done, or once were. You'd think they'd understand this about their ideology and accept it and be proud of it but they don't.

  37. mothra Says:

    You're back! Hooray! I was going to be really sad if I had to join Facebook to get my G&T fix. However, I was preparing to launch a load of Twitter hate in the direction of Network Solutions if you weren't back soon…

  38. Eric the infrequent Says:

    YAY!

  39. Khaled Says:

    See what happens when you toss spitballs at our corporate overlords Ed? You get your domain name trapped in limbo. Let that be a lesson to you.

  40. Totoro Says:

    Welcome back Ed! I missed you. Hope to read something scathingly funny soon.

  41. blahedo Says:

    Welcome back! Hurray!

  42. Paul Says:

    Conservatives are not funny…but if have any long-term acquaintances who are conservative or libertarian, you'll notice their tendency to pretend that certain prominent conservatives are funny. Just as they pretend Charlton Heston was a great actor & Ted Nugent is an important musician, they feel compelled to enact the miserable charade that Dennis Miller, PJ O'Rourke, Colin Quinn, and even Rush Limbaugh are hilarious.

  43. Leo Artunian Says:

    Beleck – You're right about the Christian subculture and the thrill when one of "their" artists crosses over to the mainstream. But it seems that as soon as that happens, the artist is denounced for "selling out" and no longer hewing to the Christian message. So the rejection of mainstream culture is self-affirming.

    Paul – Even at its funniest back in the day, P.J. O'Rouke's work was based on a frat-boy dismissal of those who were Not Us and their foolish ways.

    Glad you're back, Ed.

  44. Lev Davidovich Says:

    I disagree, comrade. Victoria Jackson is uproariously laughable.

    Hey, conservatives don't get satire, also, too. They only know cruelty. That, they think is funny. Especially while pissing on the poors.

  45. Skippper Says:

    Not funny. Just take a look at Speaker John Boner at a press conference on the DHS shutdown. Pretty serious business, no? However, Boner took the occasion to recite rhymes, blow kisses to a reporter, and tell another reporter to get a haircut. If I interpret the picture correctly, he looks like on Day 3 of a four-day bender.

    http://thehill.com/homenews/house/233959-boehner-stays-silent-on-dhs-bill

    And Welcome Back!!!!

  46. democommie Says:

    "John Stewart is actually funny. Rush Limbaugh only claims to be."

    Otoh, John Stewart's fans don't generally consider his stuff to be based in truth–Limbaugh's sure the fuck do.

  47. Anonymous Says:

    I actually had the misfortune of teaching at Oklahoma State University's Stillwater campus for a few years. So, I feel like I have a little insight into this news story.

    Oklahoma is freakishly insular. A lot of the professors at OSU-Stillwater have literally lived their whole lives in the tiny town of Stillwater. They were born there, went to Stillwater High, went to OSU-Stillwater for college, then stayed at OSU-Stillwater for their PhD and postdoc work, and then got hired to be professors at OSU-Stillwater.

    So what kind of intellectual role models do OSU students get? One of these professors, who had lived in Stillwater all her life, interrupted a faculty meeting to accuse me of secretly plotting to destroy the department. Because, you see, I'm not from Oklahoma, QED.

    There's a (racist) sports bar in Stillwater named Eskimo Joe's. When I first came to Stillwater, one of the professors said, "What- you've never heard of ESKIMO JOE'S? What cave have you been living in? Why, they're the most famous T-shirt in the world, right up there with the Hard Rock Cafe!" Nobody has ever heard of this place outside Oklahoma- but the faculty have never been outside of Stillwater so they literally think the dinky little sports bar on the corner is a global institution.

    After a while I realized that I was dealing with something like the Cargo Cult of New Guinea. Long ago, a bunch of Oklahomans had seen a university from a distance, and had decided that having a university of their own would bring all the benefits of civilization. They then proceeded to build the semblance of a university out of mud and sticks. Since none of them have ever been outside Oklahoma, none of them have any idea that OSU-Stillwater isn't actually a real university.

    At one point I was on the Curriculum Committee, when we were revising the core curriculum. The other profs wanted to make sure all the pre-meds had to take courses in meat inspection and other good, solid, Oklahoma skills. When I suggested a critical thinking course, they quite literally screamed in my face.

    In the end, I was fired. On paper, the dean said I should be fired because I couldn't even be bothered to put together an application for tenure, had not asked my colleagues for letters of recommendation to support my application for tenure, had not given or even scheduled a tenure talk to the department.

    Well, of course not. I wasn't applying for tenure, and wouldn't be up for tenure for years. When confronted about this small technicality, the dean admitted that he really wanted me fired because I was, and I quote now, "too intellectual."

  48. Ellis Weiner Says:

    Not to make light of your suffering, but I love this comment to pieces. I hope you landed somewhere better.

  49. SiubhanDuinne Says:

    So glad to see you back! I hope you treat us to a detailed, blow-by-blow rant about your interactions with Mumbai Steve and his colleagues (if memory serves, you've done that with airlines and/or cruise ships, so this should be proverbially piece-of-cakelike.

  50. Ruviana Says:

    Thank god! You're back! And anonymous, I loved the story about Stillwater, though it was probably less amusing to live through.

  51. Phoenician in a time of Romans Says:

    @Anonymous:

    "After a while I realized that I was dealing with something like the Cargo Cult of New Guinea. Long ago, a bunch of Oklahomans had seen a university from a distance, and had decided that having a university of their own would bring all the benefits of civilization. They then proceeded to build the semblance of a university out of mud and sticks. Since none of them have ever been outside Oklahoma, none of them have any idea that OSU-Stillwater isn't actually a real university."

    —–
    Well gentlemen, I'll just remind you of the faculty rules:

    – Rule one – no pooftahs.
    – Rule two, no member of the faculty is to maltreat the Abbos in any way whatsoever – if there's anybody watching.
    – Rule three – no pooftahs.
    – Rule four – I don't want to catch anyone not drinking in their room after lights out.
    – Rule five – no pooftahs.
    – Rule six – there is no rule six!
    – Rule seven – no pooftahs.

    That concludes the reading of the rules, Bruce.
    ——

  52. vegymper Says:

    Hey guy, nice to have you back! I was really craving for it.

  53. Anonymous Says:

    Thanks, guys :D. Yes, I landed somewhere much better.

  54. Anonymous Says:

    This only scratches the surface of Oklahoma-ism, BTW.

    Although OSU-Stillwater is a) a public university and b) brags about how their Muslim population makes them a real, modern, diverse institution…

    …every single public event starts with a long-winded, explicitly Christian prayer, right before they serve BBQ pork. Every. Single. Time.

    They once had a panel discussion on religious diversity in the classroom. All four members of the panel were Protestant ministers. We sat through a half-hour of them giving good ol' boy chuckles and saying, "Yep, mah students cain't handle me- ah'm a free thinker! Ah'm a Methodist, and boy, them Baptist kids think ah'm goin' to hell! Hyeh hyeh hyeh!" Bear in mind that the audience consisted of the tiny minority of atheist, Muslim, Jewish, etc. professors, who all showed up because they have genuine concerns, but these jackasses are saying, "Y'all don't know what a big issue religious diversity is- y'all ain't Methodists like me! I got to deal with a lot of friction over my religion, hyick hyick hyick!"

  55. Anonymous Says:

    Oh, and did I mention that in every election in OK, the GOP incumbent gets 90+% of the vote?

    The AP history debacle makes perfect sense. Oklahoma is an island. These people are so isolated that they think the sports bar on the corner is world-famous. Of course they hate AP history- the curriculum was probably written outside Oklahoma. The people making these decisions have never been outside one small town in their life- even the *college professors* have never lived outside one dinky little town. "Everybody knows" that the AP history curriculum is wrong, just like "everybody knows" that "religious diversity" means you include Methodists.

  56. Anonymous Says:

    Here's another story that shows how Oklahoma really works:

    http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1209/30769.html

    Senator Inhofe decided to fly off to an international climate change conference in Copenhagen. He didn't register for the conference or call ahead in any way. He just assumed that he would show up when HE wanted, and everyone would drop everything because OMG IT IS SENATOR INHOFE, FROM THE OKLAHOMA! (One wonders if he didn't bring a stack of Eskimo Joe's T-shirts to hand out to the foreign dignitaries, like an explorer handing out beads to the natives.)

    Of course, he ended up wandering around an empty conference center, trying to find someone, *anyone* to give his speech to. Finally they rounded up some foreign reporters and Inhofe delivered an incoherent rant about how global warming is a hoax perpetrated by a cabal of Hollywood elites.

    Obviously, the foreign reporters had no idea who he was- he's just a random streetcorner crank on a soapbox. But Inhofe had no idea. He just assumed that being Senator from Oklahoma means that he gets at least as much global name recognition as Obama. I just imagine him saying, "Inhofe- INHOFE, dammit. From Oklahoma. Okhahoma? Ring a bell? Oklahoma, as in ESKIMO JOE'S? What do you mean, you've never heard of Eskimo Joe's? It's more famous than the Hard Rock Cafe, dammit!"

  57. Redleg Says:

    I have arrived at the conclusion that many conservatives don't actually experience cognitive dissonance when they engage in the same behaviors that they criticize in others.

    As we know, cognitive dissonance is a tension that sometimes forces people to confront incongruence between their attitudes and behaviors and can be a healthy process.

  58. Fifth Dentist Says:

    I've always chalked up Republicans' lack of humor to their inability to put themselves in the situations of others. The dreaded "E" word — empathy.
    I have read recently about a study showing that people who read literature are more likely to lean liberal because of their exposure to characters in different circumstances.
    The Republicans I know, at least, seem to only read the Bible and screeds by Limbaugh, Beck and the like — not exactly literature and not exactly the type of authors who present the dilemmas of other people in a sympathetic light.
    They seem to think that people who are well-off are that way solely because of their hard work, never mind that they often benefited from government programs that they now want to slash and burn; and that people who are poor are lazy and no-good.
    You know, like the Kochs and Trumps of the world worked their way to success by popping out of the right vagina. Winning the vagina lottery, as it were.
    I really have enjoyed reading some of the other theories on here, some of which I had never considered.