Religious bigotry sucks dead dogs

Even when used against Rand Paul.

Even when a Democrat uses it.
Even against Rand Paul.

I bet it doesn’t work: Christianity, like patriotism, is a weapon that probably can’t be pointed to the right. Yes, in principle the born-agains should hate the Randites, since Ayn Rand was just muddled Nietzsche. But I don’t think it works that way. To the Tea Party types, “Christian” just means “one of us.” So Obama isn’t a “Christian,” and Rand Paul is.

Footnote: The “Aqua Buddha” story has two aspects: the blasphemy or worse (from a Christian perspective) and the maltreatment of the woman. Of the two, the less culpable aspect is the more politically charged. Conway doesn’t seem to be concerned about Paul’s having tied a woman up; he’s complaining about “asking her to worship a false idol.” (Not to be confused, seemingly, with all the true idols it’s perfectly OK to worship.)

Alas, violence against women doesn’t make someone “not one of us” to the median Kentucky voter.

[Corrected; earlier version had this mud-wrestling contest going on in Tennessee.]

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

17 thoughts on “Religious bigotry sucks dead dogs”

  1. "Alas, violence against women doesn’t make someone “not one of us” to the median Tennessee voter."

    Rand Paul is running for office in Kentucky. If you're going to smear an entire state for being unenlightened you might take care to enlighten yourself about which state it is. Or are "those people" all alike?

  2. I'm not really sure where the religious bigotry is in this. What religion is Conway being bigoted against? The non-existent religion of "Aqua Buddha"? Making people profess some kind of religious belief by force seems like a pretty unpleasant thing to do, and that is basically what Conway is accusing Paul of. Granted, he is making the charge in Judeo-Christian terms, but I don't see that the charge constitutes bigotry in and of itself.

  3. The intent seems pretty clear; to insinuate to those who care about that sort of thing (of whom there are plenty in Kentucky) that Rand Paul worships idols and buys into all that New Age hooha. It's similar to the attacks on Obama that insinuate that he's a Muslim. It's only an attack if you think being Muslim is a bad thing.

  4. I hate having to be fair to Rand Paul, but it is something that us liberals are just compelled to do.

    The woman of the Aqua Buddha incident did not view it as maltreatment: just a prank that was so understood at the time. At least she says so now, and I suppose we have to believe her. There is a lot of behavior that could be maltreatment, but really depends on the context. Flirtation at the workplace, for example, could be sexual harassment, or just a way that a pair of friends interact. (I've seen both.)

    The blasphemy, however, remains unambiguous. Unfortunately, I have to agree with Mark: it probably cannot be turned on the right.

  5. Except there is no punch in the 'tying up' part because the anonomous woman already said she went along with the hazing willingly because they were all friends.

  6. You are right Mark. But that's because you are gracious and fair-minded.

    (But then again maybe you are wrong: Has American politics ever evidenced similar ethics?)

    Me? I've got a pint of red hot Rovian blood coursing my veins.

    Which means: If you can't beat your opponent, at least do everything possible

    to destroy his character and slice his agenda off at the knees.

    Or if you will: Do unto republicans as they have done unto others…

    The name calling game has been rigged for far too long against Democrats.

    They can call us socialists and make good hay all day with that.

    What can we call them? Capitalistic pigs? Privateers? Hardly. That's a compliment.

    Since the fall of the Soviet Union and the defeat of "socialism" the Left has

    had no countervailing philosophy to leverage from. Statism permits no glib rejoinders.

    So I am pleased as punch that Conway is throwing these punches.

    By all means, take this tinhorn pig by the ear and wrestle its teabag face into coal slurry.

    Ruin its good name, filch it's character, and let none think for an instance it's ear

    would ever make a nice presidential purse.

  7. On a tangent, does anyone know why everyone in the media is so careful to protect the anonymity of the woman in the "Aqua Buddha" incident, but even the NY Times thinks it's OK to publicize the name of the Duke graduate who produced that silly (but titillating) powerpoint about guys she's had sex with? Just wondering.

  8. Thanks. Corrected.
    Note that the insult to Kentucky voters comes from the candidate, not from me. I presume he knows his market.

  9. I'm a little surprised that even here the idea that something is only unpleasantly coercive when actual force is used would have such currency.

  10. The debate makes for painful viewing; Conway indeed appears to be a twit. One quibble: Conway's sin isn't 'religious bigotry'; it's just the standard political effort to misrepresent some irrelevent, ancient half-truths as his opponent's ultimate self-revelation. Religious bigotry happens; this ain't it.

  11. I'm confused at to where the religious bigotry is. Is it in pointing out that Paul's group mocked Christianity? Because I don't think that mocking a religion is a religion itself. Is it the worshiping of Aqua Buddha? Because I'm inclined to believe that Buddhism is a religion rather than a philosophy, but Aqua Buddhism I've never heard of. Is tying up a woman a sacred ritual?

    Obviously, Mark, your point is incorrect. If you wanted to say that Paul was being attacked as being a phony Christian, then you would be correct. But attacking a person for religious hypocrisy isn't "religious bigotry."

  12. I do not see any religious bigotry here. Many people who are Christians think that being their coreligionist is an important qualification for public office. Indeed, in reaching out to conservative Christians in Kentucky he has implicitly argued that he is one of them and that the beliefs that he shares with them are one of his legitimate qualifications for public office. I don’t agree but I think that Conway is entitled to point out Rand Paul is being two-faced when he presents himself as a like-minded Christian. And he should be able to do so in language which is appealing to that audience.

    How is it bigoted to point out Rand Paul is merely aping the language of conservative Christians in order to trick them in to voting for him? Why, specifically, is it an insult to voters in Kentucky to note that although Rand Paul claims to be a devout Christian conservative (and openly solicits the support of coreligionists on that basis) he privately sneers at them? Why is it bigoted to point out the many ways in which a man who solicits political support on the basis of his Christian faith privately acts in ways which are offensive to that faith?

    Indeed, I would say that it is a fair political message to point out Paul’s religious hypocrisy because it calls into question not the sincerity of beliefs but rather whether his hypocrisy is indicative of a more generalized lack of candor about his true beliefs.

  13. Oh, come on, I'm supposed to take this seriously as outrage over violence against women, when the woman in question dismisses it as friendly hazing she went along with? I've had it up to here with synthetic Democratic outrage. I've long thought it necessary to check into such things because, after all, it's not like a candidate's allies are going to let you know the dirt in his background, but this? THIS? Maybe the signal to noise ratio is just too low for it to be worth listening.

  14. I've never been in Kentucky so what do I know. I will only note that Conway is ahead in the only poll taken after the aqua Buddha ad aired. How many Kentuckians know what Ayn Rand thought of religion ? You assert that using religious bigotry against Randians, which has never been tried, won't work. Haven't you expressed some interest in evidence from time to time ?

    And why are you even discussing the effectiveness of religious bigotry ? I am discussing it in this comment, because uh this comment is a comment on your post. Why are you so quick to go from "it's wrong" to "it won't work" ? Both may be true, but this post sure seems to me to exemplify the pundit's fallacy.

    OK anyway to discuss whether the ad. will work (the evidence collected so far counldn't be stronger than it is) I will raise another strategic criticism. It seems to me that Conway should have continued to note that Rand Paul thinks there should be a $2,000 medicare deductible. The new twist is that Paul lied, claiming he hadn't recently said that, and was nailed on video. Not knowing anything about Kentucky, I would guess that an ad about how Paul told a bald faced lie denying his support for a $2,000 medicare deductible would be more effective than … any other imaginable advertisement, even including aqua Buddha.

  15. I've noticed that Democrats tend to have a rather remarkably debased opinion of conservatives. (Due to a lack of imagination, I guess: They can't envision anybody disagreeing with them for non-debased reasons.) This leads them to do strange things in their efforts to craft messages which will work on conservatives, because it's the image of conservatives in their mind that they're really talking to.

    Apparently Conway thinks Rand's base are going to be more upset about a college prank (27 years ago!) than their candidate lying to them about a policy position today. This, of course, doesn't tell us squat about Rand's base, but it does tell us something about what's going on in Conway's head.

    You want to deal effectively with reality, even the reality of what people who don't vote for you are really like, you have to be open to perceiving it. Republican candidates frequently benefit from the way Democratic loathing of conservatives leads them to really ineffective campaign tactics.

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