The Stupid Party and its on-line encyclopedia

If they’re not Stupid on principle, why can’t they do better than Conservapedia? Maybe asking wingnuts to collaborate in producing a source of accurate knowledge is like asking liberals to listen to talk radio.

John Stuart Mill &#8212 who seems to have been one of those shrill, uncivil bloggers &#8212 once called the Tories “the Stupid Party.” It wasn’t so much that Tory politicians and voters were any dumber than anybody else, but that they were, as a party, devoted to Stupidity as a principle of government.

Now of course I would never be so uncivil as to describe the contemporary American Right, or its semi-tame pit bull, the Republican Party, as categorically Stupid. But if they aren’t in fact devoted to Stupidity as a principle, couldn’t they do better than the Conservapedia?

If Harvard and Berkeley, the New York Times and Wikipedia are taken to be “liberal” and biased toward the Democrats, as the wingnuts insist they are, and “conservatism” and the GOP are represented by Liberty University and Bob Jones University, Fox News and Conservapedia, then the conclusion is inescapable: a vote cast for a Republican is a vote for Stupidity.

Footnotes and hat tips Andrew Sullivan, a Tory, has been all over this. Shane Richmond, blogging for the Telegraph, a Tory paper, has more, as of course does the non-Tory crew at Crooks and Liars. Update: I am reminded that Jon Swift (presumably with help from the Lilliputians) was bashing the Conservapedia long before Conservapedia-bashing became popular.

And no, they’re not just stupid, they’re also bigoted: Conservapedia criticizes its rival for allowing (not requiring) the use of dates in the C.E./B.C.E. (Common Era/Before the Common Era) style, as opposed to the more familiar A.D.(Anno Domini, “Year of Our Lord) and B.C. (Before Christ), which observant Jews among others do not use because they do not recognize Jesus of Nazareth either as their Lord or as the Christ (i.e., Messiah). This rather simple fact seems to have escaped the author of the relevant Conservapedia entry, who seems determined to pursue the Stupid principle of shared ignorance.

Update Joe Miller at Catallarchy points out that I have misinterpreted Mill, who said that Conservatives were “by the law of their existence the stupidest party” but clarified that by writing:

I never meant to say that the Conservatives are generally stupid. I meant to say that stupid people are generally Conservative. I believe that is so obviously and universally admitted a principle that I hardly think any gentleman will deny it.

Dittoheads in the 19th Century? Whodathunkit?

Anyway, it’s good to know that there’s been progress. Stupid people are still generally, though not, alas, exclusively, “conservative” &#8212 in the debased sense in which that term is now used to mean theocrats, plutocrats, neocons, imperialists, and crooks &#8212 and now they have created a political movement with Stupidity as its sacred principle.

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: