Sunday, May 6, 2012

Fighting The Righteous Right With 300 OpEdNews Articles: Was It Worth It?

There is something to be said about a passion for exposing hypocrisy.

"... and then Dr.Meade thundered, losing his temper: 'Our men have fought without shoes before and without food and won victories. And they will fight again and win!...Think of - think of Thermopylae!'
...'They died to the last man at Thermopylae didn't they, Doctor?' Rhett asked, and his lips twitched with suppressed laughter."
Articles on religion and politics are like warriors in the culture wars: they can attack or defend whenever necessary. So when my number for OpEdNews came to 300, I could only think of : Thermopylae...
and Rhett Butler.

I have a thing for Margaret Mitchell's Gone With The Wind, not only for the feisty character of Scarlett O'Hara, but for the wit and cynicism of Rhett Butler. A close examination of the characters reveals that Mitchell gives every character a certain amount of depth by revealing what their thoughts are, but not Rhett - he is observed in detail, but his inner self and motives are always mysteries left to the imagination of the reader. I like to think that his motives, his cynicism, his passion run too deep for analysis. Rhett Butler is passionate about life, people and beauty in the world, but he never lets on. He must be a tremendously frustrated, closeted writer.

That is one of his personality traits I differ with: I am certainly not reticent to write about my passion.

Passion. The culture wars do not lack for passion. OpEdNews makes a writer's work look serious and effortless in the same tome and at the same time. That's because there so much passion. Writers like Chris Hedges go about skewering the Right with an intensity and passion that seems almost inbred and the writing seems effortless. Would that were really so, at least with my own fare: an article can take me from 5 hours to three days.

Yes, every day writing about the culture wars can be said to be filled with passion, yet there's irony in that each day's writer's routine (at least mine) is frustrated by a tedium which must be endured to form the next soldier.

News Feeds: The Culture Warrior's Life's Blood and The Near Death Of His Soul. 

I often wonder if people realize how many news feeds a culture war writer has to go through each day to cull the best ideas - or how demoralizing news feeds are to someone who has to deal with the exigencies of the culture wars created by Rightwing politics and the Christian Right. They're a dream and a curse: emergencies on the screen occur as if they are there to personally frustrate writers like me. Yet each morning I wake up to a string of headlines for AP, CNN, CBS, MSNBC, LGBTQ Nation,  Firedog Lake, Crooks and Liars, Joe.My.God., Religion Dispatches, Right Wing Watch, Think Progress, The Daily Dish (Andrew Sullivan), OpEdNews and my own blog, The Devil and Dan Vojir (to prove to myself that I actually lived through yesterday). After perusing them with as much elation or rancor I can stomach, I can finally savor my morning coffee - usually my third cup.

News feeds can kill the creative spirit, however: the barrage of news is frightening and it often looks as if absolutely EVERYTHING has been written already. The soul is almost fatally challenged. I keep reminding myself that writers like Chris Hedges, Andrew Sullivan and Joe Jervis must also endure the same barrage of news, commentaries, trivia, anecdotes, and WTFs. They sift through it all to come up with ten, twenty posts a day. All original. God! Sometimes I hate their prolific, creative asses.

The State of Religion and Politics Today: The Rise Of Demonizers and The Fall Of Reason

One might think that writing on religion and politics presents a constant inner, suicidal struggle: to kill yourself now by means of sheer depression or to kill yourself later by means of uncontrollable laughter. Yeah, it's true. With the machinations of Cindy "Japan-is-shaped-like-a-dragon" Jacobs,  Anne Coulter(geist), Pat Robertson, Bryan Fischer, Rick Santorum, Pope Benedict XVI, Concerned Women of America, the NRA, the GOP and FOX/Faux News, it's a wonder that any progressive writer is still alive.

I chose the latter form of suicide: I figure that laughing AT them all while I'm going to my death can cause the most damage: "Against The Assault of Laughter, Nothing Can Stand" - Mark Twain. Yep, I'm going to take as many of them with me as I can.

And I have so many, many potential victims: the demonizers who feed their righteous arrogance by spouting hatred and fake morality are on the rise. Crouching behind the rise in hate groups is the growing number of what Andrew Sullivan calls "religionists" or "Christianists", those people for whom separation of church and state is the greatest biblical "abomination" outside of  homosexuality and women's reproductive rights. They are joined by coat-tail demonizers such as Tea Party Obama-haters.

And with their rise, comes the fall of reason: Kentucky's Creation Museum has spawned a $175 million Noah's Ark theme park (sans dinosaurs, of course). The State of Tennessee has flown in the face of reason by passing an "abstinence only" (non)sex education bill. The GOP denies that there's any war on women while BOTH parties pay their women staffers less than men. To the rest of the world, America has become one big WTF? and is now hiding its conservative and over-religionized head in the sand.

3 years - 300 articles - 250,000+ words - 464 comments - 410,000+ page views

All this begs the question: is any of it worth it? The long days and even longer hours. The frustrating feeling  that one is tilting at windmills. The never ending string of bigots and hypocrites. The constant nurturing of a snarky attitude.  Is there any encouragement? Is there any sense of accomplishment? Is there any sense of ... self?

The drive to communicate in some people (like me) is defeating in that we rarely stop for a response, so a venue like OpEdNews  let's us experience encouragement in many ways: thank God for OpEdNews readers. And as for my own  sense of accomplishment, to me, exposing hypocrisy is exhilarating to the point of orgasm.

You could say that exposing hypocrisy is its own reward.

Dealing With The Depths of Contempt and The Heights of The Orgasms

I have a small black named Katie Scarlett (of course). She has a special perch attached to my desk -a slideout topped with a pad from an old footstool. She routinely scratches at my shoulder to demand attention or treats. But most of the time she lays across the pad with her head slung slightly over the edge of her spot. It may not seem a taxing job for a writer's cat, yet she works tirelessly at being my guardian, my critic, the mirror of my tired soul. She is the innocence I lack. Her presence helps me deal with the highs and lows of writing against the Christofascist Right and Conservative Clowns. She sees me through the depths of contempt and the heights of those orgasms brought about by sadistically skewering hypocrites.

Thank you Katie. Thank you OpEdNews readers.

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