Sunday, April 17, 2011

Conservative by Nature

I was thinking about a facebook post I saw that accused Department of Education Assistant Deputy Secretary Kevin Jennings of advocating men forcing themselves sexually on boys. It was based on Fox Network false reporting as usual, but what concerned me was that someone, in fact probably a lot of people, were perpetuating this kind of lie on facebook. Kevin Jennings has spent his life advocating against the bullying of children who are or appear to be homosexuals. Fox and doubtless a coterie of pedophile priests and ministers are whipping up their anti-homosexual base. They can't be honest and say "but we are bullies, we think it is good to beat up on homo children." Instead they attack by making false claims about Jennings. And they congratulate themselves for being good Christian people. The sort who would throw stones at whores and homos, which I guess Jesus spent a good deal of the New Testament advocating for. [If you don't get the irony here, you might want to spend a few hours reading the Gospels]

But I have a problem with putting all conservatives in a bundle and tarring them with being hateful people. Fox gives conservatives a bad name, and encourages our worst behavior.

People really can't help but be conservative. The reality is there is almost nothing new under the sun, so aside from the latest tech gadget burning a hole where your pocketbook should be, it is just a matter of picking what sort of conservative you are.

Marxist used to think they were radicals. At best they are following a 160 year-old system of thought (actually, it goes back to the beginning of human society). Many of the splinter Protestant groups of the U.S. are far younger than that. Even if you accept their Bible-based claims to conservatism, the New Testament is still less than 2000 years old. Protestantism is a mere 600 years old. Is that radical or conservative?

Our genes, our DNA, are very, very conservative. We still have many genes that function the same as bacterial genes that are a billion years old (or 5000 years old if you believe God created all of Nature recently, and did the trick partly by using what programmers call object oriented, re-usable code).

Some members of every generation of young people try to break with the conservative mold. They reject their parents' and society's values and set themselves apart as a youth cult. The general term for that is bohemianism. Actually, it is a form of ultra-conservatism. It almost never drives culture forward. Youth rebellion usually seeks an even more conservative past when people were not so uptight and rule-bound. They pick a different flavor of conservative and call it "our generation."

To really be a religous conservative, you would have to become either a pagan or an atheist. Christianity is an innovation, and a poor one.

As to homosexuality, it appears to be as ancient as mankind. The radical new document called the Old Testament mentions it. The ancient Greeks, or some ancient Greeks, once things got urbanized and class-stratified, believed it was a superior form of love, above that of a man for his wife. It tends to be associated with cultures that make women inferior. Once you have declared women to be inferior (no females in the hierarchy of priests and ministers), and hang out mostly with men, homosexuality is only a kiss away.

As to myself, I believe in conserving as much of the natural world as possible. The mountain-top coal removers and the nuclear power plant builders, they are the radicals. They are the ones that need to be stopped.

Before homo sapiens split off from other apes on the tree of evolution, there were bullies. Now we have a wider variety of bullies: physical bullies, intellectual bullies, social bullies, cultural bullies, economic bullies. In a class-stratified society like ours much bullying is institutionalized. People don't even realize they are engaging in it. It is part of the upper classes protecting their privileges.

Still, it is good to try to minimize the bullying of children by adults, and of children by other children. Gay boys and girls should be treated with the same respect that all children should be treated with.

The difficult part of the equation is dealing with the adult bullies who don't see themselves as bullies. They see their actions as "helping" children. Helping them to obey all orders from authority figures, no matter who stupid. Helping them to conform to the gender roles of the adults' subculture. And the problem is deeper, because children do need help. They do need to pay attention in school; they really would benefit from doing their homework. So we need to be able to distinguish between arbitrary authority and good leadership.

And some children, maybe most children, will conform. But many will just harbor resentment and try to survive until the day they are adults and can get out from under their parents' authority, and maybe move to some place where there are more nice people around, like California.

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