The Punishment Cult

What is it with these red state folk? Every time we turn around, yet another red state politician makes a new incredibly ignorant and hateful statement, or when some natural disaster strikes, a red state preacher calls it God’s revenge because of gays or something, or some red state legislature passes yet another hateful law designed to punish their favored minority-of-the-day.

What is it with these red state folk?

Wow, where to start. How about the North Carolina legislature, which passed an obviously unconstitutional law establishing a state religion (their religion, of course, because theirs is the One True Religion), then claiming that the federal government had no authority to deny it. Someone over there needs to review the Constitution, paying particular attention to the part that says the Constitution “shall be the supreme law of the land”. The same legislature passed a law that will make divorce harder to obtain, which means that abused women will be chained to their abusive husbands. Now some guy in Kansas wants to ban sustainability. Does he understand the word? Kentucky has managed to pare government expenses down well enough that a good many of its citizens are destitute and poorly schooled. Ideal.

Let’s see, who was the latest Bible thumper to claim that the recent (hurricane, earthquake, flood, tornadoes, fire…) was God’s revenge for (atheists, the national debt, abortion, Obama…). Whose funeral will Westboro Baptist plan to picket with their hateful message next? And what’s with all the dire predictions about marrying animals? C’mon, people! Are you nuts?

What’s with all the crap about
marrying animals? Are you nuts?

Of course you remember the endless string of GOP stupidities about women, rape, pregnancy and all during last fall’s election idiocies. It not only revealed a gross ignorance of basic human biology that most 9th graders would be ashamed of, but it made thinking persons wonder why anyone at all would vote for such persons, and particularly why there are any Republican wives who are not Democrats. Every day there is another preposterous blunder by one or another of them.

It is easy to ridicule such stupidities, but they all point to an ethic of hate and punishment that makes our beloved country a disturbing place. Are southern legislators still fighting the Civil War, or something? Can none of these so-called Christians see that what they are saying goes against everything Christ taught? Do male Republicans hate women because of their own insecurities? (That might explain their higher divorce rates.) Do they not see that the things they want the government to do hurt people, real people, even cause them to die?

This ethic of hate and punishment
makes our beloved country a disturbing place.

I’m at a loss to explain this sour attitude and behavior. I suppose that one explanation is that people with such irrational hatred of others have never even met even one of the people they say they hate. It gets a lot harder to hate someone you know, or at least see in the checkout line.

Another element in such warped thinking has to be faulty education. If you go to a school where it is taught that the Bible is the indisputable truth, you are going to emerge ignorant of the past 500 years of science and technology. You might as well be living in the backwater Europe of the Dark Ages. Your morals and ethics are going to be bumper sticker fare, and no amount of undeniable fact could prove to you that you are simply wrong. We feel sadness for such persons, but their ignorance is creating havoc for the rest of us. Their beliefs are not just incorrect, but morally wrong, and they are causing unnecessary suffering.

Or maybe what George Lakoff tells us in his books explains the whole thing. The conservative Republican ideal is independent, self-sufficient nuclear families who depend on no one but themselves. The final authority of the family is the father. A moment’s thought shows us that this is an obvious impossibility in the real world.

The conservative Republican mindset
is for independent families who
depend on no one but themselves.

According to this mindset, independence and strength of character is the strength of the nation and increases our freedom. We are not responsible for others. Those who fall by the wayside deserve their fate, and we have no obligation to help them. The village must keep its damned mitts off our children, lest they become contaminated by weakness.

This mean-spirited ethos is pretty much the same as that among ultra-conservative Muslims who blame a woman for a crime committed against her, and punish her for it. It allows no exception for any situation that is beyond the control of the all-powerful individual. It allows no validity to the suffering of other people.

This myth is as false as any other myth.

Those who believe in this myth do not allow themselves to consider that the suffering of others usually comes from something they are powerless to avoid. Disease. War. Bad public policy. Prejudice. They don’t accept that the government could help. But of course there are many such suffering persons. Billions of them, in fact, and no amount of strength of character will alleviate their suffering. The myth of independence from all others and absolute authority and control over one’s life is as false as any other myth. It can only result in a dismal country of suspicious, hateful people bunkered with their supplies and guns.

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. “It can only result in a dismal country of suspicious, hateful people bunkered with their supplies and guns.” I fear this as well. I tell myself that the people who ran TOWARDS the smoke and noise in Boston to help the victims will be the people who prevent that from being my country.

    But sometimes, the tide of mean stupid threatens to swamp my rowboat.

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  2. I feel it’s a pity that there is no hereafter so that all these religious zealots, holy rollers, Jesus Jumpers, call them what you will can finish up burning in the hell that they are forever calling down on everybody who disagrees with their beliefs.

    They deserve nothing more.

    They have brought more death, destruction and hatred into this world than is imaginable.

    Religion organized or not is thuggery at it’s worst.

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  3. I think the tendency to blame the victim is a deep seated, subconscious desire for control. The idea (if you can call it that) being that pain and hardship are earned, so we all can have lives without pain and hardship if we’re really, really good. Of course, that’s utter bullshit. But its reflected in many religions under different rubrics, and I honestly believe humans have to be trained out of it. Just a thought…

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