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The Tea Party has an unintentional genius to it. They have stumbled across a new debate tool that is incredibly effective, and its time to give credit where credit is due. They have discovered "Teaphistry."

Teaphistry, is sophistry of such great magnitude, that the brain, in responding to the argument, simultaneously comes up with so many refutations that it actually causes a neurological overload, forcing it to shut down, leaving the arguer momentarily speechless.

Their logic is the equivalent of "If smoking kills, why are so many smokers still alive."

Examples of teaphistry include arguments like, "If we pass gun control, only criminals will have guns." (Because, after all, criminals obey all other laws right? Are they aware of what makes someone a criminal?)

Or, (and I wish this were a joke) "If babies had guns they wouldn't be aborted." (How do they get guns in there? Do they get training? So much weirdness here). The scary thing about this one is that it was actually made into a bumper sticker, indicating that it was not only said, but thought wise by advisers.

Or, "more people die in car accidents than by guns, why don't we regulate them?" (A. Actually gun deaths have passed car deaths now. B. That's because we've done a lot of things to regulate cars. C. People who die in car accidents don't generally get murdered by cars, that's why they're called accidents. D. Cars aren't made for the express purpose of killing things. E. Put 150 million people on a road while firing a gun for two hours a day and see what happens to the death by gun rate.)

Or, "If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” (A. The words "legitimate" and "rape" should never be juxtaposed for any reason. B. The female body does not have ways of shutting "that whole thing down." C. "That whole thing" is not a biological term. D. If a woman is raped she actually has a statistically greater chance of getting pregnant, because rapists don't typically wear protection.)

Or,  Kyle McCarter's augmentf that to, "redefine marriage is discriminatory towards those who hold the sincerely held religious belief that it is a sacred institution between a man and a woman," or every other argument akin to it. (A. Not being able to discriminate is not being discriminated against. Duh. B. You said religious in the context of making a law. C. I thought conservatives loved the Constitution. D. You said sacred. E. I thought conservatives loved the Constitution.)

Or, "Read the constitution." Which is the ultimate teaphistry that comes out of every argument they ever argue, as though they alone know and understand the constitution, even though they don't know it or understand it.

This is especially true when they mock President Obama's graspof it. What would a guy who was the editor of the Harvard Law Review, graduated magna cum laude with a JD, and taught Constitutional Law at the University of Chicago know that some windbag with a house on wheels and a truck on blocks doesn't?

There are countless others massive flaws in reasoning, such as equating infanticide and abortion (the words have different meanings for a reason), blaming Obama for a budget that passed before he was even the Democratic nominee, or acting like Obama is to blame for Republican filibusters when they prattle on about how he hasn't passed a budget.

There's, "The Second Amendment is the right that holds up the other rights." (A. No it's it's not. That's why it's "second" and not "first." B. The First Amendment, which is first and not second, is what upholds your right to wrongly state things about the Second Amendment C. I don't have the time, energy, or wherewithal to educate you on why we have the second amendment. D. Your Second Amendment rights aren't being violated by gun-control because E. The Supreme Court said so, and F. If you read the Constitution you would know that their opinion, not yours, is final).

If I gave you an exhaustive list, I would be exhausted. So I'm not going to try.

But my favorite teapistry of all is one that predates the Tea Party. It is a concept so vile and disturbed in its essence, it is possibly the zygote of the Tea Party, the conception of this illogical, reality starved group of ranters: "Big Government." I blame Ronald Reagan, the great-grand pappy of the Tea Party (which he wouldn't agree with anyway, but that's another story).

Big government is the ultimate teaphistry, it's an entire paradigm of teaphistry. It is the root of all other teaphistry. What the heck is "Big Government" supposed to mean? They want the government to be small where it should be big, and big where it should be small.

When it comes to government invading your bedroom and actually dictating what counts as legal sex, even between a husband a wife,  they have no problems with it. When it comes to the government actually helping people, they get all out of sorts though.

To them, war is good, and medicine is bad. They have no problems not paying for the former, but get irate at the notion of paying for the latter. Better to kill than heal I guess.

To them, raped women should be forced to have babies, but the government shouldn't do a lick for them after the birth. Once the fetus is born, he's just another sponge on society who should get his lazy butt out of his crib and go get a job.

If they concede that the baby can't work, they'll tell you that the mother should have thought about that before she had sex (weirdly never the dad).

And if she'd really been raped, she wouldn't have gotten pregnant (see above).

They have to force bad logic into things because they don't know history. The don't have even a cursory understanding of how government has evolved over thousands of years.

There paradigm is flawed. To them, government is an inherently bad thing (unless it's forcing other people to live by the moral code which they want to impose) that is big and massive and needs to get smaller.

But here's a news flash. Government is actually a good thing.

Thousands of years ago, back in the days of Pharaoh, the government (which was a single person who claimed to be God) told all the people what to do. He alone was this one, single omniscient entity. He had all the power, religious, economic and governmental.

After thousands of years of progress we progressed to the point where at least the King wasn't God but was merely there as God's designated authority. He went from "Divine" to having "Divine right."

He had to wrestle with power with the church, and the emerging mercantile class had sway, but he was the man.

Again time passed, and we got the Magna Carta, which basically stipulated that the King too, had to be under the law. For the first time, (in very broad terms) the King and the law were separate things. The mercantile class had real power via the Parliament.

The church still had massive sway though, even for centuries after the Magna Carta was written.

More time passed. Then came the revolution and the US Constitution, which was the first codified, written, government in history. The "government" was something that was defined and limited in its powers. But it was also something that was given express powers too.

It wasn't perfect but it was a further extension of this progression through history where the government now was something of the "people," by the "people" and for the "people." It wasn't a thing that was in a single person's hand. There was no king. There was a democratically elected representative government.

And there was a clear delineation between the state and the church. It is remarkable that the word "God" does not appear in the Constitution, and that the word "religion" (a deliberately vague word) is only used once, and that's to draw a very clear line between any religion and the government itself.

Of course their understanding of "people" was limited to white, land-owning males. So when we revere the founders and their understanding, we shouldn't make them out to be divinely inspired saints. Some of them actually owned people. They weren't right about everything.

The lost piece of history in regards to the Constitution is why we have it in the first place. The delegates at the Philadelphia Convention were the creditors of the nation they were forming. That's why the first business they took care of was that whole giving the right to collect taxes thing.

In essence the Constitution transferred the legal powers that had been the "kings" to the mercantile class. It was extended but not completely. It protected the wealth of the wealthy instead of the kingdom of the king.

A century later rights were extended to  all males, even black ones. Another half century after than women were counted as people too. It was less than a century ago that women were actually considered as having the same rights as men.

And as the definition of "people" grew the purpose of government evolved. It was no longer to protect a king and his kingdom. It was no longer just to protect the wealthy and their wealth.

It started to mean protecting the people and their rights.

People were given a public education.

People were given rights to work in a save and healthy environment.

People were given rights to childhood where they could learn, and not have to labor for paltry wages.

People were given rights public utilities.

People were given rights to own their own homes.

People were given rights health care.

People were given rights to not have corporate enterprises destroy their environment.

This list could go on for hours, but it's not needed to specify every single thing. It's important to see the forest, not the trees.  

People were not given such rights by some nameless, faceless dystopia. They were given these rights by themselves (gasp) because this is a government that is "of the people, by the people and for the people" just like everyone's favorite Republican, Honest Abe said.

History has been marching towards "big government" for thousands of years because "big government" means the opposite of what the Tea Party wants it to mean. It mans more rights, more opportunities, more equality, more prosperity and more "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

History in a nutshell is this. Government has been the progression of moving from a single person having all the religious, financial and legal power to a society where all people have the right to chose their own religion, are treated equally under the law, and have the same opportunity for prosperity.

We had arrived at the first two of those, and were making progress in the third. The Tea Party prefers to impose their religion, have the law treat certain groups of people differently, and protect the barriers which prevent all people from having the same opportunity for prosperity.

They do so because they've been sold this bill of goods that "Big Government" is bad. To them history is the opposite of what it is. To them, government started as a massive ball of bureaucracy  and progress is untangling the mess. It's completely backwards.

They believe in regress, not progress. And weirdly, they think that the further we retreat back to serfdom, the better off we'll be. And so to make sense out of the senseless they have to use senselessness.

And that's why they invented teaphistry.

 

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