The fall out from the Hobby Lobby decision continues, and the follow-on rulings make it clear that the conservative majority on the Supreme Court is going to use "freedom of religion" and Hobby Lobby to do for the fundamentalist wing of the GOP what Citizens United did with "freedom of speech" for the 1% oligarchs and corporations. Kevin Drum notes how they're cynically spinning out their decisions to obscure what's going on.
What Digby said is that in particular, this amounts to a push back against the idea that women should not only control their own sexuality, they should be able to enjoy it for their own reasons. This is a direct challenge to centuries of patriarchal dogma that only purpose of sex (for a woman) is inside a one man one woman marriage to produce children, and the woman had better not enjoy it or look for a life that goes beyond those bounds. (If you missed Teacher Ken's reprise of a Sara Robinson classic on this, go read the whole thing. Why Patriarchal Men Are Utterly Petrified of Birth Control -- And Why We'll Still Be Fighting About it 100 Years From Now)
But the headline of this says something about the Funny Pages. What's up with that? More below the Orange Omnilepticon.
What's going on is simple: Conservatives are desperate. They see the modern world, and they don't like it. Their rigid structure of beliefs is incapable of dealing with it; their own record of repeated failures, their inability to reconcile their beliefs with science and facts - it demonstrates reality is not on their side. They want the old world back, the one where might makes right, morality is black and white, everyone knows their place - and men are in charge. They are not worried that their desire to return to a world like that means the collapse of everything - because for them the loss of personal power and privilege IS the end of the world. No compromise, no surrender. (Which is why centrism and third wayism is futile. Thanks a Hell of a lot for making Hobby Lobby possible, Bill Clinton and every other Democrat who voted for this.)
From their point of view, the worst is always happening and they'll do whatever it takes to stop it. William F. Buckley Jr.'s 1955 mission statement for the National Review is no more than a frank confession of conservatism's basis in fear.
...It stands athwart history, yelling Stop, at a time when no one is inclined to do so, or to have much patience with those who so urge it.Imagine that - even in the 1950s, conservatives like Buckley were terrified of the dangers of Big Government and blaming everything wrong on liberals. (If you read his whole screed, the apocalyptic tone and self-righteousness sounds like it could have been written today.) We're now in a world where the New Deal is being unraveled, organized labor is on life support, International Communism is a distant memory, money has more power than ever, capitalism is the state 'religion', "liberal" is a dirty word, they have their own 24/7 media bubble - and they're even more convinced their world is doomed if they don't fight back with everything they've got. And in a way, they're not far wrong.
They don't have the votes to enact their policies at the national level - that's why they're moving to make voting ever more difficult and why they're fighting a state by state battle with ALEC and other astroturf groups. They fear the popular will - that's why their policies are impoverishing the vast majority of us while giving unprecedented sway to the wishes of the super rich and giant corporations. They are afraid of people thinking in ways that challenge their authority - that's why they embrace authoritarian religions and are always talking about 'values' - which they want to hand down from on high and see rigidly enforced. They do NOT dare to be openly challenged or debated; that's why they've created their own media bubble, filled the streets with armed true believers to stifle dissent, and militarized the police.
And why are they terrified of women with contraception? Robinson nails it.
...Modern industrial economies have undermined the authority of men both in the public sphere and in the private realms; and since they're limited in how far they can challenge it in the external world, they've turned women's bodies into the symbolic battlefield on which their anxieties over this play out. Drill down to the very deepest center of any of these movements, and you'll find men who are experiencing this change as a kind of personal annihilation, a loss of masculine identity so deep that they are literally interpreting it as the end of the world. (The first rule of understanding apocalyptic movements is this: If someone tells you the world is ending, believe them. Because for them, it probably is.)They're becoming a parody of themselves in their desperation - you can neither be too extreme nor too shrill in defense of conservative values. (Just ask Eric Cantor or Thad Cochrane. Just listen to Rush or Hannity or Coulter.) They've jumped the shark, and the recognition of that is starting to manifest in popular culture. And they don't like it.
They are, above everything else, desperate to get their women back under firm control. And in their minds, things will not be right again until they’re assured that the girls are locked up even more tightly, so they will never, ever get away like that again.
Like Kryptonite to Superman…
Authoritarian movements (and their leaders especially) can't deal with ridicule. Their authority, their very self image, can't tolerate anything that challenges it, and humor can be especially effective in undermining it. The leader of North Korea has been throwing a hissy fit over an upcoming film, which admittedly is more than a little objectionable on the grounds of making his proposed assassination a comedy subject, but also because it is ridiculing him in other ways, also admittedly easy to do.
In 2005, much of the Muslim world was angered over Danish cartoons that were intended to explore the issue of Islamic criticism and self-censorship. By depicting the Prophet Muhammad even in cartoon form, it was considered blasphemous and sparked protests and rioting. Still, sincerely held beliefs after all - the Roberts Court would doubtless sympathize.
Monty Python's Flying Circus has pushed the boundaries more than once. Life of Brian managed to get declared blasphemous by almost every major religion. The Meaning of Life went even farther in some ways. (As a movie, it's a great personality test, to see which part of the film someone is offended by enough to get up and leave the theater.) The musical number "Every Sperm is Sacred" should have been performed before the Supreme Court in arguments - it is a far more honest argument on the subject than the decision that was handed down. There are indications just from a casual web search that this musical number has been and is being used as a protest against the restrictive laws being enacted against women.
Political cartooning has always included more than a little humor at times. Satire, exaggeration, ridicule, parody - all this and more has been used to make editorial points. Mark Fiore has chimed in on Hobby Lobby here and here, as did Matt Wuerke. And in an update, let's not leave out Eric Lewis and Animal Nuz #206!
However, it's a sign that something is happening when cartoonists who are not normally politically oriented start to reference events like Hobby Lobby in their work. Kris Straub's Chainsawsuit is usually an idiosyncratic web comic referencing pop culture, surrealistic ideas, and the artist's life - but the Hobby Lobby decision moved him to extrapolate just how potentially far-reaching it is. (It might be reductio ad absurdum - except conservatives keep moving the goal posts on absurdity.)
It's hard to gauge how far a web comic might reach, and the decline of print media isn't encouraging for newspaper - distributed comics, but The New Adventures of Queen Victoria by Pab Sungenis is out there in digital and dead tree media. Using clip art of contemporary and historic features, this often surreal strip takes on a variety of topics, borrowing historical context to amplify them. Again, the absurdity of the Hobby Lobby decision has produced some inspired work beginning on Monday, June 30th, and continuing Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and up to today, Friday July 4, 2014. The fitting conclusion will be on Saturday, assuming Sungenis will move on to something else at that point.
The Emperor's New Clothes
At this point some of you may be wondering what's the big deal? So a few comics are poking fun at the Supreme Court. That's not going to make the Tea Party go away or get the gavel back into Nancy Pelosi's hands. And no, not by themselves they won't. But… it's an important threshold that's being crossed here. Conservatives have spent decades doing everything possible to delegitimize liberal ideas and liberals themselves. They've done smear campaigns, used hate talk radio, FOX News, books, etc. etc. to portray liberals and their ideas as being totally discredited - and they do it 24/7. (It keeps them from having to talk about their own ideas - if any - too.)
Well, we are now seeing a tipping point where conservatives are essentially discrediting themselves, and it's becoming so obvious (with damned little help from the Democratic establishment) that even nominally non-political channels are starting to transmit the message. Several days ago Atrios mused on the idea that just maybe,
I've been trying to think about how to make this suggestion without seeming to trivialize the issues involved. My general view is that mockery is an underutilized tool by The Left, though we've gotten a bit better at that in recent years. We really should be pointing and laughing more, and one reason we haven't is the fear of alienating voters that aren't going to vote for "us" anyway.I got pushback the other day here for referring to the open carry crowd as "ammosexuals". The objector found it puerile and beneath their dignity to stoop to such childishness. Well, you have to reach people by whatever means they're receptive to, and frankly in my opinion dealing with ammosexuals on the level of constitutional rights and freedoms they cloak themselves in is giving them more respect than they deserve, especially when so much of their behavior IS puerile. Ammosexual is already 'out there' and as framing goes, it's hard to improve on this. Ammosexuals won't like it, but that's not the point - it's reaching the rest of the world out there.
When we run across spontaneous messaging that the Conservative Emperors Have No Clothes, we should do what we can to build on it. The return of the Neocons and the Warhawks to the media talking head shows because of the middle east mess should have been accompanied by derisive laughter, rotten tomatoes and custard pies to the face. They should have no credibility of any kind at this point, yet they still are taken seriously by too many who should know better. Well, if the funny pages (and other channels) can take them on, it's a start.
Let's encourage it. If you see it, share it, and reward it.
A minor update; Thanks to everyone for getting this up on Community Spotlight and the Recc List. If you look just under the title, there should be buttons to Tweet this and Like it on FaceBook. I'd encourage you to make use of them if this diary meets with your approval, because A) it helps spread the word, and B) it brings traffic back to Daily Kos - and Kos was saying just the other day that using social media is helping grow the site. Thanks!