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Apr 03 2012

Them Southerners and their backward ways

You know what Southerners are all like? They’re all

  • Rural,

  • poor and lazy,

  • stupid,

  • red-necked conservatives, and

  • all the same.

Wait a moment…you mean those aren’t all true? If you think they are, maybe you need to read this article on Southern stereotypes.

I have not spent much time in the South (wait…maybe the stereotype is true, because y’all haven’t been smart enough to invite me to come on down and give a fire-eating atheist talk), but one thing that has persuaded me that pinning blame on Southerners is a huge mistake is that I live in rural Minnesota, about as Northern as you can get without turning inside out over the top of the swing and becoming Canadian, and those stereotypes could be equally well applied here. People are people everywhere, and the entire goddamned country is afflicted with god-fearing tea-partyin’ Jebus-fellatin’ racist warmongering American exceptionalists who hate edumacation and gays. You can’t give Alabama the dirty squink-eye without doing the same to Pennsylvania and Arizona and Idaho and yes, even Massachusetts and Minnesota. It’s a huge mistake to focus our concern on geography rather than uneducated social attitudes.

Besides, I want to see the South become a bastion of liberal progressiveness, like say, Austin or Chapel Hill. I’m not interested in seeing it turned into a convenient ghetto for bigotry.

123 comments

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  1. 1
    Anthony K

    But some Southern stereotypes are true, aren’t they? I mean, you went to Calgary and they gave you a damned cowboy hat, right?

  2. 2
    Martin Wagner

    Come visit us down in Austin some time, PZ. We want to have you on The Atheist Experience.

    Martin

  3. 3
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    and yes, even Massachusetts and Minnesota.

    Anyone old enough, as I am, to remember the busing riots in Boston should understand this. There’s a reason some African-American people call the city “Mississippi on the Charles.”

  4. 4
    mylonite

    Country must be country wide… I’m in Florida, the only place in the country you have to go north to get to the South – but I lived in the boonies and was raised pretty hick. In the rural, poor, red-necked, kind of sense, at least. You’ve got it right, PZ – they make hicks everywhere, and they make sad, scared people everywhere… the two don’t always go hand in hand. Thanks fer noticin’ =)

  5. 5
    Anthony K

    Anyone old enough, as I am, to remember the busing riots in Boston should understand this. There’s a reason some African-American people call the city “Mississippi on the Charles.”

    For some reason, I hold the stereotype of Boston as a very racist city (and not just because I was sorta kidnapped by someone who I suspect was some sort of racist while I was there). So, there’s some truth to this stereotype? Is Boston more racist, in general, than the average large American city?

  6. 6
    melody

    I grew up in the South and I’ve promised to never step foot back there unless I have to for work. I realize there are other shitty unprogressive places in the country. I’ll try to stay away from those if I can help it as well.

  7. 7
    dormical

    That said, having spent time in the south, there *is* a common culture. I know negative southern generalities don’t apply to everyone who lives there, but they apply to more than enough people to make me uncomfortable when outliers use themselves as evidence against the South’s (or Midwest’s or rural New England’s) cultural disorders.

    My boyfriend lives a lot easier here in NYC than he did in Atlanta.

  8. 8
    lexie

    People are people everywhere. I’m an Aussie and can confirm that we have religious, homophobic, misogynistic, racist natters here too.

  9. 9
    dianne

    I grew up in Texas. I don’t live there now. I didn’t like it in a lot of ways. But the stereotype is not so much untrue as exaggerated and incomplete. Texas has 3 cities over 1 million in it-but also a heck of a lot of rural areas that barely meet the criteria for non-frontier. People in Texas are more likely to vote Republican, but a lot of strong liberals have come out of Texas (see Molly Ivins, the guys that challenged the sodomy laws, etc.) And so on. Like most things involving people, the truth is messy and complex. Shrug. If that helps any.

  10. 10
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    Brownian,

    Is Boston more racist, in general, than the average large American city?

    I can’t really answer that question, partly because I’ve spent much more time in Boston than in any other large American city, and partly because the racism isn’t aimed at me. You might want to ask a person of color who’s lived in a variety of big U.S. cities. And, of course, the answer might be skewed by specific ethnicity and by class.

    FWIW, I’ve heard some African-Americans say it’s gotten a lot better in the last 35 years. It’s still far from perfect, IMO.

    Dormical, while obviously I agree with PZ’s post, I also agree with you. Regional racism manifests differently due to regional culture. Southern racism is pretty up front and in your face. I’ll note that some people who are subject to that brand of racism prefer it to the veiled sort.

  11. 11
    dubocn74

    @Brownian sigh, you’re so right about Calgary :)

    I never would have willingly travelled to the southern states (being a sanctimonious, oh-so-enlightlened Canadian) but when a friend moved there a number of years ago I ended up visiting more often than I ever thought that I would. I’ve enjoyed my time there and the people I’ve met causing me to dial back my own general stereotyping (don’t believe the press, Canadians aren’t as polite as everyone gives them credit for).

    It’s the same here “way up north”. Alberta gets the worst of it when it comes to red-neck bashing (rightfully so) but you can just as easily find bible-thumping Harperites in Vancouver and Montreal.

  12. 12
    Pierce R. Butler

    … y’all haven’t been smart enough to invite to come on down …

    Yabbut at least sumtimez we ‘member to put the object in our sentences.

    (Bonus point for spelling you all right!)

  13. 13
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    Dianne,

    but a lot of strong liberals have come out of Texas (see Molly Ivins, the guys that challenged the sodomy laws, etc.)

    Yeah. Southern and (rural) Western progressives are fierce.

  14. 14
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    Eh, by “rural” Western progressives I didn’t mean to exclude the ones who live in big cities like Houston or Denver. I was trying, clumsily, to exclude the famously liberal(*) West Coast, and I worded that sentence badly.

    (*) Not all of which is liberal, either. Orange Curtain, anybody?

  15. 15
    dormical

    The other thing about the South (and the Midwest) is that it’s not just about the rural dingbats who’ve been denied an education out of poverty and find themselves incapable of assimilating mainstream culture (the “”hicks”). Sure, those guys are everywhere. But in NY upstate, the racist, sexist, homophobic dumbass who believes in Creationism and beating children is just some toothless yahoo in a shack. In the south, he’s most of your high school teachers.

    It’s not really about the hicks in the south but the middle class with hick values.

  16. 16
    Louis

    PZ,

    You have described Americans as seen through the lens of stereotype from the UK. Except that you forgot “fat” and at least 12 more “stupids”.

    Ahhhhh stereotypes: comforting Us that we are better than Them since 1993.*

    Louis

    * Or possibly even before.

  17. 17
    Zeno

    Minnesota has Michele Bachmann, who fully embraces the benighted extremist positions that supposedly characterize the unregenerate Southern yokel. Counterexamples like her should be enough to lay to rest the facile use of stereotypes, but don’t hold your breath. (And I can offer several more examples from California.)

  18. 18
    Ze Madmax

    dormical @ #15

    But in NY upstate, the racist, sexist, homophobic dumbass who believes in Creationism and beating children is just some toothless yahoo in a shack.

    Not necessarily. While going to college in upstate NY (SUNY Buffalo), I met my fair share of racist, sexist, homophobic dumbasses from the middle class, both among the student body and among the people I worked with.

    Don’t know about high school teachers, however.

  19. 19
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    the racist, sexist, homophobic dumbass who believes in Creationism and beating children is just some toothless yahoo in a shack. In the south, he’s most of your high school teachers.

    Really? Is that so.

    Most?

  20. 20
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    god damnit

    the racist, sexist, homophobic dumbass who believes in Creationism and beating children is just some toothless yahoo in a shack. In the south, he’s most of your high school teachers.

    Really? Is that so.

    Most?

  21. 21
    Reginald Selkirk

    You can’t give Alabama the dirty squink-eye without doing the same to Pennsylvania…

    Thus the saying:
    “Pennsylvania: Philadelphia in the east, Pittsburgh in the west, and Alabama in between.”

  22. 22
    Louis

    Ze Madmax,

    SUNY Buffalo? I spent a year there back in the 90s!

    I have photos telling me there were some good times. Must have been good because the memories are blurred.

    Louis

  23. 23
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    “Pennsylvania: Philadelphia in the east, Pittsburgh in the west, and Alabama in between.”

    Pennsyltucky.

    As for NY State, it’s where this shit happened. I’m pretty sure those judges have most of their teeth and live in nicer domiciles than mere shacks.

  24. 24
    Nepenthe

    Even the cultural oddities that are supposedly Southern are by no means limited to the South. I still wonder what the Confederate flag toting idjits in my Wisconsin high school thought will happen to them when “the South rises again”.

  25. 25
    alejb

    I recently lived in a former bastion of racism and KKK activity (now thankfully diluted by time and the immigration of less backward folk). It happened to be in southern Michigan, right next door to a very liberal college town.

    There may be regional generalities, but each region is certainly more heterogeneous than the blue-and-red electoral college maps would suggest.

  26. 26
    Randomfactor

    (*) Not all of which is liberal, either. Orange Curtain, anybody?

    Bakersfield makes me long for the Orange Curtain.

  27. 27
    AlanMac

    the entire goddamned country is afflicted with god-fearing tea-partyin’ Jebus-fellatin’ racist warmongering American exceptionalists who hate edumacation and gays.

    …and he stopped me right there and said, “Kid!, have you rehabilitated yourself!”.

  28. 28
    spamamander, internet amphibian

    I’ve bitched about the red/blue divide here in Washington a lot on here. Most people think of WA and think either 1. D.C. or 2. Seattle liberal latte-swilling computer geeks. Where I am though fully 1/3 of people live below or at the poverty line, the primary occupation is agriculture or related to it, terribly conservative and undereducated. It also is a highly religious area with a large population of LDS and Catholics (particularly Mexican) as well as Seventh Day Adventists and fringe groups based off of SDA. Let’s face it, you can’t get much further North in the US without going to Alaska (and, let’s face it, AK is NOT exactly a liberal hotbed.)

  29. 29
    Reginald Selkirk

    #23: As for NY State, it’s where this shit happened. I’m pretty sure those judges have most of their teeth and live in nicer domiciles than mere shacks.

    I followed the link, and it said that it happened in Pennsylvania.

  30. 30
    zxcier

    Back in the day when we were a less mobile society and generations grew up and lived in the same area, regional stereotypes had some basis in reality. These days, where you’re from and where you live now tend to have little relation, so these stereotypes have vanished in the face of diversity.

  31. 31
    sundiver

    No shit. Hunter Thompson made the same observation in ’72 after watching George Wallace give a speach up here in Wisconsin, the ” Arctic Alabama ” at Serb Hall on the south side of Milwaukee. I recall he said that speach made him realize not all bigoted turds were south of what James McMurtry called the ” Mason-Dumbass ” line. And doen’t Jessica Ahlquist live in Rhode Island? Seems to me there are some asshole christurds there too.

  32. 32
    patrickmccormick

    You can’t give Alabama the dirty squink-eye without doing the same to Pennsylvania and Arizona and Idaho and yes, even Massachusetts and Minnesota. It’s a huge mistake to focus our concern on geography rather than uneducated social attitudes.

    Thank you. To talk about the South as though it comprises a uniform culture registers a level of inanity in common measure with talking about the “country” of Africa. I also think that there’s a certain laudable quality to publicly espousing a belief structure of liberal progressivism when living, let alone having lived from birth, in a region where conservative and religious-fundamentalist beliefs are numerically dominant and implicitly enforced within the local society.

  33. 33
    Sili

    Yeah. Southern and (rural) Western progressives are fierce.

    Duh.

    There’s strong selective pressure for them not to be milquetoast.

  34. 34
    knut7777

    56 years in, I still need to regularly flush out the racist reflexes that were drummed into me as a kid in that bastion of liberalism, Minneapolis MN. There was a huge disconnect between the public discourse and the reality of the lower middle class of my neighborhood.

  35. 35
    Rip Steakface

    I’ve bitched about the red/blue divide here in Washington a lot on here. Most people think of WA and think either 1. D.C. or 2. Seattle liberal latte-swilling computer geeks. Where I am though fully 1/3 of people live below or at the poverty line, the primary occupation is agriculture or related to it, terribly conservative and undereducated.

    Sounds like you live in eastern Washington. Over here, west of the Cascades, it fits more of the liberal latte-swilling computer geeks stereotype. While I don’t live in Seattle, I do live in Olympia – and it doesn’t fucking get more liberal than Olympia. On one hand, they’re the image of progressivism on most topics. On the other, New Age crap fills the streets like a plague.

  36. 36
    aggressivePerfector

    Regional stereotypes would seem to be an extension of what I’m talking about in this recent essay on how to make ad-hominem arguments.

    Some of you might find it interesting. My main point is that the ad hom can be a logical argument, but I mainly used it as an example of Bayesian hypothesis testing.

  37. 37
    erichoug

    I’ve been fortunate in that my work has taken me to nearly every state in the union. I don’t usually go to the big cities either but rather I get to go to places like Neon, Kentucky(coal mine), Levan, Utah(cement plant) and Bishop, Texas (refinery) and the one thing that I have learned is that stereotypes are stupid. The guys in Alabama love to put on that slow drawl and make you think their stupid so. It’s a trap, they aren’t. The ones in Kentucky will tell you all day about “The Devil’s Alcohol” and then take you home and give you a glass of good wiskey. And, the biggest rednecks I have ever met nearly all live in California.

    Stereotypes are stupid because they blind you to the complexity and the vibrancy of people. You hear a slow drawl and the word pastor and you dismiss them, you shouldn’t.

  38. 38
    coyotenose

    the racist, sexist, homophobic dumbass who believes in Creationism and beating children is just some toothless yahoo in a shack. In the south, he’s most of your high school teachers.

    Really?

    The best high school teacher I ever met was an openly gay man who taught me World History in 1991, in the middle of rural North Carolina. Some dillhole parents tried to get him fired on that basis, and pretty much nobody supported them. Twenty years later, I saw a magazine article about him because of his teaching methods (which included dressing up as famous historical characters and going to teach like that, all day, for no particular reason. He was and is beloved by students and faculty at multiple schools, and for good reason.

    I didn’t meet a single teacher in high school who brought their religion or politics to work with them, except for a LIBERAL one, who just happened to be a bit of a kook and conspiracy theorist (her eccentricities and delusions of grandeur were not causally related to her being a liberal, of course).

    Meanwhile, many of the racist, homophobic, sexist child-beaters I’ve become aware of in this area don’t live in shacks. They have 4- and 6-year degrees, are well-off, and are considered local pillars and educated. (They aren’t educated, rather, they’re trained, but people don’t seem to know the difference.)
    Sorry to burst your elitist bigot bubble.

  39. 39
    adamreith

    Meh, I came to Alabama and, even coming from Texas, I found it quite a culture shock.

    For the most part, it is every bit as backward and prejudiced as I had been led to believe.

    I certainly have found enlightened people here, but overall the place is benighted by a peculiar sort of prideful ignorance that infuses the entire local culture.

  40. 40
    Q.E.D

    Agreed there are stupid, bigoted rednecks everywhere but my personal experience was that the South was more openly racist than anywhere else I have lived. (I know, I know, anectode/data)

    Only when I lived in New Orleans did I hear the word “nigger” said openly. A bartender refused to serve a black friend. A Mardi Gras Crewe spoke openly about not “wasting” beads and cups on black children. Late night cab drivers assumed I was as “one of them” and they could engage in racist conversation etc. . .

    I never encountered that level of open racism in any of the other places I have lived: New York City, North Andover Massachusetts, Washington D.C., London or Paris. I am not saying it isn’t there but it certainly wasn’t as open, in my experience.

    People of colour’s mileage may vary considerably.

  41. 41
    Anthony K

    Stereotypes are stupid because they blind you to the complexity and the vibrancy of people. You hear a slow drawl and the word pastor and you dismiss them, you shouldn’t.

    But it’s okay if think of the UK and you piss yourself worried you’ll be “knifed to death by roaming gangs of hoodlums”.

    Fuck off, Hoag. Stereotypes is why you own guns. Take your faux-hippie bullshit somewhere else.

  42. 42
    travisdykes

    I think the problem is that when your out of the south those people are mostly located in the rual areas, but in the south theres a good sized chunk if not a majority in the cities who are like that as well. At least thats been my experience in Shreveport, may not apply to other cities.

  43. 43
    Louis

    To be fair Brownian, it IS lethal over here. Why I was knifed just the other day.

    I got better.

    Louis

  44. 44
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    Reginald: Fuck. My bad. I misremembered and I didn’t check the article. I was conflating it with this story about the bass-ackwardness of New York State’s “justice courts” (i.e., tiny kangaroo courts at town and village levels, presided over by yahoos.

    Knut7777, there is a shit-ton of all sorts of -isms in liberal areas, from “ironic” hipster racism and misogyny to smug, patronizing, and allegedly benevolent assumptions about The Other. Attempting to combat the first produces whines of “Aw, c’mon, can’t you take a joke? I’m satirizing the bigots!” Attempting to combat the second produces indignant squeals of “How dare you call me a racist! Why, I [insert liberal credentials here]!!”

    Coyotenose:

    Meanwhile, many of the racist, homophobic, sexist child-beaters I’ve become aware of in this area don’t live in shacks. They have 4- and 6-year degrees, are well-off, and are considered local pillars and educated.

    Hell, you can find professors at fully accredited institutions of higher learning who meet some or all of those descriptors. Education is no reliable gauge of human decency.

  45. 45
    bopnoh10

    There is a pretty clear correlation with climate and education (and religion). The closer to the equator, the more religious and the less educated in general. You can find pictures here:
    Religiosity:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Religion_in_the_world.PNG
    Literacy rates: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/c/cf/Literacy_rate_world.svg/800px-Literacy_rate_world.svg.png
    Average IQ: http://robertlindsay.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/800px-iq_by_country-by-current-resident-majority.png

  46. 46
    julietdefarge

    Actually, the “lazy” part has a basis in the historical fact that many thousands of Southerners used to have malaria, which sapped their energy. The story of the Rockefeller Foundation’s efforts to eradicate malaria in the South is fascinating.

    The South may not have all the yobs, but they sure are good at redistricting to make it look that way.

  47. 47
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    ^ I smell a racist troll. The mention of “climate” is a tip-off.

  48. 48
    Anthony K

    ^ I smell a racist troll. The mention of “climate” is a tip-off.

    And someone who barely understands correlation, but has no idea what a confounder is.

  49. 49
    conway

    Yep, it is so redneck here in the south where I live, what with our Black Mayor and Black police chief and majority Black city council and our flamingly liberal Jewish congressman. Now if you will excuse me, I’m going to hop on my bike and ride down the bike lane through my racially mixed neighborhood to the art museum.

  50. 50
    Anthony K

    Nonetheless, such ideas are discussed here and here, with a little more comprehension than simply looking at correlations.

  51. 51
    robro

    You forgot a few. Southerners…

    • say “gosh darn it,” “goll-leee,” “ah shucks,” “y’all”, “ain’t,” and “fix in’ to” a lot

    • eat grits

    • marry their cousins…or at least has sex with them

    Also, don’t forget the weather. It’s terrible down there. Hot, humid, icky. It makes people strange.

  52. 52
    grumpypathdoc

    Ze Madmax@18

    SUNY@Buffalo, yea!!!

    I’ve lived in Buffalo (minus 3 years in Lexington,KY) for 27 years and I have also encountered what I usually politely refer to a rightwing nutcases in all classes. I grew up in West Virginia and I know poor people, some of which were more freethinking than any Northerner.

    Just saying.

  53. 53
    Sean Boyd

    #35 Rip Steakface,

    Over here, west of the Cascades, it fits more of the liberal latte-swilling computer geeks stereotype.

    Even the Puget Sound area has its fair share of ultra-conservative thinking. Glenn Beck, for instance, was raised in Mount Vernon, WA, which is about 90 miles north of Seattle along I-5. In Chehalis, south of Olympia on I-5, this billboard has been spewing right-wing nonsense for at least 23 years (the first time I saw it was driving I-5 from Oregon to Tacoma, lo those many years ago.) I think it’s safe to say that once one leaves the urban areas of Western Washington, the political climate gets very conservative, very fast.

  54. 54
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    Even the Puget Sound area has its fair share of ultra-conservative thinking.

    Discovery Institute

  55. 55
    tbtabby

    Do you think it might be an issue of culture? It seems to me that a lot of the ignorant yokels in the South aren’t just aware of their status, they’re PROUD of it. They claim their way of life is more pure and honest than any other, so if you’re not just like them, there’s something wrong with you. They refer to their bigotry and slack-jawed ignorance as “down-home wisdom” and “common sense,” and accuse anyone who takes efforts to educate themselves of being a stuck-up snob. I know not all Southerners are like that, and I’d be stupid to think so, but those who fit the stereotype sure are brazen about it.

  56. 56
    TGAP Dad

    Rom my perspective, the article raises very interesting and relevant points. I also think it understates just how different this world seems to a northerner. While it is true that we have plenty of rednecks, religious extremists, bigots, and tea baggers, from my perspective, they have reached a critical mass in the “red states” which allows them to infuse the entire region with their particular flavor of southern-ness. We can certainly find rednecks in Michigan (where I live), but they are marginalized to the fringe enough that they cannot generally hold sway. W even have our own bible belt,where the cristian (Dutch) reformed church predominates. However, even in this area, it still feels pretty much like Michigan, albeit with a bit more religious fervor in the air. The south, though, is a wholly uncomfortable place for someone with my religious and political views. I can certainly find oases in places like Austin or Kansas City, there is no escaping the overbearing weight of religion and conservative policies. Water cooler conversations revolve around religion; the first question asked of a new neighbor is nearly always “what church do you attend?” The billboards, signs, and churches are EVERYWHERE. Rush Limbaugh and Fox “News” seem to vomit from every loudspeaker in every business. And while yes, you do find (or more correctly, can find) sprinklings of those things here, they haven’t usurped the entire region’s culture.

  57. 57
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    I know not all Southerners are like that, and I’d be stupid to think so, but those who fit the stereotype sure are brazen about it.

    I know those Brooklyn gold chain wearing, shirt open, cat calling, meat headed, drunk in the middle of the day, fake tan, having assholes aren’t all northerners or even New Yorkers but they sure are brazen about it.

  58. 58
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    Tbtabby, while the South does indeed teem with such people, they are certainly not limited to the South. They’re everywhere in the U.S., though small towns seem especially bad due to such people controlling the political structure.

    And such people have become far more widespread throughout the U.S. over the last three decades, when the right-wing noise machine made it kewl once again to be ignorant as shit and proud of it.

  59. 59
    Sean Boyd

    Rev BDC,

    Arggh. Don’t know how I let them slip by. Wishful thinking, maybe?

    Mars Hill Church would be another Seattle-specific example. They’re a flashy megachurch that strives to be hip and trendy. They are also rabidly anti-gay. Republican Dave Reichert represents the Washington 8th, which covers a big chunk of the Puget Sound area. He’s considered a moderate by Republican standards, which I think just means that he lets others do the fire-breathing rants about abortion and Obamacare, but follows the party line in votes anyhow.

  60. 60
    wit54

    It’s very sweet of you PZ to try to be so open-minded, and it is annoying that people seem to think my hometown is a rural wasteland other than an interesting city.

    But you’re so, so wrong. The South is the only place I’ve ever lived where nice, liberal people will look you in the eye and tell you that black people are different than whites. It’s just cultural, you see, nothing to do with biology. It’s the only place I’ve ever met racists who are proud of their beliefs, and these are people with money and power.

    I work in a male dominated industry, and while men in the North frustrate me by hitting on me or treating me like a little girl. The South is the only place where I have been told that I am not good enough to do math because of my sex.

    There is racism and sexism and bigotry everywhere, and it’s important to focus on our own backyards, but there is something deeply wrong with at least some Southern cities.

  61. 61
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    but there is something deeply wrong with at least some Southern cities people.

    fixed

  62. 62
    Daniel Fincke

    Relatedly, in response to Bill Maher featuring a video featuring Mississippians exclusively of the most embarrassing sort, I asked a gay college student from Mississippi to share his thoughts.

  63. 63
    ikesolem

    People in the U.S. South might be as variable as people anywhere else, but look at the bigger picture they’re facing:

    1) Climate change – droughts, hurricanes, extreme weather, etc. – is going to have increasingly severe impacts. The whole region still relies heavily on coal for electricity, and is also dependent on Gulf oil drilling for a lot of jobs – even after BP’s DeepWater negligence destroyed their fishing and tourism industry. In the long run, sea level rise of >1m by 2100 will end up flooding much of the Gulf Coast:

    http://www.good.is/post/new-maps-show-sea-level-rise-submerging-america-s-coastal-cities/

    There are opportunities to adapt, for example by building Dutch-style sea walls and levees around vulnerable cities, but that would mean acknowledging the reality of climate change – and, curiously, the churches and evangelical groups that refuse to acknowledge evolution are now also attacking climate science – with the help of outfits like Koch Industries, FOX News, etc. Nevertheless, new levees would have saved New Orleans from destruction after Katrina – but it just wasn’t politically possible. With a mentality like that, you’re screwed.

    2) They’re stuck with a Cold War era economic system based on fossil fuels and weapons manufacturing and defense contracting, which is not sustainable in the long run. Most of the big military factories are in the Deep South / Southeast – and the move towards lower military budgets is inevitable. Similarly, instead of switching to a clean energy model, the politicians there favor importing more Canadian tar sand crude to feed the Texas-Louisiana refinery system, and more offshore oil drilling – regardless of risks. This might be a ‘conservative’ economic model, but it is just going to lead to even more widespread poverty in the future.

    Ecologically and economically, the South is in long-term trouble, but then, they’re not exactly alone in that. The BP disaster was a learning experience, at least – the lack of tourists and the closed-down fisheries must have been a wake-up call.

  64. 64
    Thomas Lawson

    If you take a look at the most recent survey of religiosity in the US, though, it would appear that the most religious have been corralled with only the Gulf of Mexico to escape; Utah being the exception. Now let’s put the pin in the gate and start shearing some sheep! Then we can head West to de-baptize the “salt of the earth” in that lake of theirs…

  65. 65
    michaelhacker

    I was born and raised in Oklahoma, and still live here. There are a lot more people here than you would think that are progressive and non-religious. Granted, it’s mostly people in their 20s and younger. Granted, we ARE surrounded by people that are under-educated and have a lot of “backwards” views. But trust me, northerners, you would be surprised just how many of us are intelligent skeptics.

    The south is my home. As much as some of the people aggravate me sometimes because of their refusal to critically think, I know that it’s the same everywhere. There are always going to be dumb hicks that hold really antiquated offensive views in every corner of the country. The best we can do is challenge stupidity when we run into it, and work to slowly change people’s minds.

  66. 66
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    2) They’re stuck with a Cold War era economic system based on fossil fuels and weapons manufacturing and defense contracting, which is not sustainable in the long run.

    Oh that’s what we’re stuck with is it?

    Damn I had no idea that Textiles, Technology, Finance, Agriculture, Publishing and a whole huge fucking host of others were dwarfed by Military manufacturing.

    Please.

  67. 67
    yellowsubmarine

    I don’t see why we can’t just continue saying that the stereotypes regarding southerners are absolutely true and then accept that there are southerners everywhere. Sometimes even in the south.

  68. 68
    PatrickG

    I’ve been an atheist/skeptic for a long time, but it wasn’t until I moved from the SF Bay Area to Kentucky that I became rabid about it. Back there, you knew the crazies were in the Central Valley and you just sort of ignored it.

    I made it to KY just in time to watch one gubernatorial candidate call another an idolater, and shortly before PZ featured that idiot school board in Eastern KY, and … well, the list continues.

    Anyway, it wasn’t until I was literally surrounded by overt idiocy and bigotry that I started being an asshole to people who came to my door to convert me to the way of Jebus; those comments about fierce Southern (or Oklahoman, @michaelhacker) progressives rang true for me.

    Time to stop rambling…

  69. 69
    Jules

    Come on down, PZ! You can hang out and speak for my local group. So far there are two of us. But we’ll take you to see the Saturn V*.

    Frankly, I’m glad to see some backlash to the recent spate of hicksploitation bullshit. “Har-har rednecks! Let’s mock them because they aren’t in on the joke that is their very lives!”

    the racist, sexist, homophobic dumbass who believes in Creationism and beating children is just some toothless yahoo in a shack. In the south, he’s most of your high school teachers.

    Gonna second Rev here. And it’s not just because my sister-in-law is a kickass science teacher who brought actual science to a formerly Creationist private fundamentalist high school, or that my huge crush at the moment is an English teacher in a public high school in a town notorious for its racism, and she’s none of those things either (and in fact combats all of that stupid on the regular). It’s that I can list off about 10 more examples off the top of my fucking head. And I don’t particularly like goddamn South. Like, at all. Sure, it’s anecdotal, but I didn’t see any citations for your claims at all, so I’d say we’re fair and square.

    Meh, I came to Alabama and, even coming from Texas, I found it quite a culture shock.

    I kinda grew up here, but I came of age in Oklahoma and spent most of my adult life there. Coming back to Alabama was huge culture shock for me too. One of the biggest issues I’ve had is that I cannot stand the vast majority of atheist/freethinkers I’ve met, which leaves me hanging out with the more liberal-minded religious. In Oklahoma, I had some good atheist friends, and my Christian friends were left from my college days (all wonderful people). But here I actively avoid atheists if I can help it most of the time, and I seek out the liberal Christians more often because they tend to care about the things that matter most to me (like, say, equality instead of just har-har dumb xians! lulz)

    They claim their way of life is more pure and honest than any other, so if you’re not just like them, there’s something wrong with you.

    I believe that’s what we call a human tendency, dear. I’m pretty sure no one here thinks they’re living their own lives in the worst way possible. I’m know there are people I am extremely opposed to who I think have something wrong with them. Like, say, the Pope.

    The South is the only place where I have been told that I am not good enough to do math because of my sex.

    And the South—the Deep South, to be precise—is where my teachers encouraged me to go into science or engineering. And I went to a fundamentalist Christian school. It was whatever-the-fuck-Oklahoma-is-but-it-ain’t-the-South that talked me out of it.

    I was born and raised in Oklahoma, and still live here…. The south is my home.

    *twitches* Oklahoma is not the South. It’s not-Texas.

    Once again: I don’t actually like where I live. But y’all is being kinda stupid and ugly.

    *I mean, sure we’re just a bunch of dumbass hicks, some of whom happen to be motherfucking rocket scientists, but what’s a minor detail like THE SPACE PROGRAM mean when you’re being a bigot?

  70. 70
    beergoggles

    As a sexual minority of mixed race, I avoid the south as much as I possibly can. When visiting relatives in Texas I’ve been told/asked by total strangers that down there, there are only whites, blacks and mexicans and I need to pick one. Racism is blatant. Homophobia is blatant. Some people like that; they like knowing exactly where they stand with other people. They like having lines that are not to be crossed – one or the other crosses that line and someone ends up getting beaten up or shot over it.

    The bigotry up north here is far more subtle and insidious yet I think I like it better because people will get called out for being blatant about it and crossing lines doesn’t usually lead to violence because the lines are blurry. It’s one of those out of sight, out of mind things because it really grinds you down to be reminded of it day in, day out, moment by moment the way it is in the south.

  71. 71
    koliedrus

    When I saw Martin Wagner’s invitation up there, my Awesome Detector overloaded.

    For one, the AXP episode would be made of laser-breathing velociraptors with jet packs. An hour isn’t enough, though. I’d make a donation to get the station to pony up more time.

    Plus, PZ would have to go from point A to point B. I can think of several places (Knoxville, TN for instance) where speaking engagements would be welcomed by those of us who are just now having the guts to push back at ignorance. Again, I’d shove a donation in almost any direction for that event to happen.

    While I’m daydreaming, how about getting Brady Haran to film the trip? I’d pre-order the shit out of that!

    Anyway, yeah. What Martin said.

    Pretty please?

  72. 72
    dormical

    Coyotenose:

    The best high school teacher I ever met was an openly gay man who taught me World History in 1991

    Yes, and my rural Georgian boyfriend had science teachers who told their classes that evolution is false because why are there still monkeys?

    Your own personal experiences do not invalidate the experiences of other people. It’s possible you had an atypical experience. It’s also possible that racist, sexist, homophobic views would not register as greatly to you as a child and a product of the same culture.

    People are greatly varied, and trends have to be talked about with knowledge of that variation. The same extremely liberal and extremely fascist sort of person exists everywhere, sure, but they exist more commonly and in different proportions in different locations. And if you are, for example, LGBT, this matters.

    You should consider which would be a better example of the cultural climate of the south – the example of a single teacher you liked, or the fact that people were constantly trying to get him fired.

  73. 73
    michaelhacker

    @69: Oklahoma is not the south? You might want to tell Oklahomans that. I’m glad to hear that even though I’m about 30 miles north of the Texas border, I’m not a southerner. Awesome.

  74. 74
    dormical

    Rev Chimp:

    I’m guessing you think I was unfairly exaggerating. About what part?

    Only 4 out of 10 Americans currently believe in evolution. That’s in the country as a whole. With that as the national average, you think a heavy concentration of Creationists in a Southern public school is unlikely?

    If you’re objecting to the idea that a majority of people in authority through a great deal of the South act with white, male, Christian, heteronormative preferentialism, then I don’t even understand where you’re coming from. The fact that the South has a significant “Good Ol’ Boy” problem I’d *hope* was obvious to everyone.

  75. 75
    RFW

    #46 julietdefarge says (3 April 2012 at 12:54 pm):

    Actually, the “lazy” part has a basis in the historical fact that many thousands of Southerners used to have malaria, which sapped their energy. The story of the Rockefeller Foundation’s efforts to eradicate malaria in the South is fascinating.

    It was hookworm that was the problem, though malaria did occur in the south, as did yellow fever.

    The Rockefeller Foundation attacked the hookworm issue on several fronts:

    1. Build privies so the soil isn’t contaminated with feces and hookworm eggs no matter where you go.

    2. Teach people to always wear shoes out of doors to prevent re-infestation. Hookworm larvae infect by penetrating the skin of bare feet. Indeed, when visiting my grandmother in South Carolina in my early years, I was always under strict orders never to go outside barefoot.

    3. Direct treatment of infected people with suitable drugs.

    I doubt hookworm is entirely a thing of the past in the South, but it’s no longer the scourge of the region.

  76. 76
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    I’m sorry, but I find this irritating. It’s an example of “But I’M NOT LIKE THAT SO DON’T YOU DARE EVER SAY. . . .” I know some of you lovely folks here (Jules, Chimpie, and others) are Southerners and it’s crystal clear to the world how awesome you are. But some of you (Chimpie I think) live in urban areas which everyone has already conceded are likely to be far less like the stereotypical old South. I’m sorry, but “Because Chapel Hill!” is not a valid way to dismiss the cultural problems that, while not universally so, are found in greatest concentration in the South. That’s just fucking true.

    I lived in a small city in Virginia for three years and frankly, I found the local culture appalling. Bigoted, proudly ignorant, Christian Supremacist, misogynistic, racist, homophobic, and all served up with a lipstick-shellacked Good Christian Smile™. Yeah, Charlottesville was an oasis. But go back and read that—an oasis from the far more predominant culture throughout any part of the state that wasn’t heavily urban.

    No one’s claiming Raleigh doesn’t exist, or Atlanta, or Charlotte, or. . . name your own. But urban oases do not make people insane, rude, unreasonable, or inaccurate when they note the plain fact that predominant Southern culture is fucked up. We’ve got our bigots up here in Vermont, too, with exactly the same attitudes. But as someone mentioned above, they’re marginalized. That ain’t the case in most of the South.

    I too hate the exploitation stories in the media. And laughing at impoverished people with no education is disgusting (though I’m not gonna apologize for wanting to throttle them for the hateful shit they spew, even if I know there are reasons why). There’s far too little attention paid about how to lift these populations out of poverty, illiteracy, and just a basic lack of exposure to anything remotely cosmopolitan. I wish I knew how that could work.

  77. 77
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Moreover, I find it irritating because as much as the media does hick-sploitation, the dominant cultural narrative and our political system give the disgusting side of Southern white culture way, way more sway than it should. Appealing to that mindset instead of working to relegate it to the 19th century is causing damage. Same thing goes for the way politicians pander to the “Heartland” Midwest voters. Like the rest of us (if I’m gonna be petty, those of us who actually live in the first colonies of white people. . why ain’t New England the Heartland?) aren’t real Americans, don’t represent “honest values,” on and on.

    Arggh. It’s the glorification of proud ignorance and intolerance (thinly disguised parochial territorialism) that gets me.

  78. 78
    saysomething

    @ julietdefarge and the malaria comment…

    Made me think of RadioLabs parasite show: http://www.radiolab.org/2009/sep/07/

    Parasitic worm infection may have looked like ‘lazy’ for the casual observer.

  79. 79
    Jules

    I’m glad to hear that even though I’m about 30 miles north of the Texas border, I’m not a southerner. Awesome.

    Texas is Texas. It’s not the South either. Mostly I’m just assing around here, but the origins and histories of statehood in the Deep South and places like Texas and Oklahoma are very divergent. And it shows. It’s tentatively on my agenda to move back to Oklahoma. Part of the reason is that I would love to get away from such Southern charms as passive aggression as default interaction between women and I held the door for you, therefore my misogyny cancels out.

    Moreover, I find it irritating because as much as the media does hick-sploitation, the dominant cultural narrative and our political system give the disgusting side of Southern white culture way, way more sway than it should.

    TRUTH

  80. 80
    Q.E.D

    Josh Official Spokesgay @ 76

    thank you for identifying and explaining the thing that was irking me about this thread, including contributions from hordelings whose posts I almost always respect and enjoy.

  81. 81
    Anthony K

    And laughing at impoverished people with no education is disgusting (though I’m not gonna apologize for wanting to throttle them for the hateful shit they spew, even if I know there are reasons why).

    The situation is weirdly reversed here. Bigoted rednecks with no education aren’t necessarily marginalised to the same degree, socially or economically. In fact, they laugh at those of us shmucks who wasted our money on university degrees from the seats of the $60,000 tricked out F-150s adorned with pissing Calvins and Truck Nutz™ they bought at the age of 18 with the money they earned working in the oil patch.* Here the dollar reigns supreme, and fuck all those effeminate liberals who won’t let us smoke wherever we go or get behind the wheel after a few pops at the peelers’.

    *But I live in a liberal bubble within a slightly larger, less liberal bubble†, and even my more rough-around-the-collar friends won’t work in certain industries because of the bigoted assholes one has to contend with.

    †The woman on the bus next to me this morning was reading Hitch-22 from the library. She said her “heart hurt” the day she’d heard he died.

  82. 82
    sadunlap

    @ #76 Josh, Official SpokesGay

    But urban oases do not make people insane, rude, unreasonable, or inaccurate when they note the plain fact that predominant Southern culture is fucked up. We’ve got our bigots up here in Vermont, too, with exactly the same attitudes. But as someone mentioned above, they’re marginalized. That ain’t the case in most of the South.

    That such people exist everywhere does not mean that we do not have an infestation of them in the Southeast and other “red” states. There’s a big difference between a place where the nuts screaming about Jesus stand on street corners giving people headaches and places where such people occupy the offices of the mayor, governor, and state legislatures.

    Moreover, I find it irritating because as much as the media does hick-sploitation, the dominant cultural narrative and our political system give the disgusting side of Southern white culture way, way more sway than it should.

    We can also blame the U.S. Senate. For example, 7 Southern states: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma and South Carolina have less population put together than California. But we get 2 senators and they get 14. You could add two honorary southern states, Wyoming and Alaska and still have fewer people than California. The Senate exaggerates the power of more sparsely populated and therefore predominantly rural states. Not that all rural people and areas always have larger numbers of bigoted idiots. It’s just that in the U.S. through their electoral choices we can observe that this is predominantly true.

  83. 83
    chigau (違う)

    Brownian
    The Wildrose Party is going to win.
    ohgodohgodohgod
    *sob*

  84. 84
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    Josh:

    There’s far too little attention paid about how to lift these populations out of poverty, illiteracy, and just a basic lack of exposure to anything remotely cosmopolitan. I wish I knew how that could work.

    The New Deal worked fairly well against poverty, I’d say, at least for white people. Although admittedly WWII played its part. School lunch programs began in response to the sickliness of ill-nourished military recruits. The war also provided a lot of men, and some women, with their first exposure to the world beyond their little rural hamlets.

    I’m sure you’re aware, though, that economic progressivism used to be very much a rural phenomenon. If you’ve never read Thomas Frank’s What’s the Matter with Kansas?, I highly recommend it. I agree with Corey Robin that Frank gives too many petty authoritarians the benefit of the doubt, in that they’re voting against their own interests rather than having a deep interest in getting to lord it over people lower than themselves on the totem pole regardless of the costs they themselves incur. That said, the radical right-wingery we see today is a grotesque metamorphosis of the fiery progressive rhetoric of 100 years ago. (And big Eastern cities used to be redoubts of economic conservatism, of which their modern classism is a strong echo.)

    Today, TV and radio and the internet provide lots of cosmopolitan influences. But those can be completely value-neutral: There’s nothing inherently progressive about preferring a good espresso to Maxwell House, for example. The real issue is vehement opposition to the more substantive influences, such as acceptance of gender/sexual minorities and respect for intellectual culture. People are only now starting to push back en masse against 30 years of intense propaganda; it’ll likely take just as long to neutralize those influences.

    Jules:

    passive aggression as default interaction between women

    Urrrggghhh, do I hate that shit. “Southern manners”… give me Northern bluntness any day of the week.

  85. 85
    erichoug

    Dear Brownian,

    Let it go, brother.

    -Sincerely,
    Eric Houg

  86. 86
    erichoug

    Reading through the replies here is actually quite depressing. There are obviously a few who are southerners or who live in the south and are not really buying into all of it. And a few others that are smart enough to realize you can’t really dismiss vast swaths of humanity because of stereotypes. But there are so many here who are just spouting out and out bigotry for no good reason. The bigotry in this case is a bigotry that assumes who and what you are based on where you live. If you can replace any variation of Southerner in your reply with any ethnic or racial slur and it is something you would be offended by if I said it, you are a bigot. But then you know how “those people” are after all.

    I thought this was supposed to be an enlightened and intelligent crew? Not really seeing so much.

  87. 87
    shabadoo

    dormical @15:

    In the south, he’s most of your high school teachers.

    As an educator in the south, and as someone who is married to a high school teacher, I would like to kindly invite you to go fuck yourself sideways with your own ignorant stereotypes.

    Bless your heart.

  88. 88
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    Houg,

    If you can replace any variation of Southerner in your reply with any ethnic or racial slur….

    Southerners aren’t oppressed qua Southerners in this country, you disingenuous shitbag. Let me know when it’s open season on a white Southerner in a hoodie who’s caught in the wrong neighborhood buying iced tea and candy.

  89. 89
    erichoug

    Shabadoo @87

    Bless your heart.

    This made me smile, I can’t count the number of times people have said this to me, even people I knew were non-theists.

    But I suspect the F-ing yankees are fixin’ to unload with both barrels on you for it.

  90. 90
    erichoug

    Miss Daisy,

    Bigotry is bigotry, you dismiss an entire swath of humanity based on your own ignorance.

  91. 91
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    No, Cupcake. Bigotry against privileged groups isn’t the same as bigotry against oppressed groups.

    And if you’d read the thread with anything resembling comprehension, you’d have seen me arguing in five discrete comments that ig’nance, racism, anti-intellectualism, and religious batshittery certainly aren’t limited to the South.

  92. 92
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    Ah, yes, “bless your heart.” The passive-aggression of which Jules was speaking, and not much different from “I’ll pray for you.”

    Again, I’d much rather deal with a straightforward “Fuck off and die.” Not pleasant, but more so than eventually finding a dagger between one’s shoulder blades.

    “F-ing Yankees,” Houg? Love how you combine prudishness with hypocrisy about regional “bigotry.”

  93. 93
    erichoug

    Ms. Daisy,

    I’m the one who doesn’t comprehend?

    It’s sort of funny that you are using code words for what you really mean. Something that, having grown up in the south, I can spot a mile off.

    You certainly don’t mean ‘southerners’ you mean white people living in the south. So is a coal miner in Kentucky “privledged”? How about trailer trash from Orange?

    But of course, you aren’t bigoted. We all know how “those people” are, right?

  94. 94
    erichoug

    Ms Daisy,

    Is it just because you don’t like me?

    Bless your heart is an old, old southern expression and it means roughly the same thing and is nearly interchangable with “Ain’t you sweet” It is something that southerners say to you when you do, or have done something nice for you. It is not a passive agressive assault although I am sure you would take it that way.

    Would it make you feel better if I said God Damn, Mother Fucking Yankee shitbags? Frankly I think it just sounds kinda ignorant but that’s me.

    Do you feel that some forms of bigotry are acceptable?

  95. 95
    erichoug

    OK, I can tell this is going to suck me in and I have too much work to do. Have a lovely day everyone and just so I don’t get accused of running,feel free to send any further nasty gram’s to me via email [email protected].

    Brownian, good to see you brother.
    Ms. Daisy, a pleasure as always you fucking yankee asshole.(Better?)

  96. 96
    chigau (違う)

    erichoug #94
    “Bless your heart” has a somewhat different meaning in Pharyngula-land.

  97. 97
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    It is not a passive agressive assault although I am sure you would take it that way.

    ?

    Uh. Bless your heart can be passive aggressive as shit. In fact, having lived in the south for the most of my life, when I hear someone say Bless your heart it’s usually in a passive aggressive way to essentially mean “Well aren’t you stupid”.

  98. 98
    Anthony K

    Let it go, brother.

    Heh. You clearly don’t understand how this works. Believe me, I do not scan that thread every time you comment. Rather, almost every time you comment, you write something that directly contradicts something that you’ve written in that particular thread, and it stands out like a red flag. “What? He’s got to be fucking kidding!” is what goes through my head, “He said something like the exact opposite of that before.” It only takes me a few seconds to search for the exact quote and link it.

    So no, I’m not going to let it go. Whenever you try to paint yourself as a reasonable, rational person, I’m going to point out how, on a very serious issue where irrationality can and does cause people to lose their lives (have you forgotten the Trayvon Martin case?), you’re anything but.

  99. 99
    Anthony K

    It is not a passive agressive assault although I am sure you would take it that way.

    And calling me and me alone ‘brother’ is?

  100. 100
    Anthony K

    Oops. Left off the tone indications and changed the meaning.

    And calling me and me alone ‘brother’ is…what exactly?

  101. 101
    Antiochus Epiphanes

    I lived in a small city in Virginia for three years and frankly, I found the local culture appalling. Bigoted, proudly ignorant, Christian Supremacist, misogynistic, racist, homophobic, and all served up with a lipstick-shellacked Good Christian Smile™.

    I’m in a small town in E. Texas* and we get a bit of that too– butnot that different from growing up in Appalachian Ohio**. The shit is patchy, to say the least.

    *It’s the south.
    **The big difference seems to be how wealth is distributed. Where I’m from (OH, mostly) rednecks are poor…her in E. Texas, they seem as likely to be rich as anyone else. Anecdotally speaking.

  102. 102
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    Bless your heart is an old, old southern expression and it means roughly the same thing and is nearly interchangable with “Ain’t you sweet” It is something that southerners say to you when you do, or have done something nice for you. It is not a passive agressive assault although I am sure you would take it that way.

    I have lived many years in the south (yes, western Maryland, especially the Cumberland Valley, was, until recently, very conservative bible-belt Southern). “Bless Your Heart” is, no question, used as a passive aggressive insult by those who want to tell the liberal to go fuck themselves but want to remain good with gods. It is not always meant this way, but it is used this way often enough that, back in the late ’70s and early ’80s, it was accepted as a stand in (among the thumpers) for ‘go fuck yourself’.

  103. 103
    dormical

    Shabadoo @87:

    As an educator in the south, and as someone who is married to a high school teacher, I would like to kindly invite you to go fuck yourself sideways with your own ignorant stereotypes.

    Bless your heart.

    As the boyfriend of a Southern refugee recovering from severe emotional AND physical scars I would much less kindly invite you to read Josh @76 and shove your indignation up your ass. You want to say you’re a Southern teacher who doesn’t fit that description? *That’s fine*. It’s NOT okay, however, to dismiss the fact that racism sexism and homophobia are systemic problems.

    Fuck your face.

  104. 104
    YOB - Ye Olde Blacksmith is a Spocktopus cuddler

    Re: Bless your heart
    Don’t forget the condescension!

  105. 105
    YOB - Ye Olde Blacksmith is a Spocktopus cuddler

    There’s far too little attention paid about how to lift these populations out of poverty, illiteracy, and just a basic lack of exposure to anything remotely cosmopolitan. I wish I knew how that could work.

    It certainly doesn’t help that any movement towards helping with the poverty, illiteracy, and exposure is actively (sometimes violently) and happily opposed by the very people it would help the most.

    My brother is a prime example. He embraces the whole “Texan NASCAR Redneck” image with everything he’s got. He refuses to go get any sort of training (even related to his own area of expertise, i.e. auto body repair) and regards “school’in” as useless and demeaning. yeah, demeaning. I just can’t get my head around that and I grew up with the asshole.

  106. 106
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    Houg:

    Is it just because you don’t like me?

    I never had much interest in you one way or another. I don’t find you that interesting of an opponent. This thread hasn’t changed my opinion.

    Blacksmith, I’d again recommend reading What’s the Matter with Kansas?, but perhaps also balancing that with Corey Robin’s The Reactionary Mind: Conservatism from Edmund Burke to Sarah Palin. (Robin actually reviewed Frank’s book, though the review is behind a paywall with a free trial period.)

  107. 107
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    @ 74 Dormical

    If you’re objecting to the idea that a majority of people in authority through a great deal of the South act with white, male, Christian, heteronormative preferentialism, then I don’t even understand where you’re coming from

    Uh from what I can tell the majority of people in authority pretty much everywhere in the US act this way. Are there more in the south? Sure.

    @ 76 Josh

    But some of you (Chimpie I think) live in urban areas which everyone has already conceded are likely to be far less like the stereotypical old South.

    Of course. But the point is the south isn’t this giant rural expanse like it used to be or as it is often portrayed in the media or even here to some extent. Sure there are large swaths in the deep south that are still agriculturally dominated and hence very rural that hold onto the worst possible parts of the southern culture and history. I fully recognize that. But that is changing. Is it changing nearly as fast as any of us probably want it? No. There are still people that are actual participants in the horrors of the past century living (no I’m not ignoring any recent horrors). Some of their kids will carry on all or part of this shameful history but some will certainly not. This is how things change. There’s little chance that many of the worst people in the south who grew up in the early mid last century will stand any chance of changing. But their kids have a chance. And many of them are.

    I’ve lived in rural areas. My mother’s family is from about as ass-backwards a place as you can find in North Carolina. Look up Lenoir and Edgemont NC. Lenior is a bit more city like now but back in the day it was a secluded mountain town that relied on the furniture and logging industry. I heard stories from my ultra liberal grandfather and grandmother about how things were. It was shameful. But they were better when we would visit and things are even better now. My father, from what i remember about him, was a racist. Maybe not a sheet wearing Klan member but definitively a racist. Luckily my mother is probably the most liberal person I know so she saved us from that. Do I still run across businesses that use a K instead of a C in their name? Yes. But less so. I know, anecdotes and data and all that but this is a very hard thing to measure as the worst of the worst are always going to make the headlines, stick in memories, etc..

    I’m sorry, but “Because Chapel Hill!” is not a valid way to dismiss the cultural problems that, while not universally so, are found in greatest concentration in the South. That’s just fucking true.

    And neither is just painting “The South” as a monolith of those problems a valid way to deal with them. And in no way am I dismissing them. If that is what you think I’m doing 1. I’m sorry and 2. you’re wrong.

    I am in no way hand-waving the experiences of anyone who has been treated poorly in the south. Those are very real experiences. It happens. I know this. I’ve seen it to friends of mine and to some, albeit smaller amount, to myself. But, and I think I’m finally getting to my point, relying on stereotypes of large heterogeneous groups of people is lazy and harmful and a disservice to not only whatever point you are trying to make but to the people who just purely by chance are a member of a geographically contained group.

    Would any of you use this same logic of stereotyping when talking about other groups?

    Yes I live in Charleston, SC. A fairly progressive town surrounded by less so rural areas. But I’m not blind to the rest of South Carolina or North Carolina or Georgia or Tennessee having lived in all of them. Or for that matter Wyoming or Colorado having lived there. Or to a much lesser amount all of the states I’ve traveled in (in the 40s). I’m in no way saying that the worst part of the American experience does not still exist throughout the south and more so when you travel outside Cities and larger towns. I’m saying that the view that it is the South is just wrong.

    That was written between 3 meetings so sorry for ramble.

    /ramble

    Moreover, I find it irritating because as much as the media does hick-sploitation, the dominant cultural narrative and our political system give the disgusting side of Southern white culture way, way more sway than it should. Appealing to that mindset instead of working to relegate it to the 19th century is causing damage. Same thing goes for the way politicians pander to the “Heartland” Midwest voters. Like the rest of us (if I’m gonna be petty, those of us who actually live in the first colonies of white people. . why ain’t New England the Heartland?) aren’t real Americans, don’t represent “honest values,” on and on.

    Arggh. It’s the glorification of proud ignorance and intolerance (thinly disguised parochial territorialism) that gets me.

    100% agree

  108. 108
    sundiver

    Part of the problem Blacksmith is the glorification of redneck assholery by Jeff Foxworthy and company. Look, I grew up redneck and got the fuck out of it ( mostly ) and am goddamn puzzled by any attempt to make it acceptable. I’m not perfect, but I don’t get too upset when I’m called out when I do something stupid, either. I look at it as part of becoming civilised. The crowd here can help, if people would let ‘em.

  109. 109
    sundiver

    Goddamnit BDC, you said what I wanted to say and did it much better.

  110. 110
    YOB - Ye Olde Blacksmith is a Spocktopus cuddler

    Thanks, Ms. Daisy Cutter, I will definitely put that on my reading list. These kind of convos always makes me ponder how my siblings and I could come out of the same environment with such polar opposite views on nearly everything.

    I blame reading.

  111. 111
    sundiver

    I know what PZ’s getting at,I fucking hate those southerners who use northern bigotry to excuse their own. And an excuse to sustain it.

  112. 112
    Skip White

    I live in the area of PA known as Pennsyltucky, near Harrisburg. You can go from rural to suburban to urban, sometimes within 15 or 20 minutes, all on the same road, where you’ll see Priuses next to huge pickups with Confederate flags on them. The overall political mentality is pretty much the stereotype of “blue state on either end with red state in the middle.”

  113. 113
    Louis

    Eric Houg,

    Bless your heart.

    Louis

  114. 114
    sundiver

    Man, I need to proofread better. What I meant to convey is while PZ’s right about bigotry not confined to the area south of the Mason- Dumbass Line, I’ve also seen too many southerers use that excuse to remain bigots. And it aint limited to African-Americans. When I lived in AZ I heard a lot snivelling about the Native-Americans too. I guess Flagstaff didn’t have enough Blacks around so the assholes picked on the Dine and Hopi.

  115. 115
    Crudely Wrott

    There’s a story that one of my uncles told me years ago. It’s about the old fellow who lived by the road at the crest of a hill. The road led down into the valley below where the city had been built. Each day some of the travelers going in and out of the valley would pause and pass the time of day and drink the cold water from his well.

    One day there were two young men who separately took advantage of the shade on the old fellows porch, drinking deeply of the refreshing water and telling the old fellow about their travels. Both were going to the city for the first time and both asked their host the same question.

    “What are the people in this city like, old man?”, asked the first young man To which the fellow asked in return, “What kind of people did you live with back in your home?”

    The first young traveler answered with enthusiasm, “Oh, I was friends with everyone! I did not want to leave them for the company was always so enjoyable. People of my home take great pride in learning and teaching and making life pleasant. We were always doing things that had meaning beyond just one person, things that strengthened our community and brought delight and profit to all. I’ll miss them so but I must follow my own road to my future. Now tell me, old man, what are the people like in this place?”

    The old fellow smiled and said, “My young friend, it will be your good fortune to arrive in the city below. It is filled with just the sort of people you have left behind. You can expect to make many friends here.”

    Thus heartened, and refreshed by the old fellow’s assurance, the young man spoke his thanks and returned to the road, a renewed spring in his steps.

    Not long after the second young man turned into old fellows yard and asked for water. The old fellow drew him a dipper and after he had drunk his fill the second man asked the same question as the first and the old fellow replied as he had to the first.

    The second young man’s face darkened as he considered his answer which he spoke with an edge to his voice. “Liars and thieves, I tell you. The relief I felt upon leaving was immense. My home is a pit of vipers, cutpockets and charlatans.”

    At this, the old fellows countenance fell, something that he felt keenly, it being a rarity. He sighed and regarded the second young man. At length he said, “My friend, it seems your misfortune follows you, for the city below is filled with the same fearful and desperate souls as your home. You should be able to survive, maybe even prosper, down there seeing as you will find this place familiar. Do be careful, though, there is no end to treachery.”

    This second young man gave his thanks and turned back to the road and as the old fellow watched him vanish over the hill he returned to his musings. How, he wondered, do some carry the weight of life easily, barely burdened while others, outwardly the same, struggle with the same load.

    As evening fell he went to his supper and his bed, trusting that anyone passing in the dark could find their way to his well and would leave a bit of water with which the next person would prime the pump. In all his years by the road the cup had always, except for a few times that he nearly forgotten about, been left full.

  116. 116
    conway

  117. 117
    erichoug

    Dear Brownian

    Wow! You found out that I have said dumb things on the internet. Amazing, you must have me all figured out after that in depth research, hope you didn’t strain yourself too much, brother.

    The last time you got me started was the last time I will rise to your bait. If you want to discuss your issue further you will have to do it face to face.

    Sincerely, Eric Houg.

  118. 118
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    If you want to discuss your issue further you will have to do it face to face.

    oooooh internet tough guy!

    My favorite.

  119. 119
    erichoug

    Rev Big dumb chimp,

    It wasn’t a threat. I suppose I should have said I’ll buy the beer. But, I do see your point and I will appologise to Brownian if he took it that way.

    I will point out that I am the only one on here that is using my real name, you can feel free to google me.

  120. 120
    Louis

    You’re not the only one using your real name, Eric.

    I’m using just one part of my real name after having my ID stolen a decade or so ago. After that experience I decided not to be dumb enough to (easily) transmit my details to people I don’t know over the web. Obviously those technical whizzkid types can figure it out, but most people cannot be bothered.

    Bless your heart. Again.

    Louis

  121. 121
    conway

    The only one? I beg to differ. I am also known as The Mutt and Solid Muldoon. My internet footprint is large.

  122. 122
    erichoug

    HAHA, I stand corrected. My apologies to Louis and Michael.

  123. 123
    Anthony K

    The last time you got me started was the last time I will rise to your bait. If you want to discuss your issue further you will have to do it face to face.

    What the fuck is there to discuss? You make dumb arguments, are completely unself aware, are prone to passive-aggressive bullshit like the above, and I’m going to bring up your idiocy/hypocrisy as I see fit.

    You got a problem with that? [Checks wallet.] Oh, sorry; I’m all out of fucks to give.

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