(This is part of a list of bad arguments I heard at the Texas Freethought Convention.)
There were a couple of fundagelical fanatics picketing the event. I got a few pictures taken posing with this one guy, and he was standard-issue boring creationist: he kept telling me “Darwin was a big dummy” and otherwise sneering at evolution. I just politely asked him what he’d read by Darwin, and for specific points Darwin made that he rejected, and he shut up hard. He was reduced to muttering “I’ll pray for you, brother” — trying to pin them down to specifics is usually a good tactic for exposing the vacuity of their position.
But the creationist is too obvious a source of bad arguments. I want to complain about a few of the atheists.
I heard several announce “He’s a poe” or “he must be a poe”. Dear god, but I’m sick of that stupid word. It’s become a standard response to batty stupidity — lately, it doesn’t matter how ordinary a comment is or who said it or how well verified it is — there’s always someone in the crowd who has to show off how insightful or cynical they are by declaring that it must be a pretense.
Look, people, we live in a country with Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck and Joseph Farah as prominent media sources; where Akin and Broun and Jindal get elected to high office; where every newspaper is full of common folk writing in to complain about those gays or those socialist commies or those egghead liberals. There is nothing unlikely or unbelievable about a down-home ministry that announces you’ll go to hell for believing in science. Bat-buggering bullshit is routine.
Declaring something to be a “poe” is a minimizing tactic; it’s a way to pretend that a real problem doesn’t exist. Are you really going to try to delude yourself and others into thinking that the Tea Party, Fox News, and the whole goddamned Repuclican party are an act put on by snarky liberals?
I’m hereby declaring the term “poe” to be anathema here. Don’t use it anymore. We don’t need denial, we need a confrontation with an ugly reality. I’ll probably start leaving rude remarks when I spot people throwing the term around in the comments from now on.
Oh, and for anyone who tries to mimic creationists, Republicans, or Christians as a clever mockery of their beliefs, if it isn’t clear what you’re doing, don’t try to dignify it as a “Poe” — all it is is bad fucking satire. Satire is a good and historically authentic method of speaking against power and foolishness, but if your schtick can’t be distinguished from the real thing, it’s contributing to the crapfest of idiocy we’re already drowning in, rather than opposing it.
So just stop it.