I’m Iris, and I really don’t like conservatives. Or squirrels.
(More on that in a minute.)
I’m one of those notorious godless, feminist leftists, living in New York City for two decades now. I was raised in and around Philadelphia by Christian conservatives, and thereby indoctrinated with the notion that Nice Girls™ never talk about sex, religion or politics. As it turns out though, those are pretty much the only subjects I have any interest in discussing (besides the fucking squirrels OBVIOUSLY).
I blog at perry street palace, and I’m not yet sure whether or to what extent I will move the Palace here. I figure I can just hang out in this space for a while and see how it goes. In the meantime I’ll probably cross-post and re-post here when it feels appropriate, so apologies in advance to my Many Tens of Loyal Readers™ if you’ve followed me here expecting a spectacular cornucopia of new material. Despite appearances, Your Humble Monarch™ is only human, people. I can only crank out so much snark (and craptastic graphics) in a day.
I also blog at Secular Woman and contribute to the HerStory project there, a collaboration with the Freedom From Religion Foundation to celebrate the work of secular women and counter their pervasive erasure from contemporary and historical narratives. I write for the The Greanville Post, and have guest posted at Pharyngula and Worldwide Hippies/Citizen Journalist Exchange and blah blah blah I don’t really like talking about myself MOVING ON.
On mocking conservatives.
I write about a lot of things, but mocking conservatives is truly my calling.
It may be worthwhile to briefly take stock of exactly what it is that US conservatives so fervently wish to conserve: an imperialist oligarchy, in a perpetual state of permanent war, governing a society that is structurally racist, sexist, violent, social Darwinist, ubercapitalist, patriarchal and viciously punitive.
So there’s that.
Because violence (except when necessary for defense) is never a good solution to any problem (except for the goddamn squirrels), this is where mockery can come in quite handy. Properly deployed, it is an extraordinarily potent weapon; that is precisely why petty tyrants, repressive regimes and right-wing asshats the world over will attempt to suppress and seek to outright ban political satire. Clearly it is worth engaging in mockery just to piss off these kinds of people alone.
More broadly though, the social spaces in which conservatives freely regurgitate their toxic views with impunity are downright ubiquitous in the US. If we want to subvert this reality—that is, make the spaces conservatives have heretofore inhabited comfortably uncomfortable for them (for a refreshing change)—then there must be a social price to pay for spewing that tripe. And as any social justice warrior worth her trolls will tell you, silence in the face of harmful speech, from rape jokes to racist slurs, is taken as agreement and solidarity by the speaker, and by others who may witness it.
In one sense, mocking conservatives is easy. Having dedicated much of my adult life to the study of conservatives in the wild (and not coincidentally, much of my childhood to surviving them), I can tell you that these people are some seriously fragile flowers. Conservatives are compulsively status- and approval-seeking creatures, and place a weirdly high value on superficial norms and social conformity. This makes them uniquely vulnerable to any suggestion that they are the outsider (and incidentally explains why they prefer to dwell in the homogeneous bubbles they erroneously construe as the One True Real America™).
I can also tell you that conservatives generally do not change their views in response to overwhelming evidence and reason; in fact, they have an unfortunate propensity to cling to their demonstrably wrong views even more tightly when confronted with rational appeals. So while it isn’t remotely realistic to envision conservatives becoming more reality-based in numbers significant enough to bring about an enlightened egalitarian society in the US, it is a legitimate (if daunting) goal to make sure it is in their own best interests to shut the fuck up. After all, their own interests are pretty much the only thing that has ever motivated them.
But if mocking conservatives is easy in theory, it is not so easy in practice. Whenever we launch rhetorical barbs at our conservative enemies, we must take great care to avoid collateral damage to innocent third parties—and particularly to third parties who are marginalized, oppressed or otherwise less privileged. We do not want to be the ones perpetuating the ugly status quo; that’s their thing. As all activists do, I sometimes fuck this up (and I welcome being called out when I do). But nevertheless it is necessary to leverage whatever privilege, power and platforms we have to punch up—never down—and to only use our mockery superpowers for good.
That said, conservatives are manifestly not marginalized, oppressed or less-privileged in any way. They control the government of the most powerful nation on Earth, have done so for decades if not centuries, and show no sign of retreat (quite the opposite). They have also taken over state and local governments across the nation and are eagerly destroying civil liberties, labor unions, the human right to bodily autonomy, the air and the water, the rule of law, living wages, public education, the woefully insufficient social safety net, crops and coastlines, the wall of separation between church and state, the wall of separation between big business and government, and the lives of countless millions of innocent people, including children, here and around the globe. (This is hardly a complete list of conservative evils.)
Therefore it is our goddamn patriotic duty to mock them, relentlessly, until they are the ones whose voices are marginalized. As opposed to, you know, everyone else. Then and only then will we quit. (Maybe.)
Thoughts on religion.
I’m against it! I’m a capital “A” Atheist and Anti-theist and not shy about it. I think faith itself—that is, belief without evidence—is a terrible pox on humanity. (And then pretending that is some kind of virtue?! PLEASE.) Faith as an epistemology fosters all kinds of tragedies, like irrationality and gullibility, wars, toxic masculinity and awful music. I abhor it, and would like it to go away forever THE END.
But the thing is, my Muslim and Christian and Jewish and Hindu and neopagan and astrologist friends and neighbors are intelligent and kind and tolerant people. Except for the supernatural bullshit, their values and priorities overlap with mine considerably. You will therefore be unsurprised to learn that they are not conservatives.
From this observation I think we can gain some important insights into some very big and complex issues we face, as a nation and as a species. For example, the problem in the Middle East isn’t Islam—it’s conservative Islam. ISIS is not made up of liberal Muslims seeking to create a pluralistic society based on democracy, equality and tolerance. Likewise, the problem in the US isn’t Christianity—it’s conservative Christianity. The problem in Myanmar is conservative Buddhists, if you can believe it.
So while I’m not about to stop skewering faith or religion generally, I naturally tend to direct my most pointed mockery at the conservatives among the faithful. THEY ARE THE FUCKING WORST.
But it isn’t because they’re religious, at least not fundamentally. It’s because they’re—say it with me now!—conservatives.
For what it’s worth (probably not much) I once took a silly political test and scored so far off the left end of the graph that I had to redesign the chart just to plot my position:
I call your attention to this chart incident not to flaunt my lefty bona fides or anything, but to perhaps offer some perspective on my otherwise inexplicable loathing of all things conservative, and my burning mission to mock them. Mercilessly.
Now about those squirr—
OMFG I have so, so much to tell you! But this post is waaaay too long already. (I may have forgotten to mention that I can be excruciatingly verbose? Oops.) So the fucking squirrels will have to wait.
But would be remiss if I did not leave you with this advice: Be afraid. Be very afraid.
What are your feelings toward chipmunks?
I was once strongly pro-chipmunk, until they started eating my garden. Now…
Tony! The Queer Shoop says
So glad to you another militant atheist SJW at FtB.
P.S. I wonder which would happen sooner-convincing a conservative to abandon their harmful, regressive views or convincing you to adopt a squirrel.
Anne, Cranky Cat Lady says
I like you already. Death to Squirrels!
Seriously, I’ve read your work, and I’m looking forward to reading more here. Now, about those squirrels…
Squirrels are rodents, but they build nests in trees. That has to be wrong.
Great American Satan says
Yer problems with fluffy-tailed rodents are your own, but praise be to ultra left leftiness. This country has me so flippin’ lefted out that I’m ready to stop using my right arm for a year out of spite.
Do you sell jackboots with your logo on ’em?
Harrison Gross says
So glad to you can form a coherent sentence.
Interesting, I don’t know about anti-theism, would the world really be better without religion? It seems all the cognitive errors that lead to religion would remain and we’d have other problems, like libertarians and MRAs. Who seem to manage to embody toxic masculinity sans religion (Given most are atheist). You say it yourself, would a world full of lefties, some of whom believe in some wishy washy god like thing really be all that bad?
Your last paragraph about the squirrels made me laugh, reminded me of this song … (CN Squirrels, thousands of them!) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5FF_ncSeb8k
Good morning (or whatever time of day it is where you are)! So nice to see you all here.
Cuttlefish: I don’t think I’ve ever met a chipmunk. But if they’re anything like squirrels, well…
Tony!: Squirrels are conservatives: they ruin everything. The only reason I’d ever adopt one is to make this recipe.
Anne: THANK YOU. Clearly your eyes have been opened to the nature of this menace!
Menyambal: They will also build nests in the walls of your house. Which they proceed to eat.
Great American Satan: I salute you, comrade. (With my left arm.)
No, but that is a FANTASTIC IDEA. :D
Harrison Gross: I’m not familiar with you like I am the others here. And I haven’t posted a comment policy yet so it’s not your fault, but one thing I hate (almost as much as squirrels) is pedantry. If you can understand what someone’s communicating, then language is working. If you cannot, please ask them for clarification. Thanks.
I think the answer to that is “it depends,” mainly on how it comes about. There is a growing body of evidence that suggests a robust welfare state (especially quality universal single-payer health care) decreases religiosity, while economic insecurity (with respect to wages, housing, food, etc.) increases it. See, e.g., Phil Zuckerman’s book “Society Without God.”
“Having dedicated much of my adult life to the study of conservatives in the wild (and not coincidentally, much of my childhood to surviving them), I can tell you that these people are some seriously fragile flowers.”
Ra-fuckin-men, sister. I’m sure you and I could empty a coffee shop over conservative fragility.
I look forward to seeing more from your blag!
Brother Ogvorbis, Fully Defenestrated Emperor of Steam, Fire and Absurdity says
Good to see you here.
Counted seventeen squirrels while walking from one end of the park to the other. Also two tool-using crows, one groundhog, one grackle, and a couple more squirrels. Our squirrels are well-fed thanks to careless visitors and non-squirrel-proof trash cans. Though we do have a photo of a squirrel in our office eating a Slim Jim. Again, careless tourists.
Hi. You are on my read list now.
I strongly suspect that if ISIS and, say, Trump or Bundy could get over their superficial differences and settle who was alpha, they’d get on swimmingly. They have basically the same world view and attitude. I don’t know whether to think it a good or bad thing that they seem to fail to realize this.
chigau (違う) says
Harrison Gross #7
Was that an example of a coherent sentence?
I suppose you’ve heard some version or another of this story at some point?
Or a wine bar.
chigau (違う): Apparently he was mocking Tony! @2, who had the audacity to comment:
I think we can all agree it’s best to leave the mocking to the professionals?
Brother Ogvorbis, Fully Defenestrated Emperor of Steam, Fire and Absurdity: I am 99.99% against the death penalty, except in the case of people who feed squirrels. And that includes my own mother.
That’s just it: conservatives are constitutionally incapable of getting over superficial differences.
dianne 14: The stuff of nightmares! And that was three years ago: since then they have been escalating their attacks, and employing astonishingly sophisticated weaponry!
Tabby Lavalamp says
I’m not comfortable with this.
Squirrels are awesome and make me wish Pokeballs were a real thing.
chigau (違う) says
re: leaving the mocking to the professionals
Sarcasm should be a stiletto not a club.
(*cough* double agent suspected, present location = aisle 17 *cough*)
Welcome, Iris! Great to see you at FtB!
Oh hooraay, I have been waiting to hear the squirrel story. Yes, chipmunks are squirrels, but they don’t seem to have a taste for wooden house or the electric lines as the truly evil red squirrels.
I did take the political compass test. I am almost off the left side, and a couple notches above libertarian. I can live with that. Off to read about those squirrels.
Hi and welcome, Iris!
I’m glad I’m not the only one who’s come to despise tree rats. I have a story of my own. Perhaps I’ll add it to the comments when you post yours. Short version: I beat the cheeky bastard, but he got his revenge.
Also, I like your results on the political spectrum test, but I object to the test’s definitions in general. It keeps putting me as left, left, and lefter when I am, in fact, a moderate. Not my fault that the world is full of raving conservatives.
I followed your quiz links and found a quiz, but it only rates me on a liberal/conservative axis, so I’m not at all sure it’s the same one you took. In any case, I scored liberal on all questions, except the fact that I like dogs slightly more than cats nudges me in the the conservative direction. I disagree with that one assertion. Dogs need people to love them, cats can take it or leave it. So, by the principle of “from each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs”, I assert that loving dogs more than cats is in fact the liberal thing to do.
There are no squirrels in this part of the world, but I did see a baby alpaca the other day.
sandi seattle says
Took the Political Compass test got -4.13 left -2.41 libertarian. I’m sure that will surprise some of the regulars round here. BTW, squirrels I’m okay with, rats, rats I got problems with.
Sneaky Guy says
“… Nice Girls™ never talk about sex, …. As it turns out though, those are pretty much the only subjects I have any interest in discussing (besides the fucking squirrels ….).”
I see what you did there ;)