Christianity’s War on America (and sanity)

Here’s another account from the “War on Christians” conference. These people are scary and weird.

Perhaps the most explicit call to arms came from Ron Luce, the president and founder of Teen Mania, a Christian revivalist youth ministry, and the author of Battle Cry for a Generation, a multimedia campaign that deploys military images and language to recruit soldiers in Christ’s army. Toward the end of his speech, Luce invoked the biblical story of the Levite’s concubine in Judges 19. (In the story, the Levite’s concubine is gang-raped by men who wanted to do sexual violence to the Levite. When the Levite’s host refuses to deliver the Levite to the assailants, he offers them his own virgin daughter and the Levite’s concubine instead. When the assailants reject such an exchange, the Levite simply expels the concubine from his host’s house, leaving her to be raped repeatedly throughout the night. The following morning, upon finding the concubine’s dead body on his host’s doorstep, the Levite dismembers her and sends her body parts out to the twelve tribes of Israel as a provocation to revenge.) “I kind of feel like the Levite,” Ron Luce confessed. And then he uttered a battle cry of his own: “CUT UP THE CONCUBINE! CUT UP THE CONCUBINE! CUT UP THE CONCUBINE!”

I didn’t recall this story from the Bible at all, so I had to look it up. There it is, in Judges 19, another bizarre story of treating women as meat. This is their rallying cry?

The author, Elizabeth Castelli, doesn’t think the Christian kooks are going to be literally mailing woman-chunks around the country. They have another goal, one that’s a little less literal and bloody, but just as destructive.

The broader threat of this movement is likely not an armed Christian militia marching on Hollywood, the ACLU, or a gay commitment ceremony in your local mainline liberal Protestant church. Rather, it is the targeting of the independent judiciary with incendiary threats of impeachment and calls for a religious revolution. Claims of religious persecution, whether sincere or cynical, notwithstanding, the current executive and legislative branches of the federal government are well-populated — even dominated — by people sympathetic to the views and aspirations of this radical, right-wing theopolitical movement. The judicial branch of government, meanwhile, maintains some level of independence from this movement, and it is this independence that generates the vitriol, the threats, and the calls for a Christian revolution. Such a state of affairs should give all of us pause: When the powerful claim to be powerless and use this claim and a purportedly divine mandate to authorize a no-holds-barred attack on political institutions, we are on dangerous ground, indeed.


  1. with a Y says

    Meanwhile a tornado struck a church in Iowa City this week and lightning struck a church in Eugene the week before.

    Nature 2, Christians 0.

    The Enlightenment seems to be on hold some places, notably in some congresscritters minds and orbits.

  2. Grimgrin says

    From the article :

    “The gay sensibility,” one speaker informed the audience, is ironic and characterized by the excessively performative use of “air quotes.” Indeed, irony itself is a gay invention, a coping mechanism for gay people who recognize that they don’t really fit in with normal society.

    Massively influential fundamentalist Christians, during a conference devoted to talking about how they are persecuted by fundamnentalist secular humanists and how they will remake America to conform to chrisitan principles, take time out to discuss how irony is evil.

  3. says

    Well, now that we know that (insert air quote marks here) irony itself is a gay invention, we can clinch the case for King David being a flaming queer who got it on with Jonathan. After exterminating the House of Saul, David asked, “Is there yet any that is left of the House of Saul, that I may shew him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” (2 Samuel 9:1). I suppose the King of Israel-Judah didn’t really fit in with the society of his country.

    Follow with your favorite Biblical sources of irony!

  4. Bachalon says

    Crazy shit, man. I’m adding this to my write-up and linkage to PFAW’s take on it.

  5. Blake Stacey says

    Conference presenters and audience members seemed convinced that a well-organized, well-financed cabal of homosexual elites are plotting a cultural takeover.

    Pot. Kettle. Black.

    Marshalling a wide array of arguments against homosexuality (“it’s unhealthy,” “it’s all lust and perversion,” “it’s disgusting”) and gay marriage (“it’s an attack on the family because that’s where faith is passed on — the goal is simply the destruction of religion” or “it’s an attack on biblical truth and therefore on God”),

    Stopping people from marrying is pro-family?

    some speakers advocated for the reintroduction of the concept of “shame” into the culture.

    Ooh, zing!

    Meanwhile, Lou Sheldon of the Traditional Values Coalition urged the abandonment of the terms “homosexual” and “gay” in favor of adopting terms such as “sodomites” and “the perverted ones.”

    I prefer the term “imperfectly bisexual”, myself.

    Some speakers read graphically explicit material found on gay websites to the conference, apologizing profusely for the shock and disgust they knew they would be generating but insisting that it was necessary for the participants to confront this material.

    It’s Perversion for Profit all over again — hooray!

    By the end, one was left with the distinct impression that the organizers and participants in the conference spend far more time than the average gay person thinking about, talking about, and fantasizing about gayness.

    More time, even, than Pharyngula readers spend thinking about tentacles!

  6. Patrick says

    I’m completely not getting the symbolism in the “cut the concubine up” thing. I didn’t get the symbolism in the original biblical passage, and I don’t get what he’s saying.

    I’m usually pretty good at translating nutball to english, but I’m lost here.

    Anyone know?

  7. impatientpatient says

    I keep telling you that they are scary and weird. Let me tell you a story. Just recently we had some bodybuilders from Texas who are religious fundamentalists, come and do feats of strength to show us how we can be dream makers and not dream takers. I work at a school. They left their message fairly bland- and did not get into personal testimonies and stuff. (I think I was the only one there afraid of what might come out of their mouths.) Their ability to stir a crowd to a frenzy was unbelievable. We are talking scary and mindless. The worst thing was, I think I was the only one sitting there unmoved by their showmanship, because it was just stupid that grown men needed screaming and hollering and clapping to rip a phonebook or bend rebar. It is truly scary what being in a crowd can do to normally calm people.

    Without getting religious their message was dream and you cn get rich like Hershall Walker. The prosperity gospel. WHich makes me wonder- how rich are these two, and how much did it cost for their half an hour of hokiness? Are they rich and successful? I don’t know, and I don’t care, but unless you charge an awful lot for your show, I think that you are not. Which is stupid when you are saying the Hershall Walker thing.

    Scary people and weird.

  8. Timothy Francis Sullivan says


    I know what you mean. WTF, for starters, is a Levite? Is it a political office? Is it a tribal membership?

    And what is meant by “men who wanted to do sexual violence to ‘The Levite'”? The sentence makes it sound like there’s some pre-existing category that at the time of the writing needed no explanation whatsoever… which is terrifying…

    As is the also-unanswered question of why these men wanted to do sexual violence to “The Levite.”

    I ask myself these questions and then I think, wait, I don’t want to understand.

    But if I do think about it for a while I presume some sort of grievance against “The Levite” that the “group of men” feel can only be accounted for a by some sort of ritualized sexual humuliation.

    The host of “The Levite,” not wanting to give up “The Levite,” (which would make him a bad host, which strikes me as being a much bigger deal in the ancient and undeveloped cultures) but, at the same time, wanting to honor or appease the angry mob outside his door offers them an alternative “gift” whose dearness to him and “The Levite” expresses the degree to which he takes their claims seriously. The angry mob says that ain’t good enough and rejects the offer.

    I can’t figure out why “The Levite” sends out the concubine, except perhaps because he knows what’s going to happen and wants to gin up some revenge fury. Sort of like telling tales of weapons of mass destruction so enough of your populace will feel good about what’s happening or won’t complain so vociferously when you go into some other part of the world and start smashing things up/killing people.

    As for why this Luce dude identifies with “the levite,” well, “God” only knows. I think its probably because he gets excited, in ways he doesn’t understand, by the idea of chopping up women.

  9. Edward Braun says


    I think the dude is saying that he hired a hooker, and now he wants to cut her up and send her parts to various congregations. I think this should cound as a confession when they run his butt off to jail. Man, he is one sick and twisted dude…

    Joking aside, I’m with you. The old testament gibberish may make sense to somebody who has studied the cultural context. But it strikes me getting close to the least appropriate possible chapter to use as a rallying cry. What was he thinking when he came up with that passage? “Hmm… what is a brutal and sick portion of Bible that I can bring up today… there are SOOOOO many brutal and sick portions of the Bible… oh, I know, the one about choppin’ up the concubine. That’s the ticket!”

    Yeah, there was one part of my first paragraph that was not meant in jest. The nutbag is a sick and twisted dude.

  10. 386sx says

    [27] And the children of Israel enquired of the LORD,

    Huh, people can’t just go around enquiring of the LORD any time they feel like it.

    (for the ark of the covenant of God was there in those days,

    Oh okay. That explains it then.

    [48] And the men of Israel turned again upon the children of Benjamin, and smote them with the edge of the sword, as well the men of every city, as the beast, and all that came to hand: also they set on fire all the cities that they came to.

    Haha, I didn’t see that one coming! That verse there really caught me by surprise when I saw it.

    One of my favorite Bible stories is the one about the pool at Bethesda, having five porches, where In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water. For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had. Except that on that one particular day Jesus was there and was kind enough to heal one of the other people instead of only just the first blind or crippled person to win the big race to the healing pool, thereby showing us the kindness and mercifulness of the LORD.

  11. says

    I’m kinda hoping the first one in was one of the impotent folk. I’m picturing him coming out of the water with a big grin, shouting, “Look! A miracle!”

  12. says


    I know what you mean. WTF, for starters, is a Levite? Is it a political office? Is it a tribal membership?

    As I understand it, a Levite is a member of a tribe (the tribe of Levi, funnily enough) that confers a religous office (hereditary priest) in temple Judaism. They’re the people to whom all the rules set out in Leviticus are supposed to apply. In cultural context, I suppose one would protect a Levite because they’re holy men.

    Your interpretation, of course, may vary.

  13. Blake Stacey says

    Timothy writes:

    WTF, for starters, is a Levite? Is it a political office? Is it a tribal membership?

    A little of both, in an odd way. Levite refers to a member of one of Israel’s original Twelve Tribes, the descendants of Levi. Unlike the other tribes, the Levites were not given parcels of territory after the takeover of Canaan. Instead, they functioned as priests in all the various villages of Israel.

  14. SkookumPlanet says

    I referred to Luce in your topic on Pensacola Christian College. Three weeks ago he staged a 25,000 evangelical Christian youth rally in downtown San Francisco, of all places.

    I quote Luce from the SF Chronicle using a technique called “positioning” to set up, and even train kids to believe, the idea kids are under assault from ‘terrorists of a different kind.’ It’s advertisers today, who knows tomorrow?

    Castelli is dead on target, and I’ll add that the radical right succeeds by professionally using science-based marketing tools — psychomarketing, see “positioning” above. A distaste for such on our side leaves us woefully armed, defensively and offensively. This should be self evident but indications say otherwise. Take this example. I’ve seen no coherent psychomarketing moves to blunt the WoC crap. Without a counter-campaign America’s public space is their playground. That’s not smart.

    By the way PZ, you and your readers got a nice compliment near the end of that thread. From Cinatyte, in case you didn’t see it.

  15. impatientpatient says

    I think the dude is saying that he hired a hooker, and now he wants to cut her up and send her parts to various congregations.

    Wow- Maybe that is where the infamous Duke email idea/filth came from???

    I remember reading that as a kid and I could not understand then, nor do I comprehend now, why a bunch of men would sacrifice a woman to save themselves. When we learned about how other religions- false ones of course- treated their women by throwing them into volcanos, this never came up.

  16. Coragyps says

    impatientpatient – Two guys? “Commandos?” I think they were at the school my wife teaches at last week, too. Bizarre.

  17. Timothy Francis Sullivan says

    The film Donnie Darko is eloquent, if a little heavy-handed, on the subject of those people who go from high-school to high-school spreading vague messages about “being positive” and “taking control of your life”, or whatever.

  18. impatientpatient says

    Yup- two guys and an entourage- two women and three young people. One white, one black, both big enough to be three of me.

  19. george cauldron says

    No crabby wingnuts stomping in, calling us commie atheists, and zooming back out again? What’s this world coming to?

  20. owlbear1 says

    So if I understand this correctly; America was SUPPOSED to be the new Christian Holy Land but, Gay Hollywood producers and Lefty Trans-gender Athiests conspired in the writing of the Constitution to declare war on Christianity?

  21. Martha says

    Judges 19, according to the Brick Testament.

    So, Ron Luce feels like a cowardly, misogynistic, psychopath? Well, ok then… Not the comparison I’d use for myself, but then I’m more of a science fiction fan than a fan of bronze-aged snuff.

  22. george cauldron says

    So if I understand this correctly; America was SUPPOSED to be the new Christian Holy Land but, Gay Hollywood producers and Lefty Trans-gender Athiests conspired in the writing of the Constitution to declare war on Christianity?


    Somehow I bet Native Americans don’t agree with this scenario, either.

  23. Tree says

    “Sexual power for many men involves not only sexual
    competence-the ability to have sex-but also sexual control. This means knowing when not to have sex, and putting sex in its place. Their aversion to what appear to be sexual aberrations-including misplaced gender roles, such as women assuming dominant positions in the public arena-are examples of sex out of control. To many men these phenomena also exemplify a wider form of social disorder: they are illustrations of the encroaching power of evil, demonstrations of the pervasiveness of the lack of moral values, and examples of how social definitions have become skewed. In The Turner Diaries, for instance, William Pierce spoke of what he called “Women’s lib” as being “a form of mass psychosis . . . promoted and encouraged by the System as a means of dividing our race against itself.””

    “What they have in common, these movements of cowboy monks, is that they consist of anti-institutional,
    religio-nationalist, racist, sexist, male-bonding, bomb-throwing young guys. Their marginality in the modern world is experienced as a kind of sexual despair that leads to violent acts of symbolic empowerment. It could almost be seen as poignant, if it were not so terribly dangerous.”

    Mark Juergensmeyer, Terror in the Mind of God: The Global Rise of Religious Violence, Third Edition, Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003

    These are the “bomb throwing guys” (Juergensmeyer’s words, not air quotes) who bomb abortion clinics and gay bars. I’m not surprised to hear that cutting up concubines (metaphorical or not) appeals to them.

    Tree, shuddering

  24. llewelly says

    AoT, imagine you received a bloody piece of a woman in a package. You’d be disgusted, horrified, and angry. If you believed murder was the proper response to vile crimes, you’d be likely to consider murder. If you believed war was the appropriate response, you’d likely consider going to war on whoever you perceived responsible.

    So sending out a gruesome piece of a chopped concubine is a metaphor for inspiring Fundamentalists to ‘go to war’, so to speak. The cutting up of the concubine is a metaphor for creating and distributing Fundamentalist propaganda. When Luce says ‘CUT UP THE CONCUBINE! ‘ he is saying, roughly ‘Tell your fellow Fundamentalists that non-Christians are rapists and monsters, and the time for war is now.’

    It’s perhaps less difficult to understand, if you read further . The tribes of Israel gather, the Levite explains why he chopped up the concubine, they prepare for war, they attack the people of Benjamin, they suffer some setbacks, but they are eventually victorious, and finally:

    And the men of Israel turned again upon the children of Benjamin, and smote them with the edge of the sword, as well the men of every city, as the beast, and all that came to hand: also they set on fire all the cities that they came to.

    As has been quoted before, I believe …
    In short, they sacrifice a woman to a horrible fate, in order to have the best possible propaganda.

  25. Carlie says

    I was going to post basically the same thing, but not as well stated as you did. According to the story in the Bible I have (it’s one of those that helpfully “explains” what each chapter means as you go along), there were two ways the Levite was rotten – he was a foul man who sent out his innocent concubine rather than face his attackers himself, then after seeing that she died because of it, he decided to use the situation for political gain and sent her parts out to start the crusade. Not entirely unlike Prince Humperdink having Princess Buttercup “kidnapped” in order to have an excuse to go to war with Guilder.

    Interestingly, the interpretation I have states that it was an example of the law of the land being so corrupt that people did whatever they wanted, and lawlessness and godlessness and evil of all sorts prevailed, and the Levite was the prime example of how the corruption had spread even to the highest levels of government. If this is the case, then isn’t Luce admitting to be using his power for ultimate corruption?

  26. Harrison says

    It’s interesting, in a frightening way…the fundies are whining about being a poor, oppressed minority, yet they also boast about how fundie churches are growing, their political power is expanding, etc. Guess you have to whip up the paranoia to keep the contributions rolling in. Victimhood has its advantages…

  27. Molly, NYC says

    Harrison & Plucky P.–As near as I can tell, they figure they’re oppressed by not being allowed to establish a flat-out theocracy.

    As far as anti-Christian bias goes, ill feeling directed towards Christians is (IMO) directly related to the degree to which these particular paranoids, bigots and Nosey Parkers are presented as the face of Christianity–a piece of irony they can’t blame on gay guys.

  28. Christian says

    Erm, I haven’t read all of the comments, but this posting simply makes my skin crawl.

    Not the PZ peeps comments, it is the craziness of this alleged “war on Xians” and their response.

    Damn these folks are nuts.

  29. says

    These people are revolting, inhuman creatures who have the blasphemous gall to masquerade as Christians.
    I always like to use a biblical litmus test on what they say, in that, “he who claims to know the light, but hates his brother: he is a liar.”
    Need I continue?

  30. says

    There needs to be a resource of wingnut -> non-wingnut translations for all these cultural allusions. I get some of them that are directly biblical, but I’m not reading the same “literal” bible that evangelicals are reading. (“literal” only really where they want it to be, as slacktivist regularly points out)

    As for this one? I’m reasonably sure that the denotation of his phrase is “send out the word to draw forth an army to wipe these evil ones out” (note: not to defeat the homosexuals, or whoever the enemy is in his mind, but to kill them). However, I also think that such a dry phrase (even with “wipe them out”) would be a mistranslation because it omits the connotation of “death to sluts” – he was deliberately tapping into and drawing on resonance with some sexual violence memes present in our culture. (There’s the argument that this was unintentional, but I don’t buy it. As annoying as SkookumPlanet’s broken record is, I have arrived at the conclusion that he has a point about the deliberate use of psycho-marketing by the Right.)

  31. chuko says

    Carlie – Usually Bibles like that only good for telling you how modern Christians might interpret it. This is probably a little too bible-oriented for this blog, but since the fundies aren’t commenting on this one… it’s interesting to compare this with the story of Lot in Genesis. In that story, Lot has angels for visitors. The townsfolk want to rape them, so he offers them his daughters instead. Lot is very much seen as a positive character in Genesis – the only man whose family was saved in the destruction of Sodom and Gommorah.

  32. impatientpatient says

    I have it now PZ- the way to get science out to the masses is to perform feats of strength, because we live in a sight and sound generation and if you get peoples attention with what you do, then you can get them to listen to you. Anybody here up for wrapping rebar around their body or twirling six year olds on a metal pole? Maybe you can crush a pop can and spray the crowd with the contents???? Are there any scientific principles you can teach along the way? Physics, chemistry, biology- they wopuld all fit….

    That lego thing was just wrong. Apparently there are people in the world with more time to waste than me. Wow!!!!

    This is pretty disturbing and I just do not get it. Nobody should kill women and carve them up to send a message for any reason. None. And the church really ought to figure out why that litle story was left in the bible. A cautionary tale, perhaps? All of the christians that deplore pakistani treatment of women really have no leg to stand on any more in my estimation. I wish I had not read this again. Nightmares now for weeks.

  33. SkookumPlanet says

    I have to jump back in here to say many of you are missing the point. It’s a serioius point to miss.

    Harrison, plucky punk, Molly NYC, Christian, and others —

    This is an extremely methodical, conceptualized and planned, co-ordinated, and expertly executed campaign that is not spontaneous! The people behind this are not nuts or crazy or paranoid or hypocritical. It’s a political campaign that is one part of the far right’s 24/7/365/35-years-and-counting, highly successful, ongoing campaign to control, then remake, all important U.S. political and social institutions. Biggest political campaign in Earth’s history.

    They’re, essentially, brilliant people, due to no little help from the left’s utter cluelessness.

    These conferences are designed to induce and then reinforce the feelings of persecution you identify and provide tactical political tools to the footsoldiers. You’re focusing on cannon fodder — they’re endless. You’ll never see the general’s or the overall strategy. For example, one of the goals here is to keep voters in voting booths casting ballots. The right needs these votes to stay in power.

    The folks upset about this, I’m one, will fail miserably, and soon, if they don’t start understanding what’s going on. You’re looking at the “crazies’ which distracts your attention. That too is a technique that’s deployed against us. Go to my link above and look at more details about Luce in San Francisco. And later in that same PZ thread, several times I talk in much detail about what and how.

    I don’t disagree with the psychologizing of these rightwing Chrisitans, I just think it’s a way to distract energy. It’s like discussing how flammable the contents of the house are instead of dealing with the fire.

  34. Tree says

    Please say it at, where they’re having a poll re: War on Christians. Not that I have much hope that the commercial media gets the point, or will get the point from a poll posting.

  35. Tree says

    Earlier SkookumPlanet said:
    “This is an extremely methodical, conceptualized and planned, co-ordinated, and expertly executed campaign that is not spontaneous! The people behind this are not nuts or crazy or paranoid or hypocritical. It’s a political campaign that is one part of the far right’s 24/7/365/35-years-and-counting, highly successful, ongoing campaign to control, then remake, all important U.S. political and social institutions. Biggest political campaign in Earth’s history.
    They’re, essentially, brilliant people, due to no little help from the left’s utter cluelessness.
    These conferences are designed to induce and then reinforce the feelings of persecution you identify and provide tactical political tools to the footsoldiers. You’re focusing on cannon fodder — they’re endless. You’ll never see the general’s or the overall strategy.”

    Absolutely. Outsource their jobs on the one hand; blame homosexuals (especially those lesbian witches) for the fact that they can’t support a family anymore on the other.

    It’s not the first time in history the strategy of scapgoating to divert attention from the real sources of injustice has been spectacularly successful:

    “The principal result of the witchhunt system was that the poor came to believe that they were being victimized by witches and devils instead of princes and popes. Did your roof leak, your cow abort, your oats wither, your head ache, your baby die? It was the witches. Did the price of bread go up, taxes soar, wages fall, jobs grow scarce? The witches were to blame. Did plague and famine carry off a third of the inhabitants of every village and town? The diabolical, infernal witches were growing bolder all the time.
    …the witch mania shifted responsibility for the crisis of late medieval society from both Church and state to (witches)… the distraught, alienated, pauperized masses blamed the rampant Devil instead of the corrupt clergy and the rapacious nobility…. The clergy and nobility emerged as the great protectors of mankind against an enemy who was omnipresent but difficult to detect. Here at last was a reason to pay tithes and obey the tax collector” (pp. 236-238).

    Harris, Marvin 1974 Cows, Pigs, Wars, and Witches:The Riddles of Culture. New York: Vintage.

    “The ruling class, Marvin Harris explained, perpetuated a witch mania to disperse and fragment people, demobilize the poor, increase their social distance, fill them with mutual suspicions, make people fearful, heighten peoples’ insecurity, and to make people feel helpless and dependent on the governing classes to protect them. In so doing, it drew the poor further and further away from confronting the ecclesiastical and secular establishment with demands for the redistribution of wealth and the leveling of rank… It was the magic bullet of society’s privileged and powerful classes. That was its secret. (1974:240).”

    Tree again:
    I agree that psychologizing is not very useful. Understand the strategy and then you’ll understand the tactics.

  36. SkookumPlanet says


    I may try, but I’m cutting way back at blogging — I’ve done an enormous amount the last 2 months. Here are two threads where I detail the right’s sophisticated tactics and the left’s shortcomings in dealing with such.

    First, on a Mooney topic, my Evidence Project, a study in ethical psychomarketing against the carbon lobby’s well-financed, covert “doubt campaign” on global warming. It’s the first of 4 posts of mine in the second half of thread.

    1) The Evidence Project. A psychomarketing approach to science issues.
    2) untitled beginning, “Well I go from treatise to rant to bed [momentarily]”,
    3) Led to War by Proximity Soundbites. [How Iraq war was sold]
    4) Who Da Foo’?

    #1 and #3 speak directly to techniques and tactics; the others respond to posters who misunderstood my points. The actual second post in the thread [not #2 above] deconstructs Repubs’ successful “death tax” campaign. The entire thread is worthwhile, smart people on global warming political tactics, and best overview of the single topic I’m teaching on blogs. Even has a left-wing heckler, whom Who Da Foo’? is directed to.

    The second link is to a PZ blog about Arkansas science teachers’ inhibitions about teachiing evolution. My comment takes previous posters to task for seeing this as an education issue, instead of a political issue. [I also address why education can’t help in the link in my first post on this thread.]

    Think of the right as, using psychomarketing over 30 years, doing very long-term agenda setting by shaping the public’s collective unconscious mind. In individual campaigns, sometimes current events being exceptions, whomever gets their agenda accepted in the public’s mind wins. It’s no good running on issues voters don’t think important. Thus the “War on Christians” is agenda setting for them, so they vote. Helluva lot smarter that the left’s reponse to it.

    Focusing on issues, disdain for psychomarketing, an irrational stereotype of human decision-making, and more as profound problems of the left are discussed in the links. Week by week, these just-mentioned items look more and more like fatal flaws. Item — dismissal of the WoC and no counter-campaign to it.

    I could, do occassonaly, get very discouraged by the fanatasyland in the Left’s minds, minds highly resistant to change.If that’s you, dear reader, realize the left is being flushed down the toilet by the right. That’s a fact. Maybe, just maybe, that’s a clue the Left is doing something wrong. Something very, very, fundamental. Wrong.

  37. Carlie says

    Chuko –
    “it’s interesting to compare this with the story of Lot in Genesis.”

    Amazingly so, in fact. When I first read the post, I assumed it was a misinterpretation of the Lot story, then realized no, there are multiple stories of men offering to throw their virgin daughters out to marauding hordes in order to save their precious male visitors they only met that morning, then being lauded for their brave decision… (????)

    Family values indeed.

  38. chuko says

    Carlie –
    If you’re interested in this kind of thing, you might check out Asimov’s guide to the Bible. It’s a little dated, but it’s the only reference I’ve found that takes an unapologetically non-religious viewpoint on the bible. It’s also very readable and engaging for someone like me without any special knowledge in the subject.

  39. Tree says

    SkookumPlanet: I agree with you. Strongly. The psychomarketing was shocking enough to me when I was researching environmental policy (actually wrote a paper for undergrad – Treehuggers and Fishkissers) and how industry/political elements had reframed the environmental debate in terms of sexual identity (girly environmentalists versus manly realists). However, after seeing how the techniques have progress in that episode of Frontline about neuromarketing I am outraged, and a little frightened (being a girly environmentalist, I foresee stakes and burning in the future). You can download the Frontline episode from the link, if you haven’t seen it already. To me the most telling bit was the journalist asking Clotaire Rapaille if neuromarketing techniques couldn’t be used to persuade the audience to virtuous acts…and Rapaille impatiently blew him off as a fuzzy headed idealist.

    But why can’t we use neuromarketing to promote our ideals? Muckraking and yellow journalism was effective enough to bring down the robber barons of yore, why not the latest leeches feeding on the neck of the US electorate? Maybe the next tv spot should be video of a leech, a few words about the natural lifecyle (as if beginning a promo for a new nature show), and while it becomes nice and plump, segue into statistics about the other leeches. Or something. But something, soon.

  40. SkookumPlanet says


    I’ve recently posted about this at length. Absolutely, no question, we can use these techniques effectively and ethically and we have advantages we can leverage.

    I’m familiar with “The Persuaders” and have quoted from Ed Luntz’ interview therein. Co-writer of that show was Douglas Rushkoff . He’s a media analyst who focuses a lot on psychomarketing to teenagers, and has articles on-line. He’s the correspondent on PBS-Frontline’s The Merchants of Cool, which is nearly a companion to the Persuaders. “Cool” is about marketing to teens and has a similar website.

    My link above to the Chris Mooney thread addresses “But why can’t we use neuromarketing to promote our ideals?” If I thought this wasn’t possible I wouldn’t have spent so much time and energy putting this information out. Two marketing professionals have backed me up saying this was so — Dano in the Mooney thread and I quote and cite the other in the same thread. [Who Da Foo’?]

    I’m very frustrated by the Left’s lack of effective response and perception, and trace it back to how we think as individuals. Our leaders can’t go or take us someplace we’re unwilling to go individually. There are two problems

    First, we have an incorrect stereotype about how human beings process information and make decisions. To be blunt, it’s an irrational fantasy. Science tells us this.

    Second, this prevents us from seeing what the right is doing to people’s minds — we literally won’t believe it. This in turn prevents effective counter measures. One quick example. Here. The War on Christians is a mini-lesson that, as goofy as it might seem at first, can be analyzed and learned from. One might do this by gathering data on who’s behind this, organizers, speakers, etc. Rather than simply making comfortable assumptions and moving on.

    The right is beatable if the left would just deal with reality. Obviously we can’t. The fantasies in our heads are more compelling.

    And Daniel Martin. I am a broken record, but knew in advance my time on stage would be short, and it’s now ending. Putting aside the question of effectiveness, in part it was an attempt to illustrate through process the content I was discussing. I’m an amateur at both the process and the content.

    I’d encourage anyone who thinks Luce’s comments or implications might somehow have been unintentional to visit the San Francisco Chronicle website [SFGate-dot-com] and read the article about his youth rally in SF. He’s quoted and paraphrased at length. If that doesn’t show you it’s all extremely calculated, then your mind really, truly is in fantasyland.