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Twitter Denizens Mock A Very Silly (And Violent) Right Wing Urban Legend

By Amanda Marcotte
Tuesday, April 1, 2014 9:30 EDT

Just got back from a short vacation, and so am still in the process of catching up and getting back into the game. But I was pleased to see this report from Adam Weinstein of Gawker about a hilarious Twitter smackdown of one of those nauseating and half-literate right wing memes that go around on the email and social media of wingnuts. Forwarding urban legends crafted to assure reactionaries that liberals are crazy and God is on their side sometimes seems like 75% of intra-conservative online communications.  This one was particularly bad because it endorsed using violence to shut down those scary atheists that might make you do something uncomfortable like think for a moment.

To be clear, professors who try to shame their students about not being atheists by taking classroom time away from teaching to perform stunts are not real. They exist solely in the imagination of right wingers who can’t really quite picture what goes on in college classrooms (even though many of them, you know, went to college), and don’t even stop to consider that professors teach things like “calculus” or “English literature”. There is no university in the country that has a course called Daring God To Kill Me 101. Really, the “professors” in these kinds of stories are symbolic, probably of the nagging doubts in a believer’s head. Doubts you are apparently supposed to punch out, instead of explore. Because thinking is dangerous.

But of course, the story literally suggests that you punch atheists in the head rather than let them speak their point, lest you might actually start finding their arguments compelling. That is pretty alarming, I’d say. The fact that this meme is so popular, when the “joke” is how fun it is to suppress speech through violence, is quite telling.

The heroes of Twitter decided to tell their own versions of this story, as Adam chronicles. This might be my favorite:

A perfect encapsulation of the various anxieties that drive these kinds of memes. So perfect, in fact, that I will not be surprised if it starts being passed along like it’s the real thing in right wing circles. If anyone has a way to work that in, I would highly recommend it.

What all this highlights, by the way, is the major urban legend gap between the right and the left. Much of the right wing worldview is bolstered by urban legends, whereas very little of what gets passed around in liberal circles qualifies. (Of course, some urban legends get treated by Fox News—and, on occasion, more mainstream media outlets—as real stories, blurring this distinction a little.) It’s hard to tell how much people who pass these stories along understand that they are, in fact, bullshit. I suspect a high percentage don’t really care, but just want to keep justifying a worldview that has little in the way of reality-based evidence to justify it.

Conservatives Have Figured Out A Disturbingly Effective Strategy: Tell Lots And Lots of Lies

By Amanda Marcotte
Wednesday, March 26, 2014 10:06 EDT

Conservatives have figured out that the way to win any debate is to drown your opponent in lies. Updated to add: A commenter reminded me that this phenomenon was first chronicled with creationists and deemed the “Gish Gallop” by skeptics. You can read about that here. The rollout of manufactured conservative outrage about insurance plans being required to cover contraception—something, may I remind you, most already did—has been a demonstration that the right wing noise…


Reeva Steenkamp’s Text To Oscar Pistorius Before Her Death Is Heart-Breaking

By Amanda Marcotte
Tuesday, March 25, 2014 13:04 EDT

Erin Gloria Ryan writes about the latest bit of information to come out of the murder trial of Oscar Pistorius. Pistorius is accused of deliberately murdering his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, during a late night argument on Valentine’s Day. He claims that he would never hurt her and that it was…


The Hobby Lobby Case Is About Spreading Lies About Contraception

By Amanda Marcotte
Monday, March 24, 2014 10:46 EDT

Conservatives hope that if they call birth control pills “abortion” enough, we’ll all be stupid enough to believe them. TPM has commentary from Dr. Lin-Fan Wang about the Supreme Court case that I think is absolutely necessary. Dr. Wang isn’t really weighing in on the merits of the case—she supports the…


Republicans, In Full Anti-Obama Frenzy, Take A Swipe At National Parks

By Amanda Marcotte
Friday, March 21, 2014 9:30 EDT

Good a time as any to indulge a little nostalgia for home. Can the knee-jerk hostility to anything President Obama does get any worse? It’s often fun to joke that Republicans would be against puppies and rainbows if Democrats were for it, but this comes awfully close to making that…


Why Are Medical Conspiracy Theories So Popular?

By Amanda Marcotte
Thursday, March 20, 2014 9:56 EDT

With the latest measles outbreak in New York City, more attention is being paid, finally, to the problem of anti-vaccination conspiracy theorists, who often have a prominent platform to spread their paranoid nonsense. But anti-vaccination paranoia is not the only medical conspiracy theory out there that might lead to people…


Anti-Choicers Really Upset, For Some Reason, That Random Feminist Lady Doesn’t Want Babies

By Amanda Marcotte
Wednesday, March 19, 2014 7:32 EDT

This 80s-style stock photography speaks to me, people. It speaks to me. Last week, I wrote a post about abortion where I explained that, personally speaking, I don’t want to have children and, because of this, I would have an abortion if my contraception failed and I got pregnant. By…


Neil deGrasse Tyson Is Really Starting To Scare Conservatives

By Amanda Marcotte
Tuesday, March 18, 2014 11:10 EDT

The wingnut panic over the show Cosmos is incredibly amusing to me. It’s understandable, because Neil deGrasse Tyson is really good at being clear and concise about science and he eviscerates right wing attempts to muddy the waters with precision. I particularly liked this quote from an interview on Inquiring Minds:…


The Other Reason Anti-Choicers Aren’t Interested In A *Real* Debate About Abortion

By Amanda Marcotte
Monday, March 17, 2014 9:38 EDT

1. Ban abortion 2. ???????? 3. Utopian paradise with no want or fear! In my last post about the atheist/skeptic community’s dust-up over abortion and whether the tired “when does life begin” pseudo-debate have any real value for people who actually value freewheeling, rational discourse (answer: no, beyond downright mechanized…


Anti-Feminist Own Goal Alert

By Amanda Marcotte
Friday, March 14, 2014 16:47 EDT

In a generally hilarious round-up of the attempts by self-appointed “men’s rights activists” to make compelling graphics—and their inevitable failures—David Futrelle of Man Boobz found one that I hope will life for the ages. Yes, he used a picture of a man holding up a stop sign to instruct cars…