I got a lot of emails about this, and I sent them to Emily at RH Reality Check, and discovered she was already on it. But seriously, it’s worth spreading the news, because as weird as this story is, it reveals a lot about the anti-choice movement (and right wing fundamentalism in general). The American Life League is calling for a “boycott” of Krispy Kreme because they….wait for it…..used the phrase “freedom of choice” in a press release that is primarily about tying their donuts to the occasion of the inauguration in a way that’s so generic that they would have put the same release out if John McCain had won. Read it and weep:
Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, Inc. (NYSE: KKD) is honoring American’s sense of pride and freedom of choice on Inauguration Day, by offering a free doughnut of choice to every customer on this historic day, Jan. 20. By doing so, participating Krispy Kreme stores nationwide are making an oath to tasty goodies — just another reminder of how oh-so-sweet ‘free’ can be.
We have a black man and a liberal about to take the White House, so naturally the nuts are in full-blown panic mode. In normal circumstances, the freaks at ALL know that it’s unwise to show their pure freakiness in public, and they might, under other circumstances, have reminded themselves that most people think the word “choice” means “choice”, instead of how they take it, which is to mean “the demonic assault on male supremacy by witches/feminists”. In this case, though, events just overtook their last grasp on reality.
What made reading this move from the “merely hilarious” column to the “fucking scary” column for me, though, is that I’m currently reading Matt Taibbi’s latest book The Great Derangement, and he spends a good deal of his time in the book pretending to be a Christian attending James Hagee’s church in San Antonio. (If you don’t know much about Washington player, apocalypse fan, and megachurch pastor James Hagee, I think Bill Moyers has done a bang-up job covering him.) And what Taibbi explains is something that’s ignored in most mainstream representations of the fundie megachurch culture, because it’s probably considered impolite to reveal how much the yokels act like yokels. Taibbi discovers that the church members believe that the world is literally haunted by demons around every corner, and they’re all seeking ways to enter your body and make you a sinner, and that the only way to get rid of them is to playact exorcisms. You can read some here.
This casts the fundie boycotts of this or that in a much different light. Most of us tend to think of boycotts as things you do in order to pressure companies to change policies.* But I suspect, reading this Taibbi book, that it’s more about adding to the already long list of Things To Avoid Lest The Demons Get You. Taibbi experiments at one point by shaming his “fellow believers” when they reach for fortune cookies by claiming that he believes fortune cookies are Satanic. Sure enough, they all toss the cookies back, fearful and ashamed. I get the impression that the more mundane the sinful thing, the better, because it helps keep followers in a state of constant paranoia. Also, it makes it impossible for demons not to get into your body, meaning you have to keep coming back for regular exorcisms. Or, short of that, it makes it impossible to avoid being a wretched, no-good sinner, no matter how hard you try, so you need to cling to the church (and right wing politics) for dear life, or you’re going to hell for sure. Taibbi is repeatedly appalled at how much the church breaks people down, by relentlessly driving home the message that they are nothing, that they’re debased and worthless. Putting Krispy Kremes on the list of demon entry points is sure to be effective at the aim of making the followers feel like they’re constantly besieged by Satan.
The overreaction to the innocuous use of the phrase “freedom of choice” points to another issue, which is that we’re not even really speaking the same language as the fundie nuts. That’s why Bush declaring the last “Sanctity of Life Day” makes so much sense to the nuts, but none at all to the normies. Because it’s obvious that life has no sanctity to Bush—not female life, not gay life, not Iraqi life, not American soldier life, not the planet’s life, not the life of the people (all of us) who need a healthy planet to survive. The day really is “Fundie Nuts Are Better Than You Day”, and it’s understood that way. I don’t really think “life” even means “fetal life” so much anymore—after all, pregnant women are on the list of people whose life is not precious to Bush, especially if they’re poor or Iraqi, and that means the fetuses inside them are not precious, either. At this point, The Fetus is a demigod in the fundie pantheon. Fetus: The God Of Female Subjugation. It has no more relationship to real people’s experiences of pregnancy than Aphrodite directly described most people’s experience of romance. Through many layers of complicated symbolism, then, “life” functions as a code word for the fundamentalist view of the godly life—women and children subjugated to men (with pregnancy functioning as a physical representation of the conquest), gay people erased from the equation, sex tightly controlled—a world with the wrinkles ironed out, with all the answers handed to you, and subsequently a life without much texture or color to it. But at least it’s safe. And then there’s the next one, so wasting this one isn’t so bad, now is it?
*In reality, they’re usually ineffective and undertaken to demonstrate moral righteousness through sacrifice.