Former Right-Wing Media Star Turns Against Right-Wing Media

So, it turns out that Fox News wasn't really all that fair or balanced.

Matt Sheffield, a pioneer of conservative online media, is now fighting to burst the information bubble he helped inflate.

I knew Matt a little back in the day, running into him at various blogger events when they were a thing as well as various conservative gatherings like CPAC. Indeed, I even attended one of his NewsBusters galas as his guest.* I haven’t seen him in years, probably since I stopped commuting into DC upon taking my current job seven-plus years ago.

His charge is hardly new:

“I basically built the infrastructure for a lot of conservative online people and personally taught a lot of them what they know,” he said.

But Mr. Sheffield, who is 42 and lives in the Los Angeles area, grew disillusioned in recent years. He said facts were treated as an acceptable casualty in the broader political war. “The end justifies the means,” said Mr. Sheffield, who hosts a politics and technology podcast called Theory of Change and is writing a memoir about growing up in a strict Mormon family. He now blames right-wing media for undermining faith in American democracy by spreading unsubstantiated claims by President Trump and others that the election was rigged. Through websites and platforms like Facebook and YouTube, Mr. Sheffield said, right-wing media has created an environment in which a large portion of the population believes in a “different reality.”

Much of this has been obvious for a long time. Even in the early days of the site—more than seventeen years ago now—I was frustrated by the increasingly inane and dangerous rhetoric coming from the likes of Ann Coulter. And it didn’t take long for me to tire of the scene at CPAC, which was, at best, simply serving warmed-over platitudes from the Reagan campaign decades after they were overtaken by events.

Then again, I’m more than a decade older and wasn’t drawing a paycheck from the conservative entertainment complex.

What are some of the most important things about right-wing media that people don’t understand?

Almost all right-wing support in the United States comes from a view that Christians are under attack by secular liberals. This point is so important and so little understood. Logic doesn’t matter. Fact-checking doesn’t matter. What matters is if I can use this information to show that liberals are evil. Many of them are not interested in reporting the world as it is, but rather to shape the world like they want it to be.

Having come up politically in the Deep South, I’ve long since undertood that this sense of persecution exists. And, frankly, they’re not completely wrong. While Christmas is decidedly winning the so-called “war” against it, the “traditional values” espoused by fundamentalists have been beaten into submission. Still, I’m not sure to what extent this explains the disregard for facts or even the “own the libs” mindsight.

A recent poll suggests about 70 percent of Republicans now believe the election was rigged. Can that be blamed on right-leaning media when President Trump is spreading misinformation about the results?

They go along with whatever he says. Before Trump won in 2016, conservative media was actually, finally, starting to develop a marginal sense of independence. But once he became the president all of that just fell apart. Now you can’t have a conservative outlet unless you worship Donald Trump. Your business will be destroyed. You can’t have a career in conservative media if you are against Donald Trump, with only a few exceptions.

This is rather circular but there’s some truth to it. The news side of Fox News is doing a solid job of presenting the facts of the case, matter-of-factly declaring Biden the winner of key states and, ultimately, the winner of the 2020 election in step with the other media outlets. But that’s led to a backlash against it by “conservatives.”

Would this be possible without Facebook and social media platforms?

Facebook is the primary protector and enabler of the far right in the United States, without question. The company has sheltered and promoted this content for years. Mark Zuckerberg even now says that Steve Bannon calling for beheadings is not justification to ban him. Zuckerberg was also fine with tolerating Holocaust denial until he was called out for it.

The irony, alas, is that the victimhood mentioned earlier means that Republicans nonetheless think Facebook is an evil liberal conspiracy out to get them. Some significant number are racing to something called Parler to escape Zuckerberg’s evil clutches.

Do you see a way out of this, or will the problem get worse?

The first step is to get people to improve their information diet. If you’re eating nothing but candy or toxic food you are going to get sick. If you can improve your news diet to include things that you like but also other things that might be challenging to you then you are going to have a much better understanding of life. In the information age, the people who control the information control the age. That is something that the right-wing media apparatus has figured out.

People interested in truly understanding the world around them are already doing this. A little more than a decade ago, libertarian Julian Sanchez coined the term “epistemic closure” for the phenomenon:

One of the more striking features of the contemporary conservative movement is the extent to which it has been moving toward epistemic closure. Reality is defined by a multimedia array of interconnected and cross promoting conservative blogs, radio programs, magazines, and of course, Fox News. Whatever conflicts with that reality can be dismissed out of hand because it comes from the liberal media, and is therefore ipso facto not to be trusted. (How do you know they’re liberal? Well, they disagree with the conservative media!) 

For those truly trapped in this bubble, there is no escape. If George Will or David Frum or Bill Kristol say that Trump isn’t really a conservative, why, it just shows that they’re not really conservatives. If Fox News reports that Biden has won the election, it just goes to show that Fox News has become part of the elite media.

I had somehow forgotten, if I ever realized, that Sanchez’ coinage was indirectly related to a post that I had written two years before, spawning a favorable response from him, defending conservative critics of Sarah Palin from the tired charge that we were courting favor on the DC cocktail circuit. I wrote,

This is such utter nonsense. Conservative intellectuals are, by definition, both conservative and intellectual. While many of us understand the practical realities of politics and campaigning, we are ideologues who are motivated by fundamental principles of governing, intellectual consistency, and the ability to coherently articulate the message. While we are “team players,” having generally chosen the GOP as the best vehicle for carrying those ideas into fruition, we’re not party hacks who will publicly adopt positions of convenience for our candidate at the expense of intellectual honesty.

[…]

I don’t spend a lot of time discussing Proust. To the extent that I’m invited to dinners and parties with smart people, that’s not going to change based on whom I support in November. There are plenty of smart folks on both sides of this one. What would, however, ruin my credibility in those circles is carrying the water for my party in direct opposition to my previous intellectual positions.

As Sanchez noted in his response piece, it’s a hell of a lot easier to make a living as a hack than an honest broker:

If you’re willing to toe a straight party line, on the other hand, let’s face it, you can be pretty damn mediocre and still carve out a nice little niche for yourself at any one of a welter of generously funded ideological publications and think tanks. Sure, it’s a smaller pond, but you get to be a relatively big fish. You’ll always have a book deal waiting at Regnery, a warm guest chair on Fox, editors at NR and the Weekly Standard eager to look at your pitches, handsome honoraria on your speaking tour of College Republican groups, and in your golden years, an undemanding sinecure as the Senior Olin Fellow at the Institute for Real ‘Murriken Studies. (Ask yourself whether, absent these venues, you would ever have heard the name “Michelle Malkin.” And cross apply all of the above, mutatis mutandis, on the left, of course.)

For all but the very, very few with a realistic shot at a Brooks slot, the cynical careerist calculus weighs strongly in favor of reflexive fealty. And certainly it’s got to be much easier, much more comfortable, to give your self-selecting audience precisely what they want to hear and bask in their accolades. I don’t know if I’ve named it here before, but I’ve long observed a phenomenon in the blogosphere I call “audience capture,” where a once-interesting writer becomes rather dull and predictable, each post another jab at the lever, predictably rewarded with a tasty pellet.

So, again, all of this has been obvious for quite a long time to those who were paying close attention and not motivated to ignore the evidence.

I’d be interested in when Sheffield, a genuinely bright and decent guy even as a youthful muckraker, started figuring it out.

UPDATE: My March 2019 post “Low-Information Individuals, Motivated Reasoning, and Epistemic Overconfidence” is also worth revisiting in this context. In particular, this finding from a then-recent study:

[T]he findings suggest that people who read only the previews were far too confident in their knowledge. What’s more, those participants whose cognitive style is more guided by emotion, tend to be more certain of their rightness.

This “need for affect” essentially means that participants have strong gut reactions or intuitions that they don’t question. In other words, the feeling of being accurate is more satisfying for many people than actually being accurate.

“Those who are more driven by emotion allow the positive feelings associated with being right to override the need for actual accuracy,” the authors write, “thus coming away from limited exposure to information falsely overconfident in their knowledge of the subject matter.”

Unfortunately, this false confidence may have serious repercussions. Not only does it make users more susceptible to fake news and misinformation – a burgeoning issue in the modern day and age – it could also make them more polarised and politically uninformed.

This phenomenon surely exists on the left as well as the right. But the sense that elite institutions are working against them almost certainly makes the latter more susceptible.

And I should note that part of the reason I was identifying these trends so long ago even while ultimately voting Republican is that I’m not and never was part of the religious wing of the party or the conservative movement.

I closed that post with this observation:

It would seem that using rational discourse with high-NFA, low-information individuals is all but useless. They’re seeking validation for an emotional belief, not understanding. Presumably, the way to change their minds is through emotional means. (Which is why personal experience is so effective. Having a transgender child, for example, is much more likely to change one’s perspective on the issue than a dozen scientific articles.)

Personal experience is thus more likely to have an impact than any appeal to broaden one’s media diet.

____________

*It’s noteworthy given Sheffield’s current leanings that the main award of the evening was given to none other than Rush Limbaugh. (And the first comment on the post, from longtime-but-now-absent commenter Tano was “Keep your distance from those creeps, that would be my unsolicited advice.”)

FILED UNDER: Media, Social Media
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. DrDaveT says:

    And, frankly, [Christians who feel persecuted are] not completely wrong.

    Sure they are. Being prevented from persecuting others is not itself persecution. Preventing the bully from beating up the geeky kid is not bullying.

    While Christmas is decidedly winning the so-called “war” against it, the “traditional values” espoused by fundamentalists have been beaten into submission.

    Unless you are using “traditional” as a euphemism for “crappy”, this is likewise simply not true. Can you give any examples of actual traditional Christian values that are under attack by the wider society? Positive values, that is — disapproval of [fill in the blank] is not a value, and even if it were the right to disapprove is not under attack.

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  2. James Joyner says:

    @DrDaveT: That traditional views of marriage, gender roles, sexual identity, and the like are now frowned upon—if not outright attacked as bigotry—by elite society is hardly news. Indeed, you demonstrate that in the framing of the question.

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  3. DrDaveT says:

    @James Joyner:

    That traditional views of marriage, gender roles, sexual identity, and the like are now frowned upon—if not outright attacked as bigotry—by elite society is hardly news. Indeed, you demonstrate that in the framing of the question.

    Certainly. What does that have to do with traditional fundamentalist values, or persecution?

    No one is preventing fundamentalists from holding — and acting on — whatever marriage sacraments, gender roles, and sexual identities that they believe in and uphold. No persecution there. Fundamentalists are not punished, legally or even socially, from participating in monogamous heterosexual marriages, or having traditional male/female work roles.

    Again, it is not persecution for other people to think they have crappy values (and say so), and it is not persecution for them to be prevented from imposing their levitican purity code on others. Setting aside the question of what actual Christians values are, it is simply baseless entitled whining (and incredibly insulting to subgroups who really are persecuted) to think of these things as “persecution”.

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  4. Kathy says:

    @James Joyner:

    That traditional views of marriage, gender roles, sexual identity, and the like are now frowned upon—if not outright attacked as bigotry—by elite society is hardly news.

    They are neither attacked nor looked down on. The attitude that only the “traditional” marriage and gender roles exist or should be given any moral or legal validity is.

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  5. R. Dave says:

    Matt Sheffield, quoted in OP wrote:“Almost all right-wing support in the United States comes from a view that Christians are under attack by secular liberals.”

    OP wrote: Having come up politically in the Deep South, I’ve long since undertood that this sense of persecution exists. And, frankly, they’re not completely wrong. While Christmas is decidedly winning the so-called “war” against it, the “traditional values” espoused by fundamentalists have been beaten into submission. Still, I’m not sure to what extent this explains the disregard for facts or even the “own the libs” mindsight.

    James – If you haven’t seen it, I commend this David French article from the weekend to your attention. Teaser Quote:

    But while the precise level of white Evangelical support may be unclear, their overwhelming electoral preference is not. White Evangelicals once again supported Donald Trump as least as much as they supported Mitt Romney, John McCain, and George W. Bush. Moreover, their support isn’t simply about religious liberty and abortion. As a group, they’re not holding their noses and casting their votes based on those two issues alone. No, they’re Republicans down the line.

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  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @James Joyner: Christians feeling persecuted because they are no longer able to impose their “morality” on others is not persecution. They are free to continue conducting themselves by whatever moral code they have constructed.

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  7. KM says:

    @James Joyner:

    That traditional views of marriage, gender roles, sexual identity, and the like are now frowned upon—if not outright attacked as bigotry—by elite society is hardly news.

    Ummm, who’s tradition are we talking about here?

    One man, one woman certainly isn’t traditional everywhere – hell, marrying for love instead of property or power only started coming into vogue in the last few centuries. Many cultures have roles that are analogues to LBGT concepts, including Two-Spirit individuals native to this continent. Religious concepts like churches being closed on Christmas because it’s a wild, raucous holiday and not for good Christians to go out and about on? Gender roles like women being in charge of the tribe or men knowing how to sew their own socks or knit in the trenches or how pink only became a female color AFTER WW2- why aren’t those the traditional things we’re talking about?

    When someone whines about “tradition”, it always means what *they* think is important for *them*, not what was actually traditional. War on Christmas people would be treated as criminals and heathens by the first settlers who thought it was an abomination. You could be fined or jailed for celebrating and it was certainly *not* about Baby Jesus (*hint* it was partying). What’s frowned upon today was normal for somebody at some period of history, just not the period certain people prefer aka It’s All About Meeeeeeeee!!!!!

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  8. Raoul says:

    What a crock- it is true that many people lead lives outside the traditional Christian model, sometimes not by choice, but what is truer is that most don’t care one iota as to those who continue the traditional ways. Remind me to join the next pickup truck protest against the Amish /s. What people object to is when the “traditionalists” impose their views on them. Live and let live is a pretty sound principle (unless you are an evangelist, then you pick the biggest sinner to be your leader).

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  9. steve says:

    I grew up in a right wing, evangelical (basically a ) cult. My family are still fully enmeshed. I have the texts on my phone asking why we are taking Covid seriously (after just having intubated a Covid pt) to prove it. So on the first level, ie the perception of the Christian right, it is absolutely true that they think they are being persecuted and it will get worse. I think that I might dispute his claim that “almost all support” comes from being attacked, but it is a huge part of it. They have an entire industry devoted to this. Go read TAC or any religious right site. They are convinced we are ready to round them up and torture them. Remember the FEMA camps. I laughed at that. They shuddered. They just knew it was true. This is so entrenched I seriously doubt there is much chance of breaking through. Their thought leaders and their media make too much money promoting this so they arent giving in on this.

    On the second level, is there really some level of attack on Christians boy the left, James thinks it is true. I think he is correct. I think that if you live in a liberal bubble you probably wont notice it, but all too often people really do attack the Christian right not just for their political beliefs (fair game) but slip into attacks on issues that are inherent within a given faith. You would think that the people who champion woeness, triggering and all of that might be a teeny bit aware of it.

    And to be fair to the left in general, a lot of this comes from the more extreme elements on the left. Social media/the internet makes it worse. Any angry person on the left can post awful stuff about people of some faith and then the right wing media picks it up and amplifies it. Next thing you know they think we all want to force them to create a piss Jesus or something. (They still obsess over that one.) There are also people on the left who just want revenge for past injustices. There really are some gays who want revenge for stuff that happened to them. Some trans people who want revenge, etc. Revenge that goes past justice. Thats just built into some of us.

    Anyway, the right, even writers who are supposedly more even handed, nearly always choose the worst examples on the left they can find. That worst example then represents all of us. Yes, the left does that too, but the right is unique when it comes to the religious stuff. Finally, it does make it awfully hard to take them seriously sometimes when they are clearly so hypocritical about their faith. Actually, we need a word beyond hypocrite. They will fully embrace a person, idea, whatever, if it will support their beliefs.

    Steve

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  10. mattbernius says:

    In addition to this NYT’s interview, I highly recommend the original Twitter thread which led to the interview. Its too long to copy and paste so here is a link to the unrolled twitter thread:

    https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1324908316548493313.html

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  11. mattbernius says:

    This phenomenon [Misinformation Echo Chambers] surely exists on the left as well as the right. But the sense that elite institutions are working against them almost certainly makes the latter more susceptible.

    The issue that is critical here, and central to Sheffield critique, is that what the Right has done is commodify the entire process.

    The money-making machine is based on isolating folks and then justifying and stoking anger. The angrier they get, the more they consume. So long as that is the profit model (and the reality is it’s a particularly lucrative one) there is no incentive for change.

    There simply is no equivalent to that on the Left.

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  12. de stijl says:

    @James Joyner:

    Objection and rejection is different from persecution.

    Put on some empathy pants and think this through.

    I have zero feels for a bully who now feels constrained at blatantly bullying.

    No one is going to accept closeting anymore. That day is done.

    Life is too short to accede to gatekeepers and to ignore your true self even if that annoys people who think they have power over us.

    No more.

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  13. DrDaveT says:

    @steve:

    I think that if you live in a liberal bubble you probably wont notice it, but all too often people really do attack the Christian right not just for their political beliefs (fair game) but slip into attacks on issues that are inherent within a given faith.

    Could you give some examples of this? I honestly have no idea what you are talking about, and if stuff is going on out there I want to know about it. (And if you’re only talking about critical speech, polite or impolite, again I repeat that this is not persecution, not even close.)

    Keep in mind that, to me, if someone believes that [insert group here] should have fewer legal rights than they do, that’s a political belief and not a religious belief. It might be motivated by a religious belief, but it steps pretty far across that “render unto Caesar” boundary.

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  14. Jay L Gischer says:

    You know, the “piss christ” is a great example of what goes on. Someone made a photograph of a crucifix immersed in urine. Someone was trying to express their feelings about being a homosexual in the church. I can’t say that I consider this “persecution”. Most evangelicals wouldn’t even know about it if it were not for Jesse Helms, who is nominally an ally and a fellow evangelical bringing it to their attention, and starting an argument about it, to demonstrate he was on their side.

    But the thing is, Helms wasn’t selling “Love your neighbor as yourself” or “Love your enemy” or “Bless those that persecute you”. He was selling “vote for me” and “give me money”.

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  15. gVOR08 says:

    This is the thing that makes out politics so difficult. Fundies and their beliefs are under attack. They’re very insecure, they need the comfort of believing everyone agrees with them and they see that fewer and fewer do. They think they can stop it with politics, but they can’t. It’s not Democrats who are doing this to them, it’s culture. They’re asking politics to validate their beliefs, and politics can’t do that. So they’re perpetually frustrated and open to the appeal of Republicans who are happy to lie to them that somehow they’ll put abortion and gay rights back in the bottle and put Christ back in Christmas to boot.

    And it’s not just today’s fundies. I’ve commented before that Russell Kirk’s 1953 The Conservative Mind offers great insight into conservatism, just not in any way Kirk intended. It’s about two dozen repeats of the same chapter – so-and-so was the great mind of his era, the only one able to see the deep truth. But Kirk never quite says what that truth is, nor quotes his subjects saying what. I’m sure he’d say it’s too subtle for my utilitarian mind. Reading between the lines, you realize his great truth is that we must all believe. Didn’t seem to matter what exactly, but we must all be true believers in something. Of course if he’d gone there, he’d have had to say how they’d make everyone believe, which would have been on the wrong side of church/state, and silly.

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  16. de stijl says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    I can’t remember which one, but either “piss christ” or chocolate Jesus was a dead ringer for Peter Stormare.

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  17. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: To clarify, I’m an atheist in a Christian world (Washington county is very Christian) In centuries past, my neighbors Christian forebears were burning my heretic forebears at the stake. THAT was persecution. These days, they invite me to their church and when I tell them I’m not into all that, they say OK, and shun me forever after. That’s called “freedom of association.”

    Calling them bigots for their bigoted points of view is also not persecution. It’s called “freedom of speech”.

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  18. An Interested Party says:

    I think that if you live in a liberal bubble you probably wont notice it, but all too often people really do attack the Christian right not just for their political beliefs (fair game) but slip into attacks on issues that are inherent within a given faith.

    Could you be a little more specific? Certainly when religion is used to justify bigotry against gay people or against ethnic/religious minorities, among others, those doing that deserve to be attacked…

    So they’re perpetually frustrated and open to the appeal of Republicans who are happy to lie to them that somehow they’ll put abortion and gay rights back in the bottle and put Christ back in Christmas to boot.

    That evangelicals would support Trump says a lot about how evangelicals allow themselves to be deceived by Republicans in their desperate attempt to remake a world that doesn’t exist anymore…

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  19. Kurtz says:

    @mattbernius:

    The issue that is critical here, and central to Sheffield critique, is that what the Right has done is commodify the entire process.

    The money-making machine is based on isolating folks and then justifying and stoking anger. The angrier they get, the more they consume. So long as that is the profit model (and the reality is it’s a particularly lucrative one) there is no incentive for change.

    There simply is no equivalent to that on the Left.

    It’s almost as if exposing to market forces every aspect of human socialiality has some terrible effects.

    I made a comment here a few months ago about Libertarians, but it is mostly true of Republicans as well. Many economists on the RW spectrum implicitly want to replace politics with economics.

    What I mean is that they see Hayek’s spontaneous order as a continuation of Enlightenment ideals as opposed to the State as a continuation of previous forms of autocracy/oligarchy.

    This kind of thinking about the nature of rights and the nature of power is too simple to explain much of what we see, but is perfect for persuasion in a complex world.

    Politically, it’s great for the RW, because it forces the LW to explain. As plenty of posters here have pointed out political messaging:

    If you’re explaining, you’re losing.

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  20. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @steve:This is what I was taught to believe about any minority status that might come from my faith by the Baptists I was raised among.

    There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated- the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground. These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.
    Hebrews 11:35b-40.

    The people complaining about “persecution” in the US aren’t even special snowflakes. They’d have to take a step up to even get to “jeered.” I’m truly embarrassed by the conduct of people who call themselves evangelicals these days. While I will admit that I see “jeered” in the list, I don’t see any of the following:
    *being asked to stay home for the protection of others
    *being disagreed with
    *being asked to wear a mask in public during a pandemic
    *having to live with leadership other than that of the party you approve.

    Evangelicals have to toughen up. If what they are experiencing now is “persecution,” they’ll never survive if any real persecution ever happens.

    “Are ye able,” said the Master, “to be crucified with me?”
    And the sturdy dreamers answered, “What are you talking about? Crucified? I didn’t sign up for anything like that! Hooooooollllld on thar!”

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  21. de stijl says:

    Speaking on Stormare, Buscemi is the man with the plan. Belittles everyone and everything. Hates life’s every tiny inconvenience as a personal insult.

    Stormare wants to:

    Smoke cigarettes

    Go to “pancakes house”

    Kill Buscemi

    Get laid

    Get paid

    Sanest man in the whole shebang.

    Every time I see an IHOP I say out loud “pancakes house” reflexively.

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  22. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @James Joyner: Oddly, none of those subjects are headlined in the book Christians hail as their guide. So a claim to “Christian” persecution is dubious.

    I give them a modest claim to cultural persecution–but they need to get in line. Lots of groups have pieces of their culture frowned upon by the larger aggregate culture. The Churchians (not a mispelling) need to face up to not being top of the pile anymore.

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  23. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @DrDaveT: Well despite the fact that I believe Evangelicals exist at the lower end of the bible and spiritual IQ curve and have little appetite to defend them—it doesn’t help that there are atheist-left wing groups that do file performative lawsuits against Christian organizations all the time to “separate Church from State”.

    They do have a point in this regard which Dr Joyner didn’t include. Separating Church from State is about not having a State sponsored religion–it is NOT about secularizing the Public space. While many of these lawsuits are performative, petty, and ridiculous–they do gets lots of astroturfing within the Evangelical media ecosystem.

    Also, its just human nature to oppose people who smugly suggest that they are smarter than you. Having been raised in a Black Evangelical tradition, I do recall the anger I felt at people that felt obligated to tell Christians that it was all a fairytale and myth. If your goal is to make an enemy sure–go right ahead. The assholes on the right enjoy trolling the Libs and the Leftist assholes enjoy trolling Christians.

    Everyone of us is going to identify with something very strongly. Many have a strong religious identity but today there are more choices so some will resonate with a sexual, ethnic, political, etc identity as their “this is who I am”. If you attack what people believe they are–you will get pushback. Its like poking a bear. Occasionally its necessary–often it is not.

    The lefts hands aren’t as dirty as the Right’s here–but by no means are they clean.

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  24. DrDaveT says:

    @Jim Brown 32: I agree with almost everything you said — but, again, nothing you describe is persecution. My reply was entirely motivated by Dr. Joyner strongly suggesting that actual persecution of Evangelicals is happening. That is simply (and dangerously) false, and feeds a destructive narrative.

    Dragging gay men behind horses until they die is persecution. Murdering black teenage boys with impunity is persecution. Denying people jobs and housing because of their color or religion is persecution. The Inquisition and the Holocaust and the Armenian Genocide are persecution. Filing nuisance lawsuits to remove the nativity scene from the courthouse grounds is not persecution.

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  25. gVOR08 says:

    @Jim Brown 32:

    Also, its just human nature to oppose people who smugly suggest that they are smarter than you.

    It’s less remarked, but also irritating, to have people smugly suggest that they are morally superior to you.

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  26. Kurtz says:

    @Jim Brown 32:

    Separating Church from State is about not having a State sponsored religion–it is NOT about secularizing the Public space.

    This doesn’t make sense to me. This would make public space religious by default. Preservation of a secular public space is the only way maintain a neutral position on religion.

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  27. Slugger says:

    I’m not a Christian. Jimmy Carter was widely disdained and Donald Trump was widely supported by people who say they uphold traditional Christian values. Can anyone explain this? The behavior and attitudes of these men would make me think that their positions should be reversed unless, of course, the traditional christian values are not what a quick read of the stated beliefs would suggest.

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  28. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Kurtz: In order to have a fair conversation about this it would be helpful to standardize what is meant by the term Religious and Secular. What you seem to indicate is that people with a religious identify are not welcome in the process of self government—which would also not make any sense

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  29. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @gVOR08: Agree–it is definitely a double edge sword on a two way street. But I would offer that such a position is actually counter to the Christian value of humility. Yet more ammunition that the so-called standard bearers for their faith–are woefully wanting in its teachings.

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  30. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Slugger: Christianity has sects like we understand in the other major religions. Fmr President Carter comes from a tradition that has stresses beatitude values…namely humility.

    Modern Day Evangelicals are simply not big on that. They are in tuned with the fight of good vs evil where, in time, God will smite all His (and coincidentally their) enemies then bring peace to the World where they rule with Him. True Story‍♂️

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  31. Grewgills says:

    @Jim Brown 32:
    With people like that there is no middle ground. We as a society and as individuals cannot act in ways that they won’t perceive as attacking and persecuting them without ACTUALLY attacking and persecuting others.

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