Friday, August 1, 2008

FGtNAE: How to Spot and Deal with One, Part 3

The Humathologist’s Guide to Dealing with a North American Evangelist in the Wild

9. Dr. Offendo

Distinct Markings: placards, three piece suits, righteous indignation, cameras

Distinct Calls: “This does not please god!”

Habitat: anywhere there is a grave injustice being done to god or god’s people and a camera crew…

Habits: Dr. Offendo is basically Mr. Megaphone, but with an advanced degree in media savvy. Rather than a slouching slob hurling poorly thought out epithets in to a handheld device and being ignored by random passers-by, Dr. Offendo is a polished, well coiffed individual who for some reason has managed to get him- or herself regarded in the media as an expert on all things religious. Or, for a lower level Dr. Offendo (possibly a “Grad Student Offendo” or a “Preparing to Defend a Dissertation Offendo”), YouTube is the place and they’ve created a collection of long-winded videos with fifteen page comment threads filled with random, partially illiterate ad hominem attacks against people with names like “goddude45” and “sciencemaster.”

Either way, Dr. Offendo doesn’t like the way things are going. Whether its abortion, pornography, or the way that people keep insisting that evolution is “scientifically accurate” and Intelligent Design “isn’t,” Dr. Offendo is pissed and you need to listen. Because, in case you were wondering, religion is mostly supposed to be about who can be more loudly and publicly indignant that the world isn’t being run according to their ideals.

If Dr. Offendo could get away with wearing a cape over his or her impeccably chosen wardrobe and spout off a nonsense catch phrase before entering a room and laying a verbal beating on some evil, scheming heathen, he or she would. Dr. Offendo would also refer to Dr. Offendo in the third person if it were socially acceptable, just so that everyone knows it was Dr. Offendo who arrived to save the day. Dr. Offendo also wants you to know Dr. Offendo’s name so that you can be sure to thank Dr. Offendo and Dr. Offendo can humbly deflect all attention in the general direction of that god fellow who’s the real power behind Dr. Offendo’s general awesomeness.

What to do when Encountering: The easiest thing to do when encountering Dr. Offendo is to turn off the TV. Chances are that’s where you’re seeing the good doctor, as he or she would not deign to be in the presence of anyone who could possibly damage his or her reputation (with the exception of hookers and drug dealers). Should you be running in to Grad Student Offendo’s crappy YouTube videos, just click on the related links about teenagers skateboarding in to things. You’ll be much happier.

If you actually run in to Dr. Offendo in the wild, chances are that you’re gay, a porn star, or a Democrat. Either that or you happen to live in between the latest BattleCry stadium event and your town’s city hall and you’re about to get run over by their peaceful, completely non-political march on city hall. If you’re really lucky you work in said city hall’s permit office and are the target of hate mail because of your persecution of Dr. Offendo’s latest shenanigans due to your insistence that even idiotic, self-important Christians have to follow the laws of the nation and be courteous to their neighbors (but, of course, Dr. Offendo will tell you that the Christians answer to a higher authority and we all know that the Bible says absolutely nothing about having to listen to civil authorities…). If you’re in this position, um, may we suggest curling up in the fetal position and begging for death’s sweet, sweet sting? See, unlike Mr. Megaphone, Dr. Offendo rarely gives up and usually has minions who are more than willing to organize letter writing campaigns, demonstrations, and house eggings. If the fetal position thing doesn’t work for some reason, try to witness a mob hit, as you’ll get a free identity makeover courtesy of the United States government and all it will cost is your life as you know it. But, let’s be honest, Dr. Offendo has just made your life as you know it really, really shitty.

10. The Flag Waver

Distinct Markings: Flag lapel pins, flag t-shirts, flag-colored Bible covers

Distinct Calls: “We are a Christian nation!” “We are god’s chosen people!”

Habitat: pretty much anywhere.

Habits: The Flag Waver believes in neither god nor country. He or she instead believes in a mutated bastard hybrid known as god’n’country. The Flag Waver has actually managed to confuse a modern, New World nation on a continent that no one in Eurasia knew existed two thousand years ago with ancient Israel. The more learned among the Flag Waver crowd will spend their time asking important questions like, “Why is America not mentioned in the book of Revelation?” [Editor’s note: The appropriate answer to that question is, “Because you’re an idiot.” Yes, it technically doesn’t answer the question, but, hey, a stupid question doesn’t really require an on-topic answer. Also, the fact that I didn’t actually make that question up is living proof that yes, Virginia, there is such a thing as a stupid question.]

Since the Flag Waver believes in god’n’country, anyone who doesn’t believe in god thereby isn’t a patriot and should be belittled at best or executed for treason at worst. Anyone who isn’t part of the country, by default, doesn’t actually believe in god, or, at least, the right god. For the record, the Flag Waver probably hasn’t left the country or met someone who doesn’t believe in their god.

What to do when Encountering: Walk away or something. It’s certainly not worthwhile to try to reason with the Flag Waver, as reason hopped on a plane to Shangri-La long ago. Try to avoid taking any controversial stances. Avoid looking like a Muslim or having a middle name that makes you sound kind of like a terrorist or Middle Eastern dictator. If you’re lucky you won’t get waterboarded. Also, wear a flag, but probably not a bacon flag

11. The Anti-Abortion Activist (A-AA) [Editor’s note: Thanks, Fiat Lex.]

Distinct Markings: really big pictures of aborted fetuses on placards.

Distinct Calls: “Murderers!”

Habitat: street corners, “abortion clinics,” college campuses

Habits: In spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, the A-AA seems to think that holding up grisly pictures of aborted fetuses and calling random passersby--most of whom have probably never had an abortion and probably never will--murderers is a good way of making friends and influencing people. Either that or they know it will only cause “persecution” and bind the followers together. One thing’s for damn sure, it actually has very little to do with actually stopping abortion. Because, really, without abortion who would there be to demonize?

[Editor’s Note: There’s also a rarely seen close relative to the A-AA that doesn’t really deserve a separate entry. This is the Anti-Homosexuality Activist. The A-HA fully intends to march about with placards depicting scenes of hard-core man-on-man anal penetration, but he’s on the internet doing the necessary research to find the absolutely perfect picture to let everyone know just how horrible and degrading and evil that wonderful terrible, sinful activity is.]

What to do when Encountering: It’s best to react with a combination of horror and amusement. Seriously. First off, the whole thing about finding those pictures to put on placards is horrifying. I mean, what kind of sick fuck actually goes to the effort of putting together that sort of campaign? How absolutely desensitized to horrifying imagery do you have to be to assemble such a thing, probably in the presence of your own children? What kind of message is that sending? And, really, does anybody see those things and think, “Oh, what a horrible thing to do to little babies, we should stop abortion forever, I hate abortion,” or to they think, “Oh, what a horrible thing to hold up next to a public motorway, I hate those people for making me look at that?” Also, on a similar note, I have yet to see anyone wandering the streets with pictures of horribly mangled and disfigured children and a message about donating money to cleaning up land-mines in war-ravaged African nations…

The amusement, meanwhile, comes from the completely misguided nature of the protests themselves. Everyone gather around, as it’s story time.

My first close encounter with the A-AA was on a college campus. They were there with their disgusting placards and horrid literature for what seemed like a week, gathering at key intersections of foot traffic and in the places where people were most likely to pass. They were shouting up a storm at the students in their late teens and early twenties who were doing their absolutely best to ignore the horror and stupidity of the scene and get on with their daily activities. And what were these activities? Was it classes? Sports? Studying for exams? Nope, it was a five-day international missions conference for college students hosted by an international para-church organization that itself has a strong anti-abortion stance. By the time they were done I wanted to get an abortion, just to make a point.

My most recent run-in wasn’t really direct contact, but it was hilariously misguided, and made even more so by the fact that I didn’t have to see their horrid, horrid pictures. Planned Parenthood was opening a facility down in Aurora, IL (Excellent. Sorry, couldn’t resist the Wayne’s World reference). As we all know, that means only one thing: abortions. Some group decided that they were going to protest with a clever, two-front strategy.

First, they were going to gather a group and march around the site of the planned facility seven times. Y’know, like Joshua and the Battle of Jericho. If that doesn’t make any sense, it’s because you’re not looking at the situation right. See, the Battle of Jericho was in the Bible. It’s also in the Bible (somewhere, we’ve got top people working on it right now. Top people) to not commit abortion. Therefore, since both are in the Bible, you can easily juxtapose one with the other and it’s all good. Oh, and they couldn't actually get a permit to do what they wanted, so they divided in to seven groups, each of which marched around the site once. Same difference, right?

Second, they ran an anti-Planned Parenthood publicity campaign in which they claimed that they weren’t protesting PP itself. They were protesting the fact that it was being opened under false pretenses. See, some sort of property management company was the name on the lease and the name applying for the permits. By that logic, we should be marching circles around every single Taco Bell and KFC that opens. Because, see, when a new KFC opens, the permits aren’t taken out in the name of KFC, they’re taken out by the holding corporation operated by Yum! Brands, the owners of the KFC and Taco Bell brand names.

Meanwhile, at no point did the A-AAs in question actually stop to realize that their ridiculous media campaign was completely and totally undermining the entire point of their protest. If you’re going to stand up and try to stop something on moral grounds, make sure that you pick a defensible moral ground. “We’re against abortion” works. “We’re against common business practice but only choose to exercise our opinion in this one specific case” really doesn’t.

So, if there’s a lesson to be learned here, it’s that this is how you deal with an Anti-Abortion Activist who has cornered you: Throw a rock in to a nearby bush. When they distractedly turn to look at it, grab the placard out of their hand. They’ll immediately decide that you’re one of them. Carry the placard through the picket line, then, once you’ve gotten to the other side, drop it and run. Oh, and bright shiny objects and jangling keys probably work, too…


gailvortex said...

So, we were driving through Rockford one sunny afternoon. [I don't really remember why, but there we were.] And it being summer, I-90 was under construction and there were only two very narrow, jogging-back-and-forth lanes through Rockford. And some moron was driving really slowly in the right lane, so traffic was all screwed up, and crawling to get past the moron. And when it was our turn to pass the moron, it turned out to be one or more A-AAs in a van pulling a trailer, both of which were covered with huge images of aborted babies and crappily painted scrawls about murder and god's vengeance and such.

I shit you not.

Fiat Lex said...

:D Serving God by blocking traffic! It's the Americhristian way!

A-AAs are my favorites. Really. I only see them standing around Madison or Wacker near the Sears Tower on my way to and from work. It's always these middle-aged women with small, embarrassed children in tow and no doubt whatsoever in their eyes. I always have the urge to stop and talk with them, then do the math and realize that no good will come of it no matter what happens.