(repost) How Sciolism Defeats Discourse

(a repost of the original, as found on Mock, Paper, Scissors, April 7, 2007)


Sit back, grab a beer or a glass of wine, turn the lights down, put on some quiet music, and imagine with me for a moment:

Imagine a world where people of diverse ideas can discuss important topics without burning straw men. . . .a world in which our natural, innate curiosity is shared by adult members of all political and idealogical persuasions. . . .a world in which it is by no means satisfying to glance at a thing—an idea, a principle, a philosophy—and consider it known. . . .a world in which a dismissive attitude towards the things which question one’s sense of normality, emotional security, or even personality, would be a foreign concept.

Imagine a world, in other words, devoid of the vagaries of all those things which have become the hallmarks of neoconservative philosophy: hypocrisy, duplicity, intolerance, sanctimony, deceit, guile, pretense, and sciolism.

Now, take a sip of whatever that is you chose to drink for this, and bear with me, because I’m about to address something that most, if not all, of us participating in this Blog Against Theocracy have been tap-dancing around, to our collective detriment. For in our attempt to be respectful and considerate, we have left this relatively indefensible word, “theocracy”, dangling out there, ripe for the picking. After all, there is, to all perception, no overt movement to set aside the First Amendment, so when we use this word “theocracy”, it is easily dismissible by those invested with a solopsism so self-definitive that they truly do not understand the relevance of differing opinion. And as a result, our mission is undermined at the outset, victim to the sciolistic tendencies of evangelicals, who honestly believe that in cursorily perusing a few posts relating to this endeavor, they understand not only our mission, but our impetus and our history.

And I’m very sorry, but there’s really only one religion in America which attempts to suborn the separation of Church and State instead of confronting it directly. I don’t need to name it. Theirs is a facile stance for argument, you understand, because it inherently makes all counter-arguments reactionary, and our being reactionary is something the more juvenile among them take great pride in pointing out.

Another sip, if you will, because I must beg your patient indulgence in explaining this.

I know that I was very clear, when I announced on Clean Cut Kid, that I would be participating in this endeavor. I said:

I believe that this is an important endeavor to support, and please note the careful wording of the intention behind this movement. We are not anti-religious, or even necessarily predisposed against any particular relgion. [sic, sorry]

So, shortly thereafter, one of South Dakota’s most extreme voices signs on with this as rebuttal. Go ahead, click the link and read the whole thing; it’ll open in another window for you. An excerpt follows.

Oh, they included a description of what it is they’re against. It isn’t any stuff that constitutes a theocracy, but they’re apparently so repulsed even a whiff of Christian beliefs being expressed publicly or informing public policy that they’re calling it “theocracy”:

* religious discrimination (not sure what this means–disparaging those who worship government?)
* end-of-life care (i.e. kill the disabled and infirm at will)
* reproductive health decisions without legal restraint (i.e. kill your baby if it interferes with your sexual fulfillment)
* academic integrity (i.e. vehemently reject anything the Bible says, no matter how much scientific sense it makes, in favor of anything that fits an atheistic worldview, no matter how little sense it makes)
* sound science (i.e. embrace naturalism)
* respect for all families (i.e. whether they’re a family or not, let them call themselves one, because feeling good trumps all facts or truths)
* the right to worship, or not (a right guaranteed and enjoyed by all Americans, unless you are a Christian who wants to express your faith in public)

Did you catch all that in the full post? The dismissiveness, obviously barren of any investigation (let alone concern) whatsoever into whatever it is we’re talking about as “theocracy”? The deliberate rendering of an anti-theocratic stance as anti-Christian. The placating tone of one who not only firmly believes what he believes, but who is palpably unappreciative of the fact that SOMETHING might be going on in the world that could at the very least be construed as sowing the seeds of religious hegemony? And why should he be appreciative of it? If a theocratic state is eventually founded on his principles, then the right thing would obviously have been done. There are many points on which his post could be rebutted, and not the least important of those would be the fact that many of those participating in this endeavor are religious individuals. He’s got digg on his blog, so you can agree or disagree with him on your own accord.But my point here is not what or how Bob thinks. Far from it, for Bob and everyone else are quite welcome to their own thoughts. Bob is merely an example of how certain people think, or fail to think. I don’t even care that he is a devout Christian, for even more fundamental than that, Bob is a sciolist. That is, one who indulges himself in superficial knowledgability, both to his own detriment, and to ours. A rational discussion on this subject cannot actually be held with sciolists, for they do little but utter rhetoric while pretending such utterance invests them not only with holiness, but with the right to expect all others to subscribe to their belief in what is holy. Sciolists will skim over a dissenting writing, or worse yet, just hear about it, and presume that not only can they rationally refute it, but that they can also argue the dissenting point and play “devil’s advocate”.

It is in this way that our discussion of the imminent theocracy in America is immediately curtailed, for when we talk, or write, or post, we are precluded from effective communication by the very act of intentional, willful, directed ignorance—sciolism, in more succinct terms. And as long as Bob and people like him indulge themselves in this sanctimonious pretense of understanding things which they dismissively ignore and impugn, we will continue to have to operate on the same level as political extremists. And what is most aggravating about that is the fact that working to protect the First Amendment is at least philosophically as centrist as one can be.

Oh, by all means. You need another drink? No worries. I’ll wait for you. Like I said, this will take a while.

Next: the roots of sciolism ~ {cross-posted to the otherwhirled, which probably will not have unique content throughout the weekend}