Thursday, June 14, 2007

Rednecks And Bluenecks

A term of disparagement, usually implying ignorant, narrow-mindedness is “redneck.” Often, people who fancy themselves “progressive,” rather than disputing them, scorn and scoff at “rednecks” or “redneck ways of thinking.” An online dictionary definition: Unabridged (v 1.1) - Cite This Source

red·neck /ˈrɛdˌnɛk/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[red-nek] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation Informal: Often Disparaging.



an uneducated white farm laborer, esp. from the South.


a bigot or reactionary, esp. from the rural working class.



Also, red-necked. narrow, prejudiced, or reactionary: a redneck attitude.

The “progressive” people I speak of are often imagined to be the opponents of bigotry and the concomitant hatred. But observing either television or worse, online discussions, bigotry and hatred is exactly what you see them expressing. They demonstrate hatred against political opposition, and bigotry toward people of a different philosophy: usually Christians. Christianity is what they consider the “oppressive majority” religion in America, unlike other faiths.

The adversary will be talked about as though uneducated, as in the 1st definition, regardless of the actual relative education of the subject and the object of the discussion, in history, science, or whatever is relevant to the topic. If you haven’t seen more than enough of it on television, I invite you to explore the liberal blogosphere and observe the purely visceral disparagement and ad hominem abuse. A precise definition of “ad hominem”:

American Heritage New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition - Cite This Source
ad hominem [(ad hom-uh-nem, ad hom-uh-nuhm)]

A Latin expression meaning “to the man.” An ad hominem argument is one that relies on personal attacks rather than reason or substance.

See if you can describe these criticisms as anything other than the bigotry of the 2nd definition. As for the 3rd definition, that this behavior is “narrow” and “prejudiced” is…well, a no-brainer. It doesn’t anger me, anymore. However uninformed or inexperienced these critics may be, I believe they are genuine about their feeling, which you at least have to appreciate. But then again, so are “rednecks.”

Now, neither side of these discussions is always hateful and mean, though some plainly are. Those who are angry and hateful, of course get all of the attention. But, it would be decent to confine using the pejorative sense of the term “redneck,” to that hateful slice of one perspective, but not to mere philosophical foreigners. Yes, of course there are such hateful and mean people. But, that is endemic not to geography or philosophy, but rather to human nature, itself. After watching the corresponding animosity on the other side, and given the cultural connotation of “redneck,” I thought that we might call their similarly hateful counterparts, “bluenecks.” Rednecks and bluenecks both react emotionally to a contradiction to their training.

As an example, the visceral disparagement was great when some candidates at the Republican debate indicated that they did not believe in evolution, which we can assume specifically meant that they didn’t believe that an unguided series of random mutations across species is the ultimate explanation of all of life on earth. Sure, there are very literate people who believe that. But, the scoffing and guffawing that took place in public discussions was conducted by empiricist acolytes who knew little or nothing of what they were talking about. Heck, I’m not a scientist. But, I don’t believe evolution explains all of life, and I clearly know more of the literature on both sides of the debate than did these bleacher-sitting hecklers. I could make their arguments far better than they could. The point is not to compare and evaluate educations. The point is to highlight an irresponsible and ungracious lack of modesty. As I am well aware that many educated people make an evolutionist confession, they should be well-aware that many educated people do not. But, no: The sneering people who participated in such crude supercilious parties disdained dissenters as “ignorant of science,” “small-minded,” “stupid,” or…”redneck.” These mindless scoffers are “bluenecks.”

Similarly today, many of the same sort of people who know only the gospel of philosophically segregationist textbooks, Time and Newsweek magazines, and a myopic popular television culture, scorn in a similar way those who question the dogma of “global warming.” No matter the education or occupation of dissenters, they are dismissed as biased by philosophical, political, or financial interests. There is no basis for rational conversation. “There’s no debate?” There is educated and credentialed information all over the web on both sides of the matter. This highlights a perspective that is philosophically blinkered: a “religious” faith. Renecks and bluenecks should both work on inspecting the conclusions of others from within the context of their given assumptions. They should learn the perspective of their philosophical strangers

The “blueneck” expressions I’m speaking of are plainly ill-informed and reactionary, to use a term they often use, themselves. The difference in this case is only in the people to whom the term is applied, not in the animus and nature of the charge. I’m talking about people who react emotionally and judgmentally from the relative ignorance of a cultural dogma: a naked provincialism, if you will, rather than from knowledge and experience.

My point is not to disparage them. What good does it do to disparage people for ignorance of your own experience? None, at all. In fact, it quite more reliably serves the contrary purpose of steeling their resentment and resolve. And, I’m not saying that the other side or either side is necessarily the consequence of stupidity. Academic knowledge is no rescue from either perspective. I’m reading Christopher Hitchens’ “god Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.” Hitchens sees all manifestations of worship of a transcendent reality as fanciful delusion. And he is manifestly not stupid or uneducated. He is rhetorically erudite and exceptionally studied in history and literature. Unfortunately, he is deprived in terms of experience and awareness of God, the very subject of his book, whose confessors are the target of his derision.

That is the point: It is the rare individual who is philosophically moved by argument. In fact, while I believe it to reflect an accurate judgment, someone who adopts a belief in God merely on the basis of information and argument does not experience and understand the essence of what it is to know God. I have compared arguing this point to trying to convince a foreign government that you are married, without the sort of documentation that they recognize. A description of your relationship will carry more weight than stories of your wedding and travels. What a doubter of God needs to judge is not the soundness of an argument, but the savor of the character of God, whether by direct intervention or the example of a transformed life. This essential factor is often missing in not just those who viscerally react, but also in the conduct of genuine debate. God does not judge the exactness of confession or the exercise of debate. Of course, we would all fail such a test. You have only been of use in engaging another when you have submitted yourself as an instrument of God’s character.

On a social level, my point is that neither side serves a productive purpose while they confine themselves to the solace and affirmation of like-minded people. Quite the opposite of spurning and sniggering at rival viewpoints, we should work together on advancing the liberty, charity, and human brotherhood that all should approve. When someone rejects that, that is their problem. When we offer only animosity in the absence of that, that is ours.

Larry Perrault

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