Wednesday, December 21, 2005

This Proves Something Conservative!

This nation faces only one truly unprecedented problem
and it has to do with our leisure time. On the one hand,
we’ve reached the point where we can expect great stret-
ches of it, while, on the other, most of us don’t really like
to do anything. So we’re forced to fill these gaping holes
in the day with activities that merely pass the time, that
kill the empty hours without ever becoming thrilling, en-
lightening, or even really edifying: watching television,
buying things, drinking to excess, and feasting on onion
blossoms and mayonnaise-drenched bits of hog flesh.

I’m not saying this to be disparaging. I enjoy the same sorts
of pursuits and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with them.
However, I recognize that a culture with such a sedentary set
of hobbies is prone to sudden, inexplicable fancies. If we’re
hopelessly dull, we don’t let it interfere with our love of
novelty. This is a country always on the lookout for new
ways to be bored. Think of it: the Rubik’s cube, Friends,
Sudoko, Quaaludes, X-Box, Texas Hold ‘Em, etc., etc., etc.
We have endless ways to get through the languors in our day,
but there is always room for more. Recently, in fact, a small
band of noisy, resentful people have invented a brand new
diversion to take even more of the edge off our already well-
sanded lives. It’s called the “This Proves Something Conser-
vative!” game.

Currently, only the cognoscenti play it. You have to know
about certain sites deep in the sewers of the internet to watch
it being done. Either that, or you must listen to talk radio.
Sure, more and more, it’s creeping up into mainstream
editorials and news channel talking-head shows, but it
remains largely a cult phenomenon. I don’t see why this
has to be so. With a little push, it could become a nationwide
pastime on the level of Mad-Libs. The rules are easy to learn,
after all, and the fun to be had is unlimited. Here’s what you
need to do:

1) Find a news item.

2) Describe, with as much passion and venom as you can
muster, exactly why this item corroborates some point of
right-wing ideology.

Some players may choose to reward extra points for truly
awe-inspiring displays of chest-thumping moral outrage or
especially-impressive intellectual dishonesty, but this isn’t
required. I do, however, think that the game is more fun
when bonuses are granted for attempting to wring conser-
vative “wisdom” out of more challenging subject matter.
This will always be subjective, of course, but I can’t see why
a player unwilling to tackle anything other than articles about
Barbra Streisand should be considered as skilled as one willing
to find the true soul of conservatism in feature stories on
Jessica Simpson, exposes about overcrowded chicken farms,
and cover articles from Cat Fancy magazine. In others, there
should be a difficulty quotient. Let me explain what I mean:

Tier One–“Softballs” (0-5 points)

These are the news articles that even the laziest conservative
can churn out fifteen thousand angry words about. They
typically concern some subject that most right-wingers have
a strong knee-jerk aversion to. Howard Dean, Nancy Pelosi,
Nadine Strossen, Hilary Clinton, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter,
John Murtha, Cindy Sheehan, Jacques Chiraq, Kofi Annan,
and Sean Penn are some of the figures who appear regularly
in this category. There is a basic, easy-to-learn script about
these characters and most accomplished Conservatism
Provers have internalized it to the point where they don’t
have to explain why these people are bad anymore, they
just cite the right-wing consensus as though it was evidence.
The same can be said for softball subjects–war, anti-war
protests, anti-war protestors, the ACLU, the Patriot Act,
patriotism, Republicans, Democrats, Europeans, Middle
Easterners, the economy, the culture, our history and our
future–there is a well-established, tried-and-true script
for all of these and to Prove Conservatism from them all
you must do is apply it. You need little creativity and
even less flair. For this reason, this sort of material might
be good for beginners or bloggers, but the real heavy-hitting,
innovative game-playing is being done at more rarified levels.
The following article is a good example of a softball:

Gang-bangers, celebrities mourn Crips founder

Now I realize that some of you might consider it bad
taste to pick on someone’s memorial service. If this
is the case, you clearly aren’t ready to Prove Conser-
vatism! What is important to a true-blue Conservatism
Prover isn’t taste, tact, or common decency. No, no:
the game is the thing, everything else falls into place
somewhere far behind. Mocking funerals, calling
decorated veterans cowards, japing at the misfortunes
of your opponents–all this is encouraged if a few points
can be scored from it.

Any committed player can’t help but salivate at all the
red meat in this article: Jesse Jackson, Hollywood cele-
brities, a callous mass murderer being remembered fondly.
There is so much room for righteous grandstanding that it’s
hard to know where to get up on it. I myself would start
with Al Birdsong’s unfortunate comments:

“He’s no different from any other human being. We
all made mistakes.”

Uh-oh. When faced with statements like these, a person
dedicated to the Proof of Conservatism can do only one
thing: hold them up as an example of what all liberals
everywhere are thinking. To score full points on this
challenge, I must blithely suggest that everyone to the
\left of John McCain feels that cold-blooded killers are
“no different from any other human being” and should
be considered just poor souls who have “made mistakes”.
This, however, would only whet my appetite for cheap
potshots. Soon, I would turn my sights on the even less-
coherent Rick Hayes:

“...what can a black man do, what can he do in society,
to get another chance at life?”

This would stir me to florid Limbaughisms, in which I
would patronizingly state the obvious in order to sneak
by something dubious. “Oh, well, Mr. Hayes, someone
might begin by not gunning down four innocent people...”
I would pronounce, all omniscience and ego, and from
there we’re just a hop, skip, and a jump away from
Proving that, since some guy at some funeral said
something dumb once, liberalism is a morally-bankrupt
philosophy, not to mention a vile stain on the fabric of

You may note that there seems to be a few steps miss-
ing in that formulation. That’s the wonder of Proving
Conservatism–you don’t have to be strictly Socratic.
Once you’ve found something absurd, obnoxious, or
dim, you’re most of the way there. All you have to do
then is blame it on “liberalism”, which is really simple
since the term itself has been pre-defined to mean that
which is absurd, obnoxious, or dim. Noting yet another
way that liberals and liberalism are asinine is the most
basic form of Proving Conservatism. The assumption
is that liberals are lying idiots, therefore conservatives
are smart people with unshakeable integrity. This may
not hold in the real world, but if you’re one of those sick-
ening truth fetishists, this hobby likely isn’t for you.

Tier Two–“Tongue Twisters” (5-25 points)

As pleasurable and gratifying as blaming liberalism for
every ill-advised comment is, one cannot stay at this
simple level forever (well, actually, certain people can,
but I’m feeling enough of the holiday spirit not to name
names). Any player with ambition is impatient to pro-
gress to the next level, a level where the Proving of
Conservatism is a much more tortured process. Here
we must bravely leave behind our safe, certain form-
ulations and take that chilling leap into the land of Just
Making Shit Up. This article will serve nicely to illus-
trate how this is done:

Blair Turns on EU Critics

The difficulty here is in the glaring contradiction a good
Conservative Prover must resolve in order to restore
harmony to his or her world. In the accepted schema,
the European Union is a bad thing, yet Tony Blair is a
good thing. The former is creeping global socialism and
a bunch of funny-speaking bureaucrats getting together
to gossip unkindly about the Bush administration, while
the latter is our stalwart ally in the War on Terror. What,
then, to do when a good thing goes and advocates a bad
thing? Do you sink your fangs into Blair’s pasty neck and
risk opening yourself up to charges of being a defeatist
weakling who doesn’t care about the very future of
Western Civilization? Or do you abstain from your
solemn duty to bash the EU and chance turning yourself
into yet another apologist for leftist one-world government
types? These aren’t very good options, I’m afraid. Yet
you also must resist the temptation to try and sail be-
tween this Scylla and Charybdis. Crafting your argument
too finely will only undercut your position. Subtlety is a
losing move in this game. Nothing conservative has ever
been Proven by being delicate. Boldness is what is called
for, boldness and a willingness to ignore what needs to be

This is why the proper way to play the game here is to
saddle up your rhetorical high-horse and thunder at
length about how Blair, like Bush, is a man of grand ideas
who is being mercilessly picked apart by small-minded,
politically-motivated enemies. You must elide all that
uncomfortable business and construct some sort of Ayn
Randian superman saga where the noble visionary is
assailed at eery turn by the petty demands of lesser
beings. Don’t worry about seeming like some sort of
occult Francophile–gratuitously insult the French a
couple of times and you’ll clear up this charge. Throw
in some stray phrases about how the prime minister
has been galvanized by Bush’s courage and you’re
golden. You’ve made no sense and the implications
of your argument might actually contradict the very
things you say you believe, but that’s one of the glorious
secrets of the game. It’s the noise that’s important, it’s
the posturing and the shit-flinging. Many of the Conser-
vatism’s greatest Provers, in their spare time, can be
found in wilderness preserves, watching what the mon-
keys do. A monkey is under no obligation to fling their
shit consistently. A monkey does not bother to study
the implications of where their shit lands. That is the
beauty of being a monkey.

At some levels, “This Proves Something Conservative!”
seems like an intricate dance, while at others it is more like
a monster orgy at Devil’s Island. True players embrace this
aspect of the game. With this in mind, they stride proudly
into the sport’s final proving grounds.

Tier Three–“The Twilight Zone” (25-5000 points)

You think you’re the slickest thing ever to get a three-hour
talk radio slot? Oh yeah, you’ve got the ideology down cold,
you can find Proof of Conservatism where even George Will
wouldn’t dare to look for it. You’re like that obnoxious kid
in sixth grade who could find Waldo in five seconds flat and
couldn’t resist pointing him out to all the other, slower kids
who were still squinting at the picture. You’re smug about
it, although you’re smart enough to mask it behind sly self-
deprecation and a tissue-thin concern for your fellow man.
You’re no empty-headed talking-points generator. No, sir.
You’re an intellectual. You know, you just know, that conser-
vatism is the most common element in the universe, found
in abundance everywhere. Well, then, perhaps you ought
to go truffle-hunting for some ideological points in this

Moose Captured After Son Plays Saxophone

Not so easy, is it slugger? Read it again if you have to.
Is anything coming to you? Sure, perhaps you want to
pounce on that game officer and his nanny-statish con-
cern for the public’s safety, but that’s a sucker’s move,
a mistake a rank amateur might make. You don’t want
to be put in the position of taking a strong stand against
the public safety, do you? Of course you don’t. You
consider yourself a solemn protector of the public’s
safety. I mean, that’s why we need all those wiretaps
and secret prisons and “coercion” techniques, right?
You could evade all these quibbles and try to hypo-
crite your way out of it by deriding this guy’s politically-
correct moose-coddling, but that won’t satisfy the great
longing within you to be Right, will it? You’ve got bigger
fish to fry than some game warden, after all.

Therefore you must turn the tables. You must play the
trump card in every Conservative deck: the elites-are-
being-mean move. You will present these people as proud,
honest, hard-working red staters. You will point out that
the boy’s baritone sax playing proves that “the arts” aren’t
completely neglected in the flyover parts of the country.
You will talk about the spirit of cooperation and good-humor
that the citizenry of Sioux Falls embodies, so unlike the
effete, smothering atmosphere you find hanging heavy
over the country’s coasts and cultural centers. And then,
because “This Proves Something Conservative!” cannot be
accomplished without an attack, you will begin to sputter
angrily about how liberals in their twee enclaves belittle
and mock these simple people. “Oh! A moose, how quaint!”
Zelda and Biff Liberal are saying in their austere modern
home somewhere in Boston, “Look how the savages are
dealing with their moose problem!” And then they chuckle
softly, drink some more wine, and go out to see a play where
people stuff American flags up their bungholes. Because no
liberal anywhere has ever seen a moose. No, all they see is
foreign films and the backs of their comrades’ heads at the
weekly Bush-effigy-burning rally. Your thesis, then, must
be that the people in the article are gentle, noble Moose-
fearing people, whereas other people not in the article are
callous, snide Moose-fearing-people-haters who wear
berets and periodically enjoy gay sex.

It’s not pretty, but it’s what you have to do to win the