>> Friday, October 31, 2008

The news this morning is that Kay Hagan, the Democrat contending for Elizabeth Dole's Senate seat, is suing Dole for libel over Dole's insane "godless" ad, which accuses Hagan of being an atheist and accepting money from atheists.

This would almost have me regretting my vote for Hagan on the first day of early voting, if it weren't for the fact that that fucking crypto-carpetbagger's desperate resort to outright obvious lies is so much more heinous than Hagan's contention that being called an atheist defames her, that one wishes there were some kind of criminal electoral fraud Dole could be prosecuted for. (No, I'm being serious and not hyperbolic: the Dole ad is far above and beyond the ususal little lies politicians, including Senators Obama and McCain, engage in--the ad goes so far to use a woman's voice saying, "There is no god" in a manner and context that suggests it's Hagan saying it. It's not, though the voice is just similar enough that one who hadn't heard Hagan's voice very often might think so or assume so. That's a whole new layer of deception that goes beyond merely quoting your opponent out of context or misrepresenting his position on a complicated issue.)

I've been an atheist since junior high school. It wasn't an easy position to arrive at, frankly, and there was quite a lot of what is generally described as "soul-searching." I spent a good bit of time--possibly wasted--thinking and pondering and researching and navel-gazing and reading sacred texts and so on and so forth. Fox Mulder's "I want to believe" could have been a motto for me for a good chunk of my teenage years.

So now there's something wrong with my money? There's something tainted about my vote? I've spent my professional career serving other people for low pay and little respect and there's something wrong with my morals?

This isn't new. I didn't want to write about it all that much, frankly, because I'm used to it. Okay, it's also pissing me off. I'm used to it and it's still pissing me off. President George Bush--the elder Bush, not Bush The Lesser--once said he wasn't sure atheists were citizens. You pretty much can't get elected to a major office without going to a church (and the right church, mind you), and people look at you funny when you affirm instead of swearing an oath on a little black book, and I live in a state where it sometimes seems like more cars have little silver fish attachments on their bumpers than valid license plates. You sit out in the cold long enough, you get used to it.

I think part of what's drilling a spike through my ear on this one, though, isn't just that the senator from Kansas pulled this shit, which is typical, but the reaction. Hagan suing. The Charlotte Observer's editorial reaction calling Dole out for attacking the "Christian woman" and citing Hagan's religious life and accomplishments. (The latter being something that, frankly speaking, I have to overlook in most candidates I vote for, choosing not to hold their belief in the supernatural against them.) Where, dammit, is an ecumenical Colin Powell when you need him to point out that Hagan could be a freaking Satanist and it wouldn't necessarily have any bearing on either her fitness as a prospective Senator or her relative superiority (if any1) to the incumbent.

Writing a footnote has cheered me up, actually, and I'm not nearly as angry as I was. So this post has achieved its desired effect on my end. For those readers looking for any kind of closure, I'll conclude merely by saying Ms. Dole can kiss my godless ass, and so can anybody else whose constipated knowledge of history and stunted sense of self thinks that every single voter, contributor, candidate, and/or elected official has to believe in the same magic spirit they do.

1I have to confess that I know little of Ms. Hagan other than that she's a church elder, something I actually don't really care about and learned this week after already voting for her. However, I do know something about Elizabeth Dole: that she's spent most of her adult life outside North Carolina (even while ostensibly representing the state), has consistently voted against my interests, and (perhaps thankfully, in light of the previous point) has taken next-to-no leadership role since her election as Jesse Helms' replacement. In short, Ms. Hagan could be a talking dog, or for that matter even an ordinary dog--perhaps an ordinary dog suffering from some kind of mental disability, even--and be a more fit candidate to represent North Carolina in the U.S. Senate than Senator Dole (I resisted the temptation to put the word "Senator" in quotes). Should it be announced at some point in the future that Ms. Hagan lives in a box and wears a tinfoil hat to keep the "ooky-spookies" from eating her brains at night and believes that only foods with names starting with the letter "d" are non-toxic, I believe my chief question-in-response would be, "Okay, but is the box located in North Carolina?"


Janiece Murphy Friday, October 31, 2008 at 11:31:00 AM EDT  

I saw this, too. And it pissed me off, same as you.

It reminds me of a string of e:mails that went around my company after our CEO resigned for reasons of health (everyone assumed he had been diagnosed with cancer, but I don't know).

They all said the same thing - "the best thing we can do now is pray."

Really? I thought the best thing we could do is, say, fund cancer research. Or provide health care for people who have cancer and can't afford treatment (unlike my former CEO). Or offer to babysit the family's children while mom took dad to the hospital for treatment.

This is the one area where I really do feel marginalized, in spite of all of my unearned privilege.

Great. Now I need to go rant on my own blog. Thanks for the high blood pressure, Eric.

Carol Elaine Friday, October 31, 2008 at 12:12:00 PM EDT  

I heard the ad and Hagan's response on NPR this morning and was ticked off by both women.

I'm not an atheist, or even an agnostic (I consider myself to be spiritual, but not at all Christian - I don't believe in organized religion), but it genuinely pisses me off that religion is a prerequisite for holding office. I am a FIRM believer in the separation of church and state and I hate that some of the finest people I know would never be elected to any office (should they ever decide to run) because they're atheists. I don't give a fuck if the candidate worships twist ties and has an alter in his/her garage. Can the candidate do the job? Can the candidate make the lives of prospective constituents better? That's what's most important to me.

(Though I will admit that a $cientologist candidate would give me pause. But that's because I have a seething hatred for over-litigious cults.)

Random Michelle K Friday, October 31, 2008 at 12:24:00 PM EDT  

OK. But.

I think the larger issue here is that Dole basically lied. Period.

She chose something she believed would make her opponent look bad to her constituents and jumped into the deep end of the pool without her water wings.

I think the point about it being religion is immaterial to Hagan's case. She could have said she was a communist, or a socialist (like McCain is attempting to tar Obama with), or polyamorous, or we could go back in time and call her a German.

There is nothing inherently wrong with being any of those things. What we have is the perception of those things being bad.

Yes, it is a bad thing that the term atheist can be used as an insult.

But that is separate with Hagan being upset that someone lied about her--lied about something that is an important part of her life.

Well all have self-identifications that we value, that would upset us if those identities were denied.

If someone called me a "sorority girl" at any point in my life, I would have been highly insulted, but I'd take "punk" as a compliment.

What I'm trying to say here is that I think Hagan is justified in her actions against Dole, not because Dole called her godless, but because Dole lied about something that is an essential part of who Hagan is.

MWT Friday, October 31, 2008 at 7:02:00 PM EDT  

Sounds not unlike the

"Obama's an Arab!"

"No, he's a perfectly good family man!"


vince Friday, October 31, 2008 at 11:43:00 PM EDT  

I have found that there are far too many people who profess to be Christians who wouldn't know what morality actually was unless it bit them in the ass. Most of these same people have a lot of money or are politicians or televangelists.

It's like the parable of the Good Samaritan. All the "good religious" people walked right by the mugged guy. But the "evil, lower than dirt" Samaritan actually helped the guy.

Hey, I can be a Christian and cynical at the same time.

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