There is apparently ”the talk” that black parents give to their teenaged sons and daughters where they tell them to be afraid of the cops, for good reason. There is also—thanks to National Review writer* John Derbyshire—another version of “the talk,” one where a white guy says some really, really racist, mind-poisoning shit to his kids. But there’s also a third version of “the talk,” one that white, socially liberal parents give their children on both coasts of the strange place known as America. It’s remained secret for a long time, but since Derbyshire decided to post his “talk” for all the world to see, I thought I’d match him and share the “talk” that my (white, socially liberal) parents gave me, and a version of which I will no doubt give my children (if I have any—us socially liberal folks don’t breed so much). Here’s how it goes:
1. There are a lot—I mean, a LOT—of folks out there in America who identify as “conservative,” and I will refer to them as conservative. Most are white and evangelical Christian; many are old and (thank goodness!) dying out. But there are still a lot of them, most of them in the Republican party.
2. You will encounter these people, America being a free and open society. You will probably be working at a non-profit, a coffee shop, a bike store, or in the media, and as such you won’t have much reason to meet such people (thank the good Lord, who doesn’t exist), but you will occasionally run into them. They are entitled to the same rights and responsibilities as you or I or any other citizen and should be treated with respect—except when they shouldn’t be. I’ll get to that in a second.
3. As with any large population, there is great variation among conservatives—they come fat, thin, short, tall, smart, dumb, introverted, extroverted, honest, crooked, athletic, sedentary, fastidious, sloppy, amiable, and obnoxious, but mostly fat, dumb, and crooked.
4. But as you meet more of them, the Law of Large Numbers will kick in and you will observe that the averages of many traits are very different for conservatives as they are for liberals.
5. For starters, the average conservative doesn’t believe in science. They let their bigoted feelings run wild—not all of them are racists like Derbyshire, but many harbor deep-seated hatreds of gay people, who they don’t think should get married. And, of course, they have insane attitudes regarding perfectly reasonable, healthy parts of human existence like birth control, drugs, and porn.
6. Because their views are so far outside the mainstream, oftentimes conservatives must get their news and information from sources that deliberately mislead them: Fox News, talk radio, and even their own version of WIkipeida. You and I may find their casual distortions of facts infuriating, or even amusing—in fact, we may go to Conservapedia to edit articles just for the lolz—but they see these institutions as pillars of objective journalism, like NPR or the New York Times. Crazy, I know.
7. Conservatives feel very hostile towards us. It’s hard for them to empathize with us, just as it’s hard for us to empathize with them (they are batshit, after all). But this hostility only magnifies the differences between us and them, and since they already aren’t any good at controlling their emotions, well, I don’t have to tell you where this is going since you aren’t a conservative.
8. A small cohort of conservatives—in my experience, around five percent—is ferociously hostile towards liberals and will go to great lengths to inconvenience or harm us. A much larger cohort of conservatives—around half—will go along passively if the five percent take leadership in some event. They will do this out of political solidarity, the natural willingness of most human beings to be led, and a vague feeling that liberals have it coming. So you should try to use statistical common sense and:
(8a) Avoid concentrations of conservatives not all known to you personally.
(8b) Stay out of heavily conservative neighborhoods, like gated communities (you’ve been following the Trayvon Martin case so I know you know how dangerous those places are).
(8c) Do not attend events likely to draw a lot of conservatives, like Glenn Beck rallies or anything involving churches.
(8d) If you are at some public event at which the number of conservatives suddenly swells, leave as quickly as possible. Trust me.
(8e) Do not settle in a district or municipality run by conservative politicians.
(8f) Before voting for a conservative politician, scrutinize his/her character much more carefully than you would a liberal—or just be safe and never vote for a Republican
(8g) Do not act the Good Samaritan to conservatives in apparent distress, e.g., on the highway. Why? Fuck ‘em, that’s why.
(8h) If accosted by a strange conservative in the street, smile and say something polite but keep moving.
9. There are some intelligent conservatives out there—I know, I’ve met them—but mostly, they call themselves libertarians these days. The ones who are prejudiced, like Derbyshrie, simply have lower IQs. Therefore, it isn’t usually helpful to engage them in debate. Be polite to them—always watch their hands, though!—and keep your interactions brief. You can always mock them behind their backs.
*Stay tuned! He may not write for them much longer!