The Attack of the Smugnorant

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At the Cranky Conservative I coined a term: “smugnorant.” As I wrote:

[Stephen] Colbert and his former partner in crime at Comedy Central, Jon Stewart, represent some of the very worst aspects of our culture. They are the heroes of people whom I would designate as smugnorant – the noxious combination of smug and ignorant. They’re the types of people who will take to social media to decry those illiterate yokels in the hinterlands while displaying a keen lack of any depth of understanding of who their “opponents” are or what drives them as well as a deeply flawed (if that) grasp of American history. For years these two have taken to the airwaves to peddle a brand of humor based on ironic detachment and one-line snark meant to demonstrate the utter foolishness of the other side. They are the forerunners of generation meme, who think one-line slogans slapped onto funny pictures are genius insights that can shut down any argument. It’s the bumper sticker mentality given a new face in the information age.

I’ve been fortunate to come across a blog post that has plenty of smugnorance in both the main post and the comments. It comes from the Friendly Atheist over at Patheos – yes, I know you will be shocked that there could be any smugnorance over at Patheos (apologies to David Griffey, who is a rare voice of reason over there). The blogger Hemant Mehta wrote of an “illegal” Ten Commandments display the state of Arkansas is about to place on the grounds of the capitol. I’ll just gloss over Mehta’s seeming inability to distinguish the concepts of illegality and unconstitutionality to highlight this comment:

After all, the government is forbidden from promoting Christianity, which is all this monument would be doing.

This is the kind of sentence that almost literally gives me a headache because there’s just so much to unpack. I suppose he is referring to the establishment clause of the first amendment to the constitution, which does not mention anything resembling a ban on “promoting” a religion (not to mention that Christianity in and of itself is not a religion, but a group of religions, often with conflicting creeds). The erection of a monument does not establish any state religion. It does not signify material aid to any religion, which is generally what concerned the framers of the amendment as well as similar documents such as the Virginia statute for religious liberty. But I’ll again gloss over this constitutional conundrum to focus on this:

promoting Christianity, which is all this monument would be doing

So a monument to the Ten Commandments, or as Jewish people might refer to it, the Aseret ha-Dibrot, first written down in the Torah in the book of Exodus, which otherwise commemorates the Hebrew people’s flight from Egypt, surely only promotes Christianity. There just ain’t no other religious group who might be interested in this monument? There’s just no other religion that holds this set of commands in esteem? I mean I’m racking my brain, but there’s just got to be some other group or religion being, ahem, promoted here.

Now to be fair the post itself primarily evidences only one-half of the smugnorant combo. Have no fear though, we’re talking about Patheos, and thus there are always the comments. And we dive right into the very first comment, one which received no less than 13 upvotes:

Does it include the Commandment about not worshiping graven images?

Is it protected from irony chariots?

Does it explain why so many of the Commandments would be unconstitutional if made into laws in America?

Will they include the examples of bearing false witness that will be necessary to approve the idol of the words of the Gods?

There must be nothing quite like the pride someone like “Rogue Medic” feels when he/she/it/cis/cer slaps out an irrefutable jumble of logic like this one which completely eviscerates the other side’s point of view. Well, only if you disregard the fact that nobody is worshiping a graven image in this scenario, the “irony chariots” comment is just word vomit, the idea that commandments would be unconstitutional is a non sequitur if we’re being generous. and the stuff about bearing false witness is just logically incoherent. Other than that, it’s the sort of stuff Edmund Burke, John Locke, FA Hayak and countless other philosophers throughout history can only dreamed to have written.

Or how about this true monument to detached irony written by truth warrior ORAXX:

I would be astonished if they [conservative Christians] ever read any part of the Constitution other than the Second Amendment. They certainly don’t understand that document in any kind of a historical perspective. The commandments, probably, because they can be read in less than a minute, and that is more in keeping with their attention spans.

Yes, that’s right, there’s nothing like dissing the cumulative intelligence of an entirely diffeent group of people while commenting on a post that confuses “illegal” and “unconstitutional” and doesn’t seem to grasp that people other than Christians might be appreciative of a Ten Commandments display. Hooray for hipster irony, just not in the way the poster intended.

I’ll spare you further brain damage by posting more comments, including the long thread about gun owners and how totally stoooooopid they all are. You can read them for yourself, if you’re so inclined. There is absolutely nothing in the comments that betrays even a hint of understanding of what conservatives and/or Christians truly believe, or truly grapples with the constitutional issues of a Ten Commandments display on state capitol grounds. But we have an awful lot of smug jokes about how dumb the other side is. Yep, those yokels in hill country are just bubble-dwelling idiots with no comprehension of history, the constitution, the true words of the Bible, and logic. Yep, it’s those “others” who are just plain ignorant.

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14 Comments

  1. “But the best of all is to let him read no science but to give him a grand general idea that he knows it all and that everything he happens to have picked up in casual talk and reading is “the results of modem investigation”.”

    CS Lewis, Screwtape Letters

    Ignorance and arrogance is a particularly nauseating combination.

  2. The tragedy is that they vote.
    .
    Welcome to the Idiocracy: a maelstrom of infallible ignorance and extreme allergies to the facts. Call a whambulance!

  3. Smugnorance seems to be, with damned few exceptions, the requisite virtue over at Patheticos. But Patheticos is a mere symptom of a more severe problem not only in the. Catholic blogosphere, but in Catholic media overall.

  4. The propaganda of the modern culture is strong. The secret is to not make it overt, but just have it so every time a religious or conservative person is on screen, they’re evil at worst, just wretched at best and make it clear that the “good ones” are the exception, not the rule.

    Do it long enough, and the impression sticks to the mind even with the most truth-obsessed individual.

  5. The innate sovereign personhood of the human being institutes government. The state capital and Arkansas belong to the taxpayers as all public land and waterways do in joint and common tenancy.
    Government that acts to own its constituents is totalitarian.
    People choose for themselves what their relationship will be with the truth and true God. Government does not choose for it constituents, how the citizens will respond to the gift of Faith from “their Creator.”…from THE UNANIMOUS DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE OF THE UNITED STATES, ratified by every state.
    Any violation of our FOUNDING PRINCIPLES is a miscarriage of Justice.
    Whereas the atheist, as a person, must be tolerated until he becomes a death bed convert, atheism is unconstitutional. Atheism is antithetical to The First Amendment and obliterates, abrogates and annihilates all of the human beings’ innate, God–given unalienable human rights. Innate human rights become the constituents’ civil rights. This does not change the sovereign person. This changes the government instituted by the citizen. “The rights the state gives, the state can take away” Thomas Jefferson
    Perhaps The Second Amendment is the only amendment the smugnorant comprehend sufficiently to fear. So be it.

  6. The reference to Jon Stewart reminded me of a question I have had for a long time.

    I have watched a good deal of Stewart’s Daily Show. And I have read many criticisms of him. That he is smug. That he is hypocritical in where he directs his fire. His line about being just a comedian. I once saw a video where Bill Whittle of PJ Media challenged Jon on the facts regarding Hiroshima. And stories of him being rude to people.

    Yet, when it comes to his shtick of playing clips of conservative politicians and Fox News pundits, and then going back through the record to accuse them of being hypocrites, I don’t think I have ever seen one of his targets respond by saying “this is why I am not a hypocrite on this topic”. I know Hannity did a bit recently where he attacked Jon in general, but I dont think the bit addressed his specific argument.

    This is not me trying to be smug, nor am I saying “I have not found the kind of response I’m, looking for, therefore I deny there is one in existence”. I am honestly asking if such a clip or article exists, from an interest in seeing the back and forth. And not one that says “but the other side does it too”, or attacking Jon in the general sense of the word. What I am looking for is something, preferably from a figure on Fox that Jon has accused of hypocrisy (or bigotry, getting the facts wrong, etc), responding to Jon pulling up a clip, and responding to the specific point Jon brought up.

  7. Excellent insights DRM. What you say is the basic mentality of the mass media who love to engage in their snarkathons about all the bozos in the flyover hinterlands. This is why our country is becoming pagan and stupid. One can only think it will all end badly. One last thing. The fact that the snarkers dislike Trump has to be a point in his favor.

  8. Watcher7789 The victims of Jon Stewart’s Pearl Harbor backstabbing attack have every right to defend themselves any way they choose.

  9. Sadly, young voters like Watcher7789(?) get their “history” and their “news” from comedians/court jesters like Jon Stewart, et al, and from the lying, liberal (I repeat myself again) media. The problems are lack of context and distortions, omissions, etc. both of the historical record/context behind the issues and of the contemporary circumstances and facts.
    .
    The SOP: edit 11 seconds of videotape and fabricate whatever lie necessary to distort popular (uninformed) perception.
    .

    Welcome to the Idiocracy.

  10. @Nate Winchester the Hannity response one finds through the first article you listed was very much what I was looking for. Thank you. As to the second part of your question, I am certainly curious and willing to check out any other response clips you may know of.

  11. Watcher—I’m going to take a long shot here because I detect sincerity in your quest for an answer to something. I want to ask you to prayerfully consider what you find important which underlies your post about Jon Stewart and who said what. As I see it, as an older man and once a fool for the culture, the question you want answered is a symptom of the problem. Turn off that program, read good books on history and read literature which provokes nuanced thinking. Watch a good movie if that be your preference. Bring joy into your idle time so that it may be constructive and not filled by the musings of men smug in their deeply held and cherished ignorance and self importance. Nourish your curiosity which i can see you possess. Let’s focus on the right questions, the first things, and not the dangerous silliness of the Jon Stewarts of the world—of which there are many and of varied political stripes. In lieu of a Jon Stewart “please entertain me with your vulgarity and cynicism” episode, read a short story by Flannery O’Connor. Seek out good things and then you will see that the likes of Jon Stewart, et al, are mere chatter, a toxin which compromises one of God’s gifts to you—your intellect. I know that a post can come across as ham handed but I truly hope you’ll consider what i’ve said.

  12. When I was a kid and spent my days riding my bike, building roads in my dad’s dirtpile with my steel toy trucks and watching Loony Tunes, the Flintstones, Speed Racer and Superman, I thought teens and young adults were dumb.

    I thought the same thing when I was a teen and a young adult. This was the late ’70s and the 1980s and while Reagan was popular with some of the young set, I found too many of them were too concerned with slopular culture.

    Today, slopular culture IS religion with the Millenials and the people who were young before them. Mainline Protestantism is dying. The Catholic Church is in trouble and junk science is treated with more respect than real science. The Daily Show, never menat to be anything but a parody, morphed into “hard news” for the impressionable young who have skulls full of, not mush, but raw sewage. Covered with tattoos, convinced gay is “cool” piercings in lips and holes in ears big enough to shove a ping pong ball through, this is the handiwork of the Left.

    Stewart and Colbert need a John Wayne type to walk up to them and belt them in the mouths.

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