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Longtime voice of GEICO commercials fired after pressure (and harassment) from Tea Party members.
April 21, 2010 10:19 AM   Subscribe

The longtime voice of the GEICO commercials was fired after pressure (and harassment) from Tea Party members & FreedomWorks. Here's the voicemail that led to the controversy.

(Note: I didn't originally author this post, but I'm reposting it having replaced the spam-link that got the original poster banned with a mainstream-media link.)
posted by WCityMike (98 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
Argh, so very much want that long-promised edit feature: " ... with a mainstream-media link, since I thought it was an interesting story.)"
posted by WCityMike at 10:19 AM on April 21, 2010


Hey, looks like I will be ending my relationship with Geico, too.
posted by mreleganza at 10:25 AM on April 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


Note to people who just got fired: If you are actually motivated by "the recent gay and racial slurs slung by Tea Party members at Congressman Barney Frank and Representative John Lewis during the Health Care Reform Weekend, " the voicemail you leave for the Tea Party should proooooooobably not include what is arguably the most hot-button slur of the moment, "mentally-retarded".
posted by 23skidoo at 10:27 AM on April 21, 2010 [9 favorites]


Can it really be considered slur if you believe it to be true?
posted by biggity at 10:29 AM on April 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


Yyyeah, I'm kind of torn. As he admits himself in his blog post, the "mentally retarded" thing pretty severely limits his ability to be a hero.

The more interesting question to me: when you're a voiceover artist, is it a liability every time you use your voice? It's been shown that performers are under more scrutiny by their employers when they're considered "always in character" (pro wrestlers, for example). Are voiceover guys always in character?
posted by roll truck roll at 10:31 AM on April 21, 2010


In case anyone else was wondering, this is not the guy who voices the gecko.

(According to Wikipedia, the gecko is named Martin. I did not know that.)
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:31 AM on April 21, 2010


So........if a person calls a teabagger hotline and leaves what is a less-than-supportive message, they will use the clues to your identity to have you fired from your job. And this is because...they support the Constitution, which enshrines the freedom of speech. I'm sorry y'all, but I think my brain just broke.
posted by contessa at 10:31 AM on April 21, 2010 [88 favorites]


The man fires back nicely (as evidenced in that video).
posted by grubi at 10:34 AM on April 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


It seems like a really, really bad idea to piss off someone who does voice overs for a living. Even something thrown together on iMovie just sounds so professional when he's doing narrating.

"I lent Richard Anders six dollars to pay for his chipotle burrito. Two months later, and he is yet to pay me back. Cat out of the bag, Mr. Anders?"
posted by daniel striped tiger at 10:35 AM on April 21, 2010 [7 favorites]


Are voiceover guys always in character?

This one is.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 10:40 AM on April 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


god. i hate that fuckin' lizard or gecko or whatever he is. and i've been procrastinating changing insurance companies for YEARS now because it's easier to just pay the damn bill than deal with getting a new policy set up.

i have no idea what 'part' mr douglas plays in geico's myriad commercials, and while it sounds like he did an incredibly stupid thing can't do youtube at work so i can't listen to the voicemail, i'd like to figuratively shake his hand for getting me off my butt to get out from under the lizard's tail.
posted by msconduct at 10:42 AM on April 21, 2010


And this is because...they support the Constitution, which enshrines the freedom of speech. I'm sorry y'all, but I think my brain just broke.

These teabaggers overlap with the same bunch who don't want their names released for signing anti-gay petitions in Washington state and don't want their addresses in a Google map application for doing the same in California. These cockroaches want consequence-free speech for themselves but not those they direct their hate campaigns against. The sick part is that people tend to agree with them (even on Metafilter, surprisingly).
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:44 AM on April 21, 2010 [60 favorites]


He also played Legion in Mass Effect 2. Do you think we can get together some video game nerds to go all Dick Armey on FreedomWorks?
posted by dirigibleman at 10:45 AM on April 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Note: Geico pulled their ads from Glenn Beck's show, so they were already being targeted by teabaggers. I'm not sure this is a good reason to cancel your Geico insurance. I'm not sure it's not, either. I'm mostly just confused.
posted by rusty at 10:46 AM on April 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


I have many questions before I can decide what I think about Geico. Most importantly -- did Mr. Baxter use a work phone to leave his message, or call during work hours? Or is this firing solely because of the content of what he said? I'd take a very dim view of Geico if the latter, but understand their action if the former.
posted by bearwife at 10:47 AM on April 21, 2010


From what I've read, he wasn't the longtime voice of Geico-- he was in one campaign that stretched between 2007-2008, and then he was going to be in a new ad campaign that Geico was creating but they dropped him. He didn't get fired, as he wasn't a Geico employee, and Geico isn't overhauling their ad recognition because of Teabaggers. This entire story is exaggerated in like six directions.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:48 AM on April 21, 2010 [6 favorites]


what is arguably the most hot-button slur of the moment, "mentally-retarded".

I love how Tea Partiers are throwing around racist and homophobic slurs right and left, yet the "hot-button" slur is the one being aimed at the Tea Partiers.

There's a phrase we used to throw around in the Bush years that's lost its popularity recently, but it still applies: IOKIYAR. It's Okay If You're A Republican.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:48 AM on April 21, 2010 [18 favorites]


So........if a person calls a teabagger hotline and leaves what is a less-than-supportive message, they will use the clues to your identity to have you fired from your job. And this is because...they support the Constitution, which enshrines the freedom of speech. I'm sorry y'all, but I think my brain just broke.

Did you support the boycotts of companies that advertised on the Michael Savage show? I sure did.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:50 AM on April 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think he was the narrator for the "real Geico customer + celebrity" ads.
posted by dirigibleman at 10:51 AM on April 21, 2010




i'd like to figuratively shake [Douglas'] hand for getting me off my butt to get out from under the lizard's tail.

Apparently, possibly ironically, not the response he's looking for:

"I do want to make one thing clear," Mr. Douglas adds, "I don't blame GEICO for protecting themselves. They have a business to run and can't waste time getting caught up in FreedomWorks' circus. And they've been very good to me in the past."

Of course, he may just be talking....
posted by IndigoJones at 10:58 AM on April 21, 2010


I guess I should have tried to get Peter "the franchise" Thomas fired from Forensic Files when he did voiceovers for bs GOP commercials during the last election.
posted by cashman at 11:04 AM on April 21, 2010


GEICO (as Berkshire Hathaway) heads the bad faith insurance list on badfaithinsurance.org
posted by BrotherCaine at 11:04 AM on April 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


getting caught up in FreedomWorks' circus.

I think more or less this exactly what they did do, get caught up in the circus. Yeah, fundamentally GEICO has the right to do whatever it wants regarding who it hires for promotional purposes. But, those actions also come with consequences, I now know that the company fundamentally is just a flag in the wind, open to whatever pressure, however small, to changing it's plans. Good to know, easy to avoid.
posted by edgeways at 11:05 AM on April 21, 2010


i know he isn't the voice of the gecko, but doesn't he come on after the lizard to tell you that you could save 15% or more?
posted by sexyrobot at 11:06 AM on April 21, 2010


Everyone knows that GEICO stands for Government Employees Insurance Company, right? I mean, it doesn't do that exclusively anymore but still...maybe THAT'S why the TeaBaggers really hate it.
posted by spicynuts at 11:10 AM on April 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


WAV File from the party in question. For those of you who, like myself, are youtubless.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 11:16 AM on April 21, 2010


Free speech only is for crush videos where you can legally watch dog fighting videos but can't attend one because "waa free speech. I got a right to see violence." Way to go Supreme Court. And way to go Teabagger/Geico.
posted by stormpooper at 11:19 AM on April 21, 2010


Did you support the boycotts of companies that advertised on the Michael Savage show? I sure did.

Boycotting is light years removed from actively campaigning to get one individual fired from a paying gig.
posted by contessa at 11:20 AM on April 21, 2010


OK, so... does complete and utter cognitive dissonance equate to mental retardation? I don't mean to be a jerk, and if you think "mentally retarded" is a slur in the sense that it doesn't connote merely "slow mental functioning" then it seems to me that you're the one casting aspersion on mental retardation.

If he called them "retarded" or "retards" or something, then yes. It's a slur.

Maybe they're not "retarded" that much is true. But they have enough cognitive dissonance that they seem to lack a certain amount of necessary logical capacity to be allow one to be considered not-deficient-in-certain-mental-processes.
posted by symbioid at 11:23 AM on April 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


These cockroaches want consequence-free speech for themselves but not those they direct their hate campaigns against.

I don't like the Tea Party one bit, but I can understand a portion of their frustrations, and certainly wouldn't want to lump poor, ill-informed Joe Schmoe with the more extreme elements within that movement. However, using the word "cockroach" is really rather uncalled for. The only other association I have with calling a group of people that name is with the Hutu Power movement.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:24 AM on April 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I love how Tea Partiers are throwing around racist and homophobic slurs right and left, yet the "hot-button" slur is the one being aimed at the Tea Partiers.

Dude, I'm not defending people who use racist or homophobic slurs, I'm just saying "retarded" is the BUZZ slur right now, and if someone's going to be trying to make the point that slurs are wrong, they shouldn't drop that big-buzz slur into a voicemail.

It's stupid.
posted by 23skidoo at 11:34 AM on April 21, 2010


I thought teabaggers didn't believe in government mandated insurance, so why would Geico care what they think?
posted by Allan Gordon at 11:35 AM on April 21, 2010


Boycotting is light years removed from actively campaigning to get one individual fired from a paying gig.

Very loudly boycotting- not only personally, privately refusing to buy, but contacting/harassing advertisers and the station- is in fact campaigning to get somebody fired.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:35 AM on April 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Dude, I'm not defending people who use racist or homophobic slurs, I'm just saying "retarded" is the BUZZ slur right now, and if someone's going to be trying to make the point that slurs are wrong, they shouldn't drop that big-buzz slur into a voicemail.

I'm hip. didn't mean to imply that you were doing it.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:36 AM on April 21, 2010


coo
posted by 23skidoo at 11:37 AM on April 21, 2010


Dude, I'm not defending people who use racist or homophobic slurs, I'm just saying "retarded" is the BUZZ slur right now, and if someone's going to be trying to make the point that slurs are wrong, they shouldn't drop that big-buzz slur into a voicemail.

It's stupid.


Is there a newsletter I can subscribe to or a website that points this out? Because I've been using "shitass" all day since I thought that was the buzz slur, and now I feel dumb.
posted by graventy at 11:38 AM on April 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


Did you support the boycotts of companies that advertised on the Michael Savage show? I sure did.

Boycotting is light years removed from actively campaigning to get one individual fired from a paying gig.


That's the reason I wasn't in favor of campaigning to get people fired for their private political views on the Prop 8 issue. I wouldn't want to get fired for my political positions if they don't have any impact on my job, so I wouldn't want anyone else to get fired for their political positions even if I strongly disagree with them.
posted by burnmp3s at 11:40 AM on April 21, 2010


There is a difference to be made from expressing your political views because you believe in them and expressing political views because you are paid to do so.
posted by Allan Gordon at 11:43 AM on April 21, 2010


However, using the word "cockroach" is really rather uncalled for. The only other association I have with calling a group of people that name is with the Hutu Power movement.

This is why American liberals lose: because the conservatives are willing to paste a goddamn Hitler mustache on the President and Commander-in-Chief and then wave it around on TV... while the liberals are oh-so-concerned about how "rather uncalled for" it is to call them scuttling little insects for doing so.

Oh, look at us! Our rhetoric is never uncalled for, and we're so much more prim and proper than the other side! Everyone, let's reach across the aisle! Let's have a nice tea party with Mr. Bear! Would you like a scone, Mr. Bear? You would? Please, be my-- OH BOTHER, WE LOST THE ELECTION AGAIN
posted by vorfeed at 11:44 AM on April 21, 2010 [33 favorites]


Everyone knows that GEICO stands for Government Employees Insurance Company, right? I mean, it doesn't do that exclusively anymore but still...maybe THAT'S why the TeaBaggers really hate it.

Plus, their corporate mascot is a gecko, which is a type of lizard.

Ergo:

OMG GEICO = LIZARD PEOPLE!!!

posted by Atom Eyes at 11:45 AM on April 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


The only other association I have with calling a group of people that name is with the Hutu Power movement.

Well, suppose it's all how you pronounce it.
posted by Pollomacho at 11:46 AM on April 21, 2010


This is why American liberals lose:

There where plenty of liberals willing to make the Bush = Hitler comparison back in the day.

Personally, I think the Democratic party currently is at a bit of a disadvantage because it tries to encompass too many different points of view. If you read Dkos for any length of time this becomes pretty evident. They are pretty notorious for tearing each other apart. If done right the multiple points of view can actually be a huge positive and benefit, but (especially) now with the combination of increasing demands of purity and speed it becomes harder and harder to forge political alliances.
posted by edgeways at 11:53 AM on April 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is why American liberals lose:

For the record, I'm by no means a liberal nor conservative. I just didn't like seeing sweeping dehumanizing pejoratives because they never amount to anything good, even when responding to bad things.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:56 AM on April 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


I think he was the narrator for the 'real Geico customer + celebrity' ads.
I like the one with The Pips. "Rental car smells like sunshine!"

posted by kirkaracha at 12:08 PM on April 21, 2010


I just didn't like seeing sweeping dehumanizing pejoratives because they never amount to anything good, even when responding to bad things.

They may be horrible people but they are still people.
posted by Pollomacho at 12:11 PM on April 21, 2010


This entire story is exaggerated in like six directions.

I'm hoping this whole thing was cooked up by the voice actor's agent/publicist, and that he's going to get a ton of work from the incident. Otherwise, it is just depressing all around. Seriously, don't wrestle with a pig...
posted by infinitefloatingbrains at 12:11 PM on April 21, 2010


How many mentally retarded people do you have on staff?

As a thought exercise, replace mentally retarded in the above question with equivalent slurs targeted toward various other constituencies until you stop caring about the foreseeable consequences of this man's ill-advised rant.

If you find yourself unable to stop caring, then please tell me why; I'd really like another reason to hate Tea Partiers and fundamentalists.
posted by The Confessor at 12:13 PM on April 21, 2010


Something about wrestling with a pig leaves you both dirty.
posted by spicynuts at 12:14 PM on April 21, 2010


I don't see why people are hating on Geico for this. While voice actor may be a little bit of a stretch, can you imagine any other spokesperson getting caught calling anyone retarded and keeping their job?
posted by toekneebullard at 12:14 PM on April 21, 2010


Wait, Joe Isuzu got fired?
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 12:14 PM on April 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm surprised teabaggers would do business with geico in the first place. I remember when they were the Government Employee Insurance Company. I'd have thought that would taint their image with that crowd badly enough.
posted by boo_radley at 12:28 PM on April 21, 2010


I remember when they were the Government Employee Insurance Company.

They've alwas been a private company, even when they sold only to government employees. Isn't private entities what teabaggers supposedly support?
posted by Pollomacho at 12:32 PM on April 21, 2010


The Tea Partiers are doing us all a favor:

If the Republicans completely embrace them, the Republicans become a fringe group and moderate Democrats will win elections -- although they may have to lose one to win the next.

If the Republicans shun the TPs, their base is split and their message is gone, which leaves them about the same as the Dems currently controlling Congress, except that now they have to vote "no" on every piece of legislation.

The moderate Dems will keep pushing through small incremental changes while sacrificing their party's values to get the legislation passed.

Meanwhile, the progressives may notice that a bunch of right-wingers are throwing parties and making noise, and think, "Hey! Why don't we have our own wacky conventions and parties? I'm sick of those stupid pansy-assed moderate Democrats who campaign to sixty-year-old white men instead of to me."

Anyway, incidents like this -- dude stupidly leaves rude message on Tea Party hotline; Tea partiers boycott a company he did a voiceover for once -- just make the group's overall mishigas seem even more bizarre and petty.

*Note: Mishigas translates into "craziness," but in this context "craziness" is not the same as mental illness.
posted by brina at 12:33 PM on April 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


the voicemail you leave for the Tea Party should proooooooobably not include what is arguably the most hot-button slur of the moment, "mentally-retarded".

Yes, he should have called them "spastic" instead.
posted by Skeptic at 12:41 PM on April 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


As a thought exercise, replace mentally retarded in the above question with equivalent slurs targeted toward various other constituencies until you stop caring about the foreseeable consequences of this man's ill-advised rant.

Now that you mention it, "how many African American people do you have on staff" would be an interesting question to pose to the Tea Party.
posted by Drab_Parts at 12:46 PM on April 21, 2010 [6 favorites]


I wish, Brina. Insert "Right-extremist politics yank center along with them" meme. This fringe group has traction because of the radicalization of the Republicans. But perhaps the pendulum has gone too far? As for the voicemail, dumb. As for the youtube video? Lemonade. As for his future career? I'd like to see a company right now hire this man and run an ad while this issue is relevant. Then I would buy their product.
posted by Sweetdefenestration at 12:49 PM on April 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


The Tea Partiers are doing us all a favor:

If the Republicans completely embrace them, the Republicans become a fringe group


I agree that is the trend I see (along with a strong inclination by the Tea Party folks to reject the Rs anyway, at least until the R party is fully purged of anyone with moderate views.) For example, the Rs are dumping Charlie Crist.

This depresses me, because I think a two party system, composed of parties with a large membership umbrella, works a lot better than a one party system, or a system made up of multiple parties. I chalk this development up as another big piece of damage to our political system created by hard right wing extremism.
posted by bearwife at 1:01 PM on April 21, 2010


"What percentage of liberals and idiots on your side would like for this country to become the next Soviet Union?"
What?
posted by Dreamcast at 1:02 PM on April 21, 2010


The only other association I have with calling a group of people that name is with the Hutu Power movement.

Were you going for extra irony points by citing a group that was overtly racist and indulged in a lot of eliminationist rhetoric via the radio? Personally, if I'm going to take a lesson from history on how to deal with these people it's going to be don't hole up in the post office.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 1:13 PM on April 21, 2010


Isn't equating the use of "retard" with "slur against people with mental disabilities" the same as saying calling someone a "witch" is a slur against all Wiccans? Any Wiccans out there offended by that? Are there any mentally retarded people want to give us their input on the GEICO guy's spiel?
posted by gagglezoomer at 1:14 PM on April 21, 2010


I thought GEICO learned its lesson after its So Easy A Caveman Can Do It! ads offended Neanderthal-Americans.
posted by mattdidthat at 1:18 PM on April 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


Can someone explain why it is a slur to refer to people who are mentally retarded as mentally retarded? Mental retardation is an actual condition. The people with said condition are referred to as Mentally Retarded. It's actually a pretty descriptive term for what the condition is.

Would people have found it nearly as offensive if he'd called them "paranoid schizophrenics" or are the Mentally Retarded the only ones who are "helpless" and in need of our paternalistic defense?
posted by Pollomacho at 1:24 PM on April 21, 2010


Progressive had best watch its ass.
posted by Ufez Jones at 1:26 PM on April 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Would people have found it nearly as offensive if he'd called them "paranoid schizophrenics"...?

Advocates for the mentally ill probably would have, yes.

And why "mentally retarded" is considered a slur is...complicated, at best. But the fact that in wide usage it has pretty much become an insult, a substitute for "idiot" or "moron" (both of which also used to be technical terms for actual conditions or IQ levels), plays a lot into why using the term "retarded" even for people diagnosed with mental retardation has fallen out of vogue.
posted by infinitywaltz at 1:46 PM on April 21, 2010


I've been using "shitass" all day since I thought that was the buzz slur, and now I feel dumb.

Somewhat (OK, totally) unrelated, but I had a (doofus) friend call me racist for using the pejorative "little piece of shit." He said it was offensive to minorities. Figure that one out. (I did, but it's a streetch, imo.)

I think a two party system, composed of parties with a large membership umbrella, works a lot better than a one party system, or a system made up of multiple parties.

Huh. I've honestly never heard anyone actively support the two-party system. Can you explain why a two-party system is preferable to coalition-style government? The arguments against listed here aren't too convincing for me.

Isn't equating the use of "retard" with "slur against people with mental disabilities" the same as saying calling someone a "witch" is a slur against all Wiccans?

Off the top of my yeah, it's similar. It's like saying you got "gypped" when someone rips you off. It's the negative connotation given to the term (e.g. mentally retarded people have zero intelligence; gypsies are con artists, etc.) that is offensive. When the negative connotation and the term become one and the same, the term itself becomes offensive.

And yeah, I think a Wiccan hearing "witch" used pejoratively would basically have the same complaint. The reason no ones cares is that there aren't enough witches.

Can someone explain why it is a slur to refer to people who are mentally retarded as mentally retarded?

I don't think it is. It's a slur when the term is used pejoratively, as in "What an idiotic move! What are you, mentally retarded?"

Would people have found it nearly as offensive if he'd called them "paranoid schizophrenics"

Of course not. Paranoid schizophrenics are the folks we kick out on the streets and let fend for themselves as best they can.

But in a compassionate world, yes, using "paranoid schizophrenic" as a pejorative would be just as offensive as "homosexual" or "mentally retarded." In my opinion, of course.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:51 PM on April 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is why American liberals lose: because the conservatives are willing to paste a goddamn Hitler mustache on the President and Commander-in-Chief and then wave it around on TV... while the liberals are oh-so-concerned about how "rather uncalled for" it is to call them scuttling little insects for doing so.

Points could be made about frequency, prominence, media attention and how well these portrayals are accepted ... but a sweeping generalization of "A does and B doesn't" doesn't work, as George W. Bush was portrayed as Hitler early and often by ultra-liberal groups.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:51 PM on April 21, 2010


And yeah, I think a Wiccan hearing "witch" used pejoratively would basically have the same complaint. The reason no ones cares is that there aren't enough witches.

There was a story in our local weekly newspaper not that long ago about a Wiccan pursuing a lawsuit against the grocery store where he works for an offensive witch display that they bring out at Halloween every year.
posted by infinitywaltz at 1:57 PM on April 21, 2010


posted by infinitywaltz a Wiccan pursuing a lawsuit against the grocery store where he works for an offensive witch display

Apparently evil spells and hexes aren't enough.
posted by mattdidthat at 2:00 PM on April 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


as George W. Bush was portrayed as Hitler early and often by ultra-liberal groups.

From almost the moment he took office? For proposing something like health care for citizens? Nah.
posted by cashman at 2:08 PM on April 21, 2010


He's not the goddamn Gecko, man.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:16 PM on April 21, 2010


Apparently evil spells and hexes aren't enough.

Hate crime!
posted by infinitywaltz at 2:20 PM on April 21, 2010


I had a (doofus) friend call me racist for using the pejorative 'little piece of shit.' He said it was offensive to minorities. Figure that one out.

Is it offensive to little people?
posted by kirkaracha at 2:29 PM on April 21, 2010


But in a compassionate world, yes, using "paranoid schizophrenic" as a pejorative would be just as offensive as "homosexual" or "mentally retarded." In my opinion, of course.

That's crazy
posted by gagglezoomer at 2:32 PM on April 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thank you for expressing your concerns to us.  We would like you to know that the work GEICO did with D.C. Douglas (aka Lance Baxter) has not aired in over a year.  The views that Mr. Douglas has expressed are his own personal views and not the views of GEICO.

Again, we appreciate you taking the time to let us know of your concerns.
posted by fixedgear at 2:57 PM on April 21, 2010


I can imagine how the phone call to Douglas went.

"Mr. Douglas, due to recent controversy GEICO will be unable to retain your services for our upcoming advertising campaign."
"Is there anything I can do to convince you guys to keep me on the job?"
"I'm afraid there isn't. However I do have good news."
"..."
"I just saved a bunch of money on my car insurance..."
posted by anifinder at 3:09 PM on April 21, 2010 [7 favorites]


symbioid OK, so... does complete and utter cognitive dissonance equate to mental retardation? [...] Maybe they're not "retarded" that much is true. But they have enough cognitive dissonance that they seem to lack a certain amount of necessary logical capacity to be allow one to be considered not-deficient-in-certain-mental-processes.

This. This is the irony of this little scandal. Teabaggers really are cognitively deficient in one or more meaningful, life-affecting ways. Something inside their heads does not work "properly". What exactly? My black-box analysis/guess is, the problem (let's call it "political conservatism syndrome", or PCS) seems to manifest as emotional blocks, probably the trauma-stress-avoidance feedback in action, against logical analysis and checking for internal consistencies in new and old knowledge. This presumably happens when the individual, at an early age, either personally makes the error or is induced by carers to make the (understandable and humane) error of having "cherished beliefs", and then makes the further error of failure to distinguish between these beliefs and the related concept of "facts".

In summary, in early life they are taught Belief X by an authority figure ("Daddy" is a reasonable sum-up term), rewarded for reciting it and punished for questioning it, and subsequently in adult life they will defend Belief X against all "assaults" including factual reality. Subsequent encounters with authority figures who exhibit the salient characteristics and behavior patterns of "Daddy" offer opportunities for new beliefs to be added in. Conflict between these beliefs is unresolved; a sufferer of PCS in a state where such conflict is mentally foreground characteristically "goes quiet", appears zoned out, emotionally retreats, and waits for the conflict to pass before continuing on as before.

Is this mental retardation? "Mental retardation" as a term of art refers primarily to notably deficient IQ, and while political conservatism correlates with low IQ, this is not the same as "notable deficiency". PCS sufferers can and do live competent lives.

I would call the accusation inaccurate, but not entirely incorrect. "Mentally deficient" is better - PCS is clearly a mental deficiency although it's not (yet) recognized by the academic authorities whose duties include cataloguing mental deficiencies. I couldn't be bothered going through it at this point but "morally retarded" will probably stand up to analysis.

But such fine distinctions are of no interest to the teabaggers, who analyze nothing, and who will go through their motions regardless.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 3:18 PM on April 21, 2010 [7 favorites]


This is why American liberals lose: because the conservatives are willing to paste a goddamn Hitler mustache on the President and Commander-in-Chief and then wave it around on TV... while the liberals are oh-so-concerned about how "rather uncalled for" it is to call them scuttling little insects for doing so.

So, what you're saying is...you WANT this kind of behavior to be representative of who we are as a nation?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:10 PM on April 21, 2010


@Faint of Butt:

The only reason I clicked on this thread. Thank you. Glad to know the gecko/gecko voice is ok.
posted by jellywerker at 7:19 PM on April 21, 2010


So, what you're saying is...you WANT this kind of behavior to be representative of who we are as a nation?

Yeah, moral victories are way more important than electoral victories.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:32 PM on April 21, 2010


I'm a little confused. How did they connect him to Geico? I can't watch the vid at the moment.
posted by etaoin at 7:50 PM on April 21, 2010


> So, what you're saying is...you WANT this kind of behavior to be representative of who we are as a nation?

Yeah, moral victories are way more important than electoral victories.


Because the world is always a zero-sum game and we certainly can't have both. I mean, that's just CRAZY talk!
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:20 PM on April 21, 2010


So, what you're saying is...you WANT this kind of behavior to be representative of who we are as a nation?

No, I WANT people to stop pretending as though they give out a Miss Congeniality prize at the end of the inauguration.

The Democrats had a tremendous chance to capitalize on the growing anger in this country. Obama won the election, the energy was there, people were ready to run through the streets with signs demanding serious economic and social change... and the Democrats went with the same-ol' wishy-washy, business-as-usual crap, and the moment fizzled.

Meanwhile, the Republicans channeled anger over the economy -- let's see that again: the Republicans channeled anger over the economy -- into a whole new grass-roots movement.

It's like living in bizarro-world. As stupid as the Tea Party is, they're clearly doing something right if ~25% of the country supports them... and that something is anger, good old fashioned rage over what is happening to this country and its people. If the Democrats had been willing to tap into that, they could have changed the tenor and direction of the entire country. They could have cashed every check Obama wrote during the election, with political capital left over.

Oh, but we can't have that, because that wouldn't be nice. That might involve mean words like cockroach... and that's just uncalled for.
posted by vorfeed at 8:31 PM on April 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


Oh, but we can't have that, because that wouldn't be nice. That might involve mean words like cockroach... and that's just uncalled for.

This whole line of argument here is really disingenuous. Of course Democrats use invective and slurs during campaigns. They just don't have a kind of streamlined approach to the nastiness that the Republicans seem to excel at. I was talking about usage here in this thread on this forum about careless pejoratives and then you made a leap to a wrong conclustion that I was referring to Democrat strategies or something.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:37 PM on April 21, 2010


conclusion even. But let's not pretend we are making accurate commentary about the state of politics when someone calls out another for using coarse terms.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:38 PM on April 21, 2010


the Republicans channeled anger over the economy...into a whole new grass-roots movement.

it's more like the republicans channeled the kind of racist and phobic rage they stirred up during the election and wrapped it in a brand new package called 'anger over the economy', evidenced by the fact that such anger had been apparently well repressed for eight years prior.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 8:38 PM on April 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


Because the world is always a zero-sum game and we certainly can't have both. I mean, that's just CRAZY talk!

American politics IS a zero-sum game. It is. A zero-sum game. One candidate wins, and the rest lose; one party takes power, and the other does not.

And as long as one side is terrified that their lightsaber might turn red, they're going to keep getting steamrolled by people who aren't.
posted by vorfeed at 8:39 PM on April 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


the Tea Party is...clearly doing something right if ~25% of the country supports them... and that something is anger... If the Democrats had been willing to tap into that, they could have changed the tenor and direction of the entire country.

The Democrats did tap into "anger." The whole thing with MoveOn, George Soros, Cindy Sheehan, etc. came from a very similar place (emotionally, not politically). It was entirely about anger, and it didn't get them very far.

The reason why liberals lose in America (and BTW, check the score on that one) is not because they are too timid to use personal-attack rhetoric. First, there's a lot more to it than that. And second, as is apparent even on this very website: They are not timid about using personal-attack rhetoric. They do it every day, just like folks on the other side.

And that's really the takeaway. Neither side is getting "steamrolled" by the other. They both mean well, and they're both corrupt, and they're both alternately intelligent and incompetent. If you think your side or the other has some kind of moral monopoly, then you're not using your wide-angle lens. So it would be great if we could disagree about these things without calling each other mentally retarded cockroaches or trying to get each other fired.
posted by cribcage at 10:39 PM on April 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Because the world is always a zero-sum game and we certainly can't have both. I mean, that's just CRAZY talk!

Politics is, in fact, zero-sum, and the Republicans have figured out what strategies get them to win and Democrats to lose. The Democrats have made occasional tentative stabs at these tactics, but there's a general sentiment in the Democratic party (and liberals in general, frankly) that they need to derive their moral superiority over conservatives from some source other than their morally superior views. This is a position that Republicans mostly find hilariously dumb, and the rest is history.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:19 PM on April 21, 2010


> This is why American liberals lose: because the conservatives are willing to paste a goddamn Hitler mustache on the President and Commander-in-Chief and then wave it around on TV... while the liberals are oh-so-concerned about how "rather uncalled for" it is to call them scuttling little insects for doing so.

I need to call this out, because it's untrue and disingenuous. The left doesn't lose because their protestors are unwilling to paste Hitler moustaches on their opponents. As someone who participated in dozens of protests, marches and direct actions, both before and during the bullshit fucking invasion of Iraq, let me be the one to break this to you; the "tea party" did not invent this particular rhetoric. Yet somehow Kerry didn't win that election.

In fact, I think this points to the most obnoxious and disappointing part of the "tea party"s agenda. This pervading sense that all they're saying is, "Your team got to call our guy names, now we get to call your guy names too." Like the whole thing's a fucking pep rally. Like going to war in Iraq or reforming health care don't literally mean the difference between life and death for thousands and thousands of people.
posted by churl at 2:28 AM on April 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


<>the Republicans have figured out what strategies get them to win and Democrats to lose.

Yeah, I can see how well that worked out for them.

Kerry didn't win that election.

It all depends on who does the counting. That's the winning strategy that got Bush into the White House, both times.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 2:58 AM on April 22, 2010


Are you seriously claiming that Bush lost in 2004?
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:06 AM on April 22, 2010


I thought we all lost in 2004?
posted by Pollomacho at 8:22 AM on April 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


That's crazy

why?
posted by mrgrimm at 10:55 AM on April 22, 2010


That's crazy

why?


I believe that was a joke about the word crazy being commonly used as a pejorative without it being perceived as insensitive to the mentally ill.
posted by burnmp3s at 11:14 AM on April 22, 2010


of course it was. and i am an idiot. carry on.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:23 PM on April 22, 2010


Meanwhile, the Republicans channeled anger over the economy into a whole new grass-roots movement.

The anger was always there, perhaps even more so during campaign 08. From my vantage point as a disinterested non-American news-addict, the only difference I see is difference in enthusiasm between the left and the right; while the left is trying hard to sail through policy options and administrative nitty-gritty, the right is maintaining its base's enthusiasm using cardboard boogeymen. The only stunning aspect for me is that they've somehow converted "government", "regulation" and "taxes" into evil things to fight against, and that they've achieved by constantly drumming the words over and over and over again. Throw enough muck and some of it sticks.

That the Opposition has more energy than the Government isn't really surprising, just that they've been able to maintain that irritating shrill voice mouthing delusional nonsense is frustrating.

But yes, I agree with Burhanistan on this one; I'll leave it to you guys to decide whether "cockroaches" was _uncalled_ for or not, but because the Hutu radio thing was the first thing that I was reminded of when I read BP's comment, I did find it chilling. I'm no American liberal, I "merely follow world politics as a spectator sport while rooting for broad liberal goals.
posted by the cydonian at 10:07 PM on April 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Did Bush lose in 2004?

Depends on how you define "lose." He got back into the White House, all right, but there were plenty of questionable events, especially in swing states. I'm especially interested in how exit polls were accurate everywhere except in the swing states, especially considering Karl Rove's boast that he's "entitled to the math."

Even the 2006 election saw that sort of conflict between the exit polls and the counted numbers, with at least one significant close election, Jim Webb's, only being won after very late swings in the electorate.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 9:22 PM on April 24, 2010


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