That time the Stupidsphere showed up.
This was originally posted on my blog months ago. I’m sharing it here because it’s still sadly relevant today.
I wanted to talk about that in a forum that’s a little more complex than 140 characters will allow.
Let me define the Stupidsphere: contrary to their tiny-brained reasoning, I don’t define the Stupidsphere as a group of people who see things differently than I do. Sure, I think denying climate change is stupid. Yes, I believe that clinging to debunked lies to prop up a narrative or worldview that is inconsistent with reality is stupid. Yes, I believe trying to convince yourself and anyone else that it’s really about ethics in games journalism is stupid.
But just because someone identifies as conservative, and I identify as liberal (and, in fact, so far to the left of mainstream politics in America the only person in government who comes close to actually representing my beliefs is Bernie Sanders, with Elizabeth Warren in a close second), that doesn’t make either one of us objectively stupid. I’m not afraid of differing opinions or ideas about how to make a country great, or how to best ensure people have safe, healthy, productive lives.
I’m never going to see eye to eye with someone who loves the NRA, because I personally don’t believe there is any reason, at all, for a private citizen to own an assault rifle. Hunting rifles? Sure (even though I don’t hunt and think hunting for sport is barbaric). Handguns? I hate them, and wish private citizens didn’t own them. I also realize that I live in a place (and on a difficulty setting) where I don’t ever feel like I’ll need one for self defense (though I believe that if we didn’t have such a gun violence epidemic in America, nobody would feel like they needed one in the first place).
I’m never going to see eye to eye with a person who denies that humans are massively changing the climate on our planet, even though every non-fossil-fuel-funded study concludes that we are.
I’m never going to see eye to eye with a person who believes that OMG THE TERRORISTS are lurking around every corner, so we should something something bomb Iran.
I’m never going to see eye to eye with someone who believes that women shouldn’t have absolute and unchallenged control over their own bodies.
I’m never going to see eye to eye with someone who believes that Atlas Shrugged is anything other than a piece of poorly-written fiction, instead of a manual for how to run a country.
That said, even if we don’t see eye to eye, we can still be friendly. We can still play games and have drinks and love our kids and enjoy a sunset together. While I strongly disagree with those people, and I’m going to work as hard as I can to stop their beliefs and ideas from affecting my life, just as they’re going to do the opposite. That’s fine.
I do believe that a person who goes to a website that is specifically designed to encourage him or her to go on Twitter and harass me with their pathetic insults, and regurgitated and debunked talking points, over and over again for the sake of yelling at me is stupid. Profoundly, incredibly, mindnumbingly stupid. Dunning-Kreuger stupid.
These people are the Stupidsphere, and when they poke their heads up out of their epistemic closure, this is what typically happens:
I wrote that in reference to the news that Ted Cruz, who is on record denying all sorts of science (in addition to every other stupid asshole thing he does) will be chairing the Senate committee that oversees NASA.* (Yep. Elections have consequences. I get it, even when I don’t like it. It would be great if Texas would stop fucking up Congress with assholes like Ted Cruz, though).
So these people really love their eagles and American flags, and I think they have a medical condition where they can’t reach orgasm until they visit Stupidsphere HQ, find out who they’re outraged at for the day, and then let the insults fly.
The last time these idiots invaded my mentions, it was because I pointed out that a lot of GOP officials (elected and otherwise) were investing a lot of energy trying to convince Americans that ISIS (or ISIL or IS or A Bunch Of Fucking Assholes Who Should Be Launched Into The Sun Already or whatever they call themselves at the moment) was LITERALLY LURKING UNDER YOUR BED AND TRYING TO KILL YOU, and I suggested that this was likely related to the upcoming election. Now, before I get to what the Stupidsphere HQ said about me, I’ll further observe that the impassioned proclamations of IMMINENT DEADLY ISIS DANGER all seemed to immediately stop on November 5th. ISIS is terrible, and it is an organization does terrible things, but being terrified of them seems to be exactly what they want, and I find it odd that these supposed patriots would be so eager to help them. But, you know, election. So there’s that.
Anyway, the Stupidsphere HQ twisted my words, and told their mouth-breathing acolytes that I had said that ISIS wasn’t real, was actually something Republicans invented to win an election, and that none of the truly terrible things those people had done were actually real.
The Stupidsphere went nuts, and I ended up spending a good part of an evening blocking hundreds of people — not because they disagreed with me, or because I couldn’t handle their incredible insights, but because they were belligerent assholes who were so goddamned stupid they couldn’t even read what I said for themselves and realize that Stupidsphere HQ and the Stupidsphere Leaders were just straight up lying to them.
And why would the Stupidsphere HQ do that? Gosh, I don’t know. Maybe it has something to do with advertising and clickbait and page impressions. Or maybe not. I don’t know, I’m not a doctor.
Anyway, back to yesterday’s Stupidsphere freakout.
Please enjoy this bit of brilliance:
This is really common when the Stupidsphere goes on the rampage. They’re obsessed with insults based on things like sexuality and penis size, and while they declare themselves to be champions of free speech and expression, they are very eager to tell me to shut up and just go back to acting, even though I apparently suck at it. (Ironically, one of the loudest voices in the Stupidsphere is a right-wing actor who they never want to shut up and stick to acting. That’s kind of weird).
“Shut up Wesley” is one of their favorites, because everyone knows that the sickest of burns is always based on something nearly thirty years old, involving characters from a TV show.
Yesterday, though, something seemed to rise above the usual spew of bullshit. I kept seeing the same thing over and over again, and it was so outrageously stupid, I realized very quickly that it must be one of the talking points the Stupidsphere latches onto in order to prop up and sustain their fantasy world where immigrants are sneaking babies filled with bombs into America to take our jobs and then kill us in our sleep after forcing us all into having gay abortions for Kenya.
The talking point was that President Obama had declared that NASA’s mission (remember this was all started because I love NASA and I’m not thrilled that an anti-science, climate change denying asshole now holds NASA’s funding in his hands) was going to focus on — I am not making this up — “Muslim Outreach.”
This one has the bonus of not only including the talking point, but also the insult (which seems poorly considered to me. If I’m so irrelevant, why is this stupid person spending any time attacking me? If I’m so irrelevant — which they are very keen to suggest — why does Stupidsphere HQ even pay attention to me? Why not spend their time attacking and harassing someone who is relevant? It just seems like a misplaced effort, is all.)
So I used DuckDuckGo to find out exactly WTF this is, and who was Stupid Patient Zero for the talking point. My suspicion was Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh.
Here’s what Limbaugh said on his March 6 show:
“Hey, Ms. Gregoire, never mind that Barack Obama made NASA into a Muslim outreach department and it’s Barack Obama, your idol and hero, that makes it necessary to pay the Russians $70 million for every astronaut to the space station,” Limbaugh said.
Limbaugh reached into the early flare-ups of the Obama presidency for his quip about NASA’s conversion into a “Muslim outreach department.”
The notion stems from remarks by Bolden in an interview with an Arabic TV channel in 2010. Bolden identified three priorities from Obama, including finding “a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science, math and engineering.”
The Obama White House refuted Bolden’s remarks once outrage swelled, with spokespeople emphasizing the agency’s mission is space exploration and not diplomacy.
Limbaugh also accused Obama of shutting down NASA space flights. Obama certainly played a role (the shuttle flights stopped while he was in office), but the plan to scuttle the space shuttle program started before Obama took office, and Congress has not fully funded budget requests to speed along the creation of a private American space fleet.
Those omissions go beyond the realm of hyperbole. We rate Limbaugh’s claim False
I found that in about 30 seconds. I would have found it faster, but I was typing with one hand, as the other one was busy scratching my head because I couldn’t believe that anyone who doesn’t accidentally set themselves on fire every day would believe it.
I linked to that article on Twitter, and the predicatable Stupidsphere response was that Politifact is partisan (it is not) and that I should rely on “unbiased” news sources like — again, I am not making this up — FOX News and Real Clear Politics (whose co-founder stated: “we have a frustration all conservatives have”, which is “the bias in media against conservatives, religious conservatives, [and] Christian conservatives”.)
So to clarify and sum up the original point I think I was trying to make: I do not believe that everyone who sees things differently than me is part of the Stupidsphere. I know for a fact that everyone in the Stupidsphere sees things differently than me, and for some reason they have to really be loud about it.
And the whole thing actually makes me kind of sad. The Stupidsphere HQ and its leaders are all making money off of their gullible followers, and they’re all helping to prop up a political establishment that deliberately makes things worse for working class people. The Stupidsphere HQ and its leaders don’t give a shit about the people who follow them and leap into action when told to do so. All they care about are their clicks, and they’re laughing at them all the way to the bank.
*NB: The NYT quotes Ted Cruz this morning:
“Texas has a major stake in space exploration,” Mr. Cruz, a Republican, said in a statement on Wednesday, referring to the space center in Houston. “Our space program marks the frontier of future technologies for defense, communications, transportation and more, and our mind-set should be focused on NASA’s primary mission: exploring space and developing the wealth of new technologies that stem from its exploration.
The Stupidsphere is crowing about this like crazy today, using it as evidence of how stupid I am, and how fucking amazing and wonderful Ted Cruz is. What I don’t see in his statement, though, is anything about observing Earth, studying our climate, or continuing to fund missions that are related to those things.
I would love to be wrong about this. I would love to look back in six months, or a year, and marvel at how awesome NASA’s funding has become since Ted Cruz took over. I would love for that to happen.
But Occam’s Razor — which the Stupidsphere can’t use because it requires them to engage in critical thought — says that I’m probably not going to be doing that. Ted Cruz is a liar, and contrary to what he says today, he’ll do everything he can to undermine NASA’s missions.