Name-calling can be corrosive. If this tactic must be used it needs to have some bounds. Let me explain what I mean when I call someone a ‘nutjob.’
First, let’s get this out of the way. A nutjob can be a fine human being. I have many (so many, I’m a Southerner after all) friends and loved ones who passionately embrace one nutjob political position or another. Further, a person might have many interesting and valuable ideas, and still engage in the occasional spot of nutjobbery.
Many people go in for nutjob ideas under the influence of others. If we only turned down the dial on the lunacy pouring out of state and local party headquarters, not to mention AM radio, we would see an improvement in general civility very quickly. Snopes.com and Factcheck.com are fine resources for those who want to protect themselves from nutjob-ish temptations.
Most importantly, a nutjob idea is not simply one that I disagree with. Nutjobs espouse, as facts, political beliefs which cannot be proven, and in many cases (with the best use of the Nutjob Gambit), cannot be easily or visibly disproved.
Perhaps it would be helpful (and fun!) to build a sort of nutjob catalog. In a nod to Jeff Foxworthy I present:
You might be a nutjob if…
If you think the US or Israeli governments engineered the 9/11 attacks, you might be a nutjob.
Will Social Security numbers be used to assign every American the Mark of the Beast? My friend, get ready for some post-apocalyptic antics, because the Anti-Christ is coming to give you a nutjob.
Was Obama born in Kenya, educated in a fundamentalist Islamic madrassa, and/or sent by foreign enemies to destroy America? Yup, you might be a nutjob.
If you think that the dollar is being secretly replaced by a single North American currency (made in China no less), better start storing up gold. Your new nutjob is going to pay you exclusively in shiny new Ameros!
If you think that the Mayan Calendar has correctly predicted the end of the world in 2012 please sell me your car and TV on the cheap (will you accept Ameros?). You might be a nutjob.
Did you refuse to participate in the “Cash for Clunkers” program on the grounds that visiting the website would grant the government ownership of your computer? Congratulations, Big Brother has awarded you a brand-new, 2010 Chrysler Nutjob LX Hybrid. Though in fairness, you are probably entitled to some leniency because you simply bought into the cynical ravings of nationally syndicated nutjob, Glenn Beck. This should probably fall inside an “if it’s on TV, it must be true” exemption.
Was John McCain programmed by the Communists to destroy America while in captivity in Vietnam? YOU WILL DO MY BIDDING, NUTJOB MINION!
Did you forward an email to me claiming that the Obama healthcare proposal would, a) force seniors to end their lives, b) give free healthcare to illegal immigrants, and/or c) specifically harm Trig Palin? You’re gonna love the new psychiatric provisions in your government sponsored health plan, because you might be a nutjob.
If you took time out of your day to attend a Tea Party…Really? It doesn’t make you a nutjob, but what exactly did you hope to accomplish? When did we as conservatives decide to adopt the tactics of stoned ‘60’s college students?
If you think John Kerry faked the injuries that earned him his three Purple Hearts, and did not fulfill his duties in connection with his Bronze or Silver Stars, you are a particularly low species of nutjob.
Are Jews and Blacks conspiring together to destroy the White Man? You are a persistent relic, a nutjob, and a fine inspiration for an upcoming segment on race and the GOP.