The Language of Fantatics

Fanatics not only deal in absolutes, they have a binary view of life. Everything is either completely one way or completely the opposite way. For example, normal people have a wide range of reactions to homosexuality. At one end are people who hate the gays and at the other are people who think the guys are great. Most people lie somewhere in between those two polls. The fanatic sees only homophobes and homophiles.

As a result, fanatics have a range of words they use to describe the undifferentiated other on the other side of the wall from them. People who agree with them, are inside the wall, while the people who don’t completely agree are on the other side of the wall. As a result, they have a lot of ways to describe the people outside the wall, but only one way to describe the people in the inside. They are the righteous, the anointed.

You see it in this article from Reason magazine about the Duck Dynasty guy. Even they call his comments “anti-gay.” In other words, because he does not fully embrace the latest fads with regards to homosexuals, he must hate homosexuals and wish them harm. he’s anti-gay. His brand of Christianity, like 99% of Christianity, considers sex outside of marriage a sin. Therefore, gay sex is a sin. That’s a statement of fact.

He said the same thing about bestiality and drunkenness. No one is upset at him for being anti-animal or anti-booze. The reason, of course, is those things lack a band of dedicated fanatics defending them. Sodomites have a phalanx of Progressive lunatics willing to attack anyone that gets too close to the walls. They don’t care why he does not embrace their position, they just see him as the ultimate evil because he is on the other side.

That’s the way it must be with fanatics. You are either with them or against them. There’s no room to be indifferent. It try to stake out some middle ground or you really are indifferent, they will force you to choose sides. It’s why their language becomes stark. You are either in favor of “gay rights” or you are anti-gay, a homophobe, a bigot, etc. You’re either on the side of the righteous or you are an enemy of all that is good.

The reason for this is, in part, psychological. The fanatic is most likely biologically driven to be a fanatic. As Eric Hoffer noted, the true believer will jump from one fanaticism to another, often participating in many at the same time. For instance, an environmentalist will also be a member of some Marxist group, a vegan and an animal rights nut. In other words, the cause is unimportant. it is being in a cause that matters.

Then there is the fact that the fanatic is often driven by a sense of self-loathing, which is why they seek to completely submerge themselves in the cause. They swap their hated sense of self for that of the group. You really can’t be too extreme when trying to cleanse yourself of that which you hate, which is you. What the fanatic thinks is worth doing, they will always assume it worth overdoing. It is what makes them feel free.

The fanatic probably has a use evolutionary use to humans. The rules of society need to be enforced. Society needs to be defended. Sacrifices need to be made for the good of the group. The fanatic can ensure his genes pass on by defending his group. In settled society, this trait probably adapted to settled life. Every society has its fanatics and every society has some use for them. That’s not an accident.

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You might enjoy Brett Lee brutalising Piers Morgan. It really would have hurt.