“I don’t trust fanatics.”

My mother told me that when I came home from church talking about a sermon.  The preacher was condemning pornography in mainstream movies.  He and several church elders had gone to see Porkies as a ‘research project’ and were “appalled” at its content. (yes, I was a teenager when Porkies came out.)

I had been inclined to self flagellation because I saw Porkies and thought it was hilarious and had not been all that worried about its over the top nudity and sexual situations.

“I don’t trust fanatics.” That was all my mother said.  But it made me wonder about whether the dear reverend was a fanatic.  I wasn’t sure.  I always assumed he must be good because he was, after all, standing up there preaching.

Fanatics.  Extremists.  They paint narrow lines of conduct, often conduct that is against our very nature.  They define right and wrong and do not admit that sometimes its neither or both.  They don’t care about people, they care about ideas.  They talk about love, and act on hate.  They aren’t about helping, they are about proving their point.

I think there are lots of fanatics in the world.  Folks like my old pastor, who go looking for things to condemn.  They hurt people in many ways.  They create social and legal barricades against people who aren’t like them.  They promote hate and fear.  They do it all in the guise of morality.

When the belief gets strong enough, they blow up buildings and shoot children.  When it is strong enough and supported, they send armies out to war.  And they think its OK.  Because they believe in something.

They are standing next to you.


7 thoughts on ““I don’t trust fanatics.”

  1. Good post. There is an old saying, “never argue with a street preacher.” Why? If he is fervent enough to stand on a corner, he is not one to engage in two sided, intellectual debate. Yet, the internet has clouded the identification of street preachers online. I am using this to define fanatics, not just religious zealots. These zealots can find a following of other street preachers around the world, so now they have built a network of zeal.

    To me, the key is the tone and name-calling. If someone is shouting at you online or in person or peppering their argument with name-calling or labels, their arguments are poor. If facts won’t work on these folks or if they cannot use a sense of decorum, then they should be avoided. Just like you would walk past a street preacher, we should avoid the online zealots as well. This is why it is so awful that a few presidential candidates are doing precisely these things – they should be avoided.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Its astounding how many people think that name calling is an actual debate technique.

      It points to the number of people who FEEL a certain why but really have not CONSIDERED their position or the opposing side of the opinion.

      I think a great many fanatics start their lives in the place of “I feel something” and then they move out from there toward an unnerving certainty of truth, which they are quite sure is real.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Good point. Once the feeling is solidified, any data to the contrary is rationalized away. This is that cognitive dissonance we hear so much about. If you shake someone’s beliefs with reason, logic and data, he or she will have a physical reaction of disharmony or dissonance. They will not believe you, as it does not support a belief or trusted advisor’s instruction. An easy example – unemployment is down to 4.9%, but it is not believed by many, even though it is reported monthly by the Bureau of Labor. Since that data point runs counter to the GOP rhetoric we are doing horribly as a country, it is discounted or in DT’s case said it is simply not true and that it is more like 30% – 40%, which would place in a severe depression.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Do you remember during the end of the day on the last Presidential Election, how Fox News could NOT accept the results? I thought it was the perfect example of cognitive bias leading them down a blind path and the cognitive dissonance of the reality being played out live on TV.


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