Monday, April 6, 2015

The "Special Snowflake" Syndrome of American Conservatives

The "religious freedom" debacles in Indiana and Arkansas have illustrated a lot of important points lately. The big one, of course, is that we as a society are moving past the point where it is socially acceptable to harbor animus toward another human being because of their sexual orientation, and try to find refuge in the law for discriminatory impulses that arise from that animus.

But there's another important one that should not be overlooked. It's the religious far-right's "special snowflake" syndrome. That's really what the entire conversation is about: conservative Christians thinking that because they believe God sanctions their particular brand of bigotry, they're special snowflakes who shouldn't be retrained by human decency, much less the pesky laws that the rest of us are obliged to follow. If you hate hard enough, the rules don't apply to you.

Because you are a special snowflake, who really, really believes in what you're doing; your feelings about something make you so special that the law just ceases to apply to special little you.

And it's not like conservatives are going too far out on a limb in believing this. In some measure we've come to accept that belief should excuse you from following the law, even as it impacts others. With, for instance, Hobby Lobby, we see a shift toward the idea that your beliefs, even if factually wrong, simply exempt you from the law -- even when, in practice, that has an impact on other people. We've moved away from the sensible idea that a person shouldn't be held to laws that conflict with his beliefs where exemption won't have an impact on others, to a world where religion is a valid excuse to get out of such obviously necessary things as driver's licensing rules. So we've gone from "your career won't be ruined for using a prohibited substance in your religious ceremony" to "you don't have to provide health care coverage for medicine you don't like". Religion and religious belief has become the trump card: having a belief about something, in a sense, did make you a special snowflake, and you could get away with all sorts of things, regardless of the impact on other people, by virtue of how special you were.

All animals are equal, but animals who profess a strongly held belief are more equal.

Or so conservatives, and their overly broad interpretations of religious freedom, seem to have convinced themselves. And then along comes the Indiana skirmish, and all of a sudden this isn't a given any more. Along the lines of "your right to swing your fist ends where the other fellow's nose begins," people, it seems, are not willing to make the same allowance for belief when it impacts people beyond the believer as they are when it concerns just the believer. In other words, people still haven't lost sight of the only sensible view of religious liberty there is: we should all be free to live according to our consciences, up until the moment that those consciences drive us to impose our beliefs on another person. In a world full of competing, often contradictory ideas, this is the only view of religious liberty that is feasible, or could possibly be evenly applied.

And it's a far cry from the special snowflake syndrome conservatives seem to be suffering from...because, at the end of the day, none of us are or should be special snowflakes in the eyes of the law, and none of us should have a trump card to use at the expense of our neighbors.

(Image info: "Unique, snow flake" by Pen Waggener - Flickr: Unique. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.)


  1. Beautifully expressed. Just absolutely beautiful. I find "Special Snowflake" to be precisely the label I've been looking for to express the attitude of conservatives in general and fundamentalist Christians in particular.Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    Best wishes,

  2. "overly broad interpretations of religious freedom"

    Maybe, maybe not. There many overly broad interpretations of the manner in which people ought to be conducting their personal relations with other people. Today. It seems anything goes and f you don't think so, then you are the odd one - and you need to be punished for it.

    American society has been turned it's head by the adolescent class (progressives) who are growing up to be the downfall of this exceptional country. Progressives who don't know right from wrong - it's all a grey area, you know - don't seem to believe there is a need to respect the beliefs of others while demonizing and (trying to) punish those who disagree with them. They seem to think that the government ought to make people comply with progressive beliefs, while excluding the beliefs of others. It's the only way progressive ideas can spread - instilling fear of being shunned, costing people their jobs, homes and livelihood - and all because you aren't happy.

    "With, for instance, Hobby Lobby, we see a shift toward the idea that your beliefs, even if factually wrong, simply exempt you from the law."

    Two things: 1. If you're going to use the phrase "factually" it's best to have some facts. And, 2. The only exemption is from a completely flawed and partisan law that informed Americans know is not designed to help anyone, but in fact (there's that word) is another Democratic Party client voter program - designed in the same vein as the failed Great Society and New Deal programs.

    "Religion and religious belief has become the trump card"

    Not so. This not new. Recall the First Amendment to the US Constitution - the very first one in the Bill of Rights. The first sentence is about nothing except religion. The reason it is there and necessary is due to attitudes of progressives. Your post proves its worth. Of course the idea is that people are protected from those with different beliefs from unfairly treating them due to their religion.

    And this: "we should all be free to live according to our consciences, up until the moment that those consciences drive us to impose our beliefs on another person."

    While being in aggreement with that statement, there is nothing in the Indiana's law that imposes anything on anyone - there is no there there.

    FYI: This is a large and very diverse country. The states that can be very different from each other and in every town and city you'll find lots of jobs, caterers, florists, limousine companies, etc. If you go somewhere where they don't want to participate in your lifestyle choice there are literally thousands of others who will be happy to play along. So why bother the one? ( Because it's a great way to make a worthless mountain out of a worthless molehill. I'm sure your fans eat this stuff up.)

    Time to grow up kids. The real world you are building is waiting for you to diverge from your new norm so you can receive some of your own medicine. This is not for me to decide - your peers will decide it when they discover something about you that is the cause-celeb of the day and pounce like progressives and liberals blindly pounce on others today. I recommend watching - studying - the movie "Brazil" ( It's very insightful where progressive ideology will take us.

    BTW: How many weddings, gay or otherwise, are catered by small family owned pizza stores? I'm thinking there was only one asked and they were asked because the "reporter" canvassed enough stores to find one to make a her name nationally recognized among progressives and the legacy media.

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  4. "...they're special snowflakes who shouldn't be retrained (sic) by human decency...". I believe you meant "restrained", unless you were referring to "conversion therapy".