Women's Hoops Blog

Inane commentary on a game that deserves far better

Friday, March 25, 2005

From my eldest brother, ordained minister, author, PhD student, and blogger, regarding my Liberty post:
Listen, I think that Liberty University is a blight on this planet and a huge boil on the ass of liberal democracy. It must be lanced.

However, I think you're being a little hard on the 18-22 year olds who play there; the chances are that they were socialized in places very similar to LU -- very strict homes and institutions, and it takes people a long time change their habits of mind and body when they've had such a strong socialization.

Conservative evangelicals and fundamentalists thrive in America, in large part, because they have fostered the false notion among their own people that they are persecuted. Showing contempt for those in that camp who are still in late adolescence will do nothing but reinforce those feelings of persecution when they are still at a malleable age, and that is sure to reify their fundamentalism. A better tactic than booing and epithet-hurling might be cheering and, dare I say, love. Well, the old word "charity" probably fits better here.

They aren't bad people, they're just brainwashed.
Maybe so. But aren't we all "just brainwashed"? I was brainwashed by my school to support gay rights just as the kids at Liberty are brainwashed to oppose them. We are all products of socialization. Beliefs, to a great extent, are caused, not chosen.

Having accepted that determinist conclusion, there may seem little reason to criticize or praise anyone's beliefs. Neither my support for gay rights nor anyone else's opposition has any moral worth; both are simply artifacts of a random process that kicked me into one political camp and the folks at Liberty into another.

And yet -- criticism and praise are themselves belief-causing agents. The world of women's basketball (teams, the media, internet message boards) is itself an institution of socialization. If we can mobilize that institution to work for change, we should. If we can apply social pressure to change beliefs, we should.

So what is the best way to cause change? Is it booing or cheering? Should we criticize and fight the other side, or should we try to love them and bring them gently into the fold? (These are the same questions that policymakers ask about Cuba and China. These are the same questions, no doubt, that evangelicals ask about gay people.)

I don't have any easy answer for those questions. Different tactics work best in different situations. Part of it depends on whether you are really trying to convince the folks at Liberty, or whether you are actually trying to ostracize and isolate them to lessen their influence. We will never convince Jerry Falwell, but by booing him, we may send an effective signal to some undecideds that if they wish to avoid censure, they should not join him.

It's indirect marketing. It's Durkheim.

But it is not certain to succeed. No particular tactic is. Some will choose to boo; some will choose to love. Each fan must decide for herself.