Well, if you’ve ever wondered what the spawn of Right-Wing nutjob Phyllis Schlafly might be up to, here’s your answer. He founded an online “encyclopedia” intended as a right-leaning rebuttal to Wikipedia. You know, because facts seem to have a “Liberal bias” that conflicts with established Conservative ideology.
In a recent interview, Andrew Schlafly said he created Conservapedia to combat “liberal biases on Wikipedia,” an online encyclopedia with more than 11 million registered users and 65 million site visits per month. Conservapedia has 34,259 registered users.
“Wikipedia does not allow conservative truth to be inserted into entries of particular interest to liberals,” said Schlafly in charging that entries on abortion, evolution and global warming are routinely purged.
A spokesman for the Wikimedia Foundation in San Francisco countered that Wikipedia, founded in 2001, seeks a “neutral point of view” in more than 270 languages and does not permit censorship of differing viewpoints. Which, of course, would conflict with Conservative theology, since the suppression of opposing viewpoints is a standard tactic.
“It’s about high-quality facts,” said spokesman Jay Walsh, adding that Wikipedia “receives accusations of being overtly conservative” in addition to the criticism from conservatives.
The competing sites offer wildly differing portrayals of public figures and current events. For example, on Wikipedia, President Barack Obama’s page notes that he is the 44th president of the United States and the first African-American to hold the office. Obama’s page on Conservapedia reads he was “allegedly” born in Hawaii — an allusion to unsubstantiated allegations that he was not born in the United States — and lists another name, Barry Soetoro, that he purportedly once used. The allegation that Obama was not born in the United States has circulated since the presidential campaign despite a lack of any supporting evidence and a statement from Hawaii’s health director claiming to have personally viewed the birth certificate.
“It’s been debunked eight ways from Sunday,” said former Democratic congressional candidate Thomas Wyka of Parsippany, New Jersey.
Schlafly, while asserting that Conservapedia steers clear of “gossip,” defended the birthplace innuendo on his Web site.
“I don’t have a position on it, but there are a fair number of people who question his place of birth. Visitors to the site can make their own decision,” Schlafly said.
Which is rather like saying, “I don’t necessarily believe it, but some people do”. How this bit of gossip qualifies as fact in the Conservapedia alternate reality is unclear.
During Schlafly’s Dec. 8 appearance on the Comedy Channel’s “Colbert Report,” host Stephen Colbert, whose persona is a bombastic satire of right-leaning cable news hosts, facetiously thanked him for “taking the Internet back for conservatives.”
“I want to create my own reality the way you are,” jibed Colbert.
Thomas Wyka, who said he recently discovered Conservapedia via a link on a Wikipedia page, charged that Schlafly’s site is guilty of the same bias, albeit in a conservative direction, that Schlafly tries to pin on Wikipedia.
“It doesn’t seem it was really meant to inform, as opposed to promoting certain talking points. The ‘birther’ thing is very indicative of that,” Wyka said.
Schlafly disagreed, saying, “We’re upfront about our principles. No one is going to be upset that we pretend to be one thing and are something else.”
Unlike, say, Fox News, which claims to be “fair and balanced” but isn’t. That’s sort of the problem, isn’t it? Schlafly and his merry bunch of ideologues seem to think that by stating up front that their web site is intended to promote the Conservative agenda that they’re free to publish whatever Right-Wing, Republican talking points they please as actual fact. The ‘birther’ issue is the perfect example of what you can expect when you lay mountains of facts in front of unhinged ideologues and find them unwilling to believe any of it. They will create their own reality around any issue even when you can bring them official documentation to prove something. When you cannot bring fact before some people because they will automatically reject it, simply because they do not want to believe it, it’s very clear that those people cannot be reasoned with.
Just as there are people who insulate themselves from the world by watching nothing but Fox News and viewing everything through the prism of Right-Wing ideology, so too will Conservapedia allow those misguided zealots on the Far Right to insulute themselves even further from reality, by shaping every fact to reflect the Right-Wing, Neo-Con agenda. It’s yet another step toward creating that perfect Conservative Utopia in which Conservative extremism can flourish without any interference from the nagging demands of reality.
All you need to know about Conservapedia can be summed up in the web site’s entry on Wikipedia.
“Wikipedia is a online encyclopedia written and edited by an ad hoc assemblage of anonymous persons who are mostly, according to the Register (UK), teenagers and unemployed persons. The project was initiated by two atheists: entrepreneur Jimmy Wales and philosophy professor Larry Sanger on January 15, 2001.”
The article goes on to quote Joseph Farah, professional conspiracy theorist and founder of the Right-Wing “news” site WorldNetDaily, who stated that Wikipedia “is not only a provider of inaccuracy and bias. It is wholesale purveyor of lies and slander unlike any other the world has ever known.”
The quote from Farah in the first paragraph of an actual article. What does that say about the agenda of Conservapedia?