Apparently, American Christian conservatives are so fed up with living in an environment that doesn't mold itself in strict accordance with their views that they have embarked on a mission to literally redefine every aspect of the world we all share. Never mind that religions tend to create perceived realities that are unique to themselves anyway, these folks are out to repaint the world in patriotically correct and properly Christian colors.
Put down your devilish dictionary. Toss aside that errant encyclopedia. Everything you need to know is in the new Conservapedia, "An encyclopedia you can trust." The Conservapedia folks seem to have it in for Wikipedia in particular: The Conservapedia likens itself, "...a much-needed alternative to Wikipedia, which is increasingly anti-Christian and anti-American."
Ant-Christian, and anti-American? Those are some weighty charges. So, what, exactly, are the crimes that Wikipedia is guilty of anyway?
The Conservapedia provides a list of Wikipedia's crimes of bias. Here are just a few of examples of Wikipedia's bias, and there are plenty more where these came from:
1. The entry for the Renaissance in Wikipedia refuses to give enough credit to Christianity. 2. Wikipedia often uses foreign spelling of words, even though most English-speaking users are American. 3. Edits to include facts against the theory of evolution are almost immediately censored. On Conservapedia, contributions that meet simple rules (a.k.a. Commandments, see below) are respected to the maximum extent possible.
To post an entry on the Conservapedia, there are six Commandments that must be observed:
1. Everything you post must be true and verifiable.
2. Always cite and give credit to your sources, even if in the public domain.
3. Edits/new pages must be family-friendly, clean, concise, and without gossip or foul language.
4. When referencing dates based on the approximate birth of Jesus, give appropriate credit for the basis of the date (B.C. or A.D.). "BCE" and "CE" are unacceptable substitutes because they deny the historical basis.
5. As much as is possible, American spelling of words must be used.
6. Do not post personal opinion on an encyclopedia entry. (There's a discussion page for that.)
So, given the Conservapedia's mission to counterbalance Wikipedia and given the Commandments to which new entries must adhere, what kind of information can the Conservapedia impart to us all? Let's flip through the Conservapedia's virtue-al pages and see if it can set us straight on a few things:
Dissidents: Dissidents are people who disagree with established religious or political systems or ideals.
Question: Are religion and politics the only two arenas in which one can hold a dissenting opinion? Or is the Conservapedia's goal to reinforce the concept that dissent in any form is, by definition, anti-relgion or anti-establishment? My American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language simply defines a dissident as, "One who disagrees. A dissenter."
America: A group of continent's (sic) in the Western Hemisphere. They cover over 8.3% of the Earths (sic) total surface (total surface 28.4%).
A group of continents? Methinks the Americas are but a pair. I'm not sure how they figured their math here either. The Americas constitute 8.3 percent of the Earth's surface. Okay, but then what is that 28.4 a percentage of? I think they're referring to the percentage of the Earth's surface that is land as opposed to water, but the Conservapedia doesn't tell us that. Conservapedia, don't let me down!
Contras: The Contras were the anti-communist party of Nicaragua in the 1980s. The United States supported the Contras by selling weapons to Iran, a prominent Muslim nation. Normally this would have been illegal, but it was done by President Reagan, so that was okay.
I had to read that last sentence a couple of times and remind myself that it is intended to be taken at face value; that is, without a hint of sarcasm.
Guest Workers: Guest workers are illegal immigrants from developing countries (such as Latin America) to industrialized countries (such as the United States) who seek better jobs and want legal status.
I tried to find a Conservapedia definition for work visa. No luck. Oh, and since when has Latin America been a country?
Fascism: Fascism is a political form of government that believes that the nation is more important then any individual. A dictator rules the nation and imposes economic and social regimentation. It is often an autocratic system that has a militarized government. A symbol, like the swastika, is often used for mind control. Special salutes to the dictator are also common. Equally common in Fascist societies is strict information control, such as the "people's radio" in Nazi Germany which delivered only one channel of propaganda, 24/7. Allowing only information which supports the far-right state is a common means of fascist control. This is especially pertinent given the content and purpose of this website as a distributor of conservative-only information.
So, if the Conservapedia is a wellspring of conservative-only (mis)information, then has it not been painted by the fascist brush per the definition above?
The above examples represent some of the lengthier Conservapedia entries that I encountered. Most dispense with any unnecessary information and give you only what you need, sort of like being on an information diet. For example, the Conservapedia trims all the fat away from its definition of consumerism: "Consumerism is when the consumption of goods and services in a culture increases way beyond what people need." Succinct as that definition is, I suspect that consumerism is a wee bit more complex than that. The Conservapedia saves us from drowning in too much information.
The Conservapedia, like its sinful cousin Wikipedia, is open to and relies on contributions from its readers. To that end, both are subject to any misrepresentations, deliberate or accidental, that might appear in the articles submittend by their readers. However, unlike Wikipedia, it has editors and administrators dedicated to ensuring that "people to learn the facts the way they ought to be told."
Charges that Conservative Christians are detached from reality have been fairly common for as long as I can remember, and undoubtedly longer. But perhaps that's not exactly true. Apparently, they attach quite nicely to a reality all their own.