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Author: DS Leiter

Who’s a “Sheeple,” Really? COVID-19, Conspiracy Rhetoric and Fear of Groupthink

Who’s a “Sheeple,” Really? COVID-19, Conspiracy Rhetoric and Fear of Groupthink

Last week a friend said on their FB wall that they were tired of being called a “sheep” for thinking it was important to wear masks. I instantly knew I needed to look into where it came from, especially in its longer form of “sheeple.” Today you get the beginnings of a series on the highlights of my dive down the deep, dark rabbit hole where the word “sheeple” comes from, and especially how it came to be popularized and…

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Creating a Healthier Serenity Prayer for Stressful Times

Creating a Healthier Serenity Prayer for Stressful Times

I’ve long loved the Serenity Prayer in its classic version. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” When this prayer is paired with a rich understanding of the emotions and stress response processing that has to go with it, it’s great. The problem, of course, is that when it is separated from those things and only viewed cognitively, this prayer can…

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Not Wearing a Mask as “Faith”? A Theological Exploration of God’s will and Mask-Wearing

Not Wearing a Mask as “Faith”? A Theological Exploration of God’s will and Mask-Wearing

Guest post by Rachel Contos In the spirit of “Independence” Day in the US (in quotes because we know not everyone was free that day in 1776), I’d like to take some time to examine freedom from a theological perspective and how God’s will and our own free will fit together in order to address questions of unhealthy theology around mask-wearing. As many people finally begin to peek out from their quarantines for the first time and consider whether to…

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Mask-wearing as “Liberal?”: Christian Nice and Partisan Divides over Public Health

Mask-wearing as “Liberal?”: Christian Nice and Partisan Divides over Public Health

I remember those wide-eyed days of Early Pandemic, when people were assuming that the reality of the virus would overcome partisan divides and bring us all together. Even then, while I hoped it would be the case, as a communication and rhetorical scholar focusing on stress, trauma, and conflict communication, my instincts and training both told me it would likely not. I blogged about my concerns about partisanship and anti-expertise rhetoric here, even in the earliest days of COVID-19. In…

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Loving Day, Christian Nice, and Political Disgusts Enabling Racism

Loving Day, Christian Nice, and Political Disgusts Enabling Racism

As I write this, yesterday (June 12) is Loving Day—the anniversary of when interracial marriage became legal in the whole US in 1967. Today I will talk about this anniversary from my standpoint as a (white) communication scholar, discussing what my personal reaction to the recency of anti-interracial marriage sentiment in the US tells us about the continuing problems of racism and white supremacy going forward among right-leaning moderate populations, as well as how we can stand up against them….

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When Christian Nice Gets Mean in Minimizing Racism

When Christian Nice Gets Mean in Minimizing Racism

All week I’ve been mulling over how to approach writing about the important matters of racism that are prevalent matters of discussion in this particular stage of the religio-political apocalypse. And then a friend sent me an unhealthy meme about racial injustice that one of their friends had posted, and I knew it was time to talk about how exactly Christian Nice, toxic positivity, and the enactment and enablement of racism intersect to suppress and admonish those who stand up…

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Church Buildings as “Essential” and COVID-19: A Rhetorical Analysis

Church Buildings as “Essential” and COVID-19: A Rhetorical Analysis

Yesterday the current head of the executive branch of the US government made an announcement advocating for the immediate reopening of churches and other houses of worship as “essential” as quickly as this weekend. That announcement understandably set off a firestorm in the spiritually-focused groups I’m a part of. In this blog post, as a result, I will be looking at the concept of “houses of worship as essential” and the rhetoric around it. In doing so, I will also…

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Understanding the Rhetoric of COVID Conspiracy Theories—and How to Respond Healthily

Understanding the Rhetoric of COVID Conspiracy Theories—and How to Respond Healthily

I was going to write about something else this week. I had a great thing all cued up. But then my personal FB newsfeed blew up with my Facebook friends dealing with people, most of whom identify as some form of more conservative brand of Christian, hawking conspiracy theories. Most of the rhetoric surrounded this “Plandemic” video, which has since been removed from both YouTube and Facebook because of its misinformation. Once this gained critical mass, I know I needed…

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Striving for Healthy Dissent (in Today’s Progressive Politics)

Striving for Healthy Dissent (in Today’s Progressive Politics)

Hello friends! Lately I’ve been thinking about—and encountering—a lot of both healthy dissent and also the unhealthy varieties, especially when it comes to the 2020 election among my left-leaning and progressive friends. So today I want to unwrap some of those facets of the differences between healthy and unhealthy dissent, and encourage us all to diagnose the difference in ourselves and others so we can achieve our shared goals without too much unhealthy detraction. And let’s be honest: this is…

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COVID-19, Religious Organizations, and Spiritual Trauma: A Rhetorical Analysis

COVID-19, Religious Organizations, and Spiritual Trauma: A Rhetorical Analysis

It happened so quickly, didn’t it? On March 1 in my first article about COVID-19 on this site, I was apologizing for calling the current pandemic “only a cold,” and recommending preparations. About that time I was also recommending that my university students absolutely not shake hands with each other when they did their in-class interviews. Since then, we in the US have all been metaphorically hit by a freight train—okay, a virus—forcing us to rethink how we do connection…

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Assertively Countering #COVID19’s Abusive Effects

Assertively Countering #COVID19’s Abusive Effects

As I’ve gone through the last few weeks, it’s been extremely obvious that the responses to this COVID-19 pandemic that are NOT denialist have fallen roughly along two different tracks, one of which is profoundly more disturbing than the other: (1) this is life, people die, and the economy and/or profits are more important than that; and (2) this is life, let’s band together, and there’s a lot to grieve here, so let’s make space to do that. In this…

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Managing Our Anxieties of Influence in an Age of #COVID19

Managing Our Anxieties of Influence in an Age of #COVID19

This article is about my observations of the anxieties about being able to influence such a huge problem as a global pandemic like #COVID19. You know, that really overwhelming thing that the majority of reasonable people are looking to the best experts to help with right now, and following their advice. Which is why you’re super-anxious about your 79-year-old great aunt who thinks just running to Target for a few things rather than getting delivery is still a very normal…

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Doing Our Best to Maintain Our Pandemic Care Ecosystem

Doing Our Best to Maintain Our Pandemic Care Ecosystem

Well, what I feared when I was researching the piece I wrote here two weeks ago on responding healthily to the coronavirus has happened. It’s here. And not just one death, as it was then. More. We still don’t know even close to the scope of how many cases there are in the US, because of the lack of testing. But things—major things—have been closing. It’s exhaustingly stressful and overwhelming for many of us—those who are taking it seriously and…

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The World’s Looking for a Stable Emergent Leader: No Pressure, Democrats! (A Rhetorical Analysis)

The World’s Looking for a Stable Emergent Leader: No Pressure, Democrats! (A Rhetorical Analysis)

A day or two ago, a sympathetic yet anxious friend from overseas asked me to explain the dynamics around why the fallout from Super Tuesday was coming down the way it was. Between that and others’ interpretations of the race and my own analysis, I’ve come up with a fairly unified theory, based in my study and teaching of stress, trauma, and conflict communication, as to what’s going on. This present blog post will unwrap a few of the dimensions…

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Responding Healthily to the Rhetoric of Denial and Fear: Coronavirus

Responding Healthily to the Rhetoric of Denial and Fear: Coronavirus

I’ve seen great pieces in recent days with titles like “you can’t gaslight a virus.” Sadly, you can muddy the rhetorical waters around it big time though–and that can enable its spread. And we’ve been seeing a lot of that from multiple sources, including the US government. A lot of times the rhetoric ends up ramping up the fear in response to the uncertainty of such an event. This blog post looks at the ways all of this happens and…

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