The Clinton Hate Meme

(Warning: Some of what follows makes for unpleasant and disturbing reading. If you are faint-hearted, scroll down to the “One Book” post.]

Richard Dawkins created the meme–or at least the word and the concept. Dawkins is a geneticist by trade. His first bestseller is called The Selfish Gene. He believed that this one concept can explain all the diversity of life. The gene is basically selfish–it’s only desire is to preserve its structure by replicating itself. Of course, the gene doesn’t know that it is selfish. What he means basically is that those genes that replicate themselves are the ones that survive; and those that don’t, don’t. Genes which cause behavior that leads to the replication of the gene are the genes that survive.

Even altruism, for example a vixen who risks her life to save her kits from a fire, is just an example of the selfish gene in action. The vixen is being impelled by her selfish genes. They don’t really care about her or the kits, they just want to copy themselves, on to eternity if possible.

Dawkins noticed a curious similarity of behavioral and cultural traits to the behavior of genes. Cultural artifacts–things like language (including its elements, such as individual words, grammatical patterns), traditions, customs, beliefs are memes. They are not literally passed on by mechanical reproduction like genes are; but they they do continue to replicate and survive.

Many memes survive because they are advantageous to their bearers. For example, patriotism has had a value in preserving groups of people from their enemies. Some memes, however, are like viruses or parasites. They survive with remarkable tenacity in spite of the ways they harm their hosts.

I lived across the river from Arkansas during the Clinton years. I was surrounded mostly by Christians, which meant (of course) conservative Republicans–even in a traditionally democratic region of the country. Politics is a rough sport, and people can have passionate opinions. I can understand people taking a stand on issues; I can understand believing that character is important. What I never understood was the level of vitriolic and irrational hatred of the Clintons. It became a self-replicating meme that survives to this day.

Bill Clinton had a distant relative who was raped by a thug named Wayne Dumond. So great was the hatred of the Clintons, that when Dumond was convicted of the crime, many people believed Dumond was innocent and had been railroaded due to the influence of the president. “The enemy of my enemy is my hero.” Dumond had earlier confessed to two sexual assaults and participation in a murder. Nevertheless, he became the hero of the Clinton haters.

Dumond himself was the victim of a brutal assault (many believe) by friends of the local sheriff under the Arkansas version of Sharia law. He was beaten and castrated. The sheriff had his testicles collected and packed in a pickle jar filled with formaldehyde; and he then displayed the specimen in his office. Many assumed the vigilantes were avenging the attack on the seventeen-year-old cheerleader; but it may have been more because he had threatened to expose corruption in the sheriff’s office.

Dumond was convicted of the rape and sentenced to life plus twenty years. Some Arkansans take things pretty literally, so I assume they would have kept Dumond’s rotting corpse in jail for twenty years after he expired from natural causes.

The conservative Republicans and conservative Baptists evidently pressured the new governor, Mike Huckabee, into freeing their persecuted hero, Wayne Dumond. Huckabee turned a deaf ear to the pleas of the mother of one of Dumond’s victims. She warned him that he would attack again, and not leave a witness to testify this time. The governor withdrew plans to pardon Dumond by direct action; but members of the parole board have testified that they were pressured to do the governor’s bidding.

Many sociologists believe rape is a hate crime motivated more by rage and the desire to dominate and humiliate, than by lust. In that sense, there is no real way to disarm a rapist. Dumond did attack again shortly after being released. He murdered a woman in Missouri.

Politics is a rough sport. Maybe Governor Huckabee made an honest mistake. But if a rising candidate can be derailed by an irrationally exuberant shout, it’s only fair that Reverend Huckabee be called to account for his tragic intervention to free a dangerous predator. The governor’s tragic mistake may have been fueled by the irrational hatred of Bill and Hillary Clinton which captured that segment of the political spectrum that has always prided itself in law and order, and family values.

[More details in the Arkansas Times]

7 Responses

  1. Mark,

    You may want to look into this a little further. The article you base your story on is two years old and there has been a lot of stuff since then that disputes this.

    I am not sure if I am going to support Huckabee or not, but he was asked about this as recent as yesterday on the Today show by Meredith and his answer and the other things I have read about this the last couple of weeks make this seem not nearly as one-sided as you have painted it here.

    Perhaps there is more to the story.


    Frank Sansone

  2. Thanks Frank,
    I will look into it further.
    Do you think there might be something to my suggestion that (regardless of Huckabee’s involvement) the whole thing was spurred by an irrational hatred of the Clintons?
    The result is still the same, an innocent woman is dead because of the premature pardon of a dangerous predator.

  3. Mark,

    I am not sure. (Again, I am much further removed from Arkansas than you are and did not know the Clinton connection until recently.)

    I think the fact that Jim Guy Tucker was involved in opening Dumond up for parole in the first place (and I always viewed him as a Clinton supporter rather than a Clinton hater) makes the connection of this case with Clinton hating a little suspect. I would think that a theory relating this to Clinton hating would need to explain how Tucker’s role in this fits in with that theory, because I am not seeing it.

    I wonder, instead, if this may have had more to do with the assault on Dumond afterwards.

    Just thinking.


  4. Well, it could be that my hunch is just wrong. Maybe the people who freed Dumond were sincere. He did win a lawsuit against the sheriff. Maybe they thought he had suffered enough. He was convicted on the testimony of the victim. Evidently DNA evidence was not presented in the trial. It was wrongly stated that DNA evidence had “exonerated” him. The Arkansas Times story does report that Huckabee was not well informed about the details of the case. He may have regarded it as unfinished business from a previous administration.

    There is still the testimony that at least one of the mothers of a previous victim of Dumond pleaded with Governor Huckabee not to allow Dumond to be released, and he turned a deaf ear to those pleas. As a minimum, he could have investigated further. There is also the testimony of credible witnesses on the parole board that they were pressured and told that it was Governor Huckabee’s desire that Dumond be paroled. Maybe someone falsely represented the governor.

    There is also the report that several conservative Christian leaders in Arkansas and Missouri believed Dumond was innocent and that he had been railroaded due to Clinton influence. I’m still convinced that was motivated by a blind hatred of the Clintons.

    I will do more fact checking on this story, and in the future before I write controversial posts.

    One more detail . . .

    I am also convinced that “brutality brutalizes”–and I do not advocate violence against people like Dumond. I think predators need to be in a place where they cannot harm other citizens. The public needs to be protected, but that kind of vengeance doesn’t “teach a lesson” to criminals; it only increases their rage and desire to hurt someone else.

    I no longer live in Memphis. I didn’t pay a lot of attention to the case then, except that I wondered why he was released, and then I moved closer to the Kansas City area where Dumond moved, and I was familiar with his name when he was arrested for murder.

  5. The facts as you stated: Dumond had confessed to two sexual assaults and participation in a murder. In my opinion, that should be enough to keep him locked away for good. I am interested in the conection you try to make to Dawkin’s selfish gene theory and people’s actions in the political arena. As you are not writing an expose, editorial, or research paper I’d encourage you to continue with your blog as usual. Interesting, Mark.

    (P.S. I wouldn’t vote for Huckabee if given the chance.)

  6. Pastor Frank,

    I don’t think there is any such thing as unbiased political advocacy, but an article at Media Matters this morning does present quite a bit of evidence from both sides. It also has links to a KC Star article of Dec 5, 2007, and this morning’s video.

    Media Matters at least doesn’t hide its bias. One of Eric (no known relation) Alterman’s books listed there is called “Why We Are Liberals.”

    If you find other sources, please post them here. You may have to type out the full url if you site an online source, but I can edit it to convert to an easy link.


  7. Mark,

    I actually just looked up some things today. I will also admit that the sources may not be the most “unbiased.”

    First, Huckabee’s own response:

    Second, some comments from an aid who was there at the parole board meeting –

    Third, an article by Byron York that tries to cover the story a little more from both sides – M1YWY=&w=MA==

    Here is a some info from the KC Star and another source –

    Anyway, I think everyone agrees with 20-20 hindsight that this was not a good decision – even Huckabee. I just am not sure of the connection to hating Clinton.

    Thanks for your time.

    (BTW, I can’t figure out how to get WordPress to let me just be “Frank Sansone”, so please don’t consider this as any kind of comment made officially in my pastoral role – it is just me being me.)

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