Conservatism is not rebellion
Nothing irritates me more than people who think that they are shockingly rebellious because they are conservative, and I mean it this time. A long time ago, someone (probably Rush Limbaugh) discovered that by setting up an easily offended liberal strawman and then repeatedly knocked it over, you could convince people that they were being shocking and rebellious by trying to out-reactionary their neighbor. MaxSpeak comments on this tendency in the post about the winners of the InstaPundit Blogroll Contest:
We also observe in these quarters the sophomoric desire to shock liberals. The quoted bloggers express a desire to win the vote. They think their viciousness is a badge of machismo, like suburban white boys who affect ghetto gangsta postures. We had the Beastie Boys, and now we have the beastie bloggers. They try to act dangerous, but all they really want to do is become commodities, and they don't even know it. There is no reason to fear nameless little people with keyboards. Rather, the approach is clinical, like the study of bugs.
Outside the unnecessary dissing of the Beastie Boys, who are not suburban phonies affecting ghetto gangsta postures, Max is right. As compelling as the rebellious pose of these freaky conservatives is, it is essentially empty. They are tools who have fallen for the easiest ploy in the world (shock people with empty cruelty!), working for free for an establishment that's just bolstering its own wealth and power. Woo-hoo! Rebelling for the status quo.
You can rebel without shocking, and shock without rebelling. Nonetheless, people do tend to equate the two, since shock is often the best way to bring attention to your rebellion. So, the best way to take the steam out of the co-option of the shockingly "rebellious" pose by the conservative establishment and their lackeys is to refuse to be shocked by it. Laughing at it is a good strategy, since it will keep you sane. Sure, some conservatives will try to pretend that the laughter is just shock, but if we keep laughing, it will become hard for them to pretend.
One way or another, refuse to be shocked. Calling for torture, racism, woman-hating, all sorts of disgusting things need to be met with an unplussed call for our society to grow up already. Not that we should ignore the shocking things they say; I think Media Matters, etc. is doing a great job by bringing the meanness and the lies to light. But the tone of the reaction needs to be either a calm, scientific approach, as Max said, or outright mockery.