In the last few months, as part of my Stranger election coverage, I've attended many conservative and Libertarian rallies. Since conservatives are now writing columns about dealing with the "scary other" these days, it occurs to me that I should take a page from their book and share my experiences with you, in case you ever find yourself in a situation where you might have to deal with a conservative.
(1) While always attentive to the particular qualities of individuals, on the many occasions where you have nothing to guide you but knowledge of mean differences, use statistical common sense:
(1a) Avoid concentrations of conservatives not all known to you personally.
(1b) Stay out of heavily conservative neighborhoods.
(1c) If planning a trip to a beach or amusement park at some date, find out whether it is likely to be swamped with conservatives on that date (neglect of that one got me the closest I have ever gotten to death by self-inflicted gunshot).
(1d) Do not attend events likely to draw a lot of conservatives.
(1e) If you are at some public event at which the number of conservatives suddenly swells, leave as quickly as possible.
(1f) Do not settle in a district or municipality run by conservative politicians.
(1g) Before voting for a conservative politician, scrutinize his/her character much more carefully than you would a normal one.
(1h) Do not act the Good Samaritan to conservatives in apparent distress, e.g., on the highway.
(1i) If accosted by a strange conservative in the street, smile and say something polite but keep moving.
(3) There is a magnifying effect here, too, caused by privilege. White American conservatives tend not to understand that they are the wealthiest, most comfortable people in all of history. They like to pretend that they are always under attack—that their religion is something rare and endangered, even though 60 to 76% of all Americans describe themselves as Christian; that all their luxury goods are constantly in peril, even though crime rates continue to decline; that what other people do in their bedrooms is somehow their business. In fact, if you encounter a conservative in the wild, there is a nine-in-ten chance they will be whining. Simply back away from them; reason will not work.
(4) There are nonetheless several intelligent and well-socialized conservatives. (I’ll use IWSC as an ad hoc abbreviation.) You should consciously seek opportunities to make friends with IWSCs. In addition to the ordinary pleasures of friendship, you will gain an amulet against potentially hilarious accusations of prejudice against conservative thought.
(5) Unfortunately the demand is greater than the supply, so IWSCs are something of a luxury good, like antique furniture or corporate jets. Those many less fortunate conservatives like to hold their few intelligent brethren up as an example of how they are not all bigoted swine. (Sometimes, the most openly racist conservatives will be pilloried in public by other conservatives. This is a ruse to trick people into thinking that racism is not a core value of modern white conservatism. Don't believe it.)
(6)The internet still likes to pretend that it's shocked when a rich white man who self-identifies as a conservative turns out to be a racist pig. This is understandable—stupid people are generally the loudest, so they tend to gather attention to themselves—but it is regrettable. It would be best to leave these few nattering jackasses to their own tiny corners of the internet and ignore their bigoted comments on blog posts. They are the past, and slowly, inexorably, they are going extinct.