Time Out from the partisan fray for a moment. Can we talk?
I was once banned from a (of course) Blogging Tory site for having once told the host to “drop dead”. I supposed I deserved it - not for the homicidal wish, but for the unforgivable inelegance of the expression, and my surrender to mere pique. The BT (who shall remain nameless except for his name - how ya doing, Steve ?) announced somberly that my ban had been occasioned by the “Death Threat” I had uttered, and went on at some length about the “murderous” tendencies of the Left, and our predilection for “killing off” those who disagree with us. I believe this was all accompanied by clumsy Photoshops of Nazis or something, with the implication that my “drop dead” was a precursor to a mass internment and assassination of conservative bloggers.
I did not, in fact, want the blogger to drop dead. Had I read next day that the blogger succumbed in the night to an aneurysm or been squashed by a bus, I would have been most distressed. And I think it was probably clear to virtually every reader of the blog in question (both of them) that I was not, in fact, issuing a fatwa or a death curse (had that actually been my wish, I would have used the ol’ Avada Kedavra, in which I am quite adept). I rather suspect Steve, dim though he may be, knew that himself.
It seems an unfortunate trend these days: taking unfortunate remarks uttered by distinguished opponents in obvious jest or error, wresting them out of context, and running back to our tribe (not you, Scott) brandishing the bloody, severed fragment of text and shouting: “Look! LOOK! See what THEY said NOW?”
It’s easiest to mock this strategem when THEY do it to us. Kathy Shaidle probably knows that Antonia Zerbisias didn’t actually want to see Michelle Malkin murdered. Patrick Ross undoubtedly knew that Canadian Cynic doesn’t endorse pedophilia. Heck, even a cretin as dire as Maria Nunes probably realizes that Obama actually knows how many states there are. (Well, in the case of Dodo, maybe not.)
Unfortunately we’re not immune to the attraction of temporarily shutting down our sense of the absurd and playing the same game - waxing indignant because of Sarah Palin’s use of cross hairs or Shaidle’s disgusting “jokes” about distributing smallpox-infected blankets to the uppity Aboriginals she despises.
Well, it’s all good clean rhetorical fun. But every once in a while it’s good to run a quick reality check. Palin isn’t actually calling for the murder of Democrats. Zerb wasn’t actually calling for the murder of Michelle Malkin. Shaidle isn’t actually calling for the mass slaughter of Aboriginal people. ((Well, in the case of Shaidle…naw, just kidding. She’s not. Probably.)
And as long as we’re running through the list - Tom Flanagan wasn’t actually calling for the murder of Julian Assange. We know that, right?
These are all instances of either extremely bad taste, poorly chosen wording, or gleeful excision of content from context to produce a gratifyingly shocking quote and a wave of indignant blogposts. It’s fun: I confess I have enjoyed doing it myself. But reading some of the commentary on Flanagan’s flippant, unfunny, but essentially trivial remark on Assange, I get the uneasy feeling that we may be turning into the humor-challenged, politically correct bores that our brethren on the right love to mock.
Flanagan is a creep of the first water, a racist with some of the most repellent views on Aboriginal policy put to paper in the last fifty years. Does he seriously believe we should adopt assassination as an instrument of state policy? I doubt it. Do YOU seriously think that’s what he actually meant?
Take it for what it was: a stupid, tasteless “joke” from a shallow academic clown past his prime, grown way too fond of his new status as a Conservative pundit - like Ezra, a media whore who lazy journalists rely on for a reliably “outrageous” quote rather than an intelligent analysis. That’s all. Was it inappropriate? Sure. Does it deserve publication and mockery? Sure.
But by taking this kind of bullshit too seriously, at face value, we cheapen the game - especially if we KNOW we’re being baited, and respond anyway.
So let’s not.
Okay, sermon over. Game on. Let’s go see what that evil Nazi racist Islamophobic hatemonger Arnie’s lying about now.