Wednesday, March 28, AD 2012
Recently I followed the twitter feed of the National Institute of Marriage (NOM), an organization that is fighting efforts to permit gay marriage. There is another twitterer with the blog handle Ifollowhate, and he (or she, or maybe they) follows every person who follows the NOM account, and promptly tweets to said person, “why do you follow a hate group?” I thought little of it and didn’t bother to respond, so I just blocked this account. Then I thought about this. There is a person (again, maybe more than one person is attached to the account) who spends their entire day parked on twitter, seeing who follows another twitter user, ready to pounce on any individual who dares follow this group. (NOTE: Not exactly – see comments. This is an automated program, though the Ifollowhate twitter account does followup with other twitter users.)
What a sad existence. Imagine if your entire life was spent devoted to nothing more than harassing people you disagree with politically, accusing them of being (or following) a hate group. Yet the mentality that drives such a person (or group) is more and more common.
In Los Angeles, the City Council passed a resolution that condemns certain types of speech on the radio.
The City Council has approved a resolution calling on local TV and radio stations to limit any “racist” and “sexist” comments on their broadcasts.
The City Council voted 13-2 to pass the resolution with a motion urging “the management of radio and television stations in Los Angeles to do everything in their power to ensure that their on-air hosts do not use and promote racist and sexist slurs over public airwaves in the City of Los Angeles”.
What sparked the resolution? A radio show in Los Angeles had called Whitney Houston a “crack ho.” Yes, this is the sort of thing that prompts local governments to stand resolutely. You don’t have to agree with the radio personalities in order to find the City Council’s resolution to be preposterous. Sure it is non-binding at this point, but there is certainly an organized effort to silence speech that individuals on the left find disagreeable. See Rush Limbaugh advertiser Mark Stevens.
An advertiser from the Rush Limbaugh show is speaking out about the ongoing war against his business. Mark Stevens, founder and CEO of global marketing firm MSCO, claims that ever since he promised to stick by Limbaugh’s show after the radio host’s controversial comments about Sandra Fluke, his own company has become the target of an organized effort to drive him out of business.
Earlier on America Live, Mark Stevens described the boycott of his company as “internal American terrorism.” He said, “You don’t have to strap on a suicide bomber’s belt to engage in terrorism.”
He described the assault saying that the women in his company have been phoned and told that they are “women-haters,” employees have been told that they are under surveillance, and he’s specifically been told that he is in danger.
It’s outrageous that Rush’s advertisers are under such assault. Why are they being pursued this way? Because Rush Limbaugh used the word “slut” in association with Sandra Fluke. Well, I’m sure the same people threatening Rush’s advertisers are also busy threatening the executives at HBO due to Bill Maher using a much nastier word to describe Sarah Palin. Well, not exactly.
If we think about the Rush Limbaugh dust-up from the non-liberal — that is, non-formal — perspective, the similarity between what he did and what Schultz and Maher did disappears. Schultz and Maher are the good guys; they are on the side of truth and justice. Limbaugh is the bad guy; he is on the side of every nefarious force that threatens our democracy. Why should he get an even break?
There is no answer to that question once you step outside of the liberal calculus in which all persons, no matter what their moral status as you see it, are weighed in an equal balance. Rather than relaxing or soft-pedaling your convictions about what is right and wrong, stay with them, and treat people you see as morally different differently. Condemn Limbaugh and say that Schultz and Maher may have gone a bit too far but that they’re basically O.K. If you do that you will not be displaying a double standard; you will be affirming a single standard, and moreover it will be a moral one because you will be going with what you think is good rather than what you think is fair. “Fair” is a weak virtue; it is not even a virtue at all because it insists on a withdrawal from moral judgment.
I know the objections to what I have said here. It amounts to an apology for identity politics. It elevates tribal obligations over the universal obligations we owe to each other as citizens. It licenses differential and discriminatory treatment on the basis of contested points of view. It substitutes for the rule “don’t do it to them if you don’t want it done to you” the rule “be sure to do it to them first and more effectively.” It implies finally that might makes right. I can live with that.
For years I have said that leftists are tolerant of your free speech rights only as long as you agree with them. I never expected a leftist to so bluntly and clearly verify my claim.
Fish’s commentary is particularly illuminating as it expressed the sense that righteous anger is all right. It’s okay to threaten “bad” people like Rush Limbaugh. And when right-wingers like Andrew Breitbasrt die, it’s perfectly acceptable to immediately vent your spleen on twitter and other social media outlets immediately after the news breaks and mock the man and his family. And if a Hispanic man kills a black teenager, there is absolutely nothing wrong with issuing bounties for the man’s head, or even tweeting the person’s address – even if the address is not even the right one.
Filmmaker Spike Lee made waves on Twitter last week when he re-tweeted to his 200,000 followers (h/t Twitchy) what was thought to be George Zimmerman’s home address in Sanford, Florida. Mr. Zimmerman told Sanford police last month that he fatally shot 17 year old Trayvon Martin in self-defense.
However, the Edgewater Circle address Mr. Lee re-tweeted out is not part of the gated Retreat at Twin Lakes where the shooting took place and where Mr. Zimmerman lives. The area is not even a gated community.
In fact, I took a drive to that Edgewater Circle address that so many on Twitter re-tweeted and cursed, and I discovered through a neighbor, named Tim, who lives across the street from the address, that not only does George Zimmerman not live at the lakeside house but a woman by the name of Elaine does.
Hey, but it’s just an innocent mistake. It’s not like Lee hurt anyone.
In an interview tonight, Elaine McClain told TSG that she and her husband were “afraid” due to the online linking of her address to Zimmerman. “We’re keeping everything locked,” she said. McClain added that the couple was particularly unnerved by a letter mailed to them at their home. On the envelope, she said, were printed the words “Taste The Rainbow,” the slogan for Skittles. Martin was carrying a pack of Skittles and a can of ice tea when he was gunned down by Zimmerman.
McClain said her husband returned the envelope unopened to the post office.
Well, they’re whiteys, so they probably had it coming anyway.
Jonah Goldberg wrote a book a few years back titled Liberal Fascism:The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning. He was criticized for the provocative nature of the title. Sure the left may be a lot of things, but they are certainly not fascist.
This may not be fascism, but the the “tolerant” left is growing increasingly intolerant. All disagreement with left-wing policy is denounced as hate speech. See the “war on women” for the latest round of denunciations. Most of the time it’s just one person or small group being obnoxious. Yet there is something sinister at work here. The Black Panther bounties and Spike Lee all but telling his followers to hunt down George Zimmerman – these things are but a tip of the iceberg. I’d love to say that these are isolated incidents. I hope they are. But witnessing the violent reactions on the left to anything they deem inappropriate has me concerned that there is so much more to come.