Contributed by: filbert Monday, December 23 2013 @ 08:18 AM CST
Look, I’m an effete foreigner who likes show tunes. My Broadway book was on a list of “Twelve Books Every Gay Man Should Read.” Andrew Sullivan said my beard was hot. Leonard Bernstein stuck his tongue in my mouth (long story). But I’m not interested in living in a world where we have to tiptoe around on ever thinner eggshells. If it’s a choice between having celebrity chefs who admit to having used the N-word in 1977 (or 1965, or 1948, or whenever the hell it was) and reality-show duck-hunters who quote Corinthians and Alec Baldwin bawling out some worthless paparazzo who’s doorstepping his family with a “homophobic” slur, or having all of them banished from public life and thousands upon millions more too cowed and craven to speak lest the same fate befall them, I’ll take the former any day.
Superstar Opinion Writer (you know, the ferocious defender of free speech) stooped to repeating two very old, very hoary vaudeville-style jokes as examples of speech that is simply no longer allowed in today’s society. Well . . .
Step 2: Have the Editor for said Superstar Opinion Writer affect the vapours[*2] that Superstar Opinion Writer would stoop to such unseemly, uncivil, biting sarcasm, singling out, of course, those very jokes that Superstar Opinion Writer identified as using language which . . . er . . . causes the vapours among the vaporous. Horrors!
By way of criticizing speech, I’ll say that I found the derogatory language in this column, and especially the slur in its borrowed concluding joke, both puerile in its own right and disappointing coming from a writer of such talent.
Er, yeah. I’ll take “missing the point” for 200, Alex? But wait! There’s more!
Step 3: Superstar Opinion Writer replies, bluntly and directly, to his Editor:[*3]
It is a matter of some regret to me that my own editor at this publication does not regard this sort of thing as creepy and repellent rather than part of the vibrant tapestry of what he calls an “awakening to a greater civility”. I’m not inclined to euphemize intimidation and bullying as a lively exchange of ideas – “the use of speech to criticize other speech”, as Mr Steorts absurdly dignifies it. So do excuse me if I skip to the men’s room during his patronizing disquisition on the distinction between “state coercion” and “cultural coercion”. I’m well aware of that, thank you. In the early days of my free-speech battles in Canada, my friend Ezra Levant used a particular word to me: “de-normalize”. Our enemies didn’t particularly care whether they won in court. Whatever the verdict, they’d succeed in “de-normalizing” us — that’s to say, putting us beyond the pale of polite society and mainstream culture. “De-normalizing” is the business GLAAD and the other enforcers are in.
One of the greatest lines in Hollywood movie history was uttered by Clint Eastwood, in the movie Magnum Force.
“A Man’s Got To Know His Limitations.”
For Step 4, and to provide a counterexample to Dirty Harry’s mordant observation, the Editor defensively doubles-down[*4] on his ill-considered rebuke of Superstar Opinion Writer:
The point is basic courtesy, Mark. It’s that you could mount your opposing argument without insulting people. Sure, you have the right to insult people, but I can’t sympathize much with someone who exercises that right just to prove it exists, which seems to have been part of your rhetorical strategy. What I would like to de-normalize is boorishness, whatever its content. I would do that by criticizing your manners, not by “indefinitely suspend[ing]” you, which would not be my decision anyway.
No, Mr. Editor, that is not the point at all. There’s a term on the Internet for what you have just done: beclowning yourself.
Step 5, the denouement, in which we see that Bosses generally don’t appreciate it when underlings beclown themselves on the Internet. True to this rock-solid principle, we see said Editor getting very publicly, directly, and thoroughly slapped down by his boss, the Publisher[*5] .
I believe Mark Steyn’s new column is a triumph, and wrote him on Friday to say that. The ensuing critical take on it by my colleague, Jason Steorts, left my head shaking.
. . .
The Left does not distinguish about the field of battle, culture, or state. Its goal is . . . the goal. If the desire is to shut you up, Duck Dynasty Commander or Mark Steyn or NR, they will find a way. This isn’t some academic exercise — it is a fight. So we must deal with reality, and not build artificial constructs.
. . .
Mark’s column referred to an old Bob Hope joke about whether a California gay-rights law would become compulsory, and the stink in the air is that — compulsion. For the left, the fight is about silencing critics and, even worse, forcing people and institutions to do those things — provide abortifacients, accept gay marriage — they find wrong, and sinful.
. . .
Fruits? Compulsory acceptance and even forced participation are the fruits the Left intends to harvest.
There’s another old Internet saying for what just happened here: “That’s gonna leave a mark.”