WHY CAN’T CONSERVATIVES TAKE A JOKE?
Jane Galt has a long, thoughtful post on the politics of reproduction and its links to broader feminist issues. As usual, well worth reading.
But she starts from the Martha Burk controversy (to which the provides links), and about that she seems to me to miss the point entirely.
Burk is campaigning to open up Augusta National (home of the Master’s golf tournament) to women. Separately from that campaign, Burk wrote what she labelled “a modest proposal” — i.e., a policy parody — in which she imagined that men’s reproductive behavior were as strictly regulated as some conservatives would like poor women’s behavior to be. Various right-wing bloggers have pretended that her parody was instead a proposal, and used that in an attempt to discredit her Augusta National campaign, simply on the grounds that if Burk had really proposed mandatory Norplant for teenage boys, you ought to be against anything else she is for. Of course that’s a non sequitur, but it’s rhetorically effective, and personally damaging. If Burk had really proposed that, she would be properly regarded as some kind of nut. In fact, she proposed no such thing. It was a joke.
The issue here isn’t reproductive freedom or feminism or the ethics of private clubs: it’s deliberate slander, of a particularly nasty kind. Kevin Drum, the CalPundit, had the story first.
I’m willing to believe that some of the second-generation spreaders of this particular slander acted carelessly rather than viciously, but now that the facts have been brought out, it’s simply disgraceful to pretend that there’s some doubt about what Burk intended, or that somehow the parody was in bad taste.
And with the right wing is in solid control of all three branches of the federal government, isn’t it about time for Glenn Reynolds to stop pretending to be a member of an oppressed minority? Whining about victimization gets tiresome enough when it’s done by actual victims.
I can’t get very excited about Augusta National, but this kind of stuff — what Orwell called “abusive misrepresentation” — turns my stomach. Blogging is journalism, and journalism has ethical standards, one of which involves making a full retraction when you get something wrong.