Say that I subject someone to teasing and abuse for being fat, despite being fat myself.
Who? I don't know. Say, the Chawner family, a family of four weighing collectively more than a half-ton, who claim that they can't get by on the £22,508 that the British government pays them every year on account of them being too obese to work. They explain:
The family claim to spend £50 a week on food and consume 3,000 calories each a day. The recommended maximum intake is 2,000 for women and 2,500 for men.
"We have cereal for breakfast, bacon butties for lunch and microwave pies with mashed potato or chips for dinner," Mrs Chawner told Closer magazine.
(Bacon butties, in case you are wondering, are bacon sandwiches. I know I'm just an observer, but it's possible that I've spotted the problem.)
Anyway, say I make fun of the Chawner family, ridiculing their weight in the course of making the political point that they are slothful parasites and living, heaving examples of why the welfare state can't work.
Now say that someone rebukes me, saying that not only am I a heartless fascist for suggesting that the "disabled"-by-avocation-and-vocation ought not be coddled by society, but I'm also an asshole on the grounds that I have gratuitously made fun of someone's weight.
Wouldn't you think much less if me if my reply was to whine, "Oh, poor me. Nobody can take a joke. I'm a victim of a conspiracy to brand me as a hate criminal. I'm being silenced." Wouldn't you think such an embarrassing display, whether or not I was an asshole in the first instance, made me a whiny little shit?
Yet that's exactly the mindset I'm seeing recently from professional loudmouths on the right — people who are well-paid to dish it out, but when it comes to taking it, can't without mewling piteously.
Case in point: Meghan McCain and Laura Ingraham.
Meghan McCain, 24, a blogger, who has only recently decided that she is a Republican, believes that we should all care what she thinks about modern American politics. Now, every blogger believes that, but since McCain is the daughter of a Senator and recent Presidential candidate, she can get on talk shows and stuff. She has done so, and has said some things that not every conservative or Republican likes. The Transplanted Lawyer at Not a Potted Plant liked at least some of it, Michelle Malkin doesn't. Some people see her as an untutored RINO pretender, others see her as emblematic of how the modern Republican party is not merely intolerant of internal dissent, but spastically self-mutilating in the face of internal dissent. What do I think? That's not pertinent to this post — but DOWN IN FRONT, you're blocking my view of the fights.
Anyway, some folks thought that in criticizing Meghan McCain's advocacy, it would be funny, or persuasive, or something-I-know-not-what to make fun of her weight. People like Laura Ingraham:
MCCAIN (on MSNBC): And I think there’s an extreme on both parties and I hate extreme. I don’t understand. I have friends that are the most radically conservative and radically liberal people possibly ever and we all get along. We can find a middle ground.
INGRAHAM (mocking): Ok, I was really hoping that I was going to get that role in the Real World, but then I realized that, well, they don’t like plus-sized models. They only like the women who look a certain way. And on this 50th anniversary of Barbie, I really have something to say.
For the record, I wouldn't call McCain fat. She's both reasonably sized and quite attractive, actually. But when someone responded to her political ideas by calling her fat, she didn't weep. She told Laura Ingraham to "kiss my fat ass." I agree with the Transplanted Lawyer that this was awesome. Now, granted, she said it on The View, a horn-of-plenty of flighty cretinism that has done more to demean women than the collected works of Andrew Dice Clay. Seriously, man or woman, watch The View for ten minutes and you'll be Googling foot binding and wondering how we can repeal the Nineteenth Amendment. But one can't be sitting at the Algonquin Round Table every day, I guess.
Anyway, my problem is not so much that Ingraham acted like an asshole. If you approach controversial issues with humor — including ridicule and satire — you're going to come off like an asshole sometime. My problem is with Ingraham's whiny they're-all-out-to-get-me response to being called out as an asshole.
Now the Left is seizing on one satirical line from our show to paint Meghan as the victim of a right-wing hate crime. This comes from the same playbook responsible for the ongoing demonization of Rush Limbaugh — where his take on President Obama's economic policies are misrepresented as some kind of attack on America. Their goal is to malign outspoken conservatives (specifically in talk radio) as members of a radical fringe movement whose right to free speech is questionable at best.
"Help, help, I'm being oppressed!" And so on, followed by the inevitable "teacher, they did it first!"
Look, if Ingraham had just ignored the criticism, or had said "sorry, Meghan, I couldn't hear your complaint when you had that Big Mac in your mouth," or had otherwise rolled with the punch, I'd have more respect for her. She'd still be an asshole — because mocking McCain's weight wasn't particularly funny, or apt, or actually "satirical" in any meaningful sense — but at least she wouldn't be an insufferably whiny asshole. But no — she has to jump on the bandwagon with the other conservatives who think that they are victims of political correctness that threatens to silence them. All the buzzwords are there — demonization, the liberal conspiracy to silence, the threat to free speech, etc. Not because she was arrested — she wasn't. Not because she was sued — she wasn't. Not because the FCC threatened to yank her broadcast license — it didn't. Because a bunch of people reacted to her joke by, in various ways, calling her an asshole. Laura Ingraham's gripe boils down to "what kind of world is it when I can't call a novice commentator fat without people calling me on it?"
Maybe someone can explain to me why anyone — let alone conservatives, who are supposed to stand for rugged individualism, personal responsibility, genuine free speech principles, and not being a fucking crybaby — should react to this display with anything but scorn.
Of course, I may be too rough on Igraham. It's not necessarily her fault. Chemotherapy can impact judgment and cognition, I've heard.
If you didn't like that joke, please don't criticize me for it. You might hurt my feelings and silence me.
(Hat tip to Nobody's Business on the Chawner family.)
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