fuck those guys

A few days ago I lost my patience with Bret Stephens, an anti-Trump conservative who wrote an apologia defending Kevin Williamson, who’d just been hired by The Atlantic despite having publicly expressed his opinion that women who’d terminated their pregnancies (and their doctors) should be hanged. My position was simple: if you think the opinion that hanging people for receiving or performing an absolutely legal medical procedure has a legitimate place in the marketplace of ideas, then…well, fuck you.

There’s a discussion to be had on abortion, to be sure. But it’s basically impossible to have a discussion when one party’s position is “hang ’em.” In any event, the issue isn’t abortion itself; that just happened to be the subject on which Williamson expressed himself. The real issue is this: what are the boundaries of civil discourse?

After some reflection and thought, and under pressure from outraged readers of The Atlantic, the magazine decided NOT to hire Williamson after all. Jeff Goldberg, the editor who’d hired Williamson, offered an explanation both for his hiring and his firing. In defense of hiring him, Goldberg said, “[N]o one’s life work should be judged by an intemperate tweet.” Which I happen to agree with. However…well, let Goldberg himself say it: “The tweet was not merely an impulsive, decontextualized, heat-of-the-moment post.”

Composing an impulsive, decontextualized, heat-of-the-moment tweet ain’t easy.

In other words, Goldberg thought it was fine for Williamson, in the heat of the moment, to say he’d like to see women who have an abortion and the doctors who perform them hanged. But it was NOT okay for Williamson to actually hold that view as a considered opinion. To which I can only reply to Goldberg, fuck you. That’s bullshit. Even in the heat of the moment, once somebody voices the opinion that ‘you and people like you deserve to be killed‘ the discussion is basically over, even if the person who says that doesn’t really mean it. The fact that Williamson DID mean it, only makes it worse.

Now that Williamson has been returned to the editorial shelf, conservatives are rushing to his defense and the defense of free speech.

Kevin Williamson’s firing is another reminder that much of American conservatism finds itself ghettoized not by choice, but by the left’s active demands that the right be silenced. Socialists, national or otherwise, don’t like to compete for ideas when they can shut up others.

Fuck you. Nobody is calling for the right to be silenced. But a lot of folks do hold the opinion that advocating death by hanging for folks who engage in a legal medical procedure isn’t a position that merits much consideration or discussion.

It appears that The Atlantic has fired Kevin Williamson. That was close. They almost expanded their intolerant little bubble for a brief moment. In the end, we knew they couldn’t abide employing a talented individual with – gasp – a different worldview.

Fuck you. I feel no obligation to tolerate a worldview that says women and their doctors should be killed for legally terminating an unwanted pregnancy. If you feel that’s an acceptable worldview, then…well, fuck you.

Kevin Williamson: hired for his talent, fired for his views. This is chilling.

Fuck you. You know what’s chilling? Saying women and doctors deserve to die because they choose to undergo a medical procedure you find abhorrent. That’s pretty damned chilling to any sort of civil discussion.

“You dare omit the nutmeg? Have at you, villain!”

Here’s the thing: there are venues and forums for every political, social, or religious view, no matter how extreme. If you believe Jews are actively plotting to destroy Christianity, there’s bound to be a place where that view can be discussed. If you believe nine-year-old boys are capable of consensual sexual experiences, there’s probably a place where you can discuss that. If you believe slavery is a legitimate social institution, I’m pretty sure you can find a forum where that view is welcome. If you believe people who eat meat should be locked up in a hog containment barn for a year, there are places where that view will be seen as legitimate. If you think it’s a mortal sin to omit nutmeg when serving eggnog, you can find a venue where that belief will be applauded.

But extremist views of any sort don’t belong in general social discourse. Extreme voices shouldn’t be silenced, but that doesn’t mean we’re obligated to hear them or accept them as legitimate. And if you think claiming women and their doctors deserve to be hung by the neck until dead is NOT an extremist view, then fuck you.

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9 thoughts on “fuck those guys

  1. I don’t have much to add here, except that the timing of the revelation of Williamson’s views was perfect – just as Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” is going through a revival. It provides visceral and visual imaging for this kind of dogma. It is discomfiting to read and hear the legions of grown men with large platforms disingenuously whining about freedom of speech. I don’t know if it can be called irony when it’s so blatantly hypocritical.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Michelle, that’s exactly it. When conservatives see one of their own get slapped down, they’re outraged. They claim they’re being silenced for having unpopular opinions. Which is ridiculous when you consider they occupy the Presidency, have control over both houses of Congress, and have the majority on the Supreme Court

      But of course, when they slap down liberal voices — like the students in Parkland, for example — and liberals complain about it, they sneer at the fragile snowflakes.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Again, to be clear. Not a single conservative ever said David “air time” Hogg should not be allowed to speak. We only said the other side should be allowed to attack his position because we think it is stupid and short-sighted.

        I have NEVER heard of any conservative group march to stop a liberal from speaking on a college campus… have you?

        Like

      • Re Billy: There’s nothing wrong with arguing against the kid’s position. The problem comes with viciously attacking him personally and wishing him ill just because he doesn’t want to get shot in the face. Disagreeing with his political position is a completely different ballgame.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. To be clear, that is NOT the position of the party nor conservatives. The problem is those in favor of abortions refuse to discus any limitations including late-term. While this guy’s “hang em both” is a far right extremist view, the view of late-term abortions being allowed is the standard view of the left.

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    • those in favor of abortions refuse to discus any limitations including late-term

      Billy, that’s just not accurate. If you look at actual polling data, you’ll find the vast majority of pro-choice folks ONLY support late-term abortions in cases where the life of the mother is at stake. There are also some folks who support late term abortions in cases in which the fetus is grossly malformed or has significant physical defects that indicate a low likelihood of survival, but recent polling indicates even pro-choice folks agree there should be some restrictions on abortions that take place after the first trimester..

      Liked by 2 people

      • I tried to make a similar argument in my recent post (on another topic), and it’s kind of an underlying theme with me: we don’t live in a be-all/end-all world. Just because conspiracies exist, it doesn’t mean that everything is a conspiracy, and just because folks believe in a woman’s right to choose it doesn’t mean that they vie for unlimited, unfettered, unregulated abortions.

        The same with the gun argument. I say “gun control” as a phrase that means “pass laws that make sense to cut down on the ridiculous amount of unnecessary gun deaths in this country,” not “take all their fucking guns away!” But, too often, people see a preference towards one ideology as meaning the slope that has already slipped the moment a word is uttered. Relax, everyone. There’s degrees to everything.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Seems like the very folks saying Williamson should be allowed to say whatever he wants and still have the job are the same ones saying a talented black QB should never work again, after taking a knee for two minutes. 🤔

    Like

    • I dunno, there’s a chance…and I’m not saying this is actually the case, you understand…but there’s a chance that there’s maybe some teensy bit of hypocrisy at work here. Possibly.

      Liked by 1 person

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