Posted by Curt on 10 January, 2015 at 12:49 pm. 1 comment.


Jonah Goldberg:

Dear Reader (and your little dog, too),

Everyone says you shouldn’t beat a dead horse, but it’s infinitely preferable to beating a live one. First of all, it’s a pretty good workout. Look at what beating just half a dead cow did for Rocky Balboa’s upper torso. More importantly, as an animal lover, no horses are harmed when you pummel a dead one.

Also, if you beat a dead horse in front of its living comrades, it might send a clarifying message.

And so in that spirit, let me return to this clip from MSNBC, which I already suggested might have been the “dumbest 57 seconds ever on TV.” I will concede that this was probably hyperbole. I recently watched The Bachelor for the first time in a decade and in the process I felt IQ points evaporating off me like au jus under an Arby’s heat lamp. And even restricting the criteria to the fare on MSNBC, where I hear they have a big bowl of lead paint chips in the greenroom (“Even though they’re white, I eat them because they’re non-fat” — Al Sharpton), it’s entirely possible that dumber things have been said. But if the X axis tracks the seriousness of the issue and the Y axis the degree of perverse moral and intellectual vacuity, I stand by my contention that this is one of the highest scoring entries in the history of the genre.

A quick recap: Eric Bates, formerly of Rolling Stone and now a colleague of Glenn Greenwald at First Look Media was on Alex Wagner’s MSNBC show. He said:

I think we also have to remember that this isn’t just Islamic extremism. If you go back to the ’80s — during the Reagan administration — when Jerry Falwell sued Hustler magazine for portraying him having — I believe it was drunken incest with his mother in an outhouse — again, in a visual form — and won a $150,000 court case against Hustler for that. It was overturned by the Supreme Court, I think, eight-to-zero. So, you know, religious fundamentalists of all stripes and of nationalities have this penchant to say, “We want to be able tell you what you can and can’t portray.”

You can stare at that all you want, it won’t get less stupid. In fact, it only gets more stupid. It’s like the Goodfellas of stupid; you can watch it over and over and over again and each time you will take away some new stupidity to appreciate. I covered a lot of the obvious stupidity in my Corner rant the other night. Comparing an entirely defensible personal-defamation lawsuit to the premeditated murder of a dozen journalists is such a huge red herring, I want Egon Spengler to walk on screen and explain, “Well, let’s say this red herring represents the normal amount of irrelevant codswallop in the New York area. Based on this morning’s sample, it would be a red herring . . . 35 feet long, weighing approximately 600 pounds.”

Worse than that, it’s not even a real red herring because the factual assumptions behind the Falwell comparison are all untrue. As Ben Howe recounts over at Red State, Falwell’s suit focused on the fact that Hustler made up quotes by Falwell. Moreover, not only did Falwell not murder Flynt, he became lifelong friends with him. Flynt even spoke at his funeral. So much for the supposedly equivalent fundamentalist mindsets.

But it’s worse than that. This 57-second transcript is so outside-the-box stupid that a million monkeys banging on typewriters would come up with the screenplay for Gymkata years sooner than this. And when you told the head monkey-wrangler what you were looking for, he would reply with Chief Brody understatement: “We’re going to need more monkeys.”


The great irony here is that since the 1980s, when Falwell allegedly tried to usher in an era of Evangelical sharia where smut peddlers wouldn’t be allowed to accuse people of shagging their own mothers in outhouses, the Left was already well underway in its war on free speech. Jihadi nutters are routinely allowed to rally the poltroons on college campuses with stem-winders about “Islamophobia” and peddle their extremist twaddle. But you know who has a hard time talking on a college campus? People like Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Brandeis is a safe place for ignorami to cheer dead cops but couldn’t muster the intestinal fortitude to let the world’s premier victim of the real — and only — “war on women” tell her story.

By the way, who has spent tens of thousands of hours defending bans on “hate speech”? Where has the idea that climate-change skeptics should lose their jobs and be prosecuted for their dissent as traitors to the planet flourished? Not among the Falwells, I can tell you that. MSNBC’s raison d’être is to come up with fresh arguments — half-baked daily! — to scold, censor, and silence any voices that don’t fit their editorial line. I’m fine with calling this a fundamentalist mindset, but it’s not a Christian one, nor a conservative one, it’s liberal fundamentalism.

David Brooks says it well today:

The journalists at Charlie Hebdo are now rightly being celebrated as martyrs on behalf of freedom of expression, but let’s face it: If they had tried to publish their satirical newspaper on any American university campus over the last two decades it wouldn’t have lasted 30 seconds. Student and faculty groups would have accused them of hate speech. The administration would have cut financing and shut them down.

Public reaction to the attack in Paris has revealed that there are a lot of people who are quick to lionize those who offend the views of Islamist terrorists in France but who are a lot less tolerant toward those who offend their own views at home.

Which brings me to Ms. Wagner who, judging from her response to Bates, probably spent several hours in a stairwell at 30 Rock after the show wondering when the maintenance people would get around to fixing the escalator she was stuck on. After nodding along at Bates’s sagaciousness she added:

And yet, Islam is — because of the age of terror in which we live, occupies — is a third rail, in a way, that you can show, sort of, blasphemous photos or drawings — not photos, but drawings of the Pope. Charlie Hebdo was an equal-opportunity slanderer or satirist — whatever you want to call it — in terms of religion. And yet, we focus very specifically on Islam, because it is much more incendiary and much more controversial to talk about.


We focus on Islam because barbarians battling under its banner murder people who fail to show it sufficient obeisance. It’s as if Wagner wants to say that we focus on Islam because of some sort of unfair climate of bigotry or “Islamophobia.” Like maybe it’s some irrational obsession with Islam on our part that explains the focus on such satire.


If you can clear away the wilted and slimy bits from Wagner’s poorly tossed word-salad, what you see on display here is the gravitational pull of anti-Americanism.

I’ve always liked the line, usually attributed to Robert Frost, that a liberal is too broadminded to take his own side in an argument. But if you think about it, it is sneakily self-serving. Broadmindedness is not what drives these people, it is merely one of the many terms of their self-flattery. “We liberals are open-minded to a fault!” It’s like those job-interview jokes where you say your biggest fault is “caring too much” or “being too much of a perfectionist.”

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