Patterico's Pontifications

4/6/2014

Baseless Charge of Racism Raised Against Republican Candidate By . . . Republican Establishment

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 4:53 pm

Instapundit:

I understand that the NRSC is an incumbent-protection club. That’s basically its job. But to introduce baseless charges of neo-Confederate racism in a GOP primary is beyond inept. Honestly, if you can’t find a real, instead of imagined, problem with a primary challenger then tout the virtues of your guy. And if your guy doesn’t have any virtues to tout that would be better than a baseless charge of neo-Confederate racism, then maybe just keep your mouth shut.

Good grief. You want party unity, don’t falsely tar fellow Republicans, and their grassroots supporters, as racists. Are you trying to get people to stay home in November?

Apparently the Republican establishment is now the zombie.

Mark Joseph Stern’s Weak Defense of Mozilla

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 4:25 pm

Mark Joseph Stern, the “gay politburo official at Slate,” has an extraordinarily silly piece titled The Astonishing Conservative Hypocrisy Over Mozilla and the First Amendment. Stern is the Slate writer who last month fell for a hoax story written by a satire publication that publishes such articles as Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un Announce Openly Gay Relationship, Plan Global ‘Reign of Tyranny’ as New Power Couple. Now Stern turns his extraordinary powers of observation towards conservatives, whom he brands as hypocrites for denouncing the ouster of Brendan Eich as the CEO of Mozilla. Eich’s sin? Having donated $1000 to the pro-traditional marriage Prop. 8 campaign several years ago. Here’s Stern:

A repeated cry in conservative and libertarian circles over anti-gay Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich’s resignation is that the company is somehow trampling Eich’s free speech rights. Eich, as you’ve surely heard, donated $1,000 in 2008 to California’s Proposition 8 campaign, which successfully outlawed gay marriage in that state before getting shot down by the courts. It’s true that, because of this donation, Mozilla’s leaders and board members pressured Eich to resign. But it’s absurd and hypocritical to claim that this pressure constituted an infringement of Eich’s legal rights.

Stern begins the analysis by destroying a strawman argument: that Mozilla, a private company, is violating Eich’s First Amendment rights. Only government can violate someone’s First Amendment rights, but no serious commentator is arguing otherwise. So let’s move on:

But I can already hear the inevitable retort: Sure, Mozilla wasn’t literally trampling on Eich’s First Amendment rights, but it was violating the broader principles of free speech and free association. This argument is strikingly one-sided and opportunistic. Corporations like Mozilla, for better or worse, are also endowed with significant rights of free speech and free association—for instance, the freedom of Mozilla’s board and leadership to condemn Eich’s anti-gay actions. And make no mistake: Freedom of association includes the freedom of exclusion, particularly the freedom to exclude from your private organization an individual whose conduct is inconsistent with your values. Mozilla’s decision to seek Eich’s resignation implicates the same First Amendment principles that famously allow the Boy Scouts to exclude gay troop leaders.

Here Stern is conflating two distinct issues: 1) should Mozilla have the legal right to dismiss Eich? and 2) should Mozilla have dismissed Eich? Stern seems to argue that, because the answer to the first question is “yes,” that somehow refutes those of us who answer the second question “no.” Here, Andrew Sullivan (yes, Andrew Sullivan!) makes the correct argument:

As I said last night, of course Mozilla has the right to purge a CEO because of his incorrect political views. Of course Eich was not stripped of his First Amendment rights. I’d fight till my last breath for Mozilla to retain that right. What I’m concerned with is the substantive reason for purging him. When people’s lives and careers are subject to litmus tests, and fired if they do not publicly renounce what may well be their sincere conviction, we have crossed a line.

I agree — although it also matters, I think, what that sincere conviction is, and how it is expressed. People understandably want to propose a rule that will apply to any belief, however outrageous and inappropriate, and however it is expressed. But not all speech and beliefs are the same. If instead of donating to Prop. 8, Eich were donating to the KKK, I would have no problem with a company wanting to bounce him out. The example becomes even easier if Eich were expressing that sentiment publicly, in crass ways: imagine if Eich had a personal blog in which he continually used disparaging racial or religious epithets as he encouraged readers to donate to the KKK. The fact is, not only should a company be entitled to decide whom it employs, but sometimes a company is right to use a person’s personal beliefs — depending on what they are and how they are expressed — as a reason to fire an employee.

A similar point of view was expressed by Ken White in this post about Pax Dickinson, although I felt that Ken’s post was a bit too dismissive of the legitimacy of criticism of certain social consequences for speech.

Even though I think employment-related social consequences for speech can be appropriate, I maintain that such situations are, and should be, extremely rare — and that questionable cases should generally be resolved in favor of not disciplining an employee, because of the danger of letting political correctness ruin people’s lives.

Ultimately, I think you can’t draw lines that don’t take account of the fact that some speech simply is appropriate, and some is not. You can’t go around insulting everyone you meet, using profanities in inappropriate situations, and using racial and other epithets without risking some severe social consequences. On the other hand, when a company fires people for holding beliefs that were once expressed by the current President when he was running for office, I think that company ought to come in for some criticism.

Getting back to Stern, my assessment of him is that he considers opposition to gay marriage to be 100% equivalent to opposition to interracial marriage: it is indicative of a bigoted state of mind, and the holder of that sentiment deserves any negative consequence he has coming to him. Stern and I simply disagree here, and even though I voted against Proposition 8, I do not consider all (or even most) supporters of that proposition to be bigots or homophobes. I consider most of them to hold sincere beliefs based on a respect for an institution — traditional marriage — that has survived for millenia.

And Mr. Stern? If Vladmir Putin and Kim Jong Un want to get married, as the publication you trust claims, then I have no problem with that. But I don’t want to go on a witch hunt against people who do.

Did You Hear the One About the Lefty Slate Writer Who Fell for a Hoax Article?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 2:48 pm

Remember how Dave Weigel of Slate mocked Charles C. Johnson for falling for a hoax story from a satirical edition of The Daily Princetonian? I do. Even though the link is now broken, it’s still available in Google’s cache.*

Yet when Slate itself linked a hoax story — and explicitly said that the hoax story wasn’t fanciful, did you hear about that? Me neither. Even though it happened a month ago, I can’t find any discussion about it on these here Interwebz.

I think it’s time we corrected that oversight, don’t you?

The piece in question was titled Ross Douthat’s Canny (and Utterly Dishonest) Defense of Homophobia by Mark Joseph Stern, whom Andrew Sullivan has amusingly described as “the gay politburo official at Slate.” Stern opens his piece with a hypothetical in which a host at a restaurant refuses to seat a lesbian couple and their child, and is reprimanded by the restaurant’s management. Who is the victim in this situation? Stern asks. The family? The child? The restaurant? He continues:

None of the above, according to New York Times op-ed columnist Ross Douthat: By his moral calculus, the host would be the true victim, the family the “victors,” and the hypothetical—which is far from fanciful—demonstrates not the continuing threat of discrimination in America, but, rather, the marginalization of devout Christians at the hands of bellicose pro-gay forces.*

At the bottom of the article there is now a correction:

*Correction, March 4, 2014: This post originally linked the words “far from fanciful” to a TopekasNews article​ that claimed a restaurant had ejected a gay man telling him “no gay eating here.” The article is a hoax. The words now link to a Chickasha Express-Star article about a gay man who alleges he was ejected from a Walmart store.

In other words, Stern linked the words “far from fanciful” to a hoax article that was pure fantasy.

The publication linked by Stern was TopekasNews.com, which bills itself as “A Progressive Voice for the Free Thinker” . . . but which is, in reality, a poor man’s The Onion: an obvious hoax publication. I took this screenshot from the main page of the publication today:

Screen Shot 2014-04-06 at 12.41.06 PM

In addition to the stories in this screenshot, including the one about the gay relationship of Vladimir Putin and Kin Jong Un, or the one about the “local cat” who is “traumatized” upon seeing his owners have sex, the publication also has stories such as:

We have a new crusade for you, Mark Joseph Stern! The bigoted author of the story blaming chicken-puppies on gay marriage laws simply must be taken to task!!!

The Slate correction does not provide a direct hyperlink to the article, but I found it. It is titled Kansas Restaurant Kicks Gay Man Out, Tells Him “No Gay Eating Here.” In Stern’s defense, while the piece tries to be funny, it fails, as do most of the articles on this extremely amateurish satire Web site. The

“What is wrong. What is this sign meaning,” Quinns-Smith asked, feeling uncomfortable as eyes rested on him.

“It means you and your boyfriend can’t come eating in here no more, unless you find God,” a customer seated offered a response before staff said anything.

“You need to find God and the Bible,” someone else yelled out. The floodgates were open.

“We don’t want your germs on the silverware.” ”Just repent son, you can still be forgiven and be normal.” ”Being gay is not natural. It is not God’s way.”

The numerous comments to the story include dozens of comments detailing reasons that the story is an obvious hoax: the fact that it is set in “Franton, Kansas,” which does not exist; the rather obvious Photoshopping of the sign referred to in the story; and so on. Most of these comments were left in February 2014, before Stern’s March 3, 2014 article was published — meaning that if Stern had read any of the comments, he could have saved himself some embarrassment. Here is a typical comment:

Screen Shot 2014-04-06 at 2.13.14 PM

There’s also the fact that virtually every story at the publication is an obvious hoax, meaning that the publication didn’t get trolled — the publication is doing the trolling.

To me, the first point made by the commenter above is the critical one: the idea that an entire restaurant would suddenly start heaping abuse on a gay patron should draw skepticism. The commenter notes that this is unlikely “even in deep KS” — but note that it is not alleged to happen in “deep Kansas” but in Topeka, a capital city with over 100,000 people and a Democrat mayor.

In short, it would take a fairly clueless gay-mafia ideologue to believe this story. Oh, hi, Mark Joseph Stern! We were just talking about you! Are your ears burning?

When conservatives fall for a hoax, it generally makes a splash. When Larry O’Connor linked an article which in turn was based on a hoax article, Media Matters blasted O’Connor — even though the publication he himself had linked was a supposedly reputable news source: Boston.com, a Web site launched under the auspices of the Boston Globe. And we have already seen how Dave Weigel blasted Charles C. Johnson for relying on an article from a satirical edition of a normally straight-news publication: The Daily Princetonian.

Yet when a hard-left scold at Slate.com gets snookered by a piece from an obvious hoax site, there is, seemingly, not a peep about it.

I hope this post provides a corrective to that collective oversight by the Internet.

*UPDATE: I don’t intend to suggest that Weigel is hiding something because the link was broken when I wrote the post. Oddly enough, it works for me now.


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