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We Have, However, Passed Peak Contrarianism


What Steve M. and Charles say about the increasingly embarrassing Michael Kinsley and his one remaining belief — that everyone is as vacuously cynical as he is. (Well, OK, there’s also his apparently sincere belief that political leaders need to meet his exacting aesthetic standards.) In addition, I would like to note how Limbaugh’s carefully considered, increasingly vicious three-day attack on Fluke becomes “some stray remark.” Although, of course, in Kinsley’s world the fact that this long series of “stray remarks” is perfectly consistent with an extensive history of misogyny actually means that you can’t really can’t be sincerely criticizing it, because…look, it’s Halley’s Comet!

I also can’t resist quoting Kinsley’s B- tenth grade essay about free speech and the perfect equality of the Marketplace of Ideas:

As we all know, Limbaugh’s First Amendment rights aren’t involved here — freedom of speech means freedom from interference by the government. But the spirit of the First Amendment, which is that suppressing speech is bad, still applies. If you don’t care for something Rush Limbaugh has said, say why and say it better. If you’re on the side of truth, you have a natural advantage.

There are indeed principles of free speech that extend beyond the First Amendment; that these principles include the proposition that a wealthy, powerful talk show host is entitled to the precisely the same level of advertising revenue is…less obvious. But the follow-up thought about saying it why and saying it better — as if you have access to the same platform as Rush Limbaugh — is the kind of fake-naive nonsense Kinsley would have relentlessly made fun of 20 years ago. Just make sure you don’t criticize Rush in any way that might be effectual, because if his ratings went down that would be suppressing his free speech! Meanwhile, I hope Kinsley will agree that my free speech is being suppressed because I do not have a syndicated column.

Relatedly, I would also recommend Irin Carmon, who notes that feminists have in fact frequently criticized the more progressive misogynists now being cited as tu quoques. And while Bob Somerby is right about MSNBC’s sexism issues, he’s wrong to nobody else in the “liberal world” is willing to discuss this in public. If you’re going to imply, for example, that Rebecca Traister is a hypocrite and sellout only willing to criticize MSNBC hosts on listervs, you might want to spend a minute or two looking into whether she’s, say, written an (excellent) book that extensively discusses the sexist treatment Hillary Clinton received at the hands of Olberman et al.

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