Ethics Dunce: Beau Friedlander

Beau Friedlander is a contributor to the Huffington Post who decided it was time to show just how vicious, uncivil and unhinged a committed progressive could be, there being ample evidence of these qualities on the other side of the political spectrum. So…

1. Friedlander wrote an angry and hate-filled rant slandering Tea Party members, Mormons, and Republicans and the American public generally;

2. He included, as the piece’s centerpiece, this:

“I hereby offer to negotiate a $100,000 payday to the person who will come forward with a sex tape or phone records or anything else that succeeds in removing Glenn Beck from the public eye forever. I am not offering the cash myself, but I will broker the deal and/or raise the money for what you bring to the table. (And it better be good.) If you have the goods, or if you want to contribute to a slush fund to buy more takedowns (probably not tax deductible), please contact me at: glennbecksextape@gmail.com.”

It is possible, I suppose, that this is satire. Satire, however, requires that the majority of those who see or read it will also know it is not to be taken literally. Since such offers have been increasingly common since pornographer Larry Flynt offered cash for proof of marital infidelity by G.O.P Congressmen during the Clinton impeachment, Friedlander’s piece, if it is satire, is misleading and reckless. If is intended seriously, as I think it is, the post is unfair, mean-spirited and an unethical use of cash to induce others to violate trust, confidentiality, and privacy.

3. By using the title “$100,000 for Glenn Beck’s Sex Tape,” he unfairly suggested that Beck, a genuinely religious man and a father, is likely to be in a “sex tape,” thus harming his public image and attacking his character without proof, reason, or justification.

4.  He violated the Huffington Post’s editorial guidelines by posting such bile directly to the site, thus betraying their trust in him to be responsible and professional.

5. He embarrassed the website that had allowed him to be a regular contributor.

The Huffington Post pulled the post down, and should not be blamed for it, though they can be faulted for their choice of contributor. It is worth preserving, however, as a classic example of the kind of principle-free, smug and irresponsible political warfare that is dragging our democratic process into the gutter.

For that reason alone, the post is worth reprinting in its entirety:

$100,000 For Glenn Beck’s Sex Tape

Rupert Murdoch and the Koch brothers are happy to throw money at the rising tide of right wing lunacy. Breitbart offered $100,000 for JournoList, the email listserve that brought down WaPo blogger Dave Weigel this June.

Why did they do it? Because they stand to make a lot of money off the anti-black president movement, and they are rich enough to imprint their beliefs on the American sheeple.

High net worth progressive Democrats don’t do this as much, perhaps because they’re not typically in cahoots with Boeing or Monsanto or Halliburton, et al. Also, there are fewer anti-communist, religious crackpots on the left.

Before we get to the reward money, a little “Tea Baggers for Beginners.”

In cultural terms, the original neoconservatives who birthed the baggers were way more frightened by the Broadway musical “Hair” than the film “Rosemary’s Baby” (both from 1968). A mock ad might go like this: “Afraid your daughter might hook up with a black guy (or the nation may choose one to be president)? Have a problem with that homosexual and or promiscuous son or daughter? Does your son need a haircut? Do you often find biblical characters charred into your toast? Then do we have the movement for you!”

A certain breed of brilliant liberal started the neocon movement in reaction to the civil rights movement and the counterculture. They believed in a social order that benefited the wealthiest Americans in unimaginable ways, and they benefited by lending considerable brainpower to the cause. It seemed to these first neocons that the counterculture’s open society might reveal that the emperor had no clothes. They were tasked with obviating that eventuality, and were paid handsomely. Ironically, these anti-communists stole Marx’s opium (i.e., religion) and distributed a far more potent version (evangelical, ultra-orthodox) for free. (No such thing on the left.)

Enter Glenn Beck, the farce part of the intellectual tragedy sired by the neocon founding fathers Irving Kristol and his historical sidekick Norman Podhoretz. Beck touts religion, because he says the battle for America’s soul is at stake. It is all about morality, propriety, and doing what’s right. But Beck’s conception of religion is all about control. He replaces God with an ersatz myth about self-reliance and a position of moral superiority spun in ways that magically seem to privilege the few at the expense of many (this includes the anti-Middle East / Islam thinking that led to the war in oil-rich Iraq), etc.

Glenn Beck talks about what’s right a lot. Propriety comes from the same root as property, and that does seem to be the issue. As the culture changed in the 60s, so did neighborhoods. This was the heyday of blockbusting and race-baiting. We are in similar territory with a black president right now. His successful campaign is proof positive that the counterculture prevailed over the conservative movement. And the neocons are mad as hell about that.
Glenn Beck is also a Mormon. It matters. His religion typifies the noble lie that the neocons originally set out to defend against the counterculture–Archie Bunker’s America–where a woman’s place was in the home and with baby, and an African American’s place was in a ghetto. (Mormons revere women much like Hindis do the cow, and they didn’t accept African Americans in their ranks at all till 1978–draw whatever inferences you like).

The new conservatives are true believers in the “One Right Way”, and Democrats only rarely agree on the one best way to go. But we can all agree that Fox News is a bad influence on America. It is time to pop the tea baggers’ favorite balloon (so what if it will be replaced by another?), and with that in mind I hereby offer to negotiate a $100,000 payday to the person who will come forward with a sex tape or phone records or anything else that succeeds in removing Glenn Beck from the public eye forever. I am not offering the cash myself, but I will broker the deal and/or raise the money for what you bring to the table. (And it better be good.)

If you have the goods, or if you want to contribute to a slush fund to buy more takedowns (probably not tax deductible), please contact me at: glennbecksextape@gmail.com.

3 thoughts on “Ethics Dunce: Beau Friedlander

  1. As a lifelong active Mormon practitioner and student, the statement “they didn’t accept African Americans in their ranks at all till 1978” is seriously misleading. African Americans have always been included in the baptized ranks of the Mormon church since its restoration in the early 19th century; the 1978 date refers to a decision to allow male members of African origin to participate and officiate in church rites. There has never been a restriction on Mormon women of African descent versus their non-African counterparts.

    The article is inflammatory and offensive and I applaud HuffPo for pulling it.

    • No question. It is full of half-truths, unsubstantiated assertions, unfair innuendo and outright falsehood. With all that, it is, sadly, not that unusual. If it hadn’t been for the bounty on the nonexistent “sex tape,” I have no doubts that HuffPo would have left it up. It has featured worse.

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