Ethics Quote of the Week: Ann Althouse

“And, by the way, I’ve gotten some pushback in email and on the web  saying that it was “shameful” and “appalling” for me to tie Clinton’s health problems to a possible intent to avoid testifying about Benghazi. Let me tell you that a core motivation to my blogging — and I’ve been going at this for 9 years now — is to stand tough against people who try to cut off debate with this kind of shaming. So I’m glad that this performance of outrage was directed at me. I know it when I see it, and it fires me up. You want silence? You want backing down? You want me not to dare say a thing like that? That’s how you want to control political debate in the United States? Thanks for reminding me once again how deeply I hate that and for giving me an (easy) opportunity to model courage for the more timid people out there who are cowed by the fear of shaming.”

—- Law professor and blogger Ann Althouse

I know I’ve been citing Prof. Althouse a lot lately, but she’s been on quite a roll. Her quote is self-explanatory. Brava!

UPDATE: Right after I posted this, I read Kathleen Parker’s Washington Post column headlined “The Character Assassination of Hillary Clinton.” In it, Parker essentially makes exactly the objection that Althouse says she hates.

I didn’t and don’t suspect Hillary of faking health problems to avoid testifying, and I almost wrote about those  accusations. However, Althouse is still right, and Parker’s indignation is laughable. Over the past four years, President Obama’s campaign pledge of transparency is thoroughly discredited. His Justice Department has been engaged in a year’s worth of double-talk, stone-walling and obfuscation regarding the Fast and Furious fiasco. After Clinton’s State Department was slammed in an official report regarding its handling of the Benghazi attack and aftermath, it announced four resignations that may not have been resignations after all.  The administration’s public relations machinations regarding Benghazi raised legitimate and unanswered questions about intentional deception. For her part, Hillary Clinton, as a full-fledged participant in her husband’s cover-up regarding Monica Lewinsky and a slippery character herself who has never been noted for scrupulous honesty, is never above suspicion when it comes to questionable ethics. There is a surplus of reasons, therefore, for the public, the newsmedia and commentators to be distrustful. If Althouse and others suspect scheming, it is because the Obama Administration has shown itself to be capable of scheming.

9 thoughts on “Ethics Quote of the Week: Ann Althouse

  1. First of all – Kathleen Parker and Hillary obviously go to the same hairdresser (*hint*).
    Having stated this important fact, Parker’s student days must be very long ago for she seems to have forgotten one of the main duties of a journalist. And that is to “doubt everything, until that which cannot be doubted is left”. Even if these doubts sometimes seem “cruel and unfair” and “disheartening and disgusting”.

    But Parker is also quoting Fox News. q.e.d.

  2. Althouse’s quote is nonsense. Althouse is free to say whatever she wants – and people are free to criticize what Althouse says by calling her statements shameful and appalling.

    Althouse doesn’t hesitate to trash other people all the time – but when someone criticizes what Althouse says, Althouse acts as if her freedom of speech were threatened and people were calling for her to be silenced.

    Nonsense. Criticizing Althouse is not in any way the same as trying to silence her. No one has a first amendment right to freedom from criticism. And if any blogger actually is silenced by critics saying “appalling!,” the responsibility for that lies with the blogger, not with the critics.

    • Well, you almost have me persuaded. I took her point to be that “you can’t say that!” is dirty pool, which it is. I’d put in this category “How dare you criticize the President during wartime!” (Republicans) and “It’s wrong to speak critically of the dead!” and “How dare you attack Susan Rice?” I didn’t think she was arguing that “appalling” or “Shame!” were per se an attempt to shut up critics, but that they were lazy and non-substantive arguments.

      • Jack, Professor Althouse is perfectly clear. She says that when people criticize what she wrote by saying its shameful and appalling (and those were the only criticisms she cited, at least in the quote you pulled), those people “want silence? …want backing down? …want me not to dare say a thing like that? …want to control political debate…”

        How can those words be rationally interpreted as anything but Althouse accusing her critics of trying to “silence” her?

        Her words are unambiguous; she’s treating criticism as if it were an attempt at silencing her. And that’s ridiculous.

        • I really think she’s focusing specifically on “shame”—as in “you mustn’t say that” ,as opposed to “that’s something that isn’t fair, accurate or true and I didsgaree with it vehemently.” You don’t feel that’s a valid distinction? I don’t read her statement as objecting to the second kind of criticism.

          • I think Althouse uses the idea that people are trying to shut her down as cover so that she doesn’t have to deal with the criticism. I see this with accomodationists all the time. They attack the tone of an argument, allowing them to ignore the substance of it.

          • I agree that’s a valid distinction, although we could play around the edges of it – if someone says “the president deserves to be shot” and I say “you shouldn’t say that,” I don’t think that’s attempted censorship on my part – but I don’t think it applies in this case.

            Althouse linked to a Jezebel article as an example of the sort of criticism she was responding to. That article was mean, crude, and uncivil – but it can’t fairly be described as “you mustn’t say that.” It was more saying “Althouse is a $*%*^! for saying that.”

            It’s a common trope for people to use “how dare you try to shut me up!” as a way of responding to criticism. It’s clear that’s what Althouse is doing in this case.

    • I think Althouse was referring to a kind of “foul play” by her critics if you want.
      Example: Any kind of debate about the Muslim religion is normally silenced (by Muslim scholars) by stating that the critic is only trying to insult Islam and should be ashamed of their disregard toward someone else’s religion. In people’s mind religion seems to be owed a special kind of reverence which is above ethics and common sense.
      This concept applies to favoured politicians as well because their discipleship is handicapped by almost the same religion-esque blinders.
      Besieging the critic publicly with talk of shame is a clever move indeed because shame is a powerful tool.
      Just think of any circumstance where someone doesn’t speak out because of shame.

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