Still trying to clear the decks..
1 Last week, Andrew Sullivan delivered a couple of excellent pieces of commentary with ethical clarity. My definition of an ethical analyst is one who can steer away from the magnetic pull of cognitive dissonance, and realize that, for example, just because Democrats and progressives deplore President Trump as much as you do doesn’t mean you have to regard their battiest and most unethical positions as better than they are. Sullivan qualifies. Here he is making what I once thought was an obvious point: that Democrats and progressives embracing open borders (and condemning as racist anyone who doesn’t) was irresponsible:
I don’t believe it’s disputable at this point that the most potent issue behind the rise of the far right in America and Europe is mass immigration. It’s a core reason that Trump is now president…[and the] reason why I have dwindling hopes that the Democratic Party will be able to defeat Trump in 2020. Instead of adjusting to this new reality, and listening to the electorate, the Dems have moved ever farther to the left, and are controlled by ever-radicalizing activists. There’s a nuanced, smart — and shockingly honest — piece in Vox by Dara Lind about this. Money quote:
For Democrats, it’s been a simple calculus. Democrats’ attempts at “tough love” centrism didn’t win them any credit across the aisle, while an increasingly empowered immigrant-rights movement started calling them to task for the adverse consequences of enforcement policies. Democrats learned to ignore the critics on the right they couldn’t please, and embrace the critics on the left who they could… Democrats in 2017, in general, tend to criticize the use of immigration enforcement, and tend to side with those accused of violating immigration law, as a broad matter of principle beyond opposing the particular actions of the administration … Democrats are no longer as willing to attack “illegal immigration” as a fundamental problem anymore.
This is, to be blunt, political suicide. The Democrats’ current position seems to be that the Dreamer parents who broke the law are near heroes, indistinguishable from the children they brought with them; and their rhetoric is very hard to distinguish, certainly for most swing voters, from a belief in open borders. In fact, the Democrats increasingly seem to suggest that any kind of distinction between citizens and noncitizens is somehow racist. You could see this at the last convention, when an entire evening was dedicated to Latinos, illegal and legal, as if the rule of law were largely irrelevant. Hence the euphemism “undocumented” rather than “illegal.” So the stage was built, lit, and set for Trump.
2. A post that fell through the cracks months ago involved one more example of California morphing into Bizarro USA. Then the post was about a speech-dictating bill passed by the legislature; this month, Jerry Brown signed it into law. The bill was SB-219, changing the laws regarding health care facilities, including nursing homes.
The bill ‘s sponsor, Democratic state Sen. Scott Wiener, said that it was aimed at protecting transgender and other LGBT individuals in hospitals, retirement homes and assisted living facilities, such as allowing them to use whatever bathroom they prefer to use. Let’s accept that as a legitimate legislative objective. However, the bill, now law, also says…
“It shall be unlawful for a long-term care facility or facility staff to take any of the following actions wholly or partially on the basis of a person’s actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) status,” and among those “actions” is “willfully and repeatedly” failing to use a transgender person’s “preferred name or pronouns” after he or she is “clearly informed of the preferred name or pronouns.”
Naturally, since this is the bifurcated and almost worthless journalism culture the U.S. now has, no mainstream media news source was bothered by this sufficiently to cover it, but the conservative media, including Fox, went bonkers, with headlines like, “New California law allows jail time for using wrong gender pronoun.”
Weiner denies that this could happen, claiming that in reality nobody would be criminally prosecuted for using the wrong pronoun. “It’s just more scare tactics by people who oppose all LGBT civil rights and protections,” he said in a statement last month.
Yes, I think all Americans should trust that even when a law says they can be prosecuted for something the Constitution says they can’t be prosecuted for, they won’t be because, “Come on, we wouldn’t do that! Have some faith!”
In truth, the law itself constitutes scare tactics, leaving open the possibility of fines and even jail time for being a jerk when a an elderly, perhaps demented resident wakes up one day and decides he identifies as a she, or non-binery, or whatever new versions of gender surface in the coming months. I seriously doubt that the law’s imposing penalties for not using politically correct pronouns—I get it, this would be part of a pattern of “abuse”—would survive First Amendment scrutiny. If the government can’t tell us what words to use, then it also can’t dictate that someone else can tell us what words to use.
Coincidentally, Andrew Sullivan, a gay man who identifies as a gay man, also sheds light on this issue in the same New York Magazine essay quoted above, writing..
“For me, as regular readers know, few things seem as ominous as the fate of free speech in the West. In democratic countries without a First Amendment, writers and speakers are now routinely hauled into court for hurting someone’s feelings or violating some new PC edict. In Canada, it is now a crime to use pronouns that have served the English language well enough for centuries, if you are not careful. You are compelled by law to say “ze” or “xe” or “ve” or an endlessly proliferating litany of gobbledygook — “(f)aer,” “e/ey,” “perself” — invented out of thin air by postmodern transgenderists. Justin Trudeau doesn’t just want you to be criminalized for saying things he regards as “hate,” he wants to use the criminal law to force you to say things you don’t believe in and can’t even remember….”
I don’t see no slippery slope…
3. Let’s segue to Fox for this morning’s final warm-up item. The Bill O’Reilly scandal rose from its coffin and bit Fox News with a vengeance, as the New York Times revealed last week that the network signed its former star to a huge new contract AFTER it learned that he had paid $32 million dollars in an out of court settlement to a woman he allegedly abused and harassed. O’Reilly fired back, claiming he had done “nothing wrong”—I wonder how many people have paid $32 million to settle an accusation when they have done nothing wrong? My assumption is that this means that the payer has a unique definition of “wrong”—and blamed God for the misunderstanding. Fox News clearly wants this story to go away, for Bill to crawl into a hole, and for his God knows how many victims to shut up and stop reminding everyone how sleazy the network was and probably still is. I can understand that. BUT…
Former Fox News host Juliet Huddy appeared on NBC’s “Megyn Kelly Today”—Megyn has her own harassment complaints regarding Fox News— to dish about Huddy’s sexual harassment claims against O’Reilly. A few hours later, Fox fired her brother, Jerusalem-based foreign correspondent John Huddy.
What a coinkydink! In a statement, Fox attributed John Huddy’s firing to “a thorough investigation into a physical altercation.”
Now THAT’S an appearance of impropriety! Whether Huddy was fired to punish his sister or not, I don’t understand how nobody at Fox could see how it looks. It looks like a Mafia-like message to any woman tempted to talk about their harassment at Fox, saying: “Shut your mouth, or we’ll hurt you and your family. We have ways.”
If Huddy had done something that was a legitimate firing offense, Fox News should have waited until Kill Bill 3 was off the news radar unless it wanted to intimidate victims and saw a way to kill two birds with one stone.
I think Fox wanted to intimidate victims.