Donald Trump’s Radioactive Presidency Kills Reputations And Good Ideas

Donald Trump media

The dysfunctional Trump administration can make even good ideas politically toxic, and there is nobody to blame but the president himself

The problem with Donald Trump was never that he is an evil racist bogeyman who is going to whip up the American people into a frenzy of violence targeted at women, gay and trans people or ethnic minorities. This much was always hysterical leftist nonsense.

No, the problem with Donald Trump – as has become increasingly clear with every new day of his administration – is not that he is some kind of evil mastermind but rather that he is a small and superficial man, totally unfit to hold the highest political office in America; an impulsive man-child who is incapable of moderating his behaviour or restraining himself from acting on his first, worst instincts.

Worse still, Trump manages to diminish the stature of everybody close to him. While few people who joined the Trump administration at the beginning can be described as world-class minds, the likes of chief of staff Reince Priebus or press secretary Sean Spicer were once perfectly respectable party functionaries. Now they have made themselves a laughing stock through their contortions, evasions and the feuds they get themselves into while trying to advance Trump’s agenda and defend the garbage that comes out of his mouth.

But the real tragedy is that Donald Trump’s failure will take down a few genuinely good ideas associated with the administration, while through his own ineptitude, the president is succeeding in making some very nasty people in American politics – people whose reputations should rightly be in the gutter – start to look good through their opposition to him.

Take a look at the mainstream media, specifically the Washington DC political media class. These people were rightly distrusted even more than politicians by the public, fuelled in part by their slavish deference to the George W. Bush administration over Iraq and then their fawning, sycophantic coverage of President Barack Obama. These are the people who report and comment on the news with a thin patina of objectivity, but whose intermarriage, socialisation and business relationships with the political class make bias and groupthink all but inevitable.

When President Trump boycotted this year’s White House Correspondents’ Association dinner he made a smart move by eschewing a black tie event with celebrities and DC power players to hold one of his trademark rallies in Pennsylvania. The WHCA responded by transforming the dinner into a gaudy, sanctimonious and cynical celebration of the First Amendment, portraying the establishment journalists assembled as fearless seekers after truth. This might have looked ridiculously self-regarding had Reince Priebus not doubled down on Trump’s idiotic, throwaway pledge to amend the First Amendment to make it easier to sue newspapers for libel – on the very same day.

Nobody seriously believes that the Trump administration will try to alter the First Amendment, or that such a move would be successful even if he did try. Nobody even really believes that such a discussion took place in the White House. But by even raising the subject and having his lackeys back him, Trump has positioned himself as directly antagonistic towards the media. And while this may play well with the base, it makes it almost impossible for principled conservatives to support him.

The same goes with Sean Spicer’s ongoing war with the occupants of the White House press briefing room, which has now escalated to the point where briefings are increasingly being given off camera, in smaller more restricted gaggles or without so much as audio recordings being permitted.

From Politico:

White House Correspondents’ Association President Jeff Mason said they are “not satisfied” with the White House putting a halt on their daily, on-camera briefings.

In an email to members of the association, Mason said he met with White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer and Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders to discuss the issues of the briefings. The White House has increasingly changed the daily briefings, either not having them on certain days, making them increasingly short, or hosting off-camera briefings, sometimes even not allowing the use of audio from the briefings.

“The WHCA’s position on this issue is clear: we believe strongly that Americans should be able to watch and listen to senior government officials face questions from an independent news media, in keeping with the principles of the First Amendment and the need for transparency at the highest levels of government,” Mason wrote.

Again, this is needlessly antagonistic, and a direct result of the fact that the president is an impulsive man-child who obsessively watches the daily press briefing and gets angry when his aides fail to deliver as forceful a defence of the presidential exploits than Trump would like.

The consequence is that the White House now has a nervous communications team which is reactive rather than proactive, which cannot rely on their boss not to torpedo his own administration’s efforts with a careless tweet and which is struggling to find a replacement for Sean Spicer, who is apparently being “promoted” out of the press secretary role. But more importantly, the consequence for the country is both the perception and sometimes the reality that the White House is trying to hide something, that they are unwilling to defend their policies in public because they are indefensible.

Even the good measures taken by the White House are executed poorly, in such a way as to discredit once-worthy ideas. The decision to open up White House press briefings to a number of “Skype Seats”, so that regional reporters and bloggers without the backing of large east coast media organisations are able to ask questions on behalf of their readerships, was an excellent idea. It was more than a nod to the Trump base (who tend to despise and distrust mainstream outlets like CNN or the New York Times). It was also a fair and accurate acknowledgement that news from the White House should not be filtered exclusively through the Washington DC-based political media class.

But as with so many other things in the Trump administration, a potentially worthy idea was ruined in the execution. Rather than using the Skype Seats to promote small regional news outlets or promising bloggers of varying political stripes, the White House issued press credentials to InfoWars, the conspiracy-minded site created by Alex Jones.

That’s not to say that absolutely everything emanating from Infowars is “fake news” – and a valid case for giving the organisation press credentials can be made. But having the likes of InfoWars as the de facto poster child for opening up White House press briefings to a wider pool only gives the establishment media every excuse they need to reassert their exclusive closed shop once the Trump administration is gone.

Pointing out the hypocrisy and decadence of the supposedly objective mainstream media, modernising the way that the White House briefs reporters and opening up the White House to smaller and regional news organisations. These are all potentially good actions and ideas, but all of which have been tarnished through their association with the Trump administration. The same goes for real-world policy in a whole host of areas, from immigration reform and border security to mitigating the negative effects of globalisation on workers – all problems which were ignored and festered under previous administrations, but where Trump is often doing more harm than good.

When Donald Trump’s administration reaches its merciful end – barring some kind of foreign policy calamity or self-inflicted political self destruction – we may end up most regretting not those few things which the president actually manages to get done, but the handful of once-promising ideas which fell by the wayside because the administration either couldn’t do them or implemented them in an incompetent way. We will mourn those initiatives which could have benefited the country and won popular support of only their association with Donald Trump had not rendered them toxic.

And conservatives especially will mourn the fact that through his incompetence, Donald Trump has managed to make so many bad people – from unrepentant open borders activists to the mainstream media – look good, and seize the moral high ground.

Even if you agree with Donald Trump on 100% of the issues, one surely now has to admit that the president is his own worst enemy when it comes to implementing his own policies.

And for those of us who oppose Trump, any relief at the fact that his presidency and its worst potential excesses are stuck in the quicksand is tempered by the fact that as a result, America is drifting without proper leadership while the few sensible measures advanced by the Trump administration are now so radioactive that they may never again see the light of day.

 

Sean Spicer - White House Press Secretary - Donald Trump

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At The White House Correspondents’ Dinner, The Political Media Circle-Jerk Proceeded Minus Donald Trump

White House Correspondents Dinner - First Amendment - Washington Political Media

At the annual Washington D.C. bash, the political media class were more concerned by the lack of Hollywood celebrities to ogle than the fact that half the country holds them in contempt, feels deliberately misunderstood and distrusts nearly everything that they have to say

The Washington Post reported today on the fact that brave members of the Washington D.C. political media class somehow managed to soldier on and enjoy themselves at the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner and associated glitzy after-parties despite President Trump’s cruel boycott of the event (Trump decided to hold another one of his dubious rally-style events in Pennsylvania).

Without a single hint of self-awareness, the Post reports:

His voters sent him to Washington to break stuff, and this weekend Donald Trump tried to break the annual dinner of the White House Correspondents’ Association. As with some of his business ventures, he was not wholly successful.

“They’re trapped at the dinner,” the president boomed at a rally in Harrisburg, Pa., celebrating his first 100 days in office. “Which will be very, very boring.”

Instead, it was just fine. It happened. There’s an inertia to these Washington traditions, and a determination to soldier on in the face of — whatever it is we’re facing. Everyone survived this weekend without the president, or without the crush of Hollywood celebrities who for years had been decorating the dinner in ever-increasing density, until now.

It was a bit like an off-year high school reunion: diminished numbers and fewer crazy stories but still no shortage of hors d’oeuvres and dancing and gossip. Everyone settled for sightings of Michael Steele and Debbie Dingell instead of Jon Hamm or a Kardashian. In past years, virtually the entire cast of “Modern Family” would come to the dinner; this year, United Talent Agency only secured the kid who plays Luke.

Well, now we can all sleep easy in our beds. Despite the president of the United States refusing to perform the traditional routine of being self-deprecating and massaging the egos of the people supposed to hold him to account, the Washington press corps somehow managed to rescue the evening and enjoy themselves. Despite being deprived of the opportunity to rub shoulders with Hollywood royalty, the assembled journalists and media executives still managed to mingle, network and slap each other on the backs for a job well done serving the interests of American democracy.

Aren’t you relieved? I know that I am.

More:

Was it only a year ago that Barack Obama dropped the mic, literally, at his final correspondents’ dinner, as if to put an exclamation point on eight years of media savvy and pop-culture propaganda? He knew his role in this circus. It was Obama’s yearly chance to inspire a meme, rib a rival, come off as folksy royalty, remind the public that the media was not the enemy. His cool factor iced out the haters, smudged away red lines, papered over unkept promises. Afterward, the French ambassador’s mansion would swell with swells — both conservatives and liberals, all buddy-buddy in private, united by the daytime charade they pulled off together on TV.

As yes, good old Obama knew his place, knew his role in the “circus” – to dance like a performing seal in an attempt to make the self-satisfied hacks chuckle. Sure, Obama was more successful than most – thanks to a largely uninquisitive media he managed to maintain the “cool factor” right to the end of his presidency – but he stayed firmly within the tramlines of what was expected of him.

And what was that role? What has it traditionally been for administration after administration? Nothing more than making the media class look noble for one evening a year when they spend the other 364 making themselves look tawdry and partisan. Fudging important ideological questions and reducing them to laughing points. Papering over “unkept promises” as the trivialities that they are to the Washington political class – little frauds perpetrated on the American voters, some of whom are naive enough to expect political promises to be kept.

But the Washington Post is certainly in no mood to dwell on the accumulated failure of prestige American news outlets to hold leaders to account or properly represent the range of interests and opinion in the country. After all, the Post are enjoying a bumper season of increased subscriptions and web traffic thanks to the Trump presidency, drunk not on $25 cocktails but on their own sense of nobility (as evidenced by their hilariously overwrought “Democracy Dies In Darkness” motto).

Indeed, the Washington Post seems most anxious for us to know that this year’s event was a dud because Trump might have attended, not because he ultimately chose not to do so:

The guest list suffered not because Trump sent his regrets but, more likely, because of the chance he might attend; he remains dauntingly unpopular with the New York and Hollywood A-list that he had long aspired to join. The pre-dinner receptions, hosted by outlets such as the Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post, were staid and perfunctory, absent the usual angling for a sighting of a “Game of Thrones” star.

Apparently at no point has it occurred to the Post or other such outlets whether the presence of Hollywood celebrities at a political media event might actually be a bad thing rather than something to be celebrated and missed in its absence. It is merely taken for granted that the presence of numerous multimillionaires from the entertainment industry is some kind of sign that the health of American political journalism and culture is in fine fettle.

The focus of the stripped-down event was on defending free speech and celebrating the importance of a free press guaranteed under the First Amendment, something which we can certainly all applaud but which rarely merited such prime-time coverage when the Obama industry was, say, prosecuting whistleblowers with uncommon zeal. Has Trump made numerous troubling statements with regard to freedom of the press, libel laws and freedom of speech and association in general? Absolutely.  But it is telling that much of the media is happy to trumpet the issue now, when it costs them little reputationally or financially, but maintained a pained silence under a more popular “liberal” president.

More:

The dinner itself featured a dutiful pep talk by Watergate legends Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.

“Mr. President, the media is not fake news,” Woodward said from the dais, and the media elite applauded.

“CNN and MSNBC are fake news,” Trump said in Pennsylvania, and some of the 97 percent who say they’d still vote for him applauded.

Two worlds, talking past each other, from 100 miles apart. The latest prime-time iteration of POTUS vs. Beltway.

Only it isn’t just POTUS vs Beltway. It is half of America versus the Beltway news outlets and punditocracy. The cosseted Washington media class is so busy being angry at Donald Trump for his bombastic insults and threats that they remain largely unable to look beyond the president to see the many Americans who may not agree with Trump but who share his hatred of the people who filter and report the news.

As this blog has previously discussed, the mainstream American news media is indeed not “fake news” inasmuch as the likes of CNN or the New York Times do not routinely print sensationalist and patently false accounts of fabricated events designed to excite partisan zealots. But they have other far more insidious and effective methods of shaping the narrative through their editorial stances and very deliberate use of language.

As I wrote last year:

Fake news can incorporate false facts, but also correct facts which have been deliberately misinterpreted or spun. And far more insidious than any one fake news story, no matter how egregious, is the way in which language is often used to subtly change public perceptions over time – note how we now speak about “undocumented” rather than “illegal ” immigrants, a change adopted by nearly all of the mainstream media in America, and now in Britain too.

When the media is secretly complicit in ideologically-driven agendas, trust in the more reputable media is rightly weakened. But this leaves people more vulnerable to peddlers of deliberately fake news, as they search for alternatives. The obvious answer is for mainstream prestige outlets to rediscover their integrity and stop forcing readers away with ideologically skewed coverage, but they will not desist, and so they fuel the exodus of readers away to the fringes of the internet, a place where the more outrageous a story sounds, the more people will read it.

But there they all sat, facing a stage emblazoned with the words “Celebrating the First Amendment” and no doubt feeling inordinately pleased with themselves for the stellar work they believe they are doing in standing up to the Trumpian dystopia, unaware or more likely just unconcerned by just how hated and distrusted they are throughout vast swathes of their own country.

The New York Times had an interesting feature article today looking at the upcoming final round of the French presidential election between centrist empty-suit Emmanuel “status quo” Macron and depressing protectionism advocate Marine Le Pen. The piece focuses on the struggling northern town of Calais, a place I know quite well through many visits during my adolescence, and is actually quite fair in its examination of the erosion of the town’s biggest industry in the face of global competition and the lack of political answers

For a piece of New York Times journalism, it is pretty good – especially compared to their godawful “Will London Fall?” hitpiece on Britain and their generally hysterical and uncomprehending coverage of Brexit.

The only problem? The New York Times has to send reporters on expeditions into towns like Calais in order to talk to the locals and get to know their concerns, just as American reporters descended with newfound intensity on Trumpland after the US presidential election trying to figure out what went wrong, and just as shellshocked London political journalists stumbled shellshocked beyond the great metropolis in a bid to understand what Middle England was thinking.

The New York Times article’s author, Liz Alderman, is naturally based at the newspaper’s Paris bureau. Unless she makes a conscious effort, nearly every human interaction she makes will be likely with somebody who intends to vote for Macron in the second round. This is not to impugn Alderman’s work or journalistic ethics – the Calais piece proves that she does seek out contrary opinions in the unloved regions of France when required. But when the majority of your professional and social life is spent among people who hold one set of values, the occasional field trip to the other side of the tracks cannot make up for deep-rooted understanding of – and empathy with – the more pro-globalism, pro-EU, pro-market side.

And so it is in Washington D.C. The people who gather each year for the White House Correspondents’ Dinner (and then grumble about how they no longer get to rub shoulders with Hollywood stars thanks to the big bully in the White House) may make the occasional foray into Trumpland if the needs of a story require it. But the vast, vast majority do not live the lives of Trump supporters, nor live among them, nor count such people among their friends or family. And you simply cannot report fairly, accurately or honestly about people whom you have to interview to get any kind of sense of who they are or what their hopes, dreams and fears may be.

The White House Correspondents’ Association clearly does not care. They have calculated that they can prosper just fine by continuing to swagger around like noble seekers of truth, bellowing about free speech and holding President Trump to “account” (while furiously ignoring just how much their lust for TV ratings and pageviews fuelled his rise in the first place). But should one of the tuxedoed dinner attendees ever stop to wonder how Donald Trump is able to effortlessly turn a crowd of people against the media at a campaign rally, this is the reason.

Trump’s non-attendance was the perfect excuse to cancel a sleazy and tawdry annual event which should have been axed many years ago, if only the bipartisan ruling class had any self-awareness or a care for how they appeared to the rest of the country.

But even now they party on, while America burns.

 

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Inclusive Language Week – This Is How Western Civilisation Commits Suicide

Ball pits, puppy dog videos and safe spaces – the seeds of Western civilisational decline are being sown on the university campus

Heat Street reports on the slow-motion suicide of Western civilisation:

During its “inclusive language” campaign, California State University-Northridge students lounged in a bouncy-ball pit and held forth about words that hurt their feelings in a so-called “vent tent,” Heat Street has learned after exclusively reviewing documents and video footage.

CSU-Northridge’s event stretched on for an entire week, teaching students about “potentially hurtful phrases” and cautioning that “using non-inclusive language can have a negative affect on others.”

The University Student Union, a student-led nonprofit campus organization, spent more than $1,000 in student fees on the event, according to invoices. Urging students to avoid hurtful language, USU came up with a list of offensive words — and then printed them in huge, all-caps text, hanging the poster on campus regardless of their supposedly triggering potential.

[..] USU also created a spinning wheel of the phrases it deemed offensive, hiring a videographer and prompting students to describe why a word or term could cause emotional harm and what language they’d use instead.

Most students acquiesced. Some suggested that specific words be banned outright.

The article doesn’t quite do it justice. Apparently California State University-Northridge also laid on a ball pit for their infantilised students to sit in and carp on endlessly about their feewings.

Katherine Timpf, who does an excellent job covering the social justice beat for the National Review, reports:

Students at the California State University–Northridge sat around in a big ball pit (which they a called a “vent tent”) and talked about hurtful words and their feelings as part of a school-sponsored inclusive language campaign.

According to video and documents obtained by Heat Street, the campaign lasted for a week, was put on by the University Student Union (USU), and cost more than $1,000 in student fees. It’s not clear exactly how much of that money was spent on the ball pit rental, or if there is any research supporting the idea that sitting in a ball pit while having a discussion provides any educational and/or therapeutic benefits.

Maybe Glenn Reynolds was right the first time – if these infantilised people are so desperate to be treated like children, maybe we really do need to look at temporarily removing the franchise from them by raising the voting age.

It is obscene as it is absurd that the current generation of students in the English-speaking West, living in the most prosperous and technologically advanced age in history and enjoying tools and luxuries undreamed of by their grandparents, have nonetheless been raised to be so self-involved and determined to wallow in their own confected fragility. What are we doing?

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

 

Safe Space Notice - 2

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Tales From The Safe Space, Part 39 – UC San Diego, The Koala And The Battle To Censor Student Media

Danger Unsafe Space Sign - The Koala - UCSD

Student identity politics cultists and their craven university administration enablers are now gunning for student journalism and the free press

When University of California – San Diego student publication The Koala published this satirical article, they probably had some idea of the reaction that it would inevitably provoke:

Too long have trigger warnings plagued the airwaves. Too long has the no-blacks rule been removed from our campus. Too long have students not been free to offend their hypersensitive peers. “Spam Musubi only $1” and “Holy shit they opened up Starbucks” have replaced the long-gone chants of “Nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger.” Next week, that will all change.

Administrators at UC San Diego are creating an all new, state-of-the-art Dangerous Space for UCSD students who just don’t feel like their needs have been met on campus. In the past few weeks, the lack of dangerous space at UCSD has become increasingly apparent; students have been lashing out with puppy parades, non-violent protests, and other equally safe gimmicks. Safe spaces at UCSD are commonplace, and threaten individuals who do not like feeling safe. The logical next step has been taken by the university in creating a place to fairly support all UCSD students, continuing the university’s theme of inclusion and equality.

Located in the center of Library Walk, the new Dangerous Space is the ideal place for students to do whatever the hell they want. Senior Frank Yu gave The Koala the following statement: “The needs of dangerous-space students have been overlooked for generations, but UCSD is finally recognizing what means the most to 19-year-old Asian nerds: fucking a dead body with a picture of my waifu taped on the face.”

F. Yu isn’t alone. Not only will this new dangerous space allow people of all ethnicities and sizes – even unnaturally large sizes – it will allow for knifes, guns, opinions that might be different than yours, drug paraphernalia, sharp writing instruments, and explicit pornography.

The new Dangerous Space is guaranteed to get students excited for a good time, and will probably end like all good things do, with body mutilation and feelings of remorse.

Not world class humour, you might think, but certainly something that falls well within the boundaries of constitutionally protected speech in America.

(And from this blog’s perspective, an always-welcome attack by students on the illiberal cancer metastasising through the English-speaking Western academia.)

But on this occasion, the publication was not merely the recipient of angry protests and tearful accusations from “triggered” snowflake students. Instead, the entire weight of the university leadership, egged on by vengeful student protesters, came crashing down on the small student newspaper.

From Inside Higher Ed:

On Nov. 18, the university’s administrators responded to student complaints, condemning the Koala in a statement. “We, the UC San Diego administration, strongly denounce the Koala publication and the offensive and hurtful language it chooses to publish,” several administrators, including the university’s president, stated. The Koala responded to the denouncement by publishing a series of profanity-laden and slur-filled fictional emails meant to be written by administrators.

So far, so unsurprising. Just another craven university administration cowering in fear and issuing Stalin-like denunciations of alleged thoughtcrime at the behest of entitled student protesters.

But it gets worse:

In an attempt to starve out a controversial student publication without violating the First Amendment, the student government at the University of California at San Diego voted last week to cease any funding of student media.

The move — which First Amendment experts said does not pass constitutional muster, despite the student government’s maneuvering to avoid targeting a specific group — came after UCSD administrators condemned the most controversial of the university’s publications amid student protests about racism on campus.

In other words, the officious student council was not satisfied with having bullied the spineless UCSD university administration into denouncing humorous free speech, they wanted to starve The Koala of funding, effectively shutting it down.

In Britain, this would have been a slam-dunk. Game over. But in America, the pesky First Amendment makes such blatant retaliation illegal, and so instead the student government had the bright idea of ceasing funding to all student media organisations – essentially killing off an entire campus industry and ruining everyone’s fun in order to punish one organisation accused of causing “offence”.

The political machinations here are so crude that there is simply no disguising them, try as the student council might:

Student leaders appear to have been worried that if they just ended funding for the Koala, and did so based on its content and language, they would be violating the First Amendment. So later that day, the Associated Students Council voted to defund all student media by removing a section from its constitution about financial support of student media organizations.

The Associated Students provides about $15,000 per year, drawn from student fees, to several student media organizations, including student-run research journals and magazines. The twice-weekly student newspaper, the Guardian, is independent and was not affected.

“When this was brought to council floor, I made it a point to address that this issue was not to be tied to any particular organization,” Dominick Suvonnasupa, the student government’s president, said in an email. “The question was whether to fund media at all, and at the end of the meeting, council decided not to. AS decided to discontinue print media funding as it was determined that there were other areas of campus that could better benefit from the limited resources of the Associated Students. All campus media organizations have received suggestions of alternative funding sources.”

Uh-huh. Sure. And of course the Associated Students Council would have come to exactly the same conclusion, independently, had The Koala not published their heretical article back in November of 2015 (funding was withdrawn from all student publications a week later). Right.

Incidentally, these are exactly the same tawdry tactics which were once used by die-hard segregationists during the last gasp of Jim Crow, where some racist whites chose to privatise their school districts and close their public amenities rather than submit to federally mandated integration. Only now it is moralising student activists and their cowardly enablers within academic leadership who would rather burn all student media to the ground than allow one publication to continue posting material which they find “offensive”. But don’t expect today’s virtue-signalling student activists to note the irony.

Just as many British leftists are desperate for Britain to vote to remain in the European Union in the coming referendum because deep down they don’t think that the people are capable of making the “right choices” if proper democracy was restored with Brexit, so these Social Justice and Identity Politics cultists on both sides of the Atlantic seem to think that fellow students are somehow unable to handle free speech, and that it must therefore be withdrawn or highly circumscribed in order to prevent “harm” from occurring.

Fortunately, the San Diego chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union is now riding to the rescue. From The Daily Caller:

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit against the University at California at San Diego (UCSD) for defunding a student publication that offended UCSD students.

[..] The ACLU alledges this action runs afoul of the First Amendment.

“The student government violated the First Amendment in two ways,” a statement from the ACLU read. “First, it targeted the student press by stripping it of revenue that remains available to support other student speech. Second, it retaliated against the editorial viewpoint of The Koala, an action that is not immunized by inflicting collateral damage on all student media.”

Although the organization expressed sympathy with those offended, it asserted The Koala piece was “classic protected speech.”

“Trauma is real,” said David Loy, legal director of the ACLU in San Diego and Imperial Counties, “but censorship is not the cure, because it inevitably blows back on those it purports to protect.”

It is good to see the ACLU come down on the right side of this issue and take up the case of this small student-run publication. One does not have to approve of The Koala, or this article in particular, to decry the way that the UC San Diego student government, drunk on power, sought first to shut down the paper and then effectively silence all campus media as a collective punishment for the heretical editorial viewpoint of one outlet.

The ACLU’s case seems quite watertight, and it is likely that the lawsuit will succeed, but student protesters will not take a defeat lying down. If they cannot accomplish their primary objective (shutting down the offensive publication) or secondary objective (suppressing student journalism altogether) they will come back with a third strategy, and a fourth.

These people are relentless. Caving in to their shrill and authoritarian demands encourages them to come back for more, while rebutting them only encourages the snowflakes to shout louder. All of which might be admirable, if only their cause was a just one. But despite the name, there is nothing “just” about the Cult of Social Justice and Identity Politics.

On the contrary, it is a poisonous, tawdry ideology which preaches personal fragility, collective guilt, voluntary re-segregation and a rampant culture of victimhood. And as such it must be actively opposed on all fronts.

God speed the ACLU lawsuit, and may The Koala survive to publish many more editions filled with edgy, unapologetically provocative student humour.

 

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Top Image: The Koala

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Citing Religious Freedom To Excuse Discrimination Will Come Back To Bite

segregation

If your religion requires that you attend church every Sunday, you have the right to do so, and no government should ever strip you of that freedom. And if your religious beliefs compel you to speak out publicly on social issues, that also should be your absolute right, provided that you are not inciting violence against anyone else.*

But if the free exercise of your religion requires that you don’t serve gay people at your place of business because you disapprove of their lifestyle choice, that is just called being sanctimonious, and has nothing to do with piety and everything to do with being judgmental – incidentally, a character trait that some major religions frown upon.

And yet this is exactly the type of behaviour that would be sanctioned under a raft of discriminatory legislation working its way through a number of state houses throughout America. MotherJones reports on this new social conservative backlash:

Kansas set off a national firestorm last week when the GOP-controlled House passed a bill that would have allowed anyone to refuse to do business with same-sex couples by citing religious beliefs. The bill, which covered both private businesses and individuals, including government employees, would have barred same-sex couples from suing anyone who denies them food service, hotel rooms, social services, adoption rights, or employment—as long as the person denying the service said he or she had a religious objection to homosexuality. As of this week, the legislation was dead in the Senate. But the Kansas bill is not a one-off effort.

Republicans lawmakers and a network of conservative religious groups has been pushing similar bills in other states, essentially forging a national campaign that, critics say, would legalize discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Republicans in Idaho, Oregon, South Dakota, and Tennessee recently introduced provisions that mimic the Kansas legislation. And Arizona, Hawaii, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Mississippi have introduced broader “religious freedom” bills with a unique provision that would also allow people to deny services or employment to LGBT Americans, legal experts say.

One gets the very strong sense that the principle of “religious freedom” is being used by the proponents of these bills as a cudgel with which to hit people that they don’t much like.

We can also safely strike out the word “religious” and replace it with “Christian” without affecting the real intent of the legislation, because you can bet your life that supporters of the Kansas bill would go insane if the same law that they support was cited in defence of a Muslim waiter who refused to serve pork sausages to a customer. In fact, ten new campaigns to “keep Shariah law out of America” would be launched before you could utter the phrase “hypocritical, discriminatory nonsense masquerading unconvincingly as a principled defense of religious freedom”.

In short, these bills are exactly what we have come to expect from a religious and social right wing in America that believe the founding fathers established America as an explicitly judeo-Christian land and that the Constitution is nothing more than an appendix to the Bible.

Dan Savage pulls no punches in delivering his verdict on the spate of new discriminatory legislation:

I don’t remember where I read it but this is a good idea: these laws should include a provision requiring business owners who wish to access their “protections” to publicly post signs in their windows and on their websites that list the types of people they refuse to serve. That might prompt some hateful Christianists to think twice. Because then they wouldn’t just be losing the business of the odd gay couple they got to turn away in a fit of self-righteous assholery. They would also be losing the business of straight people who don’t want to patronize businesses that discriminate against their gay and lesbian friends, neighbors, and family members—and others who worry about where empowering religious bigots could ultimately lead.

Not a bad idea at all. Savage may propose it only in jest, but perhaps, if these odious bills are to be passed over Democratic opposition, they could be sabotaged with amendments to include just such a poison pill clause. You want to arbitrarily turn away gay people from your business establishment? Well sure, go right on ahead – but make sure that you post a big sign out front listing all of the types of people whose lifestyles you frown on and consequently refuse to serve. And while you’re at it, post the same list prominently at the top of your company website, just to make absolutely clear which potential customers you are willing to welcome and which ones you will shun. After all, a well-functioning market requires perfect information.

In seeking to usurp the protections of the First Amendment and bastardise them in service of their cynical anti-gay agenda, supporters of this pro-discrimination legislation are starting down a dangerous road. Having only recently put the Jim Crow era behind them, some people seem only too eager to dust off the old “No Colored Allowed” signs and repurpose them for the war against their next target.

Of course, even if the pro-discrimination bills do successfully make it through the state legislatures and get signed into law by the Governors (many of whom have national political aspirations of their own), and even if they survive their inevitable challenge all the way up to the Supreme Court, the legislation would almost certainly be destroyed in the fiery crucible of broader public opinion, most of all among young people with whom the Republican Party has enough of an image problem already.

One of the main problems is the fact that there are no real logical or enforceable limits to “religious freedoms” being proposed. One can easily picture Newt and Callista Gingrich forlornly walking the streets of Washington D.C. in the rain, being turned away from one fancy restaurant after another because the proprietor’s sincerely held religious beliefs prohibit adultery and call it a sin. Of course, under no circumstances could the proprietor ever entertain the idea of serving a customer whose life story did not perfectly comply with the teachings of Jesus Pat Robertson, and if the new legislation is passed he would now have the weight of the law to back him up.

A prohibition on stealing was important enough to be included among the Ten Commandments, so perhaps we can also expect huge lines building outside places like Starbucks as the already overworked employees complete the mandatory criminal records background check before serving you your tall non-fat vanilla spice latte with extra nutmeg.

We are able to laugh at these ludicrous examples of the laws being applied to their bizarre extremes because although the attempt to push new legislation is troubling, it is really nothing more than the death throes of an old way of life where persecution and ostracisation of people because of their sexuality is excused and permitted. The legislation represents a collective shriek of indignance and self-pity from people who are finally starting to realise that they have irretrievably lost the argument, and will soon have to change their own behaviour rather than bully others into suppressing their real selves for fear of causing offense or inviting persecution.

As Andrew Sullivan said of the Kansas bill:

It is premised on the notion that the most pressing injustice in Kansas right now is the persecution some religious people are allegedly experiencing at the hands of homosexuals.

Such a notion is plainly absurd. Certain bigoted Christianists may have convinced themselves that they are being persecuted because they are no longer allowed to inflict their worldview and moral code on others, but there are now too few Americans willing to show up to their pity party to be of any help. Playing the victim card will not work outside the confines of their own shrinking closed network of intolerant people. Sullivan continues:

It’s a misstep because it so clearly casts the anti-gay movement as the heirs to Jim Crow. If you want to taint the Republican right as nasty bigots who would do to gays today what Southerners did to segregated African-Americans in the past, you’ve now got a text-book case. The incidents of discrimination will surely follow, and, under the law, be seen to have impunity. Someone will be denied a seat at a lunch counter. The next day, dozens of customers will replace him. The state will have to enforce the owner’s right to refuse service. You can imagine the scenes. Or someone will be fired for marrying the person they love. The next day, his neighbors and friends will rally around.

If you were devising a strategy to make the Republicans look like the Bull Connors of our time, you just stumbled across a winner. If you wanted a strategy to define gay couples as victims and fundamentalist Christians as oppressors, you’ve hit the jackpot. In a period when public opinion has shifted decisively in favor of gay equality and dignity, Kansas and the GOP have decided to go in precisely the opposite direction.

Instead of full-throated encouragement from the Republican national leadership in support of what the state parties are doing in their name, there is nothing but a conspicuous silence from the likes of John Boehner and Eric Cantor. Nothing from the congressional leadership and precious little from the conservative blogosphere either – tumbleweeds abound. There is a reason for this.

There exists a group of people whose behaviour is so odious and disgusting that it should not be spoken of in polite society; those involved in promoting it are amoral subversives perpetrating foul deeds which constitute an affront to God and to civilisation itself. Such people can barely be described as Americans, and certainly don’t deserve acknowledgement from Washington or protection by the law.

Unfortunately for the Kansas GOP, through their actions they are now that group, not the gay people they so love to persecute.

 

* Should be, but sadly is not currently the case in modern Britain, where the rights of the ultra-sensitive and the politically correct not to be offended supersede the right of the people to free speech.