Friday, February 5

F*cking Id*ots

MARY-JANE McArgle-Bargle, on being called to account for the fiscal meltdown of Colorado Springs:
If you can't understand why a libertarian is against your program, start with the possibility that they might not think it is a true public good. That way you don't need to jump straight to the ludicrous conclusion that opposing your new boondoggle means they logically must also want to rip down the guard rails on the highway.

Look, Miss Gault: we already know you're an inconsistent Objectivist. We know this because you're an Objectivist.

Sure, you love road signs, merchantability laws, and the invasion of small countries when you perceive them to be necessary for the continued protection of the fruits of your superiority, or the production of iPhones. You want a medal for that? As well give Jonah Goldberg a D.S.C. for having something better to do than back up his fighting words about Iraq/Afghanistan/Iran/Syria/Yemen/Hollywood. This is precisely the point: you get to argue that whatever government activity you don't like violates the universal assurances given by some tenth-rate novelist, secure in you knowledge that rational people will protect you from the loss of any personal benefits, or the imminent advance of real chaos. When you do happen to get called on it--meaning when you do bother to respond---it's "Why, of course I'm not opposed to stop lights!" despite the fact that either a) you are; or b) you managed to reach middle-age, or approximately fifteen years after sensible people have tossed Atlas Shrugged on the kindling pile, without it ever occurring to you that everyone believes exactly the same about himself, the only distinction being where one imagines "the necessary public good" to end: stoplights, security regulation, universal healthcare, or free iPhones. Choose one. Although I must say that the idea that libertarians make decisions based on the public good--implying that in the future you'll be arguing facts, rather than blessing your readership with the benefits of your metaphysical certainties and your grand-mama's Roosevelt hatreds--sounds promising.

Mr. Brooks: we have suggested before than when these Sociology 101 spells hit you lie down with a cold compress. This is for your good as well as ours. But please, for God's sake, stay th' fuck away from sports! which includes rowing, polo, croquet, usury, and any other athletic diversions of your class. If you need to know why, have someone lash you to the four-poster this weekend and read aloud every word George Eff Will has ever written about baseball.

Jack Shafer:
Shriver the word cop is every bit the oppressor that he imagines Emanuel to be.

Finally! Someone brave enough to take on the PC police for only the 400 millionth time since Slate made the internets worth reading.
No decent person—not even Rahm Emanuel—wants to deny the marginalized their dignity.

It's not his fault that most people believe this is best accomplished by not denying them their dignity.
All right-thinking parents discourage their children from grossly misusing the word. But declaring every conversational use of retarded and beating up on public figures who use it colloquially won't bring new dignity to the people upon whose behalf Shriver advocates. Instead of normalizing attitudes and perceptions, Shriver's scolding tactics shove everybody outside his circle into a crouch, begging for his forgiveness.

Well, only because Shriver was obligated, in this PR world, to accept an apology (for a slight that wasn't aimed at him, but at people who received no apology); we'd be much better off if this sort of thing engendered the opprobrium of everybody who didn't work at Slate rather than some phony mea culpa played out for the Press. But the apology isn't at fault. The real crime is that because he issues an apology he's automatically absolved of being a first-rate asshole while, conversely, some id*ot on the internet is allowed to claim the whole thing is a big tsimmes cooked up by the professionally aggrieved. (Meanwhile, Sarah Palin, whose only contribution to the disabled is lugging her Down's Syndrome baby around as a Right-to-Life trophy, gets a mere mention, despite the fact that her Facebook intervention was purely political and self-serving.)

The point that seems to have been lost in all this is that the President's Chief of Staff called someone a retard. Not only would I not allow a child of ten to use the term; if he was still using it after age twelve I'd have him locked away for good, not because it's rude, but because he was obviously a hopelessly perpetual juvenile and the market's already flooded. Rahm Emanuel is fifty.


scripto said...

I think Emanuel said something along the lines that the idea of democrats running anti-democrat commercials against other democrats was "retarded" rather than calling those that came up with that idea "retards". That's a degree of separation that makes it OK in my book (Acceptable Synonyms for Stupidity).

John Daly said...

Isn't Colorado Springs' population comprised primarily of hardcore religious fundamentalists, militarists, and libertarians? Kind of a metaphysical absolute zero.

R. Porrofatto said...

What's fun about the entire thing is that, if the numbers in this Colorado Springs Business Journal article are trustworthy, the property tax increase is nothing near what all the squawking is about. By my quickie calculations, the Colorado Springs property tax on a house worth $200,000 is currently about $950 per year, and it will increase to about $1250 per year (a $1,000,000 house currently about $4,750, going up to $6,250). Not exactly neglible, but most of the homeowners here in New York would love to pay those rates. Of course, if the citizens of CS think Mumbai is a model city, they're welcome to experiment along those lines.

オテモヤン said...
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desertscope said...

What makes me wonder at this controversy is that "retarded" does have real meaning. To retard is to slow progress or development. Way back in the ancient history of a couple of decades ago, the term was generally used to describe a person whose intellectual growth has been retarded.

The fact that "retarded" came to be used as a childish insult (I've always had a low opinion of Emanuel, even going back as far as those racy French movies he apparently used to make) does not strip it of its inherent meaning.

StringonaStick said...

Coloradoan here; the Springs is indeed our enclave of American Taliban; Tony Perkins and Focus on the Family are based there. Apparently there was a mass migration from Orange County CA some years ago and the Springs was the lucky destination chosen as the new Xtianist promised land for a large number of similar organizations. It is also home to a large Army Base (Fort Carson) and the US Olymic Training Center, and has a lively pagan population (they sponsor and maintain the most popular hiking trail up Pikes Peak). Politically it is just as RW nuts as you'd expect from the linked article. I doubt that all those ex-military retirees are going to like seeing things get so ratty, but they hate, hate, hate taxes so there you go.

Here's a suggestion: let the Springs go to shit for a few years, and then offer bus tours of the resulting Galt's Gulch. No doubt the tourists will be more comfortable if there is an armed escort and they only have to look and not actually get off the bus, and if it can be guaranteed that the potholes won't be so bad that the slower traveling speed will leave them open to Mad Max-like gang attacks.

Colorado Springs: libertarian paradise. I am so glad to finally see their US-based demonstration project.

Unknown said...

Well, not to get all un-PC here, but back when I was a young teen (and I'm a year younger than you Doghouse) in Illinois, I used to babysit a "mongoloid". That's what we called 'em in those days. Remember that? In fact, I think that designation was considered a scientific step up from "retard". There was no knowledge of Down Syndrome among our Illuminati.

So I consider this kerfuffle about "retard" or "retarded" a bit overblown.

Of course, since I have two of the physical characteristics common among Down syndrome people--a Simian crease and crevices on my tongue--you can probably discount whatever I say or think.

Christopher said...

Call me crazy, but I don't think Rahm's problem is that he used incorrect terminology.

I mean, I don't want to put words in Tim Shriver's mouth or anything but I don't think he would've been any happier had Mr. Emmanuel said "What are you, mentally disabled?"

If we use an analogy, Shafer's point seems to be that there's no point in abandoning the word "nigger", because ANY term for black people will eventually be used as an insult by racists.

I can not tell you how irritating I find that.