The Corner

On Gawker and Crowder

By now, one really shouldn’t be surprised by the ever-mind-numbing output of Gawker, a website that is run by professional trolls and read primarily by people with eyes that are so close together that they could host a monocle. Still, one lives to be surprised, and today a real doozy came screaming out of the mire. Stand up, Max Read: You have outdone yourself.

As well as being another depressingly successful attempt to drive America’s attention to the bottom of the barrel, Read’s contribution, “Do We Really Have to Condemn the Union Protestor Who Punched Fox News Comedian Steven Crowder?” also happens to be a most honest and vocal admission that the media don’t care a jot about political violence if it comes from the Left. Given the forensic attention that the nation’s journalists have paid to the Tea Party — only to have their hopes of violence and disgrace disappointed by impeccable behavior — one might have naively expected that an actual fight at a political rally might have made the evening news. Alas, no. The silence has been deafening. Max Read’s questionable service is to have filled — spoken for, if you will — the vacuum. (It remains to be seen which nature will abhor more.)

“Good, serious progressives,” Read writes, “are supposed to condemn violence as a political tactic, because it’s wrong and in many cases counterproductive. But do we really need to condemn the union protestor who socked Fox News comedian Steven Crowder in the jaw?”

Why is this even a question? Well, as Read explains:

Steven, stop whining, take your licks, and accept that getting hit in the face is a hazard of inserting yourself in the middle of an argument between billionaire-funded know-nothing ideologues and people whose livelihoods and stability are being threatened by the insatiable greed of the super-rich and the blind extremism of their wooden-headed political allies. In exchange, liberals will buy you a band-aid for the cut on your forehead and re-iterate that Punching Is Bad. Sound good?

No, not really. Perhaps I’m just one of those awkward Manichean types who is resolutely set on the idea that violence isn’t the best way to resolve our legislative issues — especially just outside the doors of a functioning legislature — but I am struggling to find a way to interpret Read’s sentence as anything other than an open suggestion that if an argument involves “billionaire-funded know-nothing ideologues” or the “super-rich” or the “wooden-headed” then it is acceptable to throw a punch or two in its commission. Read never explains the best course of action in those cases where the political enemies of America’s labor unions aren’t “wooden-headed” or funded by billionaires, but my educated guess is that these justifications work on a post hoc basis and that the judgements made are largely contingent on whether the incident arrives via the letter D or the letter R.

Meanwhile, on, Jordan Yerman called ”fake” on the whole incident and then followed Read’s lead, saying:

Note: I do not advocate political violence, but surely I’m not alone in pointing out that Steven Crowder getting punched in the face is one of those not-if-but-when things. It was bound to happen sooner or later.

Transpose this argument into almost any other situation and the usual suspects would be screaming that the speaker was suggesting that the victim was to blame. This, as usual, is unfair. Steven Crowder certainly chose to put himself in a dangerous situation. But the $64 billion (Koch-funded) question is this: “Why was the situation at the Michigan capitol dangerous?” For all its problems, Lansing is not in fact on top of an active volcano — perilous, unpredictable, and outside our control — nor is it a known war zone. There was no known chance of an earthquake striking, nor did Crowder shout “fire” in a crowded theater. In blaming Crowder for “inserting” himself, Read is contending that Crowder made a “bad decision” in going into the lion’s den. I’m certainly happy to accept that proposition, providing that progressives own that they’re conceding that the members of unions are lions. Crowder’s folly, by Read’s logic, was expecting unions not to be thugs. If this is the case, instead of shouting banal and meretricious slogans such as “this is what democracy looks like,” progressives should be shouting “this is what anti-democratic, violent barbarism looks like. Argue with us and you’ll get hurt.”

That way, knowing full well what he was getting into, Crowder could have exercised his choice and decided whether he wanted to get involved with the union or not. Hey, that idea sounds familiar . . .


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