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I disagree with Meghan McCain on many things, but I respect the way she stands up to the insanity within the party she belongs to. Last week she made an appearance on Al Sharpton's show to discuss the discontent within the Republican Party. None of this is really news, after all. It's a given that the GOP has been overtaken by irrational, insane, and very rich human beings who are willing to throw just about everyone under the bus in order to restore America to the state of oligarchy which will benefit them most.
But when Meghan McCain says it, people crawl out from under their online rocks to give her heartburn, and evidently her biggest sin was daring to diss the Great and Mighty Breitbart and Michelle Malkin. In death, Breitbart has been whitewashed into some kind of right-wing hero-icon who Must Not Be Challenged or Criticized Ever. If one dares to do it, they get a barrage of nasty, like McCain got. Here are a few small examples:
— Levin Inches™ (@LevinInches) May 25, 2012
— TipOfTheSpear (@CHOWSTL) May 25, 2012
I know @McCainBlogette is a hate filled extremist who seeks favor with the left so republicans will lose elections.
— Chris Loesch (@ChrisLoesch) May 25, 2012
This is what they do all the time, usually to people on the left, but let one of their own fall out of line and they'll do it to them, too. It's a finely honed bully machine, and McCain identified it as such in her Daily Beast column on Sunday.
It’s no secret that the blogosphere is more vicious on women than it is on men. Recently, a Photoshopped picture of conservative pundit S.E. Cupp with a phallus in her mouth was printed in Hustler magazine. When Sandra Fluke talks about birth control, Rush Limbaugh calls her a “slut.”
I am often invited to speak at colleges, and whenever I do Q and A’s, a question that inevitably comes up is, how do you put up with the blogosphere? It’s a valid question, and I don’t really know what answer to give. The truth is that I don’t know what to do. When people don’t like my politics, I am happy to have a political discussion with them. But when they don’t like my politics and call me fat and say I should die, what’s left to say?
Indeed. It's not only McCain who gets this vile treatment. S.E. Cupp, who I personally haven't found one single inch of common ground with and who I personally think is one of the more intellectually dishonest conservatives in media, did not deserve to have a picture photoshopped in such a way. It was intended as a demeaning, silencing act. Yes, Larry Flynt is a misogynist slime, but he's also supposedly a huge proponent of free speech, so that particular image was just that much more objectionable.
If you're a woman and you dare to speak of political things, it's a given that you will be viciously attacked for your looks, your character, and sometimes even your family. Andrew Breitbart and I had our own tussle a few years back where he intimated that if I challenged him, he would post my personal data online, reach out to business contacts I had, and otherwise make my life miserable. It was an unnecessary act of a bully.
Last Thursday, Michael Fumento wrote a column for Salon enumerating the reasons he was turning his back on the extreme right:
In her nationally syndicated column Michelle Malkin wrote regarding Limbaugh’s slut remarks, that “I’m sorry the civility police now have an opening todemonize the entire right based on one radio comment.” In a stroke she’s expressed her disdain for civility and declared the new right’s sins can be dispatched as an itsy-bitsy little single faux pas, “one radio comment.”
No, Michelle, incivility – nay, outright meanness and puerility – rears its ugly head daily on your blog, which as I write this on May 23 has one item referring in the headline to “Pig Maher’s boy [Bill Maher]” and another to “Jaczko the Jerk,” [former U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko]. Shecalls Limbaugh target Sandra Fluke a “femme-agogue” and her supporters “[George] Soros monkeys.” Pigs? Monkeys? Moonbats? It’s literal dehumanization.
I did a twitter search on his handle and to my surprise, came across no tweets calling him a fat pig or other nasty names. No, they saved that for Meghan McCain. Because this is what they do to women. They dehumanize, demean, and bully anyone who says anything that is outside of their worldview. It's how they've been able to shape the debate over the past three years.
I went back and forth about posting anything on this because I hate drawing more attention to what they're doing. But if we're going to be using blogs, Twitter, Facebook and other forms of social media to have a conversation, I think it's worth marginalizing the voices of the Malkins and Breitbots by rising above them rather than letting them have control.
Nothing is added to the conversation by people who think it's perfectly all right to ignore issues and use exaggerated invective to make their point or marginalize a point of view they don't agree with. On a near-daily basis I block people on twitter who reinvent themselves with pornographic names and photographs with fantasies of what they'd like to do to me. This particular phenomenon began right after I began writing about politics. When I was writing about iPhones and tech trends, or even health care policy, no one cared. But when my voice started reaching over the din, some took it upon themselves to try and silence it.
That's wrong, whether one is liberal or conservative, and Meghan McCain should be able to speak without conservative men tossing insults and threats her way.
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