Bret Stephens, victim of a fairly recent lynching in which he wasn't actually lynched, writes in defense of Kevin Williamson from his still-comfy perch at The New York Times:
You had the right to remain silent. Now every word you’ve ever uttered, and every one you ever will, can and will be held against you.
Do you know when Williamson gave up his right to remain silent? When he starting publishing tendentious opinion pieces in an influential national journal of opinion as a full-time job. He gave up his right to remain silent by not being silent for a living. That was a long time ago.
I’m sorry to have to write you, for two reasons. Sorry, first, that you have to endure having your character assailed and assassinated by people who rarely if ever read you and likely never met you.
Yes, and I'm sure the people who've driven Kathy Griffin out of the entertainment business for an inappropriate Trump sight gag have watched hours and hours of her stand-up, including the many appearances she's done before U.S. servicemembers. Because we certainly required everyone who criticized her to have a deep familiarity with her oeuvre, didn't we?
... The case against you, as best as I can tell, rests on three charges. You think abortion is murder and tweeted — appallingly in my view — that doctors and women should perhaps be hanged for it. You believe “sex is a biological reality” and that gender should not be a choice. And you once boorishly described an African-American boy in East St. Louis, Ill., “raising his palms to his clavicles, elbows akimbo, in the universal gesture of primate territorial challenge.”
... I jumped at your abortion comment, but for heaven’s sake, it was a tweet.
In a statement to LifeSiteNews, the libertarian Williamson said, "I'm queasy about capital punishment in general, though I am not against it in all cases. And I do believe that abortion should be treated under the law like any other premeditated homicide."↓ Story continues below ↓
"The question I was asked was, 'Do I really believe that abortion should be treated like murder.' The answer is, 'Yes.'"
And if it had been only the tweets, so what? This wasn't a "youthful indiscretion." Williamson was 42 years old and a veteran reporter and commentator. I'm sure there were those who called him a "public intellectual." Communicating is his job. Are we not entitled to judge a published writer on his published writing?
And now we come to this paragraph, in which Stephens negates his own argument:
... We also live in an age — another one — of excommunication. This is ugly because its spirit is illiberal, and odd, because its consequences are negligible. Should The Atlantic foolishly succumb to pressure to rescind your job offer, you’ll still be widely read, presumably at National Review. If you’re really the barbarian your critics claim, you’re already through the gates.
When did we not live in an age of excommunication? The first decade of this century, when the conservative grown-ups were in charge? I'm sure the Dixie Chicks, Phil Donahue, Dan Rather, and Eason Jordan would be surprised to hear that.
Beyond that, what Stephens seems to be saying is both Watch out, Kevin, you may be excommunicated and Even if you are fired by The Atlantic, your writing will always be welcome at National Review.
If that's the case, it means Williamson won't be excommunicated. Even if the howling liberal-fascist mob pressures The Atlantic to let him go, he'll still have a high-profile writing gig. Call that whatever you like, but it's not excommunication.
And, of course, it hasn't even happened. The Atlantic doesn't seem at all inclined to rethink its decision to hire Williamson -- just as The New York Times has never rethought its decision to hire Bret Stephens.
Come to think of it, the original "high-tech lynching" guy, Clarence Thomas, was never actually deprived of his lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court. But to the right, it's mob rule even if the "mob" doesn't have any say over the rules.
Crossposted at No More Mr. Nice Blog