We all know how frustrating it is:
“Rush Limbaugh called Barack Obama a ‘magic negro!’”
“Jerry Falwell condemned a Teletubby for being gay!!”
“Ann Coulter refused to fly on a plane with a black pilot!!!”
And it’s exhausting, too, having to point out one more time that:
* Rush Limbaugh was commenting on a black journalist’s description of Obama as a “magic negro” — an established literary trope in liberal academia.
* A writer for Jerry Falwell’s newsletter was simply quoting mainstream media stories about gays who’d already embraced that purple, purse-carrying Teletubby as a “gay icon.”
* That Ann Coulter anecdote was a completely made-up article on a satirical website.
Know what’s even more annoying, at least to me?
When conservatives indulge in the same variety of too-good-to-check rumor mongering and mass pass-it-on hysterics every time a liberal celebrity says — or worse, supposedly says — something dumb.
Let’s call it “Mean-Girls Conservatism.”
How fitting that the latest outbreak of unbecoming right-wing blowhardiness occurred during the Oklahoma tornado.
On May 20, Daily Show co-creator Lizz Winstead tweeted:
This tornado is in Oklahoma so clearly it has been ordered to only target conservatives.
Now, I’m going to plead “menopause brain” here:
I didn’t “get” that joke at first.
I mean, I know there was a tornado in Oklahoma, and that that’s a “red state,” and Winstead is a liberal (you know this because she was once head writer for The Daily Show), and liberals hate flyover country. So.
But it took me a couple of days to realize that she was referencing the IRS “Tea Party targeting” scandals.
By the time those 48 hours had passed, the joke had already been widely and wildly condemned by conservative tweeters and bloggers. Some surprised me, since I consider them smarter than I am.
It got so bad that Glenn Beck got on Twitter and told his fans to leave her alone.
What’s worse, Winstead felt driven to apologize for the tweet.
Frankly, I think the conservative “mean girls” — the swarm of scolds who descended upon her with cries of “think of the children!!!” — should apologize to her.
We’re the ones who always make fun of liberals for whining about “the children,” but somehow it’s laudable when we do it?
Please don’t tell me that Okies whose lives were literally turned upside down by that tornado were the ones “offended” by Winstead’s tweet.
I’m gonna go out on a limb and assume that their internet connection was out.
And, er, Oklahoma gets tornadoes all the time. Why the people who live there continue to do so, or somehow can’t figure out how to tornado-proof their homes, I couldn’t tell you.
One of the first and best books I read when I moved to the “right” was also one of the least known.
In How The Left Was Won, Richard Mgredechian makes some points about “proportion and relevancy” that I think about often.
He notes, for instance, that at the start of the 2003 Iraq War, CNN tried to make a big deal out of an anti-war demonstration that was (supposedly) 200,000 strong.
Which seems pretty amazing, Mgredechian writes, until you remember that the entire population of the United States is over 300 million.
Suddenly that “less than 1%” turnout sounds kind of underwhelming.
He maintains that the inability to consider events, especially tragedies, in proportional terms is one of the Left’s abiding sins, along with their smug self-righteousness and the weird compulsion to get offended on other people’s behalf.
We embody that same kind of irrationality when we, as “mean girl conservatives,” rush to Twitter and Facebook to condemn a comedian for making a joke about a really bad storm.
And think about it: there’s a “conservative” joke somewhere in Winstead’s tweet, whether she realizes it or not.
Let me try:
#AlexJones: Tornado targets red state Oklahoma! Coincidence?? #IRS #WeatherMachine
OK, I won’t be hired to pen special material for the next Oscar host, but see what I mean?
Let’s see what an actual professional comedian can teach us about responding to these stupid “controversies.”
You no doubt recall — because you heard about it at almost every conservative website — that actress Lena Dunham tweeted the following on May 27:
Happy Memorial Day! I’ve already peed in two different Starbucks bathrooms!
Twitchy.com (as it often does, to its discredit) reacted with a Margaret Dumont-like, “There are no words.”
Then it was Sean Hannity’s cue to keep stoking the disgust right wingers were expressing over Dunham’s dopey message.
Either by accident or design, Hannity’s booker somehow got hold of the perfect guest for a panel on this particular topic.
For those unfamiliar with Jim Norton’s stand-up comedy, let’s just say that bodily fluids — “precious” and otherwise — provide him with plenty of material.
One of his one-man shows is called Monster Rain and no, I’m not going to explain the title to you because I’m still sorry I found out myself.
However, Norton’s non-bathroom humor can be hysterical, and he often has a smart, serious, and independent take on the issues of the day.
Like on this particular (non) issue, for instance.
I watched the video above and thought:
“You just know Jim Norton was thinking, ‘Wait: Lena Dunham wants to fill Jane Fonda’s shoes… with pee…?’
“And wishing he could use that line on TV.
“And watch it happen in real life.”
I much prefer Norton to the plastic “Coulter clone” he’s debating.
She’s got a list of corny “conservative” talking points she’s robotically reciting one by one, whereas Norton actually listens and then responds like a normal human being.
She’s clearly certain that Norton won’t dare poke fun at her cheap personal appeal to patriotism.
She’s sadly mistaken.
Norton comported himself equally well in a recent debate about rape jokes, even refusing to be drawn in by fans who prodded him to attack his unsympathetic female opponent more harshly.
Could it be that there’s something “mean girls” conservatives could learn from this foul-mouthed, hoodie-wearing KISS fanatic?
“Oh, sure. When Jim Norton is America’s voice of reason,” some of you are thinking, “then we are officially screwed.”
Or, perhaps, on the verge of outgrowing our habit of acting like “shocked and appalled” mobs when nobodies crack stupid jokes on the internet?