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Mean-Girls Conservatism: How Bitchy, Brainless Blowhards Are Wrecking the Right

And what upright, uptight right wingers can learn from one of the dirtiest minds in comedy today.

Kathy Shaidle


June 11, 2013 - 7:00 am


We all know how frustrating it is:

Lefties on cable news or on the web (or around the boardroom or dinner table) screaming their faux outrage in fits of what Thomas Sowell calls “moral posturing”:

“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.”

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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.

Get it?

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.

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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?

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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! (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.”

Seriously, though?

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?

(KATHY SHAIDLE is a blogging pioneer who runs FiveFeetOfFury, now in its 15th year. She's been called "one of the great virtuoso polemicists of our time," by MARK STEYN. Her NEW book is Confessions of A Failed Slut (Thought Catalog, 2014).

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
What the heck is she talking about?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
This is really not your greatest piece. Would you defend a conservative who cracked a joke about a destructive earthquake in San Francisco with the same zeal you are defending the lib? I wouldn't.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
And the point of this article is? Reading this was a total waste of my time.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (55)
All Comments   (55)
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It seems clear that this whole article was merely an excuse to take a few shots at Katie Pavlich. Lena Dunham, like Kathy Shaidle in this piece, said something stupid and got called out for it. Defending her is equally pathetic. Jim Norton is a comedian, which means his opinion is worth about as much as the crap he likes to talk about. Comedians, loyal to their common dysfunctions and social misfit status, compulsively defend each other. It's to be expected, not respected.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment

Kudos, I get it. It was a decent read and had very good points to make

Folks, we've become so polarized that any little thing becomes offensive to the opposite side and people go nuts being offended almost to the point that I sometimes wonder if these people need to feel offended as much as they need to breath.

Look, the Oklahoma joke, that was just dumb no matter how you slice it. In the end to discover that it was really just a poorly worded joke to begin with makes it beyond dumb. The Memorial Day pee girl, even dumber. As a 26 year veteran and a survivor of a couple of disasters, I really personally am not offended. I have much better things to focus my energy on then a couple of knuckleheads spraying off nonsense on twitter. So what if it's form a couple of left wingers. Who cares?

In your general day to day life, if you encounter something or someone face-to-face that's offensive, on par with twidiots and nothing more, what do you do? Unless there is some form of impediment, you just walk away and press on with the day.

It's an uniquely American trait to use humor as catharsis. We're not all going to like it. What it all really boils down to is a bunch of silly people ragging on or about a bunch of other silly people with whom they are supposedly diametrically opposed to politically and philosophically argue and take offense with anything from the other side. Truth be known, 99% of all the slights are over nothing of consequence with a healthy dose of misunderstanding (again of nothing).

You want to be offended by something, be offended that the republic probably is going the way of the dinosaur. Be offended by the redistribution of wealth. Be offended by the welfare state that keeps people down instead of giving them a hand up. If you really need to be offended by things, there are plenty of things out there to be ranting about, neigh doing something about. Getting your panties in a wad about some noxious vapid twit in the twiterverse, and their offended self important counterpart isn't worth the trouble.

“You can please some of the people some of the time all of the people some of the time some of the people all of the time but you can never please all of the people all of the time.” Lincoln
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
What the heck is she talking about?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
essentially comes down to..... if you're out on the back porch blasting at turkeys with your over-and-under, it really helps if you're not standing in the way....'>......
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"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."

200,000 is a huge turnout as far as protests go. The more general point is that protests are (contrary to prevailing sentiment) inherently anti-democratic. A protest is one of the ways in which a determined and organized minority puts pressure on the government to achieve results that couldn't be achieved by legitimate democratic channels -- by voting. For this reason the aims that protesters seek to achieve are usually inimical to the public interest.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Compare the "Bitchy, Brainless Blowhards" on the right to these.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Kathy your article title is quite provactive; I was hoping for a better read than this. I don't find hardly any conservative female pundits the least bit bitchy, and definately not brainless. Now leftist female pundits on the other hand are a different story, mostly bitchy, knee jerk brain dead and homely to boot. But then again I am politically prejudiced.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
So, I completely misguaged the content of this article. Or, should I say, this article didn't deliver what it promised. I too have a problem with "too-good-to-check rumor mongering and mass pass-it-on hysterics". I think we need to always keep our arguments evidential, grounded, demonstrable, provable from first principles. The three liberal memes provided and subsequently debunked at the beginning were examples of things that were not those. In the same manner, occasionally part of the conservative blogosphere will mistake a satirical story for fact, or there will be some other little misinformation bubble. I'd bet a fair amount that we do it less, but it does still happen, because group dynamics are a product of how humans are wired and the only people with the time to fact-check every detail of every story are journalists who are paid to do it for a living.

But Ms. Shaidle, that is not the same thing at all as jumping on people for making stupid statements. The statements were actually made, they aren't generated by the rumor mill. Furthermore, many are made with purely partisan intent and deserve... no, scratch that... DEMAND redress from the opposition. I refuse to be subsumed again by the silence. They WILL be reminded, every time they cross the line, that we are here and that we are not amused.

The Tweet about the tornado, for example: "This tornado is in Oklahoma so clearly it has been ordered to only target conservatives." I hadn't heard about a "think of the children" argument (except in obvious jest), and I hadn't heard it was offensive to Okies. Maybe some blogs and articles were making that argument, but that certainly wasn't my problem with that joke. Sadly, I more or less EXPECT distasteful jokes about any mass death. It's the world we live in. One year after Michael Jackson died, it still was "too soon", but some average Joes and their children die to a massive, horrific disaster and they're fair game before their bodies are cooled. That probably SHOULD be rage-inducing, but it isn't the problem. No, the problem with that joke (and I believe this point was eloquently examined by the Trifecta crew at the time) is that it was another case where, within hours of a major tragedy, it had been twisted to advance the agenda de jour of the administration. In the same way that shootings are used to advance gun control, and any slightly unusual weather phenomenon anywhere on the planet is used to advance punitive environmental regulation, it was an attempt to satirize the paranoia of "tea party crazies" and protect the administration. And how did that scandal wash out? Oh, right. Turns out the IRS was targeting conservatives. Do we have the right to punch back twice as hard? Survey says: DUH!

Now, more innocuous things, like teasing someone about a Tweet? Eh. I don't do it. I prefer to rebut something with an actual thesis. What they were doing wasn't even debating an issue (Although the woman in red so badly wishes she was, I can tell. Also, she forgets that"I'm offended" is not an argument.). It was mostly just an excuse to pick on a Hollywood lib. And so what? As long as it's directed at the Left, I really don't care about the details. Hit them with everything, hit them all the time. Some earn a point, some fly wild, but all ought to be pitched. What are they going to do with people like her? Portray us as boring and stodgy? Boy, that'd be a first.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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.

As an Okie, let me make it clear to you.

Because we don't have a multitude of arrogant, unfunny, no nothing, self-righteous jackasses like you running around to put up with.

If it's the 300mph tornadoes keeping your from being here, I'll take my chances and welcome more of them.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
My husband and I lived in Oklahoma for several weeks while he looked for a job back in 1978. He was unsuccessful, but I LOVED Oklahoma. The people are SO nice, the weather seemed moderate, and it's nice and flat,you have a clear view all around, broken only by buildings and trees. The ONLY drawback was the near-constant wind (we were outside of Okie City), but I could've gotten used to it.
I'd prefer the risk of tornadoes, with the great people and FREEDOM we had in Oklahoma, to the mild weather and the liberal fascist government,bigoted tribal leaders, and extreme leftist newspapers we are stuck with here in Washington state.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
What a really dumb article. Pjmedia needs to reign in people like this.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Honestly, the commenters here are starting to make me feel sympathetic for the columnist. This is starting to look like the comments on Ben Stein's column in AmSpec.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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