Ed Driscoll

Maureen's Hearing Dog Whistles Again

“He who controls the language shapes the debate,” Mark Steyn writes in his latest column:

In the same week the Associated Press announced that it would no longer describe illegal immigrants as “illegal immigrants,” the star columnist of The New York Times fretted that the Supreme Court seemed to have misplaced the style book on another fashionable minority. “I am worried,” wrote Maureen Dowd, “about how the justices can properly debate same-sex marriage when some don’t even seem to realize that most Americans use the word ‘gay’ now instead of ‘homosexual.'” She quoted her friend Max Mutchnick, creator of “Will & Grace”:

“Scalia uses the word ‘homosexual’ the way George Wallace used the word ‘Negro.’ There’s a tone to it. It’s humiliating and hurtful. I don’t think I’m being overly sensitive, merely vigilant.”

For younger readers, George Wallace was a powerful segregationist Democrat. Whoa, don’t be overly sensitive. There’s no “tone” to my use of the word “Democrat”; I don’t mean to be humiliating and hurtful: it’s just what, in pre-sensitive times, we used to call a “fact.” Likewise, I didn’t detect any “tone” in the way Justice Antonin Scalia used the word “homosexual.” He may have thought this was an appropriately neutral term, judiciously poised midway between “gay” and “Godless sodomite.” Who knows? He’s supposed to be a judge, and a certain inscrutability used to be part of what we regarded as a judicial temperament. By comparison, back in 1986, the year Scalia joined the Supreme Court, Chief Justice Warren Burger declared “there is no such thing as a fundamental right to commit homosexual sodomy.” I don’t want to be overly sensitive, but I think even I, if I rewound the cassette often enough, might be able to detect a certain tone to that.

Nonetheless, Max Mutchnick’s “vigilance” is a revealing glimpse of where we’re headed.

It’s also a glimpse of where we’ve been; just three and a half years ago, as Damian Thompson noted back then in London Telegraph, “Maureen Dowd’s disgusting insinuation that Joe Wilson is a racist would land her in court in Britain:”

Nasty piece of work, Maureen Dowd. In the Barack Obama-worshipping New York Times over the weekend, she insinuated that Congressman Joe Wilson’s “you lie” outburst during the presidential address was inspired by racism:

The normally nonchalant Barack Obama looked nonplussed, as Nancy Pelosi glowered behind.

Surrounded by middle-aged white guys — a sepia snapshot of the days when such pols ran Washington like their own men’s club — Joe Wilson yelled “You lie!” at a president who didn’t.

But, fair or not, what I heard was an unspoken word in the air: You lie, boy!

“Boy”, of course, is how some whites used to address black subordinates, even if they weren’t young. Maureen tries to cover her ass by including the caveat “fair or not”. I wonder if the Times lawyers insisted on that, or whether she thought it actually made her suggestion less outrageous.

Earlier this month, Dr. Ben Carson noted that leftists are “the most racist people there are.” And certainly the most racially-obsessed. Or as author and retired military vet Michael Z. Williamson noted earlier this week, “You know how that person shouting the loudest about teh gheys is usually trying to hide an uncomfortable fact about themselves? What about the person accusing everyone else of racism?”

Yes, what, indeed?