Monday, May 11, 2009


What she said doesn't surprise me, but I am surprised by how many people seem to be surprised. It's not worth blogging about except that James Taranto has a larger point about why it's funny to the Left.
The answer, it seems clear, is that this is an example of shock humor: a genre that relies on the frisson of violating taboos. By our count, Sykes runs afoul of five taboos in her Limbaugh joke: She equates dissent with treason. She likens a domestic political opponent to a foreign enemy. She makes fun of the disabled (Limbaugh's past addiction to painkillers would entitle him to protection under the Americans With Disabilities Act). She makes light of a form of interrogation that some people consider torture. And she wishes somebody dead.

Except for the last one, these are all taboos that liberals promote and enforce with especial vigor. If a conservative violated any one of them, he would be on the inside track to be named "Worst Person in the World" by that NBC blowhard (as indeed Feherty was).

What makes Sykes's joke funny to a liberal, then, is the sense of danger that accompanies her risky themes, combined with the secure knowledge that since the joke is at the expense of a liberal hate figure, the usual rules do not apply. It's the same reason people on the left evince particular glee when they attack Clarence Thomas or Michael Steele in expressly racist terms, or when they use antigay innuendo against their political opponents (regardless of the latter's sexual orientation).

One of the great PC tricks of the Left is making certain words and thoughts by the Right taboo. They reserve the ability to go down those roads to attack members of the Right before locking the thoughts and words up again for the sake of decency.


E said...

The Left can get away with a lot because they don't claim to have any absolute moral grounding. The Right has to walk the straight and narrow because they claim to be the party of moral values, or are portrayed as claiming to be the party of moral values. And if those are the hard labels, and if every person, party, organization, institution falls short of purity, well then, the rules are defined so the Left always wins. The simplicity and effectiveness of it are genius. The Right is ridiculed for what it is assumed they would say, regardless of anything that might actually be said.

The subtext is that having an absolute moral grounding is ridiculous; practically, it puts one at a competitive disadvantage. And without question, the Left repeatedly and expertly applies their competitive advantage. The Right, for the most part, has lost in that the battle now is a battle of words, images and labels, not ideas. If the Right can somehow shift the battleground back to a debate of ideas, they can win again, because their ideas are better. In the media age that is a tough battle to win because the media is so overwhelmingly liberal, and because conservative ideas really are trending down as we steep daily in postmodern influences. Unfortunately we don't know what would happen if conservative ideas were to debate liberal ideas in the current environment because McCain didn't articulate any conservative ideas.

Personally I feel a lot healthier since I turned off the news. I am not as bothered by bias and injustice when I don't voluntarily consume it. I can't change the culture so I am trying to do my part in my own little sphere of influence.

E said...

P.S. I think Obama is making a political mistake by trying to take the moral high road with Guantanamo and torture and mortgage help and all the rest. It is a source of great political advantage to cast the opponent as High Moral Guardian, which sets them up to fail. He is at risk of taking a great weapon and using it on himself. What happens when Abu Ghraib happens on his watch? The Bush Administration was remarkably clean and scandal free. Obama's administration will not be nearly as clean, you watch, and the media can't suppress everything, try as they might.

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