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‘I Hope You Get Cancer’ (and Other Thoughtful Critiques)

I’ve been writing quite a bit about Planned Parenthood and the media campaign on its behalf that we’ve been subjected to in the last week or so. Over at CNN, commenter Teddy N. kindly wrote in response to my substantive critique:

“Karma will hit and Mollie will be struck with breast cancer tonight and have to have a double masectomy [sic]. That’s what she g…

  1. Adam Koslin

    It seems to me that most people get rude when the feel that either they themselves or one of their most deeply held beliefs has come under attack.  Putting aside the media, which has quite sensibly tapped into the latent outrage and ratcheted it up for ratings and profit, insofar as the public discourse in this country has become less civil it may well be because people feel more strongly about specific policy stances, or have come to identify their own selves with particular ideologies.  Politics suffuses our culture — and youth culture in particular.  The Daily Show and The Colbert Report are the most visible politicizing agents, but it’s hard to believe that over a decade of campaigns like “Rock the Vote,” “Vote or Die,” etc. and high-profile mass movements like the Promise Keepers, Tea Party, OWS, etc. haven’t impacted the way individuals (especially young individuals still going through the fraught and inconstant process of identity formation) view politics and policy.  It certainly seems as if the expansion of politics into common culture and personal identity would lead people to be rather touchy when the topics came up.  After all, you’re not talking about abstractions anymore.

  2. Jimmy Carter

    Curious, how did Yer Husband respond to that comment directed at You?

  3. TucsonSean

    The Planned Parenthood radicals did not care that their protests hurt Komen Foundation which was actually working to cure breast cancer, whereas all PP does is breast exams — not mammograms — and kill babies.  Where was the outrage over that?

    The new calls for the board of komen to be cleaned out is similarly an attack on breast cancer research, designed to kil more women, right?

  4. EJHill

    The whole culture of American leftist thought is that anything and everything is always the fault of someone else or some external socioeconomic force.

    If you were to adopt their value system and fall in line with their political agenda, they would love you.

    So if they hate you, it’s your fault.

  5. Bill Waldron

    Beautifully done, Mollie.

  6. katievs
    Mollie Hemingway, Ed.

    And now a few questions: is there some underlying reason for all of this incivility? And how do we curb it? I’ve decided to just encourage friends to be nice in disagreement and also to do a bit of shaming when people are not nice. Sometimes a quick reminder is all that’s needed (it works for me!). What else can be done? 

    Maybe we should look to William Wilberforce, who made a priority of ending the slave trade and “the reform of manners.”

    He succeeded beautifully on both counts.

  7. Misthiocracy
    Mollie Hemingway, Ed. … some people had tried to sully the Senator’s family name by comparing it to a fecal byproduct that results from sodomy …

    “Some people” includes Conan O’Brien on his Facebook feed.

    Expect this meme to be far more widespread than simply Dan Savage’s readers and a few hard-core leftists.

    It’s the new “teabaggers”.

  8. Leslie Watkins

    Wow. I would never have thought there were be so much vitriol on a site called belief blog. You have really had a tough day, Mollie!

  9. Anon

    I believe it was Thomas Wolfe who wrote about one of his protagonists: “He was a gentleman in a world that had no use for gentlemen.”

    Appealing for civility among the pro-abortion crowd is not too different from Obama’s reliance on diplomacy to resolve the militant Muslim problems.  Militant Muslims have no use for civility, it’s not their game, and neither does the the pro-abortion crowd, and for the same reason: neither have any use for it.

  10. Mollie Hemingway
    C
    Leslie Watkins: Wow. I would never have thought there were be so much vitriol on a site called belief blog. You have really had a tough day, Mollie! · 1 minute ago

    Thanks but in all seriousness, it wasn’t that tough. I have had many people send me kind and gracious comments, too. I’m used to it as a writer in the public square who tackles hot-button topics. I tend to think that when people write things such as that, they’re writing from a position of deep pain about something in their past. Best to just have compassion. I’m far more discouraged by the way I see so-called professionals in the media handling these hot-button issues. They’ve discarded any pretense of fairness. That makes my blood boil.

  11. Western Chauvinist
    Adam Koslin: It seems to me that most people get rude when the feel that either they themselves or one of their most deeply held beliefs has come under attack.  … After all, you’re not talking about abstractions anymore. · 4 hours ago

    Very observant comment, Adam. Welcome to Ricochet. 

    Let”s not forget the public seminaries — I mean schools, of course, where all the subsets of leftism aren’t so much studied (that would require reasoning and thought) as reinforced: environmentalism, racialism, socialism, etc.

    I think you’re right that young people lead particularly politicized lives. However, I’m finding that older folks, sensing something askew in the nation, want very much to be involved, but are nearly as ignorant as the youth. I spoke with an older couple this week who went to the Colorado caucuses and didn’t know that Rick Santorum is Catholic with seven children, is a foreign relations expert, and wrote the Partial Birth Abortion ban. And the couple is Catholic! I think the technology overwhelms them.

    It’s the first time I’ve realized how big a responsibility we middle-aged folks bear to keep this experiment running.

  12. mesquito

     Hey!  We had three or four days of civility after the Tuscon shooting!  The President even gave a speech!  Of course it was cynical and partisan!  In fact the whole damn exercise reaked of bad faith!  But it was something! 

  13. Mollie Hemingway
    C
    Anon:

    Appealing for civility among the pro-abortion crowd is not too different from Obama’s reliance on diplomacy to resolve the militant Muslim problems.  Militant Muslims have no use for civility, it’s not their game, and neither does the the pro-abortion crowd, and for the same reason: neither have any use for it. · 3 minutes ago

    I agree that there are some people who hold views that limit their ability to be civil, but in my experience, it is most definitely possible to have civil conversations on this topic. Many of my best friends support abortion rights and they, of course, know my position, too. We are not always able to discuss it but when we do, we remain civil. It is possible.

    One thing to consider is whether the ideology itself leads to a coarsening of thought and rhetoric. I can imagine that possibility.

  14. Mollie Hemingway
    C

    It’s worth noting how calmly and rationally Veronique de Rugy responded to Jonathan Chait, the man who said he was “forced” to be mean to her. She shows that he’s the one who (yet again!) was wrong about his assumptions and does it without ever uttering an unkind word.

  15. Mark Hemingway
    Jimmy Carter: Curious, how did Yer Husband respond to that comment directed at You? · 5 minutes ago

    Edited 3 minutes ago

    Ah! Let me field this one. I think you’re always perturbed by this as a husband, but fortunately, Mollie’s not exactly a stranger to controversial public debates. She’s at least psychologically prepared for this kind of thing. Which is not to say either of us enjoy it.

    However, I’m proud that she’s fierce about what she believes and that she’s able to turn around such vile comments, make them instructive, and eventually channel the debate in a more positive direction. 

    It’s worth remembering that people who say these things are often lashing out because of some deep personal issues. There’s not much you can do about that except refuse to be dragged down by their problems, or express some degree of compassion if you have to engage with them.

    And if, God forbid, this ever did spill over into real life, I’m reasonably quick-witted and 6’5″, so I’m confident attacks on my wife could be handled.

  16. billy

    Look, the age of civility is over. It’s only going to get worse from here. How can it not? People’s livelihoods, careers, worldviews, however you need to put it, are dependent on the outcome of the next election{s).

    It’s regrettable, but that’s just the way it is now.

  17. Functionary

    “Nobody makes you hurt anyone else.”

    I know you meant this in a domestic context, but this thinking is similar to pacifism.  It is the sort of thing one might say to a small child.  There are sometimes good reasons to hurt someone else because of their (someone else’s) actions.  Your statement doesn’t accept the reality of man’s fallen nature.  It’s utopian, and should be tempered by reality.

    To take an extreme, but recent and real example, consider that man in Washington state who hacked his two boys (seven and five years old) with an axe, then blew up the house killing all three of them.  Had the social worker who delivered the boys to their demented father been in a position to hurt the father and prevent this atrocity, she would have been a hero.

    Too often, the alternative to resistance is submission to injustice or tyranny.

  18. Roberto
    Mollie Hemingway, Ed. And now a few questions: is there some underlying reason for all of this incivility? And how do we curb it?

    It is not incivility, it is hate. You cannot hope to curb this until you first recognize the behaviour for what it is. 

  19. HVTs
    billy: Look, the age of civility is over. It’s only going to get worse from here. How can it not? People’s livelihoods, careers, worldviews, however you need to put it, are dependent on the outcome of the next election{s).

    All true. Destroy the Left and the problem goes away.  In the meantime, refuse to be intimidated.

    I always cheer up immensely if an attack is particularly wounding because I think, well, if they attack one personally, it means they have not a single political argument left.                – Margaret Thatcher, 21 March 1986

  20. Guruforhire

     English style libel laws.

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