There is no question that the media and cultural elite have a double standard when it comes to outrage. If one conservative talk show host makes a point using language that's fine for Andrea Mitchell, TV shows and the professional left to use, then we must exploit that language and pretend to be outraged for weeks. Months if necessary.
But if a liberal talk show host uses much worse and much more vile language, no one bats an eye.
If a vaguely right of center political candidate exists, he is of course racist. And the cultural and media elite will decode and uncover that racism -- no matter how preposterous such claims may be. If the Hollywood star narrating a liberal political candidate's re-election video is featured on stage with someone in blackface, yawn.
I'll allow you to come up with the next 47,356 examples that come to mind.
The double standard is annoying. But the fake outrage is, too.
So I have two minds about this Bill Maher op-ed in the New York Times today in which he mocks people who think they have the right to avoid offense. It's full of all the cliches and lazy thinking one might expect from Maher but there are good points, too:
When did we get it in our heads that we have the right to never hear anything we don’t like? In the last year, we’ve been shocked and appalled by the unbelievable insensitivity of Nike shoes, the Fighting Sioux, Hank Williams Jr., Cee Lo Green, Ashton Kutcher, Tracy Morgan, Don Imus, Kirk Cameron, Gilbert Gottfried, the Super Bowl halftime show and the ESPN guys who used the wrong cliché for Jeremy Lin after everyone else used all the others. Who can keep up?...
Let’s have an amnesty — from the left and the right — on every made-up, fake, totally insincere, playacted hurt, insult, slight and affront. Let’s make this Sunday the National Day of No Outrage. One day a year when you will not find some tiny thing someone did or said and pretend you can barely continue functioning until they apologize.
If that doesn’t work, what about this: If you see or hear something you don’t like in the media, just go on with your life. Turn the page or flip the dial or pick up your roll of quarters and leave the booth.
The answer to whenever another human being annoys you is not “make them go away forever.” We need to learn to coexist, and it’s actually pretty easy to do. For example, I find Rush Limbaugh obnoxious, but I’ve been able to coexist comfortably with him for 20 years by using this simple method: I never listen to his program. The only time I hear him is when I’m at a stoplight next to a pickup truck.
On the one hand, three cheers for growing up, right? We're better than the professionally outraged. Americans should unite behind the idea of true and genuine tolerance for the views with which we disagree. I couldn't agree more.
But after being subjected to nightly news reports leading -- leading -- with the Rush Limbaugh story and hammering it for weeks in order to avoid covering actual outrage about the current administration's assault on religious liberty, pardon me if this cri du coeur seems a bit too perfectly timed.
So what is the proper response? Allow the right to be bashed and brutalized and run out of the public square and subjected to all the tyranny of the faux outrage but remain principled about the outrage issue after that?
Do we recognize that Maher's op-ed wouldn't have appeared in the Cowtown Quarterly, much less the New York Times, if not for the effort by some on the right to enforce a single standard? In other words, is that push for a single standard working to destroy the faux outrage better than the typical conservative response of taking it but not dishing it out?