American Conservatives Are More Interested In Controversy Than Sane Policy

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Kevin Williamson is a conservative correspondent for National Review noted for, frankly, making an ass of himself. Williamson was the writer who wrote a passage in a piece he wrote that described an African-American boy (who Williamson estimated to be about 9 years old) making the “gesture of primate territorial challenge.” He’s also against voting, especially by women, and considers himself to be “attempting to extricate ourselves from involvement in (women)’s sex life” by working against the Affordable Care Act; funny how he also rails against the right to an abortion, the very soul of being involved in a woman’s sex life.

His latest stroke of “genius” is that abortion is murder, despite no such connection existing, and thus anyone involved should be executed… including the woman. But not just any execution! No, he wants to trot out the archaic practice of hanging, as if they were runaway slaves. Never mind that this would violate the Eighth Amendment, a law that does exist unlike the law making abortion a capital crime; he’s got to properly terrorize those who don’t bow to his values! In this country, even the most vile criminals are entitled to lethal injection. Why hanging? Is that not how the theocracy in Iran hands out its moral judgments? Then again, it seems Mr. Williamson would be happiest in his own version of a theocracy, so maybe I shouldn’t be surprised.

I consider myself strongly pro-choice, but I do have to give Williamson props for at least being logically consistent in his beliefs, which is more than I can say for the vast majority of the anti-choice crowd. If one makes the assertion that a fetus has the same right to life as any human being, it logically follows that the termination of that fetus should be treated under the law like every other homicide. And, under current law, this would mean that a woman who paid a doctor to perform an abortion would be participating in a “murder for hire”, which in many states is a capital offense. Punishing only doctors is a tacit admission that a fetus IS different in most respects from living, breathing human beings. But, of course, nothing would turn this country more in a pro-choice direction than deciding to punish women in this manner… which is why it will never happen, and why the pro-life rhetoric regarding personhood will never match up with reality.

Now, I know I’ve characterized him as a extremist ideologue, which he is in many ways, but his extremism also has an aspect of calculation and outrage-mongering to his writing. Here’s his typical pattern:

He’ll write a column, or publish a tweet, making some statement that is both literally true, yet also outrageous and offensive to anyone but hardcore cultural conservatives. Thus, his column mansplaining that transgendered person Lavern Cox is “not a woman” is both literally true (Cox was born with a Y chromosome, and presumably the equipment that comes with it) and offensive because he uses that truth to ridicule Cox’s gender identity. Or his column equating a black boy protesting in Ferguson with a “primate”, since it’s literally true that humans are primates, and yet pretends to ignore the centuries of racist depictions of African Americans as sub-human apes. As an added bonus, he invoked the Constitution’s Three-Fifths Compromise when he described the boy as “a three-fifths-scale Snoop Dogg”, which would mean Snoop stands 6 feet, 7 inches tall, but sure, he didn’t mean anything racist, it was just a coincidence and he didn’t check the math before publishing the article. Yeah, right.

Mr. Williamson disavows animus, but it drips from his columns, trolling readers who understand he is writing about more than literal truths. “But wait,” NRO readers demand, “Cox is NOT a woman! Humans ARE primates! Why is the truth so offensive to you leftists?” But read the comments to his articles, which are full of disdain and disgust for the subjects he describes, and you see that they get his subtext.

As an added bonus, he can later republish the repugnant tweets he receives in response to his “truths” as “liberal intolerance.” I believe he has even recycled attacks into subsequent columns about liberal intolerance. He wins all the way around: his readers love his attacks on the lefties; he outrages the lefties; he gets more fodder for his “conservative as victim of political correctness” worldview. Hey, doesn’t that sound a lot like the entire post-gubernatorial career of the Quitta from Wasilla?

Which brings us to his latest schlock. If you view abortion as murder, and if you support the death penalty for murder, you’d naturally support hanging every mother who’s had an abortion, right? What other course is there? Do you really believe he’s trying to make a reasoned point, as opposed to trolling abortion rights supporters? Wait for his reposting outraged and vile tweets from people offended by this argument, but don’t hold your breath for the reasoned policy explanation for why it’s a good idea to hang women for having abortions, or how it would play out in reality, or why only women should be hanged and not also the men who impregnate them, because I doubt it will come.

Dangerous extremist or page-view-hungry shock merchant? The jury is still out, but either way Kevin Williamson is a perfect example of how modern conservatism is less interested in making useful arguments and more focused on just whipping up the general frenzy.

Jason Francis

Jason Francis is a red-state liberal, residing in the heart of Dixie where he gets to watch the train wreck of conservative politics up close and personal on a regular basis. He's lived in affluence and poverty, in both urban and rural settings, attended both public and private schools, and has visited most of the US at one point or another.


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