[Editor’s note: After penning the popular “The Official Village Voice Election-Season Guide to the Right-Wing Blogosphere,” Roy Edroso has made dissecting those blogs into a weekly feature that appears here every Monday.]
Culture war ain’t what it used to be. Once upon a time, rightwingers enraged by sexual conduct were not shy about offering policy prescriptions: abstinence education, federal money for religious groups, etc. But now they are mainly content to froth and fantasize.
We can see this in rightblogger reactions to the Time magazine story about 17 teenage girls who got pregnant in Gloucester, Massachusetts (population: 30,000). Few serious governmental remedies were proposed; much serious wrath was directed at the young mothers. “For just a little while, I wish I was Supreme Dictator,” darkly muttered Jay Tea at Wizbang. “And I would take those girls in Gloucester and make of them an example for the nation.” The author would fire and ban from their livelihoods “every single member of the school system,” but his real ardour rose at the idea that he could, as Dictator, “sit those girls down and explain the REAL facts of life to them.” He would deprive those who had their babies of public money to feed and clothe them; those who had abortions instead, he would “sterilize.”
Under the rule of Rachel Lucas, sterilization would be mandatory for all pubescents. Admitting she had no hope of effecting this plan, Lucas devoted most of her post to pure rage at Gloucester’s “marauding narcissistic sluts,” and Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, et alia. At Pajamas Media, Michele Catalano started more kindly, blaming the parents, the community, and Jamie Lynn Spears, but her fantasy prescription, too, fell on the kids: “Maybe it’s time to bring that Scarlet Letter back.”
To be fair, some rightbloggers left the girls alone and lashed out at the real culprit: fictional characters. “For The Pro-Choicers Who Loved The Movie Juno,” said Corrente, “The Movie Was So ‘Fun’ and Juno Was So ‘Mature’… How do you like those choices in real life?” “They see movies like ‘Knocked Up’ and ‘Juno,'” complained Stop the ACLU. “All of these things combine…” “With films such as ‘Juno’ scoring well among critics and moviegoers last year… many say teen pregnancy is being glamorized in the media,” said the FOX News Health Blog. (Many rightbloggers lauded both these films as pro-life phenomena when they came out, but were unavailable to defend them from the Gloucester charges, perhaps because they were distracted by a treasonous line in an upcoming Pixar cartoon.)
You had to know some of them would tie this to Obama. In “Senator Obama, Meet Gloucester High School,” the Fathers & Families Blog attacked Obama because his recent speech on responsible fathers did not place enough blame on women. “Women too are choosing fatherlessness for their children,” F&FB declared. “You are making fathers the scapegoat for a deep-rooted problem created by both men and women.” At Men’s News Daily, Marc H. Rudov ripped into Obama’s “misandrist” speech and, referring to Gloucester, asked, “Did Barack Obama speak of this on Mothers’ Day?” (As the Time story is datelined June 18, Rudov seemed to credit Obama with the ability to time-travel; so, when Rudov also asked, “Having babies makes a girl a woman, right Senator Obama?” he may have been referring to an Obama speech that hasn’t been written yet, or exists in an alternate universe.)
Nor was this the end of what we might call speculative reporting on the incident. Religious rightblogger Dawn Eden suggested, without evidence, that most of the Gloucester girls’ parents were divorced or separated. I Perceive said, “A largely Catholic community in Massachusetts encourages all their teens to have babies out of wedlock,” and referred to the Time story that launched all this vituperation as “fawning, sympathetic coverage.”
Some, sadly, blamed America first. Rod Dreher was on vacation, so it was left to Catholic blogger Mark Shea to issue a blizzard of dire, scholarly quotes, including “America, as a society, is dedicated to the sexual exploitation of women.”
Our favorite comment, in a way, came from Michael Graham at The Natural Truth. Graham made reference to Dr. Brian Orr, who wanted to give the Gloucester High kids contraceptives but was rebuffed by their parents and resigned in protest. “Dr. Orr,” wrote Graham, “continues to insist that the solution is to make it easier for 15-year-olds to have sex, to treat their sexual activity as normal and acceptable and to give them hormone pills behind their parents back. Instead, what he and the Gloucester schools have done is to encourage the idiotic notions in their girls’ heads that they are mature and responsible enough to be making these decisions.” We sort of expected rightbloggers to blame parents, children, Obama, and America for gleefully pregnant teens, but blaming the guy who tried to get them to take birth control pills is real outside-the-box thinking, to put it politely. The next time some kid shoots up a high school or college, we look forward to Graham’s J’accuse against James Brady.