Consider a traditional conservative with the traditional conservative attitude toward gay people (briefly, “grooot, ah hates me a faggot“). Times have turned hard for him; gay marriage is sweeping the nation, and it’s no longer considered cool to harsh on homosexuals.
Through all the recent gay watershed events, he’s tried to get with the program and portray his seething contempt as something else — like love of liberty — which, while effective with some people, is not as viscerally satisfying as the Old Ways.
Then, in one week, two things happen: one of the Duck Dynasty guys tells gays they’re basically the same as pig-fuckers, and gets suspended for it; and Organizing for America puts out an ad for Obamacare featuring a wan-looking young man in pajamas.
Our hero’s skull cracks open and becomes an id-in-the-box, with slurs and gibberish springing out. Which has a bright side: Plenty of material for this column!
Let’s start with Phil Robertson, patriarch of the Robertsons of Duck Dynasty, an enormously popular reality TV show about a family of sporting goods millionaires who appear on camera looking like a cross between the guys in ZZ Top and Brian David Mitchell, and talking about how much they love the Holy Bible.
Three things that usually go unmentioned should be kept in mind here: One, the Robertsons didn’t always look like that — years ago, at least some of them looked like generic, coiffed, rich yuppie bros:
Two, there is enormous potential for publicity and merchandising in appearing regularly on reality TV — which, despite the misnomer, is not particularly real — which may be why these millionaires chose to dress and act like mysterious swamp folk rather than like the Abercrombie & Fitch models they once resembled.
Three, since reality shows are marketing scams strung out to series length rather than cinema verite, and rely on all parties involved performing to expectations, the networks’ contracts for them tend to be — as the Voice demonstrated with a peek at a reality show contract in 2011 — very binding in terms of the performers’ behavior.
The Dynasts’ contract is unavailable, but it’s unlikely that A&E left a loophole saying one of the performers could go in a national magazine like GQ and tell America that gay sex was like bestiality, black people weren’t “singing the blues” back when they were made festive by segregation, and other crazy-ass shit, without repercussions. Yet that’s what Robertson did, and A&E suspended him for it.
People who hate homosexuals turned out en masse for Robertson, as did Bobby Jindal, Ted Cruz, and Sarah Palin, the latter of whom reacted with pleasure when MSNBC tossed Martin Bashir for making a crude joke about her. Among rightbloggers, the suspension was portrayed as an assault on Robertson’s right to be on the reality TV show of his choice — we mean, free speech!
“Robertson gave an interview to GQ, in which he is reported to have expressed opinions that run afoul of the current political correctness, which places gay rights and sensitivities above the rights of others to their opinions,” fist-shook Bryan Preston of PJ Media. “Expressing such opinions often leads to conflicts with the thought police, proving once again that a liberal doesn’t really care what you think, as long as you agree with them entirely.”
“He’s literally guilty of a thought crime against humanity,” wept Hot Air’s Mary Katharine Ham over Robertson’s prostrate form, “even if he is literally tolerant of gay people every day of his life.” (Translation of that last bit: Robertson said “I would never treat anyone with disrespect just because they are different from me” after he got in trouble.) “There is no room for tolerance of him.”
Camille Paglia, still pretending to be a Democrat for the reality show that is her career, called the suspension “punitive PC, utterly fascist, utterly Stalinist,” and added “This is the whole legacy of free speech 1960’s that have been lost by my own party.” “Intolerant, Anti-Straight groups are targeting Duck Dynasty,” tweeted Fox News man Todd Starnes. (Anti-Straight? Didn’t they open for Warzone at the Rock Hotel in ’91?)
The American Conservative columnist and professional Jesus freak Rod Dreher had no fewer than eight posts on Robertson. At first he was fretful: “But it’s going to be hard for the family. I hope they’re ready for what’s coming,” he moaned, as if the Robertson were po’ folk who’d lost the lease on the farm. As Robertson’s supporters rallied, though, Dreher got more upbeat. “The thing I like about the Robertsons is they’ll be good country people after this is over with,” he wrote. “I know those people, so to speak. I live with them.”
One born every minute.
Then Dreher turned surly; he advised the Robertsons to “tell A&E to go to hell,” and lashed out at “the entertainment industry, which routinely celebrates the grotesque, the lurid, and the vile… Such is tolerance today among our media and entertainment elite.” Then he found some gay people who agreed with him, and went for the comity angle, at least so far as he could manage: “If a gay Christian who supports Christian orthodoxy and who tries his or her best to live it out wants to work at a Christian institution, we orthodox Christians must welcome them and defend them.” (That would include giving up gay sex, natch, but on the plus side you get to hang out with Rod Dreher.)
Then Dreher brought up Robertson’s racist remarks (“haven’t received nearly as much press, which just goes to show you who has the most cultural power”), told us about the “paranoid racist things coming out of the mouths of older black people” in his parish, raged against the “New York media environment” and “Two-Minute Hates against figures like Robertson and [Paula] Deen,” and fantasized that Robertson “would be open to talking to a black pastor (say) of his generation and place about what life was like for black folks back then.” (Depends; how much money is in it?) When he learned the Robertsons might leave A&E (which, the more cynical among us might suspect, was the plan all along), Dreher said, presumably with a straight face, “This is a matter of honor for that family,” and that people who didn’t understand that “don’t really understand the South…” Later, “So many liberals, for example, love to praise exotic foreign and primitive cultures for their authenticity,” etc.; still later: “If you’re not interested in Duckgate, then please move on… This story is exactly the kind of thing I like to talk about and to think about. Hence all the posts.” Dreher might be interested in another hit reality TV show: Intervention.
Eventually, the First Amendment schtick ran out of steam; John Nolte reported for Breitbart.com that “FOR DUCK DYNASTY, MANY OPTIONS EXIST OUTSIDE ANTI-CHRISTIAN HOLLYWOOD,” including the internet or Fox News, so the Hollyweird lieberals’ crime was not being right with God, not censorship (though they were still “McCarthyistic,” said Nolte — since when are these guys anti-McCarthy?). Indeed, many rightbloggers larded their enraged posts with warnings that A&E would pay for its gay intolerance by losing its biggest moneymaker. It’ll be the Battle of Chick-fil-A all over again — they’ll all protest by doing something easy, and then lose an election!
In fact, many of the brethren came around to the idea that A&E was within its rights, and then some. Jonathan S. Tobin of Commentary admitted “the right to free speech has nothing to do with having a gig on television,” and felt the real problem was that “popular culture has rendered those with negative views about homosexuality, whether rooted in faith or not, as anathema” by brainwashing normal people into thinking gays were worthy of simple respect.
“Yes, A&E has the right to suspend Phil Robinson,” acknowledged Ace of Spades. “A&E also has the right to stand up for a broad and generous principle of Freedom of Thought and Expression. Why does no one speak of that right?” Similarly, what about A&E’s right to run more bikini barrel races on Rodeo Girls?
Then, after some obligatory ravings about Hitler and liberals’ “Speech Code regime,” Spades went a little further: “It is well-conceded that an employer has the right to fire you for some heterodox belief or some oddball sexual habit, but an employer similarly has the right to foster an environment of self-expression and freedom…” Hold on — employers can fire you for a “heterodox belief” or your sex life? Like if you work in California and your boss finds out you’re a Republican, or if you work in Alabama and your boss finds out you own nipple clamps, he can fire you for it? We don’t think Spades thought this one through.
Or maybe he did. Maybe some of these guys have figured out that a more satisfying endgame, conservative-wise, would be if everyone agreed that even the personal views of people who are not reality TV performers, or PR flacks with a poor sense of humor, should be subject to the same strict oversight as those who are. For rightbloggers that would be heaven, because there are some things, like workers’ rights, that they hate even more than gay people.
Item two: the Obamaite outfit Organizing for America put out a Twitter ad last week. Here, you might as well look at it for reference:
Who knows if it’s effective with its intended target, but it was very much a hit with rightbloggers, in the sense that they couldn’t stop talking about it. Anyone who has grown up in an American schoolyard can guess why, and what rightbloggers wanted to say about it; the brethren got as close as they could while still maintaining plausible deniability — at least, most of them did.
Some of the brethren tried to get around the problem by telling other people’s gay jokes. At National Review, Mark Steyn repeated an old Bob Hope wheeze — “I’ve just flown in from California, where they’ve made homosexuality legal. I thought I’d get out before they make it compulsory” — and explained, “For Hope, this was an oddly profound gag, discerning even at the dawn of the Age of Tolerance that there was something inherently coercive about the enterprise. Soon it would be insufficient merely to be ‘tolerant’…” which sounds like the kind of thing Hope and his gag writers would discuss over drinks at Chasen’s, doesn’t it? Then Steyn did a Martin and Lewis bit — “How do you make a fruit cordial?” “Be nice to him” — and felt the joke would be improved by this: “But no matter how nice you are, it’s never enough. Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson…” Come on, lady, he laughed when you came in. (Steyn was also pissed that Sarah Silverman could get away with jokes like this, and he can’t, because “she’s a Pajama Boy-friendly ironist posing as a homophobic disablist,” and he’s an asshole.)
His almanac of Pansy Jokes Like They Don’t Tell Anymore exhausted, Steyn went on about how “in today’s America, land of the Obamacare Pajama Boy, Jesus is basically Nightshirt Boy, a fey non-judgmental dweeb who’s cool with whatever,” and “Obamacare pajama models, if not yet mandatorily gay, can only be dressed in tartan onesies and accessorized with hot chocolate so as to communicate to the Republic’s maidenhood what a thankless endeavor heterosexuality is in contemporary America.” Also, “snippy little Pajama Boys,” etc.
In a “Goldberg File” email — that is, the material even Jonah Goldberg is embarrassed to put on a webpage — the Professor of Liberal Fasciology said, “I was tempted to make the following joke on Twitter: Q: What’s the hardest part of being picked as the poster boy for the pajama-boy ad campaign? A: Telling your parents you’re gay.” Then he tried the Steyn routine, only more ineptly: “Now, quick, before you call A&E and have my reality show canceled, the first problem with this joke is that you’re not supposed to make any derogatory jokes about being gay anymore,” he said. See, he knows you’re not supposed to tell jokes like he just told! Then he felt he had to add, “And that’s okay by me so long as people avoid being complete tools about enforcing that rule.”
Perhaps sensing that he was losing his readers, but too lazy and/or drunk to rewrite, Goldberg lunged, “But there’s a deeper problem with the joke. It’s insulting to gays. And I don’t mean that merely in the sense that it’s wrong to make gays the butts of jokes anymore (You know what I mean!).” We’ll spare you: His problem with Pajama Boy was not that he’s gay, but that he’s a big sissy. “He gives off the anodyne scent of emasculation,” Goldberg wrote, failing to notice some mischievous intern had scrambled the pages of his thesaurus. Finally Goldberg was reduced to accusing liberals of “trying to turn the mockery of Pajama Boy into proof of right-wing sexual insecurity.” The nerve of them! That was “pretty desperate,” said Goldberg, and they were just jelly because “so many people find Pajama Boy pathetic.” Follow #tcot if you don’t believe him!
“Whatever horrifying condition deprived Pajama Boy of his genitals, I suppose we must be thankful he can’t pass it along to future generations,” intoned PJ Media’s Andrew Klavan. “…Take a look in the mirror, liberals. Are you beginning to see Pajama Boy in there? Take it as a warning. Side with the left long enough, and your genitals fall off. As well they should.” Read this aloud in Swedish backed by a death metal band to get the full effect.
Some — actually, most — of the brethren got so mad at Pajama Boy they seemed to forget he was a two-dimensional photo of a character in an ad. “Let me just say that nothing is a bigger turn-off than smug urban-cool hipster guys who think they’re smarter and cuter than they really are. Ugh,” confided Mad Minerva. “If this is what ‘enlightened’ guys are supposed to be like these days, give me a rugged, unreconstructed, unapologetic cowboy any day of the week. You know, someone who actually has a confident definition for ‘self-reliance’ and ‘masculinity.'” Have you tried the Marlboro Man?
When liberals like Adam Serwer mentioned that all this rage over a social media ad was a little weird, rightbloggers took to Twitter to dispute their points. For instance, @RB Pundit posited, “Why are @AdamSerwer’s pajamas in a bunch over the #PajamaBoy mockery?” and showed what he apparently took to be an unflattering photo of Serwer (e.g., no eyepatch or toothpick in mouth); @anthmichcara glossed, “He looks like he could be #PajamaBoy,” etc.
“[Serwer] begins by inaccurately labeling raucous laughter and endless mocking a ‘tizzy,'” sniffed Stephen Kruiser of PJ Media in an essay called “MSNBC Writer’s Response to Pajama Boy Perfectly Displays Humorless Ignorance of Leftist Media,” which sounds like an old Pravda headline. We don’t “tizzy,” Pajama Boy, we’re raucous information workers! (Kruiser also attacked “the utter lack of humor that is perhaps the most defining trait of 21st century American leftmedia types. They don’t recognize laughter because they don’t truly experience it [derisive, know-it-all smirks aren’t the same as laughter].” Have you ever seen a liberal laugh, Mandrake? Derisive, know-it-all smirks, isn’t that what they do?)
At National Review, Kevin Williamson went wide on the butchness issue. Briefly mentioning the guy in “footie pajamas,” Williamson focused on Barack Obama, who had won two Presidential elections which don’t really count because “in 2008 he failed to win a majority of men’s votes, and in 2012 he lost men decisively.” So Obama is not President of Men! Also, men worry about unemployment — and Williamson knows, because he’s a man and was unemployed once — but women don’t, because “the more the state steps into the role of provider, the less men have to offer in that capacity.” For this the ladies love the unmanly Obama, and also because he casts “a gimlet eye cast upon much of what used to be thought of as man’s work: drilling for gas, timbering, mining.” You won’t see him laying pipe like that dead butch Mitt Romney!
Several of the brethren — including Rush Limbaugh (“this guy, this woman, whoever it is.. could be Rachel Maddow”) — found some kind of connection between Pajama Boy and “The Life of Julia,” an Obama 2012 web campaign aimed at female voters which no one paid attention to except rightbloggers, who remain furious that it didn’t lose the election for Obama. In a psychedelic tirade, Charles C.W. Cooke lashed out not only at the Julia character (“creepy, eyeless, vision-of-horror from Brave New World”), but also the lady who used to be on the healthcare.gov splash page (“carefully ambi-racial stock-model-from-everywhere”), and of course “vaguely androgynous” Pajama Boy, denounced for his “priggish facial expression” and a fantasized connection with “a Queer Students Assocation” and “‘dialogue’ about the evils of ‘heteronormativity.'” This young man has a future in fanfic.
Pajama Boy “is probably reading The Bell Jar and looking forward to a hearty Christmas meal of stuffed tofurkey,” basso profundoed Rich Lowry at Politico. “…Never has the difference between what Chris Matthews memorably dubbed the Mommy party and the Daddy party been so stark. Pajama Boy’s mom probably still tucks him in at night… He might be glad to pay more for his health insurance to include maternity benefits he doesn’t need as a blow against gender stereotyping.” We hate to do this but it is very well deserved: Here is Rich Lowry on video, for those of you looking for fireman calendar models.
Ben Hart of Escape Tyranny got so manly he turned pre-verbal: After noticing Pajama Boy’s “plucked eyebrows” (probably with a magnifying glass), he told us, “By contrast, here were the male images I grew up with,” and showed pictures of Ray Nitschke, Clint Eastwood, the Normandy landing, and, we aren’t even kidding, Sgt. Rock. And today? “I’m in the advertising business,” said Hart. Well, so was H.R. Haldeman.
Eventually rightbloggers found out the model for the ad was an Organizing for America staffer named Ethan Krupp, and naturally they began harassing him.
“Is Ethan any relation to the prominent industrialist and Nazi supporter of Adolf Hitler, I wonder?” wrote Bill Quick of Daily Pundit. “If so, you’d think he’d commit suicide out of a simple urge to atone for his genetic history.” “Shocker: Pajama Boy Is an Obama OFA Zombie Named Ethan Krupp,” gurgled Jammie Wearing Fools. “…Charlie Spiering (and others) noticed Krupp is deleting his entire social media existence. Obviously out of humiliation.” Then JWF published Krupp’s resume, presumably because the keyhole camera didn’t work.
“Sounds like a real fun guy. I’ll bet we can fix him up on a date with Sandra Fluke,” said Power Line’s Steven Hayward, referring to another target of irrational rightwing rage. “Bwahaha! OFA #PajamaBoy Deletes His Entire Online Social Media Presence!” hyuked Donald Douglas of American Power. “…Poor kid. It’s hard out there for an OFA homo.”
This reminds us of the woman whose picture was used at the healthcare.gov website, whom conservatives bombarded with so much hatred that she asked to be taken off screen. So see, Pajama Boy is just like a girl!
Some rightbloggers just ran with the super-hilarious mashups they found on Twitter and whatnot, like this one from Independent Journal Review: “DOUCHEY EFFEMINATE OBAMACARE PAJAMA GUY/POST OP RACHEL MADDOW.” Blar har, and he didn’t even have to say “faggot”! The author, someone calling himself SooperMexican, added, “some leftists are whining that our mockery is somehow homophobic (?), we’re just decrying the fundamental transformation of American men into little boys.”
See? Totally different, you effeminate “Rachel Maddows”! And so the brethren went back to the locker room, slapped each other’s asses several times, and agreed the tide had turned in their favor — soon, with a macho frontman like Ted Cruz or Rick Santorum, they would win the love of the people as they would the love of a woman: By force.