Oh Townhall…

Amanda did it the other day, and I’m stealing the idea. Shorter Townhall:

Ben Shapiro
: I haven’t actually seen Munich, but since it’s written and directed by Hollywood liberals it is probably not only supporting the homosexual agenda, but also pure evil. And since it’s about the Israel-Palestine conflict and it’s not being produced by a total right-wing or left-wing nutjob, we can assume that it might actually portray the conflict as complex and nuanced when, really, it isn’t at all. What it comes down to is that Israel has never done anything wrong ever, and if you criticize the Israeli government you’re an anti-Semite, even if you are both Jewish and the producer of Schindler’s List. Additionally, Palestinians are like Hitler. Best you-couldn’t-make-it-up-if-you-tried quote: “This is the problem: Today’s left, and the Hollywood left in particular, sees everyone as human.” Oh, the horror!

Dennis Prager: Here’s some marriage advice you’ve never heard before: (1) Marry your best friend, not just some dude; (2) Marry someone who you’re actually attracted to; (3) Marry someone with basic social skills. And — you won’t believe this one — even men can find women more attractive over time. Amazing.

Thomas Sowell: Lots of us here at Townhall write really bad books that no one wants to buy. If you are a real Christian who does not hate Christmas, you will buy them.

Terance Jeffrey
: The Solomon Amendment is about a basic Constitutional right: freedom of choice. The Supreme Court should use the example of car salesmen to decide this case. And that, my friends, is why I failed Understanding Consitutional Basics 101.

Armstrong Williams: The real heroes in the world are working class people who, clearly, are all men. Where are the women, you ask? Well, they get two mentions: (1) Unnamed female neighbor has a brother (Billy) who is serving in Iraq; and (2) the “peers having babies out of wedlock.” Which is how it should be.

About Jill

Jill began blogging for Feministe in 2005. She has since written as a weekly columnist for the Guardian newspaper and in April 2014 she was appointed as senior political writer for Cosmopolitan magazine.
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55 Responses to Oh Townhall…

  1. Robert says:

    Shorter Amanda: Engaging people’s ideas and stuff is hard, cos those fascist woman-hating vaginaphobes won’t come out and just say the things that I know they secretly believe. It’s easier to make up absurd caricatures and strawmen and then argue against them. Hey, it works for MoDo, so it ought to work for me, too; I’m younger and not yet as bitter!

    Of all the polemicists and pixel-biters on the Internet, you pick Amanda to emulate? Come on, is Vox Day really that high a bar to achieve?

  2. anashi says:

    Um, Amanda, why do you let this troll keep posting here over and over? After a while it just starts to look abusive…His posts are starting to sound more and more like personal attacks then reasoned debate.

  3. anashi says:

    I meant to address my first post to Jill, sorry. *needs more sleep*

  4. Lux Fiat says:

    Engaging people’s ideas and stuff is hard, cos those fascist woman-hating vaginaphobes won’t come out and just say the things that I know they secretly believe.

    Well, I mean, speaking of the heights of various bars, what’s the limit for how low one should stoop when “engaging ideas?” Amanda, to borrow a term, is an advanced patriarchy-blamer. She’s obviously steeped in various strains of feminist theory, as well as having a first-class critical-thinking faculty. So why shouldn’t she use that Big Brain to mock when it’s warranted? Are we to engage all the ideas, regardless of how poorly-conceived, just in the name of politesse or civility? Sometimes jackassery is just jackassery, y’know?

  5. Robert says:

    Amanda, to borrow a term, is an advanced patriarchy-blamer. She’s obviously steeped in various strains of feminist theory, as well as having a first-class critical-thinking faculty. So why shouldn’t she use that Big Brain to mock when it’s warranted?

    For the reason cited in the first sentence.

    As a feminist, Amanda demands that she specifically and women generally be treated as full adult human beings, instead of (as has been the case in the past) children or chattel or servants or slaves or objects. Feminists say “treat me like a human being” and, to the extent that they are being treated otherwise, invest the demand with moral force.

    As such, Amanda is an adult, operating in adult public or semi-public spaces. (Blogs are like restaurants; the owners are free to throw anyone out, but the presumption is that if the door is open, come on in.) The standards of appropriately civilized conduct ought therefore to be considered in play.

    Certainly mockery, satire, the sly innuendo all have a place in the rhetorical games of adults. However, even here there are standards.

    I regret that I myself have violated those standards on occasion.

  6. Lux Fiat says:

    For the reason cited in the first sentence.
    ,,,
    Certainly mockery, satire, the sly innuendo all have a place in the rhetorical games of adults. However, even here there are standards.

    That, though, is pretty much the point I was trying to make. When the same people make the same points, over and over, not only denying the humanity of women, but doing so in trite and a-thousand-times-refuted ways, at what point is it reasonable to give up engagement and just move to the pointing and laughing, which is more satisfying for one and one’s readers anyway?

    Shit, it’s not like Jill and Amanda don’t bring the thunder, intellectually speaking, when necessary. I’m just sayin’ that bringing the thunder also includes the very mockery illustrated above, often times.

    I think our definitions of “civilized conduct” may be different. I see no reason to treat people who should know better with any sort of politeness.

  7. mili says:

    How do you know the books are bad if (wait for it)

    you haven’t read them?

  8. Chawunky says:

    “This is the problem: Today’s left, and the Hollywood left in particular, sees everyone as human.”

    Wow. That’s right up there with “We’ve been attacked by the intelligent, educated segment of the culture…”

  9. Thomas says:

    Robert, you’ve confused me. You said, mocking Amanda, that she was frustrated that conservatives at Town Hall:

    won’t come out and just say the things that I know they secretly believe.

    But I thought you said on the first V-x D-y thread:

    Being able to spot evil people who are using your well-intentioned political positions as cover for their own vileness is a crucial skill. Unfortunately, one that’s been all too lacking on the left.

    So, are we supposed to take people at their word, or look to the subtext? Or are we supposed to examine the subtext only of things folks on the left say, while reading charitably those on the right?

  10. Shannon W. says:

    Well, the Virgin Ben is in with a crowd that thinks that having a baby is no big deal, even though we all know that it’s sometimes life threatening, that discrimination only happens to white males (oh, noes, they have to study!) and Christians(Oh noes! someone said happy holidays! what’s next- putting wreaths with dreidels on your door?!) and that taking food out of the mouths of the children of the poor is no big deal- they should have just worked harder.

  11. Marian says:

    Ehh, nothing that bad about “1776,” at least not the musical, which was some good fun.

    It seems Dennis Prager’s column has been removed since you posted it, or else the link’s broken. Wow, one of my rightwing brethren actually writes some decent moderate advice on relationships that doesn’t involve “just get married and have babies already” and the link dies. Damn. :P

  12. Darleen says:

    Obviously a lot of people have never heard the things Dennis Prager talks about.

    Prager is one of the clearest, commonsense thinkers out there. If you’ve ever listened to his show or read his books, a more incisive debater with unfailing politeness you will never meet, even if you don’t agree with everything he has to offer from his classical liberal/Jewish perspective.

    I’m not sure why you think his column is mockable, Jill. Or are you just mocking him for being not leftist?

  13. Darleen says:

    Here’s the working Prager link.

  14. B Moe says:

    Damn, I thought that shotgun in the logo was just figurative.

  15. Chris Clarke says:

    the owners are free to throw anyone out

    I just like saying that.

    The owners here are extraordinarily patient. If someone at my place showed the same creepy stalker obsession with someone Robert shows with Amanda, he’d have been booted some time ago.

  16. norbizness says:

    Jill’s shorter Ben Shapiro: Not short enough.

    My shorter ‘Robert’s entire output,’ if I were Matthew Perry’s Sarcasm Class instructor from that one SNL sketch: Too topical and infrequent!

  17. Chris Clarke says:

    Shorter Norbizness’ shorter Robert: “‘Could I BE any less interesting?'”

  18. That Girl says:

    I took this as a humorous update – did I miss some subtext in the post that led to this viscious personal fight? If you are going to rag on Robert, why not do it when he is being creepy and obviously cantakerously off his meds instead of attacking him while he is being reasonable (for Robert).
    One of the reasons I like this site is that other people actually bring different (albeit mostly disagreeable) opinions to the comments.

  19. bitchphd says:

    My version:

    Shorter Robert: You girls should do what I tell you to.

  20. Thomas says:

    That Girl, I think some folks are on Robert’s back because he took a swipe at Amanda, and to many of us she’s either a friend or favorite read.

    I’m on Robert’s back because he made a statement in a previous thread that I think cannot be squared with what he just wrote.

  21. Marian says:

    Darleen–Thanks! It worked! I think his advice is mighty good stuff that people on all ends of the spectrum would do well to follow. Having the person you marry as your “best friend” is a great way to work toward equality as well as increasing the likelihood that the relationship will last.

  22. zuzu says:

    Prager’s advice also falls into the DUH! category.

  23. Chris Clarke says:

    Robert’s tiresome, unnecessarily personal, repetitive, and highly sexualized harassment of Amanda: reasonable.

    Anyone who objects to his behavior: vicious and personal.

  24. Imran Anwar says:

    Very interesting and engaging blog. And, I love this very active comments section, with really witty posts.

    Imran
    http://imran.com/media/blog/

  25. Petitedov says:

    Gee, your summarization of Ben Shapiro’s column is so eloquent…yet you never choose to actually debate what he actually wrote, but mock him with your preconceived notions of what the author is all about (where do you see him degrade homosexuality in the article?). Does Ben once say in the piece that palestinians = Hitler? He draws a comparison between justifying terrorists actions (who happen to be palestenian) with looking at the WWII dictator and deciding he too has his reason for killing Jews and invading half of Europe. I also have not seen Munich, but just like Ben i’ve read articles about the steps Spielberg took to make the story “right” like bringing Kushner to “soften” the image of the palestinian murderers. Even though the book the film was based on, was decried as erroneous but other agents participating in the operation. To me that smells of typical Hollywood propaganda just as Ben points out.

  26. Jill says:

    Oh, the things you miss when you go to bed early and study all morning.

    Ok, I’m laying down the law for this post and others I put up: This blog is not the space to take swipes at other bloggers who you don’t like, or who have banned you from their own blogs. If I link to a post by someone else, you’re welcome to take issue with what’s in the post, but it’s not appropriate to personally attack other people.

    Robert, you aren’t the first or only person who’s done stuff like this, so don’t take it personally. But the complaining about Amanda needs to stop here.

    And now that that’s been dealt with, let’s get back to the post — no more complaining about Robert, either. Fair?

  27. Jill says:

    Gee, your summarization of Ben Shapiro’s column is so eloquent…yet you never choose to actually debate what he actually wrote, but mock him with your preconceived notions of what the author is all about (where do you see him degrade homosexuality in the article?).

    Ben writes:

    Tony Kushner, the virulently socialist playwright and author of the homosexual propaganda piece “Angels in America,” penned the screenplay to “Munich.”

    That’s where I saw it.

  28. APF says:

    The best satire is not the lazy jabbing of straw men for the approval of a clapping echo chamber, but rather the incisive destruction of the strongest premise being presented.

    Or fart jokes. Those work too.

  29. karpad says:

    having cleared the minefield, I’m really confused about Ben Shapiro.

    like “what the hell context could there possibly be that would make that make sense?”

    dunno. maybe if you genuinely believe that people who kill for ideology are inhuman, but it’s established that Ben doesn’t have any problem with the military.

    maybe if you’re truly into some paranormal stuff, and believe that many world leaders are actually shapeshifting lizardmen. but I don’t think that’s the case for Ben.

    so….

  30. Robert says:

    Damn it, I want to complain about me. I suck.

    OK, I’ll be good.

  31. APF says:

    He means “to humanize;” in other words to soften the image that’s been constructed of–to give Shapiro’s example–Hitler, to play up the idea he had a loving family, was fond of animals, etc.; points which, while they may or may not be true, are not representative of the impact the man’s evil had on the world–and the further away we get from, say, the Holocaust, the more of a whitewash the desire for that sort of emphasis becomes.

  32. Darleen says:

    #22 zuzu

    Sure, it is a reiteration of things mature and reasonable people might know … BUT

    1) Considering the mess a lot of people make when getting married, offering common sense and wisdom is bad….why?

    2)What in Prager’s column is mockable?

  33. Benny says:

    YOU ARE A BUNCH OF RETARDED.

  34. zuzu says:

    Darleen, it’s mockable because it’s SO DAMN OBVIOUS.

    He’s not offering any insights or wisdom or anything new, he’s filling column-inches with the most obvious advice possible. I’d be less inclined to mock if he dwelled at all on the idea that people do actually screw this up, but then he might have to admit that pressuring people to get married as the be-all and end-all of their existence might make them rush things. He might also have to admit that gay people sometimes want to marry their best friends.

    Karpad,

    Ben has absolutely no problem with the military as long as he doesn’t have to serve in it.

  35. zuzu says:

    We need a noun, Benny.

  36. Darleen says:

    Zuzu

    If it was that obvious then DO explain the divorce rate.

    And it AIN’T do to “the pressure”. Do you think the pressure to marry is lesser or greater than it was in the, say, 1950s? And is divorce lesser or greater now?

    So if everyone is so much more ENLIGHTENED and everyone already KNOWS the list Prager compiles….we divorce more…because??

    He explained WHY he was writing it in the first paragraph..and I find it no less relevant than all the advice on how to prepare and cook a turkey that runs EACH Thanksgiving.

    IMHO, it appears that “mocking” Prager’s column wasn’t really about the column but about him. Ad hominem mocking, as it were.

  37. Jill says:

    If it was that obvious then DO explain the divorce rate.

    Jill: Hey, here’s an idea for a column: Jill’s Rules of How to Not Go to Jail
    1. Don’t kill people!
    2. Don’t steal stuff!
    3. Don’t physically harm people!
    4. Don’t use, sell or transport drugs!

    Editor: Uh, that’s pretty obvious…

    Jill: If it was that obvious then DO explain the incarcertaion rate!

  38. zuzu says:

    The 1950s are your ideal?

    There’s absolutely nothing wrong with making marriages easier to get out of than they were in the 1950s. There is no point in keeping two people shackled together in a loveless or abusive marriage long after the situation has ceased to be healthy for them or for those around them. If they have a chance for happiness on their own or with someone else, so much the better. Hell, even the Catholic Church will annul a marriage after years and after several children if it can be shown that the partners never had the intent to join together.

    Call me crazy, but I live in a state without no-fault divorce, and it’s no picnic. I certainly wouldn’t want to see a return to that system universally, and I’m glad that we have a means of divorcing by agreement in uncontested cases. But even the threat of a contest can give one of the partners unequal power, as I witnessed recently when a friend’s long-disappeared husband played cagey with signing the forms to get divorced because he couldn’t quite let go.

    All throughout the election, I kept hearing — from people like Prager, no less — how morally superior the red states and the heartland were, and how those liberal Northeasterners were contributing to the moral decay of the country, and that same-sex marriages were going to destroy the institution of marriage.

    He doesn’t have the best track record on issues of gender and marriage, incidentally, particularly from the perspective of a feminist, and as a Jew, he’s a bit too forgiving of wingnut Christians. He certainly thinks that same-sex marriage is icky.

    And while divorce rates may be higher than they were in the 1950s overall, they’re not evenly distributed throughout the country. For all the talk of the godliness of the red states, they have a much higher rate of divorce than those homo-lovin’ Bay Staters.

  39. norbizness says:

    Do I read the capitalized words with extra gusto in my mind?

  40. upyernoz says:

    from ben shapiro’s column:

    I can’t criticize the movie itself until I’ve seen it, but this film has all the hallmarks of a high-handed, elitist, Hollywood view of foreign policy.

    that’s got to be one of the stupidest lines ever written

  41. piny says:

    I can’t criticize the movie itself until I’ve seen it, but this film has all the hallmarks of a high-handed, elitist, Hollywood view of foreign policy.

    Ha! Oh, I missed that one.

    I love how he just comes right out and says he has no right to say anything he’s saying: “I shouldn’t, but I totally will!”

  42. Lux Fiat says:

    APF:

    He means “to humanize;” in other words to soften the image that’s been constructed of–to give Shapiro’s example–Hitler, to play up the idea he had a loving family, was fond of animals, etc.; points which, while they may or may not be true, are not representative of the impact the man’s evil had on the world–and the further away we get from, say, the Holocaust, the more of a whitewash the desire for that sort of emphasis becomes.

    Yeah, but presenting the perpetrator of evil as human is not the same as excusing that person. It’s not like “humanizing” consists of shaking one’s head and saying, “Aw, that Hitler, he liked dogs an’ stuff. He just had his head on crooked about that whole mass-murder and oppression thing. I mean, who doesn’t, from time to time?”

    When you demonize people who kill (at least, the ones who kill for the wrong reasons), you allow them to be the other. You allow yourself the luxury of believing that you’d never participate in something like that. It lets us indulge in thinking that people do evil because they are evil. If we think of them as human beings, though, it becomes more difficult to, say, order rocket attacks on their neighborhoods.

    “Humanizing” doesn’t let murderers off the moral hook, it keeps us on it.

  43. APF says:

    “Humanizing” doesn’t let murderers off the moral hook, it keeps us on it.

    Mhh. I think that’s a fine line that only the most skillful artists can tactfully pull off (I also think you’re begging the question to suggest “we’re all Hitler,” or that there’s essentially no such thing as an evil person; there’s a difference between “people who kill” and mass-murderers committing genocide). Lets see if it’s true in this case, but IME it tends to become more of a whitewash than not–especially when we’re talking about more politically controversial subjects than the Holocaust. (although we’ll also be able to address the overarching question of the article with the Holocaust mini-series developed by Mel Gibson’s production company)

  44. APF says:

    I also want to add that the “humanizing” of tyrants and objectively evil people makes it easier for folks to to draw obnoxious and distracting equivocations like the cries of BUSHITLER!!! whenever people need to make difficult and nuanced decisions of grave importance–such as homeland security protocols, or interrogation policies, or the wisdom of invading Iraq, to prosecuting the crimes of Saddam Hussein, etc…

  45. Lux Fiat says:

    Mhh. I think that’s a fine line that only the most skillful artists can tactfully pull off

    Well, sure, no disagreement here. I’m the one arguing for moral complexity and subtlety. If everyone could do it, it wouldn’t be so valuable.

    (I also think you’re begging the question to suggest “we’re all Hitler,” or that there’s essentially no such thing as an evil person; there’s a difference between “people who kill” and mass-murderers committing genocide)

    Hey I’m not the one drawing that equivalence. That was the Virgin Ben and his Mighty Eyebrows of Cliché. I was just trying to argue that humanizing The Enemy is good and necessary, even for Hitler, because it emphasizes the evil of our actions, not of our souls or whatever.

    (although we’ll also be able to address the overarching question of the article with the Holocaust mini-series developed by Mel Gibson’s production company)

    The Passion II: It’s Payback Time?

  46. Lux Fiat says:

    I also want to add that the “humanizing” of tyrants and objectively evil people makes it easier for folks to to draw obnoxious and distracting equivocations like the cries of BUSHITLER!!!

    Where you find obnoxiousness and distraction, I find vigilance and an attention to history. Po-tay-to, po-tah-to, I guess.

  47. APF says:

    If you find that comparison (equation) reflective of historical vigilance, then I’m 99.9% sure it proves my point. :)

  48. Amanda says:

    Well, I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that I think that Amanda chick has a blog and opinions and stuff.

    Doesn’t that bother anyone else?

    Nice post, Jill. You’re funnier than I was.

  49. Lux Fiat says:

    If you find that comparison (equation) reflective of historical vigilance, then I’m 99.9% sure it proves my point. :)

    A comparison is not an equation. When democracies go bad, fascism is what happens. It’s the responsibility of citizens in a democracy to be vigilant against, y’know, exactly what American government and politics are slouching toward at the moment. It can happen here, all too easily. Dismissing that worry as mere hysteria is what lets it happen here.

    When people yell BUSHITLER! their mistake is maybe one of degree (and style) rather than type.

    Shoulda been clearer about that.

  50. APF says:

    Dismissing that worry as mere hysteria is what lets it happen here.

    Or maybe the assessment that it’s an obnoxious distraction to making difficult decisions with no perfect answers is wise. Hitler, of course, did like the Appeal to Fear—don’t let yourself become like Hitler, POTENTIAL GENOCIDAL MANIAC LUX FIAT!!!!!

  51. I’ll half join the defense of Prager. True, his advice should be obvious, but, darn it, people still keep arguing just the opposite. Want to be married to your best friend? Are you kidding? To snag a guy, you’ve got to follow all sorts of game playing rules and never let him know what you really think. Don’t even think of sharing all your thoughts with him. Think marriage works best if you’re actually sexually attracted to each other? No, gay men need women to settle them down. Go marry one out of sheer altruism. Want a guy with basic social skills? Don’t you know that men just grunt in their caves until women marry and civilize them?

    That said, I’m only defending this particular column, and only because promoting ordinary common sense beats trying to talk women into burying their ordinary common sense. If this, by zuzu, is true of his other columns:

    He doesn’t have the best track record on issues of gender and marriage, incidentally, particularly from the perspective of a feminist, and as a Jew, he’s a bit too forgiving of wingnut Christians. He certainly thinks that same-sex marriage is icky.

    then I may not be too eager to defend his views in general.

  52. karpad says:

    I would argue the contrary: it’s precisely the “othering” of “monsters” that allows superficial use of “hitler as insult.”

    the othering of Hitler is symptomatic of the fundamental belief that “othering” is true. Hitler is a monster. Bundy is a monster, that teacher who had sex with a student is a monster. that person who dislikes Christmas is a monster. so, a person who dislikes christmas AND smokes would be “worse than hitler.”

    admitting that Hitler is human means you admit that there will be superficial similarities. Hitler hates christmas. I hate christmas (late december birthdays make that happen). Hitler was a Vegetarian and loved dogs. my old roommate was a vegetarian who loved dogs. hitler donned his pants one leg at a time, so does Robert.

    by admitting that hitler has things in common with the rest of humanity, it makes the reductum ad hitlerum much more difficult.

    Just assuming “they did such a horrible thing, therefore they must be entirely different from us” isn’t helpful. “what makes me specifically different from hitler” is a good question. and if your answer is “I advocate genocide of a different ethnic group” it’s probably time to do some thinking.

  53. Lux Fiat says:

    don’t let yourself become like Hitler, POTENTIAL GENOCIDAL MANIAC LUX FIAT!!!!!

    No worries; I’m nowhere near ambitious enough for that. Now, letting myself become like the Germans who kept their heads down and didn’t make waves while a party of nationalist warmongers gained control of their country, that I worry about. After all, this is America. We’re the good guys. Can’t happen here.

  54. mythago says:

    As a Jew, Prager makes an excellent fundamentalist Christian.

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