so in thrall to the First Amendment, so conditioned to swallow
it whole, that even when faced with stomach-churning speech
that owes its very existence to the law's indulgence, we rarely
stop to question whether the amendment always serves our best
best interests? This reference to a collective "we"
may seem mysterious, at first, but Tunku clears this up right
away: the target of his ire, it turns out, isn't child pornography,
but something much worse, in his view: anti-Semitism.
scene of the crime: Rutgers University, where, it seems, two
student publications have caused a stir. The Medium which
the buttoned-down Wall Streeter describes as "scatological"
(translation: irreverent, and sometimes even intentionally
funny) published an ad in the "personals" section
that went like this:
Jew. Die, die, die, die, die, die. Stop living, die, die,
DIE! Do us all a
favor and build yourself [an] . . . oven."
don't know what's been lost in those ellipses, but the back
pages of The Medium also feature other, uh, very unusual
personal ads, such as the following:
the really hot first string bench warmer on the basketball
team, you are disgustingly hot. Sometimes, when you walk by,
I just want to suck on your nipple through your often sleeveless
my CS 205 professor: Stop pronouncing 13 as thirty and 18
as eighty. And to that fat-ass mother*****r in a wheelchair
who doesn't know how to speak either, stop causing an earthquake
everytime you come into class.
I f***king hate you! You are
so f**king pathetic that everything you answer is wrong. What
You are just a blob of fat, shut the f**k up
in class and stop interrupting with your loser comments. God,
I hate fat people."
I won't defend the first example cited by Varadarajan it's
either a death threat (already illegal), or a satire so subtle
that it's virtually undetectable but it seems far less sinister
put in its context: The Medium's "personals" section,
it seems, is a reinvention of what we used to call a "slam
book," wherein everybody in the school was listed and
all were invited to inscribe their comments, which were often
quite uncomplimentary. In addition, these backpage screeds
are always addressed to particular individuals, and
are always anonymous. We don't know who posted it, or why:
it could even be a deliberate provocation. It is, at any rate,
hardly grounds to start questioning the First Amendment.
student publication, The Caellian staffed, it seems,
by lefty lesbians offended campus sensibilities by featuring
naked women on the cover. Horrors! The authorities moved quickly
to crack down on the First Amendment run amok by limiting
the distribution of the two periodicals to bins that cover
up the offending covers: the editors, quite rightly, cried
foul, and a meeting was held to discuss the matter. This was
an event of such earthshaking import, obviously, that the
nation's leading financial daily felt compelled to send a
reporter. Tunku was perturbed by what he saw: students "playacting"
at being editors.
that students play-acting the roles they will one day assume
in the adult world! Who ever heard of such a thing?
editors of The Caellian are gently mocked for their
crackpot egalitarianism can't you just see old Tunku rolling
his eyes as they earnestly explained that they publish all
submissions in the order in which they are received?
LOL! But the real target of this editorial thunderbolt from
on high is the editor of The Medium, "a burly
chap in a basketball jersey," for having defended his
paper's editorial credo: "No one is above getting it."
Mr. Basketball Jersey averred that The Medium is "an envelope-pushing paper, and the university would stagnate
to an incredible degree without it." Tunku finds this
him, a Jewish student in a yarmulke raised his hand and adverted
to the 'personal' in which his kind had been urged to die.
'I'm scared by this,' he said. To which an editor stood up
and purred, 'The
Medium is satire, humor.' If this consoled the Jewish student,
it was not writ large on his face. He shook his head. The
editor, meanwhile, sat down. Butter wouldn't melt in his mouth--but
it might turn rancid there."
of course anyone who actually goes to The Medium website
for themselves that we are hardly talking about the local
chapter of the National Socialist White Workers Party: the
paper bills itself as Rutgers' "entertainment weekly,"
fer chrissakes. The most recent issue features a major story
on "Priestly Sex" (with pictures!). But ideologues
of Tunku's type are notoriously humorless, and, besides, the
idea that "no one is above getting it" is a heresy
find particularly appalling.
imagine that "politically correct" campus speech
codes are the product of a sinister leftist conspiracy David
Horowitz has made a career out of that claim but the
reality is that the neoconservatives also want to ban
"hate speech." This means not only silencing the
juvenile satirists of Rutgers, but also smearing as "anti-Semitic"
any and all criticism of Israel in the adult world. This censorious
spirit need not call on the State to intervene, although,
in the case of private institutions that receive government
aid (i.e. virtually all educational institutions in the US),
there is always the threat of state action. It also includes
an organized effort to economically strangle sources of independent
news, and threaten their advertisers.
recent boycott of the Los Angeles Times by pro-Israel
groups who characterize the paper's coverage as "pro-Palestinian"
is a case in point. Not that there's anything wrong with that. After all, a boycott is peaceful
usually, that is and it isn't "censorship" in
the sense that a government bureaucrat is looking over your
shoulder. But anyone who believes that the paper's advertisers
aren't being subjected to a merciless campaign of complaints
and harassment is being naοve. What's notable is the impulse
to suppress an opposing viewpoint, rather than countering
it: it is the tendency of a certain mindset, often (but not
always) animated by a religious or near-religious belief.
The same people who laud Israel as a great "democracy"
and contrast its free press with the controlled media of the Muslim world
are trying to control the American media's Mideast coverage by means
of relentless pressure.
attempt to "manage" and filter the news through
the lens of a new political correctness also erupted in Minnesota,
where a pressure group calling itself "Minnesotans Against
Terrorism" presumed to instruct the editor of a local
paper how news stories about suicide bombers ought to be worded.
Deputy editor Jim Boyd told them to get stuffed,
and denounced the politicians including Jesse Ventura
who endorsed the Language Police as "craven" and
clueless, and for that he surely deserves some kind of medal.
craven in the least were the folks of the Star
Tribune newsroom including quite a number of Jewish
faith. I applaud their courage and their journalistic integrity
in refusing to knuckle under on this issue. John Cowles Sr.,
the patriarch of this newspaper who set down many years ago
the principles that the newsroom today defends, would be very
hope the present owners are as dedicated to the principles
of their predecessor as Boyd assumes: if not, I hope he's
polishing up his resume.
LANGUAGE POLICE STRIKE AGAIN
there's the newest exhortation of the Language Police: use
"homicide bomber" instead of "suicide bomber."
But aren't all bombers homicidal by definition? Not
much bothered by such grammatical niceties as avoiding redundancies,
these avatars of the new post-9/11 spirit of "unity"
won't be happy until they do to the English language what
Ariel Sharon did to Jenin.
Andrea Koppel is also in the dock,
facing charges that, as the New York Post put it, she
"made blatant anti-Israel statements at a conference
in Tel Aviv." In an email circulated far and wide, David
J. Blumberg, head of Blumberg Capital Management, accused
Ms. Koppel of saying what all the world but the readers of
the New York Post know to be true: Israel committed
a "'slaughter' against Palestinian civilians and that
the current violence would
lead to the death of the state of Israel." The Post's
"Page Six" columnist reports this rendition of an
alleged conversation with Koppel:
claims that when an Israeli friend of his told Koppel, 'We
could lose our lives, or we could lose our country,' she coldly
replied, 'Yes, you will lose your country.' Blumberg asked
Koppel if he had heard her correctly. 'Yes,' he recalls her
saying. 'I believe we are now seeing the beginning of
the end of Israel.' Blumberg relates that when the Israeli
complained that CNN had compared the accidental killings of
Palestinian civilians by Israeli soldiers to the murder of
Israelis by suicide bombers, Koppel shot back, "So when
Israeli soldiers slaughter civilians in Jenin, that is not
denies the whole thing, but even if "Page Six" is
right and she did say that there is plenty of evidence
(albeit circumstantial, so far) of a slaughter at Jenin
what of it? That Koppel is herself Jewish doesn't immunize
her, naturally, from charges of "anti-Semitism."
Israel's amen corner in the US is probably more intolerant
of dissent from Jews, as evidenced by some of the really vicious
hate mail addressed to Antiwar.com's own Ran
Hacohen. As for predicting the beginning of the end of
Israel, surely this is hardly an unusual or unreasonable assessment:
it is, for one, foretold in the Bible, as well as among those
demographers who have compared the Israeli and Palestinians
readers have written to inquire why I use the term "amen
corner" to describe the pro-Israel lobby, and ask if,
perhaps, this isn't a little harsh. Well, uh, yes, but it
is also accurate, always an overriding concern when it comes
to word choice. The attempt to discredit Koppel attests to
this. For the Blumberg email just happened to coincide
with the formal
protest of the Israeli foreign ministry, which lodged
a complaint with CNN's ethics department on March 29, hours
after Israeli tanks began to roll over Ramallah. The Israeli
government speaks, and its Foreign Legion acts with unabashed
then again, even the most efficient organization can only
achieve so much. The Jerusalem Report [linked above]
records the lamentation of Gideon Meir, the foreign ministry
official in charge of propaganda, bemoaning the almost insuperable
odds faced by apologists for Sharon's blitzkrieg:
"When Israel attacks, its PR faces the nigh impossible task of countering
images with words. 'When a tank goes into Ramallah, it does
not look good on TV,' he says. 'Sure we can explain why we are there, and that's what we do. But it's words. We have to fight pictures with words.'"
after all, should you believe the evidence of your own eyes?
The enforcers of the new political correctness have taken
it upon themselves to reinterpret those nasty images like
the cover of The Caellian, they ought to be kept out
of sight, anyway, don't you think? with words, veritable
volumes of obfuscating verbiage. Seen through this gauzy filter,
the sordid acts of senseless brutality committed by the IDF
will seem almost glamorous, like the haggard features of yesterday's
glamour queen viewed through a vaseline-covered lens.
'AMEN CORNER' IN ACTION
recent report in Editor & Publisher gives us some
indication of the
extent and intensity of the organized campaign to sanitize
the news and give a pro-Israel spin to the worst IDF atrocities:
newsroom leaders are being battered by more e-mail, letters,
and phone calls than ever before on this issue, from all sides,
and with an unusually high level of anger, while newspapers
such as the Star Tribune of Minneapolis
and the Los Angeles Times are being singled out through organized
protests and boycotts."
of the opinions are sort of violent," says Marshall Ingwerson,
managing editor of the Christian Science Monitor.
The Sacramento Bee is accused of "sympathizing
with a Palestinian suicide bomber," while the editors
and reporters at the Washington Post regularly receive
"e-mail messages comparing the Post with the former
pro-Nazi paper Der Stuermer." According to Editor & Publisher,
"the charges of bias and conspiracy are growing by the
on the doorstep of the Chicago Tribune, a campaign
in Minnesota against the Star Tribune: "It's scary,
this idea that one group or another could turn on journalists,"
says Lucy Dalglish, executive director of the Reporters Committee
for Freedom of the Press. Hey, I'll tell you what's scary:
that a self-appointed board of censors acting on behalf of
a foreign power is openly seeking to control the content of
the news, not through the power of the state at least, not
yet but through intimidation. As Gary Gilbert, executive
editor of the Oakland Press, in Pontiac, Michigan,
is a tone of hatred that we don't see in anything else."
hatreds of the Middle East intractable and ugly have been
imported into the nation's newsrooms: this is the inevitable
consequence of our policy of global intervention, one that
coarsens American society and vindicates the advice proffered
by George Washington in his Farewell Address:
passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a
variety of evils.
It gives to ambitious, corrupted, or deluded
citizens (who devote themselves to the favorite nation), facility
to betray or sacrifice the interests of their own country,
without odium, sometimes even with popularity; gilding, with
the appearances of a virtuous sense of obligation, a commendable
deference for public opinion, or a laudable zeal for public
good, the base or foolish compliances of ambition, corruption,
is absolutely outrageous that individuals and organizations
openly acting as agents of a foreign government are brazenly
trying to manipulate, suppress, and "manage" the
news so that it is more to their liking. There are laws covering
the registration of foreign agents. Why aren't they being
critique of the "playacting" Rutgers students is
that their publications are subsidized, and aren't answerable
to the market. But I wonder if the same yardstick applies
to such subsidized periodicals as The Weekly Standard,
The New Republic, and the newly-founded New York
Sun, all of which are shielded
from the cruel exigencies of the market by subsidies from
FIRST AMENDMENT FEELS SO GOOD
censorious spirit of the new political correctness and its
self-appointed enforcers was again on display in James "No
Talent" Taranto's WSJ column, "Best of the
Web," wherein Taranto
gloated that he had managed to get Yahoo to suppress the
Microsoft "online community" known as 'deathtoisrael,"
and then listed yet more nominees for oblivion: the "Dump
Israel Now" and "Antizionism" discussion groups,
as well as "Defenders of the Reich." "We'll
see if they survive the next 24 hours," Taranto snarked.
Now we know the essential social function of public
spaces like The Medium's personals section, where you
can come right out and say:
you, you fat-ass motherf*cking prig. Who died and left your
fat-ass in charge? I f***king hate you! You are so f**king
pathetic that everything you write is wrong. What a dumb-ass!
You are just a blob of fat, shut the f**k up and stop boring
us with your loser comments. God,
I hate fat people."
I feel much better now and that's why I just looove
the good old First Amendment, no matter what some foreigner
a move afoot to stifle political discourse in this country:
Israels lobby in the US is trying to drag us into a
war with Iraq, and the entire Muslim world, without a national
debate, by smearing anyone who opposes their agenda as an
"anti-Semite." But it wont work. Americans
dont like being told what to think and what to write;
they dont like pushy lobbyists with not-so-hidden agendas
and, contra Tunku, they do indeed believe the First
Amendment serves their best interests, and arent likely
to get rid of it any time soon.
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