Saturday, February 09, 2008

Pimp this post

By Libby Spencer

I wasn't going to blog about David Shuster's remarkably thoughtless off the cuff remark about Chelsea Clinton but in reading over the reactions, a couple of points come to mind. First of all, as AttyTood aptly points out, this is not the worst thing that has ever been said about Chelsea. I remember some rather awful things being said about her as a teenager in the White House and Will unearths a particularly loathsome remark made by John McCain himself.

Secondly, the connation of pimping has changed and the word is routinely used in ways that have nothing to do with prostitution, at least in the plying of the oldest profession sense of the word. I mean isn't there a TV program called something like Pimp my Ride? It's a hip expression now, not a dirty word. Shuster's real offense was in suggesting that there was something wrong or unusual in having a candidate's family member do some politicking. That point I think is being lost in the obsessing over the language he used to convey a false point.

Furthermore, by rights, guys like Chris Matthews should have been kicked off the airwaves long ago for much more egregiously sexist remarks that were couched in more polite language. Making Shuster the scapegoat draws the line in the wrong place and provides cover for the Matthews of the pundit class. It implies a simple grudging apology will do as long as street talk isn't used to ply their misogyny.

Lastly, I think the furor over this will cause more harm than good and I wonder if the rapid removal of Shuster isn't really a subtle plot to discredit progressives. It fuels the whole meme on the redmeat side of the fence that paints the PC/feminist crowd as overly sensitive nannies who want to outlaw free expression in order to protect themselves from every mild offense. It's difficult to argue otherwise when the term "blogwhoring" is an acceptable use of language widely employed in Leftopia. The furor then begins to take on a air of "it's okay when a leftie does it."

I guess it's too late now, since the tempest has already blown through the news cycle, but I fear we'll live to regret making an issue of this.

(Cross-posted at The Impolitic.)

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