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Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Name calling is a grand part of being American. I know a small business store owner. He is a Nam vet and clearly suffers from PTSD (still being treated). The day does not pass when he and his wife do not refer to "niggers" and "towel heads." But I guess this is ok because he is a staunch very right of center Republican.

"...it's okay...for a male journalist to get a woman drunk and have sex with her by deception, but not okay for a female journalist to be plied with alcohol and covertly fucked on camera by a male journalist. The piggishness of O'Keefe's double-standard is breathtaking..."

Flashback to junior high, where some kids discover a form of interpersonal power achieved by sneering at others for the least reason, or no reason at all. The "reason," in fact, is just a flimsy support, a sponge to convey the bitter liquid of the sneer. It works because we are only partly a reasoning species, our emotional and social buttons are hard-wired but reason is a later upgrade.

With this strategy, a double standard is mandatory, not an afterthought, and as part of this strategy reasonable argument, even reason itself must be sneered at or else the strategy collapses. People who use these strategies know it perfectly well.

The other part of the strategy of the sneer is that returning sneers can't be acknowledged or even perceived. This prevents short-term pain, but also stops them learning why women are crossing the street and hiding in the shrubberies when they see you coming.

So perhaps James will never grasp why, as he gets older, he may have to rely on flavoured ethanol to get a date. At 26 this may not be a big problem, but lets check O'Keefe again in 20 years.



An excellent, thought-provoking comment. We are, in Brad DeLong's words, "jumped-up monkeys." I hadn't given thought to the role that sneering at reason--and its proxies, education & expertise--play in the maintenance of double standards. And, as you explain, double standards are essential to the junior high one-upmanship that sorts children into social castes, often with ruthless brutality. Of course, for many people, this sort of behavior actively persists into adulthood. There are entire political movements and political leaders that rely almost exclusively on this dynamic for their survival.

Your observation about double standards reminded me of something I read this week in the blog of a staunch Sarah Palin supporter. In the post, Michelle Obama was attacked because of her comment about being proud of America for the first time in her life. In my book, her comment is fair game, but those who were allegedly horrified by Michelle Obama's comment don't seem to care in the least that Todd Palin hated America so much that he belonged to a secessionist political party for years. We hear not a peep about this fact from Palin supporters who sneer at Michelle Obama. With fingers planted firmly in their ears, they double down on the double standard attacks.

Can you imagine the howling from Sarah Palin's admirers if Michelle Obama belonged to a secessionist movement at any time in her life, even for a month in college? Yet no problem with Todd Palin being a secessionist well into his adulthood.

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