And I’m one step ahead of the shoe shine
Two steps away from the county line
Just trying to keep my customers satisfied,
Simon and Garfunkel Keep the Customer Satisfied 1970
One of the joys of the internet is waiting on Mark Steyn to comment on an issue and the Duck Dynasty story was pardon the pun setting up ducks in a row for him.
Here are two jokes one can no longer tell on American television. But you can still find them in the archives, out on the edge of town, in Sub-Basement Level 12 of the ever-expanding Smithsonian Mausoleum of the Unsayable. First, Bob Hope, touring the world in the year or so after the passage of the 1975 Consenting Adult Sex Bill:
“I’ve just flown in from California, where they’ve made homosexuality legal. I thought I’d get out before they make it compulsory.”
The most amazing this about that passage from Steyn is that it follows this exchange on MSNBC (via Stacy McCain) that makes his point:
Is the new new official “position” at MSNBC how DARE you critique Sodomy until you tried it? (I thought that our friends on the left insisted homosexuals were born that way?)
The asphyxiating embrace of ideological conformity was famously captured by Nikolai Krylenko, the People’s Commissar for Justice, in a speech to the Soviet Congress of Chess Players in 1932, at which he attacked the very concept of “the neutrality of chess.” It was necessary for chess to be Sovietized like everything else. “We must organize shock brigades of chess players, and begin immediate realization of a Five-Year Plan for chess,” he declared.
Six years later, the political winds having shifted, Krylenko was executed as an enemy of the people. But his spirit lives on among the Commissars of Gay Compliance at GLAAD. It is not enough to have gay marriage for gays. Everything must be gayed. There must be Five-Year Gay Plans for American bakeries, and the Christian church, and reality TV. There must be shock brigades of gay duck-hunters honking out the party line deep in the backwoods of the proletariat.
As a frequent guest host on Rush Limbaugh’s show Mark Steyn is loved by the right nd hated by the left. He’s a guy who puts butts in the seats and that’s exactly what you need to keep a shoestring magazine operation afloat.
Someone didn’t mention this to Jason Lee Steorts who critiqued Steyn’s piece concluding thus:
By way of criticizing speech, I’ll say that I found the derogatory language in this column, and especially the slur in its borrowed concluding joke, both puerile in its own right and disappointing coming from a writer of such talent.
I was rather surprised
— Peter Ingemi (@DaTechGuyblog) December 22, 2013
That fundraiser is to fight the Michael Mann lawsuit over NRO’s pieces on global warming.
Steyn, who has been a free speech target in the past, had an answer:
It is a matter of some regret to me that my own editor at this publication does not regard this sort of thing as creepy and repellent rather than part of the vibrant tapestry of what he calls an “awakening to a greater civility”. I’m not inclined to euphemize intimidation and bullying as a lively exchange of ideas – “the use of speech to criticize other speech”, as Mr Steorts absurdly dignifies it. So do excuse me if I skip to the men’s room during his patronizing disquisition on the distinction between “state coercion” and “cultural coercion”. I’m well aware of that, thank you. In the early days of my free-speech battles in Canada, my friend Ezra Levant used a particular word to me: “de-normalize”. Our enemies didn’t particularly care whether they won in court. Whatever the verdict, they’d succeed in “de-normalizing” us — that’s to say, putting us beyond the pale of polite society and mainstream culture. “De-normalizing” is the business GLAAD and the other enforcers are in. You’ll recall Paula Deen’s accuser eventually lost in court — but the verdict came too late for Ms Deen’s book deal, and TV show, and endorsement contracts.
One of the lessons of the Cracker Barrel / Duck Dynasty example is to know your customer base.
— Peter Ingemi (@DaTechGuyblog) December 22, 2013
NRO has a customer and a donor base too, apparently that was lost on Jason who doubled down:
The point is basic courtesy, Mark. It’s that you could mount your opposing argument without insulting people. Sure, you have the right to insult people, but I can’t sympathize much with someone who exercises that right just to prove it exists, which seems to have been part of your rhetorical strategy. What I would like to de-normalize is boorishness, whatever its content. I would do that by criticizing your manners, not by “indefinitely suspend[ing]” you, which would not be my decision anyway. When people are indefinitely suspended from this or that for being boors, I find it “stifling and unhealthy,” as you may recall that I said. I’ll upgrade that to “creepy and repellent,” if it’ll calm you down. But it’s also part of the rough-and-tumble of free expression, which protects equally the right of people to be boors, and the right of people to call for suspensions, and the right of organizations to capitulate, and the right of you and me to criticize them for it, with or without courtesy.
Now as an editor Jason Steorts might not be concerned with the vulgar need to satisfy the customers who actually supply the funds in the check he cashes but Jack Fowler, the publisher of National Review does. Last night at 8:32 PM with the comments sections exploding online he jumped in
I believe Mark Steyn’s new column is a triumph, and wrote him on Friday to say that. The ensuing critical take on it by my colleague, Jason Steorts, left my head shaking.
and wasted no time in bringing up the Global Warming suit and NRO’s fundraising to defend it
This, to me, gets to Jason’s cultural/state construct. So we at NR engage on the “cultural” field, but when we have said something that is intolerable to the Intolligencia, we end up on the state field (judicial subdivision). NR knows we are in the right, and believes that we will prove victorious in court, but not until after the expenditure of millions of dollars, which would have been much better used to advance our mission of standing athwart History, yelling stop. Freedom isn’t free, my friends, and the First Amendment is under assault, on cultural and state fronts — which is why we have no qualms asking you to help support us financially in our legal fight.
Can you say Cause & Effect?
That was Jack Fowler public rebuke of his editor. I would loved to see the e-mail or heard the phone call that Mr. Steorts got. I suspect it sounded something like this:
YOU IDIOT! who do you think pays the bills around here? Do you think GLAAD is going to send us a check because you hit Steyn on this?
I don’t know how old Mr. Steorts is but he doesn’t seem to realize how fast all this has happened. At the start of the century if you told me that by 2014 we would go from fringe groups arguing to allow & accept Gay Marriage to people being attacked and called bigots for quoting scripture & MSNBC’s “don’t knock it till you try it” attitude on Anal sex, I’d have told you that’s only slightly less likely than the Red Sox winning 3 World series in that same time period.
I would ask Mr. Steorts if we are going to submit to the censorship of culture and avoid offense are we going to censor this Monty Python sketch:
or this one
or this one
or perhaps this one
I could go on but the fight for conservatism has always been a fight in the culture, something the GOP establishment hasn’t figured out. Humor & insult is a vital arrow for our bow and I’m not about to allow anyone to make us quiver it.
But I’ll make a deal with Mr. Steorts, I’ll reconsider my position six months after the Catholic Church is once again allowed to handle adoptions in the state of Massachusetts.
Maybe by then the Red Sox will have won 3 more world series, the Cubs will win one and the Dodgers will have moved back to Brooklyn.
Update: If NRO is Cracker Barrel is PJ Media Glenn Beck?
if NRO finds Steyn’s truthfulness unpalatable, I’m pretty sure we could find a place for him at PJ Media.
I’d turn my magnificent seven into an exciting eight to get Steyn.
Update 2: Ouch
As one of my RedState colleagues said, their masthead should read:
Standing Athwart History, Yelling Okay Go Right Ahead (We Don’t Want to Offend Anyone)
and Ouch again:
…Jonah Goldberg notwithstanding. I certainly don’t see myself reading for Jason Lee Steorts’ more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger tut-tutting.
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