Creative Destruction

February 13, 2007

Amanda Quits

Filed under: Blogosphere,Election 2008 — Robert @ 2:33 pm

Amanda has called it quits, resigning from the Edwards campaign. Pandagon is semi-down at the moment; apparently she is getting a lot of traffic. (So there’s that silver lining for her.) Predictably, she’s getting a lot of hate mail; some of it is really vile stuff, and those people ought to be ashamed of themselves.

Interestingly, there’s no story about her decision at the Edwards site. (Her resignation is mentioned in the comments on a post about the kerfuffle.) My operating theory had been that Edwards fired her after she again went off on a theological tangent, but permitted her to spin it as a resignation to avoid more embarassment. But if that were the case, I would have expected a short formal post of the “we regret that…” variety; instead there’s nothing, which tells me that he’s pissed off and just wants it all to go away. So that would seem to indicate she did this on her own. But who knows; I’m sure we’ll see some interesting posts on the topic from Amanda in the near future.

It is amusing to me to see the endless blaming rhetoric that Pandagonians are deploying. From what I’ve gathered, there were four basic elements on the criticism of Marcotte’s work:

1) She dishonestly revised posts and tried to hide her views.

2) She said accusatory things about the Duke lacrosse players.

3) Her writing is foul-mouthed and vulgar.

4) Her writing is anti-Christian.

Point #1 appears to me to have been grossly overblown; I know that some of my co-bloggers here disagree, but I don’t see the big deal. Yeah, she should have handled it differently; there is a standard strikeout-and-retain practice that ethical bloggers have done for a long time now. Was anybody under the impression that Pandagon was presenting itself as a paragon of ethical blogging? Point #2 seems similarly transitory. Perhaps it has more resonance in North Carolina itself, but out here in flyover country there are a lot of opinions about criminal cases. It’s not Amanda’s job to maintain the presumption of innocence, any more than it’s my job to honor the results of a particular trial. OJ was guilty as hell, and I don’t care who knows I think it. Amanda thinks the Duke boys are guilty as hell; that’s her privilege.

From what I can see of the large-scale criticism of Amanda, points 1 and 2 don’t seem to be highly operative. William Donohue didn’t appear to care about Amanda’s views on Duke, or about whether or not she crossed her i’s and dotted her t’s when she waffled on a previous statement.

Point #3 seems obviously true; Amanda writes in a vulgar fashion. It’s not a crime, but it is a fact.

Point #4 seems obviously true, with a proviso that there’s a healthy debate to be had about what is, or isn’t, anti-Christian or anti-Catholic.

So what do Amanda’s defenders say about these points? Basically, “nuh unh!” and “Donohue sucks”. What is most interesting to me about her defenders on point #4 is that they all take an intentionalist viewpoint: your offense is invalid because that’s not what I really meant, and what I really meant is the issue, not your perception of my words. Which is fine – I’m an intentionalist myself, more or less, and I do think that it’s the intention that should control whether something is actually offensive, not the emotional reaction of the populace at large. I also think that Amanda’s intention was, in fact, anti-Christian/anti-Catholic, and that her that’s-not-what-I-meant defense is a crock. As she is fond of saying, “own your shit”. But it is very enjoyable to see lefties jumping on the intentionalist bandwagon when it suits the needs of the moment.

So where do I come down on all this? (Because I know you’re waiting with bated breath.)

As a blogger, there’s nothing at all wrong with Amanda. She’s entitled to her views, she’s entitled to her personal vision of Christianity as a uterus-devouring patriarchal rape machine, she’s entitled to write and speak like a sailor released from a ten-year vow of silence.

As a media staffer for a campaign, she’s utterly unsuited. Her rhetorical gifts lie in the area of polemic and rabble-rousing, not suave repackagings of progressive policy prescriptions. Her opinions are far out of the mainstream, and grossly offensive on their face to a vast swathe of the electorate, and – more critically – to a big chunk of voters that John Edwards really needs. It’s arguable that she should have known ahead of time that a presidential campaign would be a nightmare scenario for someone with her characteristics; I wouldn’t argue that, however, because she is young, inexperienced, and not particularly politically astute. The person who hired her, however, had better not have those characteristics – and they should have known better.

Although she is undoubtedly angry about what has happened, I suspect that things will work out OK for her. Her blog traffic is going to be through the roof, and a lot of those people are going to be Pandagon-style lefties who hadn’t heard about her before – some of the traffic will stick around. Unfortunately, I suspect that Amanda had craved some serious legitimacy – some official participation in the process. Nothing else would explain the way she rolled over for Edwards when her writing first became an issue. That legitimacy is never going to come, not without a revision to Amanda’s entire way of thinking that while possible, is hardly to be expected. I’ll go out on a limb and predict that Pandagon will become a more bitter and angry place, and Amanda a more bitter and angry feminist blogger.

I’ll also predict that the next time a presidential campaign hires a high-profile blogger in a media role, it will be someone a lot more moderate and a lot more tempered in their language and viewpoint. That one is not so much out on a limb.😉

(Updated to fix some line break issues – $!@%@#^ WordPress – and to make my first sentence more clear that Amanda has quit the Edwards campaign.)

37 Comments »

  1. I agree that #1 and #2 were side shows, and that #3 is true and really isn’t appropriate for the blogger for a campaign.

    I am particularly struck by instances where a negative statement about Christianity in general is somehow made to be “anti-Catholic” which is a bit like calling atheists “anti-Jewish”. While the former certainly isn’t on the same wave length of those claiming to be criticized, the resonance of the criticism is very different.

    Lots of people rag on Catholics and Jews in particulal. Few do it because Catholics and Jews, like many other people, are theists.

    Comment by ohwilleke — February 13, 2007 @ 4:01 pm | Reply

  2. Shakespeare’s Sister has resigned from the Edwards campaign as well, partly because of not wanting to be a stone around Edward’s neck, and partly because of the foul and threatening email she’s been receiving.

    Comment by Ampersand — February 13, 2007 @ 8:26 pm | Reply

  3. It is unfortunate that due to Marcotte’s egregious statements McEwan felt the need to resign as well. However, since the initial issue stemmed from foul statements one can hardly use that as a legitimate reason to resign. It is a like Eminem complaining about Triumph the Insult Comic Dog having a go at him, no?

    Comment by toysoldier — February 14, 2007 @ 12:34 am | Reply

  4. Ohwilleke, I think it’s perceived as anti-Catholic because among American Christians, reverence for the Virgin Mary is mostly, though by no means exclusively, associated with Catholicism.

    Thanks for the update, Amp. Hate mail sucks.

    Comment by Robert — February 14, 2007 @ 12:31 pm | Reply

  5. It is unfortunate that due to Marcotte’s egregious statements McEwan felt the need to resign as well

    That wasn’t why she resigned. She resigned because she was getting threats and hate mail.

    Comment by Dianne — February 14, 2007 @ 1:42 pm | Reply

  6. She wasn’t getting threats and hate mail before? I don’t believe it.

    I’m not being fresh. If you’re online and you have an abrasive style, you’re going to get some mail. The more people see you, the more mail you’ll get.

    She wasn’t nearly as abrasive as Marcotte, but I suspect “christofascist” is enough to win you a few nastygrams.

    Comment by S. Weasel — February 14, 2007 @ 6:14 pm | Reply

  7. I think it’s sad. I never wanted either of them to resign. I have no beef with McEwan at all (If I read her site, I’d probably find much to disagree with, but I don’t go looking for disagreements.) My beef with Marcotte is solely about #1. Like her, I’m an atheist. I don’t think anyone has a God-given right not to be offended or have their religion mocked. So if someone wants to blog about God’s jism, then Christians should suck it up, same as everyone else has to. It’s not as though Christians never offend others.

    I don’t agree that #1 was a side issue. It was clearly a non-issue, which is another indication (on top of the fact that two feminist bloggers were hired in the first place) that feminists have traction in Government, while Men’s Rights issues have none.

    Comment by Daran — February 14, 2007 @ 9:56 pm | Reply

  8. I don’t think anyone has a God-given right not to be offended or have their religion mocked. So if someone wants to blog about God’s jism, then Christians should suck it up, same as everyone else has to. It’s not as though Christians never offend others.

    Why should we “suck it up?” I mean, the issue isn’t that she wrote bad stuff on her blog. No one is suggesting (as far as I know) that the company hosting her blog ought to be taken down. If someone were suggesting that, then I would indeed say that folks who were trying to get her blog taken down should “suck it up” instead.

    What the issue is is that she wrote this stuff on her blog and is working for someone who is running for president. If he wanted to keep her on, fine, but Christians have every right to denounce her as bigoted and to announce that they will not vote for Edwards if he keeps her on his campaign. In this case to “suck it up” would mean for Christians to pretend that Marcotte’s obvious hatred of their religion doesn’t exist and not let it affect their votes.

    I wonder how people would have reacted if she had gone after one of the left-wing’s semi-sacred icons. Instead of talking about “God’s jism,” if she had made fun of Martin Luther King Jr. for his sexual proclivities (or for that matter derided him as a “socialist demagogue”, as a columnist once did (I’m not revealing his/her name because he/she haqs revised the statement to be less inflammatory), would they still be defending a candidate’s decision to keep her on his campaign? Or if she had said that the gay community brought AIDS upon itself? Would they be defending that?

    Comment by Glaivester — February 14, 2007 @ 11:33 pm | Reply

  9. If anyone did those things publicly, they’d be out on their ass faster than you can say “protest”.

    Goes to the old “It represents something we are against, so we can slam it all we want” philosophy of the political extremist. Regardless of whether they are extremely on the right or left (Bill Donohue, Deb Frisch), they still possess the same attack-dog mentality.

    Comment by Off Colfax — February 15, 2007 @ 12:42 am | Reply

  10. That legitimacy is never going to come, not without a revision to Amanda’s entire way of thinking that while possible, is hardly to be expected …

    i get to differ that she needs to change her entire way of thinking. much of christian religious doctrine is highly sexist if not outright hateful towards women. much of the religious right’s political motivation has to do with an extreme discomfort with changes in gender roles over the last few decades, largely due to the advent of widely available contraception. amanda could easily gain mainstream legitimacy with a change in language and rhetoric. there are other feminists who work on political campaigns after all.

    Comment by emily1 — February 15, 2007 @ 10:09 am | Reply

  11. I suspect “christofascist” is enough to win you a few nastygrams.

    I see your point: some of these “Christian” types are pretty nasty and don’t mind using intimidation and violence to get their way. “Christian” is in quotes because I don’t think that this is how a true follower of Jesus the Christ, who said “love your enemies” and “turn the other cheek” would behave and strongly suspect that if the second coming occured the first thing Jesus would do is kick these folks out of the temple.

    Comment by Dianne — February 15, 2007 @ 12:15 pm | Reply

  12. Instead of talking about “God’s jism,” if she had made fun of Martin Luther King Jr…

    Hey, that’s Dr. King to you. The man’s entitled to the fruit of his plagiarism.

    Or if she had said that the gay community brought AIDS upon itself? Would they be defending that?

    I don’t think the gay community should suck it up, because that’s probably how they got AIDS in the first place.

    Comment by Daran — February 15, 2007 @ 1:00 pm | Reply

  13. that’s probably how they got AIDS in the first place

    At risk of derailing the thread and getting even more tasteless, I’d like to point out that actually oral sex is relatively low risk. HIV doesn’t survive the acid environment of the stomach very well and so the main risk is if one has open sores in the mouth. If anyone wanted to know…

    Comment by Dianne — February 15, 2007 @ 2:07 pm | Reply

  14. Glaiv: I’d have a problem with someone making a claim about MLK (or George W Bush, for that matter) that they couldn’t support. So, if Marcotte had posted a well researched and well referenced post demonstrating that King had odd sexual tastes, I wouldn’t mind, but if she simply threw up an accusation I’d think that she was foolishly risking a slander suit. And “the gay community brought AIDS on itself” is a silly statement because blaming someone for acting in a way that risks a disease that no one knows about is just dumb. A person who, in the early 21st century, has casual sex without a condom is certainly taking a foolish risk, but someone in the late 1970s having sex for which birth control was obviously unnecessary? Not acting badly. So I’d mainly have problems with the statement because it’s factually inaccurate. Which may simply mean that my fetish is for accuracy rather than any particular belief but that I’m just as likely to be upset by someone transgressing it as the people I’m decrying, of course.

    On the other hand, if she posted any good jokes at the expense of my religion (atheism), I’d be downright grateful because the ones I know currently are lame and I think it quite unfair that the Catholics get all the good jokes.

    Comment by Dianne — February 15, 2007 @ 2:15 pm | Reply

  15. A person who, in the early 21st century, has casual sex without a condom is certainly taking a foolish risk, but someone in the late 1970s having sex for which birth control was obviously unnecessary?

    I don’t think that having anal sex with multiple partners has ever been “safe.” AIDS isn’t the only venereal disease there is – besides, if And the Band Played On is to be believed, there was a lot of resistance to shutting down or regulating the bathhouses even when it became clear that they were an AIDS breeding ground.

    And this ignores the attempts that were made to inaccurately portray AIDS as an “equal opportunity killer” and to blame everyone else (e.g. Ronald Reagan) for the AIDS epidemic.

    In any case, I don’t think that it can be accurately denied that in the early 80s AIDS was spread through behavior that was rather shortsighted (unprotected anal sex with multiple partners). The question is whether or not one wants to portray this as a sad miscalculation on the part of the gay community or as the “just desserts” of people for wanton behavior. Put another way, the real issue I am pointing out is that the issue is not the accuracy of the facts, but the way one wishes to frame them, that is, whether or not you wish to demonize the people whom you are criticizing.

    As for Martin Luther King Jr., the issue of his sex life is more or less whether or not it should be used to define him. I do not think that it is controversial to state that he had extramarital affairs, but if you decide to bring the topic up, then whether you wish to portray them as a flaw in an otherwise great man or as a sign of a rotten moral character (or, I suppose as something unobjectionable, if marital monogamy is not of great importance to you) is important in terms of how people interpret you.

    As for the “socialist demoagogue” bit, whether this is true or not largely depends on your worldview. If you view the free market as extremely important, and the right to private property as one of the most important human rights, then this is a perfectly reasonable way to interpret him. If you believe that what he fought for were simply basic human rights that supercede the market, then this interpretation would seem outrageous.

    The problem with Amanda is not simply that she disagreed with Christians, but that she obviously hates Christianity with a passion and obviously does not respect Christians.

    I see your point: some of these “Christian” types are pretty nasty and don’t mind using intimidation and violence to get their way. “Christian” is in quotes because I don’t think that this is how a true follower of Jesus the Christ, who said “love your enemies” and “turn the other cheek” would behave and strongly suspect that if the second coming occured the first thing Jesus would do is kick these folks out of the temple.

    Perhaps, but Christ’s message was not merely one of secular “love and brotherhood.” He also clearly taught that God judged sin, and that faith in Him was the only way to God. “Christians” who basically deny anything iraculous about Christ and just look at him as a teacher and philosopher are not really Christians, and Jesus would most certainly not recognize these people as his own.

    When Amanda attacks doctrines such as the virgin birth, she is not just attacking the “extremists,” she is attacking the beliefs of anyone who is truly a Christian.

    Comment by Glaivester — February 15, 2007 @ 10:38 pm | Reply

  16. When Amanda attacks doctrines such as the virgin birth, she is not just attacking the “extremists,” she is attacking the beliefs of anyone who is truly a Christian.

    I don’t know what makes someone “truly a Christian.” But clearly, when Amanda attacks doctrines such as the virgin birth, she’s attacking an idea held by anyone who believes in the virgin birth.

    So what?

    I don’t understand why an idea is supposed to be beyond criticism or attack, just because it’s a religious belief. Nor do I think anti-Christian bigotry is the only reasonable explanation for why someone might not agree with the idea of the virgin birth.

    Comment by Ampersand — February 16, 2007 @ 7:29 am | Reply

  17. I don’t understand why an idea is supposed to be beyond criticism or attack, just because it’s a religious belief.

    Criticism is fine so long as it is not malicious in nature. Attacks is not because they rise purely from contempt and hatred. Marcotte’s comments seem to stem from a place of real contempt for Christians and their faith. She clearly thinks less of them in fashion that if applied to any other group one would label it bigoted. Anti-Christian comments should be by default acceptable just because some people agree with them.

    Comment by toysoldier — February 16, 2007 @ 3:33 pm | Reply

  18. Criticism is fine so long as it is not malicious in nature.

    You’re shifting your argument. In comment 15, you strongly implied that to attack a doctrine like the virgin birth is morally wrong in some way. Now you seem to be saying that malice is the issue, but attacking the doctrine might be okay. Which is it?

    Glaivester’s comment 15 seems to object to attacking Christine doctrine at all; he made no “only wrong if it’s malicious” qualification.

    Marcotte’s comments seem to stem from a place of real contempt for Christians and their faith.

    I disagree. Amanda has contempt for right-wing Christian beliefs, but when read in context that’s the only sort of Christianity that is ever a target for her anger. I have never once seen her express contempt for any other sort of Christian. Nor does she treat non-right-wing Christians in a hateful way. Furthermore, she frequently expresses (or implies with tone) contempt for right-wingers in general (or at least, for their beliefs), suggesting that it’s mainly right-wingers she can’t stand.

    There’s a difference between someone who hates Jews in general, and someone who has contempt for Zionists in particular. The anti-Zionist might be extreme and rude in what she says, but it’s unfair to assume she’s an antisemite — especially if she also treats Zionist beliefs coming from non-Jews with contempt.

    Right-wing Christians use their faith as a cudgel to attack political beliefs they don’t agree with, and to try and impose their superstitions (gays are bad! abortion must be banned! etc) on the rest of us. It’s not Amanda who has politicized right-wing Christianity; it’s Jerry Falwell and James Dobson and that entire crowd who has done so. But by doing so, they made right-wing Christianity a fair target for political contempt, just like any other set of political beliefs.

    We wouldn’t call someone who has contempt for communism a bigot. And we shouldn’t call someone who has contempt for politicized, conservative Christianity a bigot either. Because these are both political belief systems, and attacking people for their political beliefs is not bigotry.

    [I initially mixed up Glaive and TS, leading me to make an irrelevant argument; I’ve edited the post to cross that argument out, and add in a relevant response instead. –Amp]

    Comment by Ampersand — February 16, 2007 @ 4:01 pm | Reply

  19. Also, keep in mind that Melissa McEwan was treated the same as Amanda by the Catholic League, and like Amanda she was harassed into resigning. What has she ever said that justifies the claim that she’s an anti-Christian bigot?

    Comment by Ampersand — February 16, 2007 @ 4:11 pm | Reply

  20. Ampersand wrote:

    I don’t understand why an idea is supposed to be beyond criticism or attack, just because it’s a religious belief. (Emphasis mine)

    That’s the ticket. If you don’t have any legimate counter-arguments, why not pretend that your opponent is demanding censorship.
    This was not clear enough for you?

    Glaivester:

    Why should we “suck it up?” I mean, the issue isn’t that she wrote bad stuff on her blog. No one is suggesting (as far as I know) that the company hosting her blog ought to be taken down. If someone were suggesting that, then I would indeed say that folks who were trying to get her blog taken down should “suck it up” instead.

    Well, let’s have some good faith and say that you jumped on this discussion without really looking what is argued. In any case, your comment does not even remotely answer to the question: Why should Christians “suck it up”?
    What’s wrong with using your free speech to criticize criticism?

    Actually, I guess I know the potential answer, since it appears often enough:

    “All critical comments about Amanda are just the same as attempts to silence her with anonymous death-threats.”

    While I personally think that it is the best possible way to claim the moral high ground in this case, blurring the lines between acceptable criticism and vile hate mail is not good enough if one is supposed to have a rational discussion in good faith.

    She doesn’t believe in virgin birth? So what indeed.
    “Not agreeing” with that doctrine is hardly the reason why the infamous quote is such a knee-slapper among “progressives”, while being particularly offensive to Christians.

    Here’s the problem: the “idea of virgin birth” can not be filled with hot, white, sticky… you know.

    Comment by Marcus — February 16, 2007 @ 4:46 pm | Reply

  21. That’s the ticket. If you don’t have any legimate counter-arguments, why not pretend that your opponent is demanding censorship.

    Of course, I never said or implied any such thing.

    Actually, I guess I know the potential answer, since it appears often enough:

    “All critical comments about Amanda are just the same as attempts to silence her with anonymous death-threats.”

    Again, I never said that, and I never implied that.

    Is there something wrong with your monitor? You seem to have trouble reading the words I’m writing.

    Comment by Ampersand — February 16, 2007 @ 4:50 pm | Reply

  22. Glaivester’s comment 15 seems to object to attacking Christine doctrine at all; he made no “only wrong if it’s malicious” qualification.

    An attack is never going to go over well no matter how one attempts to justify it. This is particularly true with views held as fundamental. Deeply held beliefs become part of the person and often attacking those is seen as a direct attack on the person. However, I think there is a difference between criticizing idea versus attacking an idea. One can criticize politely, but how would one nicely beat the daylights out of someone?

    I disagree. Amanda has contempt for right-wing Christian beliefs, but when read in context that’s the only sort of Christianity that is ever a target for her anger. I have never once seen her express contempt for any other sort of Christian.

    I agree that by politicizing their faith the Christian right offered themselves up for criticism. The problem is that Marcotte does not attack just their right-wing positions, but elements of their faith, much of which is shared among various groups of Christians. For instance, many Christians revere the Virgin Mary. Attacking her and the idea of the Holy Conception goes further than just attacking a political position. Even in context, attacking a person’s faith will offend others who share those beliefs, even if they disagree politically.

    We wouldn’t call someone who has contempt for communism a bigot.

    Well, that stems from most people holding communism as contemptuous. However, if it were another -ism–Civil Rights Activism, Gay Rights Activism, Feminism, Liberalism–then many would call that person a bigot as quickly as they could draw breath. If that is acceptable then the same label should be applied to those who attack the religious.

    Since I have not read McEwan’s blog, I cannot comment on whether she earned the anti-Christian label.

    Comment by toysoldier — February 16, 2007 @ 5:36 pm | Reply

  23. Ampersand

    1) Those were not your words I quoted? Let’s copy & paste them again:

    I don’t understand why an idea is supposed to be beyond criticism or attack, just because it’s a religious belief.

    No one demanded that. Why claim so instead of aswering to the actual things Glaivester wrote?

    2) That was not just about what “you” said, that’s why it didn’t say so. Do you want to seriously claim that nobody has claimed that all criticism of Amanda is “manufactured by right-wing attack machine” or words to that effect?

    Anyway, feel free to offer your opinion if that’s not what you think.
    So far you haven’t admitted that any criticism is legimate, there is simply no distinction at all between reasonable criticism and non-reasonable “attacks” on Amanda in your comments.
    That does imply something, doesn’t it?

    Comment by Marcus — February 16, 2007 @ 5:38 pm | Reply

  24. Here’s the problem: the “idea of virgin birth” can not be filled with hot, white, sticky… you know.

    Turkey baster.

    Comment by Dianne — February 16, 2007 @ 6:52 pm | Reply

  25. However, I think there is a difference between criticizing idea versus attacking an idea. One can criticize politely, but how would one nicely beat the daylights out of someone?

    Okay, if Glaiv meant to refer to Amanda beating the daylights out of Christians, then I agree with him; Amanda shouldn’t do that. But in context, I think “attack” meant “harshly criticize with words.” That’s certainly a common use of the word “attack” in English; for example, on my college debate team, we often spoke of “attacking” arguments.

    I agree that by politicizing their faith the Christian right offered themselves up for criticism.

    Hey, we agree on something! There’s skate rinks in Hell today, I can tell you.

    The problem is that Marcotte does not attack just their right-wing positions, but elements of their faith, much of which is shared among various groups of Christians.

    So we’re now talking about a single, isolated quote, from a two-part post attacking the Christian right’s opposition to birth control? That seems like pretty thin gruel to me.

    In any case, elements of the Christian faith are also fair game for criticism and for mocking. The Christian faith is not private; it’s a public actor, that shouts out its beliefs on TV, on streetcorners, and on the bus (“could we talk to you about our church?”).

    Even in context, attacking a person’s faith will offend others who share those beliefs, even if they disagree politically.

    I’m not saying people are wrong to be offended. I don’t have a problem with people being offended.

    I’m just saying that “making fun of the story of Jesus’ conception” is legitimate in a way that (for example) “Asians are inferior human beings” is not legitimate. Pretending that the two things are equivalent is unfair; Christian theology is a set of ideas that should be open to criticism and mockery (like all other ideas that are advocated for in the public sphere). Hating people for their race, in contrast, is bigotry. They’re not the same thing.

    Since I have not read McEwan’s blog, I cannot comment on whether she earned the anti-Christian label.

    Sure you can! Just go to the Catholic League’s press release and read their charges against McEwan. Unless you suspect that the Catholic League’s press release has left out the worse things McEwan said — and why would they do that? — it’s reasonable to think that if she “earned the anti-Christian label,” she did so somewhere in something the Catholic League quoted.

    I’ll save you the click-through. Here’s what the Catholic League said about Melissa:

    “On November 21, 2006, Melissa McEwan said on AlterNet that ‘some of Christianity’s most prominent leaders—including the Pope—regularly speak out against gay tolerance.’ On November 1, 2006, on her blogspot Shakespeare’s Sister, she referred to President Bush’s ‘wingnut Christofascist base’ when lashing out against religious conservatives. On February 21, 2006, she attacked religious conservatives again, this time saying, ‘What don’t you lousy motherf—ers understand about keeping your noses out of our britches, our beds, and our families?’ Currently, the very first entry under ‘Greatest Hits’ on her website [where she brags about being appointed to Edwards’ campaign] is titled, ‘On C—s’. In her article she boasts that she is the ‘Queen C— of F–k Mountain.’

    “John Edwards is a decent man who has had his campaign tarnished by two anti-Catholic vulgar trash-talking bigots. He has no choice but to fire them immediately.”

    So, from the evidence the Catholic League presented — which led to so many angry Christians writing Melissa threatening and over-the-top notes that she felt compelled to resign — do you agree that she’s an “anti-Catholic… bigot”?

    Comment by Ampersand — February 16, 2007 @ 7:22 pm | Reply

  26. But in context, I think “attack” meant “harshly criticize with words.” That’s certainly a common use of the word “attack” in English; for example, on my college debate team, we often spoke of “attacking” arguments.

    We are using the same meaning. I should have clarified that I meant verbally, not physically beating someone down. However, I still think there is a major difference between saying having an abortion is murder versus calling a woman who has had one a c***-juggling baby-killer.

    Pretending that the two things are equivalent is unfair; Christian theology is a set of ideas that should be open to criticism and mockery (like all other ideas that are advocated for in the public sphere). Hating people for their race, in contrast, is bigotry. They’re not the same thing.

    Numerous groups of people have been targeted because of their religion. I think the treatment they received rises to the level of bigotry, much of which began with mockery and harsh criticism.

    So, from the evidence the Catholic League presented — which led to so many angry Christians writing Melissa threatening and over-the-top notes that she felt compelled to resign — do you agree that she’s an “anti-Catholic… bigot”?

    Based solely on that, no. However, her comments do suggest anger and animosity towards Catholics, so I can see how many would assume she is anti-Catholic. Another way of putting it is that she does not seem pro-Catholic nor entirely neutral.

    Comment by toysoldier — February 16, 2007 @ 10:40 pm | Reply

  27. Ampersand:

    I am not saying that Christian belief should be beyond criticism. I am just saying that you can’t show utter contempt for a core doctrine of Christianity (and in those who believe in it) and then honestly claim not to be anti-Christian. Nor can someone else honestly claim one who does that not to be anti-Christian.

    Most of the “Christians” or “Catholics” (such as “Catholics for a free choice”) who defend her statements are about as much Christians as I am a Democrat.

    As for what I meant by “why should Christians ‘suck it up?” I did not mean, in case anyone thought this, that it was fine to make death threats and the like. My point was, why should Christians who are offended by what Amanda wrote not publicly announce that if Edwards keep Amanda Marcotte on, they will work as hard as they can to make certain that he doesn’t win the nomination?

    As for Melissa Ewen, I am not commenting about her because I know nothing about her one way or the other. I am by no means saying that I agree with all of the Catholic League’s positions. In fact, I am not even really arguing here about whether or not Amanda Marcotte should have been fired (or should have quit). I am simply arguing that I do not see there being anything illegitimate about Christians demanding that political candidates not hire people to represent them who hold Christianity in contempt (demanding as in threatening to withhold their vote if someone like Amanda is kept on). I don’t think that firing her was a great travesty of justice, nor do I see her as a victim here.

    Comment by Glaivester — February 16, 2007 @ 11:17 pm | Reply

  28. Glaivester and toysoldier:

    I have been a regular reader of McEwan’s blog for a good time now, and I would not say that she was an anti-Catholic bigot, but instead simply anti-religious-right bigot. Take the examples cited by the CL press release above.

    some of Christianity’s most prominent leaders—including the Pope—regularly speak out against gay tolerance.

    Is the Pope a prominent leader of Christianity? Yup. Has Pope Benedict spoken on the subject of “gay tolerance” both before and after his elevation to Papa? Yup. Simple statement of fact. I fail to see the bigotry available in this selection.

    What don’t you lousy motherf—ers understand about keeping your noses out of our britches, our beds, and our families?

    If it wasn’t for the inclusion of one of the Seven Dirty Words in that sentence, it could have been written by just about anyone from the left side of the room, particularly those that has a problem with the emergent Sunday-school-state. Period. There’s no real bigotry involved here, particularly not directed towards the Catholic Church or members thereof. Just a cuss word.

    And the phrase “wingnut Christofascist base” applies to any and all members of the far-right religious activist faith-based organizations. Again, no specific targeting towards Catholics is necessary in order to make the point.

    So yes, I will argue that McEwan, unlike Marcotte, was unfairly targetted as being “anti-Catholic” by the League. She is simply anti-religious-right and any specific attacks the League would have to go on would be guilt-by-association. Vulgar? Inarguably. Trash-talking? Probably. But anti-Catholic? Nope. Only those Catholics that follow the same philosophy as the rest of the religious right.

    The ball is on your side of the net now, guys.

    Comment by Off Colfax — February 17, 2007 @ 8:52 am | Reply

  29. Most of the “Christians” or “Catholics” (such as “Catholics for a free choice”) who defend her statements are about as much Christians as I am a Democrat.

    who are you to say they aren’t christian? uptrhread, you said: “When Amanda attacks doctrines such as the virgin birth, she is not just attacking the “extremists,” she is attacking the beliefs of anyone who is truly a Christian.” one moment, you say that holding a set of theological beliefs is what makes one a christian. that has nothing to do with one’s reaction to what amanda or melissa said.

    Comment by emily1 — February 17, 2007 @ 10:06 am | Reply

  30. in the past, i have been just as hateful towards christianity as amanda has. i’ve been as insulting and vulgar as she has. i grew up in a conservative christian community that gave me a drumbeat of messages about my gender — my gender is one that is responsible for the introduction of sin in the world. my gender is the one that must submit and obey. my gender is the one that is lesser. my destiny is to suffer painful childbirth as payment for eve’s sin.

    that is a hateful doctrine. there’s no way that i can accept christian doctrine as something that is not hateful towards my gender. i don’t care how much christians talk up respect and love for women and yadda yadda yadda. a pedestal is just another prison and one sexual act that isn’t approved is enough to knock me off it.

    it would be one thing if those attitudes towards my gender stayed at home in the private sphere. however, there is an organized right wing base of christians and religious leaders who want to shape the secular law that governs MY life. they argue that i should be subject to an inferior level of services from medical professionals and pharmacists because of their ‘religious freedom’.

    why should i quietly accept gender-based discrimination as a form of ‘religious freedom’? this is where amanda’s animosity comes from. it is a legitimate source of anger. some of the religious leaders she attacks are overtly angry and controlling personalities. however, there is another set that wears a kind and polite face while it argues for curtailment of women’s basic freedoms. by using the language she does, she rips that mask off and shows it for what it is. some of the negative reaction is motivated by the fact that some of her claims just ring a little too true.

    people focus on her rude and nasty language because it detracts attention from the cogent criticisms she levels against the religious right. religious leaders lie to women about birth control in order to control them. they lie about all kinds of things associated with sex in order to scare people, usually women, into obeying. no matter how nice they are when they do it, they are practicing a form of coercion. angry, vulgar language may be rude and insulting, but it is a legitimate reaction to have.

    i personally have chosen to modify my ways because i want my anger to do some good in the world. i don’t want to alienate christians in general because i don’t really have a beef with their religion. i have a beef with the politically motivated faction that wants to force their morality onto my relationship with the public sphere.

    most christians i know somehow manage to overlook the essential sexism in their theology. they do good things, and they’d never expect me to live by their code. i can be their allies on so many issues that we both care about. i don’t want to be hateful or ugly towards them, so i dropped some of the chip on my shoulder. that doesn’t mean i don’t feel what amanda feels sometimes in moments of frustration. it comes out when i feel like the religious right has my back against the wall.

    Comment by emily1 — February 17, 2007 @ 10:25 am | Reply

  31. i grew up in a conservative christian community that gave me a drumbeat of messages about my gender — my gender is one that is responsible for the introduction of sin in the world. my gender is the one that must submit and obey. my gender is the one that is lesser. my destiny is to suffer painful childbirth as payment for eve’s sin.

    that is a hateful doctrine. there’s no way that i can accept christian doctrine as something that is not hateful towards my gender.

    Hey, that’s the drumbeat message feminism gives me about my gender…

    …except the bit about a painful childbirth. I don’t have that. Instead, my destiny is to pay for it for the next eighteen years.

    Comment by Daran — February 17, 2007 @ 12:53 pm | Reply

  32. Daran:

    you spend a lot of time criticizing feminists for not acknowledging the suffering of men. take five seconds and think about _who_ is victimizing the men. the victimization doesn’t happen largely at the hands of women, but of other men. i’m not denying anything about the suffering that men endure in wartime or peacetime. i am aware of the brutality that boys experience at the hands of adults trying to make them into ‘real’ men. i do think you go overboard with claiming that feminism is about attacking men. it is, in my opinion, about attacking patriarchy.

    your comment doesn’t actually respond to anything i said. it’s an attempt to change the subject to something else.

    as for child support and abortion — the mother doesn’t escape the financial responsibility for the child either. she pays for it for the next eighteen years and often is mostly responsible for parenting the child for that time. if she gives birth, no man is forced to experience the pregnancy or the childbirth and the consequent risks and costs.

    if you want to do away with mandatory child support, then public support for those children must be provided. i don’t support wholesale abandonment of children. be careful what you wish for, however. putting the responsibility for financially supporting children on women and the state necessarily diminishes the role of fathers in children’s lives.

    Comment by emily1 — February 17, 2007 @ 1:20 pm | Reply

  33. one moment, you say that holding a set of theological beliefs is what makes one a christian. that has nothing to do with one’s reaction to what amanda or melissa said.

    I am making the assumption that the people who don’t see anything offensive about what Amanda said don’t find her statements offensive because they don’t share these theological beliefs. It is theoretically possible to believe in the virgin birth, the resurrection, etc., and not take offense when people ridicule it, but I somehow seriously question how much of the Christian faith these people really believe.

    Comment by Glaivester — February 17, 2007 @ 1:35 pm | Reply

  34. I am making the assumption that the people who don’t see anything offensive about what Amanda said don’t find her statements offensive because they don’t share these theological beliefs. It is theoretically possible to believe in the virgin birth, the resurrection, etc., and not take offense when people ridicule it, but I somehow seriously question how much of the Christian faith these people really believe.

    maybe they don’t feel threatened by it and are willing to see past the nastiness of her language to the motivation for it. just because they don’t get their hackles up about it doesn’t mean they aren’t christian. they just aren’t you.

    Comment by emily1 — February 17, 2007 @ 1:37 pm | Reply

  35. If it wasn’t for the inclusion of one of the Seven Dirty Words in that sentence, it could have been written by just about anyone from the left side of the room, particularly those that has a problem with the emergent Sunday-school-state. Period. There’s no real bigotry involved here, particularly not directed towards the Catholic Church or members thereof. Just a cuss word.

    It could have been written by me. Again, while I personally would not call her a bigot, I can see how people would construe that (minus the swearing). Keep in mind that many who offer the same criticism of Islam routinely get labeled anti-Muslim or anti-Islam and few on the left ever suggest that those claims of bigotry are unfair. This is the same difference.

    Comment by toysoldier — February 17, 2007 @ 3:45 pm | Reply

  36. Toysoldier, can you link to an example of someone being called an anti-islamic bigot merely for saying “Many islamic leaders have spoken out against gay tolorance” or something that mild? If that has happened, I’d agree that it’s unfair; but I haven’t seen it.

    Numerous groups of people have been targeted because of their religion. I think the treatment they received rises to the level of bigotry, much of which began with mockery and harsh criticism.

    So you’re saying that mockery and harsh criticism are gateway drugs leading to bigotry?😛

    In general, I wonder if you’re making any distinction in this discussion between “offensive mocking” and “bigotry.”

    For instance (to pick on my own team for a mo’), if I drew a satirical porn comic depicting Moses convincing the Pharoah to free the Jews by giving him such an amazing butt-fucking with his magically endowed staff that the Pharoah relents and frees the Jews… I would have no problem at all understanding why many Jews would find that sort of mockery of the Torah offensive. But it’s not necessarily bigoted.

    On the other hand, if someone says s/he would hesitate to vote for a Jew for President (or a Christian, or a Catholic, or a Mormon, etc), that is bigoted. It’s not saying “I think the Torah tells stories that are offensive and should be mocked”; it’s saying “I’ll hold being Jewish against a person and not give her/him a fair shot.”

    Comment by Ampersand — February 17, 2007 @ 10:16 pm | Reply

  37. Toysoldier, can you link to an example of someone being called an anti-islamic bigot merely for saying “Many islamic leaders have spoken out against gay tolorance” or something that mild? If that has happened, I’d agree that it’s unfair; but I haven’t seen it.

    I am unaware of any such statement. I am aware of other commentators being labeled anti-Islamic bigots for making statements akin to those of Marcotte and McEwan about Muslims.

    So you’re saying that mockery and harsh criticism are gateway drugs leading to bigotry?

    Do you have any examples of groups being targeted for discrimination and bigotry who are not routinely mocked and criticized?

    Comment by toysoldier — February 18, 2007 @ 5:30 pm | Reply


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