Monday, June 25, 2018

Fuck Civility. My First Post on the Sarah Huckabee Sanders Controversy.

The Sarah Huckabee Sanders controversy is fuckin hilarious.  Sanders, the spokeswoman of our Dear Leader, the Supreme Shining Commander, the Troll-in-Chief and the Eternal Emperor Donald fuckin Trump, was denied service at a Virginia restaurant on Saturday.

That denial-of-service (heh) appears to have been a protest against Trump's treatment of little children who crossed the US border with their parents or guardians who didn't have proper papers.  Those little children were then separated from their parents or guardians and caged.

Various people inside Washington's power circles clutched their pearls (or, in most cases, their jockstraps) contemplating the rudeness of the restaurant owner who refused to serve Sanders and her companions:

After White House press secretary Sarah Sanders announced that she had been denied service at a Virginia restaurant this past weekend, prominent figures from across the political spectrum expressed their indignation.
David Axelrod, Barack Obama’s former chief strategist, tweeted that he was “amazed and appalled” at fellow liberals cheering the restaurant’s actions. Ari Fleischer, George W. Bush’s former press secretary, warned of “an America with Democrat-only [and] Republican-only restaurants.”
The Washington Post’s editorial board lamented the lack of basic civility in the era of President Donald Trump, seeing dark times ahead.
“Those who are insisting that we are in a special moment justifying incivility should think for a moment how many Americans might find their own special moment,” the Post’s editors wrote. “How hard is it to imagine, for example, people who strongly believe that abortion is murder deciding that judges or other officials who protect abortion rights should not be able to live peaceably with their families?

Bolds are mine.  It's not at all hard to imagine that judges or other officials who protect abortion rights might not be able to live peaceably with their families, because the forced-birth groups already have a long history of not only killing abortion providers but of posting the home addresses of doctors working at abortion clinics online and of protesting outside their homes.

And it's not at all hard to imagine what might happen to uppity and loud women online (otherwise known as whores and cunts) or, especially, African-American uppity and loud women on line (1) or almost anyone who writes on politics in ways which do not please the party line of some aggressive online faction.  Because that has been happening for many years now.

Indeed, there is no special current moment  now which suddenly makes incivility a problem.

The problem, for those observers, is that the wrong people are now being uncouth, rude and incivil: 

1.  Republicans are always allowed to be incivil.  They just define it as political incorrectness.  This is supposed to turn rudeness and hate speech into a fight for the freedom to speak the truth (as they see it).  But Democrats are never allowed to be uncouth.  Indeed, the media role of Democratic guests on various programs is to serve as the punching bags for Republican ire.  

2.  Most of the manosphere is EXTREMELY incivil, and we pretend not to notice that.  The rudeness, obscenities and hate speech are just defined as fighting for the men's First Amendments rights; the right to be threatening and bullying and so on, for any alternative is seen as the suppression of their voices, the voices which must not be silenced, even if they spew nothing but filth.

Threats of various types of sexual violence are a fairly common experience of women (even right-wing women) who have ventured into the public sphere.  It's worse if a woman express feminist views, but almost any views suffice for those who are outraged at the very fact that some woman dares to speak or write (2).

And  though many observers admit that women, as a group, face both more and very specific gendered insults in online social media, the usual response by the comity folks has been just a lot of anguished hand-wringing.

3.  Our Supreme Leader, the Glorious Son of the Orange Sun is the rudest and most incivil of all people in American politics.  He gets away with it, just as he gets away with everything else.  He is the President of Impunity.  Nothing sticks to him.  Not his fraudulent business practices, not his charity debacle, not the Trump University debacle, not his open racism, not his open sexism, not his ridicule of the handicapped, not his adoration of psychopathic dictators who wantonly kill their own people, not his lack of any skills or experience for the job he has.  Nothing sticks to him, because what the Trump brand is is exactly that:

The right to act like an asshole.(3)

But though Trump, alone in the US,  is allowed to act with complete impunity, his acts do have very serious consequences:

He is slowly destroying the political and diplomatic customs which make political debates different from open warfare, and he is succeeding.

Those age-old customs only work if almost everyone follows them.  Once one of the most powerful leaders in the world bares his bottom at the ex-allies of his country and farts in their direction, the others are no longer going to worry about saying or doing the polite thing (4).  Once one of the most powerful leaders in the world thinks that international diplomacy is for the wimps and weaklings and women, well, other countries will start stocking up their nuclear arsenals, too.

4.  Finally, consider what type of rudeness or incivility matters in this controversy:  A wealthy political operative is denied some parts of her dinner in a restaurant.  That's probably an unpleasant and humiliating experience and in the ideal world she wouldn't have had to have it.

But think about the experience of another woman who was also recently denied service at her pharmacy.  She walked out of the store in tears:

An Arizona woman has criticized Walgreens on social media, saying a pharmacist at the chain refused to fill her prescription for a medicine prescribed to induce miscarriage after she was told her 9-week-old fetus had stopped developing.
Walgreens says it allows pharmacists to step away from filling a prescription "for which they have a moral objection," but that they are required to "refer the prescription to another pharmacist or manager on duty to meet the patient's needs in a timely manner." The woman, Nicole Mone Arteaga, said she was later able to pick up her prescription from another Walgreens store.
Arizona allows pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions if doing so goes against their "sincerely held religious beliefs."

What if the Virginia restaurant owner's decision to ask Huckabee Sanders and her group leave was based on equally sincerely held religious beliefs?

What if she thought that the Trump administration is slowly beginning to resemble the Third Reich in its behavior?  What if she thought that all good people should resist and try to stop such developments when there is still time, lest the future generations judge us as having contributed to real evil?   What if she thought that providing succor to those who are agreeing with the evil is a grievous sin? (5)

Why does it feel as if the inconvenience and humiliation experienced by Sanders is rated much higher than the inconvenience and humiliation  experienced by those women who have tried to get a birth control prescription filled and have been refused service?  Why does it feel as if the rights of some sellers to refuse service are rated much higher than the rights of other sellers?


(1)  Today's Trump tweet on this topic:

 Try to keep in your mind the fact that this is supposed to be the president of all Americans.  Sticking knitting needles in your eyeballs helps a little.

(2)  Mary Beard has written about the history of suppressing women's voices in the public sphere and about how that history is continuing in the online world.

(3).   Stephen Ducat proposes that Trump's pathology and the impunity of that pathology indeed is the brand he is selling.

Lots of people are buying it, admiring his rudeness and envying his impunity, though we must always remember that the tribal nature of American politics would make many vote for the candidate of their party even if that candidate was a ham sandwich past its last date of sale.  Or even something far worse as we now know.

(4)  I strongly suspect that Trump will lose his impunity edge when everyone and their great-aunt Sigrid will act as equally big assholes in politics.  People like Macron or Trudeau can probably do assholery a lot better, because they are far smarter than Trump.

(5)  That paragraph consists of my musings and is not intended to represent anything about what the owner of the Red Hen restaurant actually thought or what that person's religion might be.  The reason for my musings is this:

The pharmacists' conscience clause is always based on the argument that the sincerely held religious beliefs of some people interpret abortion or even the use of the contraceptive pill as murder.  Those beliefs are assumed to be based on the Bible.  But the Bible contains nothing on abortion, nothing at all.

On the other hand, this is from the Bible, and could be directly related to Trump's border policies:

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’