The Conversation

The symbolism of silence

In response to Imagine If The GOP Did Something That Creepy:

It's all part of "otherization," or what I once imagined as the "Shroud of Contempt."  The goal is to strip the target of their very humanity.  Sarah Palin remains the most remarkable target of the procedure, ruthlessly stripped of motherhood, womanhood, and human dignity within hours of her debut on the national stage.  A limit to how much contempt liberals can get away with showing her may have finally been discovered by Martin Bashir, but even his career wasn't instantly destroyed by talking about defecating on her face.

On the other hand, if Palin had been a Democrat, everyone who went after her on such dehumanizing terms would have been annihilated instantly on contact with her media force field.  The Left understands the danger of allowing its dashboard saints to be "otherized" in even the mildest terms.  They demand a certain level of respect from dissenters - if nothing else, you have to acknowledge the boundless good intentions of even the most catastrophically failed Democrat.  Meanwhile, even the most successful Republican is said to have done effective things for all the wrong reasons.  

Obama's last State of the Union was a perfect example of the forces at play.  No American president has ever been as out-of-touch as Barack Obama was on that night.  Marvin the Martian has described Earth more accurately while complaining that it obstructed his view of Venus, and therefore had to be demolished.  But you won't hear a single voice in the mainstream media - even analysts who were generally critical of the speech - declaring that Obama is "out of touch," because that would otherize him.  It would end him.  He has no political appeal left at all except for his alleged empathy and good intentions (and, of course, the ugly, divisive politics that respectable MSM types would prefer not to ruminate upon.)  

So Boehner and his ilk can be casually treated like background characters in a Quentin Tarantino movie - he's lucky they didn't render him wearing the full Gimp outfit from "Pulp Fiction" - and it's okay, because according to Democrats he's not really human, and deserves not the tiniest bit of respect or credit for good intentions (which is, really, the most elementary expression of respect.)  

Even at that, it's still weird that they would use the visual symbolism of forcibly silencing Boehner to appeal to their followers.  Such symbolism is normally used to complain that you're being silenced by oppressive forces (i.e. the "NoH8" campaign, in which celebrity supporters taped their own mouths shut) not to advocate shutting up your opponents with a bogus political jihad.


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