Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) is joking in a video for Stephen Colbert’s Late Show. But it’s one of those chimerical jokes that’s meant to be taken somewhat seriously.
She’s riffing on common stereotypical humor about women ignoring men’s unsolicited advice, but the very first issue she declares men should “just shut the hell up” about is abortion.
That’s standard liberal dogma on the subject – it’s practically pro-choice scripture that only the pregnant woman has anything to say about aborting a pregnancy. For power feminists, abortion is the supreme sacrament of sexual liberty, an act of defiance against the patriarchy. McCaskill isn’t leading off with that example because she wants to lampoon women who think men should have no say in the matter.
She wraps up her little list of things men shouldn’t talk about with “ethics in gaming journalism,” a slap at GamerGate.
Many of our big news stories today revolve around people asserting the power and moral authority to tell others to shut up. There’s a new story about outrage mobs attempting to punish speech they dislike with shame, professional destruction, and/or threats of violence every week. Free expression is viewed largely through political power calculations now – certain people simply are not allowed to say certain things. Outrage is a function of identity.
Hyper-sensitivity is another dismaying theme running through our public discourse. Taking offense is an expression of power. Some groups are supposed to sit quietly for unlimited mockery and insults, and are immediately savaged for having thin skins if they raise the slightest objection. Others are beyond even the mildest humor, and claim the power to divine the hidden racist, sexist, or homophobic thoughts behind everything from poorly-chosen words to satire.
If this bit from McCaskill is taken as mockery of the shut-up culture, it’s funny and timely. The question is just how much of that culture she’s prepared to mock.