Andrew Sullivan's Glaring Double Standard on Accusations

This is really priceless. Since the Arizona shootings, Sullivan has been on a tear about the right’s rhetoric. After more than a week of this nonsense, Megan McArdle finally let Sullivan have it:

Andrew’s defense seems to be that there are a lot of right wing jerks out there, and that by combing Loughner’s writing, he can find a few sentences here and there that sort of sound like things that might have been said by one of those right wing jerks. But I’m pretty sure that if I combed Loughner’s writing, I could find some sentences here and there that imply that Loughner read Andrew’s writing, or gay rights literature, or Edmund Burke.

Sullivan responded to McArdle Friday by quoting the paragraph above and saying:

Really? Go ahead. Make my day. Or withdraw the claim.

It’s enough to give you whiplash. Andrew spent a week attacking the right with unverifiable claims and even castigated those who dared to object to such treatment. His whole defense, as McArdle rightly points out, is that it could be true. Loughner could have picked up something from the right. And if it could be true, then the right needs to get busy reflecting on their potential responsibility. Standard #1: It’s plausible.

But as soon as McArdle turns the exact same argument against him, Andrew replies with standard #2: Accusations require facts! You could paraphrase his response this way: Back it up or back off.

What a fresh idea, Andrew! Why don’t you reflect a bit more on the proper role of facts in accusations and get back to us when you hear an audible click coming from your cerebral cortex.

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