The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

The Proverbial Broken Clock

Posted on | September 3, 2013 | 58 Comments

Richard Cohen of the Washington Post is one of the worst newspaper columnists in America, or perhaps the world, and I usually try to avoid reading him, which only makes me angry. But the damned thing about Cohen is, about twice a year, he writes something sensible, and then I hate myself for agreeing with the old fool, as in his using the Steubenville sex-assault case to contextualize Miley Cyrus:

I run the risk of old-fogeyness for suggesting the girl’s a tasteless twit — especially that bit with the foam finger. (Look it up, if you must.) But let me also suggest that acts such as hers not only objectify women but debase them. They encourage a teenage culture that has set the women’s movement back on its heels. What is being celebrated is not sexuality but sexual exploitation, a mean casualness that deprives intimacy of all intimacy.

You can read the whole thing and see how Cohen manages to be annoying even when he’s right. Why invoke “the women’s movement” here?

It’s not as if, prior to the arrival of Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem on the scene, American culture was all about twerking. Conservative opponents of feminism have never “celebrated . . . sexual exploitation.” You can’t blame Phyllis Schlafly for Miley Cyrus.

This is the kind of cultural confusion that makes “SlutWalk” such an exercise in feminist folly. Framing the issue in terms of “rights” and angrily demanding that the victimization of women be blamed entirely on men, the “SlutWalk” mob insists that women’s bad behavior — even prostitution — should never be seen as undermining the general dignity of women. Meanwhile, without any sense of irony, the rhetoric of “SlutWalk” tends toward the collective demonization of all men for the criminal wrongdoing of a comparative handful of thugs.

Strangely, the New Yorker magazine article about the Steubenville case that Cohen cites as context — “Trial by Twitter,” by Ariel Levy — basically vindicates Lee Stranahan’s reporting and arguing about the case: Alexandria Goddard led an online lynch mob on the basis of conspiracy claims for which there was no evidence, wrongly stigmatizing as members of a “rape crew” teenagers whose only real involvement was their presence at a party where a drunk teenage girl was certainly abused, but not actually raped. Levy writes:

One afternoon, I met Jane Hanlin in her office, around the corner from the police station, where she sat at her desk underneath a poster of Snoopy standing with an American flag. She told me that she had watched with increasing frustration as the story spun out of control. “Here comes Goddard, here come the bloggers, and we’re sitting here watching this, knowing that we can’t respond,” she said, because the case was still open. But by the norms of social media there is little difference between confidentiality and obfuscation; if something isn’t broadcast, it must be furtive. “If you do anything to say, ‘Wait until we get to the truth,’ you are ‘pro-rape’ — whatever that means,” Hanlin said. “You are part of a conspiracy, a cover-up.”

This was the basic problem: A hysterical witch-hunt fueled by Goddard’s ax-grinding and by rhetoric about “rape culture.” If you can read the entire article and still think the result was justice, you have an alarming deficiency of skepticism. Discerning the real truth of what happened that night, when everyone involved was hopelessly drunk and the victim herself had no clear memory, is perhaps ultimately impossible. But merely to admit the ambiguity of the situation is to risk the accusation of being “pro-rape,” as Hanlin said — “whatever that means.”

Some people are more interested in “winning” an argument than they are in getting the facts right. Finding myself compelled to agree with Richard Cohen isn’t as bad as rape, but it’s still pretty bad.

I’m a victim. Don’t blame the victim, haters.

UPDATE: Well, this is very interesting. Cohen’s column is now a Memeorandum thread with Gawker, among others, deliberately misrepresenting the whole point, e.g.:

Richard Cohen Thinks Miley Cyrus
Raped That Poor Girl In Steubenville

See? This is how the Left nowadays turns common sense into thoughtcrime. What Cohen was saying — perhaps not clearly enough — was that the youth culture in which Miley Cyrus ostentatiously sexualizes herself on national TV is the same youth culture in which two buddies take turns with the drunk girl at the party and her naked photos get passed around as cell-phone souvenirs.

Degradation of women transfers from pop culture to the basement of a house in Steubenville, Ohio, and the Left expects us to believe that the one phenomenon has nothing to do with the other.

God forbid anyone should express the common-sense view, but then again, the Left has also made mention of God off-limits.



58 Responses to “The Proverbial Broken Clock”

  1. Alessandra
    September 4th, 2013 @ 3:45 am

    Best comment on the Cohen article: “This is your liberal culture, Mr. Cohen. You own it.”

  2. Alessandra
    September 4th, 2013 @ 4:00 am

    The picture is a bit more complicated. There was a part of the women’s movement which intensely fought this very kind of depravity, and there was another part of them who fanatically promoted it. Liberals in general promote sexual degradation and perversity as “sexual liberation,” something young people embrace cluelessly, no matter how much damage it does.
    So the small group in the left/women’s movement who fought against sexual violence and objectification largely lost to the much wider society of liberals who hunger for it and have it as their “normal” ideology. Given that many Republicans are and were liberal (like the Ace crowd; pro-porn, pro-homosexuality, pro-sex outside marriage, etc.), the bulk of society that is actually in favor, both on the right and on the left, of sexually perverted attitudes and behaviors was/is too overwhelming against the voices that stand up against it.

    Religious conservatives, even when they have the best and most respectful attitudes to women and sex don’t influence the larger liberal masses, so they are voices heard within their enclaves, but largely unheard elsewhere, especially within the ideological dominant triad of MSM, entertainment, and education.
    The less power socons have concerning the MSM, entertainment and education spheres, the less they will be able to steer the country in a right, moral, and responsible direction.

  3. QueenBewbz
    September 4th, 2013 @ 8:06 am

    This article NAILED Goddard and company regarding #Steubenville and the lies they spun! NICE 😀

  4. Slartibartfast
    September 4th, 2013 @ 11:18 am

    So Mr Mc Cain, essentially, you think that before pop culture existed, rape didn’t or was less prevalent?
    Let me guess, because it was not as reported as it is now?

    Here’s a counterargument : female sexuality is now more exposed and visible, which doesn’t have only upsides, but makes it more socially acceptable and less shameful. Hence, rape victims actually dare to speak now, as opposed to what happened back in “the good old days”.

    Do you think that rapists doing everything they possibly can to make their victim suffer as deeply and as durably as they can is anything new?? Are you one of these people who think rape is ACTUALLY about sex?

    And do you also think that criminals bragging about their crimes is new?

  5. Quartermaster
    September 4th, 2013 @ 12:30 pm

    Sorry, but I’m not. Scuzzy men have been some of the most effective pushers of that sorry philosophy because they need those sexually libbed womyn to be able to live the way they wish.
    There are two forms of feminism, radical, which is what I am talking about, and Family Feminism, which is the traditional form. Family feminism is almost non-existent in this country. You’ve bought into the lies of radical feminism. Egalitarianism is something that is destructive. You can think otherwise, but I’ve been married for almost 39 years, and no successful marriage can be an egalitarian relationship.
    My wife has abilities I do not have and vice versa. There are things that women do better than men, and vice versa. Egalitarianism does not allow for the application of strengths to cover the weaknesses of the other. It is a radical philosophy of equality that demands the same from all, and an equal sharing of all tasks. It nearly destroyed France before Napoleon came along to stop it. Stalin stooped it in the Soviet Union. Millions starved in China before Mao’s death brought his ideals to a halt. It is an idea only ideologues accept because it does not work.

  6. Abadman
    September 5th, 2013 @ 12:40 pm

    Do you think Miley Cyrus’s act was actually about sex or female sexuality?

  7. Slartibartfast
    September 5th, 2013 @ 2:08 pm

    I think it’s partly about exposing her own sexuality, yes, about flaunting it actually, and about publicity too, obviously.

    And the reason why rapists now film/take pictures of their victims as opposed to back in the day is simple : it’s because NOW THEY CAN.

    There never was such a thing as a gentleman rapist.

  8. Abadman
    September 5th, 2013 @ 7:09 pm

    Sexual abuse, rape, take your pick, what was done to the girl was inexcusable. In agree with you, this is a poor case to argue ambiguity now when the facts as best we know them are examined. For much of the time surrounding this case, however, the facts were not know and some acknowledgement of the ambiguity surrounding events recounted by multiple intoxicated teenagers should not be equated to “that slut deserved it”. At least if one is pursuing the original, liberal, concept of justice.
    The second point concerns Miley Cyrus and her ilk. What part of her performance exposed any evidence of her sexuality? It was a cartoon characterization of sex. Just as rape is not actually about sex neither was her performance. It appears designed to assault the psyche. Ditto for that Thicke guy and his song.
    There was no joy in it, lord knows intimacy is so blasé it wasn’t there, no pleasure, not even any pain. The “sexuality” appeared to me primarily about control, which seems pretty rape like.
    If we allow culture, driven in a large part by progressives, to portray women and men as base animals should we really be shocked when drunken teenagers act like animals.
    To paraphrase Heather Mac Donald, If you teach your children to get into stranger’s cars, their eventual abduction will still be the fault of the pervert who takes them. There just might be a better way to raise your children though.
    Or, your odds of finding a gentleman, or gentlewoman, at a drunken party are pretty low.