Punch-Drunk Hate

A number of years ago there was a shooting in Tucson, Arizona; the shooter killed six people and wounded fifteen. The murderer was apolitical, insane, not at all connected to any coherent politics of the day; nonetheless, the responsibility for the carnage was immediately placed at the feet of Republicans, whose “extremist” rhetoric had, somehow, inspired the madman to shoot and kill a bunch of people.

That was a while ago. Now times are different, and violence—not just rhetoric, but actual violence—is like totally cool again you guys. A little over a week ago, a video surfaced showing racist alt-right leader Richard Spencer getting punched in the face by an assailant. Getting punched is not the same as getting shot, of course—but neither is divisive and inflammatory rhetoric, which the New York Times once claimed was the cause of the Tucson massacre. So what was the response to an innocent man being violently assaulted for no reason? Well:

Attack on Alt-Right Leader Has Internet Asking: Is It O.K. to Punch a Nazi?

Gee, thanks, Internet. See, when violence happens to the right people it’s totally okay, or at least a debatable proposition. “Extremist” stuff is only bad if it comes from those nasty Republicans, who are totally extreme-y and stuff. Punching a Nazi isn’t extreme, it’s the picture of moderate temperance!

I’m not sure what the liberal mirror of a neo-Nazi is—maybe a neo-Communist—but try to imagine the response if a progressive activist was punched in the face after Hillary Clinton won the election: we would be inundated with about ten or twelve news cycles explaining how conservatives were insane, how Straight White Males™ were rising up against the new world order of Strong Women® and an Increasingly Diverse Electorate (©2017). It would be exhausting and neverending.

The point is, violence (or even heated rhetoric) against the Left is always treasonous and a hanging offense. Violence against anyone else—Nazis, sure, but also conservatives and pro-lifers and anyone else who offends liberals—is openly tolerated if not celebrated.

What was the response to the violent assault on Spencer? A small sampling: Jon Favreau, former speechwriter for President Obama, explicitly admitted to laughing at the video. Jamelle Bouie tacitly gave his approval to political violence by cautioning us against “treating Nazis as legitimate participants in public discourse.” Unsure of whether or not punching an innocent man in the face was, you know, acceptable, Sarah Silverman said, “I gotta think on this” (as she put it, “I’m [super] conflicted on what’s long-term right”). Writer Gerry Dugan said that punching Spencer in the face for no reason is “as American as apple pie.” At the Times, Frank Bruni wrote: “[The] attack does more to help [Spencer] than to hurt him.” Gee, I get it: if the attack did more to hurt him then to help him, it’d be totally okay! Assaulting an innocent person is purely a practical matter, not an ethical one!

Understand what is happening here: this is an effort to normalize brutality against people who hold the wrong opinions. Spencer’s own opinions, of course, are reprehensible, and the entire alt-right modus operandi is designed to provoke and enrage people. But that doesn’t change the fact that it is wrong to do violence against someone who does not merit it.

Just the same, in the age of Trump, we seem to be witnessing a desire on the part of the Left to justify and glorify beating people up for disagreeing with you. Today it’s neo-Nazis; tomorrow it’s someone else who offends the increasingly irrational and unreasonable political impulses of American progressives. Maybe next it will be you!

The Longest March

At the Federalist this week, just in time for the 2017 March for Life, my colleague Sean Davis has a terrific piece that deconstructs the latest abortion activist talking point. In a “bizarre and rambling” essay at the Atlantic, a young woman named Moira Weigel claimed that ultrasound technology, and the heartbeats that this technology often reveals, are more or less a tool of the patriarchy used to trick women into believing that the unborn human inside them is alive: at six weeks pregnant, many new mothers can see their baby’s heartbeat via an ultrasound—but according to Weigel (a student not of medicine but of comparative literature), there is “no heart to speak of” in a six-week-old human, ergo it is not really living.

This claims are objectively, medically false—laughably so—which is why the Atlantic was forced to quietly edit this embarrassing piece and issue a minuscule correction at the bottom. But Weigel’s ignorance serves to underscore an important point about the pro-abortion movement: it is a faction that is more or less passionately hostile towards, and ignorant of, modern science, specifically modern embryology and human development.

Such ignorance is necessary to sustain the animating fiction of the pro-abortion position, namely that the unborn are “not alive,” or else “not human.” Of course this is not true, and the pro-choice faction’s refusal to engage with the hard scientific facts of unborn life speaks volumes about its commitment to rational debate. Contrary to the widely-perceived parameters of the abortion issue, the foundational tenets of the pro-life position spring not from a moral question but from a scientific one: namely, what does abortion do? The answer—-“It kills an innocent human being”—must necessarily give rise to the moral inquiry: “Is killing innocent human beings wrong?” Pro-lifers have responded “Yes,” and rightfully so; pro-choicers, aware of the monstrous implication of a “No” response, instead turn to ascientific or antiscientific arguments to make their case.

But the facts are clear; you can only deny them for so long.  And it is important to note that there is a turning tide in this country: more and more people are coming around to the pro-life position, and though many people are strangely inconsistent on the matter—lots of folks who want to broadly outlaw abortion nevertheless believe it should still be legal in the first three months—the numbers are nonetheless very encouraging. So is the March for Life, a massive gathering of like-minded people committed to ending violence against the unborn: in contrast to the demagogues who claim the most vulnerable humans among us are not worthy of our moral consideration, the March proves that hundreds of thousands of people know better: that the unborn are human, that they deserve not to be killed, and that our legal institutions should reflect that reality to the greatest extent possible.

This Is Our Life Now

My goodness we are in for a grating four years, if not eight. If the events of the last week have proven anything, it is that our media and our new president both exist in a kind of toxic loop of codependency. Knowing what we know about both the former and the latter, we should not expect that either of them are capable of change, much less that they would really want to.

Last weekend was the “Woman’s March,” an event where ladies and male feminists from around the world gathered together to march about women and stuff. Like many progressive marches and demonstrations, this one wasn’t very unified in purpose. There were angry denunciations of “white feminism” and white people in general; there was Madonna casually advocating for domestic terrorism; there was Ashley Judd giving a spoken-word performance about her menstrual blood; there were the demands for government-mandated paid maternity leave and the demands for government funding of human butchery.

All of that is really unremarkable when you consider the context. What was slightly more astonishing was the media’s response to this wacky affair: rather than simply report on the whole thing, the media decided to pit the Women’s March in a measuring contest against Donald Trump.

Really: that’s not all that much of an exaggeration. It’s hardly even a metaphor. The media set out to show how much bigger the Women’s March was compared to Donald Trump’s inauguration, and they didn’t let up for hours and hours. CNN reported on the comparison multiple times. The Huffington Post reported on it. So did the Washington Post. So did New York Magazine.  So did USA Today. So did Newsweek. So did the Boston Globe. So did Politico. So did Business Insider. So did Vox. So did Buzzfeed. So did Cosmopolitan. So did ThinkProgress. So did Vanity Fair. So did Slate.  So did Marie Clare. So did Elle. Surely I have missed some.

The intended message was clear: Donald Trump bad! Vagina posters good!

Proving once again that he is utterly incapable of not taking the bait, later that day Donald Trump sent out his press secretary, Sean Spicer, to tell a bunch of lies regarding the size of his inauguration. Spicer implied, in obvious contravention of the facts, that Trump’s inauguration was in fact larger than the protest. The media naturally gleefully reported on this, with journalists eagerly rushing to point out to the administration that it was peddling falsehoods. (Yahoo News had the audacity to write about Trump’s “crowd obsession,” as if the media weren’t as equally monomaniacal about the subject). Social media had a field day with the disastrous press conference; everyone’s biases were gratified; the new administration embarrassed itself before the new president had even warmed his chair in the oval office.

The lesson here is threefold: first, the people who run our media are deeply, obsessively neurotic about “women’s issues,” by which they mean women-centric progressive identity politics, especially abortion politics. As a result, our media will do as much as they possibly can to promote and defend an event like the Women’s March. Second, our media—staffed primarily by liberals who despise Donald Trump—understand that Trump is a deeply insecure and prickly individual who cannot tolerate even the slightest suggestion that he’s not the Most Popular Man in the World; they will thus naturally double down on anything that can make Trump look bad. Third, Trump himself is wholly unable to resist such taunting: he is either not smart enough or lacks the requisite amount of self-control needed to ignore the stupid histrionics of American news organizations. As a result, he will naturally strike back—even unto the point of making stuff up in order to make himself look and feel better.

This is, alas, where we are, and almost certainly where we will be for the next four years: a shamelessly biased media dead-set on gratifying its own prejudices and provoking an idiot president, and a president too vain and/or stupid to know how to avoid getting taken in by it. There is, to be sure, a certain grim humor in witnessing a pathetic and untrustworthy liberal institution locked in a toxic loop with an insanely narcissistic chief executive. But in the end the whole charade is irritating and exhausting, and only serves to cheapen and poison our discourse, to the detriment of everyone.

The Passing of the Awful Torch

“Donald Trump is now President of the United States of America” is perhaps the single weirdest sentence in American history. But it is also true—something we all must accept, even the folks who insist otherwise, as they always do when a Republican happens to win an election.

I suppose it’s understandable that a lot of liberals are wholeheartedly opposed to accepting the reality of President Trump, if only because they understand one of the great practical implications of a Trump presidency: all of the powers that Barack Obama spent the past eight years busily assembling are now located in the pen and the phone of a man liberals absolutely despise. A report from Forbes makes this clear:

In one of his first actions upon taking office, President Donald Trump today issued an executive order directing all federal agencies to reduce enforcement of any requirements, including taxes, fees and regulatory burdens, of the Affordable Care Act. The directive has but two limits: (1) the reduced enforcement has to be permitted by law and (2) the change can not go into effect without “notice and comment rule making” if the law requires it. And, while already proponents of the ACA are reassuring supporters that these latter two constraints render the Executive Order mostly symbolic, in fact, actions taken by the Obama administration to play fast and loose with administrative procedures and separation of powers have opened the door to the Trump executive branch to derail the ACA even without Congressional action.

“…even without Congressional action.” Sound familiar? Of course it does! It’s what President Obama spent eight years doing and/or threatening to do. “If Congress won’t act,” Obama said in regards to climate change, “I will.” He also said the same thing about immigration. Also about economic policy. He also passed his own executive orders on gun control when Congress didn’t behave the way he wanted it to. Ever-present in the Obama administration was a threat to act unilaterally in the face of congressional recalcitrance. It was just a normal feature of life from 2008-2016.

It is thus hardly unexpected that Donald Trump would continue on in this tradition. I myself am wholeheartedly opposed to this kind of executive action—even when it comes to scuttling the miserable Affordable Care Act, which I would dearly love to see thrown upon the ash heap of history—but I am not at all surprised that Trump would act in such a fashion; did anyone think this most egomaniacal and self-aggrandizing man would pass up the opportunity to legislate from his own office?

The silver lining to all of this would be if American progressives would realize how stupid it was to invest an expansive legislative authority in the executive office in the first place. It was a dumb idea from the start, not just because it goes against both the letter and spirit of our national charter, but perhaps more importantly because you never know who’s going to win the election the next time around. The Left blithely assumed it would be Hillary; they were wrong. Donald Trump won, and now he has Barack Obama’s pen and phone. Americans in general should be nervous about Trump’s executive ambitions. Liberals, meanwhile, should feel a special brand of shame and ignominy for advocating and upholding this style of governance for nearly a decade. They made this bed; unfortunately, now we must all sleep in it.

Fake News Ascendant

Why do people dislike the media so much? Well, part of the reason—most of it—is that much of the media is run by dishonest, professionally disingenuous hacks who are loath to even consider writing anything even approaching the truth. A good example can be found in their recent treatment of Donald Trump’s nomination for education secretary, Betsy DeVos.

At her Senate confirmation hearing on Wednesday, she was grilled by numerous Democrats regarding her positions on school vouchers, Department of Education policy and federal support of local educational systems, but it was, quite predictably, the gun question that had everyone talking:

Democrat Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, who has been vocal on gun control in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre, asked DeVos if she thought firearms had any place in or around schools.

“I think that’s best left to locales and states to decide,” she replied.

Pressed on whether she could say “definitively” if guns shouldn’t be in schools, she referred to an earlier remark by Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) who mentioned an elementary school in Wapiti, Wyoming, that had erected a fence to protect children from wildlife.

“I think probably there, I would imagine that there’s probably a gun in the school to protect from potential grizzlies,” DeVos said.

This is a perfectly reasonable supposition; it might not be true in this one instance, but it is at least defensible to guess that a school in the middle of Grizzly Country might want to keep a shotgun in a locked closet somewhere, just in case. In any event, note well what DeVos was saying: her point was not that every school should have a gun with which to shoot bears, but rather that “locales and states” are likely in the best position to determine their individual policies concerning school administration. That’s all; that was her entire pitch. It’s not controversial or even worth remarking on at all; it’s simply, quite literally, federalism,

Well, how do you think our media covered DeVos’s comment? You already know, don’t you? You already know. “Betsy DeVos Says Guns Should Be Allowed in Schools. They Might Be Needed to Shoot Grizzlies.” (Slate.) “Betsy DeVos: Schools May Need Guns to Fight Off Bears.” (The Daily Beast.) “Citing grizzlies, education nominee says states should determine school gun policies.” (CNN.) “Betsy DeVos says guns in schools may be necessary to protect students from grizzly bears.” (ThinkProgress.) “Betsy DeVos says guns shouldn’t be banned in schools … because grizzly bears.” (Vox.) “Betsy DeVos tells Senate hearing she supports guns in schools because of grizzly bears.” (The Week.) “Trump’s Education Pick Cites “Potential Grizzlies” As A Reason To Have Guns In Schools.” (BuzzFeed.)

To say that these headlines are intellectually dishonest is putting it mildly. The implication in each of them is clear: the idea is to make Betsy DeVos seem like a crazy person who believes there are bears running around every school district in the country. In the proper context, her point—both in and of itself and as an illustration of the larger issue—was perfectly defensible. But you would not garner that from these stories.

Now, on the one hand this is somewhat understandable: most of the media is populated and run by liberals, and as a rule liberals really, really don’t like guns. So I suppose if a smart, successful cabinet nominee is going to make a reasonable point about school gun usage, progressives are going to jump all over it out of habit, like vicious dogs that bite anyone who comes near them.

Just the same, it takes a special brand of intellectual cowardice and professional vindictiveness to push this kind of transparently false narrative. Yet that is apparently where the media is heading in the age of Trump: a bunch of hacks peddling fake news in order to discredit conservative politicians. You can thus understand why Trump was elected in part because of his very vocal pushback on this rank dishonesty—and it will surely go a long way towards explaining why he was elected again in 2020.

This Is Not Your Home

What is “feminism?” For some people it is a credo that embraces equality between the sexes: equality of opportunity as well as equality of intersocial conduct. This brand of feminism might best be categorized as “treat everyone the same and be nice to them.”

Then there is the now-dominant strain of feminism, the one practiced by tenured academic scholars and media stars like Lena Dunham and self-effacing “male feminists” who are always apologizing on behalf of other men. This brand of feminism is persecutory, frequently delusional, vindictive, spiteful, obsessed with pronouns and “microagressions” and menstruation blood and other silly things. This particular ethos might be styled “modern feminism” or, even better, “totalitarian feminism,” though “paranoid persecution complex” might work just as well, I don’t know.

Modern feminism is also really, really, really obsessed with abortion: for today’s feminists it is almost a sacrament, and at the very least it is a sacramental.  Witness, for example, the backlash over the guest list of the “Women’s March on Washington:”

The Women’s March on Washington faced backlash Monday after reports circulated that anti-abortion group New Wave Feminists had been granted partnership status.

Now organizers of the march are saying that the group was added as a partner in error and are making it very clear that the march will stay in line with the values stated in its policy platform. That platform includes a call for “open access to safe, legal, affordable abortion and birth control for all people, regardless of income, location or education…”

The Women’s March on Washington released a statement Monday evening on Twitter and Facebook: “The Women’s March platform is pro-choice and that has been our stance from day one.” The statement also said that “the anti-choice organization in question is not a partner of the Women’s March on Washington.”

Whoops. Well, so much for the sisterhood: it turns out pan-gender solidarity is predicated on a remarkably narrow set of political and philosophical beliefs. One of the principal practical effects of totalitarianism, after all, is a ruthless, uncompromising conformity of thought. As Amanda Marcotte puts it, “you cannot be [pro-life] and feminist.” Sorry, honey.

Modern feminism being inordinately preoccupied with the killing of innocent human beings, it is not, all things considered, all that surprising that this particular demonstration would kick a bunch of women to the curb for daring to believe that, you know, we shouldn’t murder defenseless humans out of convenience. Still, it is somewhat shocking. Even this late in the game, with so many bodies piled up behind us, we still sometimes have reason to be shocked. Abortion, after all, is murder: it kills a living human being, unjustly and with premeditation. Nobody who is remotely knowledgeable about the basic, ground-level facts of human biology can possibly argue otherwise. And so it is with no small amount of nausea that we witness an activist organization excluded from polite society simply because they believe that the murder of innocents is unjust.

I suppose there are two possibilities that will come of this: either (1) our descendants will look back on our behavior with horror, or (2) we will continue to allow the most innocent and defenseless among us to be killed.

My money is on #1, but you should not, under any circumstances, rule out the possibility of #2; it will do us no good to underestimate feminism’s passionate, single-minded devotion to legal abortion, as exemplified by Cecile Richards, who recently wrote that

the ability to decide when or whether to have children is key to women’s opportunity to be financially secure and pursue their dreams.

Richards is of course speaking about “opportunity” in the context of abortion. But it is odd that pro-choicers never seem to consider any other option when it comes to women “deciding when or whether to have children:” they could, say, not have sex—or have sex only when the potential outcome of sexual activity is more affordable and appropriate. But modern feminism is almost literally incapable of imbuing women with this type of agency; as an ideology it cannot really imagine a woman exercising any real measure of practical chastity or sexual decorum. For people like Cecile Richads, women are apparently mindless sex-bots who cannot help but stumble into sexual intercourse without any agency whatsoever. I guess when you’re determined to infantilize women to such a degree, it will only be natural to demand something like legalized abortion in order to compensate: if we can’t expect women to exercise any judicious restraint regarding their sexuality, after all, then I suppose we can’t possibly expect of them to carry a pregnancy to term.

Know Your Place, Kiddo

If the GOP does indeed succeed in repealing Obamacare, it will be a great boon to the countless people—myself included—who have seen our health insurance rates rise dramatically under this awful law. Nevertheless, there are a great many people who are afraid of losing the ACA, though many of their reasons are, let’s say, less than convincing:

It’s looking like women may have to go back to paying out-of-pocket for contraception if Obamacare gets gutted.

Senate Republicans took the first step toward repealing the Affordable Care Act during Thursday’s “vote-a-rama” — and while voting on a budget plan that would help dismantle Obamacare, the GOP-controlled Senate rejected an amendment that would have required insurance companies to continue to cover birth control…

Roughly 55 million women now receive contraceptives with no out-of-pocket costs, according to the National Women’s Law Center. And birth control costs can be significant: A 2015 study found that “the ACA is saving the average pill user $255 per year, and the average woman receiving an IUD is saving $248.”

Ah, okay. Got that? The “Affordable Care Act” is so affordable that it’s saving women less than seventy cents a day on birth control! Doesn’t that seem like a great reason for upending the insurance industry and laying waste to our constitutional order?

This phenomenon—wherein the Left freaks out over women theoretically having to pay 69¢ a day for oral contraception (or 67¢ in the case of an IUD!)—once again raises an interesting question: do liberals believe that women are capable of anything? I am not so sure. I, for one, think that the average American woman is more than able to afford what amounts to insanely cheap birth control if she so desires it: she does not need a gargantuan health insurance law to help her pay such an extraordinarily small bill. Progressives apparently believe otherwise: they are evidently under the impression that American women are helpless, useless, incompetent, incapable and inept in just about every way imaginable. How else are we to explain the demands that the federal government ensure that women be relieved of the burden of paying $21/month for elective prescriptions?

ThinkProgress claims that Republicans voted against allowing women “access [to] the affordable coverage they need.” There is an assumption, in other words, that women “need” birth control, and moreover that they need it to be cheaper than sixty-nine cents a day in order for it to be “affordable.” It says a lot about modern liberalism that, as a political philosophy, it is unable to treat women as adults: it infantilizes them instead, turning them into helpless waifs dependent upon the beneficence of the federal government. One good thing that the repeal of the ACA may accomplish is this: it might show American women that they are perfectly able to rise above the low, low expectations of the Democratic Party.

Once More Unto the Screech

At some point liberals are going to have to decide how they wish to approach the presidency of Donald J. Trump: do they want to deal with the foibles of this administration like irrational little children, or mature grown-ups? Now, we all surely remember the presidency of George W. Bush—eight years of faux-patriotic histrionics and around two or three billion accusations of Nazism—and so we might be tempted to assume that progressives are just going to do that again. Maybe it’s the only way the American liberal order knows how to respond to adversity anymore, I don’t know. But they must understand that, if they elect for the kindergarten route, it’s probably not going to end well for them.

Maybe they’ve already made their decision. On Wednesday, President-elect Trump held a press conference, his first since the election, in order to clear the air regarding some ethical conflicts involving his family and his business, as well as the reportedly looming Russian kompromat scandal. You can judge for yourself, but I can save you a click and say that the presser wasn’t all that exciting or alarming: there remain some genuine concerns regarding Trump’s business holdings, but overall the whole thing was rather unremarkable, and there were even some refreshing moments, such as when Trump (correctly) accused the dime-store news website Buzzfeed of being a “failing pile of garbage.”

What was the liberal response to this event? Patton Oswalt sums it up best:

Do tell. To be fair, of course, Oswalt is presumably not being literal when he tells us to “hoard food.” But he’s using hyperbole to make a very literal point, which is that, in his own words, “we’re fucked.”

But why are we “fucked?” It is not at all clear—not from Oswalt, to be sure, but more importantly not from the press conference that caused Oswalt to apparently pee his pants. It is hard to adequately quantify the magnitude of the overreaction on display here: the mind struggles to approach it in a dignified manner. One imagines that Patton Oswalt felt very excited to write that tweet; you can picture him, giddy with the self-righteous indignation that is endemic to American liberalism, delighted to raise an alarum about the perilous state of the American experiment: “We’re fucked.” But Oswalt knows we’re not fucked—he knows that, though Trump will probably not be a good president and will possibly be a very bad one, this country will almost certainly be okay; he probably also knows that Trump didn’t say or do anything at the press conference to warrant such a reaction. So why did he write what he did?

The answer is to be found in the perpetual childishness of progressivism, which generally cannot interact with the world at a political or cultural level without resorting to this puerile kind of hysterics. For most liberals, every conservative policy has to be a world-ender; every Republican politician has to be Hitler; every conservative cultural impulse has to be an evil throwback to the Formica tyranny of Mayfield and the Strange Fruit racial mentality of 1920s Alabama. Wherever it starts, modern American progressivism invariably ends at one of these termini.

These convictions rot the analytical brain, eventually making real rational discourse almost impossible: hence why a slightly bombastic Republican president-elect can hold a presser and cause Patton Oswalt to lose his mind. And this isn’t just a one-off. In 2004, Oswalt claimed that “If Bush wins, then we all surf a turd, Slim Pickens-style, into the maelstrom of history’s dustbin. Blue and red. And purple, whatever the fuck that was. Right on top of Ancient Rome, Prussia, Spain and Great Britain in the 1880’s.” Well over a decade later, he has not learned; intellectually he has not grown a single day. For liberals, any practical manifestation of conservatism—or even the bloviating of a faux-conservative Republican—is always, forever, unavoidably, the end of the world. The paradigm of progressive thought simply does not allow for any other exegesis.

But wait: it gets worse. Because Trump refused to take a question from CNN’s Jim Acosta and eventually declared that the network was “fake news,” Vox correspondent Elizabeth Plank decided to take a string from Patton Oswalt’s bow and go absolutely nuts:

This is almost a parody of liberal histrionics, like a bad Mad Magazine piece featuring satire so close to the target that it’s really not even funny. Consider, just for a moment, the fact that the entire Democratic establishment has been arguing for years that the government should be able to ban books, something that—you’d think—would have caused Elizabeth Plank to have gotten upset sometime between 2008 and 2016. Consider also, the astonishing interpretation she has drawn from Trump’s presser: the president-elect’s brash back-and-forth with a single media outlet is “the beginning of the end of freedom of press.” Does this make any sense to you? Of course not: it makes no sense to anyone, not even to Elizabeth Plank; surely she is aware that she appears to be quite insane. The only way to understand such a wildly illiterate claim is to place it in its proper context and interpret it by its intended effect: Plank does not want to raise any concerns about “freedom of press” so much as she wants to, you know, freak out about Trump.

That’s the whole end-game, the entire purpose of such a profoundly incorrect and juvenile interpretation of events: not a constructive or helpful criticism of Donald Trump’s policy, but rather a shrieking condemnation of a Republican qua Republican. When a Democrat did literally exactly the same thing barely three months ago, nobody could be bothered to care; the anguished wails over “freedom of press” were conspicuously absent. It makes you wonder if liberals are sincere in their political beliefs, or if it is all just a matter of, I don’t know, opportunism and hair-pulling theatrics.

A healthy society would have more contempt for such nonsense; if our politics were ordered properly, we would be piling contempt on top of contempt for the likes of partisans like Patton Oswalt and Elizabeth Plank and the countless others who act like them. This childish and terminally oblivious behavior would be regarded as kind of a political novelty rather than a viable political philosophy. But here we are nonetheless. And the challenge of the next four years is going to be this: do we laugh at this pathetic state of affairs, or cry? Maybe both?

The Stubbliest Injustice in the World

I know very little about British consumer habits, though I’m aware that they regularly eat something called a “Mars Bar,” a confection which may or may not contain nougat (furthermore, I’m still not entirely sure what “nougat” really is).

Anyway, as far as the British economy goes, apparently some kind of gross inequity exists in the British economy, so much so that British women are forced to pay higher prices than men for effectively the same product. This practice extends even to what I thought was the relatively static and unremarkable shaving razor market: British ladies evidently have to shell out more money for those little pink razors than British men do for the man-colored ones.

Thankfully, one enterprising MP has successfully rallied to quash this robber baron-ish scheme:

Tesco has reduced the price of women’s standard razors to match that of men’s in the latest victory in the battle to eliminate gender discrimination in high street products…

A newspaper investigation at the start of last year showed that women were paying an average of 37% more for gender-targeted items, ranging from toys to beauty products. Razors were found to be among the more marked-up products, with women often paying a premium just because the product was a different colour – pink.

Tesco was charging £1 for a pack of five women’s twin-blade razors, twice the price of the men’s equivalent. The Labour backbencher Paula Sherriff, who recently persuaded Boots to trial donation boxes where customers could leave sanitary products for distribution to food banks, put pressure on Tesco to reduce women’s disposable razor prices.

Really—women were “paying a premium just because the product was a different colour?” What does Tesco have to say to such an incredible accusation?

[Tesco representative Kari] Daniels said the disparity in price was not the result of gender bias, but added: “In the instance of our twin-blade razors, the difference is driven by the fact that male razors are produced and sold in significantly higher volumes, which reduces the price we pay for them.”

Oh. Well, that kind of explains the price differential. But hey—who’s to say Tesco isn’t lying? Maybe we should trust Paula Sherriff’s word over theirs. Who do you think knows more about a company’s economic strategy and bottom line—the company itself, or a British politician who has taken up a stupid and fiscally illiterate feminist crusade? I think the answer is clear.

Here is a question for the Paula Sherriffs of the world—those men and women who imagine themselves to be economic geniuses who understand market forces better than corporate CEOs: why don’t companies like Tesco just charge more money for everything? If they can get away with charging women £1 for a pack of disposable razors solely on grounds of corporate greed driven by sexism, why don’t they charge men the same amount and make tons more money? Are nefarious multinational conglomerates really so dedicated to “gender bias” that they’ll miss out on millions and millions in profits every year, just to keep women down?

Does this conspiracy theory make any sense to you? Of course not—it only makes sense to people like Paula Sherriff, who have diligently trained themselves to be paranoid social justice warriors determined to root out “bias” where it doesn’t exist.

Meanwhile, one British woman is suitably unimpressed with Sherriff’s victory:

Since its introduction 15 years ago, the cost of emergency contraception has steadily increased to a whopping £30. If you don’t have time to get it free from your local GP – with queue’s [sic] up to 3 hours – or a sexual health clinic – with appointments as scarce as their budget – a woman’s only option is the morning after bill [sic]. Forcing British women to pay this ludicrous price for reproductive control is archaic; focusing our attention instead on the cost of razors is borderline laughable.

Good grief—£30 is not at all expensive; it’s a few hours’ work at the average hourly wage in the United Kingdom. Quite honestly, if a woman can’t shell out thirty pounds to compensate for a reckless sex life—if she is resorting to Plan B so often that she absolutely can’t afford it—then maybe she really shouldn’t be having sex at all. Call me crazy.

Though maybe there’s a quick and easy workaround to this problem: if a British woman does indeed find herself in need of “emergency contraception,” but she believes it to be too expensive, maybe she can just send a man into the pharmacy to purchase it for her. If the British economy is as infected by “gender bias” as we’re led to believe, they’ll probably charge him less for it.

What Do They Know of Divorce?

A couple of years ago, in a genuinely sloppy and legally indefensible decision, the Supreme Court took it upon itself to re-define marriage, broadening the definition to include same-sex couples.  There are a whole host of problems with a gay marriage regime, but there is also, at its heart, a fascinating socio-linguistic question as well, namely: do words mean anything? Does the word “marriage,” with heretofore applied exclusively to a union between a man and a woman, actually just mean, well, whatever? That was the gamble of the gay marriage crusade—that “marriage” means whatever we want it to mean, which is to say it means nothing at all—and, for now at least, it seems to have paid off.

But, to be fair—and in defense of gay activists—the word “marriage” had been corrupted long before the Supreme Court came along and corrupted it a little more. By way of example we have Meredith Maran in the New York Times, who write, appropriately enough, about her experience getting both “gay married” and “gay divorced:”

In 2013 I Googled “gay divorce lawyer” and found only “gay family law” attorneys. I called the one with the best Yelp reviews.

“I need to file for d — ” The word caught in my throat.

In many cities over many years, my wife and I had marched for marriage equality. We’d argued with the haters and we’d argued with the gay people who said that legal marriage would co-opt us, diminish us, turn us into a caricature of “normal” married people. We swore we could enjoy the rights only marriage conferred and still have our gender-fluid commitment ceremonies, our chosen-family configurations, our dexterity at turning friends into lovers and vice versa.

Divorce felt like more than a betrayal of my wedding vows. It was a betrayal of my people and our cause.

Leave aside, for now, the paranoid gay politics and focus on Maran’s first contention: the idea that divorce would be “a betrayal of [her] wedding vows.” As she writes, she and her partner vowed to “love, honor, and keep each other, in sickness and in health, as long as we both shall live.” As long as they both shall live: their marriage was supposed to last forever, until one or both of them died. And yet they ended up getting divorced, as many married couples invariably do.

The question is this: what does “divorced” really mean in this context? Two people pledged (vowed, even) to stay with each other “as long as they both shall live.” But now they’re split—and not just in the sense that they live separately, but that, in Maran’s own words, her marriage “didn’t last.” It’s over. But how can it be over, if indeed they made those vows with full consent and with every intention of seeing them through?

The argument seems to go like this: “Well, every married couple makes those vows, but sometimes things just don’t work out, and people need to be able to get out of a marriage that doesn’t work.” Okay, maybe so. But that seems to assume a priori that there is a possibility for divorce—which is to say that, for couples who are at least theoretically open to divorce, the vows aren’t made in total sincerity, that they carry with them an implicit back door that would allow for dissolution of the marriage. In which case we have this fascinating conundrum: are couples who (a) believe in divorce and (b) are themselves willing to divorce—are these couples actually married? Do the vows of these couples, which generally include a stipulation of lifelong commitment, really mean anything at all?

I would submit that the answer is likely no: that if your wedding vows include a tacit stipulation “…but only if things don’t sour,” then you’re not doing marriage right—or rather you’re not doing it at all. A “marriage” that can end isn’t a “marriage” at all; it is, rather, an arrangement premised, at its foundation, on convenience and potential transience rather than fidelity and unquestionable permanency: many things it may be, but a marriage it is not.

All of which is to say that gay “marriage” is not the first perversion of marriage to develop in our society; properly understood, it’s not even the most dire. A transient marriage culture is, in the end, far more of a threat to a healthy society than two women making vows to each other—indeed, as Maran shows, even gay unions aren’t impervious to the scourge of divorce. If we genuinely want to reform our culture of marriage, then we’ll likely have to begin by fixing not our marriage laws but the divorce laws that make a mockery out of marriages in the first place.