Saturday, January 10, 2015

The Speech Codes Of David Brooks -- UPDATE

Bigger men than you have found out what the power of the press is.  Presidents!  Kings!

For someone who nestles his ass on the ermine cushions of several of the highest thrones which our Very Serious Media People have to offer, David Brooks really does not understand shit all about how freedom of speech or the freedom of the press works.

Let's start with sheer moral loutishness of breezing past the actual events in France so that Mr. Brooks can settle down to equating a mass shooting in the offices of Charlie Hebdo with Evil Liberal Speech Codes at some American colleges.  Because, just like his lower-rent Conservative cousins working the rougher trade over at Fox News, for Mr. Brooks no act of depravity is truly presentable until he has dipped it in the Dirty Hippie sauce.
The journalists at Charlie Hebdo are now rightly being celebrated as martyrs on behalf of freedom of expression, but let’s face it: If they had tried to publish their satirical newspaper on any American university campus over the last two decades it wouldn’t have lasted 30 seconds. Student and faculty groups would have accused them of hate speech. The administration would have cut financing and shut them down.

Public reaction to the attack in Paris has revealed that there are a lot of people who are quick to lionize those who offend the views of Islamist terrorists in France but who are a lot less tolerant toward those who offend their own views at home.
Hey, speaking of speech codes...apparently having been inexplicably reprieved for life from the laws of cause and effect in the labor market, Mr. Brooks has grown deeply confused about how marketplaces work. See, colleges are free to invite, not invite or dis-invite whomever they please. And students and faculty are free to agree with or protest those decisions or not, as they please.   And dis-invitees are free to take their case to the public via social media, podcasts, the local paper, radio, YouTube or standing on an orange crate in the park with a bullhorn, as they please.  Because if denying someone a particular venue or a particular megaphone were the same as depriving someone of their basic right of free expression, believe me I'd be suing the pants off "Meet the Press" every fucking week.

And by the way, speaking of speech codes...what makes this an especially idiotic false equivalence is that Charlie Hebdo was not a college newspaper being cranked out on a mimeograph machine in the basement of Delta House with Dean Wormer hot on their heels. As far as I can find, Charlie Hebdo was and is a private company, free to publish anything they damn well like within the limits of the applicable law, even as "The Onion" is a private enterprise,  and  "South Park" and  Jon Stewart and  "The Rush Limbaugh Krazy Klansman Kavalcade" and my own marginal, potty-mouth blog.  All perfectly free say and draw whatever we damn well please within the limits of the applicable laws.  And everyone else is equally free to listen and read any or all of it, ignore any or all of it, inveigh against it, or rent a sound-truck and roll the block telling everyone why it should be boycotted, within the limits of the applicable law. This inability to grasp the different between the Bill of Rights granting, say, Sean Hannity the right to vomit racist claptrap, and the Fox News corporation granting Sean Hannity the privilege of getting rich by vomiting racist bullshit on their network is where so many Conservatives flunk Constitutional Rights 101. 

Since we're on the subject of speech codes...this is an awfully high horse to be riding, Mr. Brooks, for someone who actively hides from his own commentors and has his houseboy sift his email to make sure he doesn't accidentally see someone saying something mean about him.  

And while on the topic of speech last thing.  I would be more than happy to debate   speech codes (which, were I were Emperor of the Seven Galaxies, I would abolish, which is why there should never be an Emperor of the Seven Galaxies) with Mr. Brooks anywhere, any time...on one condition.  Rather starting a debate what kind of limitations which some institutions may put on free expression with some restrictive decisions that may occur every once in a great while and affect an audience of a few hundred -- 
Americans may laud Charlie Hebdo for being brave enough to publish cartoons ridiculing the Prophet Muhammad, but, if Ayaan Hirsi Ali is invited to campus, there are often calls to deny her a podium.
-- let us instead begin where we should begin -- with a massive, public venue with an audience of millions every week where the hosts consistently and methodically banish entire topics of vital public interest -- from climate change to the ongoing seditious lunacy of the Party of Bigots and Imbeciles -- because broaching them may hurt the delicate fee-fees of the worst people in America:
Chuck Todd: We all sit there, because we all know, the first time we bark is the last time that they do the show. You say something, and sometimes it is last time they will ever come on your show. There is that balance.
But we're never, ever going to discuss that speech code, are we?  Because rigid, across-the-board adherence to that speech code is the only reason people like Mr. Brooks has a job that doesn't involve grimly welcoming bulk mayonnaise and ammunition shoppers to WalMart.

And speaking of David Brooks' work possibly the only person left on Earth who retains any memory of the sort of cheap-jack, partisan poo Mr. Brooks used to squirt for a living before the Bush Administration went entirely tits-up and he had to move on to selling Both Siderist aluminum siding, let me say that nothing he's put to paper in the last year has been more perfectly and hilariously rich in pure, pompous Brooks-brand hypocrisy than this:
Most of us don’t actually engage in the sort of deliberately offensive humor that that newspaper specializes in.

We might have started out that way. When you are 13, it seems daring and provocative to “épater la bourgeoisie,” to stick a finger in the eye of authority, to ridicule other people’s religious beliefs.

But after a while that seems puerile. Most of us move toward more complicated views of reality and more forgiving views of others...
Here is a sample of Mr. Brooks from 2003 as a grown man nearly three decades past his 13th birthday, a Senior Editor at Bloody Bill Kristol's Neocon hack shack and mere weeks away from being offered a job-for-life at America's Newspaper of Record:
My third guess is that the Bush haters will grow more vociferous as their numbers shrink. Even progress in Iraq will not dampen their anger, because as many people have noted, hatred of Bush and his corporate cronies is all that is left of their leftism. And this hatred is tribal, not ideological. And so they will still have their rallies, their alternative weeklies, and their Gore Vidal polemics. They will still have a huge influence over the Democratic party, perhaps even determining its next presidential nominee. But they will seem increasingly unattractive to most moderate and even many normally Democratic voters who never really adopted outrage as their dominant public emotion.

In other words, there will be no magic "Aha!" moment that brings the dream palaces down. Even if Saddam's remains are found, even if weapons of mass destruction are displayed, even if Iraq starts to move along a winding, muddled path toward normalcy, no day will come when the enemies of this endeavor turn around and say, "We were wrong. Bush was right." They will just extend their forebodings into a more distant future. Nevertheless, the frame of the debate will shift. The war's opponents will lose self-confidence and vitality. And they will backtrack. They will claim that they always accepted certain realities, which, in fact, they rejected only months ago.
I would love to know why not a single, lavishly-compensated Very Serious Person anywhere in any branch of our establishment media here in the Land of the Free ever brings up David Brooks' own, very recent and well-researched past as a paid Conservative shit-slinger whenever he opens his pie hole to moralize about how boorish and hypocritical and unfit for polite company other people are.

I'm guessing it has something to do with speech codes.

UPDATE: On The News Hour, Mr. Brooks did what he usually does -- more or less read aloud from his own column in response to a question engineered to allow him to do exactly that:
When I think back home, I think of how we think about tolerance. And the point I try to make that everyone was saying, I am — Je suis Charlie, or I am with Charlie Hebdo. But if Charlie Hebdo, the magazine, newspaper tried to open up on any college campus in this country, they would be shut down in 30 seconds. They would run afoul of every political correctness, every hate speech code, because they are offensive in some ways.

And so my point for this country is that if we are going to tolerate offensive talk, or if we’re going to expect, frankly Islamist radicals to tolerate offensive talk, then we have to tolerate offensive talk. And we have to invite people to speak at our campuses who are offensive some of the time. And we have to widen our latitude in that area...
And Marks Shields did what he usually does -- cheerfully agree with his good friend David Brooks:
No, I think David’s point about the campuses and how debate and controversy and speakers are banned or disinvited and so forth is absolutely legitimate and valid.

And if I hadda bet, I'd wager a penny and a fiddle of gold that tomorrow on "Softball Batting Practice with Chuck Todd" Mr. Brooks will be re-reading the same column in the same way to the same sage, wattle-nodding concurrence of his peers.

"Just the place for a Snark! I have said it twice:
That alone should encourage the crew.
Just the place for a Snark! I have said it thrice:
What I tell you three times is true."


Davis said...

Since the WMD's didn't exist, and Iraq is, to say the least, is not moving to normalcy, not even muddled, will Mr Brooks say, "I was wrong, the hippies were right"?

crweaver said...

Given Chuck Todd's rationale for walking on eggs around his guests on Meet the Republicans explains why the show resembles more the boxing scene from the Magic Christian - where the fighters end up warmly kissing each other - than a real life boxing match where one might expect a real contest.

Unknown said...

This is one of your better takedowns of DFB, but as you know, Driftglass, the game is rigged from the start.

Let us consider for a minute that our brave conservative sage is so cosseted that he is totally insulated from the "marketplace of ideas," where all "true conservatives" like to claim they want to test themselves.

DFB is, by his own admission, accountable to no one while in the NYT catbird seat. It's the ultimate sinecure, with ear and sight protection from unpleasantries.

By his own admission, he doesn't even have to read your destructive diatribes (or anyone else's) telling him that he is totally and completely full of shit 99% of the time; because, that would be too "psychologically damaging" for the poor boy. So much for the "marketplace of ideas."

One really can't make this up. I swear, Marie Antoinette had more exposure to the real world than DFB does. I think DFB could The useless f*ck could write "Mary Had a little Lamb" enough times to reach 800 words and the NYT would still publish it without a second thought.

As for Mark Shields, as near as I can tell the "Newshour" is his only gig, and like Coombs to Hannity, he knows his place if he wants that plate of greasy corned-beef & cabbage to continue being slid under his PBS cage door.

Mike Lumish said...

@Red Hand

Excellent observation: Not only would the allegedly liberal New York Times print eight hundred words' worth of "Mary Had a little Lamb" with its established elan but it would send forth an army of hacks and flacks and minions to lecture us peons that we simply lack the mental machinery to comprehend the incision and brilliance of its chief innovator.

'Tis good to be the king.

steeve said...

Give Brooks credit for something - he spelled "puerile" correctly. Because if he hadn't, no editor (or automated spellchecker) would dare to fix it and thus acknowledge error from the living legend.


The second most notable fact about the media (behind how stupid it is) is how boring and tepid it is. Let it never be said that they have the slightest interest in ratings, because they don't.

Anonymous said...

david brooks very well may be a boojum...

Neo Tuxedo said...

there will be no magic "Aha!" moment that brings the dream palaces down. Even if Saddam's remains are found, even if weapons of mass destruction are displayed, even if Iraq starts to move along a winding, muddled path toward normalcy, no day will come when the enemies of this endeavor turn around and say, "We were wrong. Bush was right."

It is literally always projection. It is literally never anything other.

Frank said...

What Chuck Todd said about tiptoeing around his guests is actually worse than you (and others) have quoted. The actual quote (my emphasis) is:

We all sit there because we all know the first time we bark, the last time we do the show.

In other words, it's not just that confronting guests will make them shy away from MTP, it's that he Todd won't be allowed to do the show anymore!

bowtiejack said...

Did you ever notice Brooks' mannerism of sort of bobbing and weaving his head when he speaks as though he were continually interjecting "well, you know" into everything? Verily a Uriah Heep for our time.

And oh yeah, " paid Conservative shit-slinger"? Always you with the damn facts, eh DG?
But really wasn't this, like the fornications of devout patriot and family man Henry Hyde, a mistake of youth in the body of a middle-aged man?

Strider said...

I linked this post to a FB friend's page who'd posted the DB column in question as "food for thought" along with the comment that if you like junk food then, sure, DB's columns are food for thought. I recommended you and Charlie Pierce as orders of magnitude better reading.

ssj said...

Aside from all the other mumbo jumbo, Brooks' statement that "...hatred of Bush and his corporate cronies is all that is left of their leftism." grabbed my attention. So now he knows everything about "leftism"?

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