My step daughter was angry with me the other day.
I posted this on Facebook:
Doubling down on Big Bird, Democrats have taken Romney’s story about making sure his cabinet was staffed with highly capable women and turned it into a joke about binders.
When you take a serious policy discussion and dumb it down to an awkward phrase, do you really wonder why you aren’t taken seriously?
She didn’t like that I was dismissing people for making a joke.
What she didn’t understand is that when you take a serious statement and make a dismissive joke out of it, you are demeaning the person who advanced the argument. You are telling them that their point of view isn’t worth serious consideration, that they are nothing more than a punchline in your own private little world.
You are being a bully.
Laughter can be vicious; just ask Sarah Palin. Fair or not, Palin’s public image will be forever linked to Tina Fey’s brilliant caricature of her. Overnight, she went from being an accomplished powerful woman to a national punchline. Somehow, it even became okay to make savage jokes about her children, including Trig, born with Down’s Syndrome.
‘It’s just a joke’ is not an adequate defense folks, not when the pattern of the ‘jokes’ is clearly meant to demean another person.
Sure, when you enter public life, you have to expect people to disagree with you and argue with you, and even occasionally get a little hot tempered, but when did politics become a bloodsport where winning meant the complete personal destruction of your opponent? When did ridicule replace rational thought and choices?
Here is the first post-debate piece on Babble; it celebrates the binder meme in all its glory. It also includes the word ‘douchefart.’
Tell me, when did ‘douchefart’ become appropriate for a political discussion? Does this mean that ‘doodoo-pot’ is also now on the table? Or how about my personal favorite, ‘dingleberry?’
Look, I know that Ms. Castiglia is not a political writer, and I’m not knocking her, but since when has being snarky replaced common courtesy and basic decency?
Remember Molly Ivins, who coined the name “Shrub” for President Bush? Did that really contribute to the conversation, or did it cause long term lingering resentments that increased partisan rancor in DC? On the other side, did Limbaugh’s constant referring to President Clinton as ‘Der Schlickmeister’ encourage anybody in Congress to reach across partisan divides and work together?
We don’t have to settle for this.
Which is why I was so happy to see Katie Granju’s latest Babble post which dismisses the binder in favor of an examination of the real issue, Romney’s record on hiring women.
As the mother of three daughters ranging in age from toddler to teenager, my interest in how the two men currently vying for the U.S. presidency express their views on women’s issues is fundamental to how I will cast my vote. Issues such as equal pay, personal reproductive freedom, and sexual harassment and violence against my gender matter to me not just because I am an American woman, but more importantly, because I am raising three American women … These political issues and others like them are the ones that I care about in a very personal way. But you know what I don’t care about? Not even one tiny little bit? I don’t care that candidate Romney inadvertently dropped a word or two out of a single sentence during last week’s debate with President Obama, although much of the country seems a bit obsessed with Romney’s minor, tongue twisted screw-up.
Can I get an “Amen!”
After establishing her premise, Katie goes on to present actual facts about the famous binder that work more effectively to discredit Romney’s story than any number of internet memes. She establishes a position that is defensible, and that starts a conversation rather than ends all possibility of one.
That’s how this game should be played.
It’s too bad that so many players on both sides would rather go for the easy insult.
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