MATTHEW BOOSE: Conservatives shouldn’t defend James Gunn

July 27, 2018

MATTHEW BOOSE: Conservatives shouldn’t defend James Gunn

Some conservatives, including National Review‘s David French and Ben Shapiro of the Daily Wire, have come to the defense of former Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn.

Gunn, who is a critic of Trump, recently lost his job at Disney after right-wing activist Mike Cernovich dug up tweets in which Gunn joked about pedophilia and rape.

Cernovich helped publicize the tweets after Gunn attacked Ben Shapiro, who was targeted after actor Mark Duplass endorsed him. (Duplass was also targeted for the endorsement, and he apologized.) Gunn came to Duplass’ defense while attacking Shapiro.

To the conservatives defending Gunn, those who approve of his firing have given up on lofty principles of civility and fairness to score cheap political points.

These conservatives fret that normalizing tribal behavior will undercut free speech and make everyone into a target.

But the left is already targeting conservatives. The only difference is that this time, they targeted a liberal.

Conservatives have warned leftists for some time about normalizing the “one strike you’re out” lynch mob culture, but they didn’t listen.

When Roseanne Barr lost her show, many liberals argued, in a predictable turn of phrase, that freedom of speech does not guarantee freedom from consequences. I wrote previously that the left has traditionally favored this argument because, generally, the consequences for them have been trivial.

Evidently, the left never expected the monster they created to come back for them. It’s ironic that they are now complaining that Gunn has been punished for offensive speech, especially since Gunn himself once argued that freedom of speech does not guarantee freedom from consequences.

Of course, it was never about principles. Leftists just never expect to be punished the way they punish conservatives.

That needs to change. The left is never going to stop targeting conservatives until they realize that they, too, will be held accountable for their transgressions.

James Gunn’s firing was a good thing, and it serves as an example of how conservatives should respond in similar scenarios in the future.

The conservatives defending Gunn are under the mistaken impression that they can win the sympathy of the left by appealing to higher principles. They can’t.

The conservatives sticking up for the left won’t save their fellow conservatives or themselves by grand-standing about the “marketplace of ideas.” Mourning a decline in civility won’t solve anything.

Leftists, including Gunn, didn’t waste any time mobbing Shapiro — so why did Shapiro go out of his way to stick up for a depraved person like Gunn?

French was not happy with the harassment Shapiro faced, either. In an article on the fracas, French observed (as if realizing for the first time) that progressives have no tolerance for conservatives.

Throwing your hands up and going, “Well, so much for the tolerant left!” is not exactly groundbreaking stuff. Impotent complaining accomplishes nothing.

Of course the left is intolerant. This is obvious. French and Shapiro are clearly unhappy with leftist mob harassment, but neither is willing to do what is necessary to get the mob to back off.

And neither wasted any time throwing Roseanne under the bus while leaping to defend a man who thinks pedophilia is a laughing matter.

To justify this inconsistency, both have used a tortured “free market” defense, arguing that Gunn’s tweets predate his work with Disney, while Rosanne posted her offensive tweet while she was employed at ABC.

Neither made a distinction between past and present statements before, so this new criterion is not very convincing. In the past, Shapiro reasoned that both the NFL and ABC were justified in their respective decisions on the NFL protests and Roseanne’s firing because they’re both private corporations.

French had argued that Roseanne’s offense violated a decency standard. Disney is a private corporation, and there was nothing decent about Gunn’s tweets.

It looks more like they are grasping for reasons to justify a glaring inconsistency.

Defending pedophilia with equivocal “free market” logic masks a deeper problem. The free market defense rests on the idea that corporations, not morals or a shared culture, should govern how people speak and act.

When morality is left up to the “free market,” though, pedophilia just becomes another way of viewing the world. It’s telling that Shapiro refers to Gunn’s mindset as a “perspective”:

Here, I think the question is slightly complex. In a vacuum, the answer would be yes – trying to get people fired based on perspectives that don’t actually impact their work is presenting a more and more serious problem for society at large.

Joking about pedophilia is not a “perspective.” It’s disgusting, and it’s not worth defending.

There is nothing conservative about defending pedophilia. It doesn’t matter when Gunn published the tweets or what his employer thinks of them.

Whether they realize it or not, those arguing that Roseanne deserved her punishment, but Gunn did not, are making a moral argument. They are arguing that pedophilia isn’t as bad as racism — or at least not as bad to joke about, which is really the same thing.

If pedophilia acceptance is the future of leftism — which hardly seems unlikely, given their recent moral trajectory — then the conservatives defending Gunn are just enabling a depraved movement. They aren’t conserving anything.

Conservatives should start holding leftists accountable for their transgressions. The left won’t stop harassing them if they don’t show some spine.


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Matthew Boose

Matthew Boose is a staff writer for Conservative Institute. He has a Bachelor's degree from Stony Brook University and has contributed to The Daily Caller and The Stony Brook Press.