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MATTHEW BOOSE: Tucker Carlson rips up the outrage script
Excuse the tired communism analogy, but the Tucker Carlson drama is a show trial. Or at least, a show trial interrupted.
There is a script that accused bigots are expected to follow. The begging and pleading, the contrition, and the realization of one’s benighted condition are all part of a ritual.
And yet, it’s a script that Carlson refused to follow. He interrupted the ritual. By refusing to apologize to the mob, Carlson denied its power and authority.
If the social justice Maoists are ever to be stopped, then this is how it starts, by refusing to play by their rules.
But Carlson said offensive things. He should have apologized anyway, right? It’s the decent thing to do.
Decent, yes. Stupid, also yes.
To the outrage mob, an apology is just more blood in the water. It signals weakness and vulnerability. Weakness and vulnerability are human. To the inhuman mob, an apology is just one more chance to attack the sinner.
In terms of protecting his career, Carlson made the best — the only — choice he could have. It’s futile to beg for mercy when contrition is just a formality.
Yes, Carlson said some awful things. But consider that his words are not actually that impactful in his conviction. They merely provide a veneer of justice in the left’s show trial against him.
Carlson was guilty before the tapes surfaced. Guilty of being conservative, guilty of preaching “hate,” of being a straight white male.
It’s not about what Carlson said so much as what he believes in, or even who he is. This puts Carlson in a bit of a bind. Bearing the mark of evil, there is nothing that he could say to win the left’s forgiveness.
But this is about decency! It’s not as if groups like Media Matters have been trying to take Tucker down since he launched his show. Right?
Wrong. If not for the tapes, the left would have no doubt taken some other pretext to destroy him.
So, what? Are we supposed to throw away all our principles for the sake of tribal warfare?
That doesn’t have to be the case. It would be best to discard this outrage culture and get back to being civilized. But given the political importance to the left of enforcing their norms through fear and persecution, that doesn’t seem likely.
The left isn’t going to stop, at least not without facing some pushback.
A gesture like Carlson’s doesn’t do much to challenge the institutions that facilitate the mob’s punishment, but it’s a start. The mob’s power depends on fear as much as institutional force, a fear that is valid when the ritual goes on unchecked.
Defying the mob might be inadvisable for most people, at least under the present cultural and political circumstances, but it’s also true that the left will crush all dissent anyway if they have their way. Carlson at least interrupted the normal course of events.
The Carlson controversy is the latest in an unceasing string of left-wing, media fabricated morality tales, the purpose of which is to make an example of the left’s enemies and reinforce progressive norms. Like a show trial, the primary purpose of these events is symbolic. In that symbolic play, apology plays a purely formal role. One is supposed to plead for mercy, but mercy proves elusive. Carlson recognized this and refused to play the part.
By refusing to apologize, he amplified his sin. The liberal media didn’t waste any time getting to the pontification. Have you no decency? cried Brian Stelter. An unrepentant bigot in our midst! puffed Chris Cuomo and Don Lemon.
This isn’t about politics, see. It’s about decency! — or so they say.
Of course, this is nonsense. Sarah Jeong got a plum job at the New York Times. The president of Media Matters blogged about “tranny lovers,” “Japs,” and “Jewry.” If Carlson were a liberal, this controversy would have already been forgotten. Remember Ralph Northam? Joy Reid?
Decency means sharing their viewpoints. Hate means whatever they decide is hateful. They’re terms in the script, a script that everyone is supposed to recognize and dutifully follow. The media contrives the outrage, rigs up the narrative — poor oppressed Native American versus snickering white Catholic boys, or whatever — and everyone is supposed to watch quietly and digest some morally edifying message about how bad Western civilization is.
Again, Carlson said some terrible things. But it doesn’t make sense for one of the most provocative pundits in the country to lose his career over shock jock radio comments that offended absolutely no one at the time.
It’s not his best material, but the substance of Carlson’s comments is immaterial to those trying to destroy him. What matters to them is that he is an influential commentator who works for Fox News.
Naturally, the left is complaining that he hasn’t been fired, tarred, and feathered already. Not only is he a provocative pundit who threatens their ideological hegemony on a nightly basis; he is a defiant “bigot” who refused to play the part they gave him.
Not satisfied with being a propaganda machine, the media is an outrage machine now, too. They’re morality play crafters, and Carlson wrote himself out of their outrage script.
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