Another Internet outrage struck Friday when a website called Boing Boing posted a picture of a cat saying it identified as a German Shepherd to its Twitter feed. Naturally, this was "disappointingly transphobic" and problematic to many online.
Right-thinking people leapt to defend the site's right to post whatever silly joke it pleased, regardless of the feelings of the perpetually aggrieved. You'd think Boing Boing would be grateful.
You'd be wrong.
First, they deleted the tweet in question and apologized for the galling sin of making a joke that some people found offensive. Ok, pretty pitiful but hey, it's their website.
Then they unveiled this little number:
That feeling when you notice right wing lunatics vigorously defending you and know, instantly, that you did something horribly wrong.
— Boing Boing (@BoingBoing) April 17, 2015
Total strangers defended the right to make a joke, and Boing Boing's reaction was to realize they were "horribly wrong" because of the contemptible nature of their defenders' politics. If a conservative said it would be a bad idea to jump off a bridge, would Boing Boing's social media director start climbing over the guardrails?
Boing Boing's reaction calls to mind the "politicized life" that Sonny Bunch has written about from time to time, a "zero-sum game" where political views guide all thoughts, deeds, likes and dislikes, and the other side of the spectrum must be opposed in all matters. Even cat memes!
This particular behavior—where someone expresses revulsion when a person with whom they disagree politically acknowledges admiration for their product—is particularly noticeable on the left, given the generally liberal leanings of much of the creative class. Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) recently said he is a fan of The Simpsons, and the showrunner's response was "Ted Cruz? Go ahead, throw your vote away." The Daily Beast‘s Asawin Suebsaeng wrote, without irony:
This much is to be expected. After all, The Simpsons writers and creative team are generally very liberal politically.
Gov. Scott Walker (R., Wis.) used Dropkick Murphys' hit song "I'm Shipping Up to Boston" as the intro before one of his speeches, and the band tweeted at him to stop using its music, adding "we literally hate you."
Slightly depressed by the kerfuffle, I tweeted this:
Responses hit on similar themes:
— Just Karl (@justkarl) April 17, 2015
— DR. SCIENCE (@MoarSpeech) April 17, 2015
@DavidRutz It's the Tribe. Anything the Other Tribe approves of is a threat, therefore, one must shed all of the Other Tribe.
— John Holtz (@presidentjlh) April 17, 2015
"We have done wrong," they may as well have said. "And we know this because The Enemy said they have our back. Here's a snarky tweet about how awful right-wingers are. Please let us back in the treehouse." Boing Boing's reaction to the abuse heaped upon their heads called to mind Gretchen, a brainwashed character in Netflix's Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt who defends the crazed reverend who trapped her in a bunker for 15 years. That's devotion right there!