Making the Personal the Political

February 26, 2013

Andrew Ferguson has a fun column in the latest Commentary (to which you should subscribe! $20 for full digital and print access is a steal!*) about the ongoing efforts of progressives to make the personal the political. He uses Whole Foods' John Mackey as a case study, as he has recently come under fire from foodies for referring to Obamacare as "fascism":

You might wonder how anyone could take a common political opinion as a personal insult. If so, you haven't paid attention to the evolving sensitivities of American progressivism, which is separated from real life by a no-man's land thickly criss-crossed with ideological trip wires. One false step, and KABOOM.

A similar movement has been afoot in the world of comic books recently. DC Comics hired Orson Scott Card—the author of Ender's Game, most notably—to write a story for a new Superman anthology. What seemed to most like a no-brainer business decision quickly spiraled into a free-for-all in which DC was tarred by a vocal segment of the Internet for hiring, get this—a conservative! Worse still: A HOMOPHOBE!

Wired's Jason Cranfordteague has a pretty good rundown of the "controversy" and the outrage it has sparked. It's worth noting that, at least as far as I know, Card wasn't going to write a story in which Superman found a gay couple and beat them up for being sissies. Nor was the Man of Steel planning on petitioning Metropolis' city council to ban the annual gay pride parade.

No matter. For his personal failings entirely unrelated to his work as a storyteller or for DC, Card is to be banned, shunned, hidden away from the community like a leprous hobo. If his livelihood is taken from him and his sins are exposed to the world, maybe he will learn his lesson, no? At the very least, future, burgeoning bigots will learn to keep their damned mouths shut. NFL punter Chris Kluwe took up the mantle of the oppressed and declared that all conscientious consumers should steal Card's work to avoid lining his pockets with filthy lucre:

A slightly more thoughtful take came here, as ThinkProgress offered an "Ethical Guide to Consuming Content Created by Awful People Like Orson Scott Card." Helpful suggestions included "Employing Political Moral Offsets." Because if you're already purchasing indulgences for the sin of contributing to global warming, why wouldn't you do the same for contributing to the checkbook of an awful, very bad, no good, terrible conservative. Why, the thought just gives me the chills!

I've got no real horse in this fight—I've never read Card and I have no problem with gay marriage—but I do find the whole situation extremely amusing and a little bit troubling. Amusing because, as a conservative, if I got the vapors every time I paid for art created by a liberal with idiotic opinions, I'd never be able to go to the movies—or watch TV, or listen to an album, or read a book—ever again. Troubling because, let's be clear here, this is straight-up McCarthyism: Activists and celebrities are trying to deny an artist an ability to make a living because of political beliefs that are entirely unrelated to his work.

I suppose it also makes me a little, well, sad for the people who can't set aside their political hangups enough to enjoy a realm unrelated to politics. When you make the personal the political, you turn day-to-day life into a minefield, unsure where to step to keep from going KABOOM.

What fun is that?

*Full disclosure: I also have a piece in the most recent issue. But I'd suggest you subscribe anyway, as Commentary is a fine publication despite their decision to publish a disreputable troll like myself.

Published under: Progressive Movement