Sunday, November 20, 2016

Today in snowflakery

And what special snowflake's hurt feelings brought about Saturday morning's top story at the Fair 'n' Balanced Network?

President-elect Donald Trump on Saturday said the cast of the hit Broadway show “Hamilton” was “rude” to White House teammate Mike Pence and that he deserves an apology for being “harassed.”

“Our wonderful future V.P. Mike Pence was harassed last night at the theater by the cast of Hamilton, cameras blazing. This should not happen!” Trump tweeted.

The ticket that campaigned against the scourge of political correctness needs to clutch its teddy bear a little tighter. Gov. Pence was not "harassed." He was addressed as "sir," not "you chinky-ass bitch," and he was not told to return to the land his grandfather immigrated from.* But we do have a better idea about what the president-elect meant when he promised to "open up those libel laws": sedition and seditious libel!

Seditious libel is the kind we thought we got rid of 200 years ago,** in which hurting the feelings of the authorities is bad in and of itself: "The intentional publication, without lawful excuse or justification, of written blame of any public man, or of the law, or of any institution established by law." Rather than being a defense, truth is an aggravating factor. Nelson (1959), from which the preceding definition is taken, raises a question that's particularly relevant to Fox: "Would it have been wise, under these concepts, to suggest that Governor William Cosby*** spent too much time on the golf course?"

"Hamilton" is a particularly amusing venue, in that Hamilton himself seems to have favored the mass removal of aliens and wanted even stricter laws against "incendiary and seditious practices" (Smith, 1954). Somehow I'm not convinced that those policies are what drew Gov. Pence to the theater. But there's still a reflection of the 2016 campaign: not just the basic distrust of the press, but the sense of persecution that underlies the endless lashing-out against campus culture and "safe spaces." A few Fox lead stories from the last week and a half might shed some light:

So sad that poor snowflake Mike Pence seems to need the same sort of "toddler therapy" because some actors found an interesting way to petition for redress of grievances. But one is entitled to wonder whether and how that infantilizing theme has played out in previous cases:

Oh. So when stupid white people are playing dress-up, it's a "revolt steeped in history":

The Stamp Act? Now it's the Wall Street bailout.

The Tea Act? Now it's the $787 billion stimulus package.

The Quartering Act? Now it's the pork-filled omnibus spending bill.

The Boston Massacre? That would have to be the proposed $3.55 trillion 2010 budget, seen by tea partiers as a fiscal massacre.

... but when anyone else gets a little annoyed at the racist thuggery, it's just another tantrum? 

It could be a long few years. Please, miss no chance to ridicule the incoming administration and its pet news organizations. Even if Hamilton wouldn't have approved, Liebling would have.

* This happens, if you're wondering why Americans who aren't white guys sometimes seem a little concerned these days.
** Silly us.
*** The one whom Zenger went to the clink for libeling, but you knew that already. 

Nelson, H.L. (1959). Seditious libel in colonial America. American Journal of Legal History, 3, 160-172.

Smith, J.M. (1954). Alexander Hamilton, the Alien Law, and seditious libels.The Review of Politics, 16, 305-333.



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