Okay, I found Wonkette years and years ago, and liked it then. One only has so much time in the day, of course, and ultimately when law school got busy I kept my connections with FtB (where I’d established actual friendships with other commenters), but stopped regularly reading a number of sites, including Wonkette.
But in the last 6 months I’ve had more time again for trolling the internet for distractions, entertainment, and information (there has to be some information to allow my brain to justify my procrastination). Wonkette has more and more consistently been a go-to read in my downtime. On Wednesday, I came across a couple of quotes that almost perfectly encapsulate why, so I thought I’d share. Except now I can only remember one. So you just get that one until my memory returns and I can ETA this bad post all to hell-and-gone.
The first (for now, only) comes in the midst of critiquing Laura Ingraham‘s breakthrough stance in favor of the First Amendment’s right to free expression. Ingraham is terribly, terribly afraid of bullies interfering with free expression.
Why is she so afraid of horrible, horrible bullies suppressing good-faith speech? Well, it stems from a couple weeks ago, and the aftermath of a quotidian tweet by fairly average high school student David Hogg. A white guy with a good GPA, there’s not a lot about him that immediately stands out, unless it’s the fact that he’s doing pretty well academically (somewhere between 4.15 and 4.20 out of a possible 4.3, IIUC). Nonetheless, Hogg is now in the spotlight for his pro-gun control stance because he also happened to be present when a violent jerkface shot up his school and killed over a dozen of his classmates, plus a couple faculty/staff besides.
Weirdly, for a teenager, he doesn’t send out tweets only after vetting them for their national importance. This despite the fact that after the Marjory Stoneham Douglas HS shootings and the interviews that followed, a very large number of people not personally known by Hogg have started following his twitter fee. Sometimes he just tweets out personal stuff intended for his friends or family. And so, a couple weeks ago, he let those close to him know that he’d gotten back some rejection letters from colleges to which he’d applied, including UCLA. Considering the ability to articulate ideas and motivate communities that Emma Gonzales, Hogg, and other students of MSDHS have shown in the wake of the shooting, I’d say that’s a much bigger loss for UCLA than for Hogg, but I understand why he might be disappointed. I’m sure he was hoping for a few emoticons of support, and I’m equally sure that he got them. Who knows, he might even have gotten a real life hug of consolation from someone.
But he also got more than that. An adult with a daily national TV audience of at least tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands and who knows how many twitter followers tweeted out something that can only be described as enjoying Hogg’s rejection:
David Hogg Rejected By Four Colleges To Which He Applied and whines about it. (Dinged by UCLA with a 4.1 GPA…totally predictable given acceptance rates.)
So is this the bullying-which-will-silence that Ingraham will oppose on her show? A rich, white, famous broadcaster using a massive media platform to laugh at a teenager’s failure, merely because the teenager has taken a position on gun control? No. Of course not. That’s Ingraham’s tweet.
After Ingraham tweeted that, others noticed, including (eventually) Hogg. Asked by others what he felt about it and what he thought should be done, he encouraged a boycott of Ingraham and her advertisers. Many individuals decided that they wanted to do just that, although it’s doubtful that it’s had much effect on the bottom line of any particular company in the short time since then.
Still, the unattractiveness of being perceived to take sides with Ingraham and against Hogg in this particular context has caused a number of former advertisers to decide the risk wasn’t worth it. Even in the last few days, more advertisers have announced that they are cancelling their buys with The Ingraham Angle on FOX or The Laura Ingraham Show on radio.
Ingraham’s brave stand was to oppose consumer boycotts and advertiser choice as “bullying” intended to silence anyone with the slightest tinge of conservative color.*1
Wonkette found all this principled posturing by Ingraham to be HIGH-larious. Their writer Doktor Zoom pointed out that Wonkette – years ago and under previous ownership – was itself the subject of a boycott directed at advertisers a number of years ago when a critique of Sarah Palin’s hypocrisy in slamming some media outlets for printing stories about her children while voluntarily using her children as political props on the campaign and with other media outlets ended up communicating a lot more disrespect for Palin’s son Trig than for Palin herself, and caused ableist splash damage besides. Would Ingraham cover Wonkette’s story of victimization at the hands of conservative First Amendment haters? Doktor Zoom suspected not.
Nonetheless, the fucked up decision by Wonkette had at least one good outcome: the site now has no advertisers and is supported entirely by donations. Which, finally, brings us to Wonkette’s self-description, largely accurate in word and even more accurate in spirit:
our brilliant, discerning readers know we’re the best source of artisanal political commentary spiked with dick jokes on the internet.
Oh, how much of Wonkette that encapsulates!
Don’t get me wrong. Not all of their jokes reference genitalia. But they feature stellar word play, always good and sometimes brilliant political analysis, and a potty-mouthed irreverence towards those who use their public positions for evil, even if those high mucky-mucks themselves would never stoop to the sin of crass expression.
If you feel the need to keep up with US politics, and you get tired of hearing bad ideas and bad people treated with far more respect than they deserve by a media which treats form as more important than substance, I encourage you to give Wonkette a read, and if you like them, maybe a dollar.
*1: For now let’s just assume that color is ecru.