So the Atlantic recently announced it was hiring Kevin Williamson to replace Megan McArdle, who’s continuing her life of falling upwards by moving on to the Washington Post. Williamson is the guy who thought Romney would win in 2012 because he has five sons so he reeks of testosterone where Obama with two daughters just gives off a total sissy vibe. Oh, and he also believes in the death penalty for women who get abortions; thinks nothing of referring to a black child as a primate; and more bullshit. Including that the press should name rape victims (“rape accusers” in Williamson’s words)So it’s no surprise, I think, that liberals have been critical of the Atlantic hiring decision (Jessica Valenti shudders at the thought Williamson’s abortion views are apparently acceptable to the editors). As Huffington Post puts, “diversity of opinion” doesn’t mean every viewpoint deserves to be published. And Atlantic (and WaPo, etc., etc.) seem to agree: there’s no attempt to recruit pro-Trump conservatives for mainstream publications, at least so far.
But as I’ve mentioned before, treating someone like Williamson with anything but “I disagree with your opinions, but I wish you well in your new venture” freaks conservatives out. Saying they’re bigots, sexists, that their positions are unreasonable, or suggesting they might be arguing in bad faith, that’s thought policing! So the flak sent at The Atlantic has infuriated the right: just because he made some provocative statements about killing women, what’s the big deal. Libertarian Cathy Young argues that he’s only proposing executions for women who get abortions in the future, not women who’ve already had them so what’s the big deal?
Conservative Timothy Carney sees a Big and Evil plan in criticizing the hiring of Williamson and Megan McArdle: the goal is to intimidate conservatives into walking away from these prestigious positions, silencing them! Admittedly I’d be quite happy if they were gone, but so? Is Carney suggesting they should be free of criticism? Possibly, since he equates the liberal reaction to a plot to “to smash these interlopers’ faces into a plate glass window, take a Polaroid and send it out as a Christmas card.”
David French desperately struggles to paint Williamson’s tweet as just “an ill-considered tweet” in a vast body of great work (regarding Williamson’s greatness, see my first paragraph and links therein). Ignoring, as noted at the link, that Williamson has confirmed, repeatedly, that he stands by what he said.
While conservatives are certainly entitled to advocate for their freedom from criticism, it ain’t a free speech issue. Free speech has never meant freedom from criticism. And they’ve never shown any sign of thinking people who disagree with them deserve the same statement, or that lobbying major media outlets about how they don’t have enough conservative viewpoints is in any way objectionable. Bari Weiss of the NYT is, for example, shocked and appalled by campus liberals who don’t want conservatives to speak , but she has a long history of trying to get professors critical of Israel fired. Pundit Cheryl Chumley thinks David Hogg’s call for a boycott of Laura Ingraham’s advertisers makes the kid a fascist, is a big fan of boycotts, when used against the left. No More Mr. Nice Blog offers a couple more examples.
And I’m sure nobody on the right’s going to complain about Sylvester Stallone’s brother Frank.
UPDATE: Atlantic editor Jeffrey Goldberg has fired Williamson. Goldberg says that digging into Williamson’s ouevre, he discovered that yes, he really did believe that “hang the women” stuff! OMG, who could have known! What the heck, it’s still a good thing.