Moral Scolds: The Cult of Perpetual Outrage

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We have entered a strange period in our culture where we’ve decided as a group to run about wearing our shoes on the wrong feet. For several decades we’ve moved art in a decidedly more obscene direction: sexual content and nudity in film and television is off the charts, language is filthier, comedy crosses any line it can find. Video games are far more graphic and, after years of the Tipper Gore’s claiming they were overly sexual, they actually have depictions of sex. None of this happened over night, of course, nor is it all that new.

Way back when, before the Comic Code started appearing on the covers of comic books, pulp magazines and comics pushed the envelope where other media didn’t — movies had the Hayes code, radio was bland. But the pulps, and associated comics, portrayed violence and sex quite blatantly. Sure, it wasn’t like Game of Thrones or even photo-real, but the thoughts were there.

Over the decades we moved culture to a much more free place and that’s probably better for free speech even if several hacks are using their freedom to pass off polished turds as something worth your time. It isn’t just our fiction — magazines have become absolutely off the wall.

However, now, after years of pushing the envelope — pushing what is acceptable — suddenly a lot of people employed by those very organizations (or subsidiaries) are in desperate need of a fainting couch. Look no further than boobgate on CNN (and you people calling it “Breastgate” are part of the problem). A summary: A sort of sports shock jock from Fox Sports was invited on to discuss the Jemele Hill controversy, and he said, “I believe in the first amendment and boobs.”

The CNN Reporterette lost her mind, ended the interview (despite other incidents surfacing where worse is said in her presence), and has proceeded to play the victim for several days now. Now, I’m not here to defend the guy, but c’mon, the level of outrage over this is absurd. It’s become cliche but this is why Trump won. The people who are opposed to Trump are exactly the people making the most noise about boobgate: the Venn Diagram can be expressed with a single circle.

It’s not even related to Trump anymore. It’s that people are all out of outrage. People are tired of a bunch of rich brats giving hectoring lessons in what is acceptable. Especially when these rich brats have made their bread and butter by being unacceptable or at the very least hugging the line. It’s not about politics, or left versus right. It’s them versus us, and them are a bunch of spoiled kids whining because the car they got for their sweet sixteen wasn’t the right shade of red.

This cult of perpetual outrage isn’t a group of emotionally mature people, is what I’m getting at here.

And of course, Robby Soave over at (a supposedly Libertarian site) is even in on the fauxtrage:

The social media mobs are currently pillorying Travis for his crass comment, and deservedly so.

This virtue signaling occurs in an article dedicated to bashing folks for pillorying Jemele Hill for saying something stupid. Apparently the only people who deserve the ire of the social media mobs are those Robby finds offensive — or, more likely, some woman in his life he’s trying to virtue signal to. “Look at me, I said bad stuff about the mean man!” It’s pathetic and childish (but I already told you Soave wrote it); that line alone derails any reasonable argument he might have.

But he doesn’t even have a reasonable argument in hiding:

Travis, Sanders, and Trump all seem to be making the same mistake: the First Amendment does not require ESPN to be politically neutral, or polite, or even-handed. It protects Hill’s right to call Trump a white supremacist, and also Travis’s right to say “boobs” on television.

It also protects ESPN’s right to fire her, and my right to cancel ESPN if they don’t fire her, and my right to complain about her. It protects Trump’s right to call foul on her idiotic tweets, and so on and so forth. He’s arguing against one social media mob in favor of another, which is about as effective as jousting at a tornado to defend the honor of a hurricane. The hurricane doesn’t care, and the tornado isn’t going to notice.

It does not protect anyone from whatever social consequences they face. ESPN can punish Schilling for engaging in political speech and reward Hill for doing the same thing. If people don’t like this policy, they can turn off SportsCenter. The scary thing would be if the government tried to punish any of the people involved in this strange controversy, which is why it’s probably not such a good idea for government mouthpieces to imply a desire to do so.

Emphasis mine. The bold text is actually happening in droves; I had added the Sling Orange package back for the NFL season to get access to that sweet Monday Night Football, but I ended up canceling it the Tuesday after Hill had her tantrum. I will not be watching ESPN until she’s fired: I’m not alone. Hill’s first amendment rights don’t entitle her to my money, now do they?

Nobody implied a desire to fire Hill in the government: she is not a government employee. The President said ESPN should apologize, and Sanders said she felt it rose to a firing offense. Are we now saying the Press Secretary doesn’t have a right to free speech? Because that’s really weird from a Libertarian.

He closes his virtue signal with this:

Otherwise, neither the First Amendment nor boobs are relevant here.

First of all, the Fox Sports guy said he supported Hill’s right to speech — he just wished ESPN was consistent with it. Second of all, boobs are always relevant. Maybe if Soave had ever seen a pair he’d understand that.

Sadly, Soave is one of the more sane members of the cult of perpetual outrage. Over the weekend at least one prominent figure compared this to something a white supremacist would do. Several hectoring shrews showed up to talk about how awful everyone involved is. And nobody really cares. The grown ups are going to get on with their lives and shy away from anything these shrill moral scolds are associated with. Watch and see; you can’t win hearts and minds by telling someone how awful they are.