Tuesday, March 21, 2006

New Look, Same Old Rhetoric

Hi again, all!

I got back from my travels, fired up the computer, and found that we’ve got a new picture of Mark Hyman on the Newscentral website. As we noted, the previous picture made him look startlingly like Stephen Colbert’s caricature of a blowhard right wing ideologue. It also made him look . . .well . . . evil and creepy. After its brief time on the site, it’s been replaced by a kinder, gentler Hyman. I couldn’t help but wonder if this marked a change in his rhetorical style as well. So, I dove into “the week that was” in Hyman, hoping to find something new and interesting.

It wasn’t pretty.

Lately, Hyman has attacked Ray Nagin of being a “bigot,” the ACLU as being “bigots,” and academics of being purveyors of “hate.” But last week, it was Hyman who tried to equate the jingoistic actions of an English-only advocate in Colorado with public offices providing government documents in non-English languages. Apparently the fact that the man’s actions were meant to intimidate and pressure and the government’s actions are meant to welcome and include is irrelevant.

Hyman also
made the ridiculous statement that “many women’s groups” have advocated that women be sexually active “without responsibility.” He insinuates that it’s therefore hypocritical for these same groups to argue that a rape victim’s identity be protected. Hyman, who usually couldn’t care less about the civil rights of accused criminals, suddenly gets all ACLU on us by wondering about what happens to the reputation of the poor alleged perpetrator of rape who might not have done anything.

The whole implied false dichotomy here is absolutely Victorian (and not in a good way): women can either have the freedom to be sexual beings OR they can be shielded from public scrutiny if they are victimized. Of course, it’s exactly this sort of Neanderthal attitude (again, not in a good way) that puts rape victims in such a vulnerable state: they are almost the only victims of crime who are routinely blamed for the crimes committed against them.

And what are xenophobia and misogyny without some good old fashioned homophobia thrown in? As a “joke” during
his St. Patrick’s Day editorial, Hyman notes that on St. Patrick’s Day, it’s said that we are all a little bit Irish. He then asks, “What does this mean for all of us on Gay Pride Day?”

Get it? See, it suggests that maybe we’d all be considered “a little bit gay,” and that is obviously a horribly bad thing to be. While being a little bit Irish is sort of fun, being a little bit gay would be terrible and embarrassing, thus the humor in Hyman’s word play. Who said hatred couldn’t be hysterical?

And speaking of St. Patrick’s Day,
Hyman also mentions the Catholic metropolis (Cathropolis?) being built in Florida by the owner of Dominos Pizza, which, Hyman notes, “will feature strict covenants against certain behaviors such as no X-rated channels on the cable TV system.”

One can only assume that these covenants will also include a ban on any Sinclair stations on television, given that the president of Sinclair is a former purveyor of pornography and a convicted whoremonger.

Not even four-year-olds are safe from Hyman.
In a recent editorial, he railed against the wastefulness of a California initiative that would fund universal preschool for all four-year-olds in the state. What could be a better investment of money than in making sure the youngest of our citizens get off to strong academic start in life? Well, according to Hyman, the money should be spent as giveaways (i.e., “vouchers”) to parents who want to opt out of the public school system (leaving less resources for parents who can’t or don’t want to send their children to schools outside of their neighborhood).

And finally, in a textbook case of projection,
Hyman calls the ACLU “bigots” for investigating the fact that in a Maryland county that had been redistricted to allow a greater possibility of African American candidates winning office, no minority candidates had won in a district that was almost 50% African American. Hyman argues that this reveals the ACLU’s “repugnant” and “bigoted” attitude about black voters: that they are unwilling to vote for a non-black candidate. His conclusion is that “these bigots are just plain bad for the American way of life.”

Hyman is usually so meticulously factual when discussing matters concerning the ACLU that it might come as a shock to learn that he’s just making stuff up.

First, the ACLU was asked to investigate by the local chapter of the NAACP (I suppose Hyman will accuse *them* of being bigots as well). The “threatened lawsuit” is in actuality an investigation by the ACLU and the NAACP into voting patterns to see what the causes might be. True, there is nothing to suggest that blacks will always vote for a black candidate when given a choice, but when the results of voting seem to defy conventional wisdom, it’s worth asking why (you know—like when
Pat Buchanan receives unprecedented electoral support in heavily Jewish area). The redistricting (which Hyman suggests he approved of) was intended to make the county government more representative of the population. If that’s not happening, it would make sense that we should look at why that is. If Hyman actually approves of the goals of redistricting, one would assume he’d be in favor of this as well.

Now, it might very well turn out that black voters are simply voting for white candidates in overwhelming numbers. That would be fine. It might turn out to be voter apathy on the part of black voters, which would be a problem to be addressed not through legislation but through activism. Then again, it might be the fact that the district in question contains a historically black college and a prison, both of which have a disproportionate number of black residents who are counted in the census as being locals, but who don’t turn out in large numbers for local elections. If that’s the case, then there was a problem with the redistricting that could and should be addressed legally. And one would think that someone who thought that the ACLU was right in requesting the districts be drawn up 20 years ago would still support their efforts if it became clear the districts had been created in a way that didn’t address the problem. But Hyman instead equates the ACLU with communists and says they are bad for America.

Hyman might have a new look on his website, but he sure sounds the same.

And those are the catch-up Counterpoints.


At 5:25 PM, Blogger Bob said...

Welcome back. Looking forward to your disection of Herr Hyman's Katrina discourse-- I think he was quoting the widely discrediting 2000 buses meme last night. I can hardly tolerate looking at the guy so my mind shut down.

Anyway, keep up the good work.


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