The Lucrative Profession of Paid Culture War Symbol

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Tod Kelly

Tod is a writer from the Pacific Northwest. He is also serves as Executive Producer and host of both the 7 Deadly Sins Show at Portland's historic Mission Theatre and 7DS: Pants On Fire! at the White Eagle Hotel & Saloon. He is  a regular inactive for Marie Claire International and the Daily Beast, and is currently writing a book on the sudden rise of exorcisms in the United States. Follow him on Twitter.

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252 Responses

  1. Avatar j r
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    In my opinion, it is a pretty big category error to put the Memories Pizza folks in the same category as Joe the Plumber and George Zimmerman. All the Memories Pizza owners did was to have the misfortune of answering a few questions posed by an incompetent journalist.

    And if you want examples of this from the left, I would start with Anita Sarkeesian and Zoe Quinn.Report

    • Avatar Notme in reply to j r
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      @ Tod

      Come on, jesse jackson and al sharpton were out there making a profession out of being culture war symbols long before anyone heard of joe the plumber. Please put more effort in your right bashing threads.Report

    • Avatar greginak in reply to j r
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      Not sure about Anita S. She was involved in writing about games and expressed really unpopular opinions which resulted in a metric crap ton of threats and Internet bile. She wasn’t some ordinary person who just happened to get notoriety.Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to j r
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      Except that Sarkeesian and Quinn were actually doing what they’re doing now before they were placed at the center of Gamer Gate by a bunch of viciously sexist gamers. I mean, I’m sure they have extra and bigger speaking gigs now, but they were journalists before, and they’re journalists now, just more well-known ones, though still entirely niche journalists.

      I think the set Tod’s describing is one in which people did little or anything and suddenly found their lives fundamentally transformed: Wurzelbacherwent from not being a plumber or much of anything to being all sorts of things he could never have been without winning the conservative symbol lottery, as did Zimmerman. It looks like Memories Pizza may as well. The only case in which someone (sort of) asked for this is Wurzelbacher’s; the other two got there more painfully (though Zimmerman’s pain was of his own making, since he got famous after murdering someone). The actual path they took to win the lottery differs in each case, but in each case it was a lottery win.Report

      • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to Chris
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        Thank you! It’s not as if the Gamergate guys attacking, threatening, and driving people from their homes, and issuing threats of death and rape, makes people’s lives better or is something they would seek out for notoriety.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Chris
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        Kat,
        john st had a good ad about stealing someone’s baby (momentarily)… and another one about sneaking into someone’s house to kidnap them, in order to sell product.

        Can you guess which one got the sturm und drang from the rest of the world?Report

      • Avatar veronica d in reply to Chris
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        BTW, neither Sarkeesian nor Quinn are journalists. Sarkeesian is a culture critic. Quinn is a game designer.

        Quinn might fit Tod’s rubric, but actually I do not think so. She’s received a fair amount of notoriety, but she’s paid a pretty heavy cost. Can she turns this into a big-money career? I don’t know.

        Your broad point seems correct in Sarkeesian’s case. Certainly she has more attention due to the outrage against her. Certainly Feminist Frequency, her Youtube channel, got a big influx of cash, but that cash went into a GoFundMe campaign that pre-dated the abuse. She certainly raised more money for her projects, but her goals were pre-existing.

        That seems different.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris
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        Ah, shows you how well versed I am in Gamergate. I mean, I know it well enough to know that it’s about ethics in gaming journalism, but…Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Chris
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        v,
        Agreed. Getting publicity to sell a game means you sell more games.Report

    • Avatar North in reply to j r
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      Also Memories Pizza appears to have had the collection done for them by a seperate party. It’ll be interesting to see how much of that money makes it’s way to Memories Pizza itself.Report

    • Avatar j r in reply to j r
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      not for doing or creating something astounding, for being a war hero or inventor or artist or entrepreneur or some other such thing — but merely for being caught doing os saying something half of us are outraged by and the other half of us wish happened more often?

      This is the language that Tod used. And it’s why I said that the Memories Pizza folks don’t belong in the same category as Joe and Zimmerman. What catapulted the O’Connor family into symbol territory wasn’t so much what they said, but the backlash and the threats that they received for saying it. And that is why I made the comparison to Sarkeesian and Quinn. Remove the threats and there is a good chance that most of us wouldn’t know who any of them are.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to j r
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      I’d never heard of either of them, but a little Googling suggests that Zoe Quinn was the game developer one who got nothing much in the way of money but received so many death threats she that had to go into hiding. This must be like talk radio, where the right wing is a whole lot better at it.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to j r
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      Antia Sarkeesian actually has something interesting to say.Report

    • Avatar DavidTC in reply to j r
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      @j-r
      And if you want examples of this from the left, I would start with Anita Sarkeesian and Zoe Quinn.

      Erm…why? Did someone take up huge collections for them because they were attacked? I mean, Sarkeesian’s kickstarter did *okay*, but it pales next to Memories Pizza’s fund-raising…and her kickstarter was not to ‘pay her money because she was attacked’, it was to fund an actual project, which it did.

      It seems like those two got rather screwed out of that last, rather important, step.

      Also, I feel I should take issue with those two representing ‘the left’, and the people that attacked them ‘the right’. Those two are just…women involved in the video game industry. The people who attacked them are not pushing a political agenda, they are just moronic misogynistic asshats. Those two are not *political* figures, they have not become political figures. They are involved in a fight that, supposedly, is something completely separate from politics.

      Unless the idea is that the political right is pro-sexism or something, so anytime a mob of pro-sexism people show up and attack someone, it’s due to the political right. Which, uh, sounds like something I might occasionally think, but it seems odd to just *accept* it as a premise.Report

      • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to DavidTC
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        Unless the idea is that the political right is pro-sexism or something

        There is perhaps a subset of the hard political right that fits this, but I certainly would not paint the whole of the right with that brush, either.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to DavidTC
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        I think the Patreons might provide an interesting analogy to the GoFundMe thing… but I can totally see how someone might say “that’s totally different!”Report

  2. Avatar greginak
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    FWIW there was a bakery in Fla that was trolled by a pastor who wanted them to bake a “anti-gay” cake. They refused and shouted it loud and proud on Youtube so the bakery got completely frosted over with hostile comments. They have made mere peanuts, or sprinkles, compared to the Pizza Martyrs.

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/florida-bakery-ex-pastor-gay-marriage-threats

    I’ll admit i have little tolerance for the views of any sort of desert on sexual behavior. Their job is to be tasty and shut up while i eat them.

    What was the question again? More meh then good or bad unless you are the one cashing in. These symbols usually serve the cause of heat rather than light. They really have little benefit in understanding the nuances of arguments, listening to the other side or being more then a handy cultural short hand to signify group membership. They are a distraction from whatever the issue is.Report

  3. Avatar North
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    An interesting post, My Todd, but one that, I think, misses the forest for the trees. The people you have identified are simply the amateurs and the naïfs of the political-financial ecosystem of the current right wing. You wanna look for the big boys look a bit deeper: the political operatives that work for wealthy vanity candidates like Trump or the Romney 2012 campaign. Look at the entire careers of Karl Rove post Bush Minor or Sarah Palin post McCain 2008. Look at the companies selling gold, or soliciting donations for vast arrays of right wing causes. Hell, look at the entire genus of “defeat Obamacare, donate now!” advertisement schemes.

    Sometime, starting up in the 90’s during Clinton and steadily accelerating since then an entire industry has grown up around the right wing electorate. It is perhaps because that constituency is identifiable, aging, have a lot of money to throw away and have high passions but low info on a variety of right wing shibboleths but they have developed a cloud of entities around them that ostensibly are dedicated to pushing for various right wing (or against various alleged nefarious left wing) causes but are, in reality, primarily dedicated to extracting the maximum amount of dineros from the wallets of their credulous viewers. There’s also the elite subgroup who specialize in the reverse: extracting massive payouts from small numbers of wealthy right wing true believers.

    My personal theory is that these forces were the hideous offspring that sprang from the union of the political right with the moral majority-social right. In the 80’s and earlier there were an entire passel of charismatic preachers who parlayed their preaching into towering fortunes primarily through extorting money from the faithful. They joined forces with the political right and talk radio in the 80’s and 90’s and from their cooperation sprang this phenomena of smooth operators who can spin a tale like an old school mass preacher but on more secular right wing subject.

    Now, in fairness, the left has some similar tendencies. Anti-GMO organizations or eco-extremists but I suspect that due to the rather amorphousness, squishiness and diversity of the left’s various constituencies it’s harder to set up a mass mailer/mass television operation that is assured to capture a high population and wealthy segment. Note that this is the same reason that Fox makes money hand over fist while MSNBC struggles.

    But still, Wurzelbacher, Zimmerman, Memories Pizza? Those are small timers, dilatants, accidental cash grabbers compared to the big dogs on the right.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to North
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      According to Rick Pearlstein, these sorts of hucksters go back decades.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to LeeEsq
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        My vibe is their incidences and success level has increased significantly in the past couple decades.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to LeeEsq
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        Thats because the Internet makes these sorts of things easier to pull off and also makes it harder to hide these things from non-believers. Before the Internet, you needed some direct way to contact that people you were trying to trick. This usually involved direct mailings and news letters. With the Internet, you just need to get a link on the appropriate sites. It allows more people to raise more money but makes it easier for those not in the con as pepetrators or victims to find out about it.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to LeeEsq
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        I do giggle when TPM calls Glenn Beck a “jeans designer”Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to LeeEsq
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        Thats because the Internet makes these sorts of things easier to pull off and also makes it harder to hide these things from non-believers.

        To North’s point, it also increases their frequency, no?Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to LeeEsq
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        All I know is that when I as in the 7th grade, I got an “F” on an essay class because I mentioned God.

        If that’d happen today, I coulda been gofunded for MILLIONS!

        Instead, I just replaced offending paragraph, and got a passing grade on it.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to LeeEsq
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        @will-truman

        We are never in the right time at the right place.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to North
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      @north

      I largely agree with this but am not sure if I would include the anti-GMO crowd because it seems different for reasons I cannot fully express. There isn’t anyone who got famous among the anti-GMO crowd for playing gotcha with a politician. There are also plenty of people on the left who went around posting the Gawker article on why The Food Babe is full of shit. Maybe the Food Babe counts as a left wing version but I did not hear about her until I saw the “Food Babe is Full of Shit” articles from yesterday. Maybe I am not part of Internet culture that much?

      There are also cranky people like me on the left who would use a genie wish to eradicate Upworthy and “totally destroyed” clickbait articles from the Internet. Okay, I would first wish for a Brooklyn Brownstone, some dates with Maggie Gyllenhaal, and a career as a highly successful theatre director but it would be a close 4th wish!!!Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to North
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      @north

      More seriously,

      http://gawker.com/the-food-babe-blogger-is-full-of-shit-1694902226

      Are there conservative articles that say Glenn Beck is full of shit like the one above? Glenn Beck might be too easy a target. Are there conservatives out there writing about how conservatism loses through all these e-mail schemes?Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Saul Degraw
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        There have been a few conservative outlet articles on some scam PACsReport

      • Avatar North in reply to Saul Degraw
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        Yes, the conservatives do self-criticize on this subject. Not a whole lot but they do. I have been glancing through NRO about once a week for a decade now and it crops up (especially after electoral defeats). Self-criticism isn’t something that sets GMO’s apart. Maybe because the GMO shysters believe their own nonsense? The problem there is we don’t have any way of proving that right wing shysters don’t believe in what they peddle.Report

      • Avatar morat20 in reply to Saul Degraw
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        There have been a few conservative outlet articles on some scam PACs
        More than overdue. I’m not a friend of the modern GOP, but I’m even less a friend of con-men and grifters.

        Well, except the lovely folks from Leverage. 🙂 They’re just dandy.

        More seriously, I suspect the scamming is getting so bad it’s interfering with the “election” part, which means the Adults are starting to try to stamp it out. However, this kinda feels like a Prisoner’s Dilemma, though, as I suspect if you’re big enough to be heard, you’re probably already getting some benefits from the grift.

        Which leads to a “Shut down that scam PAC, mine is perfectly legit no you can’t look at my books”…

        So there’s a collective action problem — if the scams for MONEY are getting so bad (via competition with other scams) that your marks are starting to require the guys asking for their VOTES to be equal in tone and intensity to the scams. (If your favorite TV personality/scam artist is screaming about nuclear annihilation, you’re not gonna be thrilled with a party choice that says that’s really not a problem), which means the whole ‘voting’ thing is scaring the muggles.

        But unless everyone drops the fear-scam, it’s in every individual’s interest to continue — even as the whole crazy train goes off the rails.

        I think that all got a bit away from me. I must be channeling my inner Doctor.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Saul Degraw
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        @north

        “Yes, the conservatives do self-criticize on this subject. Not a whole lot but they do. I have been glancing through NRO about once a week for a decade now and it crops up (especially after electoral defeats).”

        You must read a different NRO than I read because the NRO that I read is filled with people scratching their heads that people actually might like the welfare state and the safety net.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Saul Degraw
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        @saul-degraw @north I actually think this is changing.

        In fact, I think the Indiana thing is a pretty prime example. You’ll notice that pretty much everyone who was defending the RFRA was going out of their way to say how they didn’t discriminate or want discrimination. There was too the fact that the pro-biz faction of US conservatism clearly broke ranks with the base and came down pretty hard on them.

        In all the hubbub one of the things I don’t think gets any talk is how much the *way* we’re debating Indiana shows how much ground the right has given up, and how much inner turmoil and self-criticism there is there now.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Saul Degraw
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        Tod,

        Yeah, I agree. I mentioned basically the same thing on one of Dennis’ post wrt what I referred to as “the conservative mantra” that the Indiana Law (or any recent variant) does not permit discrimination. I accounted for that by attributing advocates with the desire to change what the word “discrimination” functionally means. But the fact is, irrespective of all that, that even conservatives are down on discrimination. WHich is a big shift in the way we all talk about these things.Report

      • Avatar Notme in reply to Saul Degraw
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        Saul

        Are there any Dems that admit that sharpton and jackson are full of BS? Not that i can see, in fact msnbc gave sharpton his own show for him to showcase his lies.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to Saul Degraw
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        “You must read a different NRO than I read because the NRO that I read is filled with people scratching their heads that people actually might like the welfare state and the safety net.”

        Saul, now I -know- you don’t read NRO very regularily. On NRO most of the time there’s very little head scratching like you describe because the writers there -KNOW- that all of the silent majority of true Americans hate the inefficient and wasteful gummint safety nets.

        Seriously though, NRO has gone downhill since Iraq but they have salient articles and points from time to time.

        @notme I think a pretty persuasive arguement can be made that the Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson business model is pretty similar to the phenomena Todd is blasting on the right. Al and Jesse wish they could get the right wingers numbers though, their prevalence is confined to just one subset of the left.Report

      • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Saul Degraw
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        “In all the hubbub one of the things I don’t think gets any talk is how much the *way* we’re debating Indiana shows how much ground the right has given up, and how much inner turmoil and self-criticism there is there now.”

        You said that wrong, I think what you meant to say was “the turmoil on the right shows how little they actually believe in their own convictions, and how clearly it is that everything they say is just momentary justification for their seething, barely-concealed racist sexist bigotry”.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to Saul Degraw
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        I think you’re reading it wrong DD.Report

      • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Saul Degraw
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        @morat20
        More seriously, I suspect the scamming is getting so bad it’s interfering with the “election” part, which means the Adults are starting to try to stamp it out.

        Bingo. Throwing money at people is what the Republican base has been carefully trained to do. And every group and pol has to escalate to make sure the money goes to *them*.

        But unless everyone drops the fear-scam, it’s in every individual’s interest to continue — even as the whole crazy train goes off the rails.

        Or, in other words, the current Republican Party.Report

    • Avatar zic in reply to North
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      Joe the Plumber is just an advertising prop for the high-level stuff; Carrot Head. A cartoon character. Sarah Palin’s turned herself into such a character, far more profitable then being a politician, when you get criticized for buying yourself some nice clothes to fill the role.

      The paid speaking gig business is profitable, too.Report

  4. Avatar Kim
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    i wouldn’t cash in on something like that, not unless I was downright desperate (which Joe might have been).
    Fame is for fools.Report

  5. Avatar Will Truman
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    It’s definitely a thing. The one that comes to my mind as one of the relatively neutral ones is actress Stacey Dash, an actress who made some pro-Romney comments and (allegedly) got some harassment over it and became an icon-ish figure. She’s now on Fox News.

    I agree with JR that there are some pretty significant differences in the examples. George Zimmerman became a symbol by killing someone (though the upside for him isn’t as much as the rest). That’s not good. Dash and Joe got their gigs by stepping into the spotlight. The Memories folks just incorrectly answered a question they were asked. I’m a little bit irked that they got such a payday out of it, but am also sort of glad that the story didn’t end with their closure and I certainly can’t blame them for taking the money.Report

    • Avatar North in reply to Will Truman
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      Yeah Memories is a somewhat different category. The money they got does, however, rather undercut the Dreher narrative of their victimization. I suspect many a pizza shop owner would happily go through the same experience for that outcome.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to North
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        I think that I would! That doesn’t change the underlying thing that some folks otherwise on the side of the angels took off their halo and created a situation for the Right Wing Machine could come to the rescue.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to North
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        Groups of People (especially the size of the group in question) are idiots and contain idiots; this is a given. We can select any cause or subject and find some idiots on the side of the angels. This tells us very little.

        The extent of Memories pizza’s victimization appears that they received a lot of hate messages and some death threats. While I would like to start out by noting that if you are sending hate messages or death threats to anyone on this subject you are both an idiot and wrong I would follow up by noting that gay community centers, stores and similar such institutions have a word for what Memories Pizza has endured; that word is ‘every day’. Memories Pizza appears to have suffered zero incidences of left wing idiots showing up to throw bombs or shoot at their employees. Frankly they’re barely dipping their toes in.

        Also, for clarity, the reporter who broke the Memories Pizza story was an utter hack and beneath contempt.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to North
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        I can definitely agree with that, North. What a few yahoos do says next to nothing about the movement as a whole. Some of the excusing/justifications have been disturbing, but this whole thing is making a lot of otherwise sensible people crazy.

        I would add that their actual operations were tangibly obstructed by (for lack of a better word) harassment. From what I understand, they couldn’t take phone orders because their lines were tied up by people cussing them out.Report

      • Avatar A Compromised Immune System in reply to North
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        While I would like to start out by noting that if you are sending hate messages or death threats to anyone on this subject you are both an idiot and wrong I would follow up by noting that gay community centers, stores and similar such institutions have a word for what Memories Pizza has endured; that word is ‘every day’.

        This, this, a million times, this.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to North
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        Will, that is an excellent point that I hadn’t considered Will. A pizza place that can’t take orders wouldn’t be able to function very well. I’d assume it’d be a matter of a few days for such to blow over though. Maybe a week tops. The internet, she is fickle.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to North
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        Everyday endurance, too, at family planning clinics. Remember; this discussion started because of the HL contraception decision; and will be part of the war over women’s reproductive rights. Though most woman who go to a FP clinic go for general health care, not an abortion, all are treated as if their going to commit potential murder.Report

      • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to North
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        “I would follow up by noting that gay community centers, stores and similar such institutions have a word for what Memories Pizza has endured; that word is ‘every day’. ”

        I’m going to have great fun using Google to go back through your comment history and look for snarky “oh, BSDI!” posts.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to North
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        Best of luck to you on that search Density lemme know what you find. Also, since you missed it I will repost the previous part: “While I would like to start out by noting that if you are sending hate messages or death threats to anyone on this subject you are both an idiot and wrong”

        And, for your edification, if you’re sending hate messages or death threats on pretty much any subject you’re both an idiot and morally wrong.Report

      • Avatar Dave in reply to North
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        @will-truman

        That doesn’t change the underlying thing that some folks otherwise on the side of the angels took off their halo and created a situation for the Right Wing Machine could come to the rescue.

        And every single one of them was a f–king moron for doing so.

        Some of the excusing/justifications have been disturbing, but this whole thing is making a lot of otherwise sensible people crazy.

        So you saw my Facebook page? 😉

        I would add that their actual operations were tangibly obstructed by (for lack of a better word) harassment.

        Oh, but that’s okay because they walked away almost a million dollars richer, at least that was another one of the pathetic excuses I heard through all of this.

        @densityduck

        You’ll find no BSDI coming from North.Report

      • Avatar Dave in reply to North
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        @will-truman

        I’ll find it, and if I like it, I’ll post it. Maybe it will distract the participants away from the other conversation. 😉Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to North
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        To All: Should it frighten us when the liberals start acting like Nixon?
        **that bloke was famous for prank-calling pizza shops, and sending a dozen pizzas to the DNC…Report

      • Avatar Dave in reply to North
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        @will-truman

        Ken White is awesome.Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to Will Truman
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      Dash’s situation is, like Sarkeesians, fundamentally different. She was reasonably famous, having been in Clueless (the movie) and this popular video, but her career was stagnant and her celebrity waning. She jump-started it by becoming a symbol. She didn’t so much win the lottery as jump on an escalator. So she just became better-known in her field, such as it is, rather than having her life radically altered.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Chris
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        She’s gone from being an actress to something of a political commentator. Which I don’t think she planned, exactly. She did step in to the spotlight voluntarily, like Joe, which is why I kind of mention them together.

        Anyhow, I bring up Dash in part because I remember when she signed on to Fox News, I thought of Joe and had a vague thought that this post reminded me of.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris
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        Yeah, I can understand the thought process from Joe to Dash.

        She’s still a frequent topic on Twitter, too.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Will Truman
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      @will-truman I actually agree with both you and @j-r that these people are not moral equivalents. It was not my intention to suggest that they were. Rather that they were hoisted up and made into paid symbols for things that, ten years ago, we would never have paid people for having done just because they were thought to be symbolic of some culture war skirmish.

      I also want to stick up a bit for Wurzelbacher, since even though I don’t think he ever did anything to merit the coin and fame he got, neither do I think that he is the next coming of Hitler (or whoever). I think that the one thing the McCain campaign got right was that he was just an ordinary guy, not any different from the pizzeria owners. That he was held up to be some kind of absurd moral beacon or expert on the economy or whatever was never on him. I agree that what happened to Zimmerman wouldn’t have happened to just anybody. But I think that the pizza owners and Wurzelbacher are similar in that they could have been any of us, really.Report

  6. Avatar LeeEsq
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    According to Rick Pearlstein’s essay the Long Con, such hucksters have always been part and parcel of American conservativism. It’s just that the Internet gives hucksters a faster and more direct way to get people’s money than past methods. The liberal equivalent is falling for a worthy cause that turns out to have a lot of salary adminstrative costs.Report

  7. Avatar Murali
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    I have only 1 question:

    Was their pizza any good?

    If it was, then this professional symbol thing is bad. Why the hell are you not making pizzas? Get back to work! If their pizza was bad, then the professional symbol thing is good. You shouldn’t be making shit and calling it pizza in the first place. Anything that makes you stop is good in my opinion.Report

  8. Avatar Jaybird
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    he was just his guy who got caught on camera claiming he was

    To be perfectly honest, I thought that it was really, really creepy that we found out this particular fact.

    A guy asked a presidential candidate a question. Sure, it was a question from the right. Sure, we could probably guess that the guy asking the question wasn’t someone that would ever vote for Obama in a million years.

    We should never have learned about his job, his finances, or his life. Never. Hell, we never should have learned his freakin’ *NAME*.Report

    • Avatar greginak in reply to Jaybird
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      I don’t remember, who made Joey the P a hero? Who brought him into the spotlight after he asked O a question?Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak
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        My recollection was something like this:

        1. A guy asks Obama the question.
        2. Then I see news reports doxing Joe the Plumber. Talking to his boss. Discussing his debt.
        3. Then I see Fox turning him into a hero.

        Is your recollection that 2 and 3 were reversed?Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to greginak
        Ignored
        says:

        My recollection is foggy at best. But i remember Fox talking him up big as the guy who really stuck it to O. Then people started to ask ‘Who? Huh?”Report

      • Avatar A Compromised Immune System in reply to greginak
        Ignored
        says:

        The pajama wearing basement dwellers. They call themselves “PJ Media” now.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak
        Ignored
        says:

        Okay, Joe the Plumber asked Obama a question on October 12 (the question involved how he wanted to buy a business and whether Obama’s plan would cost him extra money). Obama’s answer, you may recall, ended with “I think when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody.”

        On October 15th, John McCain mentioned Joe the Plumber’s question several times during the debate and Obama’s answer to Joe the Plumber.

        On October 16th, articles started showing up discussing Joe the Plumber’s finances and now Joe the Plumber couldn’t afford to do what he said he’d do in his question to Obama.

        I suppose we could say that it was John McCain’s fault that he kept mentioning Joe the Plumber’s question and Obama’s answer during the debate so OF COURSE the media would dox Joe.

        I’m still uncomfortable with that, though.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to greginak
        Ignored
        says:

        Joe the Plumber asked Obama a question on October 12

        Which already shows his disrespect for indigenous peoples.Report

  9. Avatar Stillwater
    Ignored
    says:

    A correction is in order Tod. YOu wrote.

    But as quickly as they became a Symbol for the anti-anti-gay rights movement, they became an even bigger Symbol for the anti-gay rights crowd.

    I think you perhaps meant to say the “anti-anti-anti-gay rights crowd”? This stuff keeps moving UP the meta-scale, not down, yeah?

    Am I right in thinking that this is a new trend of our times?

    Yes, you are correct. It’s the logical conclusion of Andy Warhol’s “15 minutes of fame” critique of modern cultcha.

    Finally I want to ask this: Setting aside whether you support or oppose SSM or RFRA or any other litmus-y thing, is this trend a good thing, a bad thing, or just some thang that is neither good nor bad?

    Depends on where you’re at in the debate. If you’re fighting a rear-guard action where symbols are all you’ve got left, you’re in favor. If you aren’t, you don’t. If you’re someone who analyzes all this stuff in Both Sides Do It terms, you think it’s neither good nor bad in terms of outcome, just more of the same perpetuated but tragically misunderstood bullshit. If you think politics and cultural disputes oughta be waged between individuals engaging in civil dialogue, you think it’s a signal of the end times.Report

  10. Avatar Mike Schilling
    Ignored
    says:

    “You’re new tax plan’s gong to ta me more, ins’t it?”

    This is unfair. Joe might not be a plumber or a business owner, or able to perform the simple arithmetic required to figure out how Obama’s tax plan would affect him were he a plumber or a business owner, but as far as I know he can spell and punctuate.Report

  11. Avatar Mike Schilling
    Ignored
    says:

    As of my writing, so-con pundit Dana Loeche and the Blaze network have used GoFundMe to raise $842,442 for the pizza owners.

    You know, I wouldn’t cater a gay wedding either!

    (It’s because I can barely cook for myself, but still, that should be worth something in the mid-five figures.)Report

  12. Avatar James Pearce
    Ignored
    says:

    ” Is it just me? Am I right in thinking that this is a new trend of our times, this lucrative cottage industry of becoming a paid Symbol — not for doing or creating something astounding, for being a war hero or inventor or artist or entrepreneur or some other such thing — but merely for being caught doing os saying something half of us are outraged by and the other half of us wish happened more often?”

    It’s not just you.

    “is this trend a good thing, a bad thing, or just some thang that is neither good nor bad?”

    It’s most definitely a bad thing and should be resisted. The right already has a problem with scammers and they’re minting new “Go Fund Me” millionaires on a fairly regular basis.

    You don’t squander your resources on such things and think good things will follow. They might want to do something more useful than A) refusing paying customers and B) getting paid for having a point of view.Report

    • Avatar Patrick in reply to James Pearce
      Ignored
      says:

      Think of it as redistribution of wealth from folks who support bad things to folks who – like most lottery winners – will immediately just blow the money anyway.Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to James Pearce
      Ignored
      says:

      “The right already has a problem with scammers and they’re minting new “Go Fund Me” millionaires on a fairly regular basis. ”

      I love, love, love how this whole thing is turning into a conspiracy theory.

      People were using GFM campaigns for all kinds of squishy soft left-wing causes before Memories Pizza showed up. There were stories all over the place about people paying for strangers’ cars, funerals, houses, medicine, etcetera.Report

    • Avatar j r in reply to James Pearce
      Ignored
      says:

      You don’t squander your resources on such things and think good things will follow. They might want to do something more useful than A) refusing paying customers and B) getting paid for having a point of view.

      In discussing Memories Pizza, can we at least all agree that the O’Connor family did neither A nor B. They refused no paying customers. They discriminated against no one. And the owners told the idiot news reporter that they would not refuse to serve gay customers. All that happened was that one woman answered a hypothetical question about catering a gay wedding.

      And the GoFundMe was started by somebody else.Report

      • Avatar James Pearce in reply to j r
        Ignored
        says:

        “In discussing Memories Pizza, can we at least all agree that the O’Connor family did neither A nor B.”

        No.

        If you hypothetically refuse to cater a gay wedding, a reasonable person might conclude that they would — if allowed– IRL discriminate against gay customers.

        And this stuff about the “idiot reporter?” Someone’s biased…..

        (I’m biased too. Towards social equality and good arguments.)Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to j r
        Ignored
        says:

        James,
        Yes, a reasonable person might. But it’s clear that the memories pizza people are either:
        1) Reasonable people who don’t like to cater, and wouldn’t do it for anyone,but since you asked about gay people, no to them too!
        2) Mildly unreasonable people who kind of like money, and don’t have much problem doing normal things with gay people.Report

      • Avatar Dave in reply to j r
        Ignored
        says:

        @james-pearce

        @j-r :

        In discussing Memories Pizza, can we at least all agree that the O’Connor family did neither A nor B. They refused no paying customers. They discriminated against no one. And the owners told the idiot news reporter that they would not refuse to serve gay customers. All that happened was that one woman answered a hypothetical question about catering a gay wedding.

        You:

        If you hypothetically refuse to cater a gay wedding, a reasonable person might conclude that they would — if allowed– IRL discriminate against gay customers.

        JR is saying that the business committed no direct acts of discrimination, which as far as everyone knows is true. You may be correct that they might discriminate if allowed to, but it hasn’t happened. In that case, how is @j-r wrong?

        As far a B is concerned, they aren’t getting paid for having a point of view. They were receiving money because of the very negative consequences expressing the point of view had on the business, the consequences that created martyrs out of misguided morons.

        I’m biased too. Towards social equality and good arguments.

        And trolling reporters that happen to help support your cause.Report

      • Avatar James Pearce in reply to j r
        Ignored
        says:

        “JR is saying that the business committed no direct acts of discrimination, which as far as everyone knows is true. You may be correct that they might discriminate if allowed to, but it hasn’t happened.”

        Slow clap? I mean, I’ve never cheated on my wife, but I’ve thought about it a lot….. Bask in my glorious virtue.

        In case it’s not clear, I’m not actually leveling a discrimination case against the O’Connors, like I’m a prosecutor and they’re the defendant. “Exhibit A: You refused to cater Bob and Joe’s wedding with your awful pizza!” Nope, sorry.

        I’m accusing the O’Connors of having homophobic views, weird business practices, and of being crusaders in the culture wars. Which they are, and would be even if that “idiot reporter” went to a different pizzeria that day.

        Don’t blame it on the media. That’s passe. Everyone on Facebook is “the media.”

        And frankly, this is laughable:
        “They were receiving money because of the very negative consequences expressing the point of view had on the business.”

        No, they are receiving money because a lot of hateful fellow travelers are engaging in that time-honored 21st century tradition of donating money via Paypal in lieu of applause. It’s a political statement from the donors. It’s “Squee! You think like me.”

        It’s not an attempt to actually help the O’Connors operate their business.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to j r
        Ignored
        says:

        In case it’s not clear, I’m not actually leveling a discrimination case against the O’Connors, like I’m a prosecutor and they’re the defendant.

        No. That is pretty clear.Report

      • Avatar James Pearce in reply to j r
        Ignored
        says:

        Also clear….you’re credulous. I’m dubious.

        I may be proven wrong, but I won’t be duped. The credulous are susceptible to both.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to j r
        Ignored
        says:

        Also clear….you’re credulous. I’m dubious.

        What the hell are you talking about?

        You heard 30 seconds of an interview and now you know enough about these people to declare them crusaders in the culture war? There is more than a little bit of projection going on here.Report

      • Avatar Dave in reply to j r
        Ignored
        says:

        @j-r,

        He can’t be duped if he can’t directly address our points. The cranial rectitis is strong in that one.Report

      • Avatar James Pearce in reply to j r
        Ignored
        says:

        @j-r

        “You heard 30 seconds of an interview and now you know enough about these people to declare them crusaders in the culture war?”

        No, all I needed was the few seconds it took to hear them talk about the circumstances under which they would like to discriminate against gay people. Didn’t need much more.

        Non-crusaders don’t really care about that stuff.

        @dave

        I didn’t concede you had a point, but it was most definitely addressed.

        And that “cranial recitwhatever” crack? I’ll let it go this time. But don’t be such a caveman.Report

      • Avatar Dave in reply to j r
        Ignored
        says:

        @james-pearce

        Slow clap? I mean, I’ve never cheated on my wife, but I’ve thought about it a lot….. Bask in my glorious virtue.

        If your personality is any indication of your personal appearance, I bet $1 that you’d have a hard time scoring with a cold pile of mud. Your wife can sleep comfortably knowing that it’s more than your glorious virtue keeping you from engaging in marital infidelity.

        Do I get a slow clap for that one too smart ass?

        In case it’s not clear, I’m not actually leveling a discrimination case against the O’Connors, like I’m a prosecutor and they’re the defendant. “Exhibit A: You refused to cater Bob and Joe’s wedding with your awful pizza!” Nope, sorry.

        What the hell are you talking about? What does any of this have to do with anything @j-r
        or I said? I said that JR stated facts. You disagreed and spouted off on some intent. It doesn’t change the facts. Period.

        I’m accusing the O’Connors of having homophobic views,

        I concur.

        weird business practices

        Nonsense. They stated an opinion. That gives you no cause to understand how they run their business other than how the WOULD run their business. Even if I agreed with you on that point, that wasn’t good enough for you.

        and of being crusaders in the culture wars. Which they are, and would be even if that “idiot reporter” went to a different pizzeria that day.

        First, the reporter was an idiot. Second, you have a very broad definition of a crusader. The people that campaigned hardcore for Proposition 8 and made a bunch of horrible and disgusting arguments about gays? Those are crusaders. People that may hold bigoted and wrongheaded views that get roped into an interview and say something on camera that’s ignorant as hell? That’s no crusader, and I’d like to think that I’d know the difference having been following this culture war nonsense for the 20 odd years or so of my adult life.

        They may be wrongheaded bigots, but if the “culture war” label is affixed to them, it wasn’t by their own doing.

        And frankly, this is laughable:

        Your being a combative little shit impresses no one.

        No, they are receiving money because a lot of hateful fellow travelers are engaging in that time-honored 21st century tradition of donating money via Paypal in lieu of applause. It’s a political statement from the donors. It’s “Squee! You think like me.

        Right, and none of it had to do with the fact that they shut down their business in the face of threats. Bull-fishing-shit. Spare me your dramatics. Yes, those people were made martyrs by people that would rather spew bigotry and fight equality, and I have nothing nice to say about any of them. However, threats are wrong, and anyone that thinks that the threats did not contribute to their martyrdom has their heads in the sand if not a darker and more stinky place.Report

      • Avatar Dave in reply to j r
        Ignored
        says:

        @james-pearce

        You’ll “let it go”?. That’s cute. What pray tell would you do if you didn’t “let it go”?

        Does this mean I should go into hiding and start a GoFundMe campaign to cover my living expenses?Report

      • Avatar James Pearce in reply to j r
        Ignored
        says:

        @dave

        “What pray tell would you do if you didn’t “let it go”?”

        First I will ask you to be respectful and to stop. Don’t make up childish names for the fictitious diseases you think I have. Don’t make cracks about my personal appearance or my ability to score.

        Need I do more? I mean, I could e-mail Erik Kain, make a big stink about the commenting policy.

        But I’d probably just leave.Report

      • Avatar Dave in reply to j r
        Ignored
        says:

        @james-pearce

        I had a similar conversation on this subject with one of the contributor’s here. It took place on my FB feed. His position was definitely closer to yours. Needless to say, he and I did not disagree, and we expressed our disagreement in the strongest terms possible. However, at no point in the conversation did he and I cross any lines and disrespect one another. Not once, no matter how wrong each of us thought the other position was.

        Unfortunately, that didn’t happen here, and there isn’t a single party at fault here. Now, I could have just as easily shoved the commenting policy down your throat with your “slow clap” and “laughable” comments, both of which were blatantly disrespectful towards me especially since I did attempt to engage you on good faith.

        I probably should have done that (I personally have no need to email Erik), but seeing as you were being snide and combative and probably would have brushed off my pointing out the commenting policy, I felt a stronger remedy was in order. Therefore, I took what you threw at me, and threw it back at you. It was immature of me, yes, but it obviously my punches landed since you’re now so rattled by them, so much so that you’re threatening to email Erik.

        It reminds me of the time I stood up to a bully and put him on his ass with one punch. He wanted nothing more to do with it and tried to get me in trouble even after he instigated. Like that little shit, it appears to me that you have no problem dishing it out, but can’t take it worth a damn. That’s weak sauce bro.

        Need I do more?

        Yes. Show the level of respect you expect to get from others. That way, we won’t have this problem again and you won’t embarrass yourself by trying to hide behind a commenting policy you yourself violated. While I would never actively encourage anyone to leave (most of the time), if you can’t show your ideological opponents some semblance of respect and good faith, you don’t belong here.

        By the way, I’ve known Erik since 2009 as I was one of the original seven contributors to this site. Feel free to complain all you want, but he’ll hear my side of the story too.

        I have zero interest in discussing this with you further. Read what I wrote and let it sink in.Report

      • Avatar James Pearce in reply to j r
        Ignored
        says:

        “Read what I wrote and let it sink in.”

        Well, Dave, I only skimmed it. And I have to say I felt a little embarrassed for you.

        I’m sorry you don’t like my word choice or sense of humor. I’m gonna go crawl back into my hole and feel bad about it.

        In the meantime, let’s just shut it down. No need for an @james-pearce reply. Let’s have @peace.Report

      • Avatar Dave in reply to j r
        Ignored
        says:

        @james-pearce

        Duly noted.

        Further comments will be deleted.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to j r
        Ignored
        says:

        As far a B is concerned, they aren’t getting paid for having a point of view. They were receiving money because of the very negative consequences expressing the point of view had on the business, the consequences that created martyrs out of misguided morons.

        And George Zimmerman got his money because people were supporting the principle of Stand Your Ground, not because killing one of Them got him an indictment instead of a reward.

        Sure.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to j r
        Ignored
        says:

        Mike S. It is patently obvious that the gofundme bonanza came about as a result of the wave of idiotic threats and harassment that was focused on Memories Pizza after one of the owners made the mistake of honestly answering a reporter who was trolling for a story. It strikes me as self-evident that if the response had been contained to some eye rolling, a few denunciations online and a mental resolution to never visit Memories Pizza that the big bucks would never have been able to materialize. It is in that way that attitudes like the one James Pearce is personifying turn back upon the cause they purport to support.

        Social conservatives desire nothing more than to have a mob come after them (or anything they can even credulously claim to be a mob); their entire religious culture is built around being martyred or oppressed; they thrive on it. The correct response to social conservatives doing their thing, and the one response that will burn them like sunlight on a vampire, is to eye them as peculiar backwards oddities and then to proceed to ignore them. Marginalization is their kryptonite; it is what they fear most (you can almost smell the terror, for instance, when Dreher writes about how Europeans view him) and it is what they deserve.Report

      • Avatar Dave in reply to j r
        Ignored
        says:

        @mike-schilling

        Express the same opinion as the pizza place owners and see if that alone gets you close to a million dollars. It’s probably not going to happen.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to j r
        Ignored
        says:

        Of course not; it’s been done and I wouldn’t get any publicity.

        My point is that if the Pizza people had said “Naah, I wouldn’t cater a Jewish wedding”, and there had been enough outrage to shut them down [1], David Duke might have started a GibMirGeld, but it wouldn’t have added up to much. Muslim, quite a bit more. Gay, a gold mine, The money didn’t come from highly principled people with Voltairean views about freedom of expression.

        1. Not a sure thing, but it’s possible.Report

  13. Avatar Saul Degraw
    Ignored
    says:

    Here is the essay that Lee mentioned above:

    http://www.thebaffler.com/salvos/the-long-con

    A Sample portion:

    “In 2007, I signed on to the email lists of several influential magazines on the right, among them Townhall, which operates under the auspices of evangelical Stuart Epperson’s Salem Communications; Newsmax, the organ more responsible than any other for drumming up the hysteria that culminated in the impeachment of Bill Clinton; and Human Events, one of Ronald Reagan’s favorite publications. The exercise turned out to be far more revealing than I expected. Via the battery of promotional appeals that overran my email inbox, I mainlined a right-wing id that was invisible to readers who encounter conservative opinion at face value.

    Subscriber lists to ideological organs are pure gold to the third-party interests who rent them as catchments for potential customers. Who better suits a marketing strategy than a group that voluntarily organizes itself according to their most passionately shared beliefs? That’s why, for instance, the other day I (and probably you) got an advertisement by way of liberal magazine The American Prospect seeking donations to Mercy Corps, a charity that helps starving children in the Third World. But back when I was getting emails every day from Newsmax and Townhall, the come-ons were a little bit different.

    Dear Reader, I’m going to tell you something, but you must promise to keep it quiet. You have to understand that the “elite” would not be at all happy with me if they knew what I was about to tell you. That’s why we have to tread carefully. You see, while most people are paying attention to the stock market, the banks, brokerages and big institutions have their money somewhere else . . . [in] what I call the hidden money mountain . . . All you have to know is the insider’s code (which I’ll tell you) and you could make an extra $6,000 every single month.

    Soon after reading that, I learned of the “23-Cent Heart Miracle,” the one “Washington, the medical industry, and drug companies REFUSE to tell you about.” (Why would they? They’d just be leaving money on the table: “I was scheduled for open heart surgery when I read about your product,” read one of the testimonials. “I started taking it and now six months have passed and I haven’t had open-heart surgery.”) Then came news of the oilfield in the placenta.”

    North is right that people like Joe and George are small potatoes in the Long Con game. You are also right that most of us would take these opportunities if they came to us.

    We have talked a bit about this recently. There is a huge market in telling people that they are filled with goodness and light and everyone else is evil. There is also apparently a really good market in telling people how to gain “secret knowledge” to save them from the coming apocalypse and following Mad Max style anarchy.Report

    • Avatar A Compromised Immune System in reply to Saul Degraw
      Ignored
      says:

      There’s a huge market in telling clearly bigoted people that they aren’t bigoted, they’re just good, god-fearing christians.

      Moral theory of being “saved” does wonders for extracting the money from the rubes.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Saul Degraw
      Ignored
      says:

      I wonder if you can find evidence of this type of stuff during the 19th century, there was a lot of hucksters and snake oil salesmen at the time, but a lot of it seems to orginate from the re-organization of the Far Right in response to the Soviet Union, FDR, and civil rights.Report

  14. Avatar Kolohe
    Ignored
    says:

    Most retired O-5’s go on to lucrative but still mostly upper middle class gigs as upper middle management in the defense industrial complex. Ollie North, on the other hand was able to turn his culture war experience (and to be fair, some real war experience) into one of the first lucrative gigs as a professional culture war symbol in the modern era.

    A little before him, there was Bernie Goetz, but he seems to have come to the culture war business much later, only in this century. You could sort of say that Rodney King also tried to capitalize on his culture war clout, but was just really really bad at it.Report

  15. Avatar Kolohe
    Ignored
    says:

    Before Joe the Plumber, there was Graeme Frost.Report

  16. Avatar zic
    Ignored
    says:

    Sort of off-topic, yet it seems so the topic of how to build the culture-warrior brand:

    Rand Paul presidential swag

    I would not be caught dead in that shirt, but symbolism of the headphone skins.Report

  17. Avatar zic
    Ignored
    says:

    Here’s a Conservative Culture Warrior™ help-wanted sign hung out at Breitbart in 2013. (Literally, it’s in the headline.) In amongst the long diatribe about the Hollywood machine and propaganda and a decade-by-decade list of the sins of the left, there’s this bit: Conservative/Libertarian artists generally keep politics on the “down low” because those who dare come out of the closet are excoriated by the left and even by some on the right.

    So like the author has never turned on the radio or the TV, no? Fox News and New Country keep politics and culture low down, amirite?Report

  18. Avatar bookdragon
    Ignored
    says:

    I can’t believe that no one has linked to this yet:

    http://thedailyshow.cc.com/videos/y8z7vd/pizza-hateReport

  19. Avatar ScarletNumber
    Ignored
    says:

    It turned out he wasn’t either a business owner or a licensed plumber; he was just his guy who got caught on camera claiming he was.

    I don’t believe he ever said either one on camera.Report

  20. Avatar ScarletNumber
    Ignored
    says:

    I think it is mostly a conservative thing, and here is why…

    It is because liberals are the most intolerant people I know, so when the get the ball rolling, it can cause serious economic damage to their victims.

    Conservatives see one of their brethren getting persecuted for their beliefs, so they do the honorable thing and help the person out financially.

    This is because conseratives are generally better people than liberals are.Report

  21. Avatar Pinky
    Ignored
    says:

    I haven’t checked the entire thread, but has Sandra Fluke come up? Or the woman who ran for governor in Texas recently? Or the anti-war protester who followed around George W. Bush? Ellen had an only average-rated sitcom during the height of sitcoms, but became a star by coming out. Rosie O’Donnell, similar story. The Dixie Chicks tried to become a liberal culture war symbol after their gaffe.Report

    • Avatar ScarletNumber in reply to Pinky
      Ignored
      says:

      The Ctrl-F function works wonders.Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to Pinky
      Ignored
      says:

      Fluke is pretty much gone (she became a cause for both sides), and Wendy Davis got famous for doing her job, and then tried to advance in her career (but failed, because it’s Texas). If they count as examples of what Tod’s talking about, then his category is much broader than I thought.Report

    • Avatar ScarletNumber in reply to Pinky
      Ignored
      says:

      Fluke has an appropriate last name.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Pinky
      Ignored
      says:

      Ellen’s sitcom got canceled for low ratings not long after she came out in 1998. Her big success came with her talk show which started in 2003. There’s no cause-and-effect at all.Report

    • Avatar Pyre in reply to Pinky
      Ignored
      says:

      The anti-war protestor you’re probably thinking of was Cindy Sheehan. Her mistake that led to her downfall was in believing that she was anything but a pawn to be used against GWB by MoveOn.org. Running against Nancy Pelosi, she found out what happens when pawns try to be something else.Report

    • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Pinky
      Ignored
      says:

      @pinky
      I haven’t checked the entire thread, but has Sandra Fluke come up?

      At what point was she given large amounts of money by the left? I’m not saying it didn’t happen, but I don’t recall it.

      Or the woman who ran for governor in Texas recently?

      Wendy Davis was a politician who made a specific political stand that became well-known and apparently well-liked, and she attempted to advance in politics from it.

      That’s not the same thing as ‘Random person does something one side doesn’t like, so the other side gives her gobs of money and/or hires her as a talking head.’.

      Or the anti-war protester who followed around George W. Bush?

      Here’s a hint: If you can’t think of their names, they almost certainly did *not* manage to become what the article is talking about.

      Ellen had an only average-rated sitcom during the height of sitcoms, but became a star by coming out.

      …that is not how the timeline worked. Ellen’s average-rated sitcom was canceled after she came out. She, like many comedians, was given a talk show. (Seriously, like every famous comedian has had a talk show at some point, even if it was only for two episodes. This is not some sort of left favoritism.) She, unlike many comedians, is fairly personable, and got good ratings, so is still on the air, last I checked.

      Not only is that not what the article is talking about, none of that is even *political*.

      Rosie O’Donnell, similar story.

      You think Rosie O’Donnell became a big liberal star *after* she came out?

      If anything, her political views cost her a position on The View.

      The Dixie Chicks tried to become a liberal culture war symbol after their gaffe.

      …no, they didn’t.

      In fact, the Dixie Chicks are probably the best example of where this *could* have happened…but didn’t. They could have been handed huge amounts of money from the left when the right attacked them, but, uh, weren’t.Report

  22. Avatar Kolohe
    Ignored
    says:

    The most successful example in recent memory of someone using the ire of their political opponents to ju jitsu themselves into *successful* super-stardom is Elizabeth Warren. Yeah, it’s arguably not cultkur war per se, but as her ascension to the Senate was part of the larger Team Blue Team Red Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny, it arguably was. And would have been nipped in the bud if the Republicans would have just let her have a dang job as a high level bureaucrat in the Obama administration.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Kolohe
      Ignored
      says:

      Really? An economically comfortable and academically prominent progressive Democrat getting elected to prominent political office in Massachusetts is a triumph of Blue Team partisan confrontation? I must dissent.

      If she’d’ve gotten elected in Missouri, I could sign off on this opinion a little bit easier.

      If she’d’ve gotten elected in Mississippi, I’d frankly suspect ballot box corruption.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Burt Likko
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        says:

        I think that’s actually right. She won the election because she’s a Democrat not named Coakley, but she was the Democratic nominee because of the nomination fight.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Burt Likko
        Ignored
        says:

        The fact that she got elected to anything at all is the point, and the fact that she is now the left wing’s sparkly glitter dream candidate. Prior to her almost tenure as the first head of the USCFB, she was an academic that only dealt with the political process as a paid expert advisor, and at that, mostly on a bi-partisan or non-partisan basis – kinda like the Bob Gates of bankruptcy policy.Report

    • Avatar ScarletNumber in reply to Kolohe
      Ignored
      says:

      I like Elizabeth Warren because…

      1) She is an alumna of Rutgers Law School in Newark.

      2) She sells really inexpensive cigarettes.Report

  23. Avatar Kim
    Ignored
    says:

    Now from the left:
    Mike Stark — investigative reporter, yahoo, and generalized troublemaker.
    http://www.starkreports.com/i-was-on-rush-limbaugh-today/
    (Limbaugh must be getting desperate. last I checked he banned the guy from getting on his show…)

    … unlike the rest of these yahoos, he actually got beat up during his rise to stardom.Report

  24. Avatar David
    Ignored
    says:

    The question was asked if this is a phenomenon mainly among conservatives – not at all. Tim DeChristopher and Wendy Davis spring readily to mind as examples of professional symbol in liberal circles. There’s nothing particularly conservative or liberal about this trend – it’s a trend springing from the shallowness of our culture.Report

    • Avatar aaron david in reply to David
      Ignored
      says:

      I wouldn’t say it is from shallowness, more that the electorate is pretty evenly divided and both sides are looking for that little something-something that will push them over the finish line.

      What is shallow is thinking that only the other side does it.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to David
      Ignored
      says:

      Joe the Plumber was at least famous for his 15 minutes. Who in God’s name is Tim DeChristopher?Report

    • Avatar DavidTC in reply to David
      Ignored
      says:

      @mike-schilling
      Joe the Plumber was at least famous for his 15 minutes. Who in God’s name is Tim DeChristopher?

      …and how the hell does Wendy Davis qualify? She is a *politician*.

      People seem to be seriously misunderstanding the very premise of ‘profession of paid culture war symbol’. There are three steps in this process, clearly explained in the post:

      1) An ordinary person ends up in the spotlight taking a political side.
      2) The other side takes issue with this person. This can range from polite disagreement to death threats.
      3) The first side then proceeds to deify the person, handing them buckets of cash and speaking engagements.

      Politicians, at least ones that start out politicians, are pretty much excluded from this.

      I also think Warren doesn’t really count, because the oddity is actually ‘shower them with money for no reason and with no purpose’. People who become famous and supported by taking political positions and then *run for office* is completely normal, and has always happened.

      ‘Here, take some cash because liberals dislike you!’ is the new and crazy part of this.Report

  25. Avatar Rufus F.
    Ignored
    says:

    I feel like it’s different because Joe the Plumber went out looking for some attention and got it because he symbolized what a group of people wanted to see. With the pizza place, it seems like they answered a question from a local news group and got a lot of attention from people who wanted a concrete symbol of bigotry, however tenuous. It’s hard not to feel a little bad for them, however it breaks for them in the end.Report

  26. Avatar Oscar Gordon
    Ignored
    says:

    Regarding “bigotry”

    To be a bigot, you must have certain states of mind where you dislike other people or ideas “obstinately, irrationally, unfairly or intolerantly.” That is, you must have epistemically culpable and/or morally culpable mental states.

    Take Pope Francis as an example. His considered belief is that homosexual sex is not part of God’s plan for anyone. He presumably believes this on the basis of Catholic theology and personal experience. As a result, he would refuse to marry gays and lesbians. But it is hard to see that the man has a hateful or “bigoted” bone in his body. He does not obstinately, irrationally or unfairly dislike gays and lesbians. Nonetheless, many would call him bigoted for refusing to serve a gay wedding even if he did so solely because he believed that a God-that-is-Love-Itself is calling him to uphold the sanctity of traditional marriage in all areas of his life. Pope Francis opposes same-sex marriage, he will not marry gay couples, and he is not a bigot.

    I conclude that calling conservative Christian bakers, florists, photographers and planners “bigots” is confused unless you can show that they are culpable for their sincere religious beliefs and accordant actions. Few of us can demonstrate as much.

    Report

    • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to Oscar Gordon
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      says:

      I’m not actually of the belief that they are bigots. What I’m saying is that people seem to have a need for someone to represent bigotry, however tenuously, in order to “make a stand” against them. I think they got sucked into that.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Rufus F.
        Ignored
        says:

        It’s semiotics all the way down.

        The people who donated money? While I’m sure that some of them were homophobes, I’m also pretty sure that some of them were saying “screw you, other side in the culture war”.

        Maybe even most of them.Report

      • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Rufus F.
        Ignored
        says:

        Well, this was mostly in response to Dave & Mr. Pearce’s tiff up above. Terms like Racist, Bigot, Misogynist, etc all have definitions that are pretty specific, but thanks to our lovely culture war, those terms get tossed around as othering labels in ad hom. attacks. This:

        No, all I needed was the few seconds it took to hear them talk about the circumstances under which they would like to discriminate against gay people. Didn’t need much more.

        Is a good example. I’d wager that it’s a rare thing to be able to asses a person as an actual, definitional racist or bigot or what have you based on a few seconds of conversation, or a few paragraphs of internet comment, or other such vague & ambiguous indicators. I reckon it would take a considerable amount of data before a person would have enough evidence to be able to make a convincing case that any individual fits the definition.

        But the terms still get flung about carelessly, reducing their descriptive value, all so people can score Culture War Points.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Rufus F.
        Ignored
        says:

        Oscar,

        I don’t think it’s about scoring points in a culture war. I think Mr. Pearce believes that something is very much at stake here, something he cares about, and he used the language which he thought best expresses his worries and views. I think what you’re attempting to do is actually more “culture warriorish” than what he is, actually: you’re trying to score a linguistic point about the meaning of the word “bigotry” to rescue it from abuse by folks who’s views you apparently disagree with. For example, folks who suggest that certain types of religious expression can also be an expression of bigotry. You seem to be saying that it cannot. Personally, I don’t know why the two concepts can’t overlap in certain types of actions or policies. In fact, from my point of view that’s pretty much what this whole issue resolves to: whether a sincere act of religious expression constitutes a form of discrimination of others based on their sexual orientation. Religious folks are arguing that it doesn’t, other folks argue that it does.Report

      • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Rufus F.
        Ignored
        says:

        For example, folks who suggest that certain types of religious expression can also be an expression of bigotry. You seem to be saying that it cannot. Personally, I don’t know why the two concepts can’t overlap in certain types of actions or policies. In fact, from my point of view that’s pretty much what this whole issue resolves to: whether a sincere act of religious expression constitutes a form of discrimination of others based on their sexual orientation. Religious folks are arguing that it doesn’t, other folks argue that it does.

        the meaning of the word “bigotry” to rescue it from abuse by folks

        This is my point, right here. It has nothing to do with whether or not I agree with the speaker. My criticism extends to any who use language so imprecisely. Perhaps I should have included common conservative linguistic bombs, like Communist, Socialist, etc.? Do I really need to constantly qualify every point with a dose of BSDI? Have I not been commenting here long enough that you all get that I am happy to punch hippies and moralists alike?

        folks who suggest that certain types of religious expression can also be an expression of bigotry.

        Don’t disagree with this at all. And bigoted people can use religion or society as a cover for their beliefs/attitudes. However…

        Can we agree that there is clear difference between an expression or action that can be considered as bigoted or racist, and a person who fits the definition of racist/bigot. This was the point being made in the linked post, that a person can express an idea that is bigoted, and not be a bigot by the definition of the word. My father is like this. Opposes gay rights because, and I quote, “that is just how my generation feels about this”. This despite his SIL & one of his brothers being gay. Is he wrong to hold that opinion? In my mind, yes, especially since he likes to preach the libertarian gospel. Is he a bigot? Not that I can see. He loves his brother & SIL, treats them with the same courtesy & respect (or lack thereof) he treats everybody with. He has never expressed any other attitudes that LGBT people should hold any less rights in any other regard, or should be subject to any other discrimination.

        He just has a hang-up on gay marriage that he can’t get past. He has a bigoted position, but that alone does not make him a bigot. Not in my mind, and not by the definition of the term.

        So yes, there is overlap, no question. Luckily our language is not so imprecise that we can not express when there is overlap, and when there might not be. I can tell my father his attitude on gay marriage is bigoted, and I would be correct. If I called him a bigot, I would, if I wanted to be honest & taken seriously, have to present more than a single data point to prove the claim. And I should have to do more work, because saying that a person is a bigot is a significant claim to make and it paints a person in a nearly irredeemable light.Report

      • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Rufus F.
        Ignored
        says:

        Ah, damnit, the whole first paragraph of the previous comment is Stillwater’s, I copied it into the comment box for easy reference & forgot to delete it.

        My comment begins with the first blockquote.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Rufus F.
        Ignored
        says:

        Oscar,

        Personally, I’m with you about the over-use of the word “bigoted” in these types of discussions. And frankly, I’m sorta surprised that the word hasn’t come up more in discussions here at the ole OT. I’m pretty sure I haven’t used it in the questionable way we’re discussing (I hope that’s true!) since I think attributing bigotry to a person, as opposed to the outcomes of their actions/beliefs, is worse than a non-starter: it’s a derailer. Making that claim (“you’re a bigot!”) ascribes insidious intentions to that person, yes? And that’s what you seem to be objecting to. So I agree on that score.

        One thing I also have a hard time with is someone who’s beliefs look like they entail certain types of discriminatory practices or policies attempting to justify them on a purely internal perusal of their motivations. (“Do I hold animus towards gays expressed as a form of legalized discrimination against them? Hmmm. No! No I don’t!”) It’s the reversy of the bigoted accusation in that if that person fails to find insidious intent via introspection, then their behavior checks out as perfectly justified.

        Obviously I don’t know how all this is gonna shake out, even less how it’s supposed to. But I think there’s a big difference between refusing to bless a gay wedding (on religious grounds) and refusing to sell a gay couple a wedding cake. Or refusing to rent to gay tenants. Or not hiring gay employees. Or denying gays the legal right to marry (which is hopefully no longer an issue). Etc.Report

      • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Rufus F.
        Ignored
        says:

        @stillwater

        Oh good, I am glad we agree for the most part!

        Mr. Pearce’s claim that the folks at pizza place were Crusaders, while not as extreme as calling them bigots or homophobes, was in the same vein. It was taking a single data point and extrapolating that to a working definition of the whole. It might be a correct claim to make, but I hold that Mr. Pearce has more work to do to substantiate the claim, which was what Dave was, rather inelegantly, saying to him.Report

    • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Oscar Gordon
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      says:

      Yes, and plenty of white Christian’s up until the 1960’s would’ve told you that they weren’t bigoted – the Bible just told them that black people were lesser humans.

      You don’t get an excuse for believing people should be second class citizens just because what a book told you.Report

  27. Avatar DRS
    Ignored
    says:

    There should be some basic rules:

    1. You can’t be a PCWS without your active co-operation. Joe the Plumber qualifies; Anita Sarkeesian doesn’t, she’s just someone who got a lot of media attention over a short period of time.

    2. Your success or failure as a PCWS should be measured by something more tangible than simply getting a lot of media attention. Joe the Plumber might end up in the largest lunatic asylum on earth (i.e. the House of Representatives) but others might fade from view as media attention moves on.

    3. Others should be able to use you as a PCWS for their own purposes to the mutual benefit of both of you. Again, Joe the Plumber qualifies but George Zimmerman doesn’t. The examples that Tod cites for Zimmerman’s “status” are really very small potatoes and frankly I’d never heard of the paintings or the gun factory tour before. Also I would like to see the brainless politician who would campaign with Zimmerman by his side to show support for fighting crime. Not going to happen. Zimmerman was so clearly not in control of his own story that he doesn’t qualify for the PCWS status.Report

    • Avatar DavidTC in reply to DRS
      Ignored
      says:

      @drs
      2. Your success or failure as a PCWS should be measured by something more tangible than simply getting a lot of media attention. Joe the Plumber might end up in the largest lunatic asylum on earth (i.e. the House of Representatives) but others might fade from view as media attention moves on.

      No, I don’t think running for office counts here. Common people have *always* interjected themselves into the political sphere, had some success and support, and decided to run for office. That’s just normal politics.

      The qualifying thing here, the weird new thing, is that you get *handed a lot of money* for no reason, either like they used to do, indirectly via over-inflated speaking engagements, or, as is the new tradition, a lot of people just handing you a lot of money.Report

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