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April 06, 2018

Here's an Unpopular Fact for the "Respectable" Right: Of All the Many People Fired or Demoted by Corporations for Having Wrongthoughts, Kevin D. Williamson Has One of the Weakest Claims of Grievance of All

Corporations are in the opinion-punishing business now.

As one person -- wish I could remember the name -- put it on twitter, the algorithm goes like this:

1. Democrats decide something has happened that they don't like, like Trump winning the presidency.

2. Democrats search for a scapegoat and decide it must be a Villainous Corporation.

3. Democrats call Villainous Corporations before Congressional hearings and vaguely threaten that there might be consequences if this Bad Thing Democrats Don't Like ever happens again.

4. Corporations begin either making subtle promises that they will make sure this Bad Thing doesn't happen again, or outright ask to be regulated, as Mark Zuckerberg did.

Now, that's the script, and some of us don't like that script.

So when this script gets loaded into the teleprompter yet again, some of us speak up and start saying crazy things like "If corporations are so eager to bend to political pressure, perhaps we on the right should start pressuring them in the opposite direction, if not with the expectation that they will bend to our will, at least in the hopes that the counter-pressure will offset the pressure brought to bear by the left and keep them somewhat neutral."

But when I, or Kurt Schlichter, propose something like that, Good Little Corporate "Conservatives" sniff: "But that would be interfering with a business owner's business decisions, and we don't do that sort of thing. It's so... Trumpy."

When it's pointed out the left is doing it, and is wildly successful at turning corporations into their willing prison guards patrolling the public for wrongthink, they still just sniff "But that's not who we are," and content themselves, as usual, to lose with dignity.

I begin to wonder if it's the "with dignity" that's most important to them, or simply the "losing" part.

Meanwhile, Americans throughout the country are fired, demoted, or browbeaten by #Woke Human Resources departments into parroting the leftist cultural line.

Now, most corporations aren't political as far as their corporate charter goes, and therefore have no stated interest in pursuing a policy of political censorship on their employees.

Their real interest in imposing political censorship on their employees is that they know that the left will punish them if they do not, and the right is not going to say anything either way (they will sniff that it's no one's business what another man does with his business, even if that means he is whipsawed into becoming the left's catspaw for political pressure of everyday citizens).

Thus, they do wind up having a business interest in being an explicitly leftwing company: Defying the left would cost them in terms of coordinated negative public relations campaigns and boycotts, and crossing the right costs them not one slim dime, because on the right, it's considered uncouth to even criticize a business for turning into a bullyboy for the left, and so of course they take the path of least resistance.

As anyone in their situation would.

And again, when it is proposed by some that we work to change what that path of least resistance is, to make it clear that there will also be costs associated with joining the left, the respectable Corporate Class of the GOP, which happens to be largely funded by the corporate donor class (and I'm sure that's just a coincidence), says that we're engaging in the sort of thuggery that the left is engaging in.

Better a thousand average American citizens be bullied by their corporate bosses than a single corporation be bullied in turn by collective action by citizens concerned with citizen rights. People who think that maybe citizens have rights every bit as important as those that corporations enjoy.

But they say that this is a Sacred Principle of theirs, and so, however dire the outcome of abiding this Sacred Principle, it must nevertheless be observed to the letter.

Okay -- I buy that. Sacred Principles are, definitionally, Sacred.


But now comes another company, The Atlantic, and it fires one of their Cocktail Circuit buddies, and suddenly not only is it okay to furiously wail about a corporate decision to squelch someone's free speech, but it is in fact now a Sacred Principle that we do so.

Huh? How did that happen?

How did pressuring and criticizing a corporation for its cavalier attitude towards the spirit of free speech (and yes, idiots, i know the First Amendment only applies to government action, which is why I'm referring to free speech generally) go from "thuggish" to "absolutely necessary"?

Was it just that a buddy of the Corporate Cons got hit by leftist pressure tactics and corporate cowardice this time?

Is that it all it takes to render a Sacred Principle non-operational? One of your Twitter Palz gets dinged?

Or did you just get alarmed that rather than a company firing some Deplorable -- someone you don't know and wouldn't shake hands with if you could avoid doing so -- now you and your class was potentially at risk from corporations acting as catspaws for the left?

Is that all it takes to rubbish your Sacred Principles?

Are they really Sacred, then?

The Atlantic is a magazine of ideas. Obviously, ideas being its stock in trade, it has the right any business does of deciding what ideas it wishes to sell and which ideas it thinks it can sell to its customer base.

Its ideas and the writers typing up those ideas are its stock in trade and its entire brand identity.

It has a very strong interest in defining not only what its brand identity is, but what its brand identity is not.

No one, certainly no one from the National Review, can dispute this. I'll tell a short tale out of school, details omitted. I asked someone at the National Review during general campaign season of 2016 (not primary season -- general election season) why they were hiring nothing but NeverTrumpers. They were hiring both writers of quality, like Heather Wilhelm, and trash level writers, who I won't name.

The quality varied but their politics did not: They were all vociferously anti-Trump. Again, during general election season, when the only alternative to Trump was Hillary Clinton.

The person responded in what I would call a condescending and insulting manner. I considered responding in kind, but I didn't want to escalate it, and so I just let the exchange lie.

Why was the answer condescending? Well, I suppose he might have considered me to be the one overstepping by challenging his hiring decisions. He might have thought that he -- and not me -- had an interest in National Review's brand identity, and he might have thought it presumptuous of me to challenge his decision.

Fair enough.

But then: Doesn't The Atlantic have that exact same right to choose which writers it wants to tell its audience are worth reading (and, indeed, worth paying cash money for)?

If there was not a single new hire on the more anti-anti-Trump side National Review thought worthy of gracing its pages (the only anti-anti-Trump writers being long-timers like Mark Krikorian and Victor Davis Hanson, and thus grandfathered in) -- if Sean Davis, Mollie Hemingway, and David Harsanyi* were all rejected from consideration by the National Review as even worth a guest dissenting column -- why does The Atlantic have any greater responsibility to feature writers who don't quite fit in?

When a magazine hires a writer, it is saying "This writer is worth reading, and worth a fraction of the money you spend on this magazine," whether you agree or not.

More than any other type of company, a company with a largely or primarily political orientation has a right to screen its personnel for politics. I believe in California, where discriminating against an employee for his politics is generally illegal, there is an exception for companies which are themselves partisan, like political consultancy firms. They can discriminate based on party affiliation and ideology -- and it would be absurd to demand otherwise.

Even California gets that.

The Atlantic had a much, much, much greater right -- hell, it had a responsibility to its subscribers and stakeholders -- to fire Kevin Williamson than virtually any other corporation has had to make one of its own free-speech-squelching decisions.

But this is the fucking thing we're all going crazy about?

At long last, we've finally found that mythical hill we're willing to die upon, huh?

Ben Shapiro wrote a twitter rant claiming that it is the shrinking of the overton window of permissible thought, and the classification of tolerable conservatives like himself with the intolerable sorts of conservatives we all agree should have their free speech rights stripped away, that has brought upon Trump.

Well, it is partly that. But if it were just that, conservatives would have been full of fire to attack the left -- they wouldn't have been ginned up to turn the GOP Establishment class out into the streets.

No, for that part, it took some work by the GOP Establishment class.

People are waking up to the fact that our "leaders," both political and those in media, who we have put into positions of leadership to serve as our advocates and our champions, who maybe might speak up for us with one one-hundredth of the vigor with which they champion their pal Kevin Williamson in his bid to become a respectable writer at an prestigious left-wing magazine, seem to be an insular group of class-conscious, careerist mercenaries primarily interested in advancing their own interests and quite willing to sacrifice those of their fellow conservatives if it gets them just a bit of goodwill from the dominant leftist class.

So: Are we just making a special exception for brow-beating a corporation over a free speech decision for Kevin D. Williamson?

Will we go right back to the general rule that Thou Shall Never Criticize a Corporation for Its Business/Political Decisions tomorrow?

Is it only the swells whose careers and jobs matter?

You know what I'd do if I realized the lawyer I'd hired to represent my interests was really only concerned about his own, and was more than willing to make deals with the prosecutor at my legal expense if it would advance his own career?

I'd fucking fire his ass and I'd take pleasure in bum-rushing him out of my office and into the street.

You know how you got Trump, fellas?

You made it too obvious that you were pursuing the interests only of your own small insular class and had decided that the Little People and Filthy Commoners existed primarily to provide you with perks and power.

How many times do we have to hear about the plight of the very well paid Bari Weiss and the well-enough paid and somewhat famous Kevin Williamson while the "leaders" of the right continue to shrug at much-less justifiable acts of corporations to punish their workers for wrongthink?

If you're only going to use the media power which average citizens, who do not have any means of mass communication themselves, have trusted to you with the assumption that you would advocate for their interests once in a while and not exclusively for your own -- why should they let you keep that media power?

Why not turn you all out into the streets and elect a better class of advocates?

* I'm told that David Harsanyi does have an NR column. But then, he was also Never Trump, way back. Still is, a bit, though he's frequently more balanced now (an "anti-anti-," as some put it).

Actually, Mollie Hemingway was stridently anti-Trump during the primaries (and for some time after it), and so was Sean, now that I think of it.

Okay, bad examples.

I guess I meant me.

Apologies for the error. I'll leave it in, despite it not quite making as much sense now.

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