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Today In @ssholes: Thank You, Andrew Breitbart

So, here’s something new:

Indeed. Via Jill at Feministe, we find that Breitbart’s and Palin’s use of “blood libel” (which is actually a specific term, with a specific history, relating to anti-Semitic myths about Jewish folks drinking blood and such — myths which were used to justify murdering Jewish people, for a really long time, by the way, and when a Jewish woman is currently in critical condition due to being the primary target of an assassination attempt? MAYBE YOU WANNA BE CAREFUL ON THAT ONE) was, in fact, totally fine.

Because the other option? Is that Palin’s critics are gang-rapists.


“I used ‘blood libel’ because I thought analogy of lefties at pinball machine in Jodie Foster film ‘The Accused’ was too obscure,” he Tweets, and no, Andy: It’s not that obscure. That would be one of the more famous rape scenes in film history, in fact. And the “analogy” is that publicly criticizing Palin, and the Tea Party, for their role in — I mean, for some reason we’ve decided to skate around this, but let’s say it again –PUMPING THE AIR FULL OF GUN-BASED IMAGERY AND RHETORIC, WHICH HAD ALREADY REACHED FEVER PITCH AND RESULTED IN THREATS ON GABRIELLE GIFFORDS’ LIFE AND SOME VIOLENCE AGAINST HER, WHEN SOMEONE ACTUALLY SHOT HER AND KILLED A WHOLE LOT OF PEOPLE, AND NO MATTER WHO HE WAS OR WHAT HE WAS THINKING, HE WAS LIVING IN A CULTURE THAT LINKED GUNS, VIOLENCE, AND THIS WOMAN GABRIELLE GIFFORDS, is, in effect, personally gang-raping Sarah Palin.

Okay. Let’s talk for a minute about how this is sexist, before we proceed. One: The continuing premise of Sarah Palin supporters is that Sarah Palin is a woman, therefore any and all criticism of her should be silenced, for she is a woman. Two: As someone who is, uh, not exactly opposed to pointing out sexism on the part of the left wing, I will freely admit that some of the criticism of Sarah Palin has been sexist. I’ve written about it. I’ve gotten in arguments with fellow left-wing people about it. Some of the criticism of Sarah Palin has been sexist. Many feminists and otherwise responsible people — the first one who springs to mind, the most vocal, the one who got perhaps the most shit for it from the left, is Melissa McEwan — have also written about this. Three: This is distinct from legitimate criticism. Which any and all people who operate as politicians must face. And four: Uh, NOT A LOT of the criticism of Sarah Palin that I’ve seen in these past few days has been focused on her gender. It’s mostly been about how she and others talked up guns constantly, and were totally freaking irresponsible about it, and then somebody got shot.

And here’s the part where this is sexist: You know how any and all criticism of Sarah Palin is supposedly sexist? And this particular strong, widespread criticism is apparently a fucking gang rape? Reduces her, wholly and entirely, to her gender. And suggests that, because of her gender, she can’t be responsible for any damn thing she does. It suggests that, as a woman, she is incapable of operating in the public sphere, because she’s a lady and we’re all gonna rape her, so hold her train when she crosses a puddle and give way to her childish feminine whims and, you know, maybe don’t let her vote because ladies can’t be held responsible, and you know, don’t let her go to certain places without a male to escort her and guard her virtue. It’s sexist precisely in the sense that it suggests that women cannot be as smart or as accountable for their actions as men can.

And then let’s get to the part where he called you a rapist. And me. And all of the feminist anti-rape activists who also criticized Palin. We’re all rapists now, apparently. Except that this also trivializes rape.

Because Sarah Palin could be harshly criticized over this. Being harshly criticized is not rape.

Because Sarah Palin’s chances at a Presidential run could be damaged over this. Having one’s chances at achieving a goal lessened is not rape.

Because Sarah Palin’s public image could be tarnished over this. Having one’s public image tarnished is not rape.

Because Sarah Palin’s career could end over this. Having one’s career ended is not rape.

Rape is rape. And a false equivalency between any of these things — these things which are, comparably, far less serious than rape — and rape itself only serves to promote the message that rape itself is not that serious.

I take exception to that. I really, wholly and fully do.

All of the false-equivalency, “left is just as bad” rhetoric — which, in all honesty, is often disingenuous or ass-covering (what if it turns out he didn’t like Palin? He still lived in the culture of violence she helped to create) at best, straight-up lies and attempts to discredit Palin’s critics at worst — has been pretty offensive. But the thing is? Of all the people I’ve seen, only Breitbart took it decisively too far. Only Breitbart called us all a bunch of rapists.

And yeah. Breitbart isn’t going to change his mind. Breitbart’s scummy and weird and his whole thing is about trying to get people mad by being obviously sexist or variously scummy, and then being like, “oh, my gosh! Look at how these people are mad and stuff!” Breitbart, in other words, isn’t Michael Moore. We can’t talk to the man.

But that whole “left is just as bad” thing? Yeah. That’s kind of decisively, publicly false. And everyone can see it. And we have one very special man to thank for that.

So, thank you, Andrew Breitbart! Now we can go back toward putting the focus where it belongs.


  1. Rhane wrote:

    And don’t forget creepy. Breitbart is just hands down creepy.

    Wednesday, January 12, 2011 at 5:08 pm | Permalink
  2. aravind wrote:

    Holy shit. TBD is now one of my few sources for this kind of stuff because the mainstream media seems to deem it impolite to cover this.

    Wednesday, January 12, 2011 at 6:05 pm | Permalink
  3. Katje wrote:

    Wow. That’s…wow. I think the Right finally surprised me.


    Wednesday, January 12, 2011 at 6:18 pm | Permalink
  4. raddad wrote:

    I was trying to explain the blood libel comment to my friends, “if I had made a comment that had inadvertently led to the death of Spike Lee, how would people take my defense that I was being lynched?”
    People seem to understand racism on a slightly more subtle level than they do anti-Jewish oppression.

    Thursday, January 13, 2011 at 1:07 am | Permalink
  5. Gnatalby wrote:

    More cookies for Michael Moore, the man who never said he was wrong. Sigh. The only low point for me in a good post.

    Thursday, January 13, 2011 at 1:18 am | Permalink
  6. Sady wrote:

    @Gnatalby: Dude? I worked my ass off. I want to be nice about this, but SERIOUSLY, if you want to come over to my place and talk about my “low points,” maybe also respect that I, along with a lot of people, worked my ass off. And it worked like any negotiation: You name several very high goals, you have one or more goals that is non-negotiable (a change in the narrative; funds raised for rape crisis centers), you go as hard as you can and you get as much as you reasonably can — $14K for RAINN alone ain’t bad; nor is a note of apology or an open change in the man’s narrative — and then you move on. It’s always a good idea to ask for more than you think you’re going to get, and it’s always a good idea to have something you’re willing to give up. These are basic skills for getting what you want out of life; I’m sorry if I’ve demonstrated them here. And I wasn’t the only one protesting, so I’m not the only one who gets to talk about what they want, but me? I got what I wanted, even though the sky didn’t rain down Hershey Kisses upon my head. I am noting that the Moore protest worked specifically because the man had reason to believe we were within his group of supporters and/or income-generators, and thus could be expected to respond. He was like anyone else with whom you can negotiate: We had the ability to contribute to his well-being, in a non-abstract sense, and that gave us reason to expect that he would contribute to ours. I’m comparing Moore with Breitbart to note that a protest of Breitbart wouldn’t work, for the reasons I’ve stated above. Because he has no incentive to negotiate.

    Trust me, I have several tasty chocolate chip cookies in my fridge, fresh-baked and all, and I didn’t send Moore any one of them. I see no reason not to be civil or reasonable about the man, unless you want me to compile some Nixonian list of people I’m supposed to never ever ever stop screaming at or about, at which point I become a caricature of myself, lose my credibility, and can no longer work as an effective protester because nobody has any reason to think of me as a reasonable person. Actually, being able to be nice about people sometimes is MORE essential to my effectiveness than being able to be mean when protecting a boundary. Because if I’m not just mean in the service of protecting boundaries — like I am being, right now, with you — then people don’t think I have a point when I raise my voice. They just think I’m always yelling.

    There ya go.

    Thursday, January 13, 2011 at 2:20 am | Permalink
  7. snobographer wrote:

    To some degree I have to blame the writers of Wedding Crashers for that ‘like Jodie Foster in The Accused‘ line that now gets trotted out every time an ignorant douchebag thinks he’s been victimized by substantive criticism or a tough algebra quiz. I’ve been seeing more of that since that movie came out, and it needs to frikkin stop.
    I have been concerned some of the focus on Palin has been motivated by sexism though. Mainly because I haven’t seen Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, etc. get the same amount of criticism and I’m pretty sure they’d earned it. More people did start talking about Glenn Beck when Loughner’s rantings about the gold standard became public knowledge though.

    Thursday, January 13, 2011 at 3:21 am | Permalink
  8. k not K wrote:

    WTF. WTF. WTF. Just when you think these jerks can’t get any lower…

    Thursday, January 13, 2011 at 7:27 am | Permalink
  9. Napalmnacey wrote:

    Damn it, I just ate my dinner and Breitbart nearly made me throw it up!

    Thursday, January 13, 2011 at 8:21 am | Permalink
  10. Gnatalby wrote:

    Sady I know you worked your ass off, which is why I think you deserve to get what you were asking for which wasn’t very much to begin with. Despite you writing now that they were extravagant goals it’s really not excessive to ask a dude with a lot of money to give some of his own and to say he was wrong about things he was demonstrably wrong about. I just think you keep trying to spin this as a victory and it’s dishonest.

    Thursday, January 13, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Permalink
  11. Sady wrote:

    @Gnatalby: And I just think if you accuse me of dishonesty or cookie-giving one more time I won’t want you on my blog any more.

    Thursday, January 13, 2011 at 3:01 pm | Permalink
  12. Tyler Healey wrote:


    Did you see the “Real Time with Bill Maher” episode where Breitbart said he doesn’t consider himself a moral person? I was shocked by his blatant honesty.

    Thanks for not posting my silly comment from a couple days ago. Hope you found it funny, though!

    Thursday, January 13, 2011 at 1:55 pm | Permalink
  13. Tyler Healey wrote:


    I respectfully disagree. Getting Moore to say what he said on TRMS was most def a victory.

    Thursday, January 13, 2011 at 1:57 pm | Permalink
  14. snobographer wrote:

    @12 Tyler Healey – The victory, to me, if anybody’s interested, was in getting two highly visible liberal media dudes to stop repeating false information and in raising consciousness about rape myths perpetuated in the media. That was pretty huge, even if Moore’s apology was weak, and I’ll be very interested to see if it made a difference in future reporting on rape cases. If I never again have to see Mark Geragos trotted out on cable news to dismiss yet another celebrity rape case as an “extortion plot,” not to be a kiss-ass, but I’ll raise a glass to Sady for that.

    Thursday, January 13, 2011 at 10:07 pm | Permalink
  15. snobographer wrote:

    @11 Tyler Healey- that was the first time I ever saw what Breitbart looked like I think. Didn’t he seem to have hostility and anger just radiating off of him? Especially when Ann Druyan called him out for lying?

    Thursday, January 13, 2011 at 10:13 pm | Permalink
  16. Kiri wrote:

    I really appreciate this post.

    Friday, January 14, 2011 at 12:18 pm | Permalink
  17. apismellifera wrote:

    Holy crap. Palin’s original comment was awful. The fact that she refuses to take ownership of her words and actions is reprehensible. But equating valid criticism of her words and actions with gang rape is just fucking gross. I don’t pay a lot of attention to Breitbart–and for good reason, I think–but this is worth calling out and getting mad over.

    I’ve never commented here before, but thanks for your writing, Sady.

    Saturday, January 15, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Permalink
  18. Ennu wrote:

    Ah, extreme right wing dudes and your disturbing obsession with equating everything you don’t like with getting raped, will you ever change?

    No, really, please stop that. It’s low even for you.

    Saturday, January 15, 2011 at 3:53 pm | Permalink
  19. Mejoff wrote:

    Oh, It’s ok though, because, according to the Wahington Times, the Blood Libel against Palin is (and I’m not joking here) part of a pogrom against conservative thinkers.


    Tuesday, January 18, 2011 at 10:17 am | Permalink