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November 13, 2013

File Under, "Thank God the Adults Are Finally in Charge"

So the Blog Princess, having been preoccupied of late with earning a living - is late to the Brosurance / Hosurance party.

Grim notes the weirdly ungrammatical URL of a promotional Obama website (doyougotinsurance.com):

I realize [using incorrect English to sell health insurance to young people] is the smallest thing wrong with this, but somehow it seems to tie it all together.

Can you imagine the reaction if the Bush administration had done something like this? When Democrats do it, it's "edgy" and "fun" - the inability to master basic English grammar says precisely nothing about their intelligence or credibility. Why, the very idea is absurd!

But when Republicans "misspeak" in real time ('Rarely is the question asked, "is our kids learning"), their verbal missteps, malapropisms, and grammatical errors are endlessly touted by the media as proof of their stupidity, ignorance, or general unfitness for high office. No ambiguity or nuance is left unexamined, for lurking beneath each dangling participle and mangled metaphor is a veritable cornucopia of cleverly concealed "lies", racist dog whistles, coded language, benevolent and not so benevolent sexism, and the hateful, hate-y hate speech of hate.

Not so with the linguistic faux pas of Democrats. When they say the kinds of things Republican are mocked and criticized for, it's all clever and lighthearted. Lighten up - you see the difference, don't you? When Obama "misspeaks"... repeatedly, using exactly the same words over a multi-year period, the NY Times writes editorials breezily assuring us that scrutinizing the pronouncements of our elected leaders for hidden meaning is - or should be - an activity unbecoming of Serious Journalists. Who among us has not forgotten how many United States there are? And who but the most racist partisan hack would expect the President of the United States to accurately describe (let alone understand) his greatest legislative achievement?

The bar, for progressives at least, appears to be set considerably lower than it is for conservatives. This is odd when you stop and think about it; don't we normally expect more from smart/educated people than we do from dumb/ignorant folk? If progressives are more enlightened, intelligent, and well informed than conservatives, shouldn't the bar be set higher for them?

So much for all that "From each, according to his ability" nonsense. Get a grip, people. The mistakes of our more highly evolved brethren in Christ are unimportant trivialities, revealing exactly nothing of significance.

Except, of course, when such faux pas have Deep Meaning; a phenomenon that only seems to manifest itself when a conservative "misspeaks". How can the exact same behaviors can be interpreted so differently? Some - clearly - have Great Significance. Others are obviously silly and unworthy of notice. The distinction appears to lie in the subjective interpretation of the beholders, some of whom are clearly more Significant than others:

Actual experiences like being robbed or threatened illustrate no larger theme about race relations in America. In this, they are different from the woman clutching her purse or the click of a car door. These more privileged experiences clearly underscore Deep, Racial Truths. The experiences of white folk, on the other hand, are treated as isolated incidents with no deeper meaning. Bringing them up is Not Helpful - it can only lead to forbidden thoughts and proscribed ideas (like the notion that people of all races are slow to forget unpleasant experiences, or that we all have an unfortunate tendency to generalize from particulars). The President is right to think purse-clutching women are indicative of some larger problem. Hanson is wrong to think that menacing teens are symbolic of anything.

While we're looking for Hidden Meaning and Deep Significance, does it strike anyone else as odd that both the Brosurance and Hosurance ads contradict mainstream progressive dogma?

The driving force behind health care reform was supposed to be that the cost of health insurance was so incredibly high that it justifies forcing richer, younger, and healthier Americans to subsidize other people's premiums. Yet once the bill is passed, we see ObamaCare supporters suggesting that it's really not so big an expense (or deal) at all. Hey bro - you shouldn't have to tap into your beer money!


And wait a minute! Isn't "bro culture" exactly the kind of thing progressives have been fighting, lo! these many years?

It’s getting harder and harder to separate the men from the bros. This week, Business Insider’s chief technology officer, Pax Dickinson, was ousted after tech blog Valleywag noticed that he’d been airing sexist, racist opinions on Twitter for years. Then a friend jumped to his defense, saying his buddy was actually a “frequently hilarious performance-artist who tweets with a faux-brogrammer alter ego.” And Dickinson attempted to channel all of the media attention toward a pitch for his real start-up. Sweet pivot, dude.

Perhaps the difference between parody tweeter and privileged twit would have been more pronounced if Dickinson’s account had surfaced any other week. Mainstream news has been dominated lately by stories lamenting “bro culture” — a term that used to be found solely on feminist blogs — everywhere from Silicon Valley to the U.S. military to the financial sector to pockets of academia. Last week, National Journal published an examination of the military’s fratty atmosphere under the headline “How the Military’s 'Bro' Culture Turns Women Into Targets”; and in Sunday’s New York Times, reporter Jodi Kantor examined Harvard Business School’s attempt to de-bro itself. Also over the weekend, at a TechCrunch-sponsored hackathon, two “grinning Australian dudes” got onstage and pitched a “joke” app called Titstare. (Yeah, it’s exactly what it sounds like.) “It's as if,” wrote the Atlantic Wire, “the brogrammers seen here didn't know their audience wasn't all bros like them.”

“Bro” once meant something specific: a self-absorbed young white guy in board shorts with a taste for cheap beer. But it’s become a shorthand for the sort of privileged ignorance that thrives in groups dominated by wealthy, white, straight men. “Bro” is convenient because describing a professional or social dynamic as “overly white, straight, and male” seems both too politically charged and too general; instead, “bro” conjures a particular type of dude who operates socially by excluding those who are different.

Why would good progressives deliberately invoke an obviously sexist remnant of white male privilege and unashamed patriarchy? But the Hosurance adds are even odder, if that's possible. Where are all the admonitions about the dangers of rape culture and unchecked testosterone? Instead, we get the suggestion that unbridled male sexuality isn't actually dangerous to women at all:


Just met a random man on the street? Got insurance? OK - all you have to do now is worry about how you're going to get him betwixt the sheets.

Are the medical bills of young men so crushing a burden that not providing them with subsidized insurance is essentially a human rights violation? Is 'bro culture' a sick manifestation of sexist patriarchal hegemony, or just harmless fun? Do young women really live in a world where the biggest risk from having sex with total strangers is who will cover the cost of birth control?

We are so confused. It's almost as though these folks don't really believe in their own dogma.

Posted by Cassandra at November 13, 2013 11:34 PM

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It's amazing how much contempt they have for their audience. It's not just that the authors of these posters think their audience will find these images appealing -- that they will identify with the people in them -- that they probably speak poorly -- that they have no moral standards at all.

It's also that they think their audience is so stupid that they won't be able to recognize a bad deal when they see one. "Free birth control! That's totally worth a few hundred dollars a month!"

Posted by: Grim at November 14, 2013 01:30 PM

It's also that they think their audience is so stupid that they won't be able to recognize a bad deal when they see one.

Judging from the results of the past two presidential elections, that may not actually be a bad assumption :p

No matter how many people pointed out that Obama had never actually done anything close to the job he was applying for (or how many people pointed out his "lawyerly" phrasing and frankly unbelievable promises - heal the oceans, anyone???), few of them seem to have been able to recognize that he was offering them a pretty bad deal.

Posted by: Cassandra at November 14, 2013 01:54 PM

Perhaps some of their contempt for their audience is warranted, you mean? :)

Posted by: Grim at November 14, 2013 02:45 PM

Certainly it's not new, and it may also be justified.

Posted by: Cassandra at November 14, 2013 03:51 PM

I'm just glad that when the VES sees shite like that she cocks her head to one side like a confused dog and says, "Ewww! No thank you!"

Posted by: DL Sly at November 14, 2013 04:46 PM

Wait, I thought the moral imperative for universal health coverage was ensuring that no one would be faced with bankruptcy if they got cancer? The real problem was $10/month birth control?

Oh, never mind.

Posted by: Texan99 at November 15, 2013 01:42 AM

I prefer to focus on the glaring reality of Obummercare failing miserably, and publicly. My kids are in their early twenties, and they are extremely aware what a hugely bad deal this is for them. I predict w/ confidence that the 'youth vote' will be depressed in 2014.

Posted by: CAPT Mike at November 16, 2013 01:27 AM

"It's almost as though these folks don't really believe in their own dogma." Of course they don't believe in their own dogma. Dogma is the stuff of control of the little people. The educated intelligentsia don't believe in dogma, they write it. They know it's about power and that's what they seek. Dogma, to them, is for the little people.

Note, to me dogma is a religious concept, stating the basic truths of a religion, what they truly believe. This use of the term for the left has some truth to it, to the extent that secular humanism really is a religious belief.

Posted by: DaveJ at November 17, 2013 09:46 PM