I come home from work and find a tempest has arrived on the doorstep.
Some people take exception to my claim that Olbermann was advocating murder. It was a sports expression. It was just a metaphor. He was speaking hyperbolically. It was about Obama winning the election. It was just him being stupid. He didn't really mean it that way, he just didn't express himself very well. It wasn't sexist. Etc.
As I said in my original post, I thought a long time before putting forward the strongest version of the various arguments I could have made. It was tempting, and certainly would have garnered me less unpleasant attention, to stop just a tippy-toe short of explicitly calling out the worst implication in his statement, and letting the readers put 2 and 2 together, or allowing a commenter to state what was implicit in the argument. Plausible deniability. Oh, no, I didn't actually think he really meant that Hillary should never come out of the room, just that the wording was just a bit unsettling, y'know? Illustrative of larger trends about misogyny, blah, blah, blah.....
I asked a friend today, a non-political friend, "If someone said Person X took Person Y into a room, and Person X came out alone, what do you think of?" She laughed and said "The Sopranos." The homicidal implication of the situation struck her immediately, and I didn't say what gender of the two people were or even hint that they might be at odds. All it took was the structure of one person taking another into a closed/secluded space and coming bacck alone for her to understand the deadly dynamic. My friend provided all the rest of the story. It is part of our common understanding, and we can shorthand the idea of retributive violence with the name of a popular TV show.
Part of my purpose was to deliver a dash of cold water and get readers to examine the resonance Olbermann's words would have had with listeners. You don't need to say "Kill the bitch" out loud if you can get people to provide the narrative in their own heads. My husband, who thinks I'm a bit extreme and started this electoral cycle as an Obama supporter, "got it" the second I read it to him yesterday. You also can't explicitly say those words because, well, the Secret Service will be all over your ass. Trust me, the guys and gals with the lapel pins and the serious expressions know exactly what Olbermann said. They also know the danger is not Olbermann himself but the person who "gets it" and (unlike the commenters here, even those who don't want Hillary for Pres.) thinks it is a peachy idea, not a horrific one. Plausible deniability has many applications.
It's a sports expression? This isn't sports. Even in sports, the loaded language about violence and threatened homicide are bounded by the contest itself - on the playing field, within the ring, the opponents duke it out in front of an audience who watches for fair play and abiding by the rules. Rough, tough, merciless, but metaphorical. People who do not remain within the bounds of sportsmanship are reviled if not expelled. There were no such boundaries on Olbermann's statement.
It's a metaphor? There was nothing metaphorical about it. Here is what a metaphor would sound like: The super delegates need to take Hillary from the table and show her the door. The table is the nomination, the implicit room (door = room with door) is the primary contest, the door is losing the contest, and showing Hillary the door is casting their votes for Obama. An obnoxious thing for a Clinton supporter to hear but a perfectly valid metaphor for an electoral process. Voters dismiss one candidate by voting for another, leaving the rejected candidate unharmed and free to find other places in the building. Even a statement like "Obama should finish her off in the primary," though uncomfortable to hear, is metaphorical and can legitimately be tied to the electoral process. Olberman's statement was just that - a statement. A super delegate should take Hillary into a room and only he should come out.
I might be swayed by the hyperbole excuse save for the weeks of public statements by Olbermann of increasing incivility and threat, particularly when placed in the context of the hate-laced aggression of his fellow celebrity talking heads, and even more so when one takes into account Olbermann's involvement with Daily Kos, where threats of violence against Hillary are de rigeur. His language fits right into that setting, and did not shock or alarm his buddies whatsoever. They did not find it hyperbolic. It sounded normal to them. This was not Kanye West bursting out with "Bush doesn't care about black people!" after watching the suffering after Katrina. This was business as usual for Olbermann and Co.
It wasn't about Obama and Hillary in an election match because it was part of Olbermann's rant that Hillary should stop contesting with Obama and just quit. The context was if she would not quit on her own, someone should take that decision out of her hands - by violence. It was his answer to the question WWTSBQ? Obama has not been able to knock her out, take her down, put an end to her, terminate her, finish her off. That's the problem. Thus a super delegate who has the testicular fortitude to take on the bitch needs to hustle her into the next room and make sure she doesn't come back out.
As for Olbermann being stupid, well, duh. It still doesn't mean he wasn't advocating murder. And, yes, he said it very badly because he got caught. If he'd been more clever with his words, it wouldn't have been so shocking. On the other hand, given the things he has already been saying, I think this was more an act of hubris than of simple stupidity.
And as for not being sexist, please just fuck off. I've been on the receiving end of a violent man in a secluded room more than once and it is the paradigmatic situation for putting some bitch in her place.
If you hear something late at night,
Some kind trouble, some kind of fight,
Just don't ask me what it was.
Just don't ask me what it was.
Children and women know about these rooms very well.
Olbermann has betrayed his own desires with the structure of the statement - that Hillary not come out. You may want to give Olbermann a free pass, another try, a benefit of a doubt, but I have had it with these self-indulgent, savage motherfuckers and I'm not giving an inch. I will presume the worst of his intentions because he has given me no reason to think otherwise. It is on his head to explain in full exactly what he envisioned that super delegate doing to ensure Hillary did not return. There is no benign or innocent explanation for the situation he described, only varying levels of brutality.
I give Olbermann enough respect to believe he meant what he said. Murder, he spoke.