Friday, April 25, 2008

Metaphor? No, Murder.

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.



Pat Johnson said...

Imagine that this is and Edwards/Obama contest. Would these same fools be calling for one or the other to drop out with the numbers as close as they are? Would these talking heads be so rash as to demand that say, Obama, be brought to the woodshed? Imagine what outrage that would bring out. If Edwards was being harrangued hourly to move out of the way for Obama would the same silence we witness today be as deafening? It is when you put the shoe directly on the other foot that you begin to really see the difference head on. She is a woman and therefore fair game.

Chinaberry Turtle said...

Thank you for calling this for exactly what it is Anglachel.

Cathy said...

Don't you pay the slightest bit of attention to the critics. Sheesh; I couldn't believe Joan Walsh's excuse laden rationalization. But I guess it's much easier to let "boys be boys" when you are 5'11".

(Disclosure: like Joan I like sports and tend not to get up in arms over every comment. But I damn well know how to draw the line at violence threats.)

I see everything breaking at once right now. The Clinton supporters' built up resentment is boiling over after months of second/third/fourth class treatment. At the same time, the Obamabots are freaking out because folks are starting to look behind the curtain.

All this motion is going to create something -- good or bad. That's why we have to be especially vigilant right now to call folks on the more extreme comments (for either side).

Gary McGowan said...

Bill Clinton was asked to comment on the fact that Hillary's clear victory in Pennsylvania hadn't stopped the incessant calls from the likes of Pelosi, Dean, and Reid for Hillary to withdraw:

He chuckled and said, "Okay, I'm about to commit candor. If somebody tells you you oughta quit, it's because they're afraid you won't. And if somebody tells you, you can't win, it's because they're scared you can."

Just before the PA primary, the pounding of the drums of a group of "Democrats," demanding Clinton be gracious and drop out of the race; the loud idiot beat of the same drumming school as the '98 Labor Day weekend plot designed to force Bill Clinton's resignation over the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

Because of the Party rule mandating proportional representation, Clinton can't catch up to Obama's 164-delegate lead from the primaries and caucuses. But the popular vote--contrary to the Obama camp's expectations--may be a different matter. Counting MI and FL, Hillary has a 120K vote lead. She will build on that lead in Indiana, Kentucky, West Virginia, and N.Y. related Puerto Rico.

The fact is that Obama, cannot come close to reaching the majority needed for nomination without a significant boost from the 795 superdelegate group EITHER.

Pelosi not long ago was insisting Democrats had to avoid a brokered convention; the superdelegates should be bound by the popular vote in their states; if so now, Hillary would have the nomination in the bag. However, that simple reality has not stopped Reid, Pelosi and Dean from declaring they would wait 'til the last primary... but that once that takes place, they intend to press the superdels to select the nominee--still months before the elected delegates arrive in Denver!

Obama's message is "change!" Hillary's is about representing the party that created Social Security and Medicare, and defended them against Republican attacks; the party that can bring assured health care, housing and education to all Americans.

The game wasn't supposed to go this way. Scum wanted to take out Clinton and what she's standing for earlier; then disintegrate the Obama campaign with scandal, to pave the way for an independent party run over Obama's "dead political body" to install someone to control the population ever so slowly awakening to the economic reality of the failed globalist free trade, monetarist, let's use the casino ploy to loot the world and kill off all the blackies and brownies system.

They are increasingly desperate. It would seem their fallback plan now is violence at the convention, assassinate Hillary if that doesn't work, and run Bloomberg behind McCain, who is not a very healthy man.

I was old enough to be in the military when President John F. Kennedy was murdered, not to mention Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy, I have seen the United States of America brought to the brink of destruction. The youngsters can't see it and the well-off oldsters are in denial (or increasing shock).

Hang on for the ride of your lives in the coming months.

gendergappers said...

Did you see the featured pic of BO in a USMC sweat shirt? That wasn't a metaphor either - that was sheer hype and fakery.

Oldbermann's so-called apology took 4 seconds. It was insincere, unapologetic and he was silently giggling with glee that he had crapped on HRC and we could do nothing about it.

This [article url above] was so hopeful, especially coming from BO loving huffpost but it lasted only hours. Last night the bouyz were busy with their free advertising signaling HRC's demise. 1. That totally made up crap about "some people" think HRC is staying in the race to destroy precious, then she will come back in 2012 and win. 2. All that money pouring in to her campaign got their wind up so DNC joined with BO to start raising money for the GE. 3. Continuation of their favorite sport of misquoting, parsing to give wrong impression etc, etc.

The push now is to discourage her supporters. DNC has as good as announced BO the winner. Some mention again of FL and MI [I'd guess because of the letters they are getting from HRC supporters] but indications are to favor BO.

But she still hangs tough and we must do likewise.

gendergappers said...

Forgot this one in my list of how media is back in anti-HRC form. There is discussion on talk radio and elsewhere that there were problems in PA districts where there were black voters and BO was expected to win but didn't. Obviously the inference is that somehow HRC caused this.

Common Sense Gram said...

Well lookie here- some punk is being investigated in Evansville In for remarks posted on his facebook page. Yes, he is an Obamaniac-
This is exactly what the outrage against Olbermnns remarks is about- it only takes one lunatic!
If the link breaks google Evansville IN police facebook and see what you get.

mystic4hill said...

It's too bad the FCC has no rules against advocating murder against an elected official because yes, that's exactly what Olbermann did. Thank you, Anglachel, for not backing down.

Every time one of these Obamafanatics spews forth their hate and ignorance, it reinforces my decision to not vote for Obama should he be the nominee. I will be writing in Hillary Clinton's name in November.

I'm so tired of this Obamacrap.

Joseph Cannon said...

Olbermann's comment reminded me of a guy I used to know. He was one of the five people non-fatally shot the night RFK was assassinated.

My friend spent ten years thinking about nothing but that night. Then he tried to put it out of his mind.

One Christmas, he and his wife took me out for a fine meal at a restaurant in a fancy hotel. A few other folks were also in the party.

At one point, my friend pointed to a doorway and asked: "Is that the way to the restroom?"

"No," his wife answered. "I think that goes to the kitchen."

"Yes," said someone else at the table (NOT me!), "and the last time you walked through a hotel kitchen, things turned out rather awkward."

My friend stopped cold. For about a minute, a full minute, he could say nothing. It was clear to everyone present that, in his mind, he was reliving the event. He seemed ready to cry.

I can joke about almost anything. Black humor is fine by me.

But I can't tolerate jokes about the assassination of a presidential candidate.

Anglachel said...

Joseph, thank you for posting that story. Why can't people get it through their heads that allowing one *any* candidate to be threatened this way is putting *all* candidates at risk? That encouraging people to kill Hillary increases the danger to Obama?

No, no jokes. No "I was just funnin'." No excuses that well so-and-so is a [slur goes here] and that makes it OK. No tolerance of this shit.


Chinaberry Turtle said...

KO has a long history of saying vile crap about women. You never see him talking in such a vile manner about vapid *male* Hollywood "sluts".

Big Daddy Sweet Baby Cheesecakes said...

And now HuffPo finds a way to link the euthanizing of a Kentucky Derby horse with Hillary Clinton. Great.