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Jewish World Review June 20, 2000 /17 Sivan, 5760

John Leo

John Leo
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Consumer Reports

Double troubles -- ONE OF THE THICKEST FOLDERS in my files is labeled "double standards." It contains a rich compost of clippings about people with principles that they apply only to opponents, never to themselves or their causes.

There are many ways into the folder. For instance, denouncing John Rocker while agreeing to go on Imus in the Morning, where host Don Imus makes cruder remarks about gays, blacks, and others. Or trying to drive Dr. Laura Schlessinger off the air for her religion-based opposition to homosexuality, but raising no objection when today's most popular rapper, Eminem, makes many angry and violent references to "fags" and "faggots."

The bus and subway system of New York made the folder by rejecting antiabortion ads, though the system has been accepting pro-abortion ads for years.

Rosie O'Donnell is a superstar of the double-standards folder. After denouncing and humiliating her guest Tom Selleck for his pro-gun attitudes, she went on Larry King Live to brag that her program is "a safe zone" for celebrities where "we try . . . not to embarrass or humiliate but try to celebrate people and their beliefs." Perhaps she meant beliefs that agree with her own. O'Donnell came out for a national ban on all firearms and then, to protect her 5-year-old son, she acquired a bodyguard who applied for a concealed-gun permit. Her position on firearms ("only the police should have guns") has not yet been applied to her own help.

Stormy weather. Double standards arise all the time in arguments over "climate effects"–the attempt to blame your opponents for acts of extremists. The American Civil Liberties Union and other voices on the left argue that the rhetoric of nonviolent opponents of abortion ties them to violence against clinics and abortionists. A similar argument tried to connect Newt Gingrich's antigovernment rhetoric to the Oklahoma City bombing. But no such argument connects the rhetoric of mainstream animal-rights activists to the violence of extremists who blow up laboratories and burn fur warehouses. Al Gore's book on the environment is a bit over the top, but nobody thinks he's responsible for the Unabomber.

And gangsta rappers are nearly immune from criticism that the violence they sing about has any real-world effects. Last week, after the Puerto Rican Day parade in New York, a roving mob of young males surrounded and groped women, denounced them as "hos," and ripped off their clothes. Hmm. Now where would young males get the idea that women are "hos" who deserve to be treated like that? So far, none of the "climate effect" thinkers on the left has raised the question. The issue of the climate created by all the violent, woman-hating music is simply off the table.

A double standard on violence between couples is now firmly planted in Hollywood movies: Women are allowed to punch out men, and they do so in film after film. Unlike male-on-female violence, this violence by women is either played for humor or portrayed as fully deserved and satisfying to reasonable audiences. In Jim Carrey's new movie, Me, Myself & Irene, Renée Zellweger knocks out Carrey by kicking him in the face. It's supposed to be funny. How funny would it have been if Carrey had done the face-kicking?

Nowadays feminists detect dangerous pro-rape attitudes in jokes, complimentary remarks, and even glances, but the statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl in a popular feminist show has passed almost without comment. The show is The Vagina Monologues, and the reason for the absence of criticism is that the show's fictional perpetrator was a lesbian, age 24. So the all-female rape is described by the victim as "a good rape." No word yet from feminist theorists on this new distinction between good rapes and bad. "Why is rape only wrong when a man commits it?" wondered the new conservative columnist at the Hoya, Georgetown University's student newspaper. This is a perilous thing to wonder at a politically correct encampment like Georgetown. His column was killed, and he was fired.

As regular readers of this column probably know, the American campus is the Paris and Rome of double standards. Alan Kors and Harvey Silverglate, authors of The Shadow University, point out that colleges control students and teachers by creating a series of suffocating and intimidating rules, which are then applied only to those who resist political correctness. "Unsurprisingly, the rules against a 'hostile environment' are enforced selectively," they write. "After much research, we can assure you that . . . [no] college will protect evangelical students from feminist cries of 'born-again bigot' or Catholic students from the chant 'keep your rosaries off our ovaries.' " A Sarah Lawrence student who laughed at an antigay remark was sentenced to write a paper on "homophobia." Kors and Silverglate write: "How many mockers of evangelical religion ever have been sentenced to write a paper on 'antireligious bigotry'?" Maybe campus offenders could be sentenced to a breakthrough field of study, so far unknown: "Single Standards and How They Might Operate."

JWR contributor John Leo's latest book is Two Steps Ahead of the Thought Police. Send your comments by clicking here.


06/13/00: Fools paradise
06/06/00: Accidental conspirator
05/30/00: Faking the hate
05/23/00: Was it law or poetry?
05/16/00: Here, there and everywhere, people have gone bonkers
05/09/00: Tufts evangelicals are punished for acting on their beliefs
05/02/00: Elian's opera isn't over until nearly everyone sings
04/25/00: All the news that fits: The media serve up many stories from a standard script
04/19/00: Those darned readers: The gap between reporters and the general public is huge
04/05/00: Census sense and nonsense
03/29/00: Hollywood message films leave no room for other views
03/22/00: The Vatican confesses, but is it enough?
03/14/00: Watch what you say: The left can no longer be counted on to defend free speech
03/07/00: McCain's malleable messages
03/01/00: Bush's appearance at Bob Jones U. will dog him all the way
02/23/00: 'Multi-millionaire' show is new evidence we're insane

© 2000, John Leo