On Thursday, Nomani filed a formal complaint with the university, alleging discrimination and harassment after comments made by Christine Fair, an associate professor in Georgetown’s School for Foreign Service....Who's the bully here? The bully may be the one who's crying "bully."
“I’ve written you off as a human being,” Fair wrote in one message detailed in the complaint. “Your vote helped normalize Nazis in D.C. What don’t you understand, you clueless dolt?” Fair wrote, later adding: “YOU publicly voted for a sex assailant.” She went on to say that Nomani “pimped herself out to all media outlets because she was a ‘Muslim woman who voted for Trump.’ ”
Fair called Nomani’s appeal to her employer a “very dangerous trend.” She said Nomani, a former professor at Georgetown, has no standing at the university to complain.
“I am most concerned about the increasing appeal to employers to silence the criticism of citizens made in their private capacity as citizens,” [Fair] wrote in an email to The Washington Post. “Because most of us need our jobs, as few of us are financially independent, this is the most pernicious form of bullying of critics.”
“I am writing to share with you that, as a result of my column, Prof. Fair has directed hateful, vulgar and disrespectful messages to me, including the allegations that I am: a ‘fraud'; ‘fame-mongering clown show'; and a ‘bevkuf,’ or ‘idiot,’ in my native Urdu, who has ‘pimped herself out,’ ” Nomani wrote in a Dec. 2 email included in the complaint to Bruce Hoffman, director of Georgetown’s Center for Security Studies. “This last allegation amounts to ‘slut-shaming.’ ”...Well, Fair has gone pretty far, but I side with her free speech rights and interests. Nomani had her say and Fair reacted to it, with vivid speech. Fair could be fancily articulate, but sometimes what you have to say really is "Fuck you. Go to hell." Form is part of the expression, as Justice Harlan fancily articulated in Cohen v. California (the "Fuck the Draft" case)(and, yes, I know Georgetown is a private institution):
“She has no right to decry criticism . . . even criticism that is in language that offends her fragile sensibilities,” Fair wrote in a Facebook post. “ ‘F–k off’ and ‘go to hell’ and ‘pimping yourself out’ for media coverage offended her . . . but not ‘I can grab their p—–s’ or the various misogynist, racist, xeonophobic [sic] race-baiting bulls–t espoused by her candidate of choice.” Fair concluded: “So again, Ms. Nomani, ‘F–K YOU. GO TO HELL.’ ”
To many, the immediate consequence of [freedom of speech] may often appear to be only verbal tumult, discord, and even offensive utterance. These are, however, within established limits, in truth necessary side effects of the broader enduring values which the process of open debate permits us to achieve. That the air may at times seem filled with verbal cacophony is, in this sense not a sign of weakness but of strength. We cannot lose sight of the fact that, in what otherwise might seem a trifling and annoying instance of individual distasteful abuse of a privilege, these fundamental societal values are truly implicated. That is why "[w]holly neutral futilities . . . come under the protection of free speech as fully as do Keats' poems or Donne's sermons," Winters v. New York, 333 U. S. 507, 333 U. S. 528 (1948) (Frankfurter, J., dissenting), and why, "so long as the means are peaceful, the communication need not meet standards of acceptability," Organization for a Better Austin v. Keefe, 402 U. S. 415, 402 U. S. 419 (1971).And let me just focus on Nomani's charge that Fair committed "slut-shaming" when she said that Nomani "pimped [her]self out." That's Nomani engaging in some vivid, hostile speech, leveraging the liberal meme "slut-shaming." Is the metaphorical use of "pimped yourself out" really so bad? Writing for personal gain is often analogized to sexual prostitution, and we know that calling someone a whore for selling out his or her intellectual work product is not sexual. It's no more sexual than "fuck you" to express anger. It's no more literal than "Go to hell." It's just coarse, hyperbolic speech.
Maybe you remember back during the 2008 presidential primaries, when a reporter — MSNBC's David Shuster — got in trouble, for saying "Doesn't it seem as if Chelsea is sort of being pimped out in some weird sort of way?"
After Shuster made the remark on "Tucker," Clinton spokesman Philippe Reines contacted him and said the reference was offensive. Shuster e-mailed back that he was referring to the fact that Chelsea Clinton is making calls to convention superdelegates but refusing to talk to the press. After Shuster continued to defend himself, Phil Griffin, MSNBC's top executive, called Reines yesterday to apologize.That was back when Tucker Carlson was on MSNBC and it was possible to argue that MSNBC had a plan to use sexism to thwart Hillary Clinton. Times change.
[Clinton campaign communications director Howard] Wolfson noted that MSNBC's Chris Matthews expressed regret last month for suggesting that Hillary Clinton's political success can be traced to sympathy stemming from her husband's affair with Monica Lewinsky. "At some point you have to question whether there is a pattern at this particular network," Wolfson said.
And here's where I realize I need to use my "civility bullshit" tag. Calls for civility are always bullshit. That's what I always say. It's particularly interesting when — as in the case of Nomani v. Fair — both sides are purveying civility bullshit.
The right remedy, as ever, is more speech. That goes for women too. Stop running to the paternal authority for help. Return fire as a free and fully empowered human being. You don't like her speech? Show me that your speech is better. Don't try to get the other person fired.
You know, Nomani purports to be for Trump. How about asking: What would Trump do? When hit with verbal criticism, he hits back with words. He's shown us how to verbally joust and not crumple. Take a cue.
Here's video of Shuster making the "pimped out" remark and then apologizing in case anybody took it literally:
ADDED: I'm just now looking back at what I wrote at the time about the Shuster remark. I like looking back 9 years and seeing how consistent I've been:
Really, how bad is it to say "pimped out"? Is it "nappy-headed hos" bad? Did anyone think Shuster was literally calling Chelsea a whore or even making any reference to her womanly virtue? "Pimped out" is a common colloquialism these days. According to the Urban Dictionary, which gives a good read on how young people use words, the connotations having to do with exaggerated fashion and style predominate.Ha! I've got exactly the same video embedded.
Even if the clear associations with prostitution remain, we often make figurative references to prostitution in speech, and the cause of feminism is not served by requiring special limitations when we're talking about women. We ought to be able to call a female publicity hound a "media whore."
I've never watched "Tucker," the show Shuster was guest-hosting when he made the supposedly offensive remark, but if the conversation there is casual and slang is the norm, then saying "pimped out" about Chelsea should be taken in stride. Otherwise it looks as though NBC caved to the Clintons.
ADDED: Ugh! Here's Shuster groveling...
"All Americans should be proud of Chelsea Clinton"? Why? Because, sublimely privileged, she went to work for a hedge fund? And, generally, why should anyone be "proud of" someone else's children? Plus, Chelsea isn't a kid anymore! I think saying "All Americans should be proud of Chelsea Clinton" is offensive. Please fire David Shuster.4 years. It's 16 years now. I've been staunch!
AND: Out in the real world today, I had an encounter with the word "pimp." Plus, the dominant meaning of the word today — relating to style — may be the original meaning, according to the Online Etymology Dictionary:
pimp 1607, perhaps from M.Fr. pimper "to dress elegantly" (16c.), prp. of pimpant "alluring in dress, seductive." Weekley suggests M.Fr. pimpreneau, defined in Cotgrave (1611) as "a knave, rascall, varlet, scoundrell." The word also means "informer, stool pigeon" in Australia and New Zealand and in S.Africa, where by early 1960s it existed in Swahili form impimpsi. The verb is attested from 1636. Pimpmobile first recorded 1973.MORE: The Moderate Voice has a big roundup of the commentary, which does not just break down along partisan lines. For example, Jane Hamsher said:
It may surprise everyone but I actually wasn't bothered by [what Shuster said]. The phrase is ubiquitous, I use it all the time and although it is a loaded term my initial impression was that in the wake of all the truly awful sexist stuff that's come down the pipeline from MSNBC over the course of this campaign, much of which I have personally railed about, this just didn't fall into that category. At first I thought it might be because I know Shuster and don't think he has the women's issues that many on MSNBC seem to have, and maybe that was affecting my assessment of the situation. But I wrote a post recently about Ben Affleck appearing at a press conference for the SEIU in Boston, and shortly after it went live someone involved in helping me put together the story sent me an email wondering what the hell I was thinking linking to a headline that said something on the order of "Boston Mayor Pimps For Healthcare Workers." I wasn't sure what they were upset about either at the time, but after a moment I realized that the term probably didn't strike others as being as inert as it did me so I changed the link. I understand that this situation is different, we're talking about a young woman and Hillary Clinton has been on the receiving end of a lot of really misogynistic and disrespectful shit from MSNBC and that on the heels of that, a comment which overtly compared her daughter to a prostitute probably did not sit too well. Still, if you asked me, I'd say that while I certainly understand that others might feel differently, for me this was a minor infraction.And if anyone thinks my comment here is partisan, remember that I just defended Randi Rhodes (and I've been arguing the free speech side of nearly every dispute over the 4-year life of this blog).