November 27, 2015

Trump outdoes himself with this mocking/not mocking of a disabled reporter.

My take on this story?

Trump — seeming free and wild — somehow hits an absolutely precise line. It's so precise that I want to credit him with knowing exactly what he's doing, even as I am willing to let him off the hook, because that's the line he's hitting — making us think something and preserving deniablity.

He sure got media covering him, here on this holiday weekend when other candidates are lying low. And they're covering him on a story that had almost played out: his assertion that he saw "thousands and thousands" of people cheering in Jersey City on September 11th.

The media is doing his work, keeping that story alive, making repeated references to an article that was in The Washington Post a few days after 9/11 that said "authorities detained and questioned a number of people who were allegedly seen celebrating the attacks and holding tailgate-style parties on rooftops while they watched the devastation on the other side of the river." That article has to be pointed out to set up this new controversy about its author Serge Kovaleski. Kovaleski has a condition, (arthrogryposis) that curls his hand into a distinctively distorted position that Trump may have been imitating as he ridiculed Kovaleski's efforts to get out of taking responsibility for that article he wrote.
“Now, the poor guy — you’ve got to see this guy, ‘Ah, I don’t know what I said! I don’t remember!’"  Trump said as he jerked his arms in front of his body.
The media have picked out the single still that most resembles the reporter's deformity. If you watch the video, you get a much milder impression of what Trump may or may not have been doing. The deniability is there. Maybe Trump was only enacting the weaseling and waffling statements of the reporter and not his physical appearance. If you want to say Trump didn't really mock a disabled person, you certainly can. But if you want to say he did, have at him! If you love Trump, you can defend him, and if you hate him, you've just got to talk about it. What a vortex! All that attention, all that energy.

Quite aside from that, there's the very politically incorrect pleasure of imitating the physical disabilities. Trump is taking some Americans back to the good old days when absolutely beloved pop culture characters made people guffaw with abandon by affecting the movements of persons with physical disabilities. There was, of course, Jerry Lewis.* But he was not the only one. Here's that old "Imagine" guy John Lennon:



That was, in the minds of many still living, a perfectly harmless way to have fun. I suspect Trump knows there's a sizable, long-starved audience out there who would love to be free to laugh at that sort of thing again, and they can feel that Trump is reaching out to them and it's a secret but enticing part of the offer to "Make America Great Again."
___________________

* From "Enfant Terrible!: Jerry Lewis in American Film":
ADDED: How retrograde is this silent America? Think about it: Just last week, "South Park" had its disabled character Jimmy saying "S-s-s-suck my dick, PC Principal":


104 comments:

rhhardin said...

There should be a deformed parking area.

rhhardin said...

Trump is out to kill off PC. I don't know that going up to a line but not crossing it is the right analysis. The line is the problem.

The media response is always that women won't like it.

It appears they're still outnumbered by blue collar guys.

gspencer said...

Hey, Super 24/7 liberal Larry David "mocked" (not really) the disabled as a ploy to discourage a would-be tenant from renting an office next to his. (btw, that Curb Enthusiasm (isn't that what liberals do?) skit was funny.)

Some blow back did result, but no way like what's being visited upon Trump.

rhhardin said...

Poetry should be made by all. Not by one. Poor Hugo! Poor Racine! Poor Coppee! Poor Corneille! Poor Boileau! Poor Scaron! Tics, tics, and tics.

- Lautreamont

David Begley said...

This incident is the perfect example of why Trump would lose to Hillary. Heck, even now Scott Walker would beat Hillary.

Trump is erratic and unpredictable.

Tank said...

I listened to Alice's Restaurant yesterday (what fun that is) and, near the end of the song, Guthrie makes a joke about "a couple of faggots." LOL. Yes, I actually laughed out loud thinking about the reception that would get today. The poor guy's career would be over, his friends would leave him, grief counselors would be engaged, blah blah blah.


Also, great song. Still fun to listen to and remember some of the absurdities of life.

Drago said...

The only relevant snips from the article that matter:

"Trump has defended his recollections by citing a 2001 article by Kovaleski, who worked for The Washington Post at the time and wrote that “authorities detained and questioned a number of people who were allegedly seen celebrating the attacks and holding tailgate-style parties on rooftops while they watched the devastation on the other side of the river.”

“The measure of men. Know this: Serge Kovaleski, aka @sergenyt, is a journalistic rock star and one great colleague,” Times reporter Dan Barry wrote on Twitter."

"Kovaleski has not contradicted the 14-year-old article."

So, lets summarize, shall we?

Lefty (highly regarded by other lefty reporters) writes article in lefty paper 14 years ago.

Lefty reporter does not contradict or alter his own 14 year old report in lefty paper.

Trump makes public note of the lefty reporters 14 year old article in the lefty paper.

Lefty paper contradicts Trump but stands by reporter and his journalistic accuracy.

Perfect.

This is precisely the sort of "incident" concerning Trump that those of us who do not have Trump at the top of our "support list" find most interesting.

Shouting Thomas said...

Everybody and everything should be mocked and ridiculed. And everybody should learn to live with it. You loved that when Dylan did it in your adolescence, but not so much now that you are in the power seat.

No authority or education is going to fix the human desire to ridicule. It's not the place of authority or education to do this, either.

Beyond that, this is a fabricated story published by an ideological enemy with a deep financial interest in the issue that most identifies Trump... illegal immigration.

The principal owner of the NY Times is Carlos Slim, owner of the Mexican telecommunications monopoly, Telmex.

He makes his living from phone calls and remittances back to Mexico from illegal immigrants. Try connecting the dots.

And, no, I am not a partisan of Trump. I just know a fabricated hit piece when I see it. This hit piece is maudlin on the level of "Trump beats up on sad puppies."

I've been watching the films of Luis Estrada, who is quite a brilliant satirist of the Mexican scene. I suggest you watch The Perfect Dictatorship. It's a great satire of the type of media manipulation that the New York Times produces.

Expat(ish) said...

@Tank - Alice's straunt is one of the things I miss about listening to live radio - having "a station" where you kinda know when they'd play something like that. And only getting to hear it once a year.

Now you can just call it up on The YouTube when you feel like it.

Somehow not as fun.

Gobble gobble, ya'll.

-XC

sydney said...

Do you suppose Trump does this stuff on purpose or does it just come naturally to him?

Big Mike said...

The reporter was only there so he could find a way to damage Trump. He may not enjoy the way he succeeded. If he succeeded.

I think rhhardin is onto something.

Er, does anyone besides me remember Democrats mocking McCain because his hands were so badly broken during his captivity that he can't use a keyboard? I remember it very, very well. What goes around, comes around.

Hagar said...

Looks to me like Trump is quite predictable. He is not doing what he is doing by accident, it is premeditated and staged.

Shouting Thomas said...

The teaching of "self-esteem," "empowerment," "feminism," etc. in the schools is an abuse of the power of educational institutions.

It's an abuse of power in a corporate setting, too. And, it produces a negative result. The brain numbing diversity sessions I was forced to sit through just made me (and every employee I knew) pissed off.

Educational institutions and corporations have no business carrying out this type of indoctrination.

Your colleagues who have assumed this power to indoctrinate are abusive and corrupt and need to be removed from their jobs.

CachorroQuente said...

Trump, in my opinion, has no deniability in this. When I saw the clip of Trump doing his spastic routine, I had no idea who the reporter was or anything about his disability or his long and close personal relationship with Trump. I thought it odd that he would say "you should see this guy" right before he started the routine. Why did he say that and then start with the weird eye and hand/arm motioning? Now we know.

Of course, Trump has deliberately misrepresented what was written in the WP article. The article, in fact, said nothing about Muslims celebrating and was very likely a reference to the famous five "dancing Jews" working for Urban Moving who were reported to be celebrating the attacks and were stopped and arrested on September 11 with lots of cash and box cutters. There is a strong river of anti-Semitism in the Truther movement and the story of the "Dancing Jews" is used as proof by some of the craziest of the Truthers that Israel was responsible for the attacks

Bobby said...

Ann,

Jimmy Valmer is not so much against political correctness as he is for his vision of journalistic integrity: that his reporters should be allowed to print whatever stories they write, without censorship from the administration. Journalistic integrity required him to report the facts, and if a first grader called the school lunch "retarded," well then that's what the story has to say. It's also why he's so opposed to sponsored content, because it masquerades as journalism, but it's not. In this case, Jimmy is more ACLU than he is Trump.

traditionalguy said...

Not Good. Trump has hit the Disabled Self Pity Party the hardest. It will lose him some votes from their cadre of friends.

But when he does this stuff he really shows off his multi-level communication skills, and I am impressed that Professor Althouse sees that so clearly.

Remember, this is Trump's war on the dishonesty of the Media. And all is fair in war and in that other thing.

Michael K said...

Jerry Lewis got very serious blowback from the routines he used, which resembled kids with muscular dystrophy. His series of telethons were his penance and most have now forgotten why he began them, if they remember him at all.

Virgil Hilts said...

I agree with Hagar.
As a few people have pointed out here before, Scott Adams (Dilbert) has a running series on Trump's strategy. Adams does not like Trump, but thinks stuff like this does not hurt Trump because of the level at which he is appealing to people. Adams is a former trained hypnotist and his posts on Trump are really interesting. http://blog.dilbert.com/

Original Mike said...

Maybe he's just pumping his new book.

Dad Bones said...

The reporter should have threatened to kick Trump's ass. He couldn't do it, of course, but people would be laughing now and maybe giving him a little credit for spunk instead of feeling sorry for him.

Ann Althouse said...

"Jimmy Valmer is not so much against political correctness as he is for his vision of journalistic integrity: that his reporters should be allowed to print whatever stories they write, without censorship from the administration. Journalistic integrity required him to report the facts, and if a first grader called the school lunch "retarded," well then that's what the story has to say. It's also why he's so opposed to sponsored content, because it masquerades as journalism, but it's not. In this case, Jimmy is more ACLU than he is Trump."

There is no Jimmy Valmer, Bobby. Do I really need to explain fiction to you? The question is what are the writers of "South Park" doing? They are using disabled characters like Jimmy (and Timmy) for humorous effect. They are totally releasing the audience to laugh at disability, including the speech defect. The ridiculous authority figure is actually named for political correctness. Obviously, they are taking down political correctness. They're fighting for free speech, but included in that is their free speech and what they are doing with their freedom, among many things, is depicting disabled children in a way that we can laugh at.

Ann Althouse said...

"Jerry Lewis got very serious blowback from the routines he used, which resembled kids with muscular dystrophy."

Of course, Jerry got badly pushed back. He was pushed back for the way he did the telethons too. But there was an older era in which the humor was utterly mainstream and the heavy-handed pity was admired. Most of us, I'm guessing, most of us, like to think we've become more mature and enlightened, and Jerry himself is not a conspicuous character here anymore. The man thing we think when we think of him now is that the French like him for some enigmatic and very French reason.

But Trump is bringing something back, and he won't be pushed back. His thing is never to accept pushback but to get energy from whatever is throw at him. Attack him and he will fight back. He's the greatest counterpuncher ever, he tells us. So he's begging fro punches. He's liberated by punches. He's allowed to fight back if you hit him. Come on, hit me, says the street fighter.

Jerry was burdened by vanity and neediness, and I guess, in some way, so is Trump. But it's playing out very differently.

William said...

There were lots and lots of Muslims throughout the world who felt joyous and celebratory about the destruction of the twin towers. Some of them lived here. The media can say otherwise, but everyone knows it's true. The media by saying that Trump is lying about this only serve to subvert their own credibility.........Trump goes for the cheap shot. The remark about the reporter was probably a cheap shot. The remark about Muslims was also, in its way, a cheap shot. Cheap but accurate.

Shouting Thomas said...

Your "niceness" campaign is awful, Althouse. Hideous.

This is what I mean by my "you are the oppressor" comments.

Your schoolmarm desire to teach us niceness just makes me what to puke. It's a detestable, obnoxious part of your personality.

We've created thousands of make work jobs for women in academia and diversity crusades for the purpose of teaching us niceness.

Fuck them all. Fire them. Get rid of the institutions that employ them. Let them find real jobs doing something useful.

You are the oppressor. Your niceness campaign belongs in church and in the privacy of the family. Your determination to bring this into the public and educational arenas is abusive and corrupt.

Bob Boyd said...

"Attack him and he will fight back... He's allowed to fight back if you hit him."

Right. And people cheer when somebody finally stands up to a bully, which is what the other candidates could learn from Trump.

William said...

Homer really had it in for hunchbacks. So did Shakespeare. The scoliosis of Richard III was the outward manifestation of the deformity that curdled his soul. How Nazi like was Shakespeare.. It would be best to remove these writers from the canon, but perhaps the offensive passages could be rewritten in such a way as to eliminate the spinal curvature and give them instead a bad combover and tinted hair. It's not fair to criticize any part of a person's physical appearance except for thinning hair and being overweight. Even then, it's only acceptable to so in the case of balding Republicans.

narciso said...

which misses the point, love the moderation by the way, laslo throwing poo everywhere, kovaleski back in the day, did report a number of incidents, that he is denying now,

Anonymous said...

"They are using disabled characters like Jimmy (and Timmy) for humorous effect. They are totally releasing the audience to laugh at disability, including the speech defect."

Did you even watch the show, Ann? The whole point is that Jimmy doesn't consider himself a victim, and gives and takes verbal abuse like everyone else.

The whole POINT is that Jimmy doesn't buy into the PC victim role, despite the best efforts of everyone to indoctrinate him into it.

He's a disabled kid who rejects the idea of a victim mentality.

It has nothing to do with 'releasing the audience to laugh at disability.'

Good grief.

Anonymous said...

What will happen when Trump he opens his books and shows he spent 10% of his opponent and even less during the primaries? He's certainly seems to be executing some well planned strategy to have the press do his bidding to connect him directly to the heart of America. at no cost. Not seen since FDR's fireside chats. And the people that complain about "money in politics will get laughed off the stage." And campaign consultants will go have to find real work the GOP should surrender now just to have a chance at survival.

They had a chance to surrender to the taxed-enough-already folks in 2008. It's too late now. The people who thought they could and did ignore government because they had more important things to do are finally waking up. Government to them is less important than helping their children with their homework or trying to please their boss, or keep their employees happy. Where's my popcorn? Should be great fun watch our betters from both sides destroy themselves.

Jake said...

I don't think it was mild in the video at all.

Anonymous said...

What will happen when Trump he opens his books and shows he spent 10% of his opponent and even less during the primaries? He's certainly seems to be executing some well planned strategy to have the press do his bidding to connect him directly to the heart of America. at no cost. Not seen since FDR's fireside chats. And the people that complain about "money in politics will get laughed off the stage." And campaign consultants will go have to find real work the GOP should surrender now just to have a chance at survival.

They had a chance to surrender to the taxed-enough-already folks in 2008. It's too late now. The people who thought they could and did ignore government because they had more important things to do are finally waking up. Government to them is less important than helping their children with their homework or trying to please their boss, or keep their employees happy. Where's my popcorn? Should be great fun watch our betters from both sides destroy themselves.

Anonymous said...

What will happen when Trump he opens his books and shows he spent 10% of his opponent and even less during the primaries? He's certainly seems to be executing some well planned strategy to have the press do his bidding to connect him directly to the heart of America. at no cost. Not seen since FDR's fireside chats. And the people that complain about "money in politics will get laughed off the stage." And campaign consultants will go have to find real work the GOP should surrender now just to have a chance at survival.

They had a chance to surrender to the taxed-enough-already folks in 2008. It's too late now. The people who thought they could and did ignore government because they had more important things to do are finally waking up. Government to them is less important than helping their children with their homework or trying to please their boss, or keep their employees happy. Where's my popcorn? Should be great fun watch our betters from both sides destroy themselves.

Bobby said...

Ann,

Yes, of course, Parker and Stone are going after PC culture with a vengeance this season, but they have always skewered political correctness, since even before Day One (their decision to create South Park was based, in part, on their desire to create a contemporary Archie Bunker-style character, Eric Cartman, a very fat, stupid, highly-bigoted anti-hippie, anti-ginger, anti-Semite whom they believed could only get on the air if they made him an animated child). Cartman, who was one of the few original characters not to be based on a real person (Parker and Stone are basically Stan and Kyle, right?), has been the most anti-PC character since even before the beginning. And yet the adults- especially Randy- are every bit as absurd as Cartman, they just don't think they are and don't realize they are.

Timmy Burch amd Jimmy Vallmer have each been around for 15 seasons. Token Black has been around since the premiere, and his first major episode- season four's "Cartman's Silly Hate Crime 2000"- was all about the absurdity of race PC (which they outdid with "With Apologies to Jesse Jackson"). This "South Park is going after PC this season" meme is only true if we disregard the 18 seasons that preceded it.

Anonymous said...

"They're fighting for free speech, but included in that is their free speech and what they are doing with their freedom, among many things, is depicting disabled children in a way that we can laugh at."

I've watched the entire season, and you can't be more wrong.

The creators of south park lean liberal. They've had more than one episode this season more or less focused on mocking Trump and his 'regressive' views.

However, they are also pushing back against mandatory victim status conferred by militant SJWs.

That episode was the opposite of mocking and belittling disabled children.

The message was, "Disabled children are capable of plenty, thank you very much. But it helps if they aren't constantly feeling sorry for themselves, and all these idiots trying to FORCE them to feel sorry for themselves are the real assholes."

buwaya puti said...

I've seen Trumps sort of humor in non-US contexts, in European and Asian societies and media. It's a human thing, not an American thing. Don't beat yourselves up with some parochial self criticism.
Free speech is uncomfortable.
Better a world of free verbal stabbing than the alternative, a choice akin to barbarism vs a civilization in its terminal decadence.
We can see a taste of the alternative, and can choose.
Me, I'm on the side of the barbarians. Better Trump than his actual opponents.

cubanbob said...

The people who are outraged by this and other such Trumpisms aren't going to vote for him no matter what. They are going to vote for the even more outrageous and disliked Hillary Clinton.

Ann Althouse said...

"Did you even watch the show, Ann? The whole point is that Jimmy doesn't consider himself a victim, and gives and takes verbal abuse like everyone else."

Obviously, I watch the show, but I am not fooled into believing that the cartoon characters are actual people who think and do things. They are the creation of writers and animators who are providing entertainment material for us. Unlike you (apparently), I am trying to understand the minds of actual living human beings!

"The whole POINT is that Jimmy doesn't buy into the PC victim role, despite the best efforts of everyone to indoctrinate him into it. He's a disabled kid who rejects the idea of a victim mentality."

Sigh. Well, the writers have written a character who challenges PC sentimentality about the disabled and who provides an opportunity for viewers who have been indoctrinated in PC to laugh at PC and to laugh at a fictional character with numerous physical and speech defects. They are tapping into the same human instinct to laugh that Jerry and John did in their day. Some of that instinct comes from anxiety that we feel about people who are disabled and about our own vulnerability to physical impairments.

"It has nothing to do with 'releasing the audience to laugh at disability.' Good grief."

I can see that you have anxiety, but if you really have an intelligent point to make, you need to spell it out. Show some understanding of psychology and literary art as you explain your position. "Good grief" is just an empty exclamation. It makes me think you are just aversive to the whole inquiry. In that, you are a proponent of PC, ironically. Step up! If you are able.

sydney said...

Bob Boyd said:
And people cheer when somebody finally stands up to a bully, which is what the other candidates could learn from Trump.

This is probably the best explanation of Trump's success that I have seen.

FullMoon said...

Was it David Letterman, or the Tonight show where Obama said his bowling skill was like "Special Olympics"?

Bobby said...

TCom,

"The creators of south park lean liberal."

Actually, both Parker and Stone have repeatedly said their political views could most accurately be described as libertarian. Parker has rejected the Republican Party as being "more government and more Jesus," and Stone, in particular, has said "I hate conservatives, but I really f***ing hates liberals."

Because of how the US political parties have been cobbled together issue-by-issue and with "size/role of government" not one of the organizing principles, I can see how one might see specific positions taken by Parker and Stone as indicating that they lean liberal. But in fact, the political system is not binary coded, and they more closely represent libertarianism than they do conservatism or liberalism.

Anonymous said...

Ann, the actual people who make the show have nothing to do with it. South Park is written to send a message.

That message is what the vast majority of watchers recieve.

What percentage of the viewers of South Park are psychoanalyzing it to see what the creators are -really- thinking?

What percentage, you think? Probably pretty low, eh?

So what matters more? The inside thoughts of the creators, or the content they created?

Step up, Ann. Not everything is an academic exercise. As someone who works in the private sector, which expects results, that's what I'm focused on. You, as an academic, are understandably focused on the insular.

You think it makes you superior, and more intelligent. You are incorrect.

SomeoneHasToSayIt said...


3 words.

Belushi. Joe Cocker.

Ann Althouse said...

"This "South Park is going after PC this season" meme is only true if we disregard the 18 seasons that preceded it."

Bobby, you are fighting a straw man here. You're arguing with points I haven't made. I don't need an explanation of what South Park has been over the years, and it's silly to assume I'm not familiar with this well-known, much publicized show. It's not arcane.

Please respond to what I actually said.

David Begley said...

Assume for the sake of argument that Trump didn't know the reporter is disabled, I still think Trump is erratic and a giant unknown as President.

Too risky for my vote.

That being said, I agree with him on many of his issues and the way he has changed the campaign.

Ann Althouse said...

My point is that there is a part of us that is receptive to laughing at physical disabilities, and it's not limited to the retrograde parts of the culture. It's also in "South Park."

To say that Jimmy doesn't see himself as a victim but sticks up for himself is (in addition to thinking Jimmy is a human being with a mind) pushing PC doctrine yourself. You're saying I'm wrong to think that "South Park" is releasing its viewers to laugh at him because "South Park" is in fact presenting him in a way that makes him a worthy and fully human person like everyone else. That makes YOU a PC prude.

Ann Althouse said...

"Was it David Letterman, or the Tonight show where Obama said his bowling skill was like "Special Olympics"?"

Thanks for that reminder!

rcocean said...

Another phony controversy where the MSM says "Trump Does X" and then you look at Trump's actual words and action and nowhere does he explicitly do X.

-Trump says "I don't Know" and the MSM headline is "Trump attacks Carson's Religion"
-Trump says "Whatever" and the MSM Headline is "Trump attacks woman for menstruating"
-Trump Says ""We need to track illegals" and the MSM headline is "Trump wants database for ALL Muslims"

And now this. Did Trump even know the guy is disabled? And how is he "disabled", is he in a wheelchair?


Big Mike said...

@Althouse, I think you're picking up pointers from Trump on how to push back at the pushback. Brava!!!

Yes, writers of fiction are free to manipulate their characters in ways that don't always happen (seldom happen? almost never happen?) in the real world. When I saw what you wrote back to TCom and Bobby I thought of the writers who spoiled "The Intern" for me, despite an excellent performance by De Niro, a pretty good performance by Anne Hathaway, and fine chemistry between the two of them. For instance, there's a scene where Hathaway's character -- CEO of a highly successful online business -- shows up in person at a warehouse to show the employees how she wants them to fold and pack the garments her firm sells. In the movie the staff is delighted and all smiles. In the real world the sight of a CEO popping into their warehouse unexpectedly would terrify them! They'd be certain that they were in jeopardy of losing their jobs. But it's fiction so the script writers can write how they'd like it to be, especially since they probably don't know how it really is.

FullMoon said...

To sum up the argument, an appropriate AA quote I use whenever I want to baffle the opposition.


"See, whatever happens can be said to have happened for the reason you've already reasoned is the reason for whatever happens to have happened."

Sammy Finkelman said...

"authorities detained and questioned a number of people who were allegedly seen celebrating the attacks and holding tailgate-style parties on rooftops while they watched the devastation on the other side of the river."

I think those people detained were Israeli Jews about whom (more likely false rather tahn mistaken) complaints were made that they had celebrated the 9.11 attacks.

they were not arrested by anybody seeing them do that, but because their license plate had been given out. They were stopped after 4 pm because they stopped to ask directions.

It is not clear at all what they really did, but they may have started to film.

It occurs to me now...Maybe not just the Twin towers, but Moslems celebrating!
I mean why else would someone phone in a false complaint?

I don't know if that's the case.

But I think the arrest in the washington Post artivle is referring to a number of Jews.

They were arrested because they had started working in the United States for some moving company in New Jersey. They were held for some 70 days while the FBI tried to get them to confess to some role in the 9/11 attacks.

This seems to be the sole witness on record against them - some anonymous women named Maria:

http://www.historycommons.org/entity.jsp?entity=sivan_kurzberg

http://abcnews.go.com/2020/story?id=123885

harrogate said...

It really is true that media covering him is what is giving him the traction he has. That's true of course of any political candidate , but in this case he's building so much of his campaign around the affect of "attacking the PC media."

If the network media along with a handful of major newspapers just stopped covering him in any way at all, THAT would be "interesting."

Sammy Finkelman said...

I think the reason Kowalski doesn't want to say anything about the article is that the 4 (or was it five?) men arrested were Jews, and that would aid and comfort to anti-semitism and the 9/11 truthers.

Ann Althouse said...

"Ann, the actual people who make the show have nothing to do with it. South Park is written to send a message.That message is what the vast majority of watchers receive."

What? That's pretty confusing but I suppose what I think you're trying to say is whatever message I'm hearing. If the theory I'm hearing is true, which I think you're saying it is. The hell! Anyway, the writers are trying to do something, and what they are trying to do affects the audience, and the audience may be affected in ways the writers did not intend. That's very obvious. The writers almost surely believe Jimmy is funny. We don't know how much they think about why Jimmy is funny. They may be mainly throwing a lot of stuff out there and thinking some of it will work, just a shotgun approach. Or they go on instinct. If it cracks them up, they use it. They may never analyze why it cracks them up, and I can only speculate. As for the way it works on the audience, they may be laughing for a different reason. They may laugh at Jimmy when the writers only wanted them to laugh with Jimmy. Or maybe it's the other way around.

"What percentage of the viewers of South Park are psychoanalyzing it to see what the creators are -really- thinking?"

Almost none, obviously.

"What percentage, you think? Probably pretty low, eh?"

See above.

"So what matters more? The inside thoughts of the creators, or the content they created?"

What matters to me is whatever interests me. This blog contains whatever interests me, and I'm often drawn to the things that other people aren't noticing or talking about. I'm interested in how people think. The content that is created is the evidence of what some real people think and what they tried to do.

"Step up, Ann. Not everything is an academic exercise. As someone who works in the private sector, which expects results, that's what I'm focused on. You, as an academic, are understandably focused on the insular."

Is this blog "academic"? This blog is a blog, and it is whatever I write. It simply cannot be wrong.

"You think it makes you superior, and more intelligent. You are incorrect."

That's ironic coming from someone who just suggested that the mind of the creator of content didn't matter. Why are you thinking about me and my thoughts about myself?

Drago said...

David Begley: "Too risky for my vote."

And if it's Hillary! vs Trump!, which shall receive your vote?

Saying you won't vote or will vote 3rd party is essentially a vote for Hillary.

Trump isn't my choice, but Hillary is really not my choice.

You go to war with the military you have, not the one you wish you had.

Sammy Finkelman said...

What will happen when Trump he opens his books and shows he spent 10% of his opponent and even less during the primaries?

To gee enormous media attention you don't actually have to spend $100 million on a Presidential campaign.

You have to convince the media that you could spend $100 million.

That's why Lawrenece Lessig couldn't do what Donald Trump has done.

The media always wants to anticipate the story.

If somebody could become a contender..he is a contender.

Bobby said...

Ann,

If the crux of your argument is:

"Quite aside from that, there's the very politically incorrect pleasure of imitating the physical disabilities. Trump is taking some Americans back to the good old days when absolutely beloved pop culture characters made people guffaw with abandon by affecting the movements of persons with physical disabilities."

I don't disagree with you there, or that in the past, South Park has used the characters of Timmy Burch and Jimmy Vallmer to allow people the "politically incorrect pleasure of imitating the physical disabilities" for a laugh. They've done that numerous times.

But what I'm saying is that, in the context of the episode you quoted, there was more going on there than Parker and Stone using Jimmy's stutter for comedic effect. In that episode, they use Jimmy to raise some issues that are very important- journalistic integrity, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, sponsored content and organized media masquerading as journalism (they could very well have brought MSNBC and Fox News into the episode), authorities believing they understand and can solve a problem better than the community members themselves- all of these references brought a wry smile to my face as Jimmy makes his stand, and he shrewdishly uses the natural tendency of people being uncomfortable around disabled people to put PC Principal on the defensive.

But perhaps more to the point, citing South Park as proof that this is part of a "silent America" is problematic because, on a good episode, South Park might approach 3 million viewers. Even if we assume five times as many TV viewers watch it on DVD or from Comedy Central, etc., (facts not at all supported by their own numbers), that would still be a mere fraction of the American population. Maybe get it on The Walking Dead or The Big Bang Theory combined, and you might get to a point where it demonstrates that this is indicative of "America," but South Park making a reference- even if that's all it was- would only be representative of a minor fraction of the country.

cubanbob said...

Ann Althouse said...
My point is that there is a part of us that is receptive to laughing at physical disabilities..."

Considering he is a "reporter" for the NYT you should have added the mental disabilities of its readership which is best expressed by the famous New Yorker cartoon of the view of the country from Manhattan.

So to get down to brass tacks Trump in this instance is a boor and the "reporter" is still a hack with a by-line and in the larger picture Obama is still our Captain Smith.

Bob Boyd said...

Althouse, are you sure South Park isn't arcane? I didn't think it was either, but now...

You know what's a great show? Johnny Quest. It's on Youtube. And it's not arcane or anything like that. I mean, if you're not in the mood for South Park or whatever.

William said...

From what I understand there was not one published photo showing FDR in a wheelchair during his lifetime. Was that an example of the media's condescension or its complicity? The media's cover up of FDR's physical limitations was especially rephrensible during his last campaign. The man was dying. It was only a matter of luck that we got Truman instead of Wallace--and Europe got NATO instead of Stalin..........,.There were only two published reports about the Soviet famines. They were ignored, and the reporter who denied those reports won a Pulitzer and the respect of his peers.......,It's safe to say that the press is not always to be trusted and that they missed a number of big stories. They should be relentlessly mocked for their ideological blind spots, but who will mock the mockers.

walter said...

Big Mike,
Are you talking about this ad?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BdIlzAyueow

Ann Althouse said...

"But what I'm saying is that, in the context of the episode you quoted, there was more going on there than Parker and Stone using Jimmy's stutter for comedic effect."

Fine, but I never said there wasn't. My point is only that "South Park" partakes of this old practice of making humor out of disability. I agree that there were many other themes in that episode, but they weren't relevant to the subject matter of the post.

"But perhaps more to the point, citing South Park as proof that this is part of a "silent America" is problematic because, on a good episode, South Park might approach 3 million viewers. Even if we assume five times as many TV viewers watch it on DVD or from Comedy Central, etc., (facts not at all supported by their own numbers), that would still be a mere fraction of the American population. Maybe get it on The Walking Dead or The Big Bang Theory combined, and you might get to a point where it demonstrates that this is indicative of "America," but South Park making a reference- even if that's all it was- would only be representative of a minor fraction of the country."

I'm just using it because it's a timely pop culture reference that I know. I don't watch many shows, but as for "Walking Dead," I'm ready to work on a theory that the current fascination with zombies is a displacement of anxiety and loathing about people with disabilities. Look at how they walk!

There are things we want to laugh at and when the culture tells us we can't laugh at that, good comedy writers find ways to tap into that.

Jonathan Graehl said...

Shouting Thomas and other "private sector" gloaters, this is a blog. It makes no difference to us what Althouse's day job is. We find her insights generally interesting or we wouldn't be here. While I join you in resenting the inclusion of valueless (or negative value) jobs in the public sector we pay for, find another outlet for your rage. There's a constant stream of this genre of reply on EVERY topic. How dull.

Ann wins her exchange, but you could easily have steel-manned her opponent's claim instead of mocking a strawman, and better prevailed. In general, a skilled author will correctly predict how viewers will perceive the characters' motivations, and "character X wants Y" can be a useful shorthand for that authorial intent.

Ann is absolutely right that in explaining how we are *really* tittilated we can't consider only that layer, and that we are supposed to indulge in a forbidden titter over dumb-sounding disabled speech. I agree that people should be able to advocate rougher-than-PC sensibilities without resorting to idealized perfectly-virtuous "shield" victim-class members who explicitly refuse special treatment. It's not necessary to create a fantasy of "no crippled person enjoys coddling so you PC folk are actually the bad guys for hurting them". The truth is that other values than the comfort of cripples matter to us.

David Begley said...

Drago.

I'd vote for El Chapo over Hillary.
He's smarter and more honest.
Citizenship? Who cares?
Obama got rid of that whole Rule of Law thing.

Laslo Spatula said...

" I'm ready to work on a theory that the current fascination with zombies is a displacement of anxiety and loathing about people with disabilities. Look at how they walk!"

My theory is that the displacement of anxiety in that show is the anxiety of losing a job, being homeless and wandering the streets, hopeless, with people avoiding you at every turn: without Economic Security you become the Walking Dead.

I like theories.


I am Laslo.

Bob Boyd said...

Althouse said... "I'm ready to work on a theory that the current fascination with zombies is a displacement of anxiety and loathing about people with disabilities. Look at how they walk!"

I've had a theory for a while that the current fascination with zombies is a displacement of anxiety and loathing intellectuals* have about the masses of ordinary people. They're slow, shambling, nasty, dirty, but a threat because of their numbers. And what do zombies want? Your brains.

*and those who consider themselves superior to the common heard for whatever reason, which is one of the fundamental attractions of PC.

Rusty said...

I'm just using it because it's a timely pop culture reference that I know. I don't watch many shows, but as for "Walking Dead," I'm ready to work on a theory that the current fascination with zombies is a displacement of anxiety and loathing about people with disabilities. Look at how they walk!

No. Not Really.

It is a displacement of anxiety and loathing about a government bureaucracy that we are helpless to confront and which, zombie like, seeks to control our very being.

people with disabilities?
Not so much.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
vanderleun said...

Scott Adams, of Dilbert fame, has been on quite a roll for a couple of months explaining the roots and the reasons for Trump's abilities in his "Master Persuader" series.

He's very sharp and clearly onto something here.

http://blog.dilbert.com/post/128552964506/the-outsider-explanation-part-of-my-trump

William said...

The Zombie phenomenon? I'd say that this has more to do with our repressed urge to commit genocide than to murder the physically impaired.......Mass murder has been going on forever, and it reached its apogee during the 20th century. I suppose you can claim that Auschwitz was worse than Dresden or the various state sponsored famines in the Soviet Union, but there can be no doubt that all the nations on earth have participated in the pleasure of mass murder.......In recent imes, however, it has become politically incorrect to indiscriminately murder vast numbers of our enemies. Zombies give us a safe way out of this ethical dilemma. How can you murder someone who is already dead?. Their lumbering gait is also an attraction because it makes them easier to kill, and the brain splatter technique is far more emotionally satisfying than a bullet to the heart.......The Zombie phenomenon is an example of Hollywood having its cake and eating it too. Do you ever notice that you never see a zombie in a fez or a hijab.

walter said...

Gee John,
I actually found Shouting Thomas' posts this round to be..you know..relatively..on topic.
Surprised to see him here since I bet most of us thought he had triggered the heavier moderation.
I don't think a blanket dismissal of the importance of occupation makes sense in a lot of instances here. The difference in experience and perception between private and public sector workers are important and worth noting a lot of the time. Even in this case, the level of thought police in academia vs many private sector jobs is likely enormous..and of import in terms of reacting to PC issues. But your phrase private sector gloaters makes me curious as to whether the left has arrived at an official ad hominem shorthand for that. For instance, I just recently read the term for folks concerned about excessive gun control/2nd amendment violations: "ammo-sexuals"

Bobby said...

As South Park covered in "The Tale of Scrotie McBoogerballs," when The Boys' over-the-top gross novel insulting Sarah Jessica Parker was interpreted by the liberal woman as "a metaphor for the oppression felt by the lower class" while the conservative man said the book was "an important look at how the liberals are hurting this country" (in fact, the book was merely written to be rude and disgusting with no political undertones), it seems that people are going to see in Zombies something that they're inclined to already want to see.

For the record, the modern zombie revival was jump started by George Romero, a self-avowed socialist, who intended his social commentary to be about everything from racism to consumerism, but all of which was supposed to have a left-wing slant.

n.n said...

Breaking news: Trump blinked.

CWJ said...

The photo of Kovaleski in the link is the only thing I find interesting about this. He looks as if he's facing a dozen paparazzi shouting "Show us the hand!" He's not a person. He's a crippled hand attached to a person. If he's been dehumanized, he's as much to blame as anyone else.

Lydia said...

Trump — seeming free and wild — somehow hits an absolutely precise line. It's so precise that I want to credit him with knowing exactly what he's doing, even as I am willing to let him off the hook, because that's the line he's hitting — making us think something and preserving deniablity.

What is this, Deconstruction 101? Enough with this over-analysis, Trump should own up to having made fun of Kovaleski. But he won't because he's a liar and a coward. Period.

Michael K said...

"Jerry was burdened by vanity and neediness"

I think he was also an asshole from what I heard and that is why Dean Martin left the partnership and went on his own.

sunsong said...

I read Nate Silver the other day and he explained that 25% of 25% of the electorate likes Trump – meaning that about 6% to 8% of people like Trump. And he is clearly, consciously appealing to a distasteful segment of the electorate. He is not trying to inspire or lift people, he is doing his best to foment anger and fear. Ann’s interesting take on his manipulative ability to play “the line” fits in with his lack of honesty or integrity and total lack of responsibility. To me he is looking more and more like a plant whose real objective is to help the Clintons.

eric said...

Blogger sunsong said...
I read Nate Silver the other day and he explained that 25% of 25% of the electorate likes Trump – meaning that about 6% to 8% of people like Trump. And he is clearly, consciously appealing to a distasteful segment of the electorate. He is not trying to inspire or lift people, he is doing his best to foment anger and fear. Ann’s interesting take on his manipulative ability to play “the line” fits in with his lack of honesty or integrity and total lack of responsibility. To me he is looking more and more like a plant whose real objective is to help the Clintons.


Hold tight to Nate Silver and statistics. You're going to need him, a lot, for this coming election.

walter said...

Donald J. Trump ‏@realDonaldTrump 23h23 hours ago

I do not know the reporter for the @nytimes, or what he looks like. I was showing a person groveling to take back a statement made long ago!
---------------

Really? "You should see this guy"?

walter said...

But is this Trump's fatal "special Olympics" bowling moment?

FullMoon said...

Jonathan Graehl said... [hush]​[hide comment]

Shouting Thomas and other "private sector" gloaters, this is a blog. It makes no difference to us what Althouse's day job is. We find her insights generally interesting or we wouldn't be here. While I join you in resenting the inclusion of valueless (or negative value) jobs in the public sector we pay for, find another outlet for your rage. There's a constant stream of this genre of reply on EVERY topic. How dull.


ST and some others may be a bit out there occasionally. Not a problem skipping their comments when they cross over to the dark side. Strangely enough, I find a anybody arrogant enough to espouse why "we" come here or to tell "some" to find another outlet for rage pretty much as annoying as the other crazies. Not Johnathon, of course. Just a general observation.

Terry said...

The genius of Trump -- if he is doing it on purpose -- is in his expression of the political ideas of good part of the Republican base and uncommitted voters. These voters feel, correctly, that they have been marginalized by mainstream politicians of both parties. It is not radical to insist that the immigration laws passed by the peoples' congress and signed by presidents of both parties be enforced. In a system that worked better, these ideas would be taken up by more mainstream candidates.
Yet they won't be.
It's difficult to get past the buffoonery, but once you do, there is something to be learned about the electorate from the success of the Trump candidacy. Trump's public policy goals, once you take into account the rise of Islamic terrorism, would have been completely ordinary just two decades ago.

traditionalguy said...

Trump is very popular copy. The Soft and weasally circumlocuters keep on fainting when he talks boldly, but Trump keeps on doinghisimpersonation Admiral Bill Halsey talking about the future of Japanese once his Navy got hold of them.

Like Bill Halsey, they are going to have to rename The Donald, "Bull Trump."

Terry said...

Jeezus this is dumb, Eric:
"he is doing his best to foment anger and fear"
Haven't you listened to Obama speak? How about Sanders? How about Clinton?
I've been seeing this meme a lot on Dem blogs and comments by dems on mainstream websites lately. How can anyone take accusations of 'fear mongering' seriously when they come from the party that believes the world will become uninhabitable in fifty years due to global warming, that white people stalk Blacks like game animals, and that Donald Trump and his followers are white supremacists?

Paco Wové said...

"a distasteful segment of the electorate"

How many segments of the electorate do you find distasteful, Sunsong?

Big Mike said...

@walter, thanks for the link. That wasn't the ad I was thinking of, though it's to the same point. I see that the ad harkens back to a time when people actually, foolishly, believed that Barack Obama was actually in touch with ordinary middle-class Americans.

Good times. Good times.

Coupe said...

CBS News has a large story concerning Trump being a Nazi.

Stephanie Condon quoting New York Times op-ed writer Timothy Egan "...on Friday published an column slamming Trump's proposed "police state" that would target Muslims, as well as other groups like Hispanics. Trump's proposal to deport the nation's 11 million undocumented immigrants "would prompt a million Hispanic Anne Franks -- people hiding in the attics and basements of Donald Trump's America..."

Anne Frank wasn't an illegal immigrant. She was a birth citizen of her country, and she was deported by an occupation Army to an extermination camp.

I don't know what the answer to 11 million illegal aliens is, but I don't think we should exterminate them. I don't think we can call them Anne Frank, because they can just go home to their birth country.

Unless their birth country is a threat to their lives.

Are we saying that Mexico is a Nazi country and intends to exterminate the deported illegal aliens?

Is that what the New York Times thinks?

David said...

Remember "hire the handicapped, they're fun to watch." That was a funny line. It was funny because it transitioned so quickly from empathetic to cruel. It has been many years since I used that line.

walter said...

"a million Hispanic Anne Franks"

Ah..I guess Godwin's law is selectively enforced. Noted.

Will Trump round up and burn all white Hispanics too?

walter said...

Big Mike,
Is there more out there to consider? That ad didn't really "trigger" the grievance reaction in me...though some would classify it as a "dog whistle" to ageists.

eric said...

Blogger Terry said...
Jeezus this is dumb, Eric:
"he is doing his best to foment anger and fear"


Terry, I hope you realize Sunsong wrote that, not me.

Jason said...

Remember how outraged liberals were when Bill Clinton referred to Bob Dole's withered right arm as a "flipper?"

Good times.

Jason said...

Remember how outraged liberals were when Al Gore referred to the "extra-chromosome right wing?"

Good times.

Jason said...

Relax. it's not like he bowled a 37 and then went on Letterman to mock the Special Olympics.

What kind of asshat would do such a thing?



You know, it's almost like liberals have zero principles at all.

Terry said...

Sorry, eric, I scrolled the comment to quickly.
If I had realized that it was sunsong, I wouldn't have bothered to reply.

eric said...

Blogger Terry said...
Sorry, eric, I scrolled the comment to quickly.
If I had realized that it was sunsong, I wouldn't have bothered to reply


No problem. You were at least half right. It was a dumb thing to write.

Big Mike said...

@walter, I'm a Vietnam era veteran and I certainly felt it was hitting below the belt. What I think I remembered was not the ad itself but the pushback. Probably something like this.

Steven Davis said...

Trump is claiming he was not making fun of a disability, and is demanding an apology. This guy's a genius, he knows how to work the media.

Moneyrunner said...

Ann's blog is the only one that I read in which the comments are more interesting that than the proprietor's.

Guildofcannonballs said...

http://www.nytimes.com/politics/first-draft/2015/11/25/black-pastors-expected-to-endorse-donald-trump/

This here election is OVER!

Trump Wins!!!

Moneyrunner don't be jealous of Althouse, The Virginian is nice too. Didn't Rush mention you?

Guildofcannonballs said...

https://cumulus.hillsdale.edu/Buckley/index2.html#1448683251115_0

This is called "research" and may be difficult for some where others find it inspiring.

There are answers to questions you have but have not yet asked.

jr565 said...

Not only did John Lennon mock handicapped people, he was also a woman beater.
"I used to be cruel to my woman, I beat her and kept her apart from the things that she loved. Man I was mean, but I'm changing my scene and I'm doing the best thst I can". Hey, at least he changed his scene. And he was doing his best.

steve uhr said...

Trump's "problem" is his inability to tell the truth and apologize when caught in a lie. He lied about seeing thousands and thousands Muslims cheering the 9-11 attack. And when that lie started to catch up with him, he lied about whether he was mocking a reporter's disability, and whether he even knew who the reporter was. What a coincidence -- the one person that Trump impersonated with a disability -- actually had a disability! Poor guy, He just can't get a break.

mikee said...

While this episode of South Park showed a wonderfully empowered Jimmy, I prefer the episode wherein he rids himself of an adolescent no-reason boner, at great risk and at great effort, only to re-discover as every adolescent male does that NRBs arrive for absolutely no reason. That episode will amuse future viewers for centuries because it details an eternal truth; PC Principal will have its season in the sun, and then fade away, just as current PC attitudes shall do.

Drago said...

Steve Uhr: "And when that lie started to catch up with him, he lied about whether he was mocking a reporter's disability, and whether he even knew who the reporter was."

The ability to read minds is a rare skill.

Have you considered making yourself available to our clandestine services for interrogation purposes?