That’s all they are. They’re just common schoolyard bullies dressed up in suits, and they’re bullying because that’s what bullies do, and that’s what the last 30 years of our politics have been about.Bullying people.
It’s not just that people don’t like slut-shaming. It’s that people don’t like bullies. The only people who like bullies are bullies and the pathetic, conflict-averse, morally cowardly hangers-on who think that by throwing a few rocks they’ll avoid getting stoned to death at some point too. Everybody else recognizes what’s going on and thinks it’s gross, and even kind of sad, and shouldn’t we be past this now, we’re supposed to be grown-ups.
Let me tell you something about pregnant kids and how radically the landscape has shifted since I was in school. I went to a doctrinaire Roman Catholic high school, and in my senior year there were a couple of girls who were pregnant. And not once did anyone in authority, principal down to the fucking janitor, treat those girls with anything less than the respect every single other student received. You can’t stop kids from gossiping, and I don’t know what went on between the girls and the authorities behind closed doors, but seeing those girls treated just like everybody else went a long way toward keeping the more vicious and nasty kids under wraps.
That’s the real difference between what goes on in the schoolyard and what goes on in our national politics. People have always been mean nasty bastards and they’re always going to be. But once upon a time we didn’t have an entire media establishment dedicated to cheering on the bullies and making them feel good about the dark places inside them that make them hack off on the powerless, 24 hours a day, on TV and the radio and now in the wingnutsphere. Once upon a time you got cuffed upside the head for picking on the smaller kid, the weaker kid, the poorer kid, the dumber kid. Once upon a time, no matter your politics, that was just considered rude, and too easy, and cut it out anyway, jerks.
For the past 30 years we’ve been buliding to a bullying critical mass, and with what happened to Sandra Fluke quite a few people got a faceful of what that looks like. And they don’t like it. They remember being in a situation where somebody richer, somebody faster, somebody with more friends, made fun of them and all that person’s little pals giggled along. They remember how that felt and they remember every time they didn’t speak up for someone else in the same situation, and they’re starting to speak up now.