(Spoiler alert: no, they have not jumped the shark. A fetid little conspiracy clearing-house like WND does not jump the shark. The stupider and crazier they get, the more childish delight and wonderment they elicit in their target audience.)
It has been an interesting couple of months for those dedicated souls still hugging the right-most lane of American politics. Despite repeated and full-throated (and often pompously public) prayers to the Magic Nazarene to dash the machinations of Kenyan Marxist Usurper-in-Chief Barry Soetero Hussein, Mitt Romney got a final swift kick to the nuggets that left them smarting, and dangling somewhere in the neighborhood of his earlobes.
You can name any number of variables that came into play in the great GOP wipeout of 2012, but one factor -- a subfactor of the "demographics" explanation -- was certainly the well-publicized Republican treatment of women and women's issues. The neanderthal thinking of conservatives was screamingly obvious on everything from reproductive freedom to the hot topic (which, call me crazy, I had considered more or less settled some time roughly a century or two ago) of rape.
Which brings us to WND, the conservative lunatic fringe's favorite online "news" source, and the Violence Against Women Act.
There's a phenomenon I've noticed among very, very right-wing people in general, but it's more pronounced among pundits, bloggers, and other manufacturers or transmitters of opinion. Some innocuous or virtuous piece of legislation that bumps up against their worldview in an uncomfortable way will come along (the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act, or a one dollar increase in the minimum wage, etc.) and it becomes somebody's job to find a reason -- ANY reason, no matter how far-fetched the claim or tortured the logic -- other than outright hatred and spite to oppose it.
This is especially the case with civil rights legislation. It is neither a good electoral strategy nor very polite to outright admit, unless you are among like-minded friends, that you just plain want fewer black people voting, or that you think women ought to get their asses back in the kitchen and cut out all this uppity "being a person" crap.
Enter the "rightwashers," as I call them. Rightwashing is a sub-type of spin; it is the art and science of taking reactionary, right-wing stances and attempting to render them more palatable through misdirection and, often, outright lies.
We oppose the Civil Rights Act / Voting Rights Act because they are BAD FOR MINORITIES! Also, the REAL discrimination is against white people! We want voter I.D. laws because of RAMPANT VOTER FRAUD (by brown people) -- also, the REAL bias is against older, whiter, more conservative voters!
So: returning to the Violence Against Women Act. How are our friends in the conservative movement rightwashing opposition to its renewal?
Well, if you are Big Joe Farah's WND (known to the cognoscenti as Farah's Fascist Funhouse), the short answer is 'in the most offensive way possible."
Because I am a masochist and enjoy turning over ideological rocks to inspect the wriggling and many-jointed atrocities beneath them, I subscribe to WND's e-mail alerts. I have subscribed to them for years now. It's a pet theory of mine that WND has recently employed one or more new e-mail wranglers, because I have noticed an uptick in the level of crazy in their alerts / article summaries and links. For example:
When I cracked open this email, I wasn't exactly sure what it was about, except that it was apparently the usual excoriation of Republicans for not being conservative enough. The article on WND, as it turns out, was a description of remarks* made by Phyllis Schlafly about the 87 House Republicans who "bowed to the radical feminist agenda" by voting for a bill that funds battered women's shelters.
Speaking of which, it probably wouldn't occur to your average right-wing hack to use the expression "taken to the woodshed," a reference to beating someone, to talk about the Violence Against Women Act, but therein lies the peculiar genius of WND.
And why, Ms. Schlafly / WND*, should we oppose VAWA? Time for a true exercise in evil-genius rightwashing:
The renewal of the Violence Against Women Act sounds noble enough based on the title of the bill. However an actual reading of the bill reveals its truth.Do tell!
For instance, the bill calls upon states to legalize child prostitution under the guise of protecting children.Well, I --
In the section on combating child sex trafficking, the bill lists “model state criminal law protection” for children engaged in sex trafficking: It recommends states simply pass laws preventing the prosecution of persons under 18 years of age. The bill says states should “treat an individual under 18 years of age who has been arrested for engaging in, or attempting to engage in, a sexual act with another person in exchange for monetary compensation as a victim of a severe form of trafficking in persons,” and “prohibit the charging or prosecution” of the individual.
Critics say making child prostitution illegal by saying they are victims could actually end up causing the very same thing they are trying to avoid. Removing the threat of prosecution will provide pimps and traffickers the ability to apply additional pressure on children by reassuring them what they are doing is perfectly legal.This is perhaps the most egregious example of cheap shot, smirking, monstrous sociopath rightwashing I have ever seen; really, it's something on a "WAR IS PEACE, FREEDOM IS SLAVERY" level.
Now I'm assuming that (most of) you are rational adults, and do not need this explained, but I feel a burning need in the face of Monstrous Evil Psychotic Lying to explain it anyway: by WND's logic, when a child prostitution ring is busted up, the authorities should waste no time in cracking down on the real law-breakers by slapping the child prostitutes in irons and hauling them away.
Ths depraved style of bullying is pretty much a fixture on the right, but it's worth noting that virtually all opponents of VAWA have led with the protections it affords to gay people and undocumented immigrants. It took WND to reach for the brass ring and simultaneously blame child prostitution on, you know, children, and at the same time smear the Violence Against Women Act as "legalizing child prostitution," an accusation they must have taken a certain amount of pride in (and one that they repeat no fewer than five times).
Of course, WND has not jumped the shark -- or, rather, they have made shark-jumping their bread and butter. For every "where's the birth certificate?" there must eventually be an "Obama is a big gay fag" . For the "VAWA legalizes child prostitution" of today, tomorrow will bring...well, who knows? But may my horrible heathen gods save me, because at this rate, I'll probably be glued to WND to find out.
* -- one of WND's many adorable stylistic tics is their tendency to report "news" that turns out to be predictable bloviating from some source -- Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage, etc. -- for whom they are tickled pink to act as breathless stenographers. Upwards of one WND "story" a day is pretty much a nickle summary of Limbaugh or another talker goon for the internet fan who might have been stuck in line for their government Social Security check during the broadcast, and who is also too f*cking dumb to figure out how podcasts or YouTube work.