Wonkette, a progressive political blog, published an article a few days ago taunting and sneering at a three year old child with Down’s Syndrome. But they had sound reasons for doing so. The child in question was Sarah Palin’s disabled son Trig.
The article’s author, Jack Stuef, justified the attack by asserting that Palin had used the child as a political prop by celebrating his third birthday in part by appearing with him on television, and publishing a poem she had written to him. Critics of the blog noted that most politicians, including the Obamas, often appear on public forums with their children, and sometimes their dogs.
Stuef opened his article with a disjointed and at times inchoate paragraph of remarkable bile and a degree of tastelessness generally associated with toilet stall graffiti:
“That strange man yelling unintelligibly at Sarah Palin? He’s merely a lowly shepherd proclaiming the birth of our savior. Today is the day we come together to celebrate the snowbilly grifter’s magical journey from Texas to Alaska to deliver to the America the great gentleman scholar Trig Palin. Is Palin his true mother? Or was Bristol? (And why is it that nobody questions who the father is? Because, either way, Todd definitely did it.) It doesn’t matter. What matters is that we are privileged to live in a time when we can witness the greatest prop in world political history.”
We understand that Mr. Stuef dislikes Ms. Palin, and that satire can be cruel. But this level of anger seems somehow unseemly in a “progressive,” especially when it prefaces a nuggest of this rarity:
“What’s he [Trig] dreaming about? Nothing. He’s retarded.”
Is that true? Do “retarded” people have no dreams? One supposes that in a world as enlightened and highly-evolved as Mr. Steuf inhabits, the dreams of the disabled have little value, but still….
Almost as entertaining as Stuef’s self-revelatory rant were the comments of the site’s readers: they seemed to be equally divided between surprised outrage and frat-boy hoots supporting Steuf, and then piling on. We were surprised. We had thought the whole notion of progressive politics was firmly founded in contexts of empathy, dignity and respect for the underprivileged. Once again, our fallibility has been exposed. It appears that these precepts are in some cases merely a shroud concealing a poverty of spirit that progressives impute to conservatives, and that zealotry, hostility and venom display a normal distribution across the political spectrum.
But in the opinion of the Cannibal, the chief fault of the post lies in neither its degrading inhumanity nor its presumptuous assertion of moral superiority. It is rather its embarrassingly puerile expression — its clunky, awkward style, its failure to succeed in any way at ridicule, wit or satire, and its outright tackiness — that completes its failure. There is nothing to redeem it.
Two major advertisers — Huggies and Papa John’s Pizza — have announced they are pulling their advertising from the blog. The rest will most likely follow; few companies want their logo associated with a travesty of this dimension. The blog’s future is now questionable, but if they are looking for a possible solution, we have one suggestion:
Change the name from “Wonkette” to “Donkette.” If you’re going to make an ass of yourself, maybe you should just get out front with it.