In an essay for the New York Times website, literary theorist Stanley Fish offers a justification for the left's denunciations of Rush Limbaugh for "misogyny" and its tolerance of the same from the likes of Bill Maher and Ed Schultz.
The charge of hypocrisy, he notes, is based in "the political philosophy of enlightenment liberalism," which emphasizes procedural fairness à la the Golden Rule. He urges liberals to take an alternative approach:If we think about the Rush Limbaugh dust-up from the non-liberal--that is, non-formal--perspective, the similarity between what he did and what Schultz and Maher did disappears. Schultz and Maher are the good guys; they are on the side of truth and justice. Limbaugh is the bad guy; he is on the side of every nefarious force that threatens our democracy. Why should he get an even break?
There is no answer to that question once you step outside of the liberal calculus in which all persons, no matter what their moral status as you see it, are weighed in an equal balance. Rather than relaxing or soft-pedaling your convictions about what is right and wrong, stay with them, and treat people you see as morally different differently. Condemn Limbaugh and say that Schultz and Maher may have gone a bit too far but that they're basically O.K. If you do that you will not be displaying a double standard; you will be affirming a single standard, and moreover it will be a moral one because you will be going with what you think is good rather than what you think is fair. "Fair" is a weak virtue; it is not even a virtue at all because it insists on a withdrawal from moral judgment.
As exhortation this is redundant, but as description it is revealing. Fish's colleagues on the New York Times editorial page behave exactly as he urges, and we're quite sure they are imbued with an unshakable sense of their own virtue.
Yet even if fairness is overrated as a virtue, what Fish misses is that it is useful. A disregard for fairness tends to alienate those who don't already agree with you, and the attempt to consider the other side's arguments fairly makes one's own arguments more robust. If the Times were to reject the Fish Rule and actually make an effort to give the "bad guys" their due, it might be easier to find a documented case of someone changing his mind after reading a Times editorial.
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Taranto Exposes Jesuitical Liberal Philosophy
Taranto simply destroys the hypocrisy and tyrannical tendencies of the leftist literati and illuminati Stanley Fish, who along with Charles Blow, brings the NYT editorial page to a low lower than ever before: