There is a common tactic used by extremists and jackassess of all stripes who wish to dominate public discourse: the most polite term Mr. Blunt and Cranky can use is “Chain-Yanking”. Here’s one example: when it became the law for employers to provide preventative health care (including birth control) to covered employees at no cost (or reduced cost), on Rush Limbaugh called a Congressional witness a “slut” (and worse). The actual merits of the policy were not debated, because nearly everyone (having had their chain yanked) started yelling about the pundit’s sexism blahblahblahbittyblahblah.  This suited the pundit and his cronies just fine, as they were in charge of the conversation and could subsequently control the message to suit themselves.

Mind, this writer does not support sexism in any form, at any time, in any way, shape or form. When sexism (or another ism) rears its ugly head, we should indeed whack-a-mole that head right down, and pound it down again whenever it pops up. We must, however, not lose sight of the point that is being obscured, often deliberately, by the chain-yanker du jour. And we must also call the chain-yankers out, especially when they claim that they are “just asking questions”.

Recently a number of teenaged girls were sexually assaulted in Steubenville and Torrington. The chain-yankers immediately blamed the victims under the guise of asking questions like “what was a 13-year-old girl doing hanging around 18-year-old boys anyway?”  Of course, the yankers denied blaming victims, even though it was obvious that they were doing just that. And they were called on it, to the point that the crime itself was no longer the topic of conversation – instead, everyone was talking about slut-shaming and victim-blaming. Important topics, to be sure, but regardless, we got our chains yanked and thereby sidetracked; thus taking the spotlight off of the criminals, where it belonged.

A woman was mugged, shot in the leg, and her infant murdered a few days ago. What was the first question asked? “Why didn’t she just hand over her purse?”, that was the was the first question asked.  The yanker denied victim-blaming: she was “just asking the question”. Uh-huh. Maybe she was fooling herself,  but she wasn’t fooling too  many other people with that hogwash. But again, a potentially productive conversation on social policy degenerated into a slugfest over victim-blaming.

Yesterday, this writer got his chain well and truly yanked, much to his own chagrin. A sexist comment about men was posted, and  he wound up swirling around the drain with everybody else, even to the extent of losing his temper and saying some unacceptable things. Apologies are hereby offered to everyone  who was offended  by those stupid, uncalled-for remarks.

No matter the topic or the political persuasion of the person talking, chain-yanking happens, and we can all get caught if we aren’t careful. Your humble correspondent will redouble his efforts to remain focused on important topics, and hopes all of us can just let the yankers flush themselves away, leaving the rest of America to get some s*** accomplished.

Mr. B & C