Monday, February 12, 2007

Amanda Finds Freedom... the sense of the old song about "nothing left to lose". The now blogfamous Amanda Marcotte of Pandagon, hired by the John Edwards campaign, denounced as anti-Catholic by a viper's nest of rabid reactionaries venting faux outrage over her *gasp* rudeness and profanity, left hanging for over a day after an Edwards staffer said they were considering her position, then denounced for her language by Edwards himself when he said she could stay on, has now given up fighting on that front. Her announcement is on Pandagon. If it's still too busy when you read this, here are some highlights:
I was hired by the Edwards campaign for the skills and talents I bring to the table, and my willingness to work hard for what’s right. Unfortunately, Bill Donohue and his calvacade of right wing shills don’t respect that a mere woman like me could be hired for my skills, and pretended that John Edwards had to be held accountable for some of my personal, non-mainstream views on religious influence on politics (I’m anti-theocracy, for those who were keeping track). Bill Donohue—anti-Semite, right wing lackey whose entire job is to create non-controversies in order to derail liberal politics—has been running a scorched earth campaign to get me fired for my personal beliefs and my writings on this blog.

In fact, he’s made no bones about the fact that his intent is to “silence” me, as if he—a perfect stranger—should have a right to curtail my freedom of speech. Why? Because I’m a woman? Because I’m pro-choice? Because I’m not religious? All of the above, it seems.

Regardless, it was creating a situation where I felt that every time I coughed, I was risking the Edwards campaign. No matter what you think about the campaign, I signed on to be a supporter and a tireless employee for them, and if I can’t do the job I was hired to do because Bill Donohue doesn’t have anything better to do with his time than harass me, then I won’t do it. I resigned my position today and they accepted.

There is good news. The main good news is that I don’t have a conflict of interest issue anymore that was preventing me from defending myself against these baseless accusations. So it’s on. The other good news is that the blogosphere has risen as one and protested, loudly, the influence a handful of well-financed right wing shills have on the public discourse.
She goes on to denounce Donohue some more, and quote others campaigning to point out his hypocrisy, like "Frances Kissling, the president of an organization I adore called Catholics for a Free Choice." Go read it all when the link isn't overwhelmed by everyone trying to read it (or spam it -- the righties are spilling champagne in the streets all over the web, including usual suspects like Our Lady Of The Internment Camps, and using headings like "Potty mouth fembigot down").

So much for the facts; now the gossip and innuendo behind the headlines.

On the left (and I suspect this will happen on the middle as well) some commenters are now disbelieving that Amanda volunteered to do this, and voiceing suspicions that this is Edwards' own doing. I don't believe that, because this is the worst way to do that. He would have gotten some points -- even if he offended many bloggers -- by just letting her go at the start of this, but by berating her former words and not striking back at Donohue and other faux-loyal Catholics and then shoving her out the back door a few days later he would just make every possible person angry at him. One could say Amanda has let him down, by not deciding to do this herself at the first break of all the brouhaha, and saying "okay I'll go on and just not be profane anymore on the campaign blog", then backing out anyway.

Nevertheless, I can feel the agony she must have been going through, fighting with herself in her own mind what was the best way to help the candidate she believes is the best to restore sanity to the White House in 2008. And I can feel from here (hopefully much closer soon, if she moves back to Austin from North Carolina) the relief as the weight of responsibility lifts from her shoulders. I imagine Donohue and company ain't seen nothing yet, on the profane denunciation of their pious theocracy. Serves them right.

But this whole thing will not be good for Edwards. He made the right decision about not kicking her out over this nonsense, but did it in a late and tin-eared fashion. And now the sub-surface worms will feel victorious and empowered, and they will not only go after Melissa (the other Edwards attackee of theirs) but after every other campaign. Indeed, they have already begun, as The Carpetbagger Report notes here:
The national Catholic-based advocacy group Fidelis sent letters to Democratic presidential candidates Senator Hillary Clinton and Senator Barack Obama calling on them to publicly condemn the anti-Catholic and anti-Christian blog posts of Amanda Marcotte and Melissa McEwan, who serve as the official bloggers for the John Edwards for President Committee.
The struggle must go on. As Len Deighton said, "Eternal paranoia is the price of liberty. Vigilance is not enough."

But there is a darker side. Also on Pandagon now, two posts later (and still too busy to access as I post this) is another post by Auguste, called "Don Qui-who?", which in Br'er Rabbit and briar patch style sarcasm, links to a pdf of the IRS Information Referral form, saying
One thing I would certainly NOT expect is that anyone would go here[PDF], using the above as a template (or not), and stick that fucker in the mail. I certainly would be shocked if anyone were to alert all their friends and loved ones to behave similarly.
They also provide a sample of a filled-out form which complains about the tax-exempt status of Donohue's organization, since it engaged in improper political activity. Those who believe that analysis (it is not obviously wrong, given the existence of the current tax code), can go there and decide for themselves whether this is a jest or a heavily-deniable suggestion.

I will hope for the humor interpretation, since calling out bloggers and protesters and boycotters is still, however vicious and hypocritical, genuinely free speech. Attempting to use the state's power to retaliate against someone who does that sort of ugly campaign by getting them in trouble with the taxmen is something else indeed. I'm sure many will disagree with me; feel free. Like Amanda, I can say what I want, and like the character my blog was named for, "Je peux dire «non» encore à tout ce que je n'aime pas et je suis seul juge." Live long and prosper.


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