Which brings us back to the question that started this column: Under what circumstances may a conservative call Chelsea Clinton a “twinkletoes” on national television? Let’s say her mother is speaking about her support for abortion rights; can someone who believes that “abortion rights” is code for “the annual murder of 650,000 babies” call upon that “feckless twinkletoes” to do something about her mother’s murder-happy policy program? Does the conservative have to wait until Chelsea Clinton posts a photo of herself and her child to Instagram? Can it be said only if such a photo appears when Democrats are trying to secure more funding for Planned Parenthood?
Counterfactuals are usually tricky, of course. But I have utter confidence in this one: The answer that feminists would give in that case would be “never.” And if a network had aired such a remark, those same people would be rightfully raising holy hell about it. They would not be looking around to see whether someone, somewhere, had sometime in the recent past made a remark that was even worse.
That’s not principle; that’s tribalism. Manners for thee, slurs for me — as long as they’re aimed at you. This is obviously not going to work in a society as divided as ours.