Thursday, August 19, 2010

Unprincipled [Updated]

[Update: Please see this post for my apology to Kevin Williamson.]

Happy Women’s Suffrage (one day late). Kevin D. Williamson at The Corner celebrated with a brief post entitled “ Some Things Do Not Get Better with Time”:

If I am not mistaken, today marks the anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment. A video tribute. (Also a tribute to the glories of American education.)

The link in Williamson’s post is to a video entitled “End Women’s Suffrage”. It shows a young man at Padua Academy, an all-girl Catholic high school, asking students to sign a petition to end women’s suffrage; about thirteen young women do in fact sign and approximately seven other young women are shown not objecting to or cheering for the petition. The video concludes with the message, “We rest our case.”

The makers of this video and Williamson seem to think this proves that even the brightest women are too stupid to vote. They are wrong. What the video proves is that somewhere between 2.2% (13 out of 600) and 3.3% (20 out of 600) students at an excellent private high school do not know the meaning of the word “suffrage”. I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that at least that many students at an excellent all-boy Catholic high school would not know the meaning of the word “suffrage” either. Of course, that’s just a guess on my part because the video makes no attempt to see how boys would do on this “test”.

Among the general public, I’m pretty sure the percentage is even higher and this is not just a guess on my part. Those who made this video were careful to include a frame twenty seconds in that defined “suffrage”. The only reason they would have felt compelled to do so is to insure that their viewers could grasp just how dumb the girls in the video were. After all, it’s not so funny if you’re just another one of the idiots who has no clue what “suffrage” means.

I don’t know whether Williamson is too stupid to realize the video is meaningless or so unprincipled he doesn’t care. What I do know is that the murmurings on the Right about repealing the Nineteenth Amendment are disgraceful. This came up in the comments to a post at Villainous Company. The blog proprietress said:

As a woman (not to mention a woman who has voted solidly Republican) it is pretty depressing to read that the world would be a better place if I couldn't vote. It's even more depressing that no one seems to see anything wrong with that stance but I guess that's just the way it is.

To which I replied:

Yes, this is depressing. It's also puzzling. I find it hard to imagine a conservative blogger or commenter being applauded for even hinting that the world would be a better place if African-Americans (who vote overwhelmingly Democratic) or American Jews (who tend to vote Democratic) couldn't vote. This is a great mystery to me: Why are comments like this acceptable when they're made about women?

And that is, indeed, something I would very much like an answer to. (Those on the Left can feel free to provide this explanation so long as they also explain their sexist slurs against Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin during the 2008 campaigns.)

But beyond the sense of puzzlement over why it’s more acceptable to trash women than Blacks or Hispanics or Jews is a deeper concern: The argument that women shouldn’t have the vote is literally un-principled. The only justification for it is that if women couldn’t vote then conservatives would always win elections. That’s not a principle; that’s a corruption.

Those on the Right properly condemn those on the Left who sometimes seem to think that only the people who agree with the Left’s agenda should be allowed to speak. But at least no respectable outlet on the the Left has suggested that only the people who agree with the Left’s agenda should be allowed to vote.


Ymarsakar said...

But at least no respectable outlet on the the Left has suggested that only the people who agree with the Left’s agenda should be allowed to vote.

You must not have heard of Jim Crow then.

Cassandra said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Elise said...


It's not clear that those who favored Jim Crow were on the Left. They did tend to be Democrats but the Democratic Party has changed a lot since then.

I was remiss in not setting a time frame for my claim but I was in fact speaking of current day.

I'm not entirely sure the Jim Crow laws were simply about preventing people who disagreed with the Democratic Party from voting. I suspect it was a combination of wanting to retain power *and* deeply held beliefs about the fitness of African-Americans to vote. This may well make it similar to the Right's thoughts about women's suffrage.

However, I would argue that in the case of Jim Crow, the desire to retain power and the doubts about African-Americans' fitness co-existed. In the case of women's suffrage, I suspect the Right's doubts about women's fitness to vote came about only after women began voting in a way the Right does not like.