Ann Althouse Has P.O.ed Ezra Klein
And I think he is right:
Ezra Klein: The First Refuge Of The Scoundrel: I've been a little loathe to enter the furor over Ann Althouse's repulsive smear of Jessica, if only because Althouse's point was so self-evidently cruel and unfair that it seemed unworthy of further publicity.... For those blissfully unaware... the tale is simple enough:
Jessica's extraordinary work on Feministing -- and, more generally, as a young feminist trying to fashion a relevant and resonant feminist message for her generation -- got her invited to the recent blogger lunch with Bill Clinton. During the group picture that closed out the meal, she, like everyone else, did a three-quarter turn. The problem? Jessica was wearing her breasts at the time, and their outline was vaguely visible beneath her sweater. Ann Althouse was scandalized.
Sorry -- you can't see it, but I just burst out laughing. Of course Althouse wasn't scandalized: She knows what breasts are, she knows that they've the nasty habit of changing a chest's side profile, she knows there was nothing revealing or untoward about Jessica's outfit. Here's the picture, see for yourself. Althouse was trying to discredit Jessica. She dislikes her ideology, dislikes her brand of feminism, dislikes the political leader she was meeting with, and she went for the kneecap. Classy.
As PZ argues, Althouse was trying an old trick... insinuating that Jessica's looks,... not her talent, dedication, or intelligence, are the issue. See, Jessica is young and attractive....
There's a reason why, when Lee Siegel was offended by my comments to him, he attacked my supposed ambition, youth, and family. And there's a reason Althouse went after Jessica's looks. This is supposed to be a realm where ideas rule, where argument matters.... [But] people like Althouse or Siegel get scared, or beat, or defensive, and they fall back on what's easiest: Trying to discredit, rather than debate. It's the first refuge of the scoundrel, and that's what Althouse proved herself...
That she is a scoundrel is no news. I first ran across Ann Althouse when she was arguing that British police should be trigger-happy in the Underground:
Brad DeLong's Semi-Daily Journal: Wingnut Authoritarian Law Professors on the March!: [E]veryone -- at least in London -- now knows not to run from the police, especially not onto a train and while wearing bulky clothing. Is it not true that yesterday's sad mistake has already solved the problem it represents? In fact, a further good has been created: as ordinary persons change their behavior and drop the bulky clothing and unnecessary running, the real terrorists will stand out more. Indeed, if anyone ever behaves like Jean Charles de Menezes again, the presumption that he is a terrorist will be so overwhelmingly strong that the police really must kill him...
I'd better stop there. Nothing more needs to be said.