November 09, 2005

“Out of the Mainstream” Devotees

“Out of the Mainstream”

Devotees of so-called critical theory believe that language is an imperfect means of communication, since the words used to describe objects and concepts are ultimately arbitrary. As a result, fans of deconstruction claim that they can take any sentence—no matter how simple—and come up with numerous meanings for it. Through this means, of course, Jacques Derrida’s minions have had a figurative field day arguing that works of literature say something very different from what they obviously say.

Now, we, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” are willing to admit that language isn’t a perfect means of communication. All the same, on such matters we tend to agree with George Orwell, who would have seen the postmodernists’ championing of cloudy writing a dramatic illustration of their cloudy, totalitarian thinking.

We, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” bring up this erudite topic for a very specific reason. And no, our specific reason isn’t “showing off a sixth-grader’s understanding of postmodernism.” (Although it is impressive, is it not?) Rather, the recent Supreme Court nominations have highlighted what we believe to be a prime species of linguistic legerdemain that only a card-carrying postmodernist could love.

As the title to this humble “post” suggests, dear reader, we refer to the oft-stated Democratic Party phrase “out of the mainstream.” It appears as if Democratic senators discussing nominations to the high court are more concerned with a justice being “out of the mainstream” than being an axe murderer.

But what is particularly peculiar about this “out of the mainstream” business is that Democrats invoking the phrase do not seem to mean what they are saying at all. Perhaps they are taking a page out of the playbook of poststructuralist gurus, but we doubt it. Rather, we feel as if they are engaged in something far simpler to understand: Duplicity.

For, naturally, these Democrats can’t actually say what they mean: They don’t want a Supreme Court justice who is conservative, or, perhaps most especially, pro-life. The latter, of course, would smack of a litmus test, which appears to be as taboo in American politics as dating a 12-year-old.

As such, every elected official in Washington, when waxing judicial, is compelled to lie like a banshee. Whilst Republicans must claim that they are motivated to support a given potential justice due to his impeccable qualifications alone, Democrats are busy fretting about those supposedly “outside of the mainstream.”

But what the heck can this really mean? If it truly refers to those who are pro-life, then the Democrats ought to realize that their own minority leader in the Senate, Harry Reid, being pro-life, is “out of the mainstream.” Further, Dick Durbin of Illinois ought to realize, as a whilom pro-lifer, that he used to be “out of the mainstream.”

Now, don’t get us wrong, dear reader: We happen to think that opposing conservative judges (or liberal judges, for that matter) is perfectly reasonable. But let’s not lie about it. Let’s not pretend that Judge Alito supports a bloody takeover of the United States by the board members of Viacom. That, we think, would actually be “out of the mainstream.”

Until a potential member of the Supreme Court claims that laws should be decided by three donkeys and a cat, we don’t want to hear the phrase “out of the mainstream” again.

Posted at November 9, 2005 12:01 AM | TrackBack