I'm referring to the left's reaction to the Hobby Lobby decision. I freely admit to being biased, and I know one side's impassioned hyperbole is the other's barking madness. But it isn't just the craziness of what's being said; it's also who's saying it. Here, for starters, is the former first lady, former senator (D-NY), former Secretary of State, and potential next president:
I submit that it is difficult to connect what she says here to reality. What is she actually referring to? A Supreme Court decision that allowed--based on a law passed in the 1990s, sponsored by Democrats and signed into law by Mrs. Clinton's husband--a company to decline to include in insurance coverage for its employees certain drugs and devices that are widely believed to function by inducing very early abortions. The items in question are still available and are not terribly expensive. Moreover, the dark age to which she fears the decision returns us, or leads us, is exactly the state of affairs of just a few years ago, before the HHS issued its ill-advised "mandate."
Reasonable people can differ about whether the decision was correct or not. But to claim that the Supreme Court's finding that a company is within the law in not purchasing something for its employees is a declaration of intent by most of the Christians and most of the Republicans in the country to subjugate the entire female sex is either unhinged, or an extremely cynical (but unfortunately very effective) effort at whipping unthinking people into a frenzy. Does Mrs. Clinton know she is spouting nonsense, or does she believe it? Either way, it's bad news for the nation.
I know, people on the right have said many crazy things. But when I try to appraise the level of craziness in a somewhat detached manner, I can't come up with a right-wing phenomenon that ranks with this one. Consider:
1) Distance from reality: there is a popular "meme"--a picture with a caption--being circulated which claims that because of this decision "corporations are people, but women are not." And an awful lot of people seem to be under the impression that the Supreme Court has allowed Hobby Lobby to forbid that its employees use contraception.
2) Degree of illogic: the whole idea that someone else's refusal to buy something for me is the same as preventing me from obtaining it at all. What can you say to someone to whom the irrationality of that is not immediately apparent? There might be a case for it if what was at stake was an extremely expensive cure for cancer. But these are things that anyone but the desperately poor can afford if they want them, and there are reportedly government subsidies for them.
Maybe the most incoherent bit is the instantly popular slogan: "Not my boss's business." No, it isn't, really--so why do you think your boss should pay for it?
3) Level of emotional intensity: "frenzy" is not an inaccurate word for a lot of what I'm hearing. Here's a collection of tweets full of incoherent rage and threats. And here is a Democratic congresswoman, and head of the Democratic National Committee, asserting that Republicans want to "reach into a woman's body."
Unfortunately she's probably right that this will be a very useful campaign issue for the Democrats.
4) Prominence and ostensible respectability of the persons emitting the noise: see the two examples above, and add to the list the vast majority of mainstream journalists and pundits. And, no doubt, most of the entertainment industry, although the people labelled "celebrities" whose reactions I've seen were mostly unknown to me.
The Democrats' "War on Women" tactic is, ethically and intellectually, as offensive as the racist demagoguery of the segregationists of old. And they'll probably be rewarded for it. In a perverse way, the comparison is comforting: we survived and triumphed over the segregationists, and maybe we'll do the same with these demagogues.