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Touchdown dance

Posted by Richard on November 4, 2005

Michelle Malkin, thanks to an alert reader, called attention to an incredible faux pas by Washington Post writer Emily Messner (log in with BugMeNot). Messner, writing about liberal characterizations of Alito, quoted Kos as saying conservatives "wanted one of those obnoxious touchdown dances." Messner disputed some of the characterizations, but noted parenthetically, "Nonetheless, it is amusing to imagine Charles Krauthammer doing a touchdown dance."

Krauthammer has been a paraplegic — almost quadriplegic, with very limited hand use — for over 30 years. Messner has since edited her remark, replacing Krauthammer’s name with George Will’s, and added a footnote apologizing and saying she "had no idea he was disabled."

Malkin apparently believes that explanation, and agrees with Mark at Marked Up that Messner’s alleged ignorance of Krauthammer’s disability is "a good thing." I’m not sure I buy Messner’s explanation.

On the one hand, Messner is apparently a liberal, and in my experience, liberals as a group tend to be incredibly ignorant of non-liberal people, ideas, and institutions. On the other hand, Messner is a political commentator in Washington. Krauthammer is one of the leading figures in her career field and is also in Washington. And she knows nothing about him?

Imagine a young quarterback, maybe an NFL rookie, who knows nothing about Brett Favre. Or a young actor who’s unfamiliar with Robert DeNiro or Tom Cruise. It’s possible, but…

Is there another possibility? Well, Malkin herself has presented plenty of evidence, including just recently, that there are lots of people on the left who’ll say and do the most outrageous and insensitive things when the target is a conservative. Just ask Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele:

click picture for story

I think it’s quite possible that Messner knew Krauthammer was confined to a wheelchair, and that that’s what made the touchdown dance line funny to her. Go read the line in context and see how lame it sounds with George Will’s name; with Krauthammer’s name, it’s cruel humor, but at least humor. It may not have occurred to Messner that people (other than conservatives, who don’t count) would find her humor so offensive.

I’ll concede I could be wrong. But it can’t be any great comfort to Messner that the best defense anyone can come up with is that she isn’t incredibly insensitive, just incredibly ignorant.

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