Carlin Alert

[Julian Sanchez]

Loath as I am to even indirectly defend the Moose Queen, Andrew Sullivan's latest reason for outrage at Alaska's half-term governor strikes me as rather odd:

So we now have independent confirmation that Palin, after making a huge song and dance about the use of the word "retarded" by Rahm Emanuel to describe - metaphorically - some Democrats, referred to her own Down Syndrome son - literally - as "retarded" in front of him at home. And yet no one in the MSM challenged her on this point when she launched into her Emanuel nonsense, as if her word is somehow automatically more reliable than Levi's - because, er, she's powerful. No one, in fact, has even asked her to rebut Levi's and Mercede's assertion. And no one has yet found an obvious lie in anything Levi has said, while her lies spew out like Deepwater Horizon.

We all remember our George Carlin, right?  It's context and intention that make words offensive, not some magic property of the words themselves.  Which is why "Andrew Sullivan is gay" is a perfectly benign factual statement, while "Dude, you like that band? They're so gay!" is the sort of idiocy we try to disabuse teenagers of unless they're actually talking about Pansy Division.


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Megan McArdle is a columnist at Bloomberg View and a former senior editor at The Atlantic. Her new book is The Up Side of Down.

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