There were five of them. Five children, between the ages of nine and eleven. The court document uses bland phrasing that nonetheless sickens you as you read it. “(REDACTED) was anally penetrated by the Defendant on March 27, 2002, as was his twin.” To prevent the children from telling on him, to increase his power over children he had repeatedly sodomized, “the Defendant” would burn them. The Defendant’s own mother knew the Defendant was broken in some way; she turfed him out as soon as he turned eighteen. The Defendant used the sympathy of others in the community to get access to their children. Five of them, between the ages of nine and eleven. He went to prison for a while. He was released. He met a woman and impregnated her. Something happened — nobody appears to know — and he fled the state away from the woman and child, jumping bail for existing domestic abuse and battery charges on the way out.
The Defendant had an associate. This associate was designated a repeat domestic abuser by his local court. Several times he beat his female partner to the point that the police got involved. He strangled her. He suffocated her. He used weapons against her as well as his fists. At one point, this associate was convicted of false imprisonment, which doesn’t make any sense to the average reader in but in court-speak means, “the victim tried to leave but he kept her in the house so he could keep beating her”. He was given mild conditions of probation — like stay away from that woman — but he couldn’t follow those conditions, so he was locked up several times as a consequence.
I don’t think anyone deserves to be described or defined in terms of the worst thing they ever did. Nor do I think that people are unable to change for the better. That being said, both of these people had long-demonstrated histories of sexual violence towards children and/or women. They weren’t rookies. They weren’t making tragic, but singular, mistakes. They had established patterns of behavior. Calling them “abusers” or “sex criminals” would be like calling your humble author “ugly” — unkind, but adequately supported by the evidence. The media of this country repeatedly referred to Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh as a “rapist” and “predator” based on much less evidence and no admission of guilt. So what could these two people, the man who raped nine-year-olds and the man who trapped a woman in a house so he could suffocate her, do to be described, glowingly, as a father, and a skater?
You already know, of course. It’s The Hydoxychroloquine Effect.
Matt Taibbi coined the phrase this week in a fervent argument against Donald Trump:
American politics has become an interminable clash of off-putting pathologies. Call it the hydroxychloroquine effect. Trump one day in a press conference mutters that a drug has “tremendous promise” as a treatment of coronavirus. Within ten seconds a consensus forms that hydroxycholoroquine is snake oil, and the New York Times is running stories denouncing Trump’s “brazen willingness to distort and outright defy expert opinion and scientific evidence when it does not suit his agenda.”
Then you read the story and find out doctors have been prescribing the drug, that “early reports from doctors in China and France have said that [it] seemed to help patients,” and moreover that the actual quote about it being a “game changer” from Trump included the lines, “Maybe not” and “What do I know? I’m not a doctor.” In response to another Trump quote on the subject, “What do you have to lose?” journalists piled on again, quoting the president of the American Medical Association to remind audiences “you could lose your life” — as if Trump had recommended that people run outside and mainline the stuff…
All of which is insane, but so is rooting for a drug to not work in the middle of a historic pandemic, the clear subtext of nearly every news story on this topic dating back to March. Rule #1 of the Trump era is that everything Trump touches quickly becomes as infamous as he is, maybe not the biggest deal when talking about an obscure anti-malarial drug, but problematic when the subject is America itself.
We’re still in the middle of this Trope Namer. Recently, the Henry Ford health system released a study that was very positive about hydroxychloroquine. That didn’t stop Forbes from describing the medication this week as “A Dubious Coronavirus Treatment Endorsed By Trump”. One gets the feeling that if Donald Trump spoke positively about drinking water, half of the media would run a headline like
Trump’s Reckless Endorsement of Dihydrogen Monoxide, A Substance That Kills Thousands A Year, Raises Concern — Two Children Die At A Beach After Ingesting It
This sort of guilt-or-exoneration-by-association has a long history in politics. When I was a child I still regularly heard adults refer to Tippecanoe and Tyler too!, a song from 1840 meant to sway an election in favor of William Henry Harrison. President Harrison had defeated Tecumseh in 1811 at Tippecanoe, a battle which did quite a bit to establish European-American hegemony in the country. If you liked the victory at Tippecanoe, you’d obviously like the fellow who made it happen! As it happened, President Harrison did not live long enough to enjoy his inevitable meme-assisted triumph, dying on his thirty-first day in office. But you get the point.
I don’t think any sane person would attempt to suggest that the American media does not have a strong leftward tendency, although my friends in the Adbusters crowd would no doubt respond that the media has a corporate-leftward tendency rather than a genuine affinity for socialism. It’s certainly true that the media is eerily silent on matters like “how the iPhone is made” or “how Goldman and Blackrock print money using federal backing”, but in general it leans left to a truly staggering degree. JFK started the Vietnam War, LBJ turned it into a nightmare, and Richard Nixon ended it — but you’d be hard-pressed to infer that from the way they were treated by the media at the time. George W. Bush, a man lionized in retrospect for painting portraits of immigrants, was “Bushitler” in his day. Mitt Romney, a feckless corporate raider fully and completely devoted to the modern Gospel of social-liberalism-combined-with-economic-feudalism, was given the Hitler treatment and then some when he ran against Obama. The media has been left-leaning for a long time, possibly as long as a century.
The election of President Trump unleashed something more than that. For the first time in American history, the media gave up even the pretense of impartiality. The daily Presidential press briefing became a sort of theatre-in-the-round where various journalists attempted to buff their brands by louder and ruder hectoring of the press secretary. R&B singer John Legend was praised for calling Sarah Huckabee Sanders fat. A series of bizarre narratives, most of them concerning Russia, were given front-and-center treatment by the press every single day — for years on end.
Inevitably, this led to The Hydroxychloroquine Effect, in which all things are now judged by how they relate to Donald Trump. It seems certain now that an unknown, but not zero, number of people have died because Trump’s muttering aside about hydroxychroloquine made left-leaning medical authorities undermine its validity as a treatment. New York’s mayor actually asked people to eat in Chinatown in response to Trump’s travel restrictions back in February, almost certainly accelerating the spread of COVID-19. As Taibbi points out, the Republican Party’s platform is now “whatever Donald wants” and the Democratic Party’s platform is now “whatever Donald doesn’t want”.
In the grip of That Effect, the media has no trouble obscuring, conveniently forgetting, or deliberately choosing not to learn anything that might possibly give aid or comfort to Donald Trump or his supporters. Which leads us to Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber, who were promoted from “child rapist” and “serial abuser” to “father” (of a two-year-old daughter he abandoned in another state while fleeing charges for assaulting that child’s mother) and “skateboarder” (who apparently liked to wrap up a day of skating by beating some women). Why? Because they were shot in the Kenosha protests by a kid with an AR-15. (The kid, by the way, has been promoted to “white supremacist” although he never expressed an opinion on the subject and, indeed, didn’t shoot any black people.) They died for The Cause and therefore they received a martyr’s courtesy. Given that the 4chan crowd had Rosenbaum’s history in hand about an hour after the shooting, the media must have had access to the same information and more. They knew he raped children. Instead, we got this:
A friend and local business owner described the three activists as peaceful demonstrators who reportedly rallied against police brutality and systemic racism while condemning the use of violence during protests.
“They came out here every time with us. Sweet. Loving. They were the sweetest hearts, souls. I called Anthony my hippie guy,” Porche Bennett told the Kenosha News. “They were sweet guys. We knew all three of them, but (Huber) was the one who would always come up to me. Always would be right by me.”
A GoFundMe campaign set up to help Huber’s family pay for funeral expenses described him as a “witty and awesome skateboarder.”
A GoFundMe campaign set up for Rittenhouse, naturally, was removed. And why not? He’d removed the “sweetest hearts, souls” from this mortal coil. A father and a skateboarder. To use the infamous phrase from the “Charlottesville hoax”, described in the video that heads this article, they were “fine people”.
It should be noted that the Republicans have their “NeverTrumpers”, so-called tradcons whose disgust for Trump is almost as strong as their love of cheap labor and getting paid to be the Washington Generals of politics, but the Democrats don’t appear to have anyone who can be bothered to stand up against The Hydroxychloroquine Effect. Except, that is, poor Matt Taibbi. He despises Trump, but he is unwilling to burn the village to save it. How silly of him. Can we end this post with a parody take on “The Rainbow Connection”, just to emphasize that silliness? Yes, we can.
Why are there so many
Stories ’bout Hitler
The guy on the other side
Trump has his visions
They’re only illusions
Hydroxy must be a lie
So we’ve been told and some chose to
But I know they’re wrong wait and see
Someday we’ll find it
The Hydro Effect-ion
The fathers, the skaters and Taibbi