This is a draft of a summation piece that I’m writing for Politics Daily.
Twitter, the emerging social networking service that has the journalism world all a-itself, slew a print dragon earlier this week. The viral power of Twitter networking bent Playboy magazine to its will.
On Monday, Playboy magazine published a story on its website called “10 Conservative Women We Hate to Love.” In the body of the story, however, the writer explained that he wanted to “hate (expletive” these women, and assigned each of them a “Hate (expletive) Rating.”
I found out about it via Twitter, when one of the women on the list, Amanda Carpenter, sent a tweet (a public message) about it. I contacted Amanda, and wrote a story about it. That story was quickly forwarded to thousands of Twitter users, along with urgings to boycott Playboy. The pressure mounted, and by late afternoon, Playboy had pulled the piece. You can still see screenshots of it here.
Another member of Playboy’s list, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, spoke out about it on The View yesterday:
This is either good news or bad news, depending on your point of view. In this case, I would strongly disagree with those who try to cast this as censorship, or chilling free speech. Obviously, Playboy made a business decision that the article’s inflammatory nature outweighed its quality as literature.
What sets this article apart is not the sexism. As some have pointed out, this is to be expected from Playboy. The problem here was the violence and degradation in the piece, and the fact that these women were targeted specifically for their political beliefs.
There aren’t many quotes I can clean up for publication, but of Mary Katherine Ham, the author writes “This Ham ain’t kosher.” After establishing that she’s a filthy pig, he says “You get this one pregnant, she stays pregnant.” Not quite “It puts the lotion in the basket,” but close.
Mary Katherine appeared on Fox News’ Redeye to talk about it, and handled it with grace and humor:
Still, for many, this was no laughing matter. Media Lizzy connects the dots between the violent sexual aggression and the personal degradation, and tears away the fig leaf that this list involves consent. While some might think she’s making a leap, it is hard to imagine Elisabeth Hasselbeck, for example, not feeling a real sense of violation upon reading this.
So, yes, this is a free country. A country where people are free to speak, and where others are free to voice their strong disagreement. This case is a great example of both, and a showcase for Twitter as a means to amplify the voices of the aggrieved.