The Spectacle Blog

The Chilling Effect of #Shutuppery: Is It Already Illegal to Be a Republican?

By on 10.19.13 | 4:27PM

Today, Michigan Republicans canvassed door-to-door to recruit precinct leaders and get out the message about the remarkable economic recovery that Gov. Rick Snyder and Republican legislators have helped create in the state. As with everything nowadays, this effort is being promoted on social media, with the Twitter hashtags #ComebackState and #JoinMiTeam.

Knowing how active I am on Twitter, a friend called this morning and asked if I would help promote their campaign and, eager to help with a good cause, I enthusiastically jumped on board. Then, to give it an even stronger boost, I did a blog post which I first headlined, "The #JoinMiTeam Conspiracy."

A few minutes after that post when online, however, I got a phone call: It seems some state GOP officials were panicking at the word "conspiracy." Of course, this was just an inside joke about the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy (of which The American Spectator was a founding institution), but apparently the political climate and media enviornment in Michigan is such that a little joke on a blog could be turned into front-page news: "REPUBLICANS USE HASHTAG TO ENCOURAGE VOTING FOR G.O.P."

Like it's a scandal to be Republican, or something.

OK, so I changed the headline and it now reads, "The #JoinMiTeam Campaign." But the fearful defensive reaction of GOP leaders was, I think, highly instructive of how effective Democrat intimidation has become. When so many cultural institutions, from the news media to Hollywood to your local university campus, are utterly dominated by liberal Democrats, there inevitably arises a stigma toward conservative ideas and Republican politics. When people are hammered day after day by the relentless partisanship of what the late Andrew Breitbart called "Democrat-Media Complex," when movies and TV sitcoms habitually mock or demonize Republicans, when conservative college students are afraid of their liberal professors and radical campus activists, who can blame anyone for thinking there is something wrong with being a Republican? Cast under this shadow of stigma and suspicion, many Republicans seem to internalize the negative stereotype of themselves, to become defensive and apologetic -- "Please don't hate me" -- and generally to act as if they are guilty of doing something wrong.

Part of the problem, of course, is the shameless partisanship of the media, which has managed to portray the courageous and charismatic Texas Sen. Ted Cruz as a dastardly villain for opposing ObamaCare, (Law enforcement officials are reportedly investigating threats against Senator Cruz -- congratulations, NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN and MSNBC!) Another problem is the hateful thug-mob mentality of the Left.

Having been in the midst of an "Occupy" mob when they tried to storm an Americans for Prosperity event two years ago, I understand why some people may fear this kind of left-wing wrath. These intimidation tactics replicate themselves online, as when criminal hackers assaulted Bank of America, PayPal, Amazon and other targets of the digital anarchist "Anonymous" movement. We have increasingly seen Twitter used as a weapon against conservative activists, as when North Carolina Democrats tried to intimidate two Republican women by threatening to "out" their online identities.

These online intimidation tactics have been dubbed #Shutuppery, and examples include the "Stop Rush" campaign mounted last year against talk radio host Rush Limbaugh.

Perhaps the biggest effort at #Shutuppery today, however, is a federal lawsuit filed last week by convicted bomber-turned-progressive activist Brett Kimberlin. The suit names several high-profile defendants including Fox News contributors Michelle Malkin and Erick Erickson, talk radio host Glenn Beck and investigative journalist James O'Keefe as members of what Kimberlin claims is a corrupt racketeering conspiracy against him. Being a defendant in Kimberlin's suit myself, I'll say no more here, except to link my co-defendant Aaron Walker's amazed reaction to Kimberlin's claim that the publishing giant Simon & Schuster is part of a Mafia-style criminal organization. (Another of my co-defendantts has dubbed the suit Kimberlin v. the Universe, et al.)

Obviously, the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy has come a long way since its initial formation at Dozhier's Bait Shop in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Of course, it's not a "conspiracy" now and never was, because "conspiracy" implies criminality and -- no matter what the liberal media try to tell you -- there is nothing illegal about being a Republican.

My apologies, then, to Michigan Republicans for the jocular use of "conspiracy" to describe their canvassing effort, and let's hope no one gets indicted for tweeting the #ComebackState and #JoinMiTeam hashtags. A suggested slogan for the 2014 campaign: "Vote Republican -- It's Not Illegal Yet!"

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