The delicious exposes in the online Daily Caller have inaugurated an era that conservatives couldn't really imagine.
In the old days.
In the days of the old-time "objective" media.
Under the old rules conservative public figures knew that the rules were harsh. Anything they said could be taken out of context and published and used to humiliate them and drive them out of public service.
Liberals never had to watch their words because--well because liberal journalists just didn't snitch on other liberals.
But now we have the internet. Now everything that everyone does is recorded. It's on someone's flip camera. It's sitting on an email server. Or it's sitting on JournoList, the liberal journalist listserv.
Now the rules have changed. Now liberals can be embarrassed. One liberal may call for someone to play the race card on prominent conservatives in order to protect presidential candidate Barack Obama. Another one may call for the government to shut down Fox News.
Liberal Jonathan Chait at The New Republic is right to say that there's nothing to see here. Just a bunch of liberals trash-talking. Hey, everyone does it.
But Jonathan Chait doesn't get it. We conservatives are over the moon, as the Brits say, because we never thought we would live to see the day when liberals would be having to twist around and wriggle to get out of an embarrassing gaffe. Yet here we have a bunch of liberals doing what we always suspected they were doing.
Yes, of course, a bunch of trash-talking liberals doesn't add up to media bias or unprofessional journalism. But now liberals are hoist on their own petard.
It is liberals who have insisted that the "culture" of a work place could in itself be a case of racism or of harassment. They were shocked at the crude remarks that men made in the office when women were around. Something had to be done. Laws were needed. Regulations were necessary.
Well, we all know where this sort of thing leads. It leads to the remark taken out of context and a gross injustice, as seems to have happened to a black USDA official, Shirley Sherrod, for a remark taken out of context at an NAACP Convention. Reporter Stephen Spruiell:
A white farmer came to her for help, and because she perceived him to be like the others, she fobbed him off on a white lawyer — "his own kind." But the lawyer didn't help the farmer, and that is what led Sherrod to revise her previous biases against whites and to resolve to assist all economically distressed farmers, white or black, who came to her for help.
But Sherrod lost her job because Andrew Breitbart published an edited video that took the her racist treatment of a white farmer out of context and the bureaucrats and the White House ran for the hills and threw her under the bus.
Yeah, I know. Conservatives know all about remarks taken out of context. But that doesn't make it right for conservatives to do it to liberals. We are better than that.
Charles Taylor makes a central point in A Secular Age that all moral movements set up an us-and-them situation. We are the good guys and they are the bad guys. It ends up as a moral feud between the Hatfields and the McCoys. The key test of a religious or political tradition is its method for cutting the moral feud short.
We know how it is done. It is done through the social virtues of friendliness, forgiveness and kindness. Not from the bad guys suing for forgiveness and mercy, but from the good guys offering it freely.
As the evil liberal age comes crashing down about liberal ears and the old order changes, the most important job for conservatives is to end the poverty of the liberal culture, to replace the million rules and pervasive "zero-tolerance" for crimes against liberalism with a new culture of tolerance.
Tolerance means giving the benefit of the doubt to the evil other guys.