John McIntyre, whom James Wolcott calls "the Dave Brubeck of the art and craft of copy editing," writes on language, editing, journalism, and other manifestations of human frailty. Comments welcome. Identifying his errors relieves him of the burden of omniscience. Write to jemcintyre@gmail.com, befriend at Facebook, or follow at Twitter: @johnemcintyre. Back 2009-2012 at the original site, http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/news/mcintyre/blog/ and now at www.baltimoresun.com/news/language-blog/.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Dark imaginings on the right

Curious attitudes keep surfacing on the right.

Last week Carl Paladino got himself into hot water by making remarks to an online publication. He said that he hopes President Obama “catches mad cow disease after being caught having relations with a Herford [sic]” and that he would like for Michelle Obama to “return to being a male and let loose in the outback of Zimbabwe where she lives comfortably in a cave with Maxie, the gorilla.”

Amid the ensuing uproar he released a craven statement apologizing to “the minority community,” saying that he meant to circulate the remarks among friends instead of for publication, and insisting “I certainly am not a racist.”

Two things are immediately apparent: (1) Mr. Paladino does not understand how bovine spongiform encephalopathy is transmitted, and (2) he is in fact a racist. His apology merely illustrates how deeply political correctness has penetrated society; even people who make blatantly racist remarks do not want to be called racists.

The sorts of things Mr. Paladino said keep cropping up in recesses of the internet and have for the past eight years of the Obama administration. “Obama is gay, Michelle is trans,” &c., &c. But Carl Paladino is not some sweaty troll in a basement surrounded by canned goods and a private arsenal as he awaits the black insurrection. Six years ago Carl Paladino was the Republican nominee for governor of New York.

I don’t see people on the left speculating on what Donald Trump does between the sheets—perhaps the mind revolts at the image. I see people on the left attacking Donald Trump for remarks that appear to support racist, sexist, and xenophobic attitudes. Those are attacks on political grounds, and they mirror the attacks from the right on President Obama’s political actions.

But in the darker regions of the right this peculiar fascination with race and sexual behavior is a kind of chronic delirium. I’m an English major and a journalist, not a psychologist, but it is hard to avoid the conclusion that remarks like Mr. Paladino’s are both politically and personally morbid.

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