On discussing Bristol Palin

There has been talk on the Internet as to whether it is fair for bloggers to discuss the situation with Bristol Palin, on the grounds that she isn’t running for political office (her mother is) and she’s entitled to some privacy. For example, this post by Jennie Rigg, which I answered in a comment but which I thought I would post an extended version of my answer to my blog here:

“jokes” about Bristol’s Bristols are not big, and they are not clever.

My cat is neither big nor clever. But that’s OK, because he isn’t meant to be; he’s meant to be a cat. Similarly jokes aren’t meant to be big and clever, they are meant to be funny. I haven’t said anything about Bristol that I wouldn’t mind equivalent things being said about me. For example my surname rhymes with a rude word and I would have no problem with people making jokes about it.

Regarding the appropriateness of humour I agree with frivolityrules.blogspot.com who says “This is England, where toilet humour, knob and tit gags have ruled for centuries. Prurience has a home, and its on the other side of the Atlantic.”

And, you know, if Bristol is pregnant and there’s going to be a shotgun wedding, that’s not ideal for anyone involved, but it’s Bristol’s business.

The implication here is that it’s no-one else’s business so we shouldn’t talk about it. I disagree with this proposition in the general case. Consider that just about everyone talks about other people and does so every day. Does that mean everyone is a bad person? I say they are not; in other words I do not think that talking about other makes one a bad person.

However, some talking about others is wrong, for example if you say things that are both derogatory about them and untrue.

(Saying things that are derogatory and true is on the whole a virtuous thing to do since it maskes it more expensive for someone to be a nasty person, and therefore reduces the amount of nastiness in the world.)

I haven’t said anything derogatory about Bristol Palin. Nor have I said anything untrue, to the best of my knowledge.

Regarding privacy, there are some things I wouldn’t do. For example I wouldn’t put someone’s home address on the Internet, except in truely extreme circumnstances, such as if it was a matter of life and death.

While on the one hand it’s fitting that Sarah Palin is having to confront the consequences of abstinence-only “education” up close and personal

I expect than on my blog I will have words in future about the Governor of Alaska’s political beliefs.

it’s really not cool to pick on a seventeen year old girl.

I don’t think I am doing so.

And I bet that shitloads of you would not be going after Palin’s family so hard if she were Samuel Palin

I think the record of my blog demonstrates that I am just as “hard” with male politicians I disagree with as female ones.

The points have all been made now

I’m not sure that’s true, for example I’m not aware that the mainstream media have discussed the possibility that Sarah Palin abused her power as Governor of Alaska to coerce Levi Johnston into marrying Bristol.

Not only that, if and when new facts emerge, one can draw new conclusions from those facts.

continuing to harp on about it begins to look like smug prurience

If I thought it was immoral for 17 or 18 year old unmarried people to have sex then it would be entirely reasonable to accuse me of prurience. But I don’t think that, and therefore it isn’t reasonable.

Question: What do you call someone who’s 17 who likes sex?
Answer: Normal.

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9 Responses to On discussing Bristol Palin

  1. angirach says:

    I don’t think it’s being mean or rude either and I feel like it is normal behavior. While she’s not running for VP her mother is and all things will out whether they liked it or not. Her mother should have been prepared for this, or maybe she thought she could use her clout as governor to hide things…except she’s only the governor of one state.

  2. beema says:

    For a humorous take on Palin’s pregnancy pickle and how the political machines will use it check out this video.

  3. Jennie says:

    I think this is one thing where you and I differ on what is funny.

  4. Yeah, this whole thing about “liberal bloggers’ spreading outrageous rumors” thing is asinine. There are ways to discuss it without really discussing Sarah Palin’s daughter at all, because it’s really not about her; it’s about the fact that the whole official story is fishy at best and absurd at worst. Forgetting the daughter entirely, if a woman knows she is 8 months pregnant and carrying a child with Down’s syndrome, is it really good judgment on her part not to seek medical attention when she starts leaking amniotic fluid but instead hop on a basically cross-country flight?

    Anyone who thinks Bristol is the topic of attention needs better reading comprehension skills.

  5. Alex says:

    I would say it has certain political significance because with a party and specifically a candidate who is so big on family values and is in favor of so many laws designed to control the personal relationships of citizens, the candidate’s true character can be revealed by how she reacts to this situation.

    Plus, the politicians themselves bring their families into this. I agree that the only pertinence the story has is in respect to the candidates themselves, and if we didn’t already know the minors’ names, it wouldn’t be proper to reveal them. But the first thing Palin and McCain did when her nomination was announced (I can’t remember if McCain or Palin herself said it at the speech, but check youtube, it’s there) was to say look, here’s my husband, here’s my lovely family, here’s my new son, and didn’t say anything about by the way, I’m quite proud that I’m about to become a grandmother. Isn’t it odd that this pregnancy of five months hasn’t been mentioned up until now? Were we going to find out about this after the baby was born? Were they going to hide their daughter away, possibly for the second time, and was Palin planning on announcing another pregnancy as an October surprise? People are suspicious because the whole thing is fishy, and even without the doubts around the first baby, the way they announced the next one is just weird. Do they not have much communication with their daughter? Did she wait four months to tell them, or like so many people these days, did a lack of sex ed leave doubts as to what it means when you stop menstruating? I’m not being crass here, I think this is a valid point of discussion. They’re so proud of the family and wanting everyone to meet them (Obama too, his daughters were onstage at the DNC) yet they’re keeping secrets and weird stuff is happening. It’s bad campaigning at best, and dishonest and manipulative at worst.

  6. Katsoulis says:

    I would suggest that the issue here — the one which should be addressed — is that Mrs. Palin believes in a policy of abstinence only sex education.

    Does she feel this is an effective method for preventing teen pregnancy?


    The “liberal bloggers” spin is simply a method of deflection.

  7. Heavenly says:

    Where was all this outrage when the Republican party was picking on Obama’s wife over her comment of finally being proud of being an American. She is not running for the presidency, but yet she was attacked over her words.

    How come it’s ok to attack or talk about one party’s family member compare to another party’s family?

  8. Lunch Admin says:

    Sorry Sara – when you make other people’s reproductive lives’ a campaign platform, your knocked-up daughter is 100% fair game.

    Get used to it.

  9. Jimboi says:

    I agree 110%. If you a running for office or are choosen to be a running mate, you should expect the public to get into your life. The general public needs to know who you are. It just so happens that your immediate family represents who you are and your values. I think Palin actually represents downtown rather than uptown values.

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