Accuracy in Media

If you want Americans to have more sex, you should support even more redistribution of income, according to a Slate story Wednesday.

Conservatives already are starting to alter their political views on social programs to adjust to these new realities, the piece said.

“For decades, it’s been a mainstream political taboo to make a full-throated case for distribution,” wrote Slate’s Tyler Zimmer, who apparently forgot Bernie Sanders.

“Very suddenly, however, a few conservative commentators have begun to warm up to the idea – but not for the reasons you might suspect,” Zimmer wrote. Indeed, what’s pushed these conservatives to reconsider the merits of transferring goods and services from the ‘haves’ to the ‘have-nots’ is the rise of the violent ‘incel’ – that is, the involuntarily celibate man who scorns women for ‘denying’ him the sexual gratification he feels is his right.”

Ross Douthat, a right-leaning columnist for the New York Times, touched on this in a recent piece in which he “takes seriously the discontent expressed by murderous ‘incels’ (such as Elliot Rodger and, more recently, Toronto van-attack suspect Alek Minassian) and ruminates over the question of whether society ought to use redistributive measures to give these men their “due,” the better to pacify them and stave off more violence.”

Rodger, then 22, killed six people and injured 14 more before taking his own life in 2014 in Santa Barbara, Calif.

Douthat’s column takes on the notion that “If we are concerned about the just distribution of property and money, why do we assume that the desire for some sort of sexual redistribution is inherently ridiculous?”

Conservatives would say that no one has the right to money or sex from another person.

Douthat’s response was not to “warm up” to the idea but instead that we should brace ourselves for it.

“Whether sex workers and sex robots can actually deliver real fulfillment is another matter,” he wrote. “But that they will eventually be asked to do it, in service to a redistributive goal that for now still seems creepy or misogynist or radical, feels pretty much inevitable.”

The piece deems anything that smacks of redistribution as an unalloyed plus.

It rattles off several statistics – the richest 1 percent in the U.S. owns 40 percent of the wealth, the poorest 50 percent of the world collectively possess the same as the richest eight, and three men – Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett – have as much wealth as the bottom 50 percent of Americans.

“These statistics show that the powers that be would rather see billions of people forced to live without basic necessities (clean water, food, housing, medical care, education, and so on) than tinker with the obscene surplus wealth of a handful of elites.”

But another, more pernicious aspect has to do with the way the sources Douthat sites are treated.

“To make his case for the ‘inevitability’ of state intervention to satisfy disgruntled incels, Douthat lumps together technocratic, dehumanizing ramblings from the fringes of the libertarian right, on the one hand, and genuinely rigorous and probing leftist philosophical reflections on the matter from Amia Srinivasan and others.

“That equation, however, strikes me as more than a little bit unfair to Srinivasan, whose sensitivity to the threats of women’s autonomy posed by the toxic masculinity of incels is more or less absent in conservative discussions of these topics – including Douthat’s.”

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