November 15, 2002
More From the Right-Wing Slime Machine

Kevin Drum watches the right-wing slime machine in action:


Ever wonder how the right manages to grab hold of so many issues and mangle them beyond recognition, continually tarring liberals as extremists and radicals and somehow making it stick? I got involved in a nano-version of one of these spats, and it, instructive. You might find it instructive too, so here's a blow-by-blow description of how it all happened. It started on Tuesday the 12th:

Tuesday morning: While scanning NRO I read Kathryn Lopez's piece about Martha Burk and her crusade to get women admitted to the Augusta National golf club. Lopez claims that Burk is a "radical feminist" who shouldn't be listened to, and demonstrates this by quoting Burk as recommending "mandatory contraception beginning at puberty" for men, to be controlled by contraceptive implants administered by appropriate "fertility authorities."

Tuesday evening: I read a post in Charles Murtaugh's blog about Burk. He is outraged by Burk's suggestion, but adds that "unless I'm terribly mistaken, these 'implants' are a figment of Burk's imagination." Seeing this for a second time sounds alarm bells in my head, so I go off to the Web to see if I can find Burk's original article.

Later Tuesday evening: I find Burk's article here. It turns out that it's about abortion (why do men always think it's OK for them to control women's bodies?) and starts out with "A modest proposal: control menís fertility." This makes it clear that Burk is writing broad satire. In other words, Burk is clearly saying that she doesn't believe in this kind of thing, and Lopez knew it. But that didn't stop her: in her eagerness to tar Burk as an insane radical she decided to try and get away with presenting Burk's piece as straight news. I blog about it here, noting that Lopez apparently added a sentence to her article between morning and evening, and write Charles an email about it.

Wednesday morning: Charles emails back: "Aargh. I'm humiliated. I will post an update." And he does.

Later Wednesday morning: I write an email to Kathryn Lopez telling her I'm disappointed with the way she twisted Burk's words in her article. I also write an email to TAPPED and to Martha Burk about the whole thing. Lopez emails back and a few minutes later publishes this explanation on NRO's blog, The Corner, confirming that she knew perfectly well it was satire and then making the desperate claim that Burk had no right to write this kind of thing: "Burk, a feminist writing that in Ms., was not the same as the likes of Rod or Jonah writing the same thing on NRO."

In the meantime, Glenn Reynolds gets in the act by linking to a post by Porphyrogenitus making basically the same point as Lopez. Glenn writes a short post in which he notes that Burk "has fertility-control proposals of her own. Call it A Handmaid's Tale in reverse." I email Glenn to clue him in that Burk's piece was meant as a joke.

Wednesday afternoon: TAPPED writes a lengthy post about the affair. Their conclusion: "Is Lopez a pitiful hack, or what?"

Later Wednesday afternoon: Glenn posts an update to his original post. He doesn't say what prompted it, but he links to Lopez' "explanation" and to the original Burk article and comments: "Sounds pretty creepy to me. In the Corner post linked above, Kathryn Jean Lopez says that this is exaggeration for effect. Perhaps. But I can only imagine the response in, say, Ms. if some conservative male engaged in similar exaggeration where women's reproductive rights were concerned."

Yet later Wednesday afternoon: Glenn posts another update, excerpting some of Burk's comments on CNN Tuesday night. He doesn't bother including her explanation that the article was satire ("Do you guys know what a spoof is? S-P-O-O-F -- spoof. Spoof -- come on, come on."), making only the skeptical remark, "However, if you scroll down [in the transcript], you do find her saying that it's a 'spoof.' No doubt, though with the likes of Burk it's hard to be sure sometimes."

Thursday morning: TAPPED takes Glenn and Porphyrogenitus to task for their apparent belief that it's OK to lie about what Burk said because ó and here we cross over into some bizarre parallel universe ó conservatives are never allowed to write satire like Burk's. The Corner, which approves of Glenn's point, fights back by saying petulantly that it's "a lot easier to call people hacks from the comfort and safety of anonymity."

And that's where it stands. The result, of course is that Lopez, Reynolds, and Porphyrogenitus are so busy slinging mud that none of them need to bother addressing the merits of Burk's case.

And the merits are simple: of course Augusta National should stop excluding women. Not because they have any legal obligation to do so (they don't), but because it's the right thing to do.

Martha Burk is waging a war of ideas and words, not a legal battle, and her idea is simple: Augusta National is not the Girl Scouts. It's a big, rich, influential social club that hosts a nationally televised golf tournament, and there's no reason that a golf club should discriminate based on gender, even if the law allows them to.

So forget the Junior League and the YWCA. Forget Augusta National's legal right to exclude women. Forget Martha Burk's scare-inducing "radical feminist agenda." The real issue is simple: Why? Why do they feel that admitting women would ruin their club?

But that's a hard question to answer without sounding like a neanderthal...

Posted by DeLong at November 15, 2002 12:43 PM | Trackback

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The only rationale I can see the members of the Augusta Club wanting to exclude women is:

Ensuring that "members" can bring escorts and prostitutes to the club, without suffering the disdain of their wives and the likely social stigmatization which would follow.

Posted by: Alex Gault on November 15, 2002 03:02 PM

It is, quite frankly, time to take the Right Wing Slime Machine very, very seriously. I find it remarkable that so many thoughtful, honorable conservatives stand idly by without challenging the increasing willingness to smear, slander, and outright lie in certain preccincts of the Right. Much of this behavior verges on the totalitarian, and has been allowed to fester and grow undisturbed far too long. Both Democrats (from a political perspective) and people of good will (from the perspective of a honorable polity) need to call these liars to account every single time they slime.

Posted by: howard on November 15, 2002 03:34 PM

>>But that's a hard question to answer without sounding like a neanderthal...<<

BRILLIANT. That is precisely the genius of Republican rhetorics (and those of other deviant conservatives): Bothering to answer the obvious makes one sound as primitive as the fool... Hence wrong ideas drive out right ideas. In other words, lies become truths if you repeat them enough times.

Two basic examples: What do you want to answer back to 'Saddam is _the_ Evil One'??? Mr. President, I think you are a paranoid recovering alchoholic? What do you want to answer back to 'Ariel Sharon is a man of Peace'??? Mr. President, maybe you should first disavow your grand-father for collaborating with the Nazis?

Let me know get back to this tasty bone...

Posted by: Jean-Philippe Stijns on November 15, 2002 05:44 PM

OOPS: By what twist of my mind 'now' became 'know' is an other mistery to me... ;-)

Posted by: Jean-Philippe Stijns on November 15, 2002 05:47 PM

Glenn Reynolds responds to his critics:

"PC DOUBLE STANDARDS: Reader Mark Shawhan writes:

I wanted to take issue with your recent post on what you see as a double standard for left and right (the one made on 11/15). Essentially, I'm wondering where the evidence is for your agreement with James Lileks that "Yes, every opinion is valid - but as a famous pig once remarked, some are more valid than others." So far, your discussion of the matter has cited Mr. Lileks' post on the subject, the fracas at UT over the hate speech code there, and Martha Burk's "modest proposal," and I fail to see how any of these items support your claim of a double standard.

Here's how I see it: My point in pointing to Burks was that a non-lefty white male who wrote something similar, but aimed at women, wouldn't be allowed the defense of "spoof." Lilek's point was that a non-lefty white male who painted something similar, but aimed at black people, wouldn't ge allowed the defense of subjectivity. And the Kappa Sigma blackface incident seems to me to be proof of both.

Separately, Kevin Drum of the usually excellent CalPundit blog emails that he's surprised I haven't censured Kathryn Jean Lopez for "deliberately falsifying" Burk's piece. I didn't take from Lopez's posts that she had done that. Looking at Drum's blog, I find a post that seems to call me a liar. I don't see why. (And I don't think I ever got the email he says he sent, though I get so many I wouldn't swear to that). But in my post on the subject, I added a link to the text of what Burk wrote, and to a CNN transcript saying it was a spoof, as soon as I got them. You can read the post here, and see if you think Drum's characterization is justified.

But, as I thought was abundantly clear, my point was that if, say, Hootie Johnson wrote a piece calling for all women to be equipped with Norplant, to be removed only with the consent of their "designated partners" nobody would be bending over backwards to cut him slack because it was a spoof. How hard is this point to understand?

Too hard for some people, apparently. As I say below, a lot of people on the left are so thoroughly blind to the double standard that they can't believe people who point it out aren't somehow, pulling a fast one. All I can say is, get real, guys. You're only fooling yourselves. And the hysterical response that appears every time someone points out the hypocrisy of the left on these matters seems to suggest that you're having trouble even with that.

posted at 07:51 PM by Glenn Reynolds Permalink"

Posted by: David Thomson on November 15, 2002 05:52 PM

"I find it remarkable that so many thoughtful, honorable conservatives stand idly by without challenging the increasing willingness to smear, slander, and outright lie in certain preccincts of the Right."

Are you joking? This is defining behavior for so-called "conservatives" in the US now.


Posted by: Stephen J Fromm on November 15, 2002 05:56 PM

My problem with Glenn's response is that it assumes that our national dialogue takes place on a clean slate.

On the one hand, we get the real example of a woman, writing in a leading feminist magazine, suggesting that men should be forced to assume reproductive responsibility, opening with the reference to Swift. Given the tremendous problems this society has with fathers abandoning responsiblity for their children, and given the widespread assumption that birth control is a woman's problem only, she has a point.

On the other hand, we have a pure hypothetical about a man who represents a profoundly sexist institution which gets glowing national press coverage every year talking about preventing women from conceiving. At this point, we should note that a number of judges around the country have required, in various custody contexts, that the woman be implanted with Norplant. Also, anyone not beholden to the father's rights movement will tell you that for the most part women get far less well treated in family court and divorce court than men.

Now, in the world according to Glenn, the left is guilty of double standards because the Ms. article gets a pass but Hootie's hypothetical wouldn't. The evidence, curiously, that this would actually happen is a frat prank. But even assuming that the left would rise up in outrage at Hootie's comment, is it really so hard to see that the comments are different?

I understand Glenn's desire to live in a world where past context plays no role in the determination of merit, so that the Ms. article and Hootie's Norplant comment are equally funny, or not funny. But we don't live in that world. Past context plays a huge part in how we evaluate the world around us.

Political correctness, before it became dogma then an insult, was nothing more than the idea that one should understand the context in which an issue arose. (Personal anecdote: I got to know very slightly Sheila Kuhl, a very liberal California state legislator and an open lesbian, before she was elected to political office. She was on her way to a lesbian rodeo when she got wind that the animal rights movement was going to protest. She told me, laughing, "Damn, it's getting so hard to stay PC these days.")

It is "PC" to say that the Ms. article is a funny spoof and Glenn's Hootie hypothetical is not, because the first is, in fact, a spoof of modern society but the second, tragically, is not.

To attack the PC point of view is to live in a fantasy world where true equality of opportunity exists and the distribution of power and wealth in society is a result of social darwinism. The so-called hypocrisy of the left is far outweighed by the hypocrisy of the right which believes that we live in that fantasy world. You're the one who needs to "get real" Glenn, not us.

Posted by: FDL on November 15, 2002 07:13 PM

The "I knew it was satire, just neglected to mention it, and oh, I was really upset that conservatives can't do that kind of satire but I didn't mention it" backpedal is one for the ages. That said, expanding on everyone else's discussion of the nature of satire:

The point of "modest proposal"-style satire is to point out something that's bad (street urchins, unwanted children) by suggesting an outrageously shocking solution (eating babies, mandatory male contraception) to the problem that no one on earth supports.

The problem Martha Burk is illuminating is unwanted children. The problem illuminated by a "comparable satire than conservatives can't get away with" is.....wait a minute, what the hell does blackface illuminate?

Here's the Ranting Screeds hypo:

'Now, the obvious response to this is to say "lets reverse that, and see how far a modest proposal to control women's fertility would get. After all, it is female fertility, not male fertility, that determines the number of pregnancies."'

So here the solution to unwanted pregnancies (caused almost entirely by male abandonment) is to punish the woman. Note this *fails* one of the criteria for Swiftian satire, that *everyone* consider the proposed solution outrageous; some conservatives actually do support regulation of female sexuality. No, no feminists actually favor mandatory male contraception, I don't care what you say.

Talk about missing the point in every possible way.

Of course, conservatives could defend Augusta on the grounds of freedom of association, and have a reasonable case on legal grounds for something that's unpopular, like liberals do with mandatory reading of the pledge of allegiance; hell, I'd probably support them. But noooooo, god forbid they have a rational argument; it's all character assassination and misdirection in modern conservatism.

Posted by: Jason McCullough on November 15, 2002 09:18 PM

I don't think that we do women any favors by saying that men's clubs have to be open, while women's organizations are so special, because of our special, special frailness and need to create "safe space" where we won't be bothered by those brutal men. Nor by publicizing what is, on the historic scale of things, a trivial wrong done to a handful of the kind of supperrich women who could afford, or be asked to join, the Augusta club. It makes the women's movement sound like a bunch of petulant wealthy women determined to make sure that they get theirs, with a sop to the conscience in the form of policing the movement to make sure no one strays out of its basically socialist precincts.

I don't like double standards. And I don't think that you advance the cause of my equality by advocating them, thank you very much. If the girl scouts have a right to exist, so do the boy scouts, and the junior league, and yes, the Augusta National. If you wouldn't tolerate a conservative male advocating the forced sterilization of women who don't take responsibility for their reproduction. . . say, women who have children when they already have no means of support for the children they already have, or women who have chosen to abuse or neglect their kids. . . then you shouldn't tolerate it in Burk, whether or not it was a spoof. Look into your own heart -- would you tolerate that from Gingrich? My Aunt Fanny, you would.

It's not 1960. We've been admitted, largely if not completely, to equality. We can't hide behind "But we're not the same as men" and continue to say that even though we're not, we should be treated as if we were, except when it will benefit us to be treated as if we weren't. That's adolescent talk. The feminist movement should have grown beyond it by now.

Posted by: Jane Galt on November 16, 2002 05:35 AM

If someone wrote a piece calling for all women to be equipped with Norplant, what exactly would it be a spoof of? I'm rather confused on this point.

And, for the record, plenty of people have quite seriously called on women receiving welfare. Last I checked they weren't shunned by our PC society or condemned by Instapundit.

Posted by: Atrios on November 16, 2002 06:00 AM

Burk's article is short enough to post in full:
"Letís stop the abortion debate right now. Both sides can agree that eliminating the need for abortion would solve the problem. If all babies were planned, wanted and could be cared for, women wouldnít seek abortions. A modest proposal: control menís fertility. The facs of menís fertility are that men can cause hundreds (even thousands in the case of certain athletes who shall remain nameless) more unwanted pregnancies than can women. In the most extreme case, consider a woman who becomes pregnant and gives birth every year of her fertile life. It is theoretically possible for her to have 35 children in her lifetime. In the same period, if a man had unprotected sexual intercourse once a week he could theoretically father 1.820 children. Add his increased years of fertility, and his potential for physical domination over women, and we can readily see that the problem of unwanted pregnancy is largely one of uncontrolled sperm.

So how do we control menís fertility? Mandatory contraception beginning at puberty, with the rule relaxed only for procreation under the right circumstances (he can afford it and has a willing partner) and for the right reasons (determined by a panel of experts, and with the persmission of his designated female partner). This could be easily accomplished with a masculine version of the contraceptive implants some judges are now trying to force on some women by court order.

Controlling menís fertility would not be a hard restriction to enforce. The fertility authorities could use a combination of punishments for men who failed to get the implants and for doctors who removed them without proper authorization. The men could be required to adopt one orphan per infraction and rear her or him until adulthood. The doctors, could lose their licences or, in extreme cases, go to prison.

The current welfare law allows states to eliminate support for many women with children and deny additional assistance to single mothers who have more than one child while on welfare. Why not punish men caught fathering more than one child with a mother whoís already on welfare? With DNA fingerprinting, the method could be foolproof, especially if doctors reported any man who refused the implants or sought medical attention after unsuccessfully attempting to remove them himself. Understand, menís right to control their own bodies and life choices would not be infringed. Men could continue to have sexual intercourse and to father children. They would merely be required to accept a few minuscule and ever-so-reasonable restrictions."

Now--This is an article about restrictions on abortion. See the first sentence, and note that Burk's "proposal" about making men adopt orphans is meant to be akin to forcing women to carry their pregnancies to term. (Yes, you can point out some differences that might be relevant, but that's clearly the analogy.)

It's also a spoof. That means Burk isn't advocating the proposals within. Especially not the ones about interfering with men's fertility, which are clearly directed at the ACTUAL ATTEMPTS to impose Norplant on women, which Burk mentions.

Since Burk isn't advocating these things, it doesn't show any double standard that we wouldn't like it if someone else did advocate them.

It's like responding to someone who says "A man and a monkey walk into a bar" by saying "Liar! They never did!"

Posted by: Matt Weiner on November 16, 2002 06:14 AM

Context is everything. I am reminded of Peter Singer when I read Burk's short piece. Singer claims that morally he cannot see any reason why humans should not have sex with animals. Unfortunately, Singer is dead serious and not engaging in tongue in cheek rhetoric. I had to read Burk's piece twice and I'm still not sure if she is joking. Thus, I would have to know more about Burk to reach a valid conclusion. A few people, I might add, thought that Adolph Hitler was merely being hyperbolic when advocating the destruction of the Jews in Mein Kampf .

The Protocols of Zion, for instance, are a real hoot. They are laughably silly and one might be quick to believe the author was simply having some fun. Have you ever read some of the goofy conspiracy theories concerning the Kennedy assassination? Alas,it is sometimes difficult to distinguish between satire and pure evil.

Posted by: David Thomson on November 16, 2002 07:03 AM

Jason McCullough,

Though I don't consider myself a conservative, many people would call me one, and I "defend Augusta on the grounds of freedom of association, and have a reasonable case on legal grounds for something that's unpopular, like liberals do with mandatory reading of the pledge of allegiance." (but then I don't believe in a mandatory Pledge, either.)

My daughter attends Smith College. I also defend their right to exclude the half of the human race with a Y chromosome. Though I don't understand how they get away with it. Doesn't Title IX of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibit educational institutions from discriminating on the basis of sex?

Smith thinks it would ruin their club, and that's good enough for me.

Posted by: Roger Sweeny on November 16, 2002 08:08 AM

A note on literary history--"The Protocols themselves are plagiarized from and inspired by earlier works that allege conspiracies, especially a satiric French work Dialogue in Hell between Machiavelli and Montesquieu by Maurice Joly published in 1865"--as I understand from the tail end of an Umberto Eco lecture I once caught, this actually was a spoof, not anti-Semitic.

This isn't relevant to the argument, I'm just pointing it out because it's interesting.

Is Burk spoofing? Count the parallels to the abortion debate. There's the adopting the orphan thing; there's the line about men seeking medical attention after unsuccessfully attempting to remove the implants (cf. back-alley and home abortions); there's the line about men's right to control their own bodies and life choices; there's the line about punishing doctors. All these are things that readers of Ms. Magazine could be expected to pick up on. And of course, the phrase "modest proposal" is a dead giveaway.

It may not be the best satire, but satire it certainly is.

Posted by: on November 16, 2002 08:15 AM

Sorry, that last one was me.

Posted by: Matt Weiner on November 16, 2002 08:17 AM

It would actually make an interesting study: is it the extreme right or the extreme left that is more likely to drag Hitler into completely unrelated debates??

Then again, perhaps we WOULD read German history differently if Goebbels kept insisting that what Germany REALLY wanted to do was to invade Brobdingnag.

Posted by: on November 16, 2002 08:29 AM

If 300 men wish to have a men-only golf club, why the hell does anyone care? Lack of a Augusta membership doesn't seem to have greatly hampered the prospects of Bill Gates (who I think is rumoured to have desired entrance for some time), Oprah Winfrey, or Carly Fiorina (sp?). Sure, there are women who have been denied professional opportunities that similarly accomplished men have been offered, but to believe that it would be significant if the 301st member were to be a women is really quite silly. Does one actually believe that black executives across the land had their prospects improved in any significant fashion because Augusta extended memberships to a handful of blacks over the past 10 years? However, I do applaud Burk's efforts, since she has enabled me to watch The Masters without ANY commercial interruptions, as opposed to the 4 minutes/hour the 300 fogeys used to sell. Hopefully, they will never cave in, and I won't have to put up with commercials during one of the three golf tournaments I occasionally watch ever again.
As to the right's tendency to slime versus the left's, this is another very silly dispute. Go ahead, do a study, with empirical standards as to what constitutes a "sliming" (see how stupid this is?), and get back to me as to which side is worse. Perhaps we could employ regression analysis. Partisans, and anybody paying attention to this sort of thing is a partisan, inevitably believe that those they oppose behave more vilely than those they are in agreement with. Golly gee, that's a shocker.....

Posted by: Will Allen on November 16, 2002 09:33 AM

Well, another possible explanation is that K Lopez at NRO misread the Burk piece the first time through (she expected a shrill feminist, and was not inclined to be disappointed). She writes her article - oops. Folks like Glenn read the K-Lo, but not the Burk original - hey, not everyone fact checks every damn thing.

So now, K-Lo is defending a weak hand, and Glenn is in an unenviable, but not untenable position. Right wing slime machine? Maybe it was just bad luck. The critics, such as CalPundit, seem a bit excessive here:

[Glenn] doesn't bother including her explanation that the article was satire ("Do you guys know what a spoof is? S-P-O-O-F -- spoof. Spoof -- come on, come on."), making only the skeptical remark, "However, if you scroll down [in the transcript], you do find her saying that it's a 'spoof.' No doubt, though with the likes of Burk it's hard to be sure sometimes."

This is a lie?

I give a big ditto to Woody Allen of the preceding post. In defending Augusta National, Roger Sweeney did not sound like a neandertahl to me, nor did Jane Galt.

And I may jost go from comment section to comment section admiring Matt Weiner's composure and logic.

Posted by: Tom Maguire on November 16, 2002 10:46 AM

"And of course, the phrase "modest proposal" is a dead giveaway.

It may not be the best satire, but satire it certainly is."

Not so fast there. It is deemed satirical only because you know enough about the author. If someone else wrote it, however, you might suspect that it's satirical, but wouldn't be completely sure. If one initially read Peter Singer's writings on sex between species they might conclude that he's only joking.

I will let you read this piece on Singer's peculiar beliefs. You can always use Google if you desire to learn more about this matter:$msgnum=698

Posted by: David Thomson on November 16, 2002 10:52 AM

That hurts.....

Posted by: Will Allen on November 16, 2002 10:59 AM

Tom--Stop, I'm blushing.

I agree that neither Jane (in her first paragraph) nor Roger S. sounds like a neanderthal in making the "Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander" argument. (Or is it "Sauce for the gander is sauce for the goose"?)

That's what makes it so disappointing that KJ Lopez and Glenn Reynolds chose an inaccurate ad hominem attack on Burk, rather than attempting to address the merits of the case. (Admittedly, they may have also made substantive arguments--I haven't looked at their whole sites--but the smear on Burk is disappointing anyway.)

Also, I don't think "No doubt, though with the likes of Burk it's hard to be sure sometimes" gets Glenn off the hook. It's peculiarly graceless. To me it reads as though Glenn thinks Burk is trying to weasel out of what she wrote, when really, I don't think it is hard to be sure if you read the article. It would've been more appropriate to say, "Oops, it was a spoof." Charles Murtaugh did this (though grace may not require quite as many obscenities as he directed at himself).

Analogy: James Lileks, after the most recent German election, wrote something like "Gerhard Schroeder won the German election. Of course, Hitler did the same thing."

My first instinct was to think, "My god, that guy is seven kinds of jerk." Then someone said (I think in Atrios's comments) that Lileks was spoofing Herta Dauebler-Gmelin's alleged comparison of Bush to Hitler. The spoof wasn't obvious--I don't think Lileks had the same wording as H D-G--but it was close enough that I don't go around saying 'Lileks compared Schroeder to Hitler." If I had, I'd say, "Sorry, looks like Lileks was just making fun of H D-G."

(By the way, while we're on the subject of double standards, I seem to remember a lot of criticism of H D-G. I've found one (1) righty blogger who condemned Charles Grassley's comments comparing tax cut opponents to Hitler. So InstaPundit, on the subject of double standards, is hereby referred to Rubber v. Glue, as decided by the Ninth Circuit [snarky insult via Ted Barlow].)

Posted by: Matt Weiner on November 16, 2002 01:29 PM

Actually, I didn't know anything about Burk before I saw CalPundit's post. Really, I think it's a spoof because Burk says "modest proposal," and the fact that she contrives her examples to mirror control of women's reproductive choice (Norplant and back-alley abortions).

Singer, when I've read him,* is always careful to make clear that he means what he says, and isn't parodying or reducing to absurdity some other position.
*mostly on the subject of global famine.

Posted by: Matt Weiner on November 16, 2002 01:39 PM

"Singer, when I've read him,*...mostly on the subject of global famine."

Wow, that's a relief. I'm glad that you are not reading Singer to learn how to start dating some real dogs!

Alas, I find myself unable to completely defend Kathryn Jean Lopez on this particular matter. Although she adds the caveat ď(Even if (Burk) she purposely being overly dramatic, which a reasonable person prays she is, this is not the work of a persuasive civil-rights leader.), this simply does not suffice. Lopez owed it to her readers to clearly state that Burk was being facetious.

Posted by: David Thomson on November 16, 2002 02:48 PM

Why? Why do they feel that admitting women would ruin their club?

But that's a hard question to answer without sounding like a neanderthal...

Why is it that smart, leftish, econ-guys like you, Mr. DeLong, and Paul Krugman have to feign complete idiocy in order to pretend that you don't even understand the arguments of your opponents? Couldn't you just say that you recognize the arguments and disagree?

It seems that we both agree that in certain cases, private institutions may have the desire to maintain single-sex environments. One example might be an all-girls school designed to encourage females to excel in math and science.

So the question becomes: Why should Augusta exclude women?

I can think of several plausible answers. Perhaps the male members like to complain about their wives when they are shooting around of golf or retired to the clubhouse. Perhaps they like to discuss other issues that are inappropriate to be aired out around females; maybe they like to tell dirty jokes or complain about their ballooning prostate?

Or maybe, they just don't like messing around with traditions. (Did you know that there are about 80 all-women's colleges in the US and about 3 all-men's institutions? And that I have to celebrate the sexual integration of my campus as some sort of moment of cultural epiphany instead of a mere policy change? Ugh!)

Why is it that everyone has to share your values, you intolerant liberal snob?

Posted by: Chuck Karczag on November 16, 2002 02:56 PM

"Why? Why do they feel that admitting women would ruin their club?

But that's a hard question to answer without sounding like a neanderthal..."

Kevin Drum (aka CalPundit) wrote that. Brad is quoting Kevin's post. It seems to me that Brad's point is more to make a point about how some anti-liberal* commentators spread distortions and did a sad job of retracting them.

Anyway, the question seems to have been too hard for KJ Lopez to answer.... You don't have to agree with Kevin that Augusta has no case to note that its defenders (in this case) are ad hominemming Burk instead of addressing her argument.

*Glenn Reynolds says he's not conservative, but "anti-liberal" seems fair.

Posted by: Matt Weiner on November 16, 2002 03:34 PM

'Smith thinks it would ruin their club, and that's good enough for me.

Posted by Roger Sweeny at November 16, 2002 08:08 AM'

Can you take the GOP back from the leaders? :D

I think the average conservative doesn't support this stuff; it's just an unfortunate occurence that the various national organizations use it so much.

'Does one actually believe that black executives across the land had their prospects improved in any significant fashion because Augusta extended memberships to a handful of blacks over the past 10 years?'

Now where'd that ball go?

Posted by: Jason McCullough on November 16, 2002 04:52 PM

There seems to be two separate debates on this thread:

1) CalPundit makes an excellent point about a routine distortion of an obvious parody (do conservatives read the canon they so shrilly defend? "A Modest Proposal" was on the high school reading list in my school corp.) and about the tortured logic and denials made by a minor conservative/anti-liberal/techno-libertarian figure and the managing editor of the country's premier journal of conservative opinion

2) Jane Galt et al argue that liberals shouldn't whine about Augusta.


Now, there are many people who have, in good faith, argued against CP's point. But it seems like many more have chosen to ignore 1) in favor of 2).

Posted by: Paul on November 16, 2002 05:15 PM

Hm. How many of you have actually read up on the background of this issue? I'd only heard about it via various blogs, and then finally decided to take the radical step of Googling on 'Burk "Augusta National".' I found this AP article on provided a few interesting tidbits which no one (that I've read) so far has brought up:

Burk wrote Hootie a *private* letter, to which he responded with a press release!

We're not just talking a bunch of rich good ol' golf-playin' boys here:

"According to the once-secret list acquired by Burk, members include Sanford L. Weill of Citigroup, Louis V. Gerstner of IBM, Peter Coors of Coors Brewing, Kenneth Chenault of American Express, Christopher B. Galvin of Motorola, and William B. Harrison of J.P. Morgan Chase.

Former Corning CEO Amo Houghton, now a New York congressman, is a member, as is his brother, James Houghton, the current Corning chairman. So are U.S. Olympic Committee CEO Lloyd Ward and former U.S. senator and Coca-Cola board member Sam Nunn."

Do you suppose these guys just gripe about their wives while they're playing golf? I'd guess some of those conversations affect the disposition of rather large chunks of money, and legislation in Congress. It sure gives me a different perspective on Jane's "handful of super-rich women". It's not a case of nice society ladies being denied access to a pastime of the rich; it's the usual issue of women (CEOs, senators, representatives) being denied access to the corridors - er, fairways - of power.

(Of course, given Hootie's gynophobic public tantrum in response to Burk's private letter, I can only wonder at the sort of women he'd prefer to see invited to join if Augusta changes its policy.)

I see nothing wrong with shaming Augusta into admitting women. They should be ashamed of themselves.

Posted by: Brad Matter on November 16, 2002 06:03 PM

Brad Matter,

Are you arguing that rich men at Augusta Country Club have "conversations [that]affect the disposition of rather large chunks of money, and legislation in Congress" and that therefore a few rich women should have to be allowed to join so they can have those conversations too?

Posted by: Roger Sweeny on November 16, 2002 06:28 PM


Wow, that's an embarassing oversight on my part. Reading is fundamental.

To Mr. DeLong--I apologize.

--Chuck Karczag

Posted by: Chuck Karczag on November 17, 2002 09:04 AM

Oh? Exactly what percentage of our nation's legislators belong to Augusta National that we should be worried about our congresswomen being "denied access to the halls of power"?

Posted by: Jane Galt on November 17, 2002 12:52 PM

Or are you arguing that the inability to join a single golf club stands as a serious barrier to becoming a CEO, Senator, etc.?

Posted by: Jane Galt on November 17, 2002 12:55 PM

No doubt it was intended as a spoof. Of course, when trying to make some kind of "modest proposal," it's usually slightly more polite and eases understanding if you satirize in a certain direction-- proposing something awful for the group you obviously side with. No one gets particularly exercised about The Handmaiden's Tale, for example, although they may feel it quite exaggerated. In the same way as this, Ann Coulter ends up sounding like a crazed person (to me as well, as a conservative), even though so much of what she writes is intended as exaggerations and parody. I don't find her amusing at all.

You are quite right that this is avoiding the issue. It's a repellant tactic, and ducks debate. Frankly, though, I don't see the issue as that important. It's a private club, and I just can't get exercised about the issue.

Your comment about the "right-wing slime machine" is amusing, to the extent that you seem to imply that only the right-wing does this. The Democratic Party and the left-wing has no shortage of its own slime. (Missouri radio ads about black churches exploding because people vote for Republicans, practically accusing Bush of murdering the man in Texas who was killed by racist slime (I forget his name right now) all over again for not supporting hate crime laws, etc.)

I've seen far too many Democrats and left-wingers attack right-wingers, conservatives, and libertarians for being secret racists or evil rather than addressing specific policies. (Address the science and expense of reducing arsenic levels-- no, just accuse people of not caring if others die. Any questions about affirmative action-- then you must be racist.)

Of course, these tactics will continue to be used on both sides because they're effective ways of arguing-- demonize the opposing politician, and others won't want to stand with them.

Posted by: John Thacker on November 17, 2002 01:04 PM

Jason, I made the analogy becasue I have heard Burk comment that lack of Augusta memberships for women is a significant impediment to the professional advancement of the group as a whole. This really is too stupid for words.

Posted by: Will Allen on November 17, 2002 02:43 PM

Well no, Brad. That's not right.

The reason Burning Tree excludes women is because it's private, and the owner feels it's in the best interests of his business. All the liberal handwringing here is completely beside the point.

My guess?

Well, since a lot of business-business is developed and consumated on it's course, it would stand to reason that it's working well.

Curiously missing here?

I see a lot of liberal "we know better" opinions... but where are the potential women applicants that are getting turned down? And where are the spouses, for that matter? Though one was quoted in the WaPost a couple years back saying:

"Well of course, my husband deserves an opportunity to go bare his chest and beat it with his friends and associates".

Bottom line?

It's a guy thing. And a free country. Some liberals need to get a life...and quite throwing stones from some brittle glass houses.

Your fan,


Posted by: Eric on November 17, 2002 03:58 PM

Ooops. That was Augusta, sorry lol. I was thinking of Burning Tree here in MD which had (don't know if they still have) the same policy.

Btw, Brad. Have your heard many thanks from some of us tech folks in IT, telcom for everything you accomplished in the 90's?

I hopes so. And here is a big thanks. Seriously.

Especially the laissez faire, no tax aspects on the Internet... and the huge cap gains cut in '96 which triggered the investment wave that dropped unemployment from 5.5% down to 3.9%, and creating the surplus.

Sorry to see the Dems (I'm a Republican) run so fast toward the old Liberal model and to see the "New Dems" group apparently shrinking. I'm a big fan of Bill Clinton.

One other note, regrading tech and where we are going: check out the current issue Forbes ASAP re "Feedback". Nail on the head.

And thank you again, Brad.


Posted by: Eric on November 17, 2002 05:33 PM

'Jason, I made the analogy becasue I have heard Burk comment that lack of Augusta memberships for women is a significant impediment to the professional advancement of the group as a whole. This really is too stupid for words.'

I wouldn't go that far; I'd say it's a borderline case. This isn't just any golf club, and historically lots of quasi-public institutions that were either a corridor of power or parallel to one served an exclusionary function.

There's no real legal grounds on which to object in this case of course, but both sides still have perfectly good arguments. The historical record on single-sex private anything doesn't bode well for Augusta, though: most institutions either admit women or fade into irrelevancy through public disapproval.

Posted by: Jason McCullough on November 17, 2002 11:33 PM

What's the problem? Augusta National is a private club, and it has the right to choose its members. And the rest of us, exercizing our free speech rights, are free to tell them what assholes they are! Freedom!

Posted by: Paul Gottlieb on November 18, 2002 05:59 AM

it is still illegitimate for burk to be fighting this (although it's her job).. problem is that when fighing the envious, it's hard to counter attack when you don't want anything of theirs... Augusta is an exclusive club that is currently getting its rocks off by refusing to let in Bill Gates... BILL GATES can't be a member (cause they think he's trying too hard or something) so the richest, whitest guy on the planet, with presidential power can't get in... bu Carly Fiorina is being hurt by not being able to be a member... right!

Posted by: Libertarian Uber Alles on November 18, 2002 06:17 AM

Jason, I have no feelings one way or another regarding Augusta. I can't understand why anyone does. It. just. doesn't. matter. To worry that the policies of a 300 member golf club, in a nation as large as this, has measurable impact on the professional opportunities for women is to prove that many, many, people have way too much time on their hands.

Posted by: Will Allen on November 18, 2002 07:36 AM

From Jane Galt:
If you wouldn't tolerate a conservative male advocating the forced sterilization of women who don't take responsibility for their reproduction. . . say, women who have children when they already have no means of support for the children they already have, or women who have chosen to abuse or neglect their kids. . . then you shouldn't tolerate it in Burk, whether or not it was a spoof. Look into your own heart -- would you tolerate that from Gingrich? My Aunt Fanny, you would.

Jane's defense of Augusta's policy is perfectly reasonable and fair; so why is her defense of Lopez, et al. so absurd? Let's all say it together: "Burk was not _advocating_ forced sterilization of males." Swift was not advocating the eating of orphans. Scalia does, in fact _advocate_ the control of the state over women's bodies. I don't bring him in to slime him, or Ms. Galt, but to point out a distinction that she seems oblivious to. If I satirize my opponent's position by turning it around, I am not actually advocating that turnaround; I'm trying to illuminate (a helpful word another poster used) the flaws of my opponent's position. As any dictionary will tell you, "to advocate" is different from "to say."

Posted by: JRoth on November 18, 2002 09:00 AM

Everyone agrees that, being a private club, Augusta has the right to discriminate. But that's completely different from the question of whether it's the right thing for Augusta to do.

My answer: If a group of men have a poker club, or a group of women have a book club, discrimination is fine. But in the specific case of Augusta it's wrong, because of the historical context, and because of the social and cultural importance of Augusta as an institution.

Or to make another example (leaving aside questions of legality): if a Catholic high school wants to admit only girls, that's fine. But if Harvard Law school wants to do the same, it's not. Even if it were the case that men would have opportunities to attend other prominent law schools and thus the discrimination would have no impact on overall equality, it would send the wrong signal about our societal values. Harvard Law school would be worthy of public disapproval and shaming.

In the same way, the men behing Augusta's policies should be publicly shamed. They're just a bunch of rich good ol' boys, laughably attempting to hold on to some vestige of the good ol' days.
They have the right to do that if they wish. But don't have the right to social esteem and corporate sponsorship if they chose to be that way.

Posted by: RC on November 18, 2002 11:27 AM

So it's OK for Smith to exclude men because it's just some unimportant all-girls school but not okay for Harvard Law to exclude women because of its "social and cultural importance." Do NOT let my daughter hear you talk that way.

Does that mean Yale Law can exclude women?

Posted by: Roger Sweeny on November 18, 2002 03:42 PM

No, Yale Law can't exclude. But the logic of your position seems to be that if Yale Law School felt like having women would 'ruin their club', then they would be entitled to do so, because of 'freedom of association'.
What would your daughter think of that?

You might want to think harder about that whole freedom of association argument. After all, that's the exact same argument that Goldwater conservatives and segregationists used during the civil rights struggle to justify their side. They were certainly on the wrong side of history with that one.

It seems to me that you either have to believe that freedom of association always trumps concerns about equality, in which case segregation is always okay, or that equality always trumps freedom of association, in which case any type of racial or gender segregation is wrong, or that there's a tradeoff between the two, in which case you have to look at historical context, social and cultural importance, etc. in making a judgement.

Actually I used the example of an all girls high school instead of your example of Smith College because I'd have to know more about that case to make a judgement for sure. Hypothetically, if it was the case that Smith College offered some type of educational opportunity that males could not get elsewhere, or that the Smith College policy came about in the context of pervasive and systematic discrimination against men, then I would say the policy was wrong.

In any case, I commend you for actually adressing the merits of Augusta's policy, instead of attacking Martha Burk, or saying 'don't we have more important things to talk about?', or engaging in some other evasion.

Posted by: RC on November 18, 2002 04:29 PM

But that's a hard question to answer without sounding like a neanderthal...

I continue to enjoy the irony of that quote (from CalPundit) in an article Prof DeLong titles "The Right Wing Slime Machine". It seems that a bit of pre-slime has been applied to any erstwhile defenders of the Augusta policy. Or not - "Neandertahl and Proud", that's my motto!

Anyway, here is a bit of background on Hootie.


His supporters describe him as a man of inclusion, going back to the turbulent days of the civil rights movement in South Carolina.
Johnson helped blacks get elected to the state legislature for the first time since the turn of the century. He ran a committee that desegregated the state’s public colleges. His was one of the first major banks in the South to appoint a black to the board of directors.
“He had the reputation of being progressive,” said I.S. Leevy Johnson, one of three blacks elected to the Legislature in 1970 with Hootie Johnson’s backing.
His campaign to foster racial harmony spilled over to feminine causes. The father of four daughters, he appointed women to management positions at Bankers Trust, a company started by his father but guided to national prominence by the son.
Four years ago, Johnson brokered a deal in which South Carolina became the first major college to name its business school after a woman, New York investment banker Darla Moore.

These darn Neanderthals, so full of surprises.

And here, a Burk supporter wonders at her motivation:

My guess is that underneath it all, Martha Burk is not really all that upset about the makeup of the membership of Augusta National Golf Club. She’s a savvy woman who knew that by raising this issue she would get tons of publicity for an organization no one had ever heard of before.

Or, another supporter:

But Burk, who suddenly discovered that going after Augusta National is a wonderful way to harvest publicity for her organization, which isn’t exactly in the news every day, isn’t easily discouraged....

....Meanwhile, we all might be excused for wondering if any of this actually means anything. No matter who becomes a member of Augusta National, the club will continue to discriminate against nearly every person in the country who isn’t filthy rich and suitably low-key to be a member. Admitting one woman means nothing to most women, anymore than admitting one black — or one Croatian, for that matter — means anything to most blacks and Croatians.

Well, isn't that interesting?

Now, as to Ms. Lopez, she should have admitted her error and moved on. But maybe calling Hootie a bigot, as she has done, and his supporters Neanderthals, as we have seen here, is not appropriate either.

Posted by: Tom Maguire on November 18, 2002 08:29 PM

More evasions. Once again, another post atacking Martha, attacking Brad, defending Hootie, but not actually defending the merits of Augusta's policy....
Could it be be that Augusta's defenders always try to change the subject because it's actually pretty indefensible?

Posted by: RC on November 19, 2002 06:40 AM


You are absolutely right that the freedom of association argument was used by "segregationists during the civil rights struggle to justify their side." But it was an argument they had come to only recently. In fact, for at least the previous half century they had argued precisely the opposite.

Advocates of Jim Crow had argued that if people were allowed to associate freely, bad things would happen. Blacks would be too successful, they would marry your sister, etc. Thus, they had to be legally separated and subjugated. Among other things, they had to attend schools restricted to their own kind, and run by a government they didn't control which deliberately made them worse than the white schools.

After the Civil War, ex-slaves made remarkable progress. As the end of the century approached, many whites saw that blacks might be able to do as well as, or even better than, themselves.

This was a time of great political ferment all over the country. People were deciding that they didn't have to accept market outcomes they considered unjust. They could use the power of governments to remedy those injustices. It turned out that in many areas political majorities could be assembled which considered black success to be unjust. The Jim Crow laws were passed. They are almost completely the product of the Populist and Progressive Eras (usually dated about 1890-1920).

It was only after segregated public schools were struck down in 1954 that segregationists adopted the freedom of association argument in earnest.

How you think about the history of Jim Crow has a tremendous effect on how you think about freedom of association. If you think that white supremacy was basically a private system where governments sort of went along for the ride, but it was eventually ended by good governments (especially the federal executive and judiciary) forcing people to do the right thing, you don't think much of freedom of asscociation.

If you think of white supremacy as something that people used governments to develop and enforce by forbidding freedom of association, you have quite a different emotional reaction.

Posted by: Roger Sweeny on November 19, 2002 06:43 AM

Could it be be that Augusta's defenders always try to change the subject because it's actually pretty indefensible?

Oh, is the subject Augusta's policy? That was not immediately apparent from the post header "More From the Right-Wing Slime Machine".

Very well. I defend the right of private groups to choose their own members. I further defend the rights of people to make choices that, if legal, I personally find to be disagreeable.

This willingness to demonstrate "tolerance" is something I believed that the Left prided itself on. I suppose there are many examples where a societal consensus has emerged against legislating morality. Many people believe abortion is murder, for example, yet abortion continues in this country. Which party is "pro-choice" on this issue?

Some people seem to believe that private association is a bad thing. Good for them. Protest. Try to change the law. Try to change people's minds. You might even try not calling people "neanderthals".

Posted by: Tom Maguire on November 19, 2002 06:56 AM

RC, I am not evading anything. I think it is a trivial matter, and that expending energy calculating the morality of trivial matters is a waste of time. One may as well consider the morality of Shriners wearing goofy hats. If you can make the case that this is non-trivial (you haven't as of yet), I will then consider the merits of the policy, if it indeed is a policy (you haven't established this, either).

Posted by: Will Allen on November 19, 2002 07:16 AM

To Will Allen:
You're right that in the larger scheme of things this is a trivial issue. But even so, it makes for an interesting and consequential debate, because it touches on important questions of how and when society should deal with discrimination. The morality of murder is a more important issue, but debating the subject would not be particularly illuminating, since we'd all agree.

To Roger Sweeny:
You leave out that the reason blacks made some progress after the Civil War was also because of government policy, specifically the presence of Federal troops in the Southern states. So government can do good things, it can do bad things. If your implication is that in the libertarian nirvana where government just stayed out of the way segregation would have not have happenned, or would have died out on its own, I don't see any evidence of that.

To Tom Maguire:
The age old last tactic when defending the intolerant is always to complain about being criticized, and to say, "see, you're the nasty name caller, you're the one who's disrespectful of other people's values, you're the intolerant one". This is the conservative version of namby-pamby, morally relativist PC. It also seems kind of rich, given that these days the most fervent and talented spewers of invective (Limbaugh, Coulter, O'Reilly, etc.) seem to come from the right.

Actually, I don't think calling the people who are behind Augusta's policy 'neaderthals' is particularly unfair. In one word, it neatly imples that they are out of touch with the present, and that their values come from an earlier, less enlightened time. After all, even you can't bring yourself to say that you actually agree with their policy. Essentially, you just defend their right to be neaderthals. Besides, sticks and stones...

Posted by: RC on November 19, 2002 11:05 AM

OK, RC, here we go:

the age old last tactic when defending the intolerant is always to complain about being criticized,...

Hey, I'm a conservative - you can't expect me to adopt unproven, new-fangled tactics. And if you really can't advance your argument without name-calling, well, I can't help you. Paul Begala had the same problem, if you go waaay back to a CNN transcript someone linked to.

Now, I posted a link with a bit of biographical info on our man Hootie. Are you still satisfied that he is intolerant, or a bigot, or a neanderthal, or your slur of choice?

And you seem to have ducked the question of whether we still tolerate legal differences of opinion in this country. And the question of whether this is discrimination in any meaningful way.

However, I am quite clear on the point that you object to this practice.

Posted by: Tom Maguire on November 19, 2002 12:18 PM

From the CNN transcript. Try to find "RC" here:

BEGALA: Thank you all for joining us.

Dr. Burk, Ms. Schlussel, first thank you very much for joining us. We saw when we woke up and read the morning paper, that Bootie or Cootie or whatever his name is, gave an interview -- Mr. Johnson -- to the "New York Times." But apparently he's too frightened to come on CROSSFIRE and debate a woman. Doesn't want to play golf with them, doesn't want to debate them.

You are not afraid though. So let me begin with you. The comedian George Carlin had a hilarious take on golfers. And let me read it to you. You won't find a thing you can possibly disagree with, I don't think.

Here's what Carlin says. "I did a big attack on golf, but it was more an attack on the upper classes' arrogance in commanding 200 acres for a game that involves a ball 1 and 1/4 inches across. The problem isn't the game itself. It's the jerk-offs you have to associate with to play it. I don't bother with those guys on any basis, much less stand around outdoors with them for three hours."

George Carlin, inarguably correct, isn't he?

SCHLUSSEL: No, he's not correct at all. And you're resorting and he's resorting to name calling is the same thing as what Martha Burk has been doing. Because you don't have an argument.

Our country is based from...

BEGALA: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) if a guy calls himself Bootie...

SCHLUSSEL: ... excuse me -- our country is based from its very founding on the right to do what we want with our own property. Just as Martha Burk represents organizations that only allow women like the Girl Scouts -- I'm sorry, like the YWCA, the Club of 100, A Girls' Incorporated.

Just as she only has organizations who represent only women, Augusta has a right to do what they want with their property and only allow men.

And there's nothing wrong with that. And resorting to name calling just shows you have no argument.

CARLSON: OK, Martha Burk, I want to thank you off the top for your efforts on behalf of super rich female golfers.


And I know also seven of them are grateful.


But I want you to address my cause, and that is on behalf of the men excluded from the Junior League, which is a much larger organization...


... of course than Augusta National. And if you say that you're against sex discrimination on principle, I would imagine that you'd be out there picketing the Junior League and Smith College and the Girl Scouts.

BURK: You know what, the Girl Scouts by the way do allow boys. Most people don't know that. But let me say this. The guys that are a member of Augusta are now Boy Scouts. They're CEO's of America's largest corporations...


BURK: ... but let me say this about that as Richard Nixon would say, if a Augusta did not have the highest profile golf event on the planet, if they were truly the private club they claim to be, we wouldn't be sitting here talking.

Because there are private clubs that don't allow men, don't allow women. But they are truly private. Augusta is a for-profit corporation, producing a multi-million sporting event. Let's be clear who they are.

They invite the world into their living room. Every year they make a big deal out of making it a very large public event over the public airways which they're willing to pay for, because the sponsors bailed out on them.

The sponsors don't want to have anything to do with this discrimination. They're not going to...

SCHLUSSEL: That's a distinction without a different.

BURK: ... underwrite discrimination.

It is not a distinction without a difference...

SCHLUSSEL: It is a distinction without a difference. The fact is the NFL has broadcast every single week, not one week out of the year but every single weekend in the winter. And the fact is that...

BURK: The NFL is not a private club...

SCHLUSSEL: ... NFL only allows men to play football. They only allow women to cheer lead.

BURK: Well, hey, we have -- we have LPGA tour.

SCHLUSSEL: Maybe you ought to be suing them too? Why don't you sue them too...


SCHLUSSEL: ... why don't you sue them? Why don't you sue Spellman College?

BEGALA: Ms. Schlussel, I certainly don't speak for Ms. Burk. I don't think there's a legal case here. I think that they have a perfect right legally to exclude women. And I have a perfect legal right to point out that they're spineless, gutless weenies, wimps and weasels who play golf for God sake. You know, God hates golf. That's why he strikes them down...

SCHLUSSEL: You seem to enjoy name calling because you don't have an argument.

BEGALA: ... with lightening bolts.

SCHLUSSEL: They're private property.

BEGALA: You know, God loves bowling better than -- he loves bowling...

SCHLUSSEL: Paul, how about if I invite people to your house? That's what she's doing.

BEGALA: ... he never strikes down a bowler.

The transcript also includes an interesting chat with Al Sharpton.

Posted by: Tom Maguire on November 19, 2002 12:27 PM

It is neither interesting or consequential, beyond the fleeting and novel interest provided in observing silly people waste their time on matters that have exactly zero impact on the issues that they purport to be deeply concerned with. I am somewhat embarassed to have spent this much time discussing it; but then I am a little embarassed to admit that I spend 3 or 4 hours on a Sunday afternoon each April watching the fogeys' golf tournament; I really have better things to do.

Posted by: on November 19, 2002 12:54 PM

"BURK: ... but let me say this about that as Richard Nixon would say, if a Augusta did not have the highest profile golf event on the planet, if they were truly the private club they claim to be, we wouldn't be sitting here talking."

Obviously, y'all WOULD. Because Augusta IS "truly a private club," just like the Girl and Boy Scouts are "truly private organizations."

The fact that Augusta puts on the "highest profile golf event on the planet" has absolutely nothing to do with whether they are "private" or "public."

There is a very simple solution, here. It's for women to refuse to watch the Masters, and to attempt to get the men who love them to do the same.

The alternative is a mess, as was clearly demonstrated by the Supreme Court's outrageous "Alice in Wonderland" decision in the Casey Martin case.

Posted by: Mark Bahner on November 19, 2002 02:29 PM


Nirvanas don't happen in this world, no matter what adjective is put before them :) Everyone with any sense agrees that some government is necessary and desirable.

Those of us who value freedom of association know that it requires security against trespass and stealing, that it requires mechanisms to make sure that agreements are kept.

In the south during Reconstruction, and for a significant time thereafter, governments did a better job than they would do again for 60 years in protecting the property and agreements of both whites and blacks. To a significant extent blacks had the same common law rights as whites. A significant advance from a terribly low base was the result.

That came crashing down in the 1890s and thereafter. The ability of black people to do what they wanted with their persons and property was considerably restricted compared to whites.

Jim Crow was put into place and the laws weren't repealed till the '50s, '60s, or even '70s. A shameful episode in our history.

Posted by: on November 19, 2002 05:00 PM

This has been a source of idle counterfactual speculation for me; if the Federal Government had protected the voting and property rights of freed slaves and their decendents, along with their right to life, to bear arms, fair trial, etc., in the late 19th and into the 20th century, would have it have been deemed necessary to infringe on the right to free association of all citizens. Unfortunately, we will never know, but it serves as an example of how the state's failure to execute it's irrefutable responsibilities can often lead to the state engaging in activities which are debatable.

Posted by: Will Allen on November 19, 2002 06:40 PM


The comment two above is mine. I don't mean to imply that the years 1865-1890+ were some sort of utopia. They weren't. There were problems and there wasn't "equal justice under law." It was just closer than many places would get for a long time thereafter.

Posted by: Roger Sweeny on November 19, 2002 07:04 PM

Is Martha Burk having it both ways? Should we be taking her comments a bit more seriously?:,3566,70772,00.html

Posted by: David Thomson on November 20, 2002 11:47 AM

Charles Murtaugh has a great defense of Augusta National at his blog.

Posted by: Tom Maguire on November 20, 2002 02:29 PM

"If your implication is that in the libertarian nirvana where government just stayed out of the way segregation would have not have happenned, or would have died out on its own, I don't see any evidence of that."

Actually, the historical record does offer quite a bit of evidence of that. It turns out that several groups other than blacks have been discriminated against at various times in our history. For instance, Irish Americans were discriminated against around the turn of the (20th) century. Fortunately for them, discrimination against them was never mandated by law in several states. Discrimination against them was also never prohibited by law anywhere in the United States, because there was no need - in the absence of legal mandates or uncontested mobs enforcing discrimination, economic forces led free people to give up discrimination on their own.

Posted by: Kenneth Uildriks on November 21, 2002 03:22 PM

Is Martha Burk having it both ways? Should we be taking her comments a bit more seriously?

Um, no. Or at least, only if you're functionally illiterate, David, as seems to be the case with this reporter:

in contrast to Swift's classic piece, Burk was defending a policy -- abortion -- by ascribing absurd positions to its opponents, which they have never held.

Obviously, then, the British were in favour of the trade of Irish babies for meat, as a means of assuaging poverty. Or perhaps Wendy McElroy is being as disingenuous as the Reynolds cabal. Or simply plain stupid. Or lying. I'll take the second option, and assume plain, lumpen ignorance on her part, rather than sniggering malfeasance.

While Swift's ironic posture may be more nuanced than most readings admit, that doesn't mean it's not ironic. And Burk's piece is far more blatantly ironic than Swift's.

Posted by: nick sweeney on November 21, 2002 05:39 PM

You guys seem to be missing the point. No one is arguing that you cannot have an all-male club. The question is whether the PGA Tour, which has a policy of not playing a tournament at a golf course that discriminates, should be there. Since the PGA Tour is still 99% racist, sexist country clubbers, they are having problems leaving their brethren at Augusta.

Why would anyone stand up for Hootie? It's like saying you have no problem with Saudi Arabia, a country with country club rules. What is shocking is that Tiger Woods doesn't seem to get it either. I'm sure he would have boycotted playing in apartheid South Africa a decade ago. I'm sure he's aware that Augusta didn't even let blacks play until the 1960's. Tiger thinks it's all right for Hootie to make whatever rules he likes. What if Hoot decided that in 2003, they will return to the "no colored's" rule. I bet Mr. defending champion would have a problem with that. This is not that far-fetched since Augusta has always controlled who is "invited" to their elitist event. Unbelievable that Tigger doesn't speak up for the "skirts."

Say what you will about the Hootster, he's just another racist, sexist Southerner who can't let go of the Civil War. Hoot will tell you it was about "state's rights" and had nothing to do with keeping blackie in chains. Suuuuuurrrrrreeee!

Hootie was at the side of Bobby Jones' deathbed when he uttered something about "burn the whole place down before you let a nigg-- or a bitch play here." Since Hootie considers Tiger an asian, he thinks he's OK on that one. Hoots just following orders from the ghosts of the plantation.

Hootie can have his all-male show, but a major golf tournament should not be there. It's time the PGA Tour loses its infatuation with the gated community.

Posted by: Marius Downs on November 29, 2002 07:51 PM

"Ever wonder how the right manages to grab hold of so many issues and mangle them beyond recognition, continually tarring liberals as extremists and radicals and somehow making it stick?"

And what in the world gives with THIS quote from the NRO:

"...has meant a new media tour for Martha Burk, the woman who started the controversy-her one-woman crusade, backed up by a pliable media, to rid Augusta of men."

Admitting women will "rid Augusta of men?" Why? Because the cooties will kill all the men, perhaps?

Posted by: Mark Bahner on December 11, 2002 03:29 PM
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