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A Note to the Internet, Ctd.

Andrew Sullivan responds to my earlier call to lay off criticizing Willow Palin.

He starts off:

What if she had written “ni**er?”

What if she had? I’d still say lay off. A 16 year old girl has the right to make mistakes without being scrutinized by millions of people.

And one has to note that her mother has put all her children into an unforgiving spotlight, even subjecting them to reality show exposure. The idea that we should all abide by rules that Palin herself freely violates – her family “privacy” my ass – is surrender to her double standards. Palin cannot cite her son, Track, in every stump speech and not have his history examined. She cannot parade a child with Down Syndrome like a campaign poster and not have any questions asked about the kid’s journey into this world. She cannot push one daughter into a reality show and an abstinence campaign without allowing that person’s past and present to be a story. If Palin kept her family private, it would be one thing. But she relentlessly exploits them when it suits her and then acts offended if there’s any pushback or scrutiny. Screw that.

By all means, criticize Sarah Palin for pushing her family into the spotlight. It’s scummy when any politician does that. It’s scummy when celebrities do it on their tawdry reality shows. That’s fine. That’s a valid point. It’s even a valid point to question the parenting skills of a woman who willingly flew on a plane while pregnant after her water broke (and that’s her official story!)

I think that criticisms of Bristol and Todd Palin are also fair game. They have turned themselves into public figures. (Although I might say that I think that some of the criticism of Bristol Palin’s abstinence campaign as “hypocritical” misses the point. Can’t a woman learn from her mistake and try to help others not make the same mistake?)

But here’s the thing — Willow Palin hasn’t made herself into a public figure. She’s only famous by virtue of having a famous family. Moreover, she’s 16 years old, and anyone with a passing familiarity with “Behind the Music” or “E! True Hollywood Story” knows that a spotlight pored on someone of that young an age can cause some serious psychological damage.

Put yourself in her shoes. Think about something stupid, mean, or hurtful that you said when you were 16 years old. Think about the shame you feel about it now that you’re an adult. Think about how embarrassed you’ve been when something stupid you’ve done was made public, even to a small circle of people. Now, magnify that — imagine that the stupid thing you’ve said has been a media focus for days. Internet, TV, you name it.

It’s not fair to her. It’s disgraceful. Willow Palin has not made herself a public figure, nor did she make a public statement. She’s 16. She’s entitled to her mistakes, and she’s entitled to not have the world talking about them.

Update: Still more thoughts here.

Related Posts:

About Alex Knapp
Alex Knapp writes about pretty much everything under the sun, including politics, art, religion, philosophy, sports, music, culture, and science.

Comments

  1. […] Andrew Sullivan responds. My rejoinder here. FILED UNDER: Alex Knapp, Popular Culture, Quick Picks, US […]

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  2. john personna says:

    Good job Alex, you trolled up the Sullivan.

    (FWIW, I found your “lay off” to be both reasoned and compassionate, a rare combination.)

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  3. Trumwill says:

    Keep fighting the good fight, Alex.

    I don’t like Palin. I hope she doesn’t run and I will vote against her if she does. However, the nature of her critics’ attacks ends up leaving me defending her. I don’t like that.

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  4. Matt Parker says:

    Alex,

    Good point, but most of the criticism is of Sarah’s response, which is (as usual) to circle the wagons and criticize the media rather than address the issue.

    Yes, people are say Willow did a bad/stupid thing (which is true). But more importantly they’re saying why hasn’t Sarah come out and said, “Willow did a stupid thing. I don’t like the term ‘faggot’, and would hope that she’s learned her lesson.”

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  5. Trumwill says:

    Good point, but most of the criticism is of Sarah’s response, which is (as usual) to circle the wagons and criticize the media rather than address the issue.

    There shouldn’t be an issue to address. She shouldn’t be forced to condemn her daughter publicly. Might be nice if she said what you suggest, but she should be under no obligation to in order for people to leave her daughter alone.

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  6. Herb says:

    “Willow Palin has not made herself a public figure, nor did she make a public statement.”

    Oh come on. She’s not a public figure? That’s debatable. Is she like Ozzy’s oldest child, who opted out of the family reality show? Or is Willow featured prominently in Sarah Palin’s Alaska? I honestly don’t know, but if it’s the latter, she’s as much of a public figure as any cast member on a reality show.

    As for the “public statement” stuff, she was posting this to the WORLD WIDE WEB. Um…yeah, not a press release, exactly, but not exactly a private communication either. Things on the web are what? Public.

    If you want to question why the media is talking about this instead of talking about other stuff….fine. But if you want to wall this off as an untouchable topic….we’re going to need better reasons.

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  7. Matt Parker says:

    Look, I’m under the impression that everything Sarah Palin does is meant to increase her status as being put upon by the media elites. So, of course instead of being responsible and taking an opportunity to say it’s wrong to call someone that word, she plays up her own victimhood.

    Bottom line for me is that Willow is NOT a public figure, and should be generally off limits. But, when the actions of the family of a public figure do come to light, there are three possible responses:

    1. ignore it or say I don’t comment on stories about my children
    2. take the teachable moment and try to make something good out of it
    3. use your family member’s mistake as an opportunity to advance your own political agenda

    Is anyone really surprised which one Sarah Palin chose?

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  8. […] of Alex Knapp’s comments today about the whole Willow Palin kerfuffle, I offer this from last night’s Daily […]

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  9. Janis Gore says:

    The whole happy bunch of snotwads should be glad they aren’t mine.

    What a group of trash mouths. Is that how teenagers talk these days?

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  10. An Interested Party says:

    Since some people around here love to compare the president to Palin, perhaps they might take a moment to compare the behavior of the children of these two people, which says more about the adults than it does about their offspring…

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  11. Janis Gore says:

    That’s not fair, Interested Party. Malia, the older girl, is only 12 and in a rare and protected environment.

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  12. Jack says:

    Given how we seem to be careening heedlessly towards a plutarchy, the statements made by our rulers’ children take on a new importance.

    (not entirely sarcastic here…)

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  13. An Interested Party says:

    “That’s not fair, Interested Party.”

    It’s about as fair as comparing the president to Palin…

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  14. kathryn r says:

    Yes, she is 16 years old and they do stupid things. But how is she going to learn that this is unacceptable behavior if no one can point that out? She has to learn that words on the internet are not private and they have consequences. Facebook is not the local high school. The sooner she learns this, the more likely she is to hardwire appropriate behaviors.

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  15. Alex says:

    Calling someone a faggot isn’t merely stupid. It’s cruel, bullying, taunting, calculated to hurt viscerally, and can have horrendous consequences. Of late, we’ve seen all too many suicides of kids who were doubtless called faggots, too. The bullies were merely kids, some younger than 16. Should we cut them all a break on the grounds that they were kids?

    No matter who the bullier is, or how old he or she is, they must be stopped, not excused on the grounds of their youth. Bullies learn bullying al home, so this 16-year-old must have heard her parents utter those very same words to refer to others. This, too, is immaterial. Where they learn it and how they are when they do it does not excuse their doing it. Sorry, this brat may be stupid, but she’s also a bully. She doesn’t get a break.

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  16. Morgan says:

    I never called anyone a faggot when I was sixteen. Willow doesn’t get a pass for this because she’s young. Driving the family car through the garage door? That’s something stupid a teenager does. But malicious, hateful language in a public space (yes, facebook is as good as public)…that’s something else. Willow and her family deserve censure for it.

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  17. Alex says:

    One day, these defenses of the Palins and their endlessly indefensible lives will mean she’ll be president. That’s how this works. It’s amazing that even in this context Willow somehow comes out the victim. But that is the genius of the Palins, to constantly work the refs. It has to stop, though. They need to be recognized for the hateful actions they consistently pump into the public discourse.

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  18. Alison G says:

    It’s not fair to her? Are you joking? She knew exactly what she was doing, because she learns from her Mama Grizzly that any criticism or slight made against her family must be addressed immediately. This is same little brat who thinks everyone is ‘just jealous’ of her family because of all the money they make.

    She knows damn well that her family is in the limelight, herself included and that her words and actions are now public domain whether she likes it or not. Being 16 is not an excuse.

    Lame response and defense. Really lame

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  19. Alison G says:

    Sasha and Malia would never say something like, because they have better parents who raised them right.

    Palins are just white trash with money.

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  20. hermione says:

    Calling someone a faggot isn’t stupid. It’s mean spirited and homophobic and disgusting. It’s unspeakable. It’s horrible. And it’s led a few kids who were thus tormented to killing themselves. A 16 year old is perfectly capable of figuring out what the consequences of homophobia are. Even younger kids are. (But that’s provided they get the proper guidance and upbringing from their parents.) Give her a break? Not me. If she were my child, I’d give her what for. And that’s what I think her parents should have done. The fact that they didn’t, and won’t, tells us why this cruel kid does what she does. Only someone really stupid wouldn’t be able to figure this out.

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  21. Alan says:

    Respectfully disagree.

    1. Come on. She is 16. Not an adult, but not a child either. Very close to adult rights and responsibilities. She was not 12. She was not 13. At 16, she should know better, and she should be aware of the ramificaiton of her actions given her family’s public nature

    2. She is on a reality television show. She is a public figure.

    3. She doesn’t know the guy she attacked. He was a stranger to her, albeit apparently a schoolmate. Yet she gratuitously and aggressively imposed herself onto his facebook page to attack him with homophobic slurs about the very thing – a reality television show – which her participation in places her in the public eye.

    4. This doesn’t have to continue. There is an easy fix for this. “I am sorry, I was out of line. It’s not okay to use homophobic slurs. I apologise to Tre, to my friends and family, and to gay kids who live in hell because of insensitive remarks like the ones I made without thinking in the heat of the moment. I’ll try to do better.” Note that this, unlike Bristol’s posting, is an actual apology.

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  22. RK Wright says:

    I’m sorry, but if you actually read the entire thread of comments that was posted on the screen shot of Palin’s “faggot” screed, you would notice that the entire situation arose from one of her “friends” (who she states she does not even know) published a critique of the Palin reality show on HIS OWN FACEBOOK PAGE. This wasn’t just Willow posting these things to HER page, but to everyone who was friends with her, the boy she didn’t know, his friends and ALL of their friends. Facebook IS NOT PRIVATE so your argument fails on that account.

    Also, with efforts to deal with this type of name calling and abuse of the vulgarity she decided to utilize, if we give her a pass, because this is something kids say, then we cannot call ANY child to account for the same actions. One does NOT give a free pass to a teen-ager and then expect other teen-ager to not think they deserve the right to get a pass too. And since when is the excuse “EVERYBODYS DOING IT” become a legitimate response by a teen ager? And for that matter, when did it become a legitimate excuse for an adult opinion writer? If everyone kicked the cat would you do it too, or would you excuse it because everbody is doing it? I’d like to know where the adults are in this conversation, including the lack of an adult in writing this lame defense of an article.

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  23. jb says:

    she didn’t make a public statement? she just wrote it on the internet for the entire world to see, but that’s somehow NOT a public statement?

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  24. Sam says:

    Palin uses her family as a resume. That alone refutes (heh) any idea of being ‘hands-off’ regarding how she handles her kids.

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  25. Trumwill says:

    One day, these defenses of the Palins and their endlessly indefensible lives will mean she’ll be president. That’s how this works.

    As a Palin-critic, I look at it the opposite way. Going after Palin by piling on her 16 year old daughter makes people take more substantive criticisms of her less seriously. Jon Stewart, Alex Knapp, and I all dislike Palin. Yet you’ve lost us on this one. So what happens with those who are not as predisposed to dislike Palin when this avenue of attack is explored? It creates sympathy. It makes her critics seem distasteful. It makes it easier for Palin to argue that the legitimate criticisms are just the rantings of haters.

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  26. Alex Knapp says:

    I feel obligated to note, for the record, that I don’t think that it was right for Willow to use the term in question. However, in context, I don’t think that it’s use was “bullying.”

    Moreover, I think that the level of public scrutiny is unwarranted, and the tone of said scrutiny is more likely to make her dig her heels in than it is to apologize or feel remorse.

    This isn’t about giving her a pass. This is about recognizing that it’s not fair to put a 16 year old in position to have her sins be scrutinized and subjected to the judgment of millions of people.

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  27. Alison G says:

    This is about recognizing that it’s not fair to put a 16 year old in position to have her sins be scrutinized and subjected to the judgment of millions of people.

    Bullshit. Bullshit times ten. If Sasha or Malia Obama did this, they’d be flayed alive by the entire right wing noise machine and you know it.

    She is a Palin. They have a TV show. Her sister is on DWTS. Her mother is an extremely well known public person.

    Didn’t anyone tell her that she’s under the microscope too?

    Your defense of her comments is really pathetic. Being 16 is not an excuse.

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  28. Frank says:

    No, Willow Palin deserves the criticism herself. We’ve had about a dozen publicized teenage suicides due to anti-gay bullying. The filth she wrote needs to be answered.

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  29. Frank says:

    Alex, you’re full of shit. Willow most certainly was bullying. She brought up someone’s sexual orientation in a derogatory way to silence him.

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  30. Alex Knapp says:

    If Sasha or Malia Obama did this, they’d be flayed alive by the entire right wing noise machine and you know it.

    I aspire to higher standards than Fox News.

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  31. RK Wright says:

    Alex Knapp says:
    I aspire to higher standards than Fox News.

    In what world? The one where Fox News gives a pass to the Palins on every thing they do? And you really expect us to buy that one???

    What are you going to tell all those gay kids out there, that it’s ok for the Palins to say these things, but not others? I’m sorry, but we in the LGBT comunity are trying very hard to get kids to stop saying this to other kids. IT IS BULLYING, and it doesn’t matter if you agree, because most of us gay folks see it that way. She automatically attacked a person by calling them a faggot on THEIR Facebook page. When you call someone names in order to hurt or demean them, it’s bullying. And we are battling the issue in younger ages than Miss Palin’s. 9 year olds and 12 year olds and 13 year olds are KILLING themselves because people are using these types of terms to attack them, even if they are not gay, it does not matter.

    Is Alex Knapp prepeared to tell the next teen suicides parents in Alaska that it’s ok that that 16 year old called their kid a faggot and that pushed them over the edge, because that’s just what “all the kids are saying”. If you think it’s ok to give one kid a pass on this behavior, then we might as well just take down all the “It Get’s Better” videos and retract the anti-bullying programs that we have tried to get in schools, because when you excuse it for ONE child, you excuse it for them ALL.

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  32. Alex Knapp says:

    @RK –

    If you think I’m giving her a pass, I suggest you read my argument again. For the thousandth time, I am not saying that her words were justified. Or that she should “get a pass.”

    I am saying that a 16 year old girl who is not a public figure should be left alone to make mistakes and have them corrected by her community and peer group — not subjected to criticism by the media and millions of people.

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  33. Foggen says:

    Facebook posts are public statements. Whether it is appropriate for the national newsmedia to respond to these is debatable, but there is no question that she brought her prejudices out in public. This is the same thing that happened to that Arkansas school board member who said that he likes it when gays die, and I sure supported that. Watching Anderson Cooper rake him over the coals was pure schadenfreude.

    Besides, the Palins aren’t private individuals anymore, they’re Reality TV characters.

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  34. Alison G says:

    I am saying that a 16 year old girl who is not a public figure should be left alone to make mistakes and have them corrected by her community and peer group — not subjected to criticism by the media and millions of people.

    Alex, Willow Palin IS a public figure! How on earth do you think she is not? Her entire family is in the spotlight because they love it. That’s what they do.

    If she didn’t want the criticism, then she should not have posted what she said on FB.

    And so far, she has not apologized. Instead, as usual, her family makes it seem like she’s the victim and people like you are bolstering that claim.

    You really blew this one.

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  35. Greg says:

    re: Willowgtate: how is it a “mistake” if no one reacts/responds to it?

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  36. BobN says:

    Why does she even have a Facebook page that’s open to the public?

    What kind of parent — especially one who sees her family as under constant attack — would let her child be exposed like that? I’d tell you what kind, but then I’d be “attacking” you-know-who.

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  37. RK Wright says:

    Alex Knapp, if Willow Palin get’s PAID to BE ON TV, which SHE DOES, then she is a public figure. If she posts nasty messages on someone elses facebook page (TO BE VIEWED BY MILLIONS OF PEOPLE) then she deserves to be called out, in PUBLIC-where HER comments were made-in front of those same millions who were witness to her comments.

    YOU DO NOT END BULLYING BY GIVING SOME PEOPLE A PASS. WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO SAY TO THE NEXT PERSON WHO USES THESE TERMS AND PROMPTS ANOTHER TO KILL THEMSELVES? better yet, what will you say to the family of the dead?

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  38. Kipp says:

    “…anyone with a passing familiarity with “Behind the Music” or “E! True Hollywood Story” knows that a spotlight pored on someone…”

    The problem with youthful stardom is the privilege and unstructured life that fame allows and the violation of privacy like being photographed trying to suntan in your own backyard. Having scrutiny poured upon an ill-considered, casual slur-including facebook post might, at worst, cause Willow to be hyper-vigilant about watching what she says in public and quasi-public venues (like facebook). In this same string of posts, Willow brags about her family’s fame & success in an attempt to belittle someone else – and it backfired enormously. I’m don’t think that’s a bad lesson to learn.

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  39. Jay C says:

    Sorry, Alex, what you are doing here is providing cover for bullying behavior toward Willow’s victim. Within the microcosm of Wasilla’s teen population, Willow and her friends are the ones in power, not this other kid. He is being instructed that her power is absolute within microcosm, and she has set him up as an acceptable target. His life is going to be hell until graduation.

    This really isn’t about her status as a private or public figure, but about whether or not adults will keep providing cover for GLBT bullying through dismissal or inaction. Some of the recent suicides, the kids were tormented as early as nine years old. Nine. By absolving Willow from any sort of consequence, you’re aetting yourself up in the dismissal camp. Is that really where you want to be?

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  40. Alex Knapp says:

    Alex Knapp, if Willow Palin get’s PAID to BE ON TV, which SHE DOES

    Does she?

    And by the same token, does that make Piper and Trig fair game, too?

    If she posts nasty messages on someone elses facebook page (TO BE VIEWED BY MILLIONS OF PEOPLE)

    They were posted on a private Facebook page, which were then leaked to a celebrity gossip website. That’s not the same thing.

    YOU DO NOT END BULLYING BY GIVING SOME PEOPLE A PASS. WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO SAY TO THE NEXT PERSON WHO USES THESE TERMS AND PROMPTS ANOTHER TO KILL THEMSELVES? better yet, what will you say to the family of the dead?

    I think you’re being unnecessarily hyperbolic about this. Once again, I’m not saying that what she did wasn’t wrong. Just that the media scrutiny is unwarranted. I’m uncertain as to why this is such a confusing point.

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  41. Alex Knapp says:

    Sorry, Alex, what you are doing here is providing cover for bullying behavior toward Willow’s victim. Within the microcosm of Wasilla’s teen population, Willow and her friends are the ones in power, not this other kid. He is being instructed that her power is absolute within microcosm, and she has set him up as an acceptable target. His life is going to be hell until graduation.

    That’s a pretty big assumption that you’re making without any evidence. I’m not privy to the social strata of Wasilla, AK. Are you?

    By absolving Willow from any sort of consequence, you’re aetting yourself up in the dismissal camp. Is that really where you want to be?

    I think that, once again, my argument is being misread. I’m not saying that her statements should be free of all consequence. Merely that national media attention is unwarranted and unseemly.

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  42. Jay C says:

    Anyone who attended high school and possesses the smallest shred of social awareness can make a reasonable inference about high school politics.

    You are wrong to assume that I misread your statement, just as you are wrong to ignore the fact that your statement doesn’t occur in a vacuum. I understand what you’re saying, you’re not understand what affects it has.

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  43. Alan says:

    It might be worth exploring why this is a national media phenomenon.

    Certainly the Palin supporters defenders and specifically the Willow defenders seem to assume that the reason for the phenomenon is to attack and discredit Sarah Palin both vicariously and her parenting skills directly for the poor showing of her offspring. That assumption may be true to some extent.

    But I think that we can all agree that, absent the gay slurs, this would not have gone nearly as viral. And viral is the best description, since the national media, other than the original source, seems ot be merely carrying a story that is “all over the internet”. Why?

    I would posit that it is that it is the nature of these statements juxtaposed with and in the context of the recent gay bullying tragedies and resulting public awareness campaigns that have outraged the average person and led to the extreme interest and higher scope of press coverage.

    This story’s reaction isn’t primarily about Palin-bashing. It’s about the American public being fed up with bullies and sick of stories of gay kids committing suicide because they were picked on, called faggot, and live in a world where adults allow youth to use allegations of “gay” as the worst of casual insults. If Willow Palin turns into the flashpoint “dog-poop-girl” for homophobic bullying, it’s a tough lesson for her. But if it makes life easier for gay kids because people like her scale back, even a little, then good has become of it.

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  44. […] Andrew Sullivan at the Atlantic, and Salon’s Mary Elizabeth Williams. Meanwhile,  Alex Knapp makes a good case for leaving Willow out of the media spotlight) (Outside the […]

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  45. L2P says:

    Facebook isn’t private, Alex. Anyone can access those pages. That’s how Willow made those posts to begin with. She might as well have written “You’re a faggot” on the other student’s car.

    And she IS a public figure. She’s prominently featured in a prime-time TV show. No one says that Demi Lovato or Miley Cyrus are insulated from public criticism because they’re young. I personally don’t care what they do, but that’s me; they’re certainly in the public eye.

    IMO, you’re bending over backwards to find a way to insulate the Willow from criticism for doing something pretty despicable. If the Palins don’t want Willow criticized, they need to keep her out of the limelight. That’s pretty damn easy to do, and they’re not doing it.

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  46. TG Chicago says:

    The solution is so simple: all Sarah Palin has to do is record one of those “It Gets Better” videos. She can make an oblique reference to how she’s had to deal with slurs being used in her own family, and how we all need to learn tolerance.

    But she hasn’t done that. And she’s not going to. Because Sarah Palin thinks that there’s nothing wrong with what her daughter said.

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  47. Tusca says:

    I’d be more worried about the shame Willow Palin might feel, if there were any evidence that she’s sorry about her role in this. Ideally, she would feel guilty. Not to get all anthropology 101 on you, but that’s the way most people operate — they do something wrong and their internal mechanisms react to the bad behavior by making them feel guilty. Some people don’t feel guilty when they do something wrong, so society has another way to make them feel bad — shame. If you feel bad about what you’ve done, your parents protect you from shame. But no one in the Palin clan — not Willow, not her older sister, and not her mother — seems to feel any guilt about the incident, so I think it’s appropriate to shame them.

    Is this the role of the media and American society at large? Nope. But Willow is a voluntary member of the facebook community, and that community is perfectly within its rights to shame her until she apologizes, corrects her behavior, or at least acts contrite.

    “Put yourself in her shoes. Think about something stupid, mean, or hurtful that you said when you were 16 years old. Think about the shame you feel about it now that you’re an adult. Think about how embarrassed you’ve been when something stupid you’ve done was made public, even to a small circle of people.”

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  48. Mikeybackwards says:

    Alex –

    You don’t think this is bullying even though many people have pointed out to you that she responded to criticism by using the nuclear bomb of high-school insults. She then compounded this by accusing him of being motivated by jealousy of her family’s wealth, and position – the same wealth and position that she apparently thinks should insulate her from criticism.

    You say you are not giving her a pass but you are giving her the insulation to which she already has demonstrated a sense of entitlement.

    You keep harping on the idea that she wrote it on a private facebook page. So I go on your private website and call you a faggot should I get the same protection from criticsm? If I go on your private property and call you a bitch and a punk and a two bit shill does the fact that I do it there protect such actions from scrutiny?

    The reality is that Willow Palin went onto the public section of someone’s website (hosted by facebook) to post this screed. If she had wanted to make this a private matter between herself and her victim she could have sent him a message. Instead she decided to make a public statement. Did she stop to think that public statement would be seen by millions? Did she stop to think that in the context of the anti-gay bullying and resultant suicides that she would be vilified? Probably not to both questions.

    But this really is the same thing as if she had stood in the hallway of Wasilla High School and screamed this at the boy. Or if she had stood outside someone’s home screaming nigger. Because of her public actions we are free to express our displeasure with both her original actions and her lack of similarly public contrition, apology or expression that she understands what she did was wrong.

    You ask if by appearing on Sarah Palin’s Alaska are Piper and Trig fair game too. You are asking the wrong question. No one sought out Willow and attacked her. She sought out this boy and attacked him in a public manner in a socially unacceptable manner. We are simply responding with the social approbation her behavior justly deserves. Please stop engaging in false equivalences. This is not about attacking Willow. This is about Willow attacking others.

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  49. Maya says:

    Please, Mr. Knapp, when you say, “Think about how embarrassed you’ve been when something stupid you’ve done was made public, even to a small circle of people. Now, magnify that — imagine that the stupid thing you’ve said has been a media focus for days. Internet, TV, you name it,” aren’t you overlooking that it was Willow *herself* who made it all public? She posted her comments on Facebook, for God’s sake. She put them all over cyberspace. *She* put herself in the position of being scrutinized by “millions of people.”

    I don’t think she’s embarrassed at all. I think she’s gloating that she has achieved some “fame,” in the Palinesque view of fame: she used technology and the media to insert herself into the public discourse and to further a hurtful agenda. That alone makes her a public figure. Yes, the whole thing is disgraceful, but she brought the disgrace upon herself. And about being “only 16”: at 16, you’re old enough to drive, to work, to be looking into a future career, to do many things that adults do. So much for her tender age.

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  50. Marnie says:

    The article’s points are valid.
    I would counter that Willow didn’t just have one vile outburst and then back away. (And no I did never did anything even remotely resembling her stalking, her anger,r or her language when I was 16 and I still haven’t and I’m 65.) She continued to sling sewage over a prolonged period of time, increasing her hateful invective over that period.

    Willow went into the conversation knowing she is a celeb’s daughter and she knowingly carried on an inflammatory conversation in a very very public forum.

    The only excuse I could afford her is that she may have the same genetic lack of foresight that her mother has. Or maybe she is just another mean woman coming from a family of mean women.

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  51. Fiona says:

    Alex Knapp, please take notice: What that 16-year-old did IS bullying: She used abusive, browbeating language to hurt someone. A mistake would have been to call him a jerk; to call him a faggot, which we clearly know has led young people to suicide, can be nothing but bullying of the worst kind. I’d go as far as to say she’s a poster child for bullies. For years people were told to ignore bullies. This never stopped anyone. We know bullies’ peer groups do not correct bullies — they join them, using the “everybody’s doing it” excuse. Why should we leave her alone? So she can continue her ugly behavior? So other bullies can say “It’s OK for her, so I’ll do it too”? Her being subjected to criticism is possibly one way to stop her bullying and teach others like her a much needed lesson.

    The fact that so many are writing you and disagreeing with you should make you wonder if maybe YOU are wrong. Instead of continuing to defend the indefensible, you’d do well to admit you weren’t thinking clearly when you spoke up for that mean brat. I believe you made a mistake in defending her. I believe she engaged in a cyberattack that is ugly, malicious, disgraceful bullying.

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  52. SmacK says:

    Check me if I am wrong, but we send 16 year olds to prison, try them as adults – because they ought to know better. Why are some 16 year olds allowed to make ‘stupid’ mistakes without responsibility and other must accept the consequences? Public figures receive the public’s attention. Willow, by virtue of her reality show, is a public figure. You could argue her mother should not have done that to her, but she has. It can’t be turned on and off when convenient.

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