The Atlantic, the treasured cultural commentary magazine that nets 450,000 subscribers, is in some hot water lately. Recently, the company decided to hire Kevin Williamson, unleashing a torrent of criticism about his past “work.”
I still can't believe we hate women so much that you can call for 25% of them to be executed and the @TheAtlantic will hire you.
— Jennifer Wright (@JenAshleyWright) March 28, 2018
According to a new report by Media Matters, Williamson has sincerely and passionately argued Mexican immigrants are “peasants” and “aren’t really contributing a great deal,” advocated for the use of torture (which has exhaustively been shown to be ineffective), and that abortion should be treated as a homicide.
“However, as Williamson himself explained in a September 2014 episode of his National Review podcast, ‘Mad Dogs and Englishmen,’ he had no problem defending his view that he supported capital punishment for those who had an abortion and that what he ‘had in mind was hanging.’Notably, although Williamson did hedge saying that he was ‘kind of squishy on capital punishment in general’ he was ‘absolutely willing to see abortion treated like regular homicide under the criminal code.’”
Williamson’s argument is, in fact, logical. If you believe abortion is murder, then you believe there should be a criminal punishment for it, and that is not a logical consistency held up by even abortion rights’ fiercest opponents.
However, just because an argument is logical does not make it good.
Saying that if you believe Jewish people are filthy rats, then you also believe they should be exterminated is logically consistent, but the farthest thing from a good idea.
New York Times Columnist Bret Stephens came to Williamson’s defense, arguing in an op-ed piece that Williamson’s critics:
“…Show bad faith when they treat an angry tweet or a flippant turn of phrase as proof of moral incorrigibility.”
In the face of the podcast, however, the defense doesn’t exactly stand up. It was carefully produced and then published for the world, calmly and logically laying out Williamson’s belief that women who get abortions should be hanged.
Can men in media stop pretending this was just an ill-advised, momentary lapse of judgement from Kevin Williamson? This is what he believes. By keeping him on at @TheAtlantic, @JeffreyGoldberg is making clear he thinks 'killing women' is an acceptable part of political discourse.
— Jessica Valenti (@JessicaValenti) April 4, 2018
In the age of Trump, the right needs a heavy PR game, and this latest move by the Atlantic seems to show a tendency of editors of the most prestigious publications in the country to do everything in their power to give them one.