Arriving in the office this morning, a fellow blogger approached me. “So, another Republican rape thing happened last night. But everyone already wrote about it, and it’s kind of over now?”
While we were sleeping, a near-complete cycle of political outrage had been performed. It had the same narrative arc as Todd Akin’s “legitimate rape” scandal: Richard Mourdock, Indiana’s GOP candidate for Senate, said during a televised debate that pregnancies resulting from rape were “something that God intended to happen.” Immediately, everyone reenacted their roles from the Akin affair: Mourdock backtracked, Democrats capitalized, Republicans distanced themselves, columnists debated the significance, someone made a meme, and finally — the pièce de résistance — the National Review attempted a feeble defense. Twelve hours later, Mourdock held a press conference to apologize “for being misunderstood.” I watched it in an Internet livestream.
We have gotten really efficient at covering these things. But why? Are we having the same conversation again and again because we’re not getting anywhere with it? (Granted, not much time has passed, nor has the election.) Or is it a ritual, like walking the stations of the cross or performing a choreographed dance? We enter the process already knowing how it will end, but we do it anyway because, like all rituals, it’s largely symbolic and exists so participants can announce their memberships in various tribes.
If it’s the latter, it’s not useless. There is value to drawing lines in the sand, and I certainly wouldn’t want Mourdock to perform his step in the ritual without members of my tribe (outraged females, for the record) performing theirs. But as this iteration of Look at This Fucking Misogynist reaches its conclusion, I’m starting to fear repetitive-motion injury.