Not all disagreement is rooted in hate.
It’s never a good feeling to get Duplassed.
The term “Duplassed” comes from the actor Mark Duplass — a talented actor and director who contacted me sometime last year, asking whether I could give him any guidance on the pro–Second Amendment position regarding gun control. I was happy to help; he showed up at our offices, where we spent an hour and a half chatting over the issue. As he left, I warned him that if he let his leftist friends know that we had met, he might face a backlash. He blithely assured me he wasn’t worried.
A few months later, Duplass tweeted, “Fellow liberals: If you are interested at all in ‘crossing the aisle’ you should consider following @benshapiro. I don’t agree with him on much but he’s a genuine person who once helped me for no other reason than to be nice. He doesn’t bend the truth. His intentions are good.”
This, it turns out, was a rather large mistake. It prompted spasms of outrage from the Left, which brutally ratio-ed him on Twitter; Duplass quickly deleted his tweet, then issued a quasi-apology, calling his original tweet a “disaster on many levels,” adding that he “in no way endorse[s] hatred, racism, homophobia, xenophobia or any form of intolerance.”
Being Duplassed sucks, to put it mildly. To have a person address you as a human being and acknowledge your basic good nature is inherently rather heart-warming. To have that judgment summarily rejected thanks to political blowback is just as stomach-churning. Suffice it to say, then, I have some sympathy for Vice President Mike Pence, who got Duplassed by former vice president Joe Biden this week.
This week, Biden spoke in Omaha, Neb., where he called Mike Pence a “decent guy.” This was, of course, a grave sin — a sin so grave that radical-leftist actress and failed New York gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon chided Biden publicly. Nixon tweeted, “@JoeBiden you’ve just called America’s most anti-LGBT elected leader a ‘decent guy.’ Please consider how this falls on the ears of our community.” Most ridiculously, Nixon then tagged Biden’s wife so that she could presumably shame her husband into compliance.
Whatever the rationale, Biden quickly complied. He tweeted, “You’re right, Cynthia. I was making a point in a foreign policy context, that under normal circumstances a Vice President wouldn’t be given a silent reaction on the world stage. But there is nothing decent about being anti-LGBTQ rights, and that includes the Vice President.”
Pence, in other words, didn’t agree with Nixon; this made Pence a non-person. And Biden had to participate in Pence’s un-personing in order to purchase an indulgence from Cynthia Nixon and her Wokescolds.
But the insanity didn’t stop there. Nixon then published an op-ed in the Washington Post to press home the point: Pence was “insidious,” she wrote. She repeatedly mischaracterized Pence’s record, suggesting that he “signed a ‘religious freedom’ bill that would have allowed LGBTQ discrimination” (false — he actually called for changes to the bill to “make it clear discrimination won’t be allowed”); that he “refused to lift a ban on needle exchange programs until a preventable HIV outbreak reached epidemic level” (false — he issued an executive order in March 2015 allowing distribution of needles while acknowledging public-health concerns about such distribution); that he “suggested support for so-called conversion therapy” (false — there is no mention of conversion therapy on the website at issue); that he “published an article urging businesses not to hire gay people” (utterly false outright). Aside from all these false charges, Nixon condemned Pence as indecent for attempting to “ban transgender people from military service,” a position with which Pence has not been involved, and a position supported by a significant percentage of the population including a Department of Defense panel of experts; and seeking to “define transgender Americans out of existence,” a complete lie that mistakes recognizing biological sex differences for discrimination.
Nothing in Nixon’s piece was newsworthy. It was simply a scurrilous attack on Pence for favoring traditional marriage (until 2012, the Democratic party agreed) and believing in religious sexual values. For this sin, the Washington Post went along with Nixon’s attack on Pence’s basic humanity.
Here’s the truth: We have large-scale disagreements in this country. Very few of those disagreements are rooted in animus. By casting all disagreement as hate-based — and by destroying those with whom we disagree on a character level — we worsen both hate and politics. Enough with the Duplassing. Enough of the moral cowardice. It’s just fine for Joe Biden to think Mike Pence is a decent guy. And it’s pretty indecent to disagree.