I read Digby regularly because she’s widely considered to be one of the intellectual heavyweights of the proggie blogosphere. Usually, when I take issue with something she’s said, it’s because of what appears to be naïveté, or — more likely — willful blindness in service to political ideology. But this kind of deliberate partisan hackery really pisses me the fuck off.

It appears this little girl was mentally tortured to death.

I’m sure this behavior isn’t unprecedented. Lord of the Flies was an allegory, but it was also a fairly realistic depiction of human behavior. But I can’t help but feel that the violent, apocalyptic rhetoric of the right over the past few years has torn off much of the civilizing bonds we’d built up over the years. Certainly our recent cavalier attitude toward torture (“when they deserve it”) hasn’t gone unnoticed.

Keep in mind that most of the people who are screaming in red faced rage in news stories every day aren’t young people. It’s older people — the faces of authority — who are doing it. These parental (and grandparental) role models acting out of control with anger gives tacit permission to some kids to act like animals too.

Yes, she’s really trying to say-without-actually-saying that the recent phenomenon of livid, illiterate Republicans with homemade, misspelled cardboard signs hollering on camera about socialism and taxes and Kenyan birth certificates is somehow responsible for teenagers in Massachusetts bullying another girl for months until she committed suicide. If she were simply making that direct claim, it would be merely stupid. But she knows better, and she admits as much right there — humans have always had the capacity for violence and gratuitous cruelty, and anyone who doesn’t have some idiotic, romantic conception of the innocence of childhood knows full well that children can display an astonishing ability to let a pack mentality take over and start senselessly tormenting outcasts for the sheer mindless fun of it.

She knows that. And yet she still tries to use such a horrible incident to score a tiny political point that no one will even remember in two weeks. Fucking disgusting.

I remember staring in slack-jawed amazement back in 2000, after the infamous wilding attacks at the Puerto Rican Day parade in NYC, as someone read an editorial (I think it was in one of the NYC tabloids, but I’m not positive) to me where the author was seriously trying to blame the attacks on Bill Clinton’s behavior with Monica Lewinsky. The “logic” seemingly went something like: Clinton got a blowjob from a willing intern and didn’t lose his job over it, so therefore a bunch of morons, who probably couldn’t even have named the president if asked, figured they could sexually assault random women in public in broad daylight and get away with it. Because again, rape and assault were absolutely unheard of in human history before then.

And remember this classic from Newt Gingrich in 1994, regarding the Susan Smith case?

Here’s what Gingrich said three days before last November’s election — in response to an Associated Press reporter who asked him how the campaign was going: “Slightly more moving our way. I think that the mother killing the two children in South Carolina vividly reminds every American how sick the society is getting and how much we need to change things.” Gingrich concluded, “The only way you get change is to vote Republican. That’s the message for the last three days.”

Nice company you’re keeping these days, Digs. Be proud.