I had forgotten about Legal Insurrection and its author, William Jacobson, an Ivy League law professor who’s nuttier than a pecan-pistachio-peanut butter sandwich. He last appeared as a subject in this blog nearly three years ago, when he spent the better part of three days obsessively covering President Obama’s choice of mustard. Dijongate! Really, I can’t make this stuff up.
Today, he’s making a splash by going after @StopBeck and Media Matters for the “boycott” of Rush Limbaugh, which is hilarious because there is no boycott going on. The thousands upon thousands of volunteers in this social media campaign are doing advertiser education. We inform companies of what they are sponsoring, and once they know they almost always withdraw their ads voluntarily. We are the free market response. Why does Jacobson hate the free market?
A “boycott” would be organized denial of our purchasing power to advertisers who don’t do that, and so far no one — not Media Matters or @StopBeck or me or anyone else — has actually boycotted a sponsor. We haven’t had to. Professor Jacobson is being much too free with the word, having used it in today’s post thirty-five times. (Yes, I counted.)
But he has to do that, because the notion of a Limbaugh “boycott” is the main prop under his thesis, which is that the widespread and leaderless social media phenomenon currently smashing Limbaugh’s profitability is REELY TEH LIBERAL CONSPIRACEEZ OF GEORGE SOROS. Of course!
Because you know George spent years planning for the week Rush Limbaugh would refuse to shut up about Sandra Fluke for three solid days and make tens of thousands of people angry enough to take action. See, it’s just like that sinister plan to sneak a Kenyan child into Hawaii in 1961 with clairvoyant knowledge that a black man could be elected president in 2008. We know how that works, right?
I have to say that I’m a little offended by this paranoid tripe, and not merely on my own behalf. No one had to organize me or my Twitter friends to flog the petition to remove Rush Limbaugh from Armed Forces Radio, and insofar as anyone “organized” the 25,000 people who signed it in ten days, I was just one of many. Take M.S. Bellows, who put together the master contact list on the issue. Or the gang at VoteVets, which has a similar petition. We all play a part.
And if any part of the netroots reaction to Limbaugh’s nine-hour misogyny circus deserves to be called a “boycott,” it’s our effort — but we don’t rate. Never mind that VoteVets and Bellows and I have a sitting US Senator endorsing our part of the “conspiracy.” Why? I guess we’re harder to find than @Shoq and @StopBeck, who get all the “glory” in Jacobson’s world. Note to the professor: if both of them dropped dead and Media Matters closed up shop today, we would still be doing this. No one could stop us.
The only thing Jacobson can “prove” is that “coordination” is going on. In his world, that’s evidence of…what, exactly? It’s never clear, but Jacobson can see @Shoq tweeting @StopRush to check his direct messages (DMs), which are not visible to the public, and the hole in Jacobson’s mind instantly fills up with dark scenarios. In the real world, a “check DM” tweet is just how busy social media users tell each other to, well, check their DMs. I do it to @Shoq several times a week, so I’m at least as much a part of Jacobson’s imaginary conspiracy.
The spreadsheet “coordination” of StopRush was set up in response to widespread outrage among liberals using social media. It answered a demand with a product we wanted — there’s that free market thing again! — because without someone setting up a central clearing house for information, we would just be a disorganized series of electronic mobs orbiting Facebook pages, blog actions, etc.
I’m sure Jacobson would prefer that, but liberals are shockingly uninterested in chaos. We want our actions to be effective, which is why we’re all using that genius spreadsheet site the professor has waved like a bloody shirt. And guess what? In America, we’re allowed to organize this way. (See: First Amendment.)
@StopRush — and the hashtag #stoprush — are merely the flags we’ve rallied around, and without them our battle standards would simply be planted somewhere else. I’ve also linked or tweeted the StopRush spreadsheet a dozen times, so it was never exactly a secret. That eager dittoheads “discovered” it for the professor speaks to their desperate need for information — and our transparency in organizing it.
Jacobson and Limbaugh simply cannot conceive of themselves being outgunned, outflanked, and outnumbered by a mass movement. The phenomenon that has struck the financial props out from under hate radio is incomprehensible to people who are used to playing the bully from a protective bubble. By deflecting #StopRush to the shadowy boogeymen of their imagination, they can maintain an unhealthy denial of what is really happening to their sad little world: we are crushing it, and we will not stop. Ever.
As I keep saying, Rush is his own worst enemy because he keeps saying things that make him toxic to any brand. No one forces him to do it, just as no one forces thousands of people to sign a White House petition. My mother and father signed it. Most of my friends have signed it. My thousands of Twitter followers have signed it, and also thousands of Reddit users (note to the professor: r/stoprush is almost as important as the spreadsheet).
All of us should demand our immediate inclusion in Jacobson’s imaginary conspiracy — so we can wear the accusation as a badge of honor. What are we, chopped liver?