New York Magazine Writer Jonathan Chait Says “the Feminist Police Haven’t Gotten Around Yet to Tormenting the Innocent”

Posted on April 18, 2018


The absurd quotation in the title of this post comes from a critique of an essay of Katie Roiphe’s published in Harper’s last month, which New York Magazine writer Jonathan Chait calls “alternatingly brilliant and incoherent.” Whatever the merits of that characterization (which will be considered in a future post), it could certainly be applied to Mr. Chait’s lopsided and out-of-touch perspectives.

[Roiphe’s] complaint about the tenor of discussion, and the way in which angry and extreme rhetoric crowds out more nuanced thought, has some merit. Social media has made this dynamic more acute—not only in feminism but across the political culture, which has grown more polarized into communities in which the most strident iteration of the community’s shared belief is assumed to be the most authentic.

A self-contradictory implication of what Mr. Chait noncommittally acknowledges as a valid criticism of extremist feminist rhetoric is that by influencing the political—and thus legal—culture, the feminist police have gotten around to tormenting the innocent. Actually, they got around to that a long time ago.

Mr. Chait fails to recognize that among the “feminist police” are the police, the ones with badges and truncheons and guns. Judges also qualify.

What would the world look like if the kinds of militant, uncompromising views Roiphe is grappling with had controlling power?” he naively wonders. Well, it might look something like this:

That’s the title of a law journal monograph by Russ Bleemer published almost 25 years ago—whose subject was not then localized to a particular state and definitely is not today. It pointed up gross injustices in procedures that had been instituted in the 1970s with the best of intentions.

Many a revolution has started off persecuting only the wicked, only to veer off track later. Perhaps the troubling signs Roiphe detects are portents of a dark future.

Mr. Chait’s conclusion would be less speculative if he took his nose out of the The Atlantic Monthly and The New Yorker and opened his blinds.

Copyright © 2018

*The concern of Mr. Chait’s article is to defend the #MeToo movement, whose revelations condense to “power corrupts.” Mr. Chait seems to feel that a corruptive influence by radical feminism is only an ominous possibility yet to be realized—which is a view that was last excusable in about…