Celebrity Exceptionalism

So today’s News of the Weird is a burgeoning petition drive demanding the deportation of CNN “personality” Piers Morgan for the sin of insulting long-time Gun Owners of America executive director Larry Pratt “dangerous,” “stupid,” and “an idiot” for comments Pratt made on Morgan’s show in response to the Newtown massacre.

This is interesting for a couple of reasons. Morgan is not exactly known for outspoken liberalism. His first big gig was as editor of the now-defunct Murdoch tabloid News of the World. He later edited the traditionally pro-Labour Mirror, but that was when even Murdoch was a bit soft on Tony Blair’s “New Labour.” And Morgan’s most recent big political statement was a 2012 column suggesting that Mitt Romney might “save America.”

Moreover, you don’t have to be particularly lefty to find Pratt and his organization a few bricks shy of a load. The GOA was founded by gun advocates who considered the NRA dangerously squishy. For years its hobby-horse was mandatory gun ownership (back in the 90s I once debated Pratt on a cable show and it took me about fifteen minutes to figure out he wasn’t putting me on).

The incident is instructive as a reminder that what passes for conservatism in the UK and elsewhere is often denounced as socialistic nanny-statism by the American Right. American Exceptionalism is a dubious proposition in many respects, but in terms of the starboard side of the political spectrum, there’s nothing quite like the U.S. variety when it comes to mass hysteria.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.