Basic Morals Department

So some wingnut decides to steal Paul Krugman’s identity by creating a Google+ account in his name and posting something stupid on it. The wingnut has now boasted of, rather than confessed to, what was quite probably a crime and quite certainly an appallingly unethical action. Nasty, but not surprising.

(The “controversy,” if you’ll allow me to stretch the language, is over Krugman’s perfectly obvious observation that defense spending due to WWII ended the Great Depression, and that even expenditure not immediately productive is better than idle capacity. Not that it really matters, as there’s lots of quite productive expenditure we could now be doing.)

What ought to be surprising is the response from Red Blogistan and the official “conservative” commentariat. So far as I can see, all the commentary says “Well, if Krugman didn’t actually say that, he said something we’ll pretend was just like it, so ha ha!” Not a single voice on the Right is raised in favor of basic human decency.

To call the fake post “parody” is obscene. It was an act of deception, and an especially vicious one.

If someone had done this to, let’s say, Sarah Palin, some people on our side of the aisle would be denouncing it furiously (and, to be fair, would be themselves denounced just as furiously for “hippie-punching”). $5 reward for spotting any right-of-center pundit or blogger who offers a frank, unhedged denunciation of this stunt. Of course, no individual who merely ignores the foofaraw can reasonably be criticized; there are lots of things to talk about. But those still gleefully piling on after the deception was revealed show a certain lack of character. And the absence of any “conservative” prepared to assert the simple difference between right and wrong says everything you need to know about the current state of the movement.

Really, folks, there isn’t a moral equivalency between the mainstream supporters of mainstream Democratic candidates and the insane rump that now calls itself the Republican Party.

[Cross-posted at The Reality-Based Community]

Mark Kleiman

Mark Kleiman is a professor of public policy at the New York University Marron Institute.