Kevin Williamson Fired From the Atlantic

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The curtain has rung down on the great Kevin Williamson affair. It turns out that Williamson didn’t propose the death penalty for women who get abortions in just a single angry tweet, but also in greater depth in a podcast:

Of all the reasons to get fired, this is the craziest. Goldberg didn’t think Williamson was serious about his view of abortion? That’s nuts. Of course he was serious about it. How could Goldberg have somehow convinced himself otherwise?

Do you remember during the 2016 campaign, when Donald Trump said that “there should be some form of punishment” for women who have abortions? It was obvious at the time that Trump was just freewheeling and had no idea what the pro-life community thought of this. He just figured (a) hey, if abortion is illegal this makes sense, right? and (b) taking the farthest right-wing stance had worked before, so it should work again.

What he didn’t know was how hard the pro-life community works to not say this. They will talk about abortion being murder. They will talk about it being worse than the Holocaust. They will talk about punishing doctors who perform abortions. But they will never, never take the obvious next step of saying that women who get abortions should be punished. “We need to change the culture,” they’ll say. “Women are victims,” they’ll say. “This isn’t the most effective way to reduce abortions,” they’ll say. Trump was advised of this posthaste and he backed down within a few days.

It goes without saying that nobody would take this kind of forgiving attitude if we were murdering, say, a million adult Hispanics every year. We would all agree that the murderers should, in fact, be punished, and not lightly. So if abortion really is murder, then punishing women who get abortions is obviously the right thing to do.

But conservatives are firmly prohibited from saying this because they know perfectly well that everyone would find it heinous—and this prohibition is enforced with an iron fist. Williamson’s crime wasn’t believing that women who get abortions should be hanged, it was saying out loud that women who get abortions should be hanged.

Personally, I wish Williamson had said this loudly and proudly in the pages of the Atlantic. That would help tear the mask off the duplicity of the anti-abortion movement and expose it for the barbarism that it is. It would be great to see them tearing each other apart over what they really think should happen to women who get abortions. I guess now that will never happen.

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If you’re reading this, a fundraising pitch at the bottom of an article, you must find our team’s reporting valuable and we hope you’ll consider supporting it with a donation of any amount right now if you can.

It’s really that simple. But if you’d like to read a bit more, our membership lead, Brian Hiatt, has a post for you highlighting some of our newsroom's impressive, impactful work of late—including two big investigations in just one day and covering voting rights the way it needs to be done—that we hope you’ll agree is worth supporting.

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