Mark Steyn has a post on his site about his fight with the litigious climate fabulist Michael Mann. Most people in the commentariat would never risk their position in such a fight, but that appears to be what Steyn is doing. He had a prominent spot at National Review and a syndicated column. He has a contract with Rush Limbaugh. He was doing TV, but maybe that is no so anymore. The point being that he had a bunch of good revenue streams going until he took a stand against Michael Mann.
It appears that Steyn has tossed a lot away in order to fight this lawsuit. No matter how you feel about the guy, you have to admire the guy for his guts. There’s a long list of guys who have refused to go along and found themselves in exiled. Steyn is an international character with a lot of revenue sources so he is doing fine, but, it is not easy to face the wife and tell her to stretch the budget until things blow over. It’s even harder when you have kids.
Steyn is the most famous case and probably the least harmed. Steve Sailer paid a heavy price for sticking to his guns. Sailer years used to turn up in top-line publications like National Review. That was a long time ago. He also wrote for the Associated Press at one point and other prestigious journals. For the crime of not going along with the latest fads, he lost all of those gigs. As with Steyn, you have to admire a guy who would rather be right than a well aid liar.
Of course, all of the people writing for VDare and Taki are forever off-limits now for mainstream publications. That means the money will always be scarce. For guys like John Derbyshire, sent into exile last year, it probably does not matter much. He’s made his money and lived his life. In his dotage, he can afford to not care what the beautiful people think. The others have wives and families and that means bills to pay, appearances to keep up and all that comes with it.
Exile is a real fear among the chattering classes. Mention a proscribed person or publication around someone from Conservative Inc. and they will break out in hives and race from the room. A guy like Jonah Goldberg can pretend to be an edgy guy, but in reality he studies the rules every morning to make sure he is no where near the edge of what is acceptable. In fact, he has his snout in the air to make sure he knows what will be against the rules a year from now. He’s nowhere near that edge.
The fear is well founded. No one ever makes it back from exile. Joe Sobran and Sam Francis were great polemicists, yet they were never rehabilitated. They were the sort of gifted writers who made dangerous arguments fun to read. Maybe that’s what made them so dangerous. If great writers never make it back from the gulag, the lesser talents have no chance. That’s why the people in charge make examples of famous and talented people. These example frighten the mediocre.
Another side to this is what happens to former snitches who then find themselves in trouble with the rulers. Dinesh D’Souza was the guy who put the shiv in the back of Sam Francis two decades ago. It was his report of Francis at American Renaissance that got Francis fired from the Washington Times. Now, D’Souza is facing jail time and reaching out to his friends on the right to save him. With any luck, the Obama administration will find a way to send him to the electric chair.
Some people think the ground is about to shift. There are so many people on the fringe now, it is getting crowded. The internet makes it easier for these people to work together and build a new audience. We live in interesting times. No one seems to think the current arrangements hold much longer and no one can agree on what comes next, other than it won’t be more of the same. Maybe what comes next is the exiles come home from exile. Maybe they find a way to kick people off the internet.
That’s probably what comes next. The Left is ruthless and devoid of compassion. They will not be satisfied with people making a go of it on-line. They will find a way to punish those who permit them to operate on their platforms. They just need an example that is so egregious that they can justify the extraordinary measures. A decade from now, the same policing we see on mainstream platforms will be common on-line. Being exile will mean being silenced in every way imaginable.