Earlier this month Andrew Sullivan, a well-known writer, once in the center, now on the left, nominated me for what is apparently his lowest badge of distinction for defending citizens who shoot to wound graffiti vandals, or "taggers," while committing their vandalism.
Under the heading, "Malkin Award Nominee," Sullivan provides a quote from my radio show:
"'So you will now say -- I hear the voice of an ACLU member -- 'Dennis, do you think that this guy should have shot these people spray painting graffiti on his shop?' To which my answer is yes. I do. Not to kill. Not to kill. But if he shot them in the legs or in the arms I would have considered the man one of the great advancers of civilization in my time. And that is what divides left from right. Because anybody on the left hearing this would think that this is barbaric whereas I consider not stopping these people in any way that is necessary to be barbaric.' -- Dennis Prager, on his radio show."
Mr. Sullivan provides no commentary because, as I predicted in the excerpt he cites, what I said is so obviously morally offensive to him, no commentary is necessary. It is self-indicting.
To those on the left.
Their differing reactions to graffiti vandals further clarify the philosophical differences between liberals and conservatives.
Reactions to graffiti on the cultural left -- not necessarily the political left, since liberal politicians must respond to public outrage or they are not re-elected -- have generally ranged from support to indifference.
Many on the left have long described graffiti as "urban art" and graffiti vandals as "artists." Even when not admired or even defended, most liberals regard graffiti in far less negative ways than do conservatives. Conservatives tend to regard graffiti as an assault on society, perpetrated by pathologically narcissistic lowlifes bent on undermining the foundations of higher civilization.
To personalize this for a moment, while I assume that graffiti troubles Sullivan, I strongly doubt it troubles him nearly as much as it troubles me. If it did, the odds are he would not be a man of the left.
Why are so many on the left not as angered by graffiti as most conservatives are? I would like to offer some possible reasons:
One is that liberals find it difficult to condemn the poor, especially poor members of ethnic and racial minorities. If rich white kids spray painted their names on university buildings, there would probably be a liberal outcry.
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