Jimmy Kimmel apparently thinks conservatives are too dumb to be talk show hosts. Kimmel ranted on a live liberal podcast called “Pod Save America” that, “It just so happens that almost every talk show host is a liberal and that’s because it requires a level of intelligence.”
Conservatives immediately fired back on social media, mostly saying (accurately) that Kimmel’s statement was essentially self-defeating and showcased asinine political talking points.
What I find most remarkable about his brazen statement, and even the response, is that Kimmel is insulated by his own choice from having an actual conservative talk show host push back in person. The media rarely have meaningful public discourse that is long enough to drill down into the substance of the issues and get past memorized talking points.
Instead, we wage Twitter battles of “gotcha” takes that almost never actually responds to the opposition’s argument, but merely makes fun of it. I far prefer Ben Shapiro’s amazingly perceptive discussions with live audiences where he has more than 280 characters to explain why conservatives take a certain position, rather than the retweets with the caption “HAHAHA.” What does the latter actually inform us about the weakness of the opposition’s argument?
This kind of call for reasoned responses was recently highlighted in an excellent piece by Sherif Girgis for The Public Discourse, titled “In Defense of Elizabeth Harman: Taking Pro-Choice Philosophers Seriously.” The piece was inspired by Princeton University Professor Elizabeth Harmon’s viral YouTube video where she defends abortion by advancing the viewpoint that unborn children only have moral status based on their future birth status.
Many pro-life advocates immediately saw the logical absurdity of this argument, but instead of responding to her actual arguments, many responses focused on instead attacking the professor’s basic intelligence. “Only an idiot would say something that stupid,” or other variations of the same point, which is ultimately didn't explain why the argument is invalid. As Girgis aptly points out, “Conservatives owe Professor Harman better. The discipline of philosophy and the ideal of reasoned public debate also deserve better.”
He goes on to say, “Though ad hominem argument tempts us all, some strands of progressivism have made a habit of denouncing opponents as fools, bigots, or both — in debates over abortion, religious liberty, the nature of marriage, gender dysphoria, healthcare policy, the appropriate response to climate change, and much more.”
This is Kimmel’s argument — conservatives are dumb because they’re dumb. He provides only an attack on the person, with no intellectual backing or reasoning why he thinks that.
Now, you might be tempted to say at this point, "There is no reason! He’s just an idiot!" But then you’d be making the same mistake Kimmel did.
This is why conservatives and liberals or anyone else rarely make any headway in discussions about important issues.
Instead of letting Kimmel take the easy way out and conservatives merely meeting him with a similar ad hominem response, here is my challenge:
Jimmy, have an actual conservative talk show host on your show for a live face-to-face discussion about any issue of your choosing. I’ll even volunteer. I’m a radio talk show host, a millennial, an attorney, a professor, an author, and a woman. If I stopped here, you’d love that list of credentials. But add that I am a conservative Christian, and you have immediately categorized me as unintelligent.
Prove me wrong. I’d actually love to know if there is a reason besides your reflective political bias that you think conservatives are too dumb to be talk show hosts. Let’s talk about it. But don’t just hide behind name-calling. That proves nothing except your ability to name-call.
Jenna Ellis (@jennaellisorg) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential blog. She is an attorney and professor of constitutional law at Colorado Christian University, fellow at the Centennial Institute, radio show host in Denver, Colo., and the author of The Legal Basis for a Moral Constitution.
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