Jonathan Turley’s thirst for attention reached new heights yesterday when the GW Law professor put Donald Trump, Christmas, and Die Hard in one story in a bid to exploit every search engine optimization technique in one fell swoop.
Trump, in the spirit of the season, had issued a Christmas message through his personal social media platform describing his enemies — real and imagined — concluding “MAY THEY ROT IN HELL. AGAIN, MERRY CHRISTMAS!” Turley, desperate for any opportunity to make headlines during the doldrums between Christmas and New Year’s Day decided to throw himself into the discussion.
First of all, the Die Hard debate remains unbearably stupid. Above and beyond the Christmas season setting of the story, the film juxtaposes a man’s drive to reconnect with his family against the corrupting and violent toll of unchecked greed. It’s the quintessential interrogation of the American Christmas experience. Certainly far more of a Christmas movie than any of the “big city lawyer moves to the country to plow the Abercrombie model running the local book store” movies on Hallmark.
But whether you accept Die Hard as a Christmas movie or are just wrong, the dispute does not, in any way, seem of a kind with the “is ‘rot in hell’ a holiday greeting” debate.
There is — if you look hard enough — a logic here. Turley might be trying to say that action films traffic in violent fantasies that contribute to an overall weakening of the Christmas spirit. He sort of hints at that in his follow up:
See, he wasn’t downplaying the severity of a political candidate trafficking in the rhetoric of vengeance when he compared it to a widely beloved movie, they’re just two random, independent things that some people don’t think are Christmas-y!
This is dumb. To demonstrate how stupid this is, consider: “murder is to crime what anchovies on pizza is to culinary choices: a matter of considerable interpretation… that doesn’t easily fit with how some of us view the world.” Turley’s first Tweet didn’t endeavor to draw connections between two related but different concepts, it laid out an equivalence (if we’re using “equiv-” words) between Trump and Die Hard. If he wanted to express the more interesting argument about violent imagery in holiday messaging, he did a worse job than usual of matching thought to words on the page.
But he didn’t really think that far ahead because Turley just thought tying this to the Die Hard discussion might get him a little bit more buzz. Like Hans Gruber, everyone wants to see Turley as some sort of mouthpiece of MAGA terrorism, but in the end he’s just a common crook looking for a few more bucks and clicks.
Joe Patrice is a senior editor at Above the Law and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. Feel free to email any tips, questions, or comments. Follow him on Twitter if you’re interested in law, politics, and a healthy dose of college sports news. Joe also serves as a Managing Director at RPN Executive Search.