All grown up.
Reformed ‘fratire’ author and self-styled ‘raging dickhead’ Tucker Max has no shortage of haters. His raunchy, politically incorrect tales have been offending liberal journalists and feminist bloggers for roughly a decade. He’s been called a misogynist, a tool, and a fake.
His attempt to give Planned Parenthood much needed funding has resulted in a media shitstorm.
Tucker’s publicist, Ryan Holiday, told their end of the story on Forbes:
I tried. I really did. I was ready to arrange a $500,000 donation to Planned Parenthood in Texas. The donor was in the car on the way to meet the CEO, checkbook in hand. But then Planned Parenthood called and told him to turn around. They didn’t want his money.
Want is the only word for it. Because, Planned Parenthood sure as hell needs it. See, in Texas, Governor Rick Perry has viciously attacked family planning and health organizations like Planned Parenthood. Not only eliminating local funding, but depriving them, this year, of more than $35 million in federal funding.
Tucker Max denied that the rejected donation to Planned Parenthood was a publicity stunt. He responded to the backlash by clarifying his intentions:
I was very serious about this donation: Lots of people have tried to call this a “publicity stunt.” That’s funny, I didn’t know that a 500k check is a joke to them. I offered real money that PP could really use, there was no ruse or stunt involved. I’ve been pro-choice my whole life, I went to PP many times with girls when I was poor and got help, I believe in their mission and in universal access to family planning services. I’ve ALWAYS believed in those principles, and this was a sincere attempt to cut Planned Parenthood real check. A “publicity stunt” would be doing something designed only to get me attention without actually doing anything, like a prank or, I don’t know, something that didn’t involve giving HALF A MILLION DOLLARS to them. Its ridiculous how people think what you do doesn’t matter, it’s only their perception of your action that defines you.
So, here’s my own little conspiracy theory.
Don’t let his public image fool you. Tucker Max and his publicist are shrewd businessmen. My gut says they knew a donation given on the condition that a clinic is named after Tucker would likely be rejected. That doesn’t mean the offer wasn’t genuine. It’s was seen as a win-win move. If PP turned them down, they’d be left with a controversial story to feed the media. If PP accepted and named a building after him, Tucker Max would have procured a number of benefits. He’d get the tax break he sought all while receiving a steady stream of publicity for as long as his name was associated with the place. All that, plus a massive PR spike at the onset.
I’m skeptical about whether it would have done much to improve his image. The ploy fits with his former persona just fine; maybe he hasn’t changed as much as he believes. Meanwhile the feminist community, which cares about defending pro-choice rights the most, will never change their mind about him. No amount of money will get him off their black list.
Some are offended that Tucker Max wanted to get something back for his donation. To them it’s too self-serving. My question is: does it matter? The reality is that people typically don’t give massive sums like that unless it’s mutually beneficial. Also, what makes people think Tucker Max could afford to do it if there was no payoff in terms of PR?
An outspoken bunch sees this as a zero sum game. If it went through, oppressive tyrant, Tucker Max would have gotten ahead at the expense of poor, downtrodden, Planned Parenthood. They ignore the good the donation could have done and focus on speculated political attacks and damage to PP’s image.
Feministe.us posted up their objection:
Yes, Planned Parenthood’s mission is to help women. Yes, Planned Parenthood could definitely use half a million dollars. But in order to accomplish their mission, Planned Parenthood needs to not open themselves up to further politicization and marginalization. They’re already under attack from the GOP for doing nothing other than providing health care to women. And Tucker Max wasn’t donating to PP out of the goodness of his heart; he was donating explicitly because he wanted to make a big public deal about it, and use the donation to rehabilitate his image as the expense of Planned Parenthood’s.
Rejecting money when PP offices are closing down around the country is also risky. People on both sides of the argument agree that the PP is between a rock and a hard place.
Pop Psychology gets deeper into the motivating factors of those that condemned his offer:
… the negative outcome of accepting Tucker’s donation is purely imagined. It might have happened, it might not have happened, and there’s absolutely zero way of confirming whether it would have. That does not stop people from assuming that the worst would have happened, as making that assumption gives those defending Planned Parenthood an unverifiable potential victim. As I’ve mentioned before, having a victim on your side of the debate is crucial for engaging the moral psychology of others, and when people are making moral pronouncements they do actively search for victims.
Jesse Marczyk questions if their will to feel morally superior trumps their support of Planned Parenthood’s real-world operations. He continues:
The inconsistency is as follows: people assume that other donors would avoid or politically attack Planned Parenthood if Tucker Max was associated with it. Perhaps some women would even avoid the clinic itself, because it would make them feel upset. Again, maybe that would happen, maybe it wouldn’t. Assuming that it would, one could make the case that if those other supporters really cared about Planned Parenthood, then they shouldn’t let something like an association of a single clinic with Tucker Max dissuade them. The only reason that someone who previously supported Planned Parenthood would be put off would be for personal, self-interested reasons. The very same kind of motivation they criticized Tucker for initially. Instead of bloggers and commenters writing well-reasoned posts about how people shouldn’t stop supporting Planned Parenthood just because Tucker Max has his name on one, they instead praise excluding his sizable donation. One would think anyone who truly supported Planned Parenthood would err on the side of making arguments concerning why people should continue to support it, not why it would be justifiable for people to pull their support in fear of association with someone they don’t like.
The experience has left Tucker with a sour taste in his mouth. Here are his own words:
Most charities are not run to help people, they are run because they are ways for people to signal status about themselves to other people…I wasn’t the “right type” of person to take money from so they’d rather close clinics. It’s the worst kind of elitism, the kind that cloaks itself in altruism. They care more about the perception of themselves and their organization than they care about its effectiveness at actually serving the reproductive needs of women.
I’m reminded of conservative author Thomas Sowell, who worked as a federal government intern in his youth. At this time he was a Marxist. He found that those administering minimum wage laws cared more about their own jobs than the plight of the poor. For this reason, they didn’t offer solutions, only ways to perpetuate the problems.
PP snubbed the offer without bothering to suggest alternative methods with lesser risks, such as an anonymous donation. According to Holiday, their stance was about moral judgement, not what was best for the women they serve.
I’ll add that PP representatives would rather let the ship slowly sink than stick their own necks out. It’s painfully obvious that such bureaucrats are driven by fear, and not opportunity. If trepidation pervades their worldview, how can we expect them to effectively help anyone?