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Faux outrage: When to stand your ground

There's been a marked upsurge in outrage this campaign season, with not much to show for it -- until now.

There's been a marked upsurge in outrage this campaign season, with not much to show for it -- until now.

There was conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh calling activist Sandra Fluke a slut and worse. The right was apoplectic over what they perceived as an attempt by President Obama to force religious institutions to provide health care that they deemed immoral; the left was outraged at the attempt to distract from the very real issue of women's health. Nasty attacks flew left and right, and the outrage only grew, with no real gains for either to speak of.

The more recent Ann?Romney "war on moms" flap followed a similar trajectory. A Democratic operative, Hilary Rosen, made comments suggesting that Mrs. Romney may not be best equipped to provide analysis on the realities of the working poor. The Romneys, apparently perceiving the remarks as an attack on working mothers, showed their outrage; the left came back with even more outrage. Blather, rinse, repeat.

Somewhere between these two manufactured controversies lies the tragic killing of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin. The Martin case quickly became a talking point in the heated partisan divide -- especially following President Obama's entry into the fray, in which he commented that his hypothetical son would look like Martin.

The left raged at the apparent lack of justice; the right raged over cries of racism, the claim that the media used an outdated photo to make the teen seem more sympathetic and a belief that the undeniable victim had some minor criminal history. Insults were hurled with vigor, and we all hated each other just a little bit more.

But it seems that, in this incident at least, there may actually be some positive outcome lurking in the muck. That's because the American Legislative Exchange Council -- the group maligned by progressives for pushing the Stand Your Ground law that allowed Trayvon killer George Zimmerman to escape arrest for so long -- bowed to corporate pressure and announced it was getting out of the culture war business yesterday. Praise the free market at work!

ALEC, which provides model legislation free of charge to time-pressed lawmakers, lost major corporate support these past few weeks -- big names such as Coca-Cola, McDonald's and more -- over progressive protests related to the Trayvon incident. Now the organization, whose effects can be measured by the fact that its suggestions have repeatedly made it word for word into U.S. law, says it will be staying out of "issues that don't have a direct bearing on our company or on our industry."

Apparently outrage can occasionally yield success. There goes the neighborhood.

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