Well, well. It appears I’ve finally realized my sorta-dream of becoming a brief pseudo-celebrity on Twitter, at least in the sights of the far-Right wingnuttia. I don’t get why people complain about how difficult and painful it is to suffer the onslaught of neo-conservatism’s finest – this is awesome.
(… Okay, so perhaps I’m a tad masochistic. Bear with me.)
Firstly, some obligatory background: So today is Memorial Day, and there’s apparently quite a bit of brouhaha on Twitter over comments made by MSNBC’s Chris Hayes implying that merely enlisting in the armed forces, and even dying in battle, doesn’t inherently make one a “hero”. He took a cautious and measured approach, and I completely agree. Yes, many soldiers are undeniably heroic; no reasonable individual could say otherwise. But it’s also true that many aren’t. Soldiers are human, and thus, are prone to any vice that non-combatants may exhibit (which WikiLeaks has done an exceptional, if supremely uncomfortable, job of revealing). To treat members of the military as if they were infallible and sacred by mere virtue of their employment demeans both linguistics and reason itself, in addition to stripping the humanity from the actual heroes in the military.
Naturally, never a fan of nuanced discussion or divergent opinions, the Right immediately went into all-out manufactroversy mode, with all the usual suspects unleashing all the usual barbs against Hayes for having the sheer gall to question the sanctity of their fetishized armed forces. I won’t mention it much here; simply take the typically measured words of Ann Coulter as a template for a decent idea of the substance of the response. These children really don’t play well with others.
Then again, perhaps calling these people “children” is just mean to actual young’uns, as I doubt even a third-grader would pen something as puerile and idiotic as this Breitbart.com column by Kurt Schlichter, which can be adequately summarized thus: “Waugh, ‘leftist twerp’ and ‘MSNBC drone’ sounds like a ‘commie grad student’ for saying that not all members of a chosen profession I really like are automatically ‘heroes’!” (You have now been spared any need to actually click that link. You’re welcome.)
And so, as is customary whenever I come across something worth mentioning, I casually scribbled a brief response for the next Daily Blend and tweeted it, along with some supplemental thoughts:
Note to military cultists (@KurtSchlichter): Being sent to war doesn’t automatically lead to heroism. Srsly, words. They, like, mean things.— Joé McKen (@joemcken) May 28, 2012
And so … it began.
The man has a troubling infatuation with his lattes, as a perusal of his Twitter timeline demonstrates. Unless it’s some inexplicable attempt at an insult, which would just be perplexing.
Contra my usual m.o., I chose to respond:
.@KurtSchlichter Didn't say you should. Merely pointing out your amusingly puerile hero-worship and hatred of dissenting opinions.— Joé McKen (@joemcken) May 28, 2012
@KurtSchlichter Also, always glad to see you react with characteristic maturity and reason. It’s reassuring.— Joé McKen (@joemcken) May 28, 2012
Back to Schlichter:
“And you shall know them by their ad populum.” I’m also not exactly sure what the “gender studies classes” bit is even supposed to be about. I’d probably need to twist my brain more ways than a pretzel for it to match this guy’s thought process. Alas, my aforementioned masochism only goes so far.
.@joemcken I love how the center of your identity is "atheist." Sooooooooooooooo boooooooorrrrrrrrrrrrrrriiiiiiiiiiiiiiinnnnnnnnnnnnggg.— Kurt Schlichter (@KurtSchlichter) May 28, 2012
… Yes. Because one word in a tiny Twitter biography is “the center of my identity”. It’s also totally relevant. I think.
It’s at this point that some of Schlichter’s 13,000 followers decided to hang a bit lower than the rest, and I’ve spent the whole morning and afternoon so far
trembling weeping laughing myself silly at what passes for “insults” these days, at least in the wingnut mind. For convenience’s sake, here are most of them in quasi-chronological order, minus the dozens of retweets, copycats, and those so dull I can’t even bother to respond, all for your reading entertainment.
— General Attacks —
You reckon @joemcken is spawn of soldier gone AWOL to Canada during Vietnam?— Jackie Vasser (@jackievasser) May 28, 2012
It’s been over five hours as of this writing, and I still have no idea what that’s about.
He disagrees with me, therefore, I must be a child. ’Cause kids are stupid, see, which is why they’re so wrong. And need I point that this – and accusations of “childish[ness] and self-centered[ness]” – from someone who follows a hack whose favored response to someone he disagreed with was “you’re a commie twerp!” … really doesn’t mean all that much?
There’s also this charming back-and-forth with a fellow who seemed to wish that I remain young forevermore:
@joemcken May God grant your request.— Hugo Hackenbush™ (@MangyLover) May 28, 2012
@joemcken twas your wish, not mine. Besides, you don't believe in the Christian God anyway. ;)— Hugo Hackenbush™ (@MangyLover) May 28, 2012
I do believe in common decency, however. That’s one test these God’s Gentle PeopleTM just love to fail.
Meanwhile, a valiant defender arose to my rescue:
I wonder what color the sky is in that fantasy world of his. Presumably some sort of mauve.
— Canada/Québec-Hating —
Some were apparently all verklempt that I dared talk smack about their country (though more accurately, them) from my librul stronghold in Canada, and French-Canada in particular:
I’ll take utter political cluelessness for … wait, not sure how that saying actually goes, to be honest. I don’t watch game shows. But yeah, strawman ahoy!
Wait – gay pride, the Seine and pita sandwiches all in one? Damn, I’ve seriously been underestimating this place.
Canada = SOCIALISM!!!11!
Don’t worry, cupcake, we aren’t nearly as crazy about cheese as we’re made out to be. (Except for Oka cheese, which I gather is something of a deity around here.)
Okay, that one’s just weird.
— Anti-Atheism/Skepticism —
Some apparently (and perhaps, expectedly) took exception with my self-labeling as an atheist and skeptic:
Once again, no idea what that even means. Is it inappropriate of skeptics to call out hackish twaddle? Methinks I’m not the one with a distorted definition of the word.
Again with the infantilization thing. I’m starting to think these people must avoid talking with their spawn whenever they can out of fear of being shown up by five-year-olds.
Ha-ha! Ho-ho! Hee-hee! Oh my lawd, that was teh cleverz. Like, srsly.
Look, people, how do you expect me to mock you if you can’t even make sense? (Even less than usual, I mean.)
There was also this little exchange:
@joemcken You act as if age, sex & country (and self-labels) don't have significant psychic/worldview/maturity/etc. correlates; they do.— Nathan Duffy (@TheIllegit) May 28, 2012
@joemcken That's a truth not widely acknowledged in the skeptic/freethinker community though, so I don't blame you for thinking otherwise.— Nathan Duffy (@TheIllegit) May 28, 2012
I think my brain’s starting to give up at this point.
— Obama the Doggyvore —
There was even a bizarre little tangent regarding the conservative “Obama ate a dog!” pseudo-scandal (in reality limited to “Obama once tasted dog meat as a child living in Indonesia”, but that’s just not scandalous, dagnabbit!).
@timpysan No, Obama once *tasted* dog meat when he was a young child in Indonesia. Don't worry, no-one expected you to understand that.— Joé McKen (@joemcken) May 28, 2012
And remember, I’m the one continually accused of being “childish”. That sound you just heard was my irony meter going nuclear.
All in all, today’s lesson: Want notoriety, not to mention oodles of guaranteed amusement? Poke fun at hardlined Right-wing kooks on the Twitter.
On the other hand, perhaps this post could serve as an object lesson in proper discussion manners. To that end, here’s an actual, entirely rational conversation I had with a friend of mine over a slight difference in opinion:
@joemcken I believe that anyone who is in the military is to some extent a hero until proven otherwise. Would you call me a cultist?— Veritas (@VeritasKnight) May 28, 2012
@VeritasKnight Depends what you mean by "hero" and how much. But no, you have a healthy respect – dolts like Schlichter are “cultists”.— Joé McKen (@joemcken) May 28, 2012
@VeritasKnight If your reaction to a dissenting view is "GUH LIBRUL COMMIE DOESN'T RESPECT SACRED HEROES", that— Joé McKen (@joemcken) May 28, 2012
@joemcken Anyone who puts their life on the line to protect the things I care about is a hero. Until they themselves break those trusts.— Veritas (@VeritasKnight) May 28, 2012
@VeritasKnight Well, that's just a difference of perspectives, and not something I'd ever call you a cultist for.— Joé McKen (@joemcken) May 28, 2012
@VeritasKnight Exactly. Though even more telling than those nuanced looks is the reactions they garner, IMO.— Joé McKen (@joemcken) May 28, 2012
@joemcken Well, if you want your military to protect American values...you should make sure it stands up to them.— Veritas (@VeritasKnight) May 28, 2012
@joemcken I'm saying that the military should be about projection of ideals, not just force.— Veritas (@VeritasKnight) May 28, 2012
@joemcken Yes.— Veritas (@VeritasKnight) May 28, 2012
And that’s how you do it. Insults: 0.0%. Ad-hominems: 0.0%. Value and comprehension: 100%.
To all the rest, those unable to conduct themselves with a modicum of maturity and integrity, those so asshatted that they cannot fathom dealing with disagreement with anything other than churlishness and sleazy insinuations, I leave you with this parting message:
(Wikileaks report via @todayspolitics; everything else apparently via Loki)
Edit (05/28/12 5:04 PM ET) – I incorrectly stated that the U.S. Memorial Day was yesterday. D’oh. Fixed.
Edit (05/29/12 6:19 AM ET) – Changed title from “In which I awaken the sleeping giant of far-Right ad-hominem!” to the current reading.
Edit (05/29/12 6:23 AM ET) – Wrongly noted Schlichter’s Twitter follower count as 1,200. Fixed.