August 14, 2013

"Why don't you ask me next time before writing that I'm either malicious or dumb?"

Asks Charles C. Johnson, the Daily Caller writer whose article I critiqued yesterday in a post titled "Young Cory Booker — groping women or appeasing women?"

Here's the point in the comments where Johnson shows up. I answer him, he responds to that, and I respond.

Just thought you might like to know about the action in the comments.


David said...

Ok. I'll ask.

Mr. Johnson, are you malicious, or just dumb?

I promise to read your response with an open mind.

Carol said...

Thank you for clearing up the difference between ad hominem and personal attack. But I'm afraid it's much too late, on the Internet at least. That horse left the barn with "begs the question."

Ann Althouse said...

The question "Is Johnson dumb or malicious?," asked halfway through the post comes after I establish that what he wrote is dumb. The "malicious" alternative is there as an out. He's not necessarily dumb for having written something dumb. He might be deliberately deceiving us. It's a mean question, and I certainly intended to be mean at that point. But if you want to criticize me about that, you have to deal with what I've done by that point in the post. Have I established that Johnson wrote something that was dumb? You have to get into the details of what he wrote about that old essay of Booker's. My mean question stands or falls on the strength of my proof that Johnson's reading of Booker's essay was dumb.

MayBee said...

No, you hadn't established he'd written something dumb. You'd established he had written something you saw in a different way.
Why resort to meanness? You don't like it when people are mean to you, or call you dumb or assume maliciousness.

Why choose mean when there are other options?

bpm4532 said...

His job is to "entertain and instruct"? What an arrogant ass. Is it his job to cause car accidents so as to expound on automobile safety?

EDH said...

Maybe I'm missing something, but where does Althouse say anything about CJ before CJ writes...

Charles Johnson said...

Or perhaps Booker is gay and he's merely making up the whole story in the first place as part of his column.

It seems odd that someone I used to read with regularity is attributing motives to me that I didn't know I had. I guess I must be dumb rather than malicious.

8/13/13, 6:51 PM

Ann Althouse said...

"No, you hadn't established he'd written something dumb."

Yes, in fact, I did. What is the basis of your saying otherwise? I want actual details. I will agree with the possibility that it was malicious and not simply dumb. Either he understood what Booker wrote and misstated it to make a malicious attack or he didn't understand and was dumb. I stand by that.

And I absolutely do intend to be mean -- to cut with a sharp edge -- when I see that.

If anyone wants to be mean to me over something I've written, my response isn't based on saying people shouldn't be mean! It's based on the substance of what I'm being attacked for. I will defend myself.

I think there's too much niceness and bullshit in writing, and that women in particular get hoodwinked into being nice. I don't do that and I don't demand that anyone do that to me.

Bob Ellison said...

You seem to be stuck a little too much in your own personal echo chamber, Professor. You insulted Johnson, and he felt insulted. It's not that hard to understand. He probably didn't want to work too hard to understand what was going on inside your brain.

David said...

"women in particular get hoodwinked into being nice"


Some women. Sometimes. There's a lot of female nastiness around. Most of it not as fact based as you try to be.

Ann Althouse said...

"There's a lot of female nastiness around."

I think a lot of that is part of a dysfunctional syndrome that has pressure to be nice as a component.

I've been through all that. I suffered from the feeling that I'm supposed to be nice -- to be liked by everyone -- and it's death to political writing. I got pushed back on the internet in 2004 and 2005, when I first started, by people who thought they could push that women are supposed to be nice button.

I got over that. I pick my targets and I make my cuts. I stand by my choices.

I think that's the better approach and I strongly recommend it to women over carrying on the old niceness tradition, which will have that side effect that is what I think you are labeling "female nastiness."

I think of the "Church Lady" SNL character in this regard. Nice nice nice nice... nasty.

FleetUSA said...

AA: A woman holding the sharp sword of justice can be impressive. ;-)

surfed said...

That I could be a fly on the wall when you and Meade get into a verbal scruff. And at the same time concurrent male sympathies to him. Arguing with my in house Mensa is a tough enough proposition. You would be a whole league up Professor.

Paddy O said...

Your 9:31 comment is interesting in light of the Hillary post.

The idea that women will bring peace to the world is buying into their being really nice or really nasty, I suppose. The assumption is that it's the first one. But, there's that breaking point, and when it breaks, the whole world must be shown who they're really dealing with.

Kevin said...

I didn't bother to click through to read the original article until seeing these comments this morning, and I got a very different impression about what was in it from how you portrayed it here. I'm just not sure how you read that article and came away with the idea that Johnson was "appropriating this material to launch the rumor that Booker is a sex offender." When I actually read the source it seemed mostly to quote the original Booker column with a few comments (like the "haunt him for years" one you highlighted) thrown in more to playfully mock the idea that someone would write a serious column about how a mild incident like this as a teenager has taught them so much about sex and gender. The lede was written to highlight the "groping"--and I for one am shocked that an online newspaper would choose to highlight the salacious part of a story to entice readers--but the rest of the article was more or less a quoting of Booker's own words about the incident.

One of the very few comments Johnson put into the article was the sentence about missing the mark quoted here. My reading of that sentence was that he chose to write like that to make it more humorous and mocking, not because he is dumb and lacks any kind of reading comprehension.

Certainly, if one actually wanted to evaluate Booker's reasons for writing the column I find the Althouse approach compelling. But I don't really see a clear reason why a reporter has to evaluate the Booker column in those terms instead of simply quoting it with a few comments to lightly make fun of its self-seriousness. So I do think it was wrong of you to conclude that the author must be dumb or malicious or probably both just because he had a different approach to reporting about a column than the one you would have had.

For example, I could end this comment by stating that your insistence that your view of the column is the only appropriate one means that you are either a self-centered egotist or just too dumb to understand other people's points of view. But I know that would not be a fair comment to make. So maybe you can understand why Johnson would feel you have mistreated him and attacked him, and why he might be particularly upset about an attack from someone whose writings he has enjoyed in the past.

To me at least, the strength of your proof that Johnson's reading was dumb only survives for people who don't actually read Johnson's actual article.

AaronS said...

It seemed clear at the time that AA was intending to deride the author of the article. I assume for both the interpretation put forth and the fact that the article was written in the first place. I assume the article is intended to let partisans fill in the blanks with the worst possible motives about an opposing politician by using a few provocative words without any real back up that they are aptly used.

Alas, I'll never know for sure because I avoid political websites that feature lots of galleries of women in bikinis.

AaronS said...

Fascinating that his first response was that he had read this blog regularly. Really tells you the mind set of loads of political journalists - tribalism. One shouldn't criticise one of their own in public.

I'll buy that for immediate family. But nobody else. We need more criticism not less. We need more rodeo clowns mocking all of us.
I suppose an Althouse clown would be a bit confusing in Dubuque but even so it would be worth the price of the mask. Mr. Johnson clearly needs one.

Meade said...

@Surfed: it's just like when the doves cry.

But seriously, I recommend never arguing with dogs, children, or lovers. Say what you mean, mean what you say, and be mean without saying mean things. However mensa the league, let your actions do the talking and win-win-win.

Now, my brother, go out there and ride -- catch, pump, roll, carve, drop, fade, float, and fade. Find your line, smack the lip, snap the wave, and steer with your hips.

Misinforminimalism said...

Your defense of your false premise of "dumb or malicious" as not being an ad hominem attack is disingenuous. An attack on character isn't transformed into an attack on an idea simply because you're ignorant about whether your attack on his character is justified (which flirts with yet another form of logical fallacy, the argumentum ad ignorantium). Simply, you rejected one argument on the basis that another statement made by him was, in your mind, "dumb." That's not logical reasoning and you should know that. You're just doubling down on your attempts to intimidate him.

Birches said...

Its betas all over again

Carl said...

Why don't you ask me next time before writing that I'm either malicious or dumb?

That's easy. Because you didn't take the time, while writing originally, to ensure your readers had all the data necessary to make the distinction (or conclude neither was applicable). Since you clearly didn't care enough about that possible judgment to forestall it by writing more judiciously, why should I? Your reputation rests, first, in your own hands, and if you won't bother to protect it -- why should I?

I really hate this kind of attitude. It's the most unspeakable laziness. Why didn't you ASK why I was late instead of firing me on the spot? Why didn't you FIND OUT why I was robbing that liquor store, instead of arresting me and throwing me in jail? Why didn't you ASK why I was breaking into the house instead of shooting me?

Because if you don't care enough about the reaction of others to take steps to present yourself clearly and favorably, why the hell should anyone else care more? You're not a God-damned child.

Or maybe they are, and that's the problem. America has always venerated youth, but good grief there's venerating the energy and boldness of the 25-year-old, and venerating the narcissism and insipidity of the 15-year-old. By 2100 maybe we'll be venerating the helplessness and lack of toilet training of the 1-year-old.