Monday, June 14, 2010

The Tony Award for over-the-top blog comment goes to ...

Holy crap, I completely forgot the Tony Awards were on last night. I was reminded of how the Tonys reward scenery-chewing performances when this piece of overwrought drivel showed up, courtesy of commenter "Dave" / "Beorn" (hereinafter DB), referring to a post I put up more than two years ago:

Wow. Your chest-thumping confrontational style would be enough to piss off Mother Teresa, so it's no wonder you get indignant responses on topics about which your assertions are demonstrably wrong, and get few people willing to engage someone so defiantly ignorant in intelligent conversation afterwards. After what I've seen of your obnoxious discourse, I'm hardly willing to attempt any sort of dialog with you either, so I'll just make my two points and be gone. This will allow you to respond, think you've shot down all pretenders to your King of Intellect throne, and sit back smugly even as future visitors continue to see right through all your unwarranted assertions and factual errors.

Ooh, snap, I hit a nerve by criticizing public radio. I was getting bored with it, but if it pisses off DB's ilk, I think I'll start up again. DB, your response was 525 words; if you type at 50 wpm, you spent 10 minutes and change writing it. If that's "hardly willing to attempt any sort of dialog", I'm glad I didn't inspire you to actually man up and engage with me!

Even though DB has declared the subject officially closed, the King of Intellect (me, I guess) still wants to reply. In attempting to refute the two actual substantive points DB raised, let the obnoxious discourse, pre-formed conclusions, unwarranted assertions, and smug factual errors begin:

1. Your assertion that This American Life is biased hinges upon one statement by one subject on one episode. When Sari says, essentially, that despite her belief in America, she knows that Muslims are being treated poorly in many communities, you jump on this as though she was burning the flag and TAL was revelling in the moment.

Incorrect. My reaction is to a categorical statement made by "Sari", and included in the piece by the producers of TAL, which neither she nor they can possibly substantiate: "It's a sign of our times. It's happening all across America ... We hear stories of different things going on, in schools and places of employment ..."

It is, of course, impossible for an individual to know what is going on all across America, as I stated originally. Here are some alternatives that would have been supportable:
  • "Sari" heard about anti-Muslim discrimination from the media -- in which case the proper statement would be, "I have seen reports of this happening all across America." That statement indicates a proper context - what the individual has heard, and her reaction to it.
  • "Sari" has spoken to acquaintances who have reported similar incidents -- in which case the proper statement would be, "I have spoken with other Muslims to whom this is happening."
  • With no supporting evidence, "Sari" is simply projecting her own biases on the entire country -- in which case the proper statement would be, "I can't believe I'm the only one to whom this is happening."
You completely ignore the Justice Department official who backs up her claim by saying that anti-Muslim actions did indeed rise sharply after 9/11.

It is impossible to deny that there was anti-Muslim sentiment after 9/11. Muslim terrorists had just killed thousands of Americans, and though Americans did not respond with widespread, reactive violence (as Muslims did in Denmark and Afghanistan), the incidents are still a matter of record. The Council on American-Islamic Relations, an unindicted co-conspirator in the funding of Muslim terrorism, tallied 1,717 "incidents of violence, threats, and bias" in the six months following 9/11 (although the report, formerly at, has apparently been removed, so it's hard to substantiate that number). None of that is in dispute, nor was it disputed in the original post.

Understandable given the kind of blogger you are, I suppose; acknowledging this would shoot down your claim, and you're all about defending your own pre-formed conclusions regardless of the facts, and winning rather than actually being correct. The real question here is not why TAL feels the need to be anti-American; it isn't anti-American to discuss what happens in America, both good and bad.. The real question is why you feel the need to slap anyone with whom you disagree with your anti-American label, and why you apparently think that being a good American means defending the status quo, no matter what.

Just for the record, I don't believe (and never stated) any of "Sari", NPR/PRI/WBEZ, This American Life, DB, or Ira Glass is anti-American, though I do take issue with their implicit characterization of all Americans. The original blog post was intended as a rebuttal to a fallacious statement by "Sari" regarding the entirety of America, and an examination of the choices that she could have made that might have improved her perception of America.

2. TAL is distributed by Public Radio International (PRI), not NPR. The two entities compete against each other to get programs aired on public radio.

Interestingly, I pointed out in the post that DB commented on that Alex Blumberg, a producer for This American Life (distributed by PRI), is also a contributor to Planet Money (from NPR), and both relationships continue up to this day. Chana Joffe-Walt also works for both programs, even referencing a common segment used on both NPR's Planet Money and PRI's This American Life on her site. Adam Davidson refers to Planet Money is a co-production between NPR and This American Life. David Kestenbaum worked for both PRI's This American Life and NPR's Planet Money. Planet Money producer Caitlin Kenney has also been featured on This American Life. Wikipedia states that "The Planet Money team also produces regular reports for Morning Edition and All Things Considered and occasionally produce episodes of This American Life." Finally, episode #408 ("Island Time") of PRI's This American Life, at the 32:30 mark, advertises NPR's Planet Money podcast and blog.

"Competitors" who share many key staff members, cooperate on production, and advertise each other's products are prosecuted under antitrust statutes in the private sector, but I guess the distinction is more meaningful in the sophisticated, taxpayer-subsidized radio business.

But because you've brought it up, DB, I'll concede that This American Life (which is featured on NPR's home page under the heading "Also heard on NPR stations") is distributed by Public Radio International.

This is a common point of confusion, and you might be forgiven for making the mistake if you had not been such a bombastic, insulting jerk about making the assertion when you really didn't know what you were talking about. But just 30 seconds of research would have disabused you of this erroneous notion, and you didn't choose to do it. Instead, you attacked and belittled the folks who were trying to give you the correct information. "Oops," indeed. And no, I am not the person who originally told you that you were wrong. I found your blog while doing research on the TAL story because I wanted to read up on the Justice Department's response to the case--and just happened to be exasperated enough by the BS drivel you spew and the abuse you hurl at those who try to correct you, to respond to you in kind. Your ego is FAR too big for this to have any lasting effect on you, but it was worth taking the time to point out what a fool you are anyway. You may now continue your smug, superior life of proud ignorance, untroubled by the annoyances of facts, truth, or people with differing opinions.

Wow. If this paragraph doesn't win some sort of award for theatrical overplaying of a weak hand, then awards mean nothing. DB, your ad hominem talents are second to none, and although your facts are few and far between, I nonetheless hereby award you Best Dramatic/Bitchy Performance on an Otherwise Defunct Blog.

1 comment:

Amy said...

Wow. DB needs to chill. You were expressing your opinion, and rather politely I would say. I, however, am not that polite: DB you a sanctimonious asshole. Have a nice day.