Some helpful suggestions for the New York Times

I just learned of the editorial kerfuffle going on over at the New York Times regarding the hiring of some git or other who shall remain nameless here. Don’t worry, he’s named all too often at the link. I apologize that the link is to HuffPo, because I ordinarily don’t waste my time with them, and shouldn’t waste yours with them, but they’re relevant this time. HuffPo apparently had something to say to and/or about the Times. The Times replied to HuffPo. So I kinda have to cite them. Bummer.

What James Bennet, editorial page editor of the New York Times, had to say to HuffPo is [take a deep breath, Frank, think of a way to put it nicely] charming. Yeah. That’s it. Charming. Delightful, even. No, those completely aren’t the words I’m thinking of.

From the article:

The charge that Stephens is a “climate denialist” is “terribly unfair,” Bennet said. “There’s more than one kind of denial,” he continued. “And to pretend like the views of a thinker like Bret, and the millions of people who agree with him on a range of issues, should simply be ignored, that they’re outside the bounds of reasonable debate, is a really dangerous form of delusion.”

Let’s zoom in on that statement.

And to pretend like the views of a thinker like Bret, and the millions of people who agree with him on a range of issues, should simply be ignored, that they’re outside the bounds of reasonable debate, is a really dangerous form of delusion.”

Now let’s monkey with the words to extract Frank-sense out of them, for whatever that’s worth.

It is a really dangerous form of delusion to pretend like the views of [insert random charming personality here] [so completely not the words I’m thinking], and the MILLIONS OF PEOPLE WHO AGREE WITH HIM ON A RANGE OF ISSUES, should simply be ignored. It is a really dangerous form of delusion to pretend like the views of [Rando McCharmer], and the MILLIONS OF PEOPLE WHO AGREE WITH HIM ON A RANGE OF ISSUES are outside the bounds of reasonable debate.

Now, Mr. Bennet, I’m trying so hard to be nice here. I really hope you can appreciate the incredible amount of effort I’m putting into that here. Imagine Lewis Black containing himself while the spirit of George Carlin pokes him in the buttocks with a red hot poker. I do this for you.

I’m quite sure you didn’t mean to condescend to us peons out here in flyover Nowhereville by assuming we’re not SMRT enough to read your words and know what they mean. That must have been an oversight. Because, see, what I’m reading there, is so colossally dishonest on its face as to beggar the working class imagination. That has to be an accident, or the world’s biggest typo, right?

First, you don’t imply, you directly state in twisted words, that the people who espouse the position with which you disagree don’t actually think Rando and Fans are outside the bounds of reasonable debate. The people with whom you disagree are pretending to think Rando and Fans are outside the bounds of reasonable debate.

Pretending to think. Let that sink in. Or at least pretend to. Since you’re not only an editor, but a fancypants editor in a luxury skyrise and probably even have a see-ment pond up there somewhere, I’m assuming you’re smart and know what the words you use mean, especially when they’re going to end up in print, since that is your business and all, and hoo-wee, New York City! Them’s serious smarts I need to consider.

Pretending to think. You aren’t accusing those with whom you disagree of being wrong about something. You’re accusing them of pretending to be wrong about something. They are pretending to think [insert chuckle] that Rando and Fans should simply be ignored. They are pretending to think that Rando and Fans are outside the bounds of reasonable debate.

So much to unpack there, Jimmy. Mind if I call you Jimmy?

Since action is predicated on thought, what kind of action is predicated on pretend thought? See, that’s important to me because if your opponents only pretend to think Rando and Fans should be ignored, that means they actually hold some view (from among countless possibilities, I’m sure) other than that they should be ignored. I suppose one could pretend to think what one actually thinks, which would then include thinking that they should be ignored, but that would take an extra special effort I can’t fathom, so I’ll assume that omitting such pretenders will have negligible effect on my argument. Your opponents, you say, think anything but that Rando and Fans should be ignored, and they’re trying to stifle the voice of Rando and Fans.

You seem to believe this is so, because these are your words, the words of a Very Smart(TM) New Yorker.

And you call that act of pretending a delusion. Never mind that I’m pretty sure that pretending isn’t delusion. I think I see what you’re getting at. It’s what they pretend to think that is delusional, and not just garden variety he really believes wee folk keep moving the pens around on his desk so he leaves butterscotch candy out to keep them happy delusional but dangerously delusional. Because clearly anyone who disagrees with you is not merely delusional, but dangerously so.

Ironically, you also talk about whether or not some folks should be excluded from reasonable debate. Have you entertained the possibility that you yourself might do well to avoid them? So far, I’m only detecting a penchant for the irrational, even the counter-rational.

More to the point, however, is the substance of what you accuse your opponents of pretending to think. They pretend to think that some folks in particular should be ignored. They pretend to think that some folks in particular should be excluded from reasonable debate.

I’ve already picked on you for that point about excluding folks from reasonable debate. Let me ask you, should anyone be excluded from reasonable debate? What about people who don’t know what reasonable debate is? What about people who don’t know how to engage in reasonable debate? What about people who, knowing the bounds of reasonable debate, intentionally break the rules, written or understood? What about prevaricators? What about shills? What about those with tremendous conflicts of interest? If these folks shouldn’t be excluded from reasonable debate on any of these grounds, what are the disqualifiers? Do Grand Wizards of the KKK have a proper seat at the table when it comes to reasonable debate on matters of race? Are we forgetting to sensitively include neo-Nazis in any reasonable debate on matters of Israel and foreign policy? See, there’s a limit somewhere, right? A bar below which anyone credible should not limbo?

I’m sorry. Am I reminding you of all the elements of your [insert pleasant moment of silence here] job that you would appear to have perhaps accidentally forgotten?

Now, I’m not suggesting Rando is a Klansman or a Nazi. Those examples were just setting the extreme points on a spectrum. I’m quite sure Rando is far, far from that kind of extreme (or that if he isn’t, that it has nothing to do with his other views, because views are funny like that, you can kill bunnies and kick bums but give money to the right charity and it all comes out in the wash, right?).

What I’m suggesting is that you think (or are at least pretending to think) that, contrary to what your opponents believe, Rando and Fans should not be ignored. More, they should have a seat at the table. More, they should have a little name card and a glass of water and a Lavalier mic, and hey, whattaya know, you just happen to have a media behemoth available, and wouldn’t it be great if, yeah, why not, oh, come on Rando, come on up here and have a bully pulpit, why don’tcha! A big round of applause for Rando and Fans!

And why?

Lemme be cynical for a moment. Let’s pretend like we’re thinking that the NYT is a business. And it needs reach. More reach. More money. Money. Money.

And can it be any coincidence that the dividing line between climate science realism and climate science hokum is often perceived to be money, what with the whole conflict of interest thing and all? See also: bankrolls of climate change denial shills.

I get it. It’s nothing personal. It’s just business. In that case, I want to help.

Since, in the interest of business and the almighty dollar (Hail Mammon!) there is no bar to participation in reasonable debate, and since, in the pursuit of profit and to hell with the dead, dying, and suffering predicted by actual science, large audiences shouldn’t be ignored, I would like to commend to you the following.

Now, I can’t seem to find a Facebook page for Rando McCharmer, but since it’s the “MILLIONS OF PEOPLE WHO AGREE WITH [insert any ol’ rando with an audience here, regardless of conflicts]” that matter, Alex Jones has over 1.5 million likes on Facebook. Just sayin. I’m sure he’d love a glass of water and a mic at the NYT bully pulpit. Even better, Billo is lookin’, I hear, and he’s got even more Facebook likes than Alex Jones. Got any hot young interns he can allegedly sexually misconduct himself around? 1.8 MILLION Facebook likes can’t be wrong, right?

Or how about Milo? He’s more popular yet! 2.1 MILLION Facebook likes, and to hear him tell it, he sucks a really mean dick. I mean hey, if there’s no bar to reasonable debate and even the quality of how one is perceived makes no difference, why not? He’d certainly liven the place up.

But really, if it’s reach you’re looking for, intellectual honesty and appearances be damned, you’re going to have a hard time doing better than Tila Tequila. With over 3.2 MILLION Facebook likes, she’s almost as popular as Alex Jones and Bill O’Reilly combined.

If you decide to take my advice, please remit a reasonable finders fee to me. Just drop me a comment and I’ll reply with my contact info. And by the way, how many people need to agree with me before I get my own NYT water glass and mic? A corner office would be nice, too.

3 comments on “Some helpful suggestions for the New York Times

  1. Would James Bennett give voice to someone who espoused that the Earth was flat if millions of people agreed that it was? How about someone who thought that marrying a child bride was OK? Or female genital mutilation? Or NAMBLA? Because “millions of people” is such a low bar to clear when weighed against the population of the United States (and even lower against the total human population) that this justification could be used for nearly anything.

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