Thursday, March 24, 2005

Co Respondence

Here is Thomas Lifson's response to my letter:

Dear Professor Norris,

I looked at your blogspot site and the 1800 word letter. Frankly, I was not impressed.

You begin by alleging that

"you do, in fact, want those who disagree with you and your publication's views to remain silent"

Not at all. In fact, as I stated, hysterical expressions discredit their writers. If they were smart enough and balanced enough to understand this, they would not say and write words which are self-discrediting. When my opponents discredit themselves, it saves me a lot of trouble, so I do NOT wish to silence them.

Speaking of which, you criticize us with these words:

"your publication's scurilous [sic] habit for personal attack"

Yet your blog is topped with a picture of you prominently displaying a sign declaring "Bill Owens is an asshole."

Yet a previous article by you begins: "Granted, Alyssa Lappen is an idiot."

Such criticism is indeed laughable. Keep it up!

Thomas Lifson


I must confess, I am not a professor. No, I am living in an engaged present and working on my doctorate. One year left, almost there. Unlike Dr Joffe (who apparently had to refer to a 19th century source to help him define charlatanry in a way approaching his needs) I am not too concerned with titles. Moreover, Joffe's citation of Arnold actually applies to Campus Watch and The American Thinker. Arnold's disgust is with intellectuals (and poets) who too easily "obliterate" distinctions. The American Thinker is in the business of distilling all discourse into simplistic binaries. You (and your cadre) vs Everyone Else. Of course, your response doesn't even approach my return.

I apologize for the spelling errors. I don't know what the mistake, or pointing it out, serves to illustrate; but you got me. I make spelling mistakes. I wonder what the length of my response has to do with the questions I ask. And so, my letter remains open. I am sure you realize weblogs are spaces for many forms of conversation. Certainly, some of my posts are more formal than others.

Concerning Alyssa Lappen and idiocy. Her work in your publication is extreme folly. I argued in my letter why I question her involvement. The American Thinker time and again criticizes intellectual women. Either Lappen is a token female presence used for the appearance of "balance," quite comfortable with her easy position or she is an idiot, completely unaware of her surroundings and the import of her claims.

Your publication, though, makes prejudicial and unsupported claims about individuals. The American Thinker by virtue of its place in the market and claims to journalistic and scholarly merit should be held to a higher standard of formality in discourse than my humble 'zine. 'Zines, by the way, are all about unloading. And my 'zine, DAGzine, is all about the clumps of emotions and articles and lines and thoughts that happen to fall from my lips at any given time. This is expressed on my blog's masthead. This is what it's about. From time to time, I post whims, insults, scholarly essays, prose, verse, lists, calls for papers, images, and etc.

To the point:
You do, in fact, advise my colleagues to remain silent or look like fools. Hysteria is non sequitor, quite frankly. That evaluation is beside the point. Literally beside the point. Your claim implies--it's the logic in your language, not my inference--that, in this event (the letters of protest), fools speak up & smart folks remain silent. I ask you to explain, then: Why should they remain silent? According to your rhetoric: remain silent so that you aren't criticized, so that you appear intelligent in our eyes. I have to ask: What makes you an authority? From where does the claim surface, the privilege you feel accustomed maintain that you have anything to say about who should or should not speak and when that speaking should be permitted? In addition: How is it that your most avid complaints are directed against women and nonwhite men?

Will you, can you, answer these questions?

Individuals must feel welcome to speak freely in a public sphere in order to show anything about their intellects. They must cooperate socially, through work and communication, in order to achieve any sense of community. Hence, I find your claim counterproductive. Whether or not a person is hysterical, a person has something to say. Hysteria itself, which is not present in the letters, has a reason.

Now you may not appreciate that I think Colorado's Governor, Bill Owens, is an asshole. I know, he is a republican. You feel personally attacked, you feel I might consider you an asshole, or maybe you simply are offended by the word. I doubt the latter. Thomas, this Owens can't keep his dick in his pants. He has a bad habit of using his positions to achieve sexual gratification. He is a devout pig. Yet, he has the nerve to moralize. He is at least a hypocrite and as most Coloradans have learned, probably an asshole: to his family, to his constituents, to his staff. People do not like him. At worst, my photo is an easy criticism. At best, it's spot on. Owens once had grand political aspirations. Well, the RNC has left him in its wake.

Many Colorado republicans have lost favor with the RNC: Tom Tancredo, for his viscious and racist remarks concerning Mexican immigrants post 9/11; Marilyn Musgrave for insisting on national television that homosexuality leads to bestiality and pedophelia; and most recently, Bob Beauprez for turning his back on the RNC after they spent millions pushing for redistricting in Colorado to make it easy for him to win election. They want to preen him for party leadership and he wants to become governor. I haven't forgotten Wayne Allard, who is simply a parrot and pretty much useless. It's republicans like these who made Colorado a potential swing state last election, and though that didn't turn out, both houses in our legislature are now run by Democrats. Colorado republicans are not good at the game.

Why?--they are assholes. People do not like them--not only as politicians, but as people.

So, yes, I use bad words. Yes, I spelled a word improperly in my letter to you. Maybe more than one. Yes, my response was around 1800 words. But--this is ad hominen stuff from you, Thomas. You do nothing to address the issues my colleagues raise. Never mind that you completely ignore the questions I ask.

In addition (claims about hysteria aside):

How do my colleague's discredit themselves? --That is impossible. People do not discredit themselves. You cast the disbelief. Youattempt to defame and discourage. People might misrepresent themselves. Discredit is a verb that describes action from one subject to another. What must I do to discredit myself? Nothing. I cannot actively cast my own disbelief at what I hold to be meaningful for me. Even if I attempted to discredit myself, I would merely identify myself more or less appropriately and accurately. YOU discredit me or not.

And I really find you hard to believe. Why can't you accept responsibility for anything printed in your publication? Even your own commentary?

They sent you letters on behalf of themselves. They told you who they are and what they do, and in some instances, why they behave the way they do. That is a public statement of intent. You discredited them via your response in your publication. And youcan't even come up with an answer to their protests. You call them hysterical, you refer to my letter as laughable, and you had to quote Dr Joffe who had to quote Matthew Arnold who is taken out of context.

Please. I am a student. I am a writer. I am open to discussion. I would appreciate it if you could address the questions at issue in my letter. If you won't permit yourself to reply to my colleagues' letters, I would at least like to know what makes you tick.

I hope you'd like to know more about us. I mean, we must have something in common.

Gary Norris

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