Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Fun With Wingers

Glenn Greenwald has been having fun playing with the Orcosphere.

After his bizarre e-mail exchange with Col. Steve Boylan, the public affairs officer for Gen. David Petraeus, the right wing pounced on his story, claiming that Mr. Greenwald had edited the e-mails and left out key sentences. Ah ha!, they proclaimed, once again the lefties are at it again!

As is the usually the case, the wingers leaped before they looked.

In the post, I wrote: “Anyone who would like to have forwarded to them a copy of the email I received originally can email me and I will send it.” Several people emailed me to make that request, and I forwarded them the email, including — apparently — one right-wing blogger who calls himself “Dread Pundit.”

Now that he has cleverly obtained from me what he thinks is previously secret evidence (i.e., the full, unedited Boylan e-mail which I published myself yesterday), Dread Pundit has written a dramatic post accusing me of concealing parts of Col. Boylan’s email. And that’s not all. Also: “The parts that Greenwald chose not to publish tend to contradict his characterization of the email as ‘bizarre’ and ‘unsolicited’.” He has titled his post: “Full Text of Email Reveals Greenwald Mischaracterizations,” and he re-prints the entire e-mail which I sent to him, bolding the parts he says I “chose to leave out.” Very dramatic.

Of course, the whole post is based on his belief that I only published the excerpts, not the full and unedited email (even though the second sentence of my post says: “which I am publishing in full, unedited form here).” It is further based on the belief that I tried to pass off the excerpted passages as the full, unedited email (even though the excerpted passages are preceded by the explanation that what follows are “multiple passages from Boylan’s email to me”). Put another way, the (serious) accusations he is making are precluded by the most basic skills of reading comprehension.

The fact that a right-wing blogger spews serious accusations based on complete idiocy is ordinarily not worthy of comment. That happens virtually every day. That is what the right-wing blogosphere is, more or less; it is why it exists.


The fact that I published the full-email was so painfully transparent that even right-wing bloggers like this one were able to figure that out — and read his post to see how low that bar is. But in less than 90 minutes from the time “Dread Pundit” unveiled his brilliant discovery, the right-wing blogosphere has worked itself into one of its defining lynch mob fits of hysteria, all based on the inability to comprehend the most basic English, as in: “the full, unedited version is here” and “multiple passages from Boylan’s email.”

Another few hours and right-wing blogger Howard Kurtz will have a full Washington Post column on this. Add this to their always-expanding list. I’m honestly interested in knowing: what else besides abject stupidity can explain this? I mean that as a serious question.

At this point it gets ridiculous and you can only laugh at the poor wingers who have gone out on this limb and can’t get back. Apologize? Recant? Offer an “oops?” Never. It would violate the code of the Orcosphere to ever admit to making a mistake, and they would rather appear to be incredibly stupid than wishy-washy. For them it’s not just a matter of macho pride; admitting fallibility would undermine everything they do.

Sometimes it’s fun to poke at the fanatics and have them defend the indefensible. It’s especially fun to do it with people who believe in the inerrancy of the bible and get them to explain the inconsistencies, such as where Cain’s wife came from or other such things as why it’s okay to cite Leviticus to condemn gays but skip over the parts of the book where it also condemns shaving, eating shellfish, and crop rotation. It must be nice to go dreamily through life without any doubts, your faith unshaken by the inconveniences of reality.

But it’s also kind of sad to think that there are an awful lot of people who are going through their lives unwilling to own up to a mistake, to admit that they’re wrong, and be open to the possibility of learning something new. It’s as if their whole world would crumble if they ever had a doubt about anything. I actually had one fundamentalist Christian tell me that if you accept the fact that there is just one mistake in the bible — that the sun doesn’t orbit the earth, for example — then you are calling into question the very existence of God because God is perfect, he doesn’t make mistakes, and therefore anything that he puts into the bible must be right; celestial mechanics be damned. As the episode with Mr. Greenwald succinctly demonstrates, the same kind of fanaticism holds true with some of the more adamant members of the right-wing blogosphere. To be sure, there are fanatics on both sides, but the righties seem to have cornered the market on nutsery.