You Are Dumb, which is not a blog, posts new columns every weekday, except for a couple of days each month when it doesn't. It is also a Twitter feed, @youaredumb, with content in a similar vein but much shorter. My spinoff food site, Forkbastard, can be found easily enough by the clever.
Archive - Mar 2, 2007
Memo to Instapunk and The News Buckit: YOU ARE DUMB.
I don't usually get into blogspats here, but sometimes, amidst all the yowling and scratching, a byproduct of interest is produced. Which is what happened when Glenn Greenwald said that right-wing pundits troll for extreme comments on lefty blogs and use them to paint the left with a broad brush, and some guy named Patterico called Greenwald a hypocrite. I don't care either way, although I do think that anyone anywhere claiming to be truly outraged by anyone's hypocrisy these days is just play-acting for the cameras.
Anyway, this spat somehow led to a challenge on a different right-wing blog, Instapunk. Not Instapundit, where they're busy calling for the creation of American death squads to sneak into Iran, but Instapunk. I don't know if they're related. There are only so many vaguely-written "about us" pages I can read before my brain glazes over. But the challenge was thus. ACTUAL QUOTE TIME!
"I propose an exercise to be perfomed by those who have the software and expertise to carry it out. The exercise is this: Search six months' worth of content, posts and comments, of the 20 most popular blogs on the right and the left. The search criteria are George Carlin's infamous "7 Dirty Words." I am absolutely certain that the left will far exceed the right in the number of usages of all these words, which will go a long way toward proving that it's the right which is still concerned with ideas while it's the left that's obsessed with the lowest kind of hateful invective."
So another blog, The News Buckit, did some searching, and came up with an eighteen to one profanity ratio in favor of the left-wing blogs. Which means they win. Or they lose. Or something. I don't know. All I know is the score was eighteen to one.
Needless to say, I have certain fundamental objections to this whole sorry fucking exercise. Especially the methodology.
First, there's the use of the Carlin Seven. Being a giant pussy, the Punk linked to a Wikipedia entry listing them rather than typing them himself: shit, piss, cunt, fuck, cocksucker, motherfucker, and tits. Already, you can begin to see the outlines of the problem.
The list, designed to get a laugh in 1972, is hardly comprehensive. These days, "pissed off" is common parlance, and "tits" is practically medical lexicography. Plus, all true linguistic connoisseurs prefer the much funnier "titties". And talking politics without using the word "bullshit" is like talking archaeology without using the word "rock". It can be done, but it's really awkward to avoid such an important part of the process.
Of the seven, there's only one that retains any kind of shock value, and that's just a quirk of American culture. The other six can safely be used freely, knowing that any sane, reasonable audience will not be so fucking distracted by their presence that they will lose both their shit and the narrative in one fell swoop.
The bucket compared the top sixteen liberal blogs with the top 22 conservative blogs, but no attempt was made to allow for comments sections, or the relative amounts of activity therein. Plus, they used Google. Now, Google's a lot like the local newspaper. You trust it because it works most of the time, but there are those times when what you know and what it knows overlap, and it's clearly wrong.
And of course, beyond that, there's the huge Who Gives A Monkey's Left Nut factor. Even assuming they'd proved to the satisfaction of a real statistician that liberals swear eighteen times more often than conservatives, that means they've proven two things - jack, and add one to the liberal's total. They haven't proven conservatism's glorious trumpeting of ideas over invective, because the two are NOT MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE. Except in the minds of an ever-shrinking population of prudes.
It's not my fault that the right-wing blogosphere is full of middle aged, divorced bald fucks who long for a simpler time, a more civil time, when men held doors open for women and women didn't hire lawyers when they got slapped around a bit. It's not my fault that the only things keeping the metal rods from going farther up their asses are their obscenely swollen, petulant prostates.
Oh, and while I'm here, a special bonus YOU ARE DUMB to Lashawn Barber, who, commenting on the results, was astonished at her total of 39. ACTUAL QUOTE TIME!
"OK, I’ve written 'sh**' a few times in certain rant posts and may have quoted someone else’s use of the f-word, which I usually write like this: 'fu**'."
There are few things in this world more pathetic than people who asterisk out 50% of four-letter words and say they're not swearing. The purpose of language is to communicate. The word the the primary unit by which individual concpts are communicated. So, from a purely practical standpoint, if you've communicated the concept, you've used the word. If everyone knows that "fu**" means "fuck", then you're still swearing, you're just being a coy little bitch about it, and deserve much more scorn than someone who actually bothers to spell the word correctly.