Monday, January 3, 2011

A New Year Brings a Fresh Bout of Stupidity from Douthat

Forget about the fact that I consider Ross Douthat's ideology disgusting and his writing sloppy and incoherent. What I find the most annoying is how easily he distorts reality and fills his silly articles with lies. His most recent piece of conservative inanity begins with an outright lie, which The New York Times apparently finds it acceptable to publish:

The American entertainment industry has never been comfortable with the act of abortion. Film or television characters might consider the procedure, but even on the most libertine programs (a “Mad Men,” a “Sex and the City”), they’re more likely to have a change of heart than actually go through with it.
I don't know what's so "libertine" about the profoundly patriarchal Sex and the City, but its leading characters did have abortions. An entire episode was dedicated to Carrie remembering an abortion she had a while ago and reaching a conclusion that it was absolutely the right decision for her. Samantha and Miranda had several abortions and never felt sorry about it.

Whenever an article starts with such a blatant lie, I find it very difficult to take anything else its author proposes seriously. If he disrespects his readers to this extent, who's to say where his lies and distortions will end? Shouldn't a journalist know how to verify his information? Especially the information that's as easy to unearth as anything that has to do with Sex and the City? (Please don't tell me that Douthat made an honest mistake here. This information can be verified in a matter of two minutes at most, which he chose not to do.)

Douthat, who has turned his NYTimes column into a platform for spouting his anti-women beliefs*, suggests that instead of aborting women should give birth and offer the babies up for adoption. As any vile male chauvinist, he doesn't have a foggiest idea of what pregnancy and childbirth entail. This sad buffon, who obviously has never seen an actual woman in his close vicinity, never stop to consider that there might be some effort, work, pain, suffering, loss of productivity, health risk, danger of dying involved in carrying a pregnancy to term and giving birth.

Douthat is one of the reasons I would never subscribe to The New York Times. I can't respect a newspaper that offers a weekly column to somebody so shallow and dishonest. I understand that an intelligent, well-informed conservative journalist is hard to come by, but surely that's no excuse for torturing readers with the stupid concoctions of an unscrupulous Douthat.
*In case you missed it, you can trace my anti-Douthat campaign here.


Canukistani said...

“Please don't tell me that Douthat made an honest mistake here. This information can be verified in a matter of two minutes at most, which he chose not to do.”

I think that he has a cynical belief that facts are irrelevant and uses epideictic rhetoric as a method to reach his objective. What is my proof? Here are some quotes from his article “The truth about Harvard” which was published March, 2005 in Atlantic magazine. “To tilt to the right is in some sense to assert a belief in absolute truth; and the only absolute truth that the upper class accepts these days is the truth of the market. ..attempts by humanities professors to ape the rigor of their scientific colleagues have led to a decades-long wade in the marshes of postmodern academic theory, where canons are scorned, books exist only as texts to be deconstructed, and willfully obscure writing is championed over accessible prose.”

Clarissa said...

Canukistani: I adore you capacity always to bring an apt quote to a discussion. Did he really write that? It's horrible on so many levels that I don't know where to begin. How can such ignorant people have their own column in the most widely read newspaper in the US?

Our Toronto Globe abd Mail would never hire anybody like that.

Canukistani said...

“How can such ignorant people have their own column in the most widely read newspaper in the US?”

Good question! I went in search of the juvenile oeuvre which our nascent arbiter of conservative thought wrote in the Harvard Crimson during his formative period as a student staff writer. I was seeking material for a conservative Bildungsroman but ended up empty handed. To quote from an article by Jodi Jacobson which you referenced, ”...But what I have learned from watching the reactions of guys like Douthat is how little they listen, and how little they learn, even when faced with overwhelming evidence.” It wasn’t that he lacked ambition.

”We Harvardians are bred to be competitive, of course—to never settle for second best, to climb the ladder until we run out of rungs. We are valedictorians and salutatorians, merit scholars and varsity athletes whose entire lives have been defined by the quest for achievement and success. Here in Cambridge, surrounded by the crème de la crème of America’s future ruling class, we compete for everything—good grades, extracurricular offices, club memberships, summer internships, Law School acceptances, consulting jobs and of course, attractive significant others.” Ross Douthat Staff writer Harvard Crimson

I did note a development in his attitude. The opening line of his final column in the Harvard Crimson was “Ever since my first Harvard spring, when I was still a bashful, beardless freshman, I’ve cultivated a passionate dislike for the maudlin, overwrought essays that senior Crimson columnists tend to pen as graduation nears.´ He did have the courtesy to explain the meaning of “maudlin, overwrought essays” in the rest of the paragraph. Contrast the former with the opening line of his op-ed piece on October 31, 2010 in the NYT, “From the early 1990s through the 2008 election, Americans grew steadily more liberal. Voters became more supportive of government spending and more sympathetic toward the poor.” This Ex cathedra promulgation without explanation or supporting evidence is typical of his current status in the media theocracy. Certainly it is surprising for a former history and literature major not to offer some proof of the veracity of his statements but then I lack the sensus fidelium of his readership and thus represent the common folk. I haven’t answered your question but I’ll end with a quote from one of his Crimson articles.

“The United States is a democratic republic, not a pure democracy, and our system of government was designed to blend popular passion and elite wisdom --not to rubber stamp the whims of the ignorant and the apathetic. Americans are a remarkably free people, and part of that freedom is the right to tune out the noise from the public square. But those who choose political ignorance should not, through the good offices of 21st century electoral puritanism, be encouraged to cast votes on matters they know nothing about.”

rebecca said...

if he said "libertine," not "liberated," it still works, given his personal views.

if you're gonna be nitpicky, watch out that you can at least back it up. the rest of the post is fine i guess...


Clarissa said...

It's possible that for someone completely sex-deprived (as Douthat must be based on the crap he writes) there is something "libertine" about this show. Still, this pseudo-journalist shouldn't expect us all to understand his conservative-speak.

Clarissa said...

Canukistani: the quotes are priceless. I'm not surprised, though, that you didn't find evidence of a conservative Bildungsroman. As opposed to progress that's characteristic of this genre, all we see in Douthat is evidence of regress. What really scares me is that I start having a suspicion that one needs to become a one-note, simplistic writer to be hired by the NYTimes.

rebecca said...

i'm scared of you, clarissa.

Clarissa said...

You must have had a very sheltered existence, my friend. :-)

Canukistani said...

“It's possible that for someone completely sex-deprived (as Douthat must be based on the crap he writes) there is something "libertine" about this show. Still, this pseudo-journalist shouldn't expect us all to understand his conservative-speak. “

Now Clarissa he is not completely sex-deprived. In spite of his unsuccessful sexual forays to Smith College as outlined in his book,” Privilege: Harvard and the Education of the Ruling Class”, he has had his achievements. The following is a passage from his book quoted by blogger Brad DeLong:

One successful foray ended on the guest bed of a high school friend's parents, with a girl who resembled a chunkier Reese Witherspoon drunkenly masticating my neck and cheeks. It had taken some time to reach this point--"Do most Harvard guys take so long to get what they want?" she had asked, pushing her tongue into my mouth. I wasn't sure what to say, but then I wasn't sure this was what I wanted. My throat was dry from too much vodka, and her breasts, spilling out of pink pajamas, threatened my ability to. I was supposed to be excited, but I was bored and somewhat disgusted with myself, with her, with the whole business... and then whatever residual enthusiasm I felt for the venture dissipated, with shocking speed, as she nibbled at my ear and whispered--"You know, I'm on the pill..."[9]

Of course the astute reader recognises that this is a modern prose rendition of Pablo Neruda’s “Oh la boca mordida, oh los besados miembros, /oh los hambrientos, dientes, oh los cuerpos trenzados. Oh la copula loca de esperanza y esfuerzo / en que nos amudamos y nos desesperamos.” Only acolytes of the Right’s Enfant terrible - youngest regular op-ed writer in the history of NYT, can completely understand conservative speak but this Connecticut Yankee in the court of the Liberals’ (both Ross and the hero of Mark Twain’s book were born in Hartford) words may be deconstructed. I don’t see a “Portrait of the Conservative as a Young Man” in the future but you can be the first.