URLs du Jour — 2014-06-26

  • Readers of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch—there must be dozens of them—will no longer need to avert their eyes from words written by George F. Will, lest they become upset by, y'know, words. Their protector is editor Tony Messenger, who announced last week that Will's columns would be replaced with those of Michael Gerson.

    Will's sin, according to Messenger, was in writing an "offensive and inaccurate" column earlier this month about the hysterical moral panic surrounding college campus sexual assaults. You can read it here.

    Considering Messenger's assertion that the column was "offensive and inaccurate": that's at least half right: undoubtedly some people were offended, because some people are always deeply offended by anything clashing with their theology.

    But inaccurate? Fortunately Hugh Hewitt (HH) was able to press Messenger (TM) on that point. And:

    HH: […] so you are agreeing there is no place where a factual inaccuracy exists in Mr. Will’s column?

    TM: To the best of my knowledge, no, there is not, and we did not correct one.

    Uh huh. So forget about that "inaccurate" charge. Oops. It's Messenger's perfect right to publish whatever slate of columnists he desires, but he's either lying or inexcusably careless in explaining his reasoning.

    Like Messenger, many others on the left jumped to misinterpret Will's column. As always, it's hard to estimate how many did so in bad faith, and how many did so out of careless stupidity. But the media was soon filled with (yes) inaccurate characterizations of Will's column. Andrew Klavan (rtwt), like me, leans toward the least charitable explanation: the accusations are fundamentally dishonest and craven.

    These people know most people won’t read Will’s column for themselves. They know their characterizations will get more play in the leftist media than Will’s actual words. They know they can distort and lie about Will and some of it will stick.

    A not-unrelated factoid, reported by Chris Cillizza at the WaPo: "Trust in the media -- TV newspapers and online -- is at record low levels." There's a reason for that, Chris.

  • Michael Gerson, by the way, has been a near-nonentity during Pun Salad's 9.3-year lifetime; thanks to grep, I can tell you his name shows up here (1) in 2007, appearing in a Peggy Noonan column, which pointed out Gerson's, and others, unhinged vitriolic rhetoric about opponents of then-President Dubya's immigration bill; and (2) in 2010, appearing in a Don Boudreaux post noting Gerson's hypocrisy in decrying "nanny statism" while supporting the War on Drugs.

    So: two mentions, neither positive. My impression: Uninteresting on his own, but sometimes people make interesting observations about how wrong he is.

    Good luck with Mr. Gerson, St. Louis.

  • Suppose you wanted to drive through all 48 contiguous US States? What's the best route? One answer (from 2012) is here.

    I wouldn't ordinarily mention it, but if you decide to do that, the route will take you within a mile of Pun Salad Manor. So let me know when you are about to leave South Berwick, Maine; I'll come by and wave at you as you head toward Dover, NH on Portland Ave.

  • The Skeptical Libertarian invites you to play "Deepak Chopra or Random Gibberish? Trick Question." He pairs computer-generated random sentences against actual Chopra quotes; can you distinguish which is the product of a biological mind? A well-paid biological mind?

  • Eric Raymond has been reviewing some recent sci-fi novels. He pulls no punches on Unexpected Alliances: Book Two of the United League of Planets by M.R. LaScola.

    Here’s a clue: if you see nothing wrong with a near-future first-contact scene in which the commander of an armada of 30,000 starships many light years from Earth introduces herself as Nancy Hartley from the planet Ultron, you shouldn’t be writing SF.

    "Any relation to Bob and Emily Hartley, from Chicago, Planet Earth?"

Last Modified 2014-08-06 9:27 AM EDT