Saturday, November 11, 2006


I think Christopher Blosser is now officially a member of Team Evil™

We get "It's really only complicated if you want it to be," which I think is roughly Shavian English for "Anathema sit." But I could be wrong.

More textbook-perfect declensions of the "why do you think it's no big deal to heap contempt on Evangelium Vitae" question:
If you want to waste your time trying to dynamite McKenna out of his entrenched hostility to and dishonesty about Evangelium Vitae, be my guest.
I simply made clear the game he was playing. You preferred (again) to major in minors
my ghastly plain speech about people who attack me.
Knock yourself out for the rest of the weekend with the "fair and balanced" act ... I'll be back on Monday. (VJM: I think this is Shavian English for "Mihi irruma et te pedicabo." But again, I could be wrong.)
Anyway, to explain the title of my post. Shea apparently doesn't like name-calling (whooda thunk it). He singles out four. They're not exhaustive, but he has repeated them, so one assumes they're what get his goat:
"Torture Pharisees", "complete jerkwads", "liars" and "Papa Shea"
I'm the originator of three of those terms (the last one being the exception), so clearly this is largely aimed at me.

"Complete jerkwads" is, of course, intellectually indefensible and completely meaningless beyond "I don't like this person." I'll note though that I only used it once, and long after I'd given up on Shea as interested in discussion or interesting as anything other than a foil or a case study. The well had long been poisoned, in other words.

"Torture Pharisee" was coined by me in quite specific response (I distinctly remember doing it) to Shea's coinage "Torture Apologists" to describe me and others in the early days of this topic, in the summer of 2004. I'm not privy to Shea's thoughts, so I have no idea what motivates him on this subject. But he has neither technical nor moral problems with reading other people's minds and ascribing ill motive therein and stating them as factual givens. He does it incessantly, habitually and contrary to repeated warnings. So, to the extent anyone is competent to ascribe motive, I am morally satisfied that his is all about public posturing about how moral he is, how he hasn't drunk the Bushite Kool-Aid, how he hasn't put ideology before country and all the rest of that litany. Pharisaism, in other words. Still, I'll make the Shea an offer: I'll quit calling him a Torture Pharisee or similar terms if he stops calling others Torture Apologists or similar terms. I doubt he'll accept and I REALLY doubt he'd keep to it, but there it is.

The last term, "liar," apparently REALLY gets under his skin. Last week, he wrote:
You know, I try *very very* hard to give the best I have on this blog. ... But I *never* try to deceive and I take it as the greatest affront to be called a liar. This, and much else I have had to put up with routinely in the discussion about torture, has made my fuse rather short.
I freely admit, I have called Shea a liar repeatedly on this subject. But unlike "complete jerkwad," the term "lie" actually has a specific meaning, determinable in cases: "to deliberately tell an untruth," a liar being someone who does so habitually. So it's something that can be determined objectively -- X said Y is Y false; did X know (or should he have known) that Y is false. These are all questions that can be answered. I should note also that Shea is not above calling others liars; this single post from yesterday uses the word in one form or another 15 times (and I'm not counting near-synonyms like "mendacity"). He even draws a moral about "liars" and making inferences about other things they say:
the problem this raises is the one you always face when you are confronted with a liar: how many other lies has he told? I have no answer to that question. ... [but] if they [the Bushies] can lie this brazenly and imagine nobody will notice...
So Shea clearly doesn't think the term itself is inherently out-of-bounds, like "bastard" or "mother-fucker" might be. So the only question worth asking is "did I call Shea a 'liar' falsely or unjustifiably?"

Earlier this week, I searched through this blog and found every time I used the word "lie," "liar," or "lying" with respect to Shea. My conscience is clear. I used the term in eight different posts. In every one of those eight (unlike Shea, I am careful about what I say, which is why I get so angry at people who ascribe ideas or motives to me), I say quite clearly what the falsehood is. I provide the links and/or quotes ("quotes" ... not the "at the end, what you really mean is" Karnakisms that Shea is so addicted to) to where Shea said it. And I explain what is wrong with it. Almost all are straight factual matters ("so-and-so said X" being the commonest), and none is totally a matter of opinion or interpretation. In most, Shea repeated the lie after it had been pointed out to him, and in a couple of cases after providing a piss-poor non-response like calling others' pointing out the lie "excuse-making" or "gnats and camels," etc. For the disinterested, here are Shea's lies (seven distinct ones) and the posts I detailed them:

(1) That Michael Ledeen has advocated shooting unarmed combatants

(2) That Torture Apologists cite 24 as the real world, in the labeled "insert by VJM" (actually, the only person I'm definitely aware of about whom this is true is Jimmy Akin, who somehow manages to cite 24 without being an "alleged Catholic" or doing Satan's bidding)

(3) That "the pictures" at Abu Ghraib are relevant at all to whatever "torture" the Bush administration can be culpably blamed for

(4) That Dick Cheney blamed September 11 on Saddam Hussein

(5) That "aggressive information gathering" is just a euphemism for torture

(6) That the US did not torture (by Shea's apparent understanding) during WW2 and the Cold War

(7) That torture categorically doesn't work in reality

It's very simple (or "only complicated if you want it to be"). If you don't want me to call you a liar, don't lie. It's not an excuse to say "I blog informally" or "I just skim stuff." Those are valid reasons for an initial misinterpretation. Not for the repetition of a falsehood once called on it (1 and 4 above are the most egregious cases; morally-speaking, Shea committed libel on both points). And "time constraints" isn't an excuse either. If someone else's post is important enough to respond to *at all* and/or one's own opinion is important enough to post *at all* (and I'm not saying there is any obligation per se to do either *at all*; there clearly isn't), then they're important enough to be accurate about. Haste, even justified haste, doesn't excuse falsehood. It's really that simple.


Christopher Fotos said...

Random thoughts:

Mark of all people is on very shaky ground when he hurls invective about people hurling invective. It's strange. The sequence is usually like this:

a. Mark grossly insults someone.

b. Mark is criticized for grossly insulting someone

c. Mark replies by citing other people who have insulted Mark. He then mocks his adversary for hypersensitivity when Mark insults people who, evidently, deserve it.

Yes, I get dizzy.

A variation of this is when Mark occasionally complains about being ganged up on, as he did on one of the Blosser torture threads. Of course, part of what was happening over there was that people like me who'd been banned at CAEI had a forum where Mark's anathema was not in force. I think the principle is supposed to be that Mark can insult dozens of people a week, but ideally they will not be so hypersensitive as to react.

But the main thing is that Mark specializes in insult and abuse, and I doubt he understands how foolish he looks when he criticizes people for doing what he does. Maybe he sees it as a form of copyright infringement--it's his niche.

(The latest example being an item headed "Libertarianism: The Philosophy for Shallow People Who Have No Children." This is one of his themes. It was prompted by truly spiteful comments at the Hit & Run blog where people rejoiced over one of Santroum's daughters crying after the election. But my brother is a Libertarian. He doesn't have children, but he's not shallow. Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit is Libertarian, has a daugther whom he and his wife Dr. Helen dearly love, and while I disagree with Glenn on key issues I'd never call him shallow. I'd call him "wrong." Same goes for Eugene Volokh of the Volokh Conspriacy blog. But then, I've actually read them and engaged with the points they raise).

But Mark's rage about being called a liar is even more striking, for those of us who have followed him for a long time, and Victor has done well to document part of Mark's record on that account. I'd forgotten about the Cheney/Saddam/9-11 business.

So let me reinforce the case by saying Mark had a seemingly insatiable hunger and thirst to write lies, lies, and more lies about what Michael Ledeen said, in Mark's infamous Michael Ledeen Reliably Suggests that our Troops Should Murder Surrendering Enemy Combatants item. This is nearly the Platonic ideal of what Mark's blog has become. It starts as a slander against Ledeen, possibly because Mark's tendency to "skim" led him to confuse Peters with Ledeen. Commenters notice that Ledeen didn't say what's attributed to him. Mark then uses his amazing mind-reading lasers to explain what Ledeen really thinks:

Yes, Ledeen has employed this standard trick of feigning moral puzzlement before as he has advocated "entering into evil" but it's still bullshit designed to make sucker like you think he's really doing heavy duty moral analysis instead recognizing what he's really doing: calling for cold-blooded murder.

(At least one, more recent commenter was banned because didn't understand that only Mark is authorized to read minds.)

Elsewhere in the same combox, Mark elaborates, for those who have ears to hear, to be on guard against the evil influence of Ledeen:

Ledeen is a paid, professional writer and thinker. His carefully and artfully formulated apologias for murder are not accidents or blunders. They are carefully and deliberately crafted. He is indeed scum, but it's awfully hard to credit the "He's a Victim too" account.

Bold for those who may have seen Mark explain that he makes distinctions about judging people versus their arguments.

I have sometimes wondered whether I pushed just an inch too far in saying Mark had lied about the Ledeen post. But I can't come up with anything else. Once is a mistake, twice or three times might be stubborness, but when commenters for weeks on end post links and direct quotations and Mark persists in saying Ledeen Calls for Murder, I don't know what else to call it. Mark is a paid professional writer and thinker. He cannot be that incompetent. And while he is not paid to lie, he does, repeatedly.

By the way, Victor, we might be able to add the End to Evil meme itself to your list. Recall that was based, not on Mark's mis-reading, but Mark's non-reading of the Perle/Frum Book End To Evil: How To Win The War On Terror. Mark never made it past the colon, and used the book, which he has not read, as part of his attack on a supposed neocon call for secular messianism. Which they did not call for.

Christopher said...

Christopher (Fotos),

You're very close, but you left out a step. You're "C" should be "D" and the new C is:

C. Hang tight, wait for Zippy and Richard, Thank you for your kind reply, Commerford to enter the fray on your behalf derailing the argument. Gauge the strength of your supporters and let them wear down your interlocutor before defending yourself.