Monday, November 28, 2005

Chicken hawks

Dave Armstrong is on the warpath once again. As usual, he feels that his honor has been slighted.

Once upon a time there was a way of dealing, once and for all, with real or imagined affronts to one’s person—you challenged your opponent to a duel. This custom had the advantage of quickly winnowing the hawks from the chicken hawks.

However, out of deference to his already bruised and besmirched sense of honor, I decline to press the comparison any further seeing as that might further affront his tender sense of injured honor.

Dave has a thing about hoax-blogging. He acts as if this is deeply unethical. I don’t know if he deems it to be unethical by the calculus of probabilism, probabiliorism, or equiprobabilism.

For my own part, I don’t see that hoax-blogging is any different from political cartooning, a la Herblock.

As long as a hoax is obviously a hoax, no deception is involved. It simply belongs to the genre of satire, a la Swift.

Another one of Armstong’s grievances is that I supposedly think it’s “beneath the dignity of an anti-Catholic to talk civilly to a lowly Catholic ‘narcissist.’”

There are two things amiss with this charge:

i) In context, he had accused Vestrup and me of “cowardice” or words to that effect because we didn’t specify him as the narcissist” of Vestrup’s anonymous, satirical post.

Of course we didn’t. No comedian would explain his own joke since that would spoil the joke. If you have to explain the punch line, it kills the joke. You might as well complain that Swift was a “coward” because he didn’t annotate his political allegory (Gulliver’s Travels).

The whole point of the gag is that everyone knows who we’re talking about without anyone having to say who we’re talking about.

ii) There is a larger context as well. Dave has a standing policy of not debating “anti-Catholics.” Then he turns around and whines about how “anti-Catholics” won’t enter into a serious dialogue with him. The complaint is a direct effect of his own circular rationalization

Then you have him making claims like the following: “they attack me precisely because I defend and thus represent that Church. Can't you see that they think that a discrediting of the apologists for Catholicism as fools and ‘morons’ and self-absorbed idiots helps them to establish in the minds of gullible people that the thing itself (which the ‘moron’ defends) is equally absurd and laughable?”

As usual, Dave has his pants on backwards. As the public record will show, what Vestrup and I have repeatedly done is to attack Armstrong not because he represents the church of Rome, but because he misrepresents the church of Rome. Dave’s prettified and petrified version of Roman Catholicism is a cosmetic simulacrum which paints over the real institution.

BTW, I have never said that Dave is an “idiot” or a “moron,” although he is very free with derogatory epithets where his own opponents are concerned.

Finally, there’s the matter of Armstrong fingering the wrong man for the high crime of a hoaxing his incurable egomania.

Dave’s misstep was not in suspecting Vestrup. No, the problem with his failed exercise in source criticism is that there are so many suspects to choose from.

You see, if you really do suffer from a Narcissus-complex, then other people—many other people—will see you for what you are.

It’s like the dilemma of a homicide detective who has to narrow the field for the killer of the most hated man in town. The murder victim has so many enemies that everyone is a person of interest.

BTW, the fact that dear old Dave devoted six months (!) to tracking down the culprit is yet another unwitting and damning evidence of his monumental self-obsession.


  1. In order to make sure that the maximum controversy comes out of posting this, let me say, with all valor and heroic abandon, that Dave Armstrong is all about killing the joke.

    I will not speculate about why this is so -- it is simply part of the splendor of Dave.

  2. Actually, Steve, I have to take exception with (i) above. The narcissist post wasn't a joke, it wasn't about Armstrong. But he rushed forward to claim the prize anyway.

    Now the events that transpired the posts were interesting, but, just for the record, I never wrote them as some sort of joke about Dave, but describing some leftists.