To reiterate: during this blog's "Month of Haters" throughout January, I'm looking at the various categories of people who, strangely, denounced me for confronting a fellow C-SPAN2 panelist last year about her chronically deceitful, manipulative, and petty-sadistic ways -- and the disturbingly dark, artfully obscured philosophy that she believes justifies those ways. (I do not thereby mean to disregard or slight the dozens of people, friends and strangers alike, who e-mailed or called to hail me as a hero. I am grateful to you all, and rest assured your generally better-informed take on things is what I'll remember when all this recedes into the past.)
But might an even bigger jerk than my co-panelist have emerged from the conflict? Hard as that is to imagine, I think Maureen "Moe" Tkacik may qualify (she writes for the City Paper in Washington, DC, where sexual assaults were up in 2010 by almost half again what they were in 2009, which somehow does not surprise me, given some of the lousy people who live in that town).
After a friendly-seeming e-mail exchange and, I believe, after having attended one or more of the debates I used to host in Manhattan, Moe was moved to write an entire column -- two of them, actually, one addressed to me and the other to my co-panelist -- that read like a pair of the nastiest tossed-off comments thread outbursts stretched into venomous rants hundreds of words long, complete with enraged-sounding hyperbole about me being the kind of "dumbshit" testosterone-fueled male running and ruining the country. Why? Does the City Paper actually pay her for this, or is it all unpaid contributors recruited from a psychiatric outpatient clinic? (Ah, an online check suggests she was in fact recruited from places like Jezebel and Radar. I see.)
The simplest, saddest explanation may be that Tkacik, like a substantial subset of the population, does not really understand what the rest of the population means by humor but has noticed it often involves an element of aggression or cruelty and has thus concluded that these things alone qualify something as funny. And in that, perhaps Tkacik, after all, isn't so unlike my co-panelist, who at some point early in life seems to have concluded -- without too openly warning the public about it -- that cruelty equals not only wit but intelligence, sexiness, cultural excellence, and even virtue (one good thing about the Tkacik column is that the eighth comment down, a Nov. 17 one from reader D.Caf, at least hits the proper tone of Todd-regard, in my humble opinion, regardless of whether his precise psychological analysis is accurate, and he even understands my humanitarian motivations).
Lest we dismiss Moe Tkacik as a mere ranter, though, I think it's worth noting she has a lengthy piece in the recently-unveiled Vol. 2, Issue 1 of the newly revived Baffler, in which she attempts to sum up and explain the entire financial crisis in a straight, analytical tone. I mention this not to redeem Tkacik but, on the contrary, to make you think twice about the kinds of people who write sober-sounding, ostensibly objective analyses of complex financial or political phenomena. Is the columnist who confidently tells you how Goldman Sachs works today the same one who'll be shrieking and throwing garbage at you tomorrow after her stand-up comedy show goes over poorly? Tkacik has never, as far as I know, literally thrown garbage at people, I should note, but then, she put quotes around something in her piece about me that I never actually said, so I think I'm allowed a bit of metaphor.