Yesterday, former Gawkerer and current Salon writer Alex Pareene wrote a completely accurate and well-deserved knife-twisting takedown of Jonah Goldberg, the National Review's most youthful self-impressed hack. If you are unsure as to whether or not Jonah Goldberg is a hack, I encourage you to read Pareene's piece in full. Besides being a hack, we'd like to point out that Jonah Goldberg is also the most sniveling sort of armchair warrior bitch.
Writers should not respond to the writing of other writers with threats of violence. (Nor should writers who would never in a million years join the Army and go to war breezily and routinely advocate violence against ideological opponents, to be carried out by others, of course.) Even a child knows that punching someone in the head does not win you an argument; it just makes you a bully. As a matter of routine ethics, writers should not make physical threats against their peers over intellectual disagreements. And, of secondary but perhaps more entertaining importance, writers who are clearly pussies should not make physical threats against other writers merely because they judge that, even though they are pussies, they are bigger than said other writer. Making physical threats exclusively against those over whom you judge that you have a physical advantage is what cowards do. It means you are a coward.
Norman Mailer and Ernest Hemingway would make threats against other writers, but at least they would roll up their sleeves and go out and actually have a fistfight. It was still wrong of them to do that, but at least you couldn't accuse them of being chicken hawks, fake thugs, tossing off threats in the full knowledge that they would never, ever have to face any physical consequences for them. For Jonah Goldberg, though, we cannot say as much. Amid his daylong fake-smiley online sulkfest about Pareene's piece yesterday was this post on his blog:
Update: I liked this email, obviously:
Even [Alexander] Hamilton would not have found this fellow to be duel worthy. It is, however, a sad commentary on our society when some hack can publish such mean spirited nonsense (which includes attacks on your mother), have the gall to say he is bullying you and then not have even the slightest fear of being punched in the head. The world of Twitter is annoying.
Btw, I have been reading your stuff for more than 12 years and think you are one of the best writers out there.
Let us count the ways in which this single blog post reveals Jonah Goldberg to be a bitch. Ostentatiously posting your own fan mail makes you a bitch. Saying how much you "like" when someone clamors for the head-punching of a writer who said something mean about you makes you a bitch. And, most bitch-like of all, Goldberg does not even come out and express this threat himself; rather, he lets an anonymous emailer do it for him, so that he may say how much he likes it while, at the same time, maintaining plausible deniability if someone calls him on it. (This bitchy technique of half-joking about something that you really believe but are too scared to say forthrightly is, Pareene noted, a trademark of Jonah Goldberg.)
What a bitch.
No matter who you are, I guarantee that there is someone else out there who can beat you up. (Though it's probably not Jonah Goldberg.) Physical threats, therefore, whether direct or implied in a weaselly fashion, prove no point and do nothing but muddy and distract from what should be intellectual arguments. Let's all grow up and not threaten each other, particularly if "we" are doughy bitches who it is quite clear are not going to get in a fight and are only issuing the threat to satisfy our own little vestigial macho ego, after carefully judging the target of our threat to be physically smaller than us. Can you imagine what actual badasses, which some of our readers may be, think when they see a bunch of writers issuing threats of violence? Ugh, gag, blech. It's embarrassing to all of us.
Let's not be bitches quite so much.