On the State of Contemporary Discourse

Revelations from an intellectual of the Interweb

Yesterday, I posted an article that took on the attacks being aimed at the press for engaging in “gotcha journalism,” and discussed the “failure on the part of the media to demonstrate the proper deference to the public officials who serve us, protect us, and put our country first.” The piece argued that voters shouldn’t be allowed to ask Sarah Palin questions about Pakistan, since it’s “our nation” that she volunteered to serve. It argued that the press shouldn’t be allowed to ask questions about Palin’s “party,” since she might confuse the term with a “social gathering.” It argued that members of the media shouldn’t be allowed to ask politicians questions involving foreign policy, “since everyone knows that foreign policy questions are always designed to force candidates to pronounce ‘Ahmadinejad.’”

In other words: The story was, though the point hardly needs clarifying, tongue-in-cheek.

Yet, in response to it, this afternoon, I received the following e-mail, sent from the Gmail account of a surnameless someone named Dave, and headed, in caps, YOU ARE AN IDIOT.

I’m so sick of pathetic people like yourself that are so ignorant yet articulated enough to try to spread your pathetic waste of an opinion to as many people as you can. you are a hopeless useless waste of skin.

finally journalists are asking REAL questions that REAL people want to REALLY ask the candidates THEMSELVES. and you stand up and say, no please stop, i want it to go back to the way it was in the 50’s where we all took it in the back like a bunch of racist scumbags.

i hope you realize one day how horrible your life is, and how horrible you are, and how horrible you have made it for others.

you are a worthless wretch.

Well. I’m going to give Dave the benefit of the doubt and assume that, though his irony-detection skills may leave a little something to be desired, his irony-dishing abilities are strong. I’m going to assume that his piece, like mine, was tongue-in-cheek. I’m going to assume that his intent wasn’t to fling random insults at someone whose point he thought he disagreed with, but rather to provide said someone with a comical object lesson about the sorry state of modern discourse.

In which case…mission accomplished. So: thanks, Dave! I hope you realize one day how great your life is, and how great you are, and how great you have made it for others. You are fantastic!

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Megan Garber is an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University. She was formerly a CJR staff writer.