The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Subject to Misinterpretation

Posted on | February 16, 2012 | 82 Comments

In an e-mail to some friends this afternoon, I wrote:

While I was working on other posts and not following Twitter, it seems my feed blew up with ‘H8Rs’ who either missed the point or else got the point, and decided to blow me up for having pointed out some obvious but uncomfortable truths about New Media.
The issue here is not whether I am rude or sexist — I am occasionally both — but rather whether there is a polite way in which media exploits what is pejoratively called “sexism.” My willingness to engage in self-revelation, and self-deprecation, exposes me to abuse and ridicule from certain people who are more concerned about image maintenance and reputation enhancement than in, y’know, truth.
But these problems are my own, and I will not project blame onto others for reacting to my own deliberately provocative remarks. However, I wish to hell some people would have more consideration for how my remarks are themselves but a reaction to other provocative stimuli.
[Insert wry reference to Monty Python’s “Argument Clinic” sketch]

Not playing the victim here or anything, you understand. If I write something ambiguous, and am misunderstood, this is nobody’s fault but mine, and I am not entitled to attribute malice to my critics. However, permit me to retrace the chain of causality, just in case anyone wasn’t paying attention the first time:

It appears that my post was seen by some as a personal attack on Tina Korbe, despite my explicit denial of any animus toward her, and despite my attempt to cushion any criticism with self-deprecating humor. As I say, I’m not blaming others for misunderstanding a long and convoluted essay which, quite obviously, was easy to misunderstand.

Perhaps it is arrogant to believe that my good intentions would be apparent to my friends, and still more arrogant to suppose that any error or offense would be indulged on account of friendship. But it is at times like this that you learn who your real friends are.

UPDATE: Did I say “Nobody’s Fault But Mine”? Cue the Zep:

Had a nice phone conversation with Pete Da Tech Guy, who pointed out that there are some people who don’t seem to mind Whitney Houston dying nearly as much as they mind people being “judgmental” about her drug abuse. Interpret that how you will.

UPDATE II: Now, this is remarkable: Melissa Clouthier accuses me of being “vile” to Tina Korbe, while Katie Pavlich accuses me of “attacking” Tina Korbe, and I am at a loss to explain how so many people can see an intention that (to repeat myself) I explicitly disavowed.

The entire point of the post was that Patrick at “Thoughts and Rantings” had implied that his criticism of Tina’s skirt had prompted Melissa’s lecture on dress and decorum. Patrick linked me, and I saw his post because of the trackback. While I was thinking about doing a follow-up post to link back to Patrick, he blew up and called me a “f–king coward,” recalling an old grudge.

OK, so I wanted to show Patrick that I wasn’t holding grudges, and in doing so, (a) I pushed back against his over-the-top criticism of Tina Korbe; (b) recounted my own history of over-the-top criticism in a related example; and (c) concluded by advising Patrick that he should not be so quick to condemn others for their reactions to his deliberate provocations.

Did I argue this in linear form or compose the post in such a way that my purpose was entirely clear? No.

Is there an obvious danger in writing the way I write? Yes.

Are people prone to sympathize with someone they think has attacked their friend? No.

Do I know who my friends are? Yes. Oh, yes indeed, I do.

UPDATE III: Jenny Erikson is amazed by the uproar, as am I. There has been a lot of crazy on the blogosphere today that had nothing to do with me and, discussing it with Jimmie Bise Jr. this afternoon, we reached an agreement that a lot of conservatives are feeling frustrated lately. They are disappointed in the presidential field; their favorite candidate either dropped out long ago or is currently in third place. And there was also some disgruntlement over CPAC this year. Ergo, people are happy to have someone to lash out at.

So I was doing a post about human nature, specifically about someone (Patrick) who had lashed out at Tina Korbe and then lashed out at me, and beneath the video that started it, here is what I wrote:

Our keen-eyed readers will note that at the 0:28 mark of the video, Miss Korbe gives a little tug at the hem of her skirt and, not to get all Melissa Clouthier about it or anything, some folks might say that’s kind of a telltale clue that your skirt’s too doggone short.

Notice the carom-shot: I said I didn’t want “to get all Melissa Clouthier about it” — nudging her for her post specifying what she considered an appropriate dress code for CPAC — before saying that “some folks might say” the skirt was nonetheless “too doggone short.”

Did you catch the downhome informality of those phrases? Did that register to readers in terms of tone? Because having been accused of “attacking” Miss Korbe, it occurs to me that the jocular tone must not have registered.

Now, to let you in on a little secret: I knew for a fact, before I wrote the post, that Melissa’s criticism wasn’t directed at Miss Korbe, because I called our mutual friend Ali Akbar to check first. But Patrick had seemed to be under the impression that his criticism of Miss Korbe was reflected by Melissa’s post, and I was replying to Patrick.

Did you also notice the exaggerated generalizations that followed?

For example, I think tattoos and pierced bellybuttons are two of the tackiest things in the world, but I’m pretty sure not every woman with tattoos and a pierced bellybutton is a whore.
Most of them? Sure, but not all of them.
Similarly, short skirts and exposed cleavage do not necessarily signal that a woman is up for some action with any dude who’ll give her the price of another hit of methamphetamine. It is true that many hookers dress that way, but not every woman who dresses that way is a hooker.

That’s called hyperbole — deliberately stating an argument in an exaggerated way. And the line that followed was about “Maine College Republicans,” a running gag from a previous post I’d linked. And then I got into what prompted the whole thing:

Anyway, my responsible-but-not-judgmental post was linked in a roundup on the CPAC decorum controversy at “Thoughts and Ramblings,” whose proprietor suggested that this was in response to a post he’d done earlier, in which he said, “Tina, you are a Catholic, try actually dressing like one,” and accused her of giving the Senator “a peep show of her hoo haa.”
That went too far, I’d say. It was judgmental to the point of being irresponsible. And while I didn’t realize it when I saw the link yesterday, the proprietor of that blog has kind of a history here, of which he has since reminded me.

OK, when I linked the post that prompted my reply, I expected that people will click through the link and see what I was talking about. But evidently many people didn’t do that, and thus overlooked the nature of the provocation — being accused of having thrown Patrick “under the bus,” etc.

The reason I’ve added this sort of un-fisking of my own post is because I am being accused of attacking someone I had thought I’d made clear I was actually attempting to defend. But this obviously wasn’t as clear to others as it was to me, and so I appeared to be “beating up a girl,” and everything escalated from there.

I’ve since talked to Melissa Clouthier about this, and she was concerned about the “impression” I had created, intentionally or otherwise, and felt that I was insufficiently concerned about it and I suppose she’s right. The problem, I guess, is that almost no one ever shows any deference toward me or concern about my feelings — many people never miss a chance to insult or snub me — and therefore I’m surprised when my occasional breaches of decorum are treated as inexcusable.


  • Bob Belvedere

    I don’t get the controversy [and that is not due to a failure to explain it understandably on your part].

  • Bob Belvedere

    For reasons I can’t quite understand, Patrick brings up an ancient grudge and calls me a “f–king coward.”

    Perhaps, because of this…

  • DetroitRight

    Politico. oh…my…gawd…

    I’ll be in the bunker.

  • warnertoddhuston

    I never heard of this Pat guy before. But after reading his post that you linked, I find him a waste of my time. In his post he says he is concerned about “maintaining” his status as “pariah” of the blogosphere and then claiming that he “doesn’t care,” but it shows that his whole reason for for his blog is to prove he is a jerk to everyone he meets — quite a pathology there. It is clear he DOES care if people think he’s a jerk because that is his goal! It’s also clear he is a mental case not worth worrying about. Were I you, Mr. McCain, I’d ignore this pimple.

  • Finrod Felagund

    Being misinterpreted isn’t always your fault.  Many people on the Left (and too many on the Right) do their best to deliberately misinterpret.

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  • Evi L. Bloggerlady

    Stacy and Pat both have a talent for feeling sorry for themselves.  That is for sure!  

  • Anamika

    Were I you, Mr. McCain, I’d ignore this pimple.

    Just like people ignored you at the (now defunct) The Next Right blog, for instance, I suppose.

  • DetroitRight
  • Evi L. Bloggerlady

    It appears that my post was seen by some as a personal attack on Tina Korbe…
    I did not read that into it at all. I don’t know how anyone objectively could, given what you actually wrote.  It is amazing how people can jump to conclusions about such things.  It is like they are hearing whistles or sounds that only bats, elephants, dogs and dolphins can hear.  

  • warnertoddhuston

    You obviously haven’t a clue what you are talking about, so, once again, a pimple to ignore. Ta ta, idiot.

  • Anamika

    I remember reading your idiotic postings at TheNextRight blog that you used to spam on a daily basis. You thought you are ignoring the few who took time to comment on and critcize your blog entries, but you don’t seem to be smart enough to realise that you are the one being ignored. Go check those archives. Idiot.

  • RobTaylor

    ” I am not entitled to attribute malice to my critics”

    I have a series of emails and there are some pretty vicious attacks on me on your site that prove that’s not really what you believe.

    For a man who spends so much time drunk at these conventions you seemed awful judgmental about Tina Korbe – that’s what people were reacting to. The hypocrisy of a man who put up bikini videos of a 14 year old Courtney Stodden complaining about Tina Korbe (an adult) having a short skirt on.

    Before you “misunderstand” my point let me be clear, if anyone spent time at CPAC getting wasted it’s hypocrisy to jump on this “hoochies have no class” bandwagon and especially if you have defended the sexualization of teens, participate in bikini pic circle jerks etc.

  • warnertoddhuston

    Dude, do you know how many places I post every day?? I don’t have time to reply to every pinhead like you that thinks he has something important to say! If you think you are so smart, get your own blog. My points are in my posts. I have no interest in interacting with readers. But, here is a bit of help for you. If you don’t like what I write, DON’T READ IT! There. Your mental distress over me is solved.

  • DetroitRight

    Kids.. Kids…

  • Dave

    After a few minutes of trying to figure out what this was all about I thought my lunch was giving me a little trouble. It turns that it was the dull horror of realizing that “Patrick” is the return of Chuck “The Populist” Adkins. You’re fighting way under your weight class there, Stacy. 

  • robertstacymccain

    Wait: Who is “attributing motive” here? What is the stimulus and what is the response? I believe that if the chain of causality of your hostility toward me were traced to its origin, we’d find a post from September 2009, when you joined Charles Johnson of LGF in criticizing me.

    That criticism I ignored at the time, but you bided your time and attacked me again in December 2010, comparing me to a serial killer.

    I may be a fool, but I’m not such a fool as you think I am.

  • Joe_Detweiler

    Well… be honest….this seems to me to be just about the most pointless and unnecessary brouhaha on the webs since the demise of usenet. It isn’t even entertaining.

    The judge from Oakland gives it ….. +2.5.

  • robertstacymccain

    Well, there were interesting ideas provoked by this, Mr. Huston. There was, first of all, the fact that he cited Hot Air — an official sponsor of CPAC — as having commited a breach of the decorum which Melissa Clouthier lamented. And then there was the way he blew up and called me names, at the very time I was considering a post linking back to him.

    Well, how could I criticize him without revealing that I had sometimes acted like a jerk? Not that this is a secret to my friends, who know very well what a jerk I can be at times. But I wanted Patrick to see that I wasn’t criticizing him for anything I wasn’t likewise guilty of.

    Is he prone to carrying a chip on his shoulder? Hey, I’ve got a damned redwood forest of chips on my shoulder. But I try to have some kind of objectivity — insofar as this is possible — about my own shortcomings, which are quite numerous.

  • richard mcenroe

    They can when it’s useful to them.  All you have to do is ignore the original Hot Air post, the Melissa Tweet, the guywho actually MADE the hoo-hah jokethe guy who aggregated all the stuff, and it’s OBVIOUSLY Stacy’s fault…

  • richard mcenroe

    Oh, and never mind how he got the Maine chicks all lickered up and stuck them in those outfits to piss off the bluenoses in the first place…

  • Pete in GA

    So, Stacy….you havin’ fun today? At least your pageviews are up.

  • Zilla of the Resistance

    Stacy, I have to go and do some mom stuff right now so don’t have a lot of time, but know that I read the original long post and was on your side then and I am on your side now. 
    I saw NOTHING negative from you directed at Ms. Kobe, the people who are bitching must be hearing some sort of “dog whistle”, just like the jackasses on the left who are determined to “expose” how everything anyone who disagrees with their evil is raaaaacist.
    Zilla’s got your back.

  • richard mcenroe

    Only a goddam DC Beltway RINO trying to suck up to Big Con for that sweet rightwing grant money would say this was pointless and unnecessary, you! *g*

  • DetroitRight

    feh…. just another angry neo-con; who cannot handle the fact that a former Democratic Party voter woke up and smelled the coffee. As for your insult to my intelligence, I saw your pic on that blog of yours. You ain’t no price either. 

  • Zilla of the Resistance


  • Dave

    Now that’s the incoherence I haven’t missed for all these years.

  • DetroitRight

     it’s not about that at all. It is about the fact that I was accused of being shit that I was and STILL AM not; and not one person, not even *you* Stacy came to my defense, at all.

    I didn’t blow up at you. I told the truth; and FWIW, I do not consider what happened “ancient history.” Because it really was not that long ago. 

    Either way, I’m not interested in a feuding. I just found ironic that a commenter over here would jump my butt. I figured you had the guy do it, so you couldn’t be the one to have to do it.

    As for knowing who your friends are…. I know who they are. It really isn’t anyone in this blogging world, that is for sure.

    Again, I thank you for the hits. I made a valid point, about the dress thing. But the thing with you and me; is a separate issue.

    Anyhow, be well; and again, Thank you.


    P.S. Politico! *politico?!?!*

  • RobTaylor

    Charles Johnson attacked me long before he attacked you and you can see criticisms I have of LGF linked on Jihad Watch and others. I never compared you to a serial killer and you know that.

    But again, my point. I was assigned a piece by an editor to deal with a post where you said rape victims “bought the ticket” for their crime in date rape scenarios. I posed the question that John Wayne Gacy killed “dates” he picked up so would you apply that logic to them. You refuse to deal with it by pretending I had a personal animosity toward you when in fact as we discussed when you emailed me I really wasn’t familiar with you at all.

    If I criticized you in 2009 I can assure you that it wasn’t in concert with Johnson since by then he had told everyone I was a neo-Nazi creationist who wanted to ban science and had his cult run the web making up crazy stories about me. These are all things you know.

    So, personal malice or criticism? Why is my critique of your ideas malice but your attack on Korbe’s skirt not?

  • Joe_Detweiler

    Aaaah….the good old days.

  • Mike G.

    Hmmm…much ado about nothing. Stacy in no way criticized Tina Korbe for her manner of attire as far as I could tell and I pride myself on my reading comprehension.

    Now the other guy…Whatzizname…now, he was critical of a woman’s manner of dressing and all I can say is…you must be a real prude and want women to go back to the old days…Barefoot, Pregnant and chained to the stove, and want them to wear  those floor length dresses.

  • ThomasD

    Yep, that about sums it up.  So Stacy, consider yourself guilty as charged…

  • William Quick

    Heck, Stacy, I never thought you were attacking Tina.  I thought you were attacking her skirt, following a policy of never firing until you see the whites of their thighs.

  • DetroitRight

     incoherence this, ya damned jack-hole.

  • DetroitRight

     That’s a bit over the top. But I think they’d be bunch less rapes in this Country if women would cover up a bit more.

  • DetroitRight


  • Edward Royce

     Agreed.  Nobody who had actually read the post could possibly have thought for a moment that it was directed at Tina Korbe.  If anything it was directed, in part, at HA for putting a job advertisement online that would never have actually amounted to anything.  Which I frankly think is utterly insulting to the participants in HA’s Green Room.

  • Rdsand

    My only though after reading the whole was, “At least she has legs for it.”

  • AnonymousDrivel

    So, um, are there any more thighs bellybuttons here or not?

  • Mike G.

    That is the most asinine statement I’ve ever read. There would be a lot less rapes in this country if Men could understand that No means NO.

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  • Bob Belvedere

    Anamika is the resident Troll around here, WTH.  Most of us just ignore her.

  • Bob Belvedere

    EBL: Patrick [real name Chuck] is sociopath who, when cornered, lashes out with slanders and libels.

    This banal twit has written the most vile stuff about Stacy.

  • Bob Belvedere

    Everybody who disagrees with you on the Right is a fucking Neocon.  In other words, we’re all Joooz, right?

    If you think calling a conservative a Jew is an insult, you’re a cretinous fool.

    I am Hebrewcus!

  • Teresamerica

    These people need to lighten up. They need to take a chill pill.  Don’t blame yourself.  Conservatives should have more common sense than that.  Here’s a song: 

  • DetroitRight

    I’m not sure what to make of that, wasn’t aware that Al Sharpton needed any help. Play the card much? Just saying.

  • Evi L. Bloggerlady

    Debbie Wasserman Schultz is the gift that keeps on giving for the GOP…

    But also note how one of The Blaze  staffers (and The Blaze and Beck are pretty friendly to Santorum), completely misinterpreted an old joke by Rick Santorum’s billionaire backer.  Tiffany–think why holding an aspirin between your knees might be a birth control method…

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  • Bob Belvedere

    You really should get some help.