The Other McCain

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

Profiles in Narcissism: Charles Johnson Blinded by His Own Self-Righteousness

Posted on | April 7, 2012 | 84 Comments

Among the books I most often recommend are The Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy (Thomas Sowell, 1995) and The Culture of Narcissism: American Life in an Age of Diminishing Expectations (Christopher Lasch, 1979). Thoughtful readers familiar with both books will understand how the phenomenon described by Sowell — liberals enacting disastrous social policies that serve mainly to make liberals feel good about themselves — is related to the narcissistic impulses described by Lasch.

In a society where traditional institutions of moral authority are decadent or discredited, individuals engage in self-righteous political gestures to demonstrate (to themselves, if to no one else) their own superior virtue. Liberal policies appeal to such impulses, e.g., Dick Durbin: “I may be a corrupt swine, but I drive a hybrid!” or Alec Baldwin: “I may be a vicious bully, but I’m all about a woman’s right to choose!

The politicization of morality is not a new phenomenon, but it has gained a new vehemence in recent decades as the traditional sources of moral authority — the church, the family, the local community, etc. — have declined in influence, and as bourgeois virtues (sobriety, chastity, industry, thrift, etc.) have been undermined by the counter-culture.

When people turn to politics seeking affirmation of their own virtue, the results are often disastrous for the people directly affected by the policies enacted. To cite just one example, the AIDS crisis of the 1980s spiraled out of control in part because liberals were unwilling to shut down the gay bathouses that profited by facilitating the anonymous promiscuity which spread the pandemic. (David Horowitz and Peter Collier include an amazing chapter on this in their 1989 book, Destructive Generation: Second Thoughts About the Sixties.) The AIDS issue became a moral crusade for liberals, who saw themselves defending the “rights” of an unpopular minority in a battle against oppression, as if the “right” to commercialized sodomy trumped legitimate public health concerns.

Controversies that involve race, even indirectly, have often been hijacked by this sort of liberal crusader mentality, as in the infamous Duke University lacrosse team “rape” scandal, where certainty of the guilt of the accused was a kind of moral litmus test. People who had nothing to do with Duke University, people who had never been within a hundred miles of Raleigh, N.C., nevertheless presumed to know that the lacrosse players were guilty and excoriated anyone who did not join them in denouncing the perpetrators of this alleged atrocity.

What you learn, if you observe this tendency long enough, is that the people who delight in pointing the accusatory finger — racist! sexist! homophobe! — are generally engaged in an exhibition of moral narcissism, trying to fill the “hole in their soul” with self-righteousness by gestures intended to prove their own superior virtue. Not only are they not racist (or not sexist, etc.), but they are anti-racist (or anti-whatever) and are courageously donning their shining armor and mounting their horses to lead a crusade against the Evil Menace.

Heroism on the cheap, as it were.

When the Trayvon Martin case became a national controversy, it was certain to attract swarms of such moralistic finger-pointers, demanding that everyone join them in Standing Up to Hatred, etc. I’ve had little to say about the case, but one thing I did say was this:

The first time I talked to anyone about the Trayvon Martin case, I cautioned against the urge to jump to conclusions based on media accounts.

The federal Justice Department was involved and a special investigation was underway, and there was no need to engage in furious debates over every detail of a case about which we had no direct knowledge, and in which we were not directly involved. Insofar as I have since commented on it at all, I’ve mainly called attention to the way people were making fools of themselves over the case. (Damn, how I wish Keith Olbermann were still on TV!) So in the wee hours this morning, when I noticed people on Twitter giving Dave Weigel grief over something written by John Derbyshire, my reaction was, “What the hell is this about?”

After investigating, I wrote a post:

While it is impossible to imagine any scenario in which Lowry won’t be forced to fire Derbyshire now, I’m actually more fascinated by the Left’s attempt to bully Weigel for failing to denounce Derbyshire in strong enough terms.

This is a familiar ritual, The Denunciation Derby, in which liberals demand that everyone compete for the Sweepstakes Prize offered for whoever can express the most indignant outrage against the target. It seemed obvious that Derbyshire was doomed, and there was no point even trying to defend him, but Weigel — who has never been accused of being a racist — was under attack for having blogged about Derbyshire with insufficient outrage.

National Review editor Rich Lowry tried to distance himself from Derbyshire — “needless to say”! — and I reacted to that this afternoon:

“Needless to say,” however, they don’t pay you the big bucks to waffle in times of crisis, Rich. Your executive authority must be exercised and, with this howling Internet lynch mob demanding Derbyshire’s scalp, you must either satisfy the mob or deal with the consequences.

While I was aggregating further reaction in updates, I was being stalked by a creepy Twitter troll. Pay careful attention to the sequence:




Charles Johnson is doing his “Race Detective” bit: He accuses me and Dan Riehl of being “the first to defend Derbyshire,” then he writes a blog post using Riehl’s name to connect the “racist” meme to And then — exhibiting a stunning lack of self-awareness — Johnson complains to Pam Spaulding that right-wingers “spend so much time & energy trying to smear & discredit me.”

Got it? Charles (a) writes a blog post to “smear and discredit” Dan Riehl and Dan’s employers, then (b) engages in psychological projection to claim that his enemies are doing to him what he is doing to them.

This kind of blame-shifting rationalization is typical of narcissistic personalities: Nothing is ever their fault. Whenever anything goes wrong, some scapegoat must be blamed for the failure.

You see why paranoia is so closely related to narcissism, in that the damaged ego, being unable to accept responsibility for failure, eventually exaggerates the evils of scapegoated enemies to the point where contact with reality is lost amid persecution fantasies of an all-powerful “them” conspiring against the grandiose self.

Grandiosity — the unrealistic inflation of personal significance — is necessary to the delusion: Why would all these powerful forces of evil be conspiring against an obscure nobody? The damaged ego must inflate the imagined power of scapegoated enemies in order to explain how the grandiose self has been thwarted.

During a three-year purge that began in 2008, Charles Johnson banned more than 15,000 commenters from Little Green Footballs, destroying his own traffic, alienating his friends and making himself the laughingstock of the blogosphere. The only person responsible for this was Charles Johnson, yet he continues to seek out “racists” and other scapegoats to blame for his self-destruction.

Good luck turning your paranoid delusions into a career, Charles.

Meanwhile, Lowry has fired Derbyshire, describing the offending column as “so outlandish it constitutes a kind of letter of resignation.”

This was exactly what I’d predicted in the wee hours when I commented on the “get Weigel” sideshow. How that amounted to me joining Dan Riehl as “first to defend Derbyshire” is perhaps something that Charles Johnson can try to explain when the nice men in white coats show up to take him to the Funny Farm.

Remember: Charles Johnson tried to destroy Pamela Geller by smearing her as a crypto-fascist. After I defended Geller, CJ tried to destroy me as a “white supremacist.” By now, CJ’s list of right-wing enemies is so long as to include just about everyone who ever voted Republican. But CJ’s crazy crusade was never really about the evil of his enemies — Geller, Robert Spencer, Diana West, Melanie Phillips, Geert Wilders, Michelle Malkin, Jim Hoft, Ace of Spades, Dan Riehl, et al., ad finitum — it was always all about Charles Johnson.

And it still is.

Happy Easter, everybody. Go hit Da Tech Guy’s tip jar.



UPDATE: Does anyone remember “Liberal Avenger,” a/k/a Sirkowski, a/k/a Sébastien Fréchette? If we can believe his own online bio — alas, he is a notorious and habitual liar — Fréchette is a 35-year-old illustrator specializing in (NSFW) “Loli” cartoons. NTTAWWT.

During his most notorious years weeks, Sirkowski/Fréchette/”Liberal Avenger” was best known for slinging hateful slurs at Republican women, including Condi Rice and Mary Cheney, as well as altering comments and other such stunts as sociopathic trolls do with their own blogs. (See, “Sirowski Watch.”)

Patterico had a go-round with “Liberal Avenger” back in the day. Sébastien still seems to have a problem with Republican women:

Some people’s political reactions are like a Rorshach inkblot test, inexorably exposing their inner freak. Sirkowski/Fréchette spent Saturday re-Tweeting Charles Johnson and then showed up in the comments on this post screeching about racists and fascists.

Sébastien: Go back to doing dirty drawings of girls, OK?

LGF is scraping the bottom of the barrel these days . . .



84 Responses to “Profiles in Narcissism: Charles Johnson Blinded by His Own Self-Righteousness”

  1. Adjoran
    April 8th, 2012 @ 5:02 pm


  2. K-Bob
    April 8th, 2012 @ 6:27 pm

     This all matches up to my recollections, too.  (Being a computer geek and web programmer, I was quite interested in the work CJ did building his and Spencer’s sites, so I was a participant in the LGF site, mostly to get ideas about possibly writing my own.)

    But a sideshow many overlook, and possibly something that helped kick him into “screw the right” mode, was the fighting over the Texas Dept of Ed’s revision of their curriculum, so as to allow the inclusion of creationism in teaching about the origins of the Earth and Man.  Many long posts by CJ, and his arguments in the comments with members, were aimed at painting the religious right as a bunch of insane fantasists, hell-bent (excuse the pun) on pushing an “anti-science” agenda on the young skulls-full-of-mush.

    Evidently his fear was of a slippery slope modeled on the event horizon of a black hole.

    When folks tried to get him to see reason, he began getting angry about it.  As if merely attempting to justify such a thing marked you as a vicious form of fanatic who cannot be tolerated.  And that’s when the bannings not-related-to-general-comment-policy began.

    Eventually, merely bringing up the topic could get you banned.  It’s enough to make you wonder about the more freudian implications of some teacher of creationism from his childhood days  …because that’s the topic that seems to have caused his epistemological house of cards to collapse.

  3. The Political Hat
    April 8th, 2012 @ 7:02 pm

    Fascism: it does not mean what you think it means.  Fascism is a collectivist ideology of the left.  It is fundamentally socialist and transformative.  It treats people as nothing more then a member of some defined group (by class, race, gender, or whatnot), and then treats people unequally via corporatism to achieve “equality.”

    I used to read Miss Dynamite.  Not any more… at least Uncle Ghastly never went around calling women “c**ts”

  4. Mainlander
    April 8th, 2012 @ 7:30 pm

    Charles who? Honestly, why do people even pay attention to what this loon says? Moving along…

  5. Richard L. Kent, Esq.
    April 8th, 2012 @ 7:47 pm

    BTW Charles, thanks for the clip art!

  6. Adobe_Walls
    April 8th, 2012 @ 8:17 pm

    I imagine that people are more reluctant to admit to watching porn when it’s gay porn or bestiality.

  7. Bob Belvedere
    April 8th, 2012 @ 8:18 pm

    Don’t be too sure.

  8. Garym
    April 8th, 2012 @ 8:46 pm

    When he started bashing the Christian right is when I stopped reading him. And I’m an evolutionist, go figure. I never minded philosophical arguments against Christaianity, it was the mean spiritedness(is this a word) that Chuckles was conveying.

  9. Garym
    April 8th, 2012 @ 8:49 pm

    Just as long as you are not a gay from Lithia Springs. NTTAWWT.

  10. The Daley Gator Comments and Includes Commentary from Other Conservative Blogs | ZION'S TRUMPET
    April 8th, 2012 @ 9:03 pm

    […] McCain notes the narcissism of many on the Left and their exploitation of race. In a society where traditional institutions of moral authority are […]

  11. Richard_Gere
    April 8th, 2012 @ 10:19 pm

    Really? Would you please invite him to stop by my place sometime?

  12. Rose
    April 8th, 2012 @ 10:29 pm

    <<– Banned for updinging. 

    Look – what made LGF great was the COMMENTERS. Newcomers would soon learn that the 'green' comment on any thread was that guy who made the post, what was his name, CJ? Oh, yeah. OK. Well, geez, does he ever say anything positive?

    No, he spent all his time stalking his readers, and cackling with glee when he settled on a target. The sad thing is, he drew others in to his madness. 

    Now, if you stripped out all the other comments and only saw the 'green' comments… the stalking, the picking on, the abusive, nasty Charles Johnson comments – – well, then you'd have his Twitter feed. It's perfect.

  13. ThePaganTemple
    April 8th, 2012 @ 10:46 pm

    Charles never stops, he just sneaks up in your ass while your asleep and keeps on rooting around up there until you shit him out like the big old ass turd he is.

  14. richard mcenroe
    April 8th, 2012 @ 10:54 pm

     Take video.  I know a website pays good money for that kind of thing.

  15. Richard_Gere
    April 8th, 2012 @ 10:56 pm

    Reply to ThePaganTemple (below)

    You just tell Charles I’ve got LOTS of room for him!

  16. A Guy From Lithia Springs
    April 8th, 2012 @ 10:58 pm

     Is the repeated use of the word ‘narcissistic’ to describe foes of the right  one of those flavor of the month things?   For a movement that purports to be all about decentralization and local control, ya’lls use of language seems awfully similar…….we talking about a memo from “the top” or something?   

  17. richard mcenroe
    April 8th, 2012 @ 11:01 pm

    You’d be wrong.  I used to work for a video distribution company.  One of our lines was “motel cuts” of Vivid Video releases (i.e., editied versions with the actual gynnecology deleted.  Tended to run a bit short).

    There are many counties in some states where even that stuff is illegal to display, rent or retail.  And  the video shop owners were quick to tell us that.  But, and my left hand on a Koran, I swear this is true, the next question out of their mouth, much more often than not, would be, “You got any bestiality?”

    In deference to our host’s antecedents, I will not specify the accent in which that question was usually asked.

  18. AnitaPiece
    April 8th, 2012 @ 11:04 pm

    Yes, a sooper sekret memo.  From the Koch brothers. Or was is Rush Limbaugh?  I can never remember.

  19. AnitaPiece
    April 8th, 2012 @ 11:04 pm

    Yes, a sooper sekret memo.  From the Koch brothers. Or was is Rush Limbaugh?  I can never remember.

  20. AnitaPiece
    April 8th, 2012 @ 11:22 pm

    Sorry for the repeat.  I just get so excited about taking orders from my masters that I forget myself sometimes.

  21. Wombat_socho
    April 8th, 2012 @ 11:57 pm

     Words mean things, and around here we tend to use them according to their definitions, which means we often use the same adjectives to describe people acting in the same ways. I realize this is a hard concept for you liberals to get your heads around, given that you’ve been trying to bastardize English into Newspeak since the 1920s, but I think you can manage it if you really try.

  22. Messenger
    April 9th, 2012 @ 5:48 am

    “We, average Americans, simply do not talk enough with each other about things racial.” Eric Holder
    Derbyshire has a talk about race. He’s fired.

  23. Bob Belvedere
    April 9th, 2012 @ 8:30 am

    Blinded by the light
    Wrapped up like a douche….

  24. Bob Belvedere
    April 9th, 2012 @ 8:33 am
  25. Bob Belvedere
    April 9th, 2012 @ 8:36 am


  26. Bob Belvedere
    April 9th, 2012 @ 8:39 am

    A Gay From Lithium Springs

    There…fixed that for you.

  27. Bob Belvedere
    April 9th, 2012 @ 8:42 am

    Well put.

  28. Bob Belvedere
    April 9th, 2012 @ 8:43 am

    They’re all on the Board of the VRWC, so it doesn’t matter.

  29. Bob Belvedere
    April 9th, 2012 @ 8:44 am

    Trouble is, John made the mistake of being honest, and Eric The Red don’t believe in no stinkin’ honesty.

  30. A Guy From Lithia Springs
    April 9th, 2012 @ 10:33 am

     That’s another swing and a miss.    The actions by Gingrich back in the 90’s and Luntz today provide the proof of the Birther Party’s efforts to manipulate language about all political matters, big and small.   Frankly the left are amateurs in comparison.    Have another think and try again.

  31. ThePaganTemple
    April 9th, 2012 @ 1:32 pm

     Frankly the left are amateurs in comparison.

    Not amateurs, just fucking stupid. Actually, they are fucking retarded. Whoops, better make that “mentally challenged”. Or is that no longer acceptable now as well?

  32. gloogle gloogle
    April 9th, 2012 @ 1:46 pm

    “affirmative action”
    “white hispanic”
    “hope and change”
    “undocumented workers”
    “diversity training”

    Yeah, the left is a bunch of amateurs in that “word manipulation” game…

  33. WyBlog - John Derbyshire is out at National Review, but Bill Maher and Chris Rock are still on TV?
    April 9th, 2012 @ 7:13 pm

    John Derbyshire is out at National Review, but Bill Maher and Chris Rock are still on TV?…

    Extrapolating from those anecdotes is just as ignorant as all the rushes to judgment made in the wake of Trayvon Martin’s shooting. The difference is that preening liberals can feel good about themselves for condemning the former while engaging in the…

  34. mcmeador
    April 9th, 2012 @ 8:13 pm

     I’m glad I had the pleasure of leaving Little Green Footballs on my own terms.  I emailed Charles and asked him to please delete my account because I no longer wanted to be associated with his site.  Had I had stuck around much longer, I’m sure I would have been one of those 15,000+ members that he banned for committing the great sin of disagreeing with him.  Hey, maybe he’ll write a smear piece about me if he sees this comment!