The Other McCain

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

‘Clean-Up on Aisle Nine!’

Posted on | March 9, 2013 | 41 Comments

Am I a good judge of what is or is not offensive? Usually, and at times I am quite deliberately offensive. National Offend a Feminist Week each May is an annual occasion (always the week leading up to Mother’s Day, because if there’s anything feminists hate, it’s motherhood).

However, just because there’s one special week doesn’t prevent me from offending feminists the other 51 weeks of the year, and I should have seen trouble coming when I did this morning’s Ashley Judd post. Thus we return to a personal problem I’ve been dealing with since I was a class clown in elementary school: You’re never going to find out where the line is until you cross it and get sent to the principal’s office.

Random Sarcasm Syndrome — help me, I’m a victim.

Did I intend to cut deep on would-be Sen. Puffy Face? Yes.

And are there people who would have thoroughly enjoyed such an expert filet job had I not crossed the line? Yes.

Are there people who weren’t offended? Yes, but when you get yourself into one of these jams — and trust me, I’ve been doing this my whole life — it’s best not to let your buddies egg you on further.

So when one of the pro-Stacy commenters (a regular) described the chief anti-Stacy commenter (a newbie less frequent commenter) as a “concern trollette,” I figured it was time to stop arguing, concede the offense, and clean it up.

Usually in such situations — we need not cite the specific incidents — I just drop it and move on, like the guy who knocks over a stack of cans in a grocery story and then just walks away whistling casually to himself. Take your hits, stoically accept your error and try not to screw up again.

However, it just so happened that the comment field on this Ashley Judd post started blowing up right about the time I finished laying about two tons of whup-ass on Bill Schmalfeldt’s thick head.

Bill’s got a lot of problems, chief among them an inability to admit his mistakes or learn from them. The same was true of Barrett Brown, who is now in federal custody awaiting trial in Texas.

Arrogance is a fault with which I am intimately acquainted, but for which I’ve learned to compensate enough that I usually rein it in before I inflict irretrievable damage on myself. There is a familarity to such situations — “Oh, crap, I’ve done it again” — so that you’d have to be an outright fool not to recognize one’s own typical error, recall the previous consequences of such errors, and avoid doubling down on stupid.

It’s the double-down reaction that is always the biggest error.

Convinced of our own essential rectitude, we do not appreciate criticism, and so it is a natural instinct in such conflicts to start entrenching one’s position like the French defending Verdun. But if you always take that attitude toward conflict, if you are never willing to admit error, eventually that tendency will bring you to grief (cf., Charles Johnson).

Most times in such a conflict, you may feel that you’re basically right. There was some valid larger point you were making, and the critic who is unloading a truckload of indignation on your head about your inflammatory rhetoric is — from your perspective — missing the point. So, rather than let yourself get concern-trolled out of an important argument, you raise the black flag, yell “No Prisoners!” and turn it into one of those Armageddon struggles where anyone who tries to talk you out of it is suspected of being an active accomplice of The Enemy.

No need to get specific as to examples here. IYKWIMAITYD.

Having the balance of righteousness in your favor will do you little good if, by waging a too-fanatical war in your own defense, your friends desert the fight because you’re acting like a lunatic.

In the case of the Ashley Judd Armageddon, in making a sharp cut at the foe — which I intended as a very specific criticism — I managed to cause people to perceive that this specific criticism might also generally apply to others who are in fact, friends and allies in the fight.

OK. Error acknowledged.

Could I have spent a lot of time taking on every hostile comment, debating each point of disagreement, entrenching my position? Yes.

Would such a course of action have been prudent? No.

A deliberate insult to an enemy is one thing. To accidentally insult one’s friends is not something to make a habit. My longtime friends are used to my ways, and don’t take it personally when I say stupid things. A willingness to say stupid things once in a while makes for fun, except when it’s not fun at all. Operating on a trial-and-error basis means you’ve got to be able to recognize what a error looks like.

This was an error, and so I’ll concede this: At the very least, I did not choose my words wisely. Now I’ll shut up and move along, and find some new way to piss everybody off next time.

Because I’m innovative like that.



41 Responses to “‘Clean-Up on Aisle Nine!’”

  1. Neo
    March 9th, 2013 @ 4:59 pm

    “Ashley recalls playing with the weapon and loading bullets into the chamber, spinning it, cocking the trigger and holding it to her head.”

    At least she has some familiarity with the issues of the NRA and (Deer Hunter) VietNam vets.

  2. Truth in Humor: Ashley Judd Edition : The Other McCain
    March 9th, 2013 @ 5:03 pm

    […] Pingback: ‘Clean-Up on Aisle Nine!’ : The Other McCain […]

  3. Chas C-Q
    March 9th, 2013 @ 5:07 pm

    For the record, Elaine is no “newbie.” (A condescending label, perhaps?) She’s been here for years. She just doesn’t comment often, though certainly a lot more often than I.

  4. robertstacymccain
    March 9th, 2013 @ 5:08 pm

    OK, I didn’t know. I just didn’t recognize her as a frequent commenter, whereas the guy calling her a “trollette” is. My apologies for the mistake.

  5. elaine
    March 9th, 2013 @ 5:41 pm

    You’re a great writer and a great asset to the cause; that’s why I took you to task, because what you did in the Judd post is something you seem to be doing more and more often — like the emo boy who posted a youtube video about his coming out, like the Bill Schmalfeldt stuff, — you say mean things just to be mean and elicit chuckles from the regulars. It’s all in good fun…

    Yukking it up over someone’s personal tragedy and making sweeping generalizations about everyone who’s in the same boat is cheap and cruel — just ask the Santorums. You’re better than that, or at least I thought you were.

    When you write about the sanctity of life, you’re profound and your arguments sway people. My position on abortion has evolved over time, and your posts put me squarely in the pro-life camp. That’s the kind of writing we need more of, Stacy. That’s where you can do the most good.

    I’m not being a concern troll,and I probably got angrier than I should’ve and escalated things more than I should’ve. I’m sorry for that. I realize you’re a decent guy.

  6. robertstacymccain
    March 9th, 2013 @ 5:49 pm

    People who refuse to concede error are never wise.
    On the other hand, this is the Internet, and it’s not wise to signal weakness. One reason I so seldom acknowledge error — rather than just dropping an argument and moving on — is that the ‘Net is swarming with bullies, and if you ever cede an inch to those people, you’ll be backing up forever. In this case (especially when I realized the risk of hurting the feelings of innocent and well-meaning friends) I decided to make an exception to my usual practice, not just because the error had offended friends, but also to show I’m big enough to admit I was wrong.
    There are already too many small people out there.

  7. Adjoran
    March 9th, 2013 @ 5:50 pm

    AFAIK, Rick Santorum and his family never went out of their way to publicize their daughter’s medical condition for their own benefit, neither did they attempt to hide it. But even if they had, mocking the child would be out of bounds.

    I see a stark difference in Judd’s situation: her infertility and problems related to it could have remained completely private. When movie stars publicize such things, it is a calculated move to gain sympathetic publicity. But once you open Pandora’s Box, so to speak, the results are unpredictable and uncontrollable.

    Judd and her defenders want to have it both ways, not just on this narrow issue, but on everything. She doesn’t want to be held accountable or mocked for her many statements over the years which were quite certain to curry favor with the Left, either.

    Too freakin’ bad.

  8. Charles Johnson
    March 9th, 2013 @ 6:09 pm

    How about some apologies my way RSM? You offended me RSM, since I am barren, humorless and puffy! I never did a nude film, except maybe for that late night wine party phone video thing with Shamutta, Schmalfeldt, and Kilgore T. They swear all versions have been erased. I have blocked out most of that in my memory.

  9. elaine
    March 9th, 2013 @ 6:19 pm

    The Santorums wrote about the infant they lost; the left cruelly mocked them for it.

    So, yeah… it doesn’t matter if Judd (or Mrs. Santorum) put it out there; it’s still crass to take advantage of it. Again, you don’t get to be offended on behalf of the Santorums or the Palins if you are busily making fun of Judd. It’s about treating everyone the same — our side, their side, bystanders. If we can’t do that, then we don’t deserve to lead.

  10. bet0001970
    March 9th, 2013 @ 6:30 pm

    I was just reading the other post, and noticed something that I thought was a pretty rediculous characterization. A couple people were talking about women in their 40’s not being married. And it appeared that the only reasonable excuse for this was that they couldn’t find good men. That somehow rejecting marriage was a “bad” thing.

    I’m a single woman. I served 10 years in the military. I remained single because it was convenient for me to stay mobile. I was also raised to be an independent person and I have never felt the need to rely on another individual. So why would I consider entering into a marriage when such an arrangement would never suit me? Why do people always assume there is something wrong with women like me?

    And btw McCain, I’m 115 lbs, 5’3″, classic features and I’m sporting D cups. So no, I’m not some spinster.

  11. robertstacymccain
    March 9th, 2013 @ 6:35 pm

    We demand photographic proof!

  12. bet0001970
    March 9th, 2013 @ 6:38 pm

    In 5 days, you won’t need it. I’ll bring the cigars.

  13. rosalie
    March 9th, 2013 @ 7:03 pm

    Please, Stacy, don’t start apologizing for every little thing.

  14. Chris Wysocki
    March 9th, 2013 @ 7:04 pm

    FWIW, I didn’t think you crossed any lines. And I’m Joe Prude’s tight-assed older brother.

    Seriously, the Left is playing hardball and for keeps. They’re pulling no punches. I don’t see any reason why our side should continue the “nice guy” schtick, because it’s clearly not working. Hit ’em hard. Hit ’em low. Hit ’em again before they get up.

  15. jakee308
    March 9th, 2013 @ 7:15 pm

    Never apologize, never explain.

    Commenters can smell fear and will become ravening hordes.

  16. G Joubert
    March 9th, 2013 @ 7:17 pm

    Elaine and Daria are 100% correct on this issue. I agree totally with them and for the reasons they give.

    That said, not only does the left not play by these same rules, they count on breaking them to reach the so-called low information voter. And it works bigtime. With no sign of letting up. So, yet another thing gets ceded to them. And the beat goes on.

  17. jakee308
    March 9th, 2013 @ 7:22 pm

    Sorry, I’ve watched the left try and succeed using every dirty trick in the book and making some up as they went along.

    They have far more outlets to perpetrate their propaganda and perfidy on the unsuspecting and ignorant.

    Frankly I refuse to be constrained by some medieval sense of fair play and chivalry that inevitably leads to having our asses beaten time and time again.

    You can play by all the rules you want to and keep losing. I’m more than ready to throw the same crap they dish out on a daily basis just to stay even.

    You may enjoy a sense of superiority to them and to me but you’ll still lose the argument or race.

    In street fighting, there are no rules. Anyone who thinks otherwise is either dead or a bloody pulp on the ground.

  18. jakee308
    March 9th, 2013 @ 7:24 pm

    Rickety rickety ree,

    Hit ’em in the knee.

    Rickety rickety rass,

    Hit ’em in the other knee.

  19. SDN
    March 9th, 2013 @ 7:40 pm

    Stacey, if you want to refer to me specifically feel free. This is the Internet, not beanbag. 😎

  20. SDN
    March 9th, 2013 @ 7:41 pm

    My high school football team favored

    “Kill, Kill, blood makes the grass grow!”

  21. Daria DiGiovanni
    March 9th, 2013 @ 7:46 pm

    You are absolutely right and in my original comment, I should have noted that there are many reasons why a woman over 30 could be both single and conservative. I definitely did not mean to imply that it’s all just because it’s hard to find decent men; there are many, many reasons why a woman would choose the single life.

    The real point I wanted to make was that it is entirely possible to be 1. single 2. female and 3. conservative. I also wanted to point out that Ashley’s so-called feminist icons are complicit in turning women into sex objects and equating liberation with being treated like piece of meat. There’s a lot of irony there when you consider Ashley was more than happy to shed her clothes for money and fame in her prime. Now she bitches about a mythical “patriarchy” being to blame when in fact, she was a willing participant the “objectification” (to use her term) of women.

    Anyway, Stacy it was a great post and I share your disgust for Ashley Judd, so no need to apologize to me. I just wanted to express an opinion based on my own personal experience.

    Keep up the excellent work!

  22. Adobe_Walls
    March 9th, 2013 @ 9:02 pm

    Your friends have no more “right to not be offended” than your enemies and all those in between. If one can’t offend their friends every once in awhile they’re not your friends.

  23. rmnixondeceased
    March 9th, 2013 @ 9:13 pm

    “… Pandora’s box …” Ewww, no amount of brain bleach can remove that from my shriveled cerebellum …

  24. Adjoran
    March 9th, 2013 @ 9:20 pm

    If you can’t see the difference between attacking children, including disabled children, and holding an adult woman to her own PR notices, we really have no common frame of reference to discuss the matter.

  25. Adjoran
    March 9th, 2013 @ 9:23 pm

    Is that smell FEAR?

    I assumed CJ had farted.

  26. Adjoran
    March 9th, 2013 @ 9:24 pm

    You demand he apologize for apologizing so much!

  27. Adjoran
    March 9th, 2013 @ 9:25 pm

    Speaking of beanbags, have you seen Ashley Judd’s butt lately?

  28. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    March 9th, 2013 @ 9:54 pm

    Rule 5 Reader!

  29. Adobe_Walls
    March 9th, 2013 @ 11:00 pm

    It’s not enough to be better than they are we must be better AT it than they are.

  30. bet0001970
    March 9th, 2013 @ 11:14 pm

    I don’t know what that is. I read McCain for the articles.

  31. Quartermaster
    March 10th, 2013 @ 12:20 am

    So is RSM becoming a cheese eating apology monkey? Say it ain’t so!

    I saw nothing wrong with using her own PR against her. If that offends people, so be it.

  32. K-Bob
    March 10th, 2013 @ 2:08 am

    Sort of like John Edwards using his dead kid to win trials. To think that guy was on a national ticket. Creep city.

  33. jsn2
    March 10th, 2013 @ 6:41 am

    Yeah Mac, you do tread close to the line and occasionally swerve across, but so what. Most internet writers and commentors cross that line on occasion (I know I do), it’s the nature of the beast when you rarely/never see your opponent face to face. Human nature is a bitch and the libs have no problem letting their inner asshole shred enemies of the collective. As for me, I’d like to restart the neutron bomb program and relieve Shitcago of it’s resident progressive hive in an updated version of Mrs. O’leary’s cow.

    Oops!… There I go again.

  34. ThomasD
    March 10th, 2013 @ 8:00 am

    Nailed it in one sentence.

    I applaud Stacy for these discussions, not because they are pleasant, but because they prove so edifying.

    Lines must be drawn.

  35. ThomasD
    March 10th, 2013 @ 8:02 am

    Stacy, now we demand photographic proof. Better bring an extra fedora.

  36. rustypaladin
    March 10th, 2013 @ 8:18 am

    It’s early (for a Sunday) and my sarcasm detector hasn’t warmed up yet. In case you were not being sarcastic “Rule Five” refers to RS McCain’s 5 Rules of “How to get a Million Hits on Your Blog” Rule Five is basically “A politics all the time is boring/ Everybody likes a pretty girl”

  37. bet0001970
    March 10th, 2013 @ 8:19 am

    I have one of my own. I’ve been wearing them since my twenties.

  38. Wombat_socho
    March 10th, 2013 @ 11:28 am

    Preferably with few/no clothes on.

  39. Roxeanne de Luca
    March 10th, 2013 @ 10:11 pm

    I managed to cause people to perceive that this specific criticism might also generally apply to others who are in fact, friends and allies in the fight.

    The lovely Little Miss Attila does not have children. I’m in my thirties, unmarried, and childless. A Conservative Lesbian is unwed, un-civil-unioned, un-commitment-ceremonied, and childless. Nevertheless, I did not take your comments personally, but did want to point out that there is no principled difference between Judd’s childlessness and my own. (Well, she may be post-abortive, and I’m not, but that would be it.)

    My one problem with Judd’s state of motherhood is that she went through fertility treatments and supports abortion. The cognitive dissonance is amazing. Likewise amazing is that she never thought, “Wow, if one girl out there in America would choose life, I would raise her child with so much love and such a great home.” (No, I don’t think that young, unfortunate women ought to breed for the sake of wealthy middle-aged women who want babies, but it is nice to point out the myth of “what would we do with all those babies without abortion?”)

    As I keep saying, my large problem with Ashley Judd is that she was ridiculously, unbelievably sexy when she was young, and she was happy to capitalise on that, to take movie roles that would never be given to an older woman. Her entire career was built on her looks; her fame is because of her looks. Now she doesn’t want to be judged on her looks. Ugh.

  40. Bob Belvedere
    March 11th, 2013 @ 7:30 am

    Same thing.

  41. Bob Belvedere
    March 11th, 2013 @ 7:32 am

    Once again, Roxe cuts through the clutter.