Let’s imagine that we lived in an alternative universe where some of the more noxious nineteenth century pseudo-science regarding ‘inverts’ and same-sex attraction had survived into the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Let us further stipulate that the editor of a nominally liberal opinion magazine had published one purported effort to ‘prove’ via statistics that same-sex attraction was a form of communicable psychosis, which invariably resulted in national degeneracy when it was allowed to persist.The post goes on in that vein, and the target is Andrew Sullivan and his continued trumpeting of his intellectual courage in publishing racist bullshit when he is - quite rightly - upset when nitwit Republicans use similar bullshit against anything involving TEH GAY. What interests me is Rich Puchalsky's insistence on the right way to engage:
You don’t seem to be understanding what I’m writing. I already held up two cases that serve as models for how to acknowledge someone like Sullivan. 1) Steven Jay Gould (in his engagement with Sullivan’s source), 2) the Poor Man. In short, it’s best to either be so overwhelmingly expert and well-written that anyone who looks at your reply even briefly will suspect that the person’s wrong, or so mocking and unserious that it’s clear that you’re giving no respect either to the person or the process of deliberating with him.It seems to me that Henry's post demonstrates that Sullivan is plenty awful and that Rich's demand is that Sullivan be made more awfuller or that Sullivan be crushed under a big safe full of statistics. Maybe Henry should say Sullivan's a piece of shit?
This blog post doesn’t match the first model because it’s not really an expert attack. It doesn’t match the second because it still treats Sullivan as someone who could conceivably change his mind or be convinced by evidence or understand an analogy that it is not in his interest to understand.