It is becoming painfully clear to me that, while there is doubtless no short supply of reasonably intelligent pundits on the political horizon, very few of them know how to think. Or, if they do know how to think, they refuse to bring that knowledge to bear upon their craft.
Indeed, reasoning is as lost an art upon the average commentator as ballet is lost upon an elephant.
During just this past week alone I encountered two glaring instances of this misology (hatred of reason) on the part of veteran journalists.
First, Nicholas Stix accused me of “ripping off” his work. This is the conclusion that he arrived at based solely on three considerations: (1) I wrote an article in which I relayed the ghastly fate visited upon a young white couple from Tennessee back in 2007 by four black men and one black woman; (2) Stix had been writing about this same case for years; and (3) I misspelled the name of the reporter, Jamie Satterfield (I wrote “Sutterfield”) who I quoted in my article.
As I made clear in my response, Stix’s reasoning on this score was embarrassingly, even scandalously, poor. I wrote the following:
“Upon googling the names of Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom, no fewer than 136,000 results are listed. And the very first result is a link to the Knoxville-Sentinel’s archive on this case. The second result is a link to a Wikipedia entry on the latter. To his eternal credit, Michael Savage, the third most listened to nationally syndicated radio talk show host in the country, a man with probably 10 to 12 million listeners, has talked about the fate of Christian and Newsom since 2007.
“In other words, this story has been in the public domain since the time that it first broke—and Stix was not the person to have first broken it. It is preposterous to imply that any discussion of this case that doesn’t give a tip of the hat to Stix is disreputable.
“As for my own piece, there isn’t a single argument, turn of phrase, idea, or detail in it that can in any way be construed as having been lifted from Stix’s work. It merely recapitulates the bare bones of the ‘Knoxville Horror,’ as Stix quite appropriately refers to it (Now, had I not credited him as having coined this term, then I would indeed be guilty of ‘ripping’ him ‘off.’). To lend authority to my summation, I turned to the Knoxville-Sentinel archive and quoted Satterfield, the local reporter who, I discovered, had been all over this story, as well as the medical examiner who she in turn quoted.”
So, Stix’s argument boiled down to this: Either Kerwick was familiar with Satterfield’s work or he “ripped off” Stix. He was not familiar with Satterfield’s work. Therefore, he “ripped off” Stix.
Moving right along, we come to Washington Post writer Michael Gerson. The latter wrote a piece in which he blasted Rand Paul and his supporters. Paul, Gerson maintained, could never become a “mainstream Republican” because his supporters are both “neo-confederates” and the enemies of almost all war and federal coercion.
I noted that this argument is incoherent: it makes no sense.
“But Gerson would have us think that these libertarians are at once consumed by an inordinate passion for liberty as well as an equally inordinate passion for ‘a regime founded on slavery,’ a burning hatred for war, the penultimate emblem of coercion, and a comparably intense affection for the coercion required by ‘state-sanctioned’ racism.
Paul and his supporters love liberty and they hate liberty. They love coercion and they hate coercion. They are statists and anti-statists.”
It should go without saying that there are plenty of other exhibits that I could supply of the illogic that pervades the work of your average commentator. In the future, more such exhibits will be supplied.
For now, though, let these displays serve as textbook cases of the misology of the punditry class.