Friday, September 24, 2010

Paul Elam's Evasive Pseudo-Eloquence

Edward Bulwer-Lytton

patron saint of terrible,

terrible writers

There are all kinds of bad writers. Some can't string simple sentences together; others spew thick clouds of incomprehensible jargon. But in some ways the most annoying bad writers of all are those who are bad writers because they think they are great writers.

Paul Elam is one of those. An influential blogger, at least within the marginal mini-world of the Men's Rights Movement, Elam writes polemics for The Spearhead and his own web site, A Voice For Men. His topics range from the evils of chivalry to "Death Row and The Pussy Pass." And they're full of sentences like this:
[G]ender feminism is not the light of reason, but much more like a burning cross, issuing a grotesque, dystopian glow; a suitable backlight for an Orwellian nightmare.
Or this, from an essay about the dilemmas of young men today:

[T]hey are suffering from the loss of things never held, from things missing but never known. They are, quite literally, a lost generation of the walking wounded, wandering blindly from a battlefield on which they never knew they stood.

Yeah, except that the only battlefields most of these guys have seen have been the multiplayer maps of Halo or Modern Warfare 2. 

As you may have already gathered, Elam's flights of literary fancy are invariably hokey and melodramatic. And they're essentially meaningless. They say absolutely nothing, while giving the impression that they say an awful lot. Indeed, when you try to nail down the meaning of any of his not-so-fine phrases, they simply fall apart.

In the first quote above, he attempts to smoosh together the KKK and the world of George Orwell's 1984 into some strange symbol of feminist awfulness. Huh? The KKK is a vigilante group; the villain in 1984 was a totalitarian government. They're both bad, to be sure, but different kinds of bad. Big Brother wasn't a Grand Kleagle. It's a sloppy mix of metaphors that represents some pretty sloppy thinking.

So why am I picking on Elam's writing style? Shouldn't I be focusing on the substance of his argument? My point is that you can't separate the two. Elam's style is designed to conceal his lack of substance.

Ironically, the person who provides the most insight into what Elam is trying to accomplish with his purportedly elevated prose is none other than Orwell. In his classic essay on "Politics and the English Language," Orwell took a look at some typically terrible political prose of his day. The two qualities that united all his examples in awfulness were a certain "staleness of imagery" and a "lack of precision." His analysis fits Elam's essays to a T:
As soon as certain topics are raised, the concrete melts into the abstract and no one seems able to think of turns of speech that are not hackneyed: prose consists less and less of words chosen for the sake of their meaning and more of phrases tacked together like the sections of a prefabricated hen-house.
George Orwell, being Orwellian
And why is this? Orwell concluded that the airy abstractions, the mixed metaphors, the grand prefabricated phrases all worked together to conceal the true meanings of what was being said, to offer "a defence of the indefensible," whether one was a Communist defending the Russian purges or an American politician defending the atom bomb.

With Elam, though, we see something slightly different. He's not defending the indefensible so much as trying to disguise the sheer insubstantiality of some of his central arguments, which would be simply laughable if he hadn't gussied them up with ponderously "fancy" prose. Consider this passage, describing Elam's thoughts after discovering that his spellchecker didn't recognize the word "misandry":
A culture that refuses to acknowledge that a perfectly legitimate word exists on paper, is in effect denying its existence to the collective consciousness. ... It is like trying to describe a cloud without being able to use the word itself- to a world that does not believe in clouds. We are limited to talking around the subject; we present our meanings in metaphors and similes and anecdotes.
Reduced to its essence, though, Elam's claim here is simply absurd: Because "misandry" isn't a common enough term to include in his computer's dictionary, our culture has no way of expressing the notion that certain people and ideas are man hating.

Really, Paul? We're "limited to talking around the subject?" I really haven't noticed much of that. The term "man-hating" gets the idea across fairly bluntly, and has long been popular with a certain sort of man, often in conjunction with words like "bitch," "cunt," or "feminazi."

In the crowd you hang with, I imagine you hear this kind of talk all the time. Surely you've noticed it.

Elam doesn't always write in such a stilted, evasive style. Sometimes he butches it up a bit, launching crude tirades against "mangina morons," or telling a woman who was sexually harassed as a tween and an early teen that "guess what, cupcake, when you start growing tits, men start looking at them." In a recent piece about the impending execution of a female murder-plotter with an IQ of 72, he wrote of his desire to "throw some burgers on the grill, crack open a few cold ones, and watch them ice this murdering bitch on pay-per-view." (This despite the fact that he actually opposes the death penalty.)

Stick with this style, Paul. It may not be pretty, but at least it's true to your nature. You're not a grand philosopher; you're not a literary lion. There is nothing smart or sophisticated about anything you ever write or think. Basically, you're a dick. So write like one.

55 comments:

  1. Thanks for counting us among your friends.

    "So why am I picking on Elam's writing style? Shouldn't I be focusing on the substance of his argument? My point is that you can't separate the two. Elam's style is designed to conceal his lack of substance."

    I disagree, in respect of this piece:

    Death chambers have taken the lives of many men of low intelligence and who were highly impressionable. But there is not a penis pass, so they get the needle anyway.

    Indeed as gendercide.org notes:

    The bias against men carries over to juveniles and the mentally handicapped. Here, in fact, it is exclusively underage and handicapped males who are killed by the state: "There are presently 58 inmates, all male, on death row for crimes committed while juveniles. ... As of year-end 1997, 31 mentally retarded men had been executed in the U.S. since 1976." (Source: Justice Center Website.)

    Teresa Lewis' recent execution renders the "exclusive" part outdated in respect of the mentally retarded, but the overwhelming gender-bias remains.

    "Pussy Pass" is a trivial and perhaps offensive term for "female privilege" and has as much substance as the latter term. Elam's deplorable (and inconsistent, given his professed opposition to the death penalty) applause for this woman's execution does not invalidate his argument.

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  2. "Yeah, except that the only battlefields most of these guys have seen have been the multiplayer maps of Halo or Modern Warfare 2."

    This is, of course, merely a "cheap shot" -- not only at Elam, but (more importantly) at the young men he is describing.

    And if Elam's sense of metaphor seems a tad strong, well, I reckon that is a matter of taste. Evidently he feels it is about right. De gustibus non est disputandum. (Ahhh... a Latin Tag, spotted in the wild. Go to town with that one! ;)

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  3. I object to the hatred of men and the cheapening of men in our culture. TO AN EXTREME EXTENT.

    I believe that women enjoy "female privilege".

    I strongly object to the angellification and pedestalizing of women in our culture.

    That said, I dislike Paul Elam.

    Men like him are the reason myself, and everybody I know detest MRM cause.

    The MRM will do for men what feminism did for women - it will make them climb all the way to the top of the stupid tree - and hit every branch on the way down when they fall from it.

    This will happen to women eventually.

    It will happen to these MRM nuts too - I hope they do not drag the majority of men with them.

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  4. An influential blogger, at least within the marginal mini-world of the Men's Rights Movement...

    One wonders how to classify a person who sets up an entire blog aimed at criticizing said marginal mini-world.

    If the MRM is so insignificant, then you must be only 10% as significant, being as your claim to fame is being a critic of this insignificant segment of society.

    One wonders why you even put effort into creating a blog and writing at all.

    Perhaps you should switch to criticizing something a bit more significant then - like aliens using spray cans is the cause of Mars warming 1/2 a degree over the next 500 years.

    Thanks for the link, btw.

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  5. "One wonders why you even put effort into creating a blog and writing at all."

    Well, everyone needs a hobby.

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  6. Daran: the post about executing Teresa Lewis is actually one in which he generally avoids the "fancy" style I'm criticizing. He states his argument plainly. I disagree with it, but at least he's not trying to fudge anything with fancified prose.

    I quoted from it mainly as an example of dickishness: here's a guy who says he's opposed to the death penalty cheering on the execution of a low-IQ woman. As for the more substantive issues, well, I will deal with the whole "pussy pass" thing in a future post. It's complicated.

    FWIW, I'm opposed to anyone getting executed, man or woman.

    Thanks for a substantive response!

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  7. How come my blog isn't on your "Enemies List"?

    Do I not offend you enough?

    I can try harder!

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  8. @ScareCrow:

    Hey, how ya doin'? I am still working on an answer to your question, by the way. Hang tight...

    @Futrelle:

    My impression is, that you are unaware of Paul Elam's CV.

    Paul has spent years as a 'counselor' helping troubled young men (drug issues, life issues, etc). He has been in the belly of the beast and seen a few things firsthand.

    Or you might say, he has been in the trenches. So if he likens the lives of many young men to a "battlefield", then I am inclined to suspect that maybe, just maybe, he knows what he is talking about.

    And that he formulates his analogy not idly, but from a place of knowledge.

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  9. Laughing my ass off here. This "critique" is of my writing style, not the content or meaning of my work.

    In other words, it is a precise, hypocritical example of what Poor David is complaining about. It's simply a dressed up spelling flame, and in a bargain basement suit at that. And it reeks of someone seeking attention.

    And now you have it, sir. Good for you! Too bad most of it is in dissent.

    Oh well, bad breath is better than no breath, as they say.

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  10. David,

    It's just ad hominem, I'm not aware that Paul Elam is associated with the words bitch, cunt and feminizi.

    As I've told you before, insults are not substitute for intelligence, although they happen at times. Remember, "intellectual honesty". Are you disproving Paul's assertions or are you attacking the messenger.

    It's too bad that you failed miserably at debating the facts about domestic violence.

    Come back anytime to debate on an intellectual level.

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  11. That's a good set of links, I suggest any man should fully explore the range of opinions and facts.

    But you forgot the most important one of all:

    angryharry.com

    Think for yourself.

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  12. "Men like him are the reason myself, and everybody I know detest MRM cause."

    Anonymous, I hate to break this to you, but based upon the first three paragraphs of your comment, it is clear that you are a PART of the so-called "MRM cause", whether you like it or not.

    Please don't let semantics muddle your understanding. "MRM" is only an umbrella term, and the umbrella spreads for miles and miles and miles. So why not get under it yourself? But of course, you already ARE under it! You have made that clear by your very own words.

    You have made it clear that you detest feminism. So how do you realistically plan to take the initiative against it, without forming an "MRM" of one sort or another -- under one name or another?

    Hey, here's an idea: why not form an "MRM cause" all your own, and invite your friends, and then it will just be you guys together so you won't need to talk to all those "nuts". Think that'd work out for ya? ;)

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  13. Thanks Paul, for a completely substance-free response to my critique! Your use of meaningless pejoratives ("bargain basement suit," "bad breath") actually helps to reinforce the points I was making. Actually, though, my bargain basement suit is at the cleaners.

    Dennis P: I didn't suggest that Paul personally used those words (Cunts, etc). But as a matter of fact, he does use the word bitch -- see the quote in the penultimate paragraph of the post. Also, I am working on a detailed post about DV; it will be posted, well, whenever I get done with it. Beyond that, you seem to have completely missed the point of my post (and Orwell's classic essay as well).

    Scarecrow: Good news! You made the list!

    Also, angry harry. Not sure how I forgot to include him.

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  14. @ Denis

    Oh yes, that David. Hard to imagine someone being so butt hurt over getting thrashed in the DV debate that he would make a blog to go after revenge.

    But hey, it takes all kinds to make this wacky world go round. LOL!!

    Have a good life, David.

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  15. @ Paul.

    I'm pretty sure I've never actually engaged in a debate over DV with you. So at least one of us is delusional here; unless you're got a link, I'm thinking it's you.

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  16. "Daran: the post about executing Teresa Lewis is actually one in which he generally avoids the "fancy" style I'm criticizing."

    OK, let's look at one which you quote specifically for the "fancy" style:

    [G]ender feminism is not the light of reason, but much more like a burning cross, issuing a grotesque, dystopian glow; a suitable backlight for an Orwellian nightmare.

    is substance-free I agree, but look at the immediately preceding paragraph:

    By valuing power over principles, and unity over legitimacy, they coalesced around malevolent elements that would ultimately define, and disgrace, their cause. Rather than remaining true to an ostensibly reasonable call for inclusion, they mutated into a bald faced grab for female centricity. They became the very sexist louts they claimed to abhor.

    There's rhetorical fluff here too, but there's also substance. Feminism, according to Elam, failed to adhere to its ostensibly reasonable call for inclusion, and instead seeks to centre women. That's a substantive point. Whether you agree with it or not is a different matter.

    He goes on to argue that the Men's movement should take care to avoid making the same mistake, by excercising "due diligence", and, to illustrate it, he points an Ebook, ostensibly advocating men's rights for exhibiting this flaw.

    Based upon this admittedly limited (but chosen by you) sample of Elan's oeuvre, I find the claim that "[His] style is designed to conceal his lack of substance." to be unfounded. Rather, I would argue that his style obfuscates the substance of his arguments.

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  17. Actually, that paragraph you cite is a perfect example of what I'm talking about. Again, it's all abstractions -- we don't know who he's talking about, what time period, what on earth he means with any of these terms. And he carefully elides the fact that the feminist movement has never been a monolithic thing. Let's go through it in detail:

    >By valuing power over principles,

    What does this mean? Say what you will about the radical feminists of the 70s (I'm assuming that's partly who he's talking about, but he doesn't specify so I don't know), they were principled. Their principles were crazy, but they weren't simple power-hungry opportunists.

    >and unity over legitimacy

    What on earth does this mean? Unity? There have always been different factions in feminism. Legitimacy? Huh? I honestly haven't the foggiest idea what this is supposed to mean, or how "legitimacy" is inherently opposed to "unity." "Legitimacy" according to whom? And if unity = illegitimacy then does disunity = legitimacy? By that logic, feminism as it exists in the real world (as opposed to Elam's mind) is perfectly legitimate, because lots of feminists disagree with one another.

    >, they coalesced around malevolent elements that would ultimately define, and disgrace, their cause.

    Again, I have no idea who he's talking about. Andrea Dworkin and pals? Feminism definitely didn't coalesce around her; other feminists fought her bitterly, and ultimately, they basically won the argument withing feminism. Dworkin and friends are not actually very popular in feminism today.

    >Rather than remaining true to an ostensibly reasonable call for inclusion, they mutated into a bald faced grab for female centricity.

    Who are we talking about here? What time period? If we're talking about the 2nd wave, yes, some feminists were "woman centric" from the start; others weren't. But the more radical "woman centric" wing had its heyday in the 1970s and 80s; you don't find many lesbian separatists today. If he's talking about the 2nd wave -- and again, he doesn't specify, so
    I don't know -- he's got his history backwards.

    >They became the very sexist louts they claimed to abhor.

    Who, again? Certainly the "woman centric" faction of feminism did see men and women as different, and sometimes saw woman as more caring, or whatever. Is that sexism? By some standards, I suppose, but most with these views don't see women as superior, just different. I would hardly call Carol Gilligan a "lout." And again, there are plenty of feminists (like me) who disagree with this ideology.

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  18. I've already agreed that there was a lot of fluff in that paragraph. Your last comment make a good case that his argumentation lacks rigor.

    That doesn't mean that it lacks substance. There's a kernel of substance - which you won't find by focusing on the fluff - in the claim that feminists go beyond mere advocacy of gender-equality. Their advocacy has the practical effect of centering women.

    Here's an example:

    Today begins a very important initiative called Silence Is The Enemy to help a generation of young women half a world away.Why? Because they are our sisters and children–the victims of sexual abuse who don’t have the means to ask for help. We have power in our words and influence. Along with our audience, we’re able to speak for them. I’m asking all of you–bloggers, writers, teachers, and concerned citizens–to use whatever platform you have to call for an end to the rape and abuse of women and girls in Liberia and around the world.

    Question. How does it further the goal of gender-equality to raise awareness of only half of the adult victims of sexual violence in Liberia? Specifically, the half that already has the greater share of public awareness?

    Kirshenbaum isn't Dworkin. Nor is she a lesbian separatist. She is, I suggest, very typical of moderate, mainstream feminism today.

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  19. This is weird. My comment timestamped 7:03 PM is a reply to yours timestamped 7:39 PM which appears below it.

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  20. Not sure what you're talking about. My post timestamped 7:39 is a reply to yours timestamped 7:03. I go through the paragraph from Elam you quoted.

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  21. I wrote a lengthy reply to your comment timestamped 7:39. I thought that I saw it come through at 7:03, but clearly the one at 7:03 is in fact the previous one.

    The most likely explanation is that my last comment having gone AWOL, I managed to mistake my previous one for it. Whatever. The bottom line is that a comment from me has gone AWOL. Do you have any spam traps you can check for it?

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  22. Ah. You are correct; your response was in the spam folder, and now it's posted above.

    I think your criticism of Kirshenbaum makes sense. But I would say she was blinkered, not, as Elan would put is, "malevolent," or a "sexist lout." Most victims of sexual assault worldwide are female, but it made no sense for her to ignore the massive number who are male.

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  23. "I think your criticism of Kirshenbaum makes sense. But I would say she was blinkered,.."

    Do you agree that there is nothing unusual or idiosyncratic about her initial treatment of the issue, that her "blinkers" are endemic within feminism?

    (I say "initial" because to her credit she did revise the text on the (now defunct) website, in response to my criticism.)

    "...not, as Elan would put is, "malevolent," or a "sexist lout." Most victims of sexual assault worldwide are female, but it made no sense for her to ignore the massive number who are male."

    Those wouldn't be my choice of words, but they are defensible.

    malevolent adj.
    1. Having or exhibiting ill will; wishing harm to others; malicious.
    2. Having an evil or harmful influence: malevolent stars.

    I agree that she's in no way malicious but I do think that the systematic erasure of male victimisation is harmful, and that feminism contributes to this.

    lout n.
    An awkward and stupid person; an oaf.
    oaf n.
    A person regarded as stupid or clumsy.

    I do think there is something a bit awkward, a bit stupid, a bit clumsy, about erasing half the people you claim to be raising awareness of.

    Which leaves us with
    sex·ism n.
    1. Discrimination based on gender, especially discrimination against women.
    2. Attitudes, conditions, or behaviors that promote stereotyping of social roles based on gender.

    Was not Kirchenbaum stereotyping victims based upon gender? Do we not see feminists over and over again advocating discrimination based on gender,in favour of women?

    Finally, upon what empirical foundation does your claim that "most victims of sexual assault worldwide are female" stand?

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  24. Daran: A couple of things.

    One, your latest comment (the one I'm replying to here) also got caught in the spam filter; obviously I just unblocked it.

    Two, the fact that Kirchenbaum focused only on female victims reflected a blinkered view, as I said, but hardly means she is "advocating discrimination" any more than someone advocating for male victims of violence is advocating discrimination. By your logic any organization that advocates for one gender would be discriminatory, including all of these groups:

    http://antimisandry.com/activism-news/mens-rights-organizations-7818.html

    Three, male rape victims worldwide.

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  25. Blogger acting screwy, so I posted that comment unfinished so it wouldnt be goggled up by a glitch.

    Back to the issue at hand: male vs female rape victims worldwide. I will be writing a separate post on this at some point, but in the meantime:

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  26. blogger glitches again.

    As you know, rape statistics are inherently problematic; international statistics, and statistics involving male rape victims are more problematic still.

    Nevertheless, I have never seen a credible expert claim that men make up the majority of victims worldwide. Do you have anything that would back up such a claim?

    The best source I have found on the subject is this paper, a serious and detailed look at the research on male rape victims worldwide.

    Lara Stemple, Male Rape and Human Rights, 60 Hastings L.J. 605 (February 2009).

    http://www.uchastings.edu/hlj/archive/vol60/Stemple_60-HLJ-605.pdf

    Stemple is a law prof at UCLA, and is a former director of a human rights group that focused on prison rape.

    http://www.law.ucla.edu/home/index.asp?page=1925

    http://www.justdetention.org/

    Her paper states:

    >According to research, females are more likely to be victimized by
    rape than males.5 Despite popular perception, however, males comprise a
    sizable minority of rape victims.6 Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the lack
    of societal concern about male rape and the hesitancy of male victims to
    report,7 data about male rape is wanting. 8 We do know that the most
    recent U.S. prevalence estimates indicate that 15.2% of those who have
    experienced rape in their lifetime are men.9 The Centers for Disease
    Control and Prevention and the National Institute of Justice found that
    92,700 adult men are forcibly raped each year in the United States, and
    that approximately 3% of all American men—a total of 2.78 million
    men—have experienced an attempted or completed rape in their
    lifetime.10 The Bureau of Justice Statistics’ National Crime Victimization
    Survey found that 11% of total sexual assault victims are male.11

    >Data on male rape outside of the United States is even less
    common.12 In the only population-based survey conducted outside of the
    United States on nonconsensual sex experienced by adult men, a study in
    England found a prevalence rate of 2.89%.13 Also, in England and Wales,
    reported male rape comprises 7.5% of all rape reported to criminal
    authorities.14

    >One analysis of 120 prevalence studies concluded that 3% of men
    worldwide have been raped in their lifetime (as children or adults), in
    contrast to 13% of women.15 The World Health Organization gives a
    higher estimate for males, asserting that between 5% and 10% of men
    throughout the world reported a history of childhood sexual abuse, while
    acknowledging that most studies have been conducted in developed
    countries.16 In prevalence studies conducted in developing countries, the
    findings were 20% in Peru, 3.6% in Namibia, and 13.4% in the United
    Republic of Tanzania.17 Other international estimates of childhood
    prevalence of sexual abuse indicate that between 3% and 29% of males
    have been affected.18

    For more information and stats on female victims:

    http://www.libraryindex.com/pages/2032/Abuse-Women-Worldwide-Issue-ABUSE-IN-OTHER-CULTURES.html

    http://www.unifem.org/gender_issues/violence_against_women/facts_figures.php?page=7

    http://www.nsvrc.org/publications/nsvrc-publications/global-perspectives-sexual-violence-findings-world-report-violence-a

    http://www.gmu.edu/depts/unilife/sexual/brochures/WorldStats2005.pdf

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8107039.stm (offers comparision of male and female victims)

    Discussion of male victims:

    http://iwpr.net/report-news/bosnia-struggle-overcome-male-rape-taboo

    http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/news/issue.cfm?id=3466

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  27. So you're buying the low IQ line I see.

    Ever noticed that whenever women get caught up in murders that can be traced back to them, a variation of 'she was easily influenced by others' is one of the top stories peddled about?

    It doesn't change the fact she wanted her husband and step-son dead. Nor does it alter the fact she ensured their killers got the job done - by letting them know how to get in, ensuring there were no troublesome locks in the way and - wait for it - providing them with weaponry to do the deed. Apparently she also sexed one of them up as a down payment. She also stood to gain a quarter million - that's a certainty she was counting on. Insurance companies generally pay up if there's no good reason not to. Just exactly what the hired guns got is an entirely different thing - but would you make an agreement with such a woman and expect her to keep her word?

    She doesn't sound that simple to me.

    Regardless of one's views on capital punishment, reserving it exclusively for men is more repugnant than either of the two commonly held positions. If Paul Elam is bringing attention to this fact - and obviously, he has yours - quibbling over writing style suggests that it's the best you can do. This blog post of yours reads like an admission of defeat in the face of facts.

    If you genuinely disapprove of capital punishment, especially of the mentally weak, then your case would be far more convincing if you chose to defend a man condemned - you can be sure no-one would confuse your intentions. In case mine are not clear, I believe capital punishment is an abomination - and like Paul, I also believe the only way we can end the way it is applied - like a lottery - is to keep on executing more women. Lots of them. Only then will the public care enough to think about it.

    Knowing how perversely so many folk value female murderers, child abusers and pedophiles, I am confident that not many would need to be terminated to have the practice outlawed. The hanging of Ruth Ellis in Britain was all it took to end it there (and she was a rare case of confessed killer, her deed publicly witnessed and clearly unprovoked).

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  28. "So you're buying the low IQ line I see."

    That was the assessment of the board-certified forensic psychologist (link). Do you have any grounds to challenge it?

    "Ever noticed that whenever women get caught up in murders that can be traced back to them, a variation of 'she was easily influenced by others' is one of the top stories peddled about?"

    How is this relevant to the question of whether Lewis did or did not have an IQ of 72?

    "It doesn't change the fact[s]..."

    Nobody is arguing that it does.

    "She doesn't sound that simple to me."

    Ahh, so on the one hand we have a assessment by a board-certified forensic psychologist based upon a test administered by a court-appointed clinical neuropsychologist. and on the other we have the opinion of an anonymous blog commenter who in all likelihood never met the woman, who thinks she "doesn't sound that simple".

    Which opinion should carry more weight?

    "Regardless of one's views on capital punishment, reserving it exclusively for men is more repugnant than either of the two commonly held positions."

    I'm not absolutely clear as to what the "two commonly held opinions" ", but I think (correct me if I'm wrong") that you are arguing that it is less repugnant to kill exclusively men than it is to kill men and women.

    I disagree. I think it is less repugnant to kill fewer people than it is to kill more people.

    If you genuinely disapprove of capital punishment, especially of the mentally weak, then your case would be far more convincing if you chose to defend a man condemned - you can be sure no-one would confuse your intentions.

    As far as I can tell, Futrelle's intent was to criticise Elam for applauding someone's execution. It was Elam, not Futrelle, who made Lewis, rather than some other condemned murderer, the individual at issue.

    "In case mine are not clear, I believe capital punishment is an abomination - and like Paul, I also believe the only way we can end the way it is applied - like a lottery - is to keep on executing more women. Lots of them. Only then will the public care enough to think about it."

    I don't agree that we must do lots of killing in order to end killing.

    "Knowing how perversely so many folk value female murderers, child abusers and pedophiles,"

    I don't believe that many people "value female murderers," etc. Female murderers, etc. benefit, both from society's tendency to value females over males, and from its tendency not to regard women as capable of or likely to commit these crimes. But that's a world away from what was implied by your remark.

    "I am confident that not many would need to be terminated to have the practice outlawed. The hanging of Ruth Ellis in Britain was all it took to end it there (and she was a rare case of confessed killer, her deed publicly witnessed and clearly unprovoked)."

    Ellis was executed in 1955. The last execution in the UK took place in 1964. The death penalty was formally suspended in 1965, which suspension was made permanent in 1969. While there is no doubt that Ellis' execution contributed to ending the DP in the UK, it wasn't the sole or decisive factor. You could make at least as good a case that the execution of (possibly innocent and widely believed to be so) Timothy Evans had a profound effect. Would you therefore advocate executing more innocent people in order to bring about the end of the death penalty?

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  29. "blogger glitches again."

    I am rapidly coming to detest blogger. My last comment disappeared, possibly into spam, but I suspect it didn't get posted.

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  30. Actually, just found two of your comments in the spam folder and unspammed them.

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  31. Daran:

    As regarding Ms. Lewis, I might point out she completed a years worth of college as a nursing assistant. This wasn't a lady with a non-functional amount of intelligence, indeed there's reason to doubt her intelligence was as low as you think when you consider that wasn't the only IQ test she had ever had in her life, and suspiciously earlier ones were higher. Anyway, the standard is : does she know right from wrong, not whether she is as intelligent as an average person, though I fully believe she was.

    Clarence

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  32. "Would you therefore advocate executing more innocent people in order to bring about the end of the death penalty?"

    Of course not. I would restrict myself only to the guilty. The female guilty. Like Lewis.

    Should executing women to redress the gender gap morph into something awful where innocent women were being executed simply to meet quota, or to ensure government social policies were being implemented, I would gladly see an end to it.

    Perhaps it could be negotiated along with an end to the current practice of innocent men being imprisoned for rape (alarmingly high, according to the Innocence Project).

    I'm not being flippant here - nor am I being that offensive to those men of feminist sensibilities. Bad law fails to redress patent wrong-doing, which makes it as effective as no law at all. It compounds lawlessness by provoking widespread and deserving contempt. Any law that seeks to punish the innocent to achieve some other purpose is not law at all.

    Laws that are clearly applied routinely to men, but are media sensations when applied to women, are very bad laws indeed.

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  33. "Nevertheless, I have never seen a credible expert claim that men make up the majority of victims worldwide. Do you have anything that would back up such a claim?"

    Why should I? As far as I can see, nobody is making such a claim.

    My claim is that we simply do not know whether men make up the majority of rape victims worldwide.

    "The best source I have found on the subject is this paper, a serious and detailed look at the research on male rape victims worldwide.

    Lara Stemple, Male Rape and Human Rights, 60 Hastings L.J. 605 (February 2009)."

    That isn't a detailed look at the research. That's cursory survey of the research. A detailed look would closely examine operationalization and methodology. This isn't a point against Stemple. For her purposes, a cursory survey was sufficient.

    Her primary citation, Spitzburg, (footnote 5 in Stemple) may (or may not) be a detailed look at the research. Unfortunately it does not appear to be freely available on the net. That he included 120 prevalence studies in his metaanalysis is not dispositive of the issue if all the studies suffer from the same methodological and operational problems.

    "http://www.unifem.org/gender_issues/violence_against_women/facts_figures.php?page=7"

    Some 70 percent of the casualties in recent conflicts have been non-combatants — most of them women and children.

    This is simply false. See these posts:

    http://www.feministcritics.org/blog/2006/09/13/evolution-of-a-myth-more-on-that-80-figure/
    http://www.feministcritics.org/blog/2006/09/16/what-the-icrc-really-tells-us-about-war-casualties/
    http://www.feministcritics.org/blog/2007/10/25/are-the-vast-majority-of-war-victims-unarmed-civilians/
    http://www.feministcritics.org/blog/2008/02/03/gender-analysis-of-killings-from-the-conflict-in-northern-ireland/
    http://www.feministcritics.org/blog/2007/02/09/civilian-casualties-media-depiction-vs-the-real-numbers/
    http://www.feministcritics.org/blog/2010/06/22/getting-everything-wrong-noh/

    That last post contains some shocking statistics. 89% of civilian casualties in Iraq are male. One tenth of all the victims were abducted, tortured, then murdered. Of these 98% were male.

    In contrast to Unifem's unfounded claims, mime are all supported by published data.

    In general I take "facts and figures" from advocacy literature with a ladle of salt.

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  34. "the fact that Kirchenbaum focused only on female victims reflected a blinkered view, as I said, but hardly means she is "advocating discrimination" any more than someone advocating for male victims of violence is advocating discrimination."

    By "advocating discrimination" I don't mean that she was telling people to go out and discriminate against men. I mean that her advocacy was discriminatory and that it would have the effect of perpetuating discrimination.

    Two of the studies I considered in my literature review of war-related sexual violence in Liberia were commissioned by the World Health Organisation for the specific purpose of informing the provision of healthcare services for survivors. These studies only surveyed women; men were completely disregarded. WHO didn't set out to discriminate. It's just that they were operating with the same mindset as Kirchenbaum was, a mindset which perpetuates inequality.

    I reiterate: it's not my goal to single her out for criticism. The problem is endemic within feminism. It's also endemic beyond feminism, but it's particularly problematic for a movement which defines itself as one for gender equality.

    "By your logic any organization that advocates for one gender would be discriminatory, including all of these groups:"

    I'm not going to comment upon any of those groups specifically. Groups which advocate for male survivors are operating within a culture in which female survivors are generally recognised and much better served and much better served. The actions of such advocacy groups do not erase female victims. They do not foster inequality. To the contrary, they combat inequality.

    I would take a different view if an organisation such as Just Detention International were to advocate only for male prisoners. Unlike male survivor advocates generally, there is no other organisation operating in the same space advocating for women.

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  35. "As regarding Ms. Lewis, I might point out she completed a years worth of college as a nursing assistant."

    I'm not going to spend any more time researching this issue, as it wouldn't change my view of the case. I am opposed to the death penalty. I oppose it for women. I oppose it for men. I oppose it for the mentally retarded. I oppose it for the intelligent. I oppose it.

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  36. @Daran

    I can't vouch for every claim made on each of the pages I linked to; I was simply putting the info. Obviously all of these stats need to be taken with a grain of salt.

    I focused on Stemple because her paper offers an overview of what research is out there, and she's certainly a credible expert on the subject who is not going to downplay or ignore rapes of men.

    I don't have time to go through your links today, but I appreciate them, and will definitely go through them (and your site's archives) in more detail in the future.

    >Groups which advocate for male survivors are operating within a culture in which female survivors are generally recognised and much better served and much better served. The actions of such advocacy groups do not erase female victims.

    I agree that's the for many of the groups listed, but I do think there ARE plenty of MRAs who *do* try to erase, or at least downplay, female victims, by spreading misinformation on the extent of false rape claims and so on. Paul Elam, for example, wrote a piece not that long ago in which he said if he were on a jury he wouldn't vote to convict any accused rapist even if it was clear he was guilty. I'll be writing more about this issue in future posts.

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  37. "Paul Elam, for example, wrote a piece not that long ago in which he said if he were on a jury he wouldn't vote to convict any accused rapist even if it was clear he was guilty"

    You say that like it's a bad thing.

    If you were on the jury of a murder trial, and it was patently clear that the murderer was guilty, would you always vote to convict?

    What if you were vehemently opposed to the death penalty, and your vote was all it took to be invoked?

    Is it not conceivable that some people believe current rape definitions are so nebulous and the consequent penalties so harsh that they feel themselves to be in the same moral dilemma?

    Incidentally, learned self-professing humanitarians in government don't demonstrate an unswerving loyalty to the truth in trial-like circumstances with unconscionable outcomes either. Members of the Privy Council in Britain refused to uphold capital convictions brought to them from British dependencies that still practiced the death penalty, after it was banned it Britain. Germany has refused to honor extradition agreements with the United States in cases where the death penalty was likely to be invoked.

    There are times when lying or being dishonorable is the lesser of two evils.

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  38. "I focused on Stemple because her paper offers an overview of what research is out there, and she's certainly a credible expert on the subject who is not going to downplay or ignore rapes of men."

    Yet she did ignore a whole class of rape of men. Her "examples of different contexts in which men and boys have experienced sexual violence" did not include any reference to sexual violence by men's intimate partners.

    "I agree that's the for many of the groups listed, but I do think there ARE plenty of MRAs who *do* try to erase, or at least downplay, female victims, by spreading misinformation on the extent of false rape claims and so on."

    I'm not defending MRAs generally. I'm not even mounting a broad defense of Elam. I'm challenging your claim that his writing lacks substance. The substance is there; he just does a good job of hiding it.

    You are correct about MRAs spreading misinformation about false rape accusations/convictions, which I've blogged about in the past:

    http://www.feministcritics.org/blog/2006/06/06/are-33-of-convicted-rapists-exonerated-by-dna/
    http://www.feministcritics.org/blog/2007/02/02/dna-rape-exonerations-revisited/
    http://www.feministcritics.org/blog/2009/04/20/claims-about-mcdowells-research-into-false-rape-allegations-are-not-credible-noh/

    The same is true of feminists. The oft quoted 2% figure tracable to Brownmiller is completely bogus

    http://llr.lls.edu/volumes/v33-issue3/greer.pdf

    Other similar figures also don't stand up to scrutiny. For example in respect of one such citation I concluded:

    The 2.5% figure is as much an indicator of the inadequacy of police investigation, the paucity of their record-keeping, and the vagary of their decision-making as it is of the infrequency of false allegations. To cite this study for the proposition that 2.5% of rape reports are false, without regard to the other factors which operated to depress the figure, is intellectually dishonest.

    http://www.feministcritics.org/blog/2010/05/19/skepticism-and-criticism-of-kelly-lovett-regan-noh/

    The difference between MRA falsehoods, and feminist falsehoods, is that MRA falsehoods do not in general find their way into government reports. The above referenced paper by Kelly et al cites Brownmiller's figure as though it were credible. This is a government commissioned report which informs public policy.

    MRAs do not have the cultural traction to do a lot of harm. Feminists do.

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  39. This is a satirical website? Right?

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  40. You were giggling when you wrote that?

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  41. Um, on the death penalty issue, it is important to consider that women make up a far lower percentage of murderers than men and are also less likely to be serial murderers or to torture their victims. Executing equal numbers of men and women would be, in fact, to punish women far more harshly for their crimes, as women make up less then ten percent of all murderers (and an even lower percent of murder/torure perps). Another thing to consider is the issue of race and the death penalty. Considering that a black defendent who kills a white victim is 300 times more likely to get the death penalty than the reverse (black defendents who kill black victims also get harsher sentences than white defendents), the racial statistics for perps and the victims matters as well. Women who murder most often murder a same race boyfriend or spouse. Black women, who get the death penalty at higher rates than white women, are less likely to have killed a white person than black male defendents. The issue of racism here is a huge one.

    As to the low IQ issue, international legal standards hold that it is cruel and inhumane to execute minors or the mentally disabled, which is why low IQ perps get extra attention. Male low IQ perps often get attention in anti-death penalty circles. There is plenty of information and publications about this issue that focuses on male inmates. In fact, a quick google search on 'death penalty IQ' will find you a number of well discussed cases, including a case that went to the Supreme court, with male inmates. What the MRAs are really complaining about is that we care about the death of a woman at all.

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  42. WOOHOO!!!

    I AM ON THE ENEMIES LIST!

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  43. "Black women, who get the death penalty at higher rates than white women, are less likely to have killed a white person than black male defendents. The issue of racism here is a huge one."

    Surely you jest.

    Since reintroduction of the death penalty, there have been about 1200 executions. 12 were women. You simply cannot infer general trends and talk about rates for black women vs white women and the kind of crimes they commit from a sample size of 12.

    If women were being executed as readily as men in proportion to the crimes they committed, by your own figures the female death tally should number over 120. Then maybe you could start drawing inferences about race.

    "What the MRAs are really complaining about is that we care about the death of a woman at all."

    Hardly. I am both an MRA and an anti death penalty advocate. I derive no pleasure from the death of anyone, nor do I believe it to serve any constructive purpose. It is my belief that the death penalty survives in the United States - alone in the Western world with its routine executions - because it is a militaristic state heavily dependent on an attitude of disposable male life. The reluctance to execute women - and 12 out of 1200 is extreme reluctance - betrays a thread of revulsion to the practice common to other Western countries. That this revulsion should not be extended to men is not unusual. The First World War showed exactly how many millions of men a populace was prepared to see slaughtered when believing itself threatened in some military way. The Japanese showed themselves perfectly willing to keep slaughtering their own men so long as there were still a few left to them to throw into the war machine - it was only the specter of an atomic bomb vaporising entire cities, men, women and children, that jarred them from the murderous rut they were in.

    If it appears that we celebrate the execution of a woman, it is because we are playing to that revulsion of the death penalty that we know lurks well-hidden in the American psyche, so long as the victim fits a certain demographic. If we plan to cheer and raise a drink to the death of Teresa Lewis, it is not because we all want her dead (though of course, some probably do) but because we want the death penalty to be seen for what it is.

    Another 1200 men dead will make absolutely no difference. Another 12 women dead will probably never be allowed to happen. The Supreme Court now has 3 women on its bench. 2 were the lone supporters of a stay of execution. It won't be long before there is a majority of women - when that happens, you can be sure all women on death row will gets reprieves. Men will not. If we ever reach that pass, then all hope for men is lost. If recent history is any guide, women never support legislative changes that specifically favor men, and that is what abolition of the death penalty will become once the judiciary effectively makes women immune.

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  44. Cat

    Regarding the death penalty issue, it has nothing to do with numbers. The fact is that a woman doing the same crime at the same severity is way less likely to receive the death penalty. Out of all executions, less than 1 % of them are women. Don’t sit here and tell me that less than 1% of murderers in the US are women.

    Also it seems you are yet another anti-white male bigot; which is fairly common in the feminist movement. Can you please back up your claims regarding the poor poor persecuted black man getting victimised and discriminated by the evil whitey?

    Oh white men are the most terrible people in the world waaahhhhh

    Move to Saudi Arabia

    "What the MRAs are really complaining about is that we care about the death of a woman at all."

    Do feminists care about the death of white men at all? They already show that they don't care about DV against ALL men at all.

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  45. cat:

    "Considering that a black defendent who kills a white victim is 300 times more likely to get the death penalty than the reverse"

    I don't have time for more than a brief response, but this just isn't true. According to DPIC, there have been 246 executions with a black defendent/white victim and 15 with a white defendent/black victim. That's a ratio of about 16 to 1. Also more black/white than white/black murders are committed, so the disparity is less than this.

    This is not to claim that defendent and victim race isn't a significant factor in determining who gets executed. Clearly it is. But the ratio is nowhere near 300 to 1, and it's far less significant factor than the sex of the defendent.

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  46. Really, Paul? We're "limited to talking around the subject?" I really haven't noticed much of that. The term "man-hating" gets the idea across fairly bluntly, and has long been popular with a certain sort of man, often in conjunction with words like "bitch," "cunt," or "feminazi."

    Which is exactly how we dance around the issue, Mr. Futrelle. By depicting MRA's as angry people who shout "feminazi," we are, in effect, negating their credibility, so that we can make ourselves feel better about the fact that we do not listen to their (often reasonable) grievances.
    Personally, I find it distasteful to see someone using such shaming language try and make himself seem like the more mature party. Your duplicity is astounding, though not unexpected

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  47. You've got to be kidding David. You haven't commented on the validity of what Paul is talking about at all. The only excuse you make for this is:

    "So why am I picking on Elam's writing style? Shouldn't I be focusing on the substance of his argument? My point is that you can't separate the two. Elam's style is designed to conceal his lack of substance."

    As I'm sure you well know, the family court in the UK considers fathers stating that they "love their children" to be "extremist" and automatic grounds for denial of all parental access to them. If this isn't a declaration of war on fathers, I don't know what is. But of course, it's "all for the good of the children", right? A father's love is labelled "extreme" but taking his children from him for expressing that love is "reasonable". Is that not Orwellian? Of course it is, but no - what Paul wrote about feminism and Orwellian thinking is empty and meaningless, right? You dare not comment on the true horror of the family court system so you attack the writing style.

    Additionally, Paul's meaning in the "battlefield" statement is quite clear, so why not address it? Again, the truth is far too galling for people such as yourself. Young men are the casualties of the Gender War. For many, fatherlessness is all they've ever known. Something children need - a father - has been denied them under the banner of "women's rights". They have indeed been wounded in this war they never knew they were a part of.

    Let us hear what you have to say about the epidemic of fatherlessness that plagues Western societies. Will you vilify the young men who grew up without a father for their desperate attempts to re-discover masculinity? Will you turn a blind eye and claim that nothing is wrong? Will you perhaps stand and say "this must stop!" while proposing more of the same poison that feminism has been feeding us for 40 years? Or ultimately, will you go back to attacking Paul's writing style and pretend that what he says has no meaning... perhaps it's simply safer for you that way.

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  48. Huh, http://www.the-niceguy.com/ isn't on the enemies list. I'm disappointed.

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  49. @Solaris, the 'Niceguy-Forum' now on the list of 'More Enemies' and it's called the

    NiceGuy's American Women Suck Page

    ----

    David Futrelle seems to be an American guy, who is grossly misinformed and ignorant about the present situation of men in USA and elsewhere in feminist countries.

    I don't know for what this blog is good for, btw.

    Maybe David can explain...

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  50. "There are all kinds of bad writers"

    Like the dumb cunt who owns this pathetic blog?

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  51. "Based upon this admittedly limited (but chosen by you) sample of Elan's oeuvre, I find the claim that "[His] style is designed to conceal his lack of substance." to be unfounded. Rather, I would argue that his style obfuscates the substance of his arguments."

    100% spot on observation! This is why, after writing 2 (maybe 3) pieces in this more flamboyant style (I suppose I had a wild hair) I went back to writing the way I do in the other 99.5% of my articles and essays.

    David had to dig for this stuff, and that is fine. He needed something to criticize and went for the most opportune target. I would have done the same if I were him.

    It also served to keep in safely in the writing critique, and away from all matters of substance related to the rest of my work and the MRM in general.

    He can't stay with this and expect any traffic. Sooner or later, if he wants an audience, he will have to take on the elements of the MRM he opposes and offer more thoughtful analysis.

    He was unable to do that in the comments at AVFM, and is lending the impression he can't do it on his home turf eiher.

    He is having fun with this, and I would, too, if I were him. But as long as he remains at this level, he remains a complete unknown.

    It's a shame, too, he acually has some talent, but he is wasting it on this really meaningless stuff.

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  52. Oh, MRAs, can't you read? YOHAN, I've put two of NicGuy's sites in my enemies list -- his forum AND his "American Women (mostly) Suck page.

    Paul: So you gave up writing in your "flamboyant" style? Not quite. I got my first example of from a piece you wrote a week and a half ago. If you've really decided to abandon it for good, I applaud you. Just, you know, actually abandon it.

    I left all of 2 comments on AVFM, one of them simply a link to this piece. Have you been having a one-sided debate with me over there on your "feminists and manginas page" all by yourself?

    Also, I like how you keep going on about traffic. My blog is a week and a half old. I have barely publicized it. You have no idea whatsoever how much traffic I'm getting. (Hint: I'm getting a lot of comments.)

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  53. Ah, having gone over to your blog again, Paul, I see what the confusion was all about. You were arguing with another person named David, a guy who puts videos on YouTube under the name theathiestguy.

    Hint: People named David, a rather common name, are not all the same person. Hope that helps!

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  54. " I got my first example of from a piece you wrote a week and a half ago."

    Ah, no you didn't. Not even close.

    Bye.

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  55. Oops. I misspoke. Mis-commented. The most recent one was from a month ago. That's practically olden times.

    If you forgive me for that one misstatement, I'll forgive you for your repeated incorrect assertions, which I corrected several times, that you had been debating me on your blog for months and I had lost the debate, even though I had not actually posted on your blog until after I wrote this piece.

    Bye Bye.

    That's one more "Bye" than you, so I win.

    ReplyDelete

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