A Down With Snark classic

I really can’t add anything to this, but I wanted to pass it along for the benefit of my five or six readers because it’s the sort of anti-rhetorical cognitive thinking we desperately need in these snarky times.

“Anti-rhetorical” probably isn’t a word, but I don’t know what I’d choose in its place. Basically, we are living in the Age of Rhetoric. If you, like me, have ever had an e-mail exchange with a professional pundit, you know that Logic is the weakest of the seven classical liberal arts these days, and Rhetoric is the strongest. You know what we should call Rhetoric without Logic? Bullshit.

And DWS has the best bullshit detector this side of The Daily Show.

So here’s a key excerpt — enjoy, then go read the rest.

There’s a rule about the snark parentheses. They are used for snarking something that your target ACTUALLY SAID. If you cannot find a quote that suits your brilliant snarky bon mot, YOU DO NOT GET TO POSIT THE EXISTENCE OF SUCH A QUOTE AND MAKE SOMETHING UP.

One thing I’ll note just to show how deserving DWS’ target, Germaine Greer, happens to be — she was making a tasteless point about Steve Irwin, whose death to me is the rough equivalent of Evel Knievel getting struck by lightning on his way to the store. For all the daring things he did, he suffers a direct hit from a stingray? I’d expect that to happen to, say, me — a lily-livered couch potato who doesn’t do things like snorkeling and scuba diving precisely because I’d freak out and startle a stingray. But a guy who wrestled crocodiles dying this way? To use another analogy, it’s like an Old West gunfighter getting shot accidentally by a neighbor cleaning his gun.

Naturally, in the era of snark (which is just Rhetoric Gone Wild), people are going to make fun of him anyway. And that’s why we need more blogs like DWS to take them down without resorting to the hate speech that people so often use in place of rational arguments.

(One little twist to show how muddled our thinking has become: One of Greer’s critics, some sort of Aussie bureaucrat, rightly points out that it’s tasteless to say such things while Irwin’s family is grieving — I’d argue that being wrong is never right, no matter how much time you give a family to grieve — but then labels her rant “political correctness.” Not once, but twice. How is taking potshots at a recently deceased, widely beloved man “politically correct”?)


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