Elaborately Self-Justified Sock Puppets Are Still Sock Puppets

I’m trying to puzzle out the logic of this Scott Adams blog post justifying the use of a sock puppet on Metafilter, and I have to tell you it’s not making a whole lot of sense. Basically he’s got an elaborate explanation for why he wanders about online anonymously, related to his fame and how it gets in the way of what he’s actually saying, and, you know, fine, whatever. But the thing he appears to be skipping over is that what he’s been using his anonymity for is to tell people about Scott Adams.

That being case: Dude. There’s a manifest difference between going out anonymously online to talk about other things, and going out anonymously online to be your own PR flack. No amount of elaborate self-justification changes the fact you’ve been engaging sockpuppetry, and sockpuppetry is both obnoxious and sad. Own up to it, take your lumps and move on, and additionally accept that being famous and opinionated means that someone somewhere is going to think you’re an ass. That really is the deal. The logical gymnastics to explain away the sockpuppetry and declare victory over the Internets(!) just makes you look like you’re twelve, and the sort of twelve that always has to win. Which is a tiresome sort of twelve.

Some time ago, I essayed what one should do when one is tempted to use a sock puppet. Here is that bit again, because it’s as relevant today as when I wrote it four and a half years ago, with a few edits to make it pertain to the situation at hand:

“But wait!” I hear you say. “What if I sign go online and post my retorts under an entirely different name? Then I have the satisfaction of responding, but no one will know it’s me!” Yes, well. The term for using a fake name to respond to comments is “using a sock puppet,” and if you’re going to engage in sockpuppetry, this is how you should go about it:

1. Put a sock over each hand. You may decorate the socks to taste. You’ve made sock puppets!

2. Dip each sock, hands still inside, into the largest vat of honey you can find.

3. Feed sock-wrapped hands to the brown bear you have procured for just such an eventuality.

Once again, after the bear has finished its delicious little snacky-snack, you’ll most likely neither have the means nor the desire to respond to those mean and nasty people online. And what a relief that will be! Now you can turn to more important things, like plotting your next work, training your voice-operated word processor, and developing a Zen-like detatchment regarding what people say about you online. You’ll feel better. And they’re doing amazing things with prosthetics these days.

Yup. As noted: true then, true now.

118 Comments on “Elaborately Self-Justified Sock Puppets Are Still Sock Puppets”

  1. hmmm… “Maureen O’Danu” is a pseudonym, but it is the pseudonym I have used for over a decade now, and am known best by on the web. A few people know my RL name, but I don’t advertise it because I’m in a fairly conservative business (in terms of activity on the internet) and have had problems in the past with someone who meant to cause me harm in real life by mixing up my on-line persona with it.

    I don’t think that qualifies as sock puppetry, though, because I don’t go around as “RL” pretending that Maureen is someone else, on line. If you’re on my RL Facebook, you know I’m Maureen, because Maureen O’Danu has her own page and I’m constantly porting it over and asking my friends for feedback to improve my blogs.

    I do want to point out that it is a bit different for women with regard to online personas and pseudonymity, especially those of us who are openly feminist and progressive. I’ve seen more than one feminist vanish from the web because trolls were making RL threats. Eventually, though, I’d like to feel safe enough to post my name online as “RL, also known as Maureen O’Danu”.

    I guess what I’m saying is that there’s a difference between a coherent, long standing pseudonym and randomly created sock puppetry. And even that being said, I’ve been known to put on a sock to wade in when I felt that even my pseudonymity wasn’t enough protection in a particularly virulent argument, largely because I have an imcomplete sense of self preservation and a need to battle assholes who knock down soft targets (this chickie is the wrong hippie to punch). My mamma mode comes on, and I gear up and go in — not as much as I used to when I was younger, but I still know where the socks are, and I wash them thoroughly between uses.

  2. Maureen O’Danu:

    “I guess what I’m saying is that there’s a difference between a coherent, long standing pseudonym and randomly created sock puppetry.”

    Sure, and as noted there’s a difference using having a pseudonym to discuss various hot-button topics, and using a pseudonym to discuss yourself.

  3. This is just like the episode of the Simpsons where Mr. Burns tries to disguise himself as “Mr. Snrub” to get the money that eventually was spent on the monorail.

    In this analogy Scott Adams is Mr Burns, and his credibility is the mono-rail.

  4. Yeah. Big difference between wanting anonymity so as not to upset parents or bosses with one’s less-presentable intarweebings, and wanting it so you can pimp yourself.

    I use a pseudonym for writing trashy fanfic. Would never use that same pseudonym (or any other) to blow smoke up my own ass.

  5. It seems that regular agitator Adams ( a regular feature on his blog is codenamed Dance Monkey Dance where he deliberately tries to get people to froth) made a grave strategic error in posting a commentary ostensibly on Men’s Rights. He was a bit too clever for his own good as he made a point of insulting everyone on both sides of the issue and so thought the piece came out ‘even’. His misfortune was that he wasn’t speaking to his blog audience who normally ‘get’ his attempts at humor.

    All of the internet morons who can’t read complete English sentences and have an axe to grind are now taking anything Scott Adams says and twisting it around to make their own point of view. I believe the part Adams found most troubling were the people accusing him of being anti-science when he most decidedly is not and is pretty strongly anti-creationist.

    Mr. Adams first attempt at damage control started on March 27th:

    He has taken several more blogs posts since then to try to quell the outcry but it’s probably too late to do anything but let the fire burn itself out.

    A shame. Mr. Adams was almost as fun to read as Mr. Scalzi.

  6. Sigh.

    And his metafilter profile shows that he’s only posted on that one thread. He’s been kind of failing at the Internet recently. I wonder if he’s always been this bad at it, or if there’s some recent development that’s affecting his perspective muscles.

  7. This whole Scott Adams thing is fascinating to me. He implies from time to time that underpinning all his crazy is some subtle joke his critics aren’t getting, but it is either the subtlest joke in the history of jokes or he is just shoring up his insecurities with delusions of cleverness. Or it’s just that he really thinks lying and irritating people is thought-provoking and not just provocative (and, as you say, 12-year-old-ish). He occasionally gives off the sense that all this isn’t a big deal to him, but that is difficult to swallow when he is bothering to create a sockpuppet, writing a 3,000-word post about it, and replying to his detractors in the comments.

    Also remarkable: the concern about negative financial consequences for others but simultaneous steadfast refusal to end the whole thing by just shutting up; his defense of a woman who doesn’t know why a picture of Barack Obama as a chimpanzee is different from a picture of George Bush as a chimpanzee, followed immediately by griping about how his critics don’t understand context; and most of all, the contempt for people who act irrationally that pervades this entire attempt of his to, uh, fight the whole internet.

  8. Mary, I see what you did there.

    Has Adams always been a douche, or is this new? Or is this some elaborate troll by him?

  9. I wonder if this will start a “You’re Scott Adams, aren’t you?” meme…

    I’m not. But SpiritZeroThree might be…

    Seriously, though. Simply dismissing the objections that people had in the Adams/MRAs/feminists thing is complete and total false equivalence. Because the problem is that, yes, he started out attempting to insult the MRAs. He then went on to basically say, “But the fact is, they’re kinda right, because women are that bad.” Then when he got called on that he went with the tired, old, “I was just telling a joke,” defense.

    He said this:

    “I realize I might take some heat for lumping women, children and the mentally handicapped in the same group. So I want to be perfectly clear. I’m not saying women are similar to either group. I’m saying that a man’s best strategy for dealing with each group is disturbingly similar. If he’s smart, he takes the path of least resistance most of the time, which involves considering the emotional realities of other people.”

    This came after a whole laundry list of tired cliches about how men are strong and heroic and should all be on the same team, which is a pretty standard bit of eliminationist rhetoric. See, if you’re a man, you have to put up with all the misogynistic assholes because they’re on your team. And you have to fight against all of the women because they’re on the other team. And those teams are there because, y’know, they are. And it’s not like a woman would ever help a man out of a burning car, since she has those little, weak spaghetti arms. He was then taken to task for it by feminists (and, incidentally, people who weren’t a fan of his dismissive attitude towards children and the handicapped) and people who, in general, might not be feminists but also aren’t fans of eliminationist, asshole-centric rhetoric.

    He was being an ass. And it wasn’t funny.

  10. Luckily the Second Ammendment guarantees the right to keep and feed arms to bears.

    Those forefathers had some foresight.

  11. This Scott Adams dude seems to be consuming the time of better minds that should be spent on better things. It’s overcomplicating an issue and creating a dialogue for something that children would see for what it is and call it like it is, no debate necessary. The differences are clear — it’s one thing to protect yourself but still contribute what you feel is an important point to an important conversation (take the analogy of soldiers, boxers, athletes etc — engaging in a fight worth having doesn’t necessarily mean going in unprotected), and quite another to be a cowardly wuss, hiding behind a fake identity, and worse — to promote yourself and at least not have the balls to own up to that. It all reeks of cowardice and hypocrisy… and the kind of crap that kids wouldn’t dignify with anything deeper or more complicated than a shove on the playground, a spitball to the head, or some good old-fashioned, plain-spoken calling someone on their shit.

  12. I hear that lurkers support him in email.

    Seriously, if this is some sort of ha-ha-my-humor-is-too-subtle-for-you thing, then Scott Adams doesn’t understand humor as well as I would have guessed. Because I think humor is like any other creative endeavor in that respect: if you’re too subtle for your audience, you failed.

  13. “he did a faceplant, got back up and is now saying “I meant to do that.””

    Like half-asleep cats when they overbalance and fall off the couch. That explains quite a bit…

  14. Geds@15:

    No, I’m not Scott Adams and I have never met him. I’m just a long time Dilbert fan.

    My web fu really blows so I’ll try the quote thing again. From Scott’s blog post yesterday where he interviews himself as his sock-puppet ‘PlannedChaos’:

    “PlannedChaos: Isn’t it fundamentally dishonest, and therefore immoral, to debate under an assumed name?

    Scott: Yes. On the scale of immoral behavior, where genocide is at the top, and wearing Spanx is near the bottom, posting comments under an alias to clear up harmful misconceptions is about one level worse than Spanx.

    PlannedChaos: Are you saying the ends justify the means?

    Scott: Yes, sometimes. The types of people who act solely on principle are the ones who burn Korans and wonder why something went wrong.

    PlannedChaos: How do we know this whole scheme isn’t a Dogbertian prank. You have a dark history of doing exactly this sort of thing.

    Scott: There’s no way for you to know if it’s a prank. The only person who knows the answer to that question is me, and I’m not credible. But for the record, my non-credible answer is that the entertainment value of this endeavor was only a side benefit. With that said, I have to confess that giving verbal wedgies to people who desperately deserve them, in a public forum, is a lot more fun than you imagine.”

    It appears the general consensus is with Mr. Scalzi that sock-puppetry is A Bad Idea That Never Turns Out Well.

  15. “With that said, I have to confess that giving verbal wedgies to people who desperately deserve them, in a public forum, is a lot more fun than you imagine.”

    That might be the saddest part of his whole post.

  16. SpiritZeroThree@22:
    No, I’m not Scott Adams and I have never met him. I’m just a long time Dilbert fan.

    Ah, but that’s exactly what a Scott Adams sock pupped would say, isn’t it? We’re on to your nefarious scheme. Ha-HA!

  17. Bruce Diamond@24:

    I’m pretty sure Mr. Adams would not know what an AC-130H Spectre gunship (see my avatar) is or that the one depicted (69-6568) was the Air Force’s prototype for many planned gunship modifications.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if he did eventually show up on this thread but I’d like to think he’s learned his lesson and won’t try any more sock-puppetry. (Still, I’d be on the look out for posters named PlannedChaos).

  18. “PlannedChaos: Isn’t it fundamentally dishonest, and therefore immoral, to debate under an assumed name?

    Scott: Yes. On the scale of immoral behavior, where genocide is at the top, and wearing Spanx is near the bottom, posting comments under an alias to clear up harmful misconceptions is about one level worse than Spanx.

    Ah, yes: grading on the curve. Where would modern civilization be without it?

    I remember an episode of The Sopranos where Tony admits that, while he might not be a choir boy, at least he isn’t a child molester.

  19. I was a reader of his blog, but started seeing a pattern with posts like “Somebody should invent a smartphone app that automatically adds ‘I’m sorry’ to all texts to my wife because the womenfolk sure do get mad when they ask you to buy milk and you don’t know what kind to get, amiright guys, huh?”

    Then came the MRA post, and I just sort of went, “Eh” and unsubscribed from the feed.

    And finally, the self-justifying posts saying, “No, I meant to piss off everyone in the entire world. It’s my art!” that just make me kind of sad.

  20. Somehow, I managed to miss this whole tomfoolery. I guess I get lucky sometimes.

    Playing with a sockpuppet on MeFi is dangerous business — we’ve been burned before. I think the best comment on the whole mess is “He must have mistaken this place for the rest of the internet.”

  21. I’m pretty sure Mr. Adams would not know what an AC-130H Spectre gunship (see my avatar) is or that the one depicted (69-6568) was the Air Force’s prototype for many planned gunship modifications.

    I dunno. Maybe internet sock puppetry is like that old TV show The Pretender. Perhaps Scott Adams is so brilliant that he can actually jump in to any role on the internet and know everything that his supposed sock puppet would know. And he’s just playing the role of Scott Adams, mega-dumbass-who-just-doesn’t-get-it to throw us off the scent.

  22. I hate it when celebrities I hold in high esteem come crashing down. Why can’t they stay balanced upon their pretty pedestals???

    Don’t get me going on Ben Stein…

  23. The saddest thing of all is that this sock puppet kept lauding Adams’ genius-level IQ while simultaneously demonstrating that he wasn’t smart enough not to use a sock puppet.

    Sort of a sock petard.

  24. I’ve moderately but carefully used sockpuppets over the years, for reasons that never overlapped with talking to myself or boosting my own image. The largest ones were as honeypots in information security (sadly, even today, female geeky accounts are as attractive to young male hackers as they were in the late 1980s when I started using them to snare people breaking in to my systems…). Secondarily as probes into community openness to new users in online communities I participate in.

    Every now and then for a game or some such.

    I sort of agree with Scott Adams’ comments that this was only about one step worse than the bottom of the bad things scale, but also with the comment above that the giving people wedgies comment he made is sort of sad.

  25. Even if we accept Mr. Adams’s word that he was trying all along to make a joke, it still is a sterling example of Scalzi’s Law regarding the failure mode of clever.

  26. I’m pretty sure Mr. Adams would not know what an AC-130H Spectre gunship (see my avatar) is or that the one depicted (69-6568) was the Air Force’s prototype for many planned gunship modifications.

    This is a basic authentication error.

    If that information is available to the public, then one could assume that Scott Adams could have looked it up and spit out that information.

    If that information is NOT available to the public, then people on this public forum would have no way of knowing that you didn’t just create some random gibberish that is unfalsifiable.

    If I’m the only person who knows the secret passphrase is “the chair is against the door”, how can I prove that to anyone else? If everyone knows the secret passphrase is “the chair is against the door”, then how could I use that phrase to prove I’m me?

  27. A long time ago, I used to subscribe to Scott Adams’ newsletter, for members of Dogbert’s New Ruling Class. It was amusing for a while, telling stories of the clueless, but after a while, the whole ‘we’re up here in our treehouse, aren’t we smarter than all those idiots out there’ shtick got too heavy, and I stopped subscribing. Sounds like he’s taken it even more to heart since then – ‘you’re just so stupid you can’t even tell when I’m joking!’ Yeah, that must be it.

  28. I’m more amused by how very upset everyone is about this. There was more validity to the original uproar about his men’s rights post. And that uproar was also over the top. Although, I am amused at his point that he wanted to distract from that uproar and he has now effectively done it. So…

    I find the entire thing to be a classic example of how the web community can so easily lose all perspective when they morph into the mobweb.

  29. I have learned so much by watching well-known writers fail in so many different ways.

    It’s been inspiring and instructive, it really has. Saying “I screwed up” when I do will hurt, god knows, but not nearly as much as the various forms of failure stemming from an inability to admit making a mistake will hurt.

  30. “I am amused at his point that he wanted to distract from that uproar and he has now effectively done it.”

    Has he, though? Or did he breathe some new life into something that was close to blowing over?

    And anyway, does it really matter? I mean, whether people are saying “Scott Adams is a douche because of x” or “Scott Adams is a douche because of y,” isn’t the salient point (and potential danger to his business) simply that people are saying “Scott Adams is a douche”?

  31. I don’t want to burst Scott Adams’ apparently very healthy ego, but I had no idea who he is until I followed the link to his blog. I asked around my office an no one else knew his name either. We may not be the most knowledgeable group around, nor are we out of touch yahoos living in a cave. So, no offense intended, perhaps he’s not as well-known as he thinks he is.

  32. I’ve been “htom” or “HTom” since 1967, I think. The date’s approximate because of the informality involved in the creation of the name, not my person. I won’t bore you with the tale. In a world with many guys named “Tom”, it’s a handy distinguisher. I’ve used other names on the air as a broadcaster, and hid from a celebrity stalker for a while, too.

    I’ve known for years (and didn’t think it was a secret) that Mr. Adams used other names to comment on others work, in an attempt not to get embroiled in others wars. I didn’t know he’d taken to using sockpuppets to comment on his own. Perhaps … the internet has a long memory and a short attention span. Hopefully, he’ll learn and be forgiven, although with the trolls, that will never happen.

  33. Trixie: “I don’t want to burst Scott Adams’ apparently very healthy ego ….”

    I suspect that would take uranium-tipped munitions, at the very least.

    Also, coffee mugs and day-at-a-time calendars apparently make excellent spall liners, especially when composited with money.

    So, not to worry.

  34. “Although, I am amused at his point that he wanted to distract from that uproar and he has now effectively done it. So…”

    Ahh. The old “I meant to fall on my face” excuse. Works for cats, because they’re adorable. But if Mr. Adams can prove, on video, that he has mastered the headshake, followed by the quick, triple shoulder lick and the dignified stalk out of the room, I’ll give him a skritch and a squeal.

  35. Adams’s argument founders on his initial premise, namely, that changing the messenger allows for a clearer appreciation of the message. He says: “As a general rule, you can’t trust anyone who has a conflict of interest. Conflict of interest is like a prison that locks in both the truth and the lies. One workaround for that problem is to change the messenger. That’s where an alias comes in handy. When you remove the appearance of conflict of interest, it allows others to listen to the evidence without judging.”

    No, no, no. Well, actually, there’s one yes — a conflict of interest makes it hard to discern truth from lies. (Not sure about that “prison” metaphor, but whatever.) But the reason a conflicts of interest makes people suspicious is because the source of information or the author of an argument sometimes matters. If Clarence Thomas, for example, makes a point about the harm caused by affirmative action, then that seems different to me than David Duke making the same point. Stephen Hawking’s writing on science and mass media has more weight than, say, mine would.

    And that’s okay! And even if it’s not okay, I don’t know how the world would operate any other way. It’s nice and post-modern (I guess) to suggest that the author doesn’t or shouldn’t matter, that the text is the same. There is some truth to that. But, see, I don’t think Adams really believes that.

    In any event, assuming a conflict of interest is a real problem in assessing the strength of an argument, the solution is not to hide that conflict. It’s to expose it and explain why it doesn’t matter. Too much for you, Mr. Adams?

  36. Well, if nothing else, I now know who Scott Adams is. Honestly had no idea until these two stories came out.

  37. I don’t think Adams has successfully distracted away from anything at this point. No one’s forgotten how he got into this situation in the first place (and since that reason is violent, rampant misogyny, no one should forget it) and now he’s just proving why he deserved all the flak he’s gotten since then.

    Dude’s out of his mind.

  38. Aw, man. Yet another favorite writers/humorists has revealed their douchy center. I’d hoped it would have been nougat, but noooooo.

    Just a mouthful of disappointment.

    I think I’m mixing my metaphors..

  39. Adams has gotten increasingly pathetic outside of his comic strip. He’s become one of the people he makes fun of.

    Besides, if he wants attention, he should do what I did and post boob pictures on his blog. Crass, I know, but I like boobs, so it all evens out in the wash.

  40. I’ve thought Scott Adams was a jackass for a long time. This confirms my opinion. It’s also kind of astonishing how MUCH of a jackass he is, and how intensely he believes there’s nothing wrong with him.

  41. Doesn’t he know that rule number 1 (or whatever it might be in the internet world) is to not engage the crazies? If he is creating a sockpuppet to do just that, that makes him just as silly. Creating a false identity on the internet to post fanfic is one thing, using a false identity to make yourself look better is not cool.

    I’m waiting on a sockpuppet comic to show up for Dilbert. When that happens, we can all discuss it then.

  42. Does this mean it’s not cool to like Dilbert any more? :-(
    Not that I was ever cool anyway, I suppose…

    Adams’s argument founders on his initial premise, namely, that changing the messenger allows for a clearer appreciation of the message.

    Interesting. He’s almost right.

    He’s frustrated because people downgrade his credibility when talking about himself.
    The bit he’s missing is that they’ve made a rational assessment to do so. They’ve used all the information in front of them to decide whether to believe or trust him. So what he doesn’t get is that maybe sometimes people (including himself) aren’t very objective when talking about themselves.

    But on the other hand – does your trust value go up when you choose a pseudonym? I doubt it.

  43. The core of Dilbert’s humor is the perpetual coping of the Engineers with the idiocy of the Pointy haired Boss and his infuriartingly stupid decisions. Dilbert resonated with so many people because so many of us had seen, or known someone, who had suffered under that kind of decision making. The number of Dilbert cartoons up on cube walls was seen for a time as an indicator of an office’s morale.

    So Scott Adams’ White Knighting sock-puppetry goes beyond just the stupidity of it. It’s the difference between a student being caught plagiarizing a work and a tenured Professor. For Adams to then defend it, instead of owning up to it and apologizing for it, just takes him further down the path of the Pointy Haired Boss. If anyone really, really should have known better, it’s him.

  44. I think you have to separate the artist from the art. As long as Adams’ offensive ideas, if there be some (I haven’t followed the controversy and don’t really want even the tl;dr version), stay out of the strip, I don’t see the problem. I find a certain multiple-Hugo and -Nebula SF author’s views on social subjects mostly abhorrent, but he almost always keeps it out of his fiction and I can still enjoy much of his writing without thinking too hard about the person behind it.

  45. For a second I thought it said “Scott McCloud” instead of Adams which would’ve surprised me a bit given his whole desire for transparancy stuff in “Reinventing Comics”.

    That being said, I don’t think Jim Davis would stoop to this as he’s too busy counting money.

    @58: If we’re talking about the same guy I got a book signed by a certain author around the time of Prop 8 and I just compartmentalized my love for his work as a reader away from my beliefs as an adherent to the ideals of social justice. I agree that provided it doesn’t leak into the work then it doesn’t matter but it makes meeting the person kind of awkward.

  46. Are you referring to Orson Scott Card, Andrew Hackard? I admit to struggling with my feelings toward his books ever since I found out his beliefs. I read Ender’s Game when I was a kid and it became one of my favorite books. Then I grew up and learned more about him. Now, while I still really enjoy the book, I can’t help but think about his (IMO) abhorrent beliefs. I feel the same way about Roman Polanski.

  47. This (and the previous similar episodes) have struck me as instances where it’s not so clear that you should try to separate the artist from the art. All of Scott’s success has come from refining and marketing a certain brand of asshattery, and it doesn’t surprise me that he builds a public persona around the same asshattery that earned him his fanbase in the first place. Nothing he’s said so far would surprise me if it came out of the mouth of Dogbert (the animated version had a mouth, I swear); parts of it might have even come across as funny.

    I don’t think he’s trying to clear his name – I think he got so used to “Dogbertian” satire that he forgot it might blow up in his face, and he’s trying to accelerate out of a skid by pushing the same style of satire even harder. I don’t think he suffers if people start an uproar over his disingenuity the way he would from an uproar over misogyny; disingenuity is one of his biggest marketing points. If you get everybody talking about how Scott Adams is manipulative and deceitful, you’ve just done his PR firm’s job for them, and that subset of the population who like small-minded manipulation and deceit are that much more likely to look into buying a Dogbert management handbook.

    So for all the talk about economic harm to the supply chain, I don’t think it’s necessarily in his interest to let this die down at all; everything I’ve read so far tells me he’s trying to see how far he can milk it.

  48. Captain Noble 60: Are you referring to Orson Scott Card, Andrew Hackard? I admit to struggling with my feelings toward his books ever since I found out his beliefs.

    I actually noticed the homophobia in Card’s work before I found out what a shit of a human being he is. He has homosexual characters, but they’re always either evil, or punished horribly, or both. So he would not be a good example of someone who keeps it out of his work.

    My sample, should that be relevant, is Songmaster and prior works (mostly short fiction; can’t remember the details). After reading Songmaster I was so disgusted that I never read a single thing by Card again…and if I ever do (hard to imagine), I will be sure to borrow it, because I don’t want that bastard getting any of my money.

    Mike 62: …everything I’ve read so far tells me he’s trying to see how far he can milk it.

    You’re probably right. So what the rest of us can do is: stop reading Dilbert, and stop buying any products associated with it. Stop putting Dilbert strips up in your cubicles.

    This isn’t a boycott intended to get him to recant (like that would work). This is to combat his attempted marketing strategy.

  49. I think Scalzi’s “annoying twelve-year-old” take is quite accurate. It’s all there: the insistence that he is never wrong and if you think he is wrong, it’s because you’re stupid; seeing himself and his friends as the Club of Cool and everybody else as losers; insulting and attacking people as a way to get attention and feel superior; and, of course, there’s that whole thing about how girls are icky.

    SpiritZeroThree @22: Your problem is that you don’t come across as a Dilbert fan. You come across as a Scott Adams fan. As others have already pointed out, liking the artist and liking the art are not synonymous. And, of course, the Internet is littered with the (metaphorical) corpses of artists who thought that being able to create an interesting fictional world, or crafting swell fictional dialogue, automatically made them a Learned Expert on the real world.

    So, yeah, when a new poster comes rushing in (as in @6) to defend Adams himself, rather than the cartoon – and particularly doing so by saying that anyone who doesn’t feel as you do is a moron, a word-twister or simply not un-monkey-like enough to comprehend Adams’s funny (unlike you, of course!), then people are going to raise a virtual eyebrow.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to read eviljwinter’s blog. For, uh, the articles.

  50. Some people in this thread might remember the interview that Jon Stewart did for Tucker Carlson in 2004 on Crossfire – or rather, the interview in which he refused to play Carlson’s interview game. What many people do not remember quite so well is that soon afterwards, Carlson brought on “Triumph the Insult Comic Dog”, a literal sock puppet and did the exact kind of interview that Jon Stewart had denied him.

    John, when you mention “the sort of twelve that always has to win”, that was the first thing to come to mind.

  51. #44 Brian — “moth” is what I used to type as the typist’s initials on business letters I typed myself:


    my own two hands.

  52. htom, I always start to mentally correct to “Thom” (as short for Thomas) when I see your name. I guess it’s not that far off.

  53. @58/59 But by buying the works of said multiple Nebula/Hugo award winning author, he then uses the profits to monetarily support organizations that you find repulsive like the National Organization for Marriage, is that okay? Just wondering. I had to think about it for a long time. John Scalzi’s written about the ridiculousness of readers boycotting his books because he leans left politically and I agree with him…. unless I find out that he is a major contributor to organizations that are actively working to make sure my voice isn’t heard or to make sure my existence is deemed immoral or illegal. Then I sorta feel that even though none of those repulsive (to me) beliefs show up in his work, I wouldn’t want to contribute to his ability to aid powerful organizations with lots of lobbying power.

  54. Yeah, but then if people start boycotting an author because of his views, it starts to look like a form of censorship. Plus, you’re only depriving yourself of entertainment that you want to enjoy. I have a better idea. If you spend $10 on Right-Wing-Author, factoring royalties, taxes and so on, how much of that $10 can he/will he donate to Abhorrent-Right-Wing-Cause? $1? probably 5c at most will go to said Cause. You can’t control other people buying his books, but you can control where your own money goes.

    So for every dollar you spend on his books, make a small donation to a cause of your choosing. A mere few cents will more than compensate.

  55. mythago@64:

    I’m hardly a new poster; we crossed swords over the Wisconsin public union bill here a while back (among other topics I have chimed in on). I first learned about Scott Adams through the Dilbert comics and found the Dilbert blog about the same time I found Whatever (several years ago).

    Mr. Adams’ biggest problem is that he’s too smart for his own good and has way too much free time (by his own admission on his blog).

    Nearly everyone here seems to have missed the point of the sock puppet post: to divert talk away from the lies and misquotes about his beliefs and onto the fact that he did the sock puppet thing.

    People seem to think Scott Adams is an asshat for saying the things they think he says. I think it’s just par for the course. He’s Californian and I find most Californians to be crazy.

    Mr. Adams doesn’t advocate for any particular cause on his blog, he makes comments to be entertaining to at least one other person. Like all the other celebrities who owe their existence to buzz, he sometimes says things to set off the maximum number of easily-frothed people. As someone said on MetaFilter (quoting “WarGames”), “The only way to win is to not play”. So, if you really think Scott Adams is a complete asshat your best move is to ignore him and not have anything to do with Dilbert comics and merchandising. The Internet is not a place for fair and unbiased talk. Even the truth is damn hard to find.

  56. Thanks Josh @#66. I vaguely remember that one.

    This has gone viral enough that Yahoo has picked up on what happened. It was on the front page, then slipped to near the end of the list later on in the day. If he wanted attention, he has it now.

  57. DA @70: I’m baffled by the argument that how one chooses to spend one’s money is “censorship”. Unless you are paying moolah to your local bookstore to stuff the Dilbert books in the dusty back shelves, or telling your local library that you’ll refuse to fund them unless they get rid of their Scott Adams collection, how are we talking censorship? It’s like saying that if you refuse to let your ten-year-old daughter buy short-shorts with JUICY printed on the ass, that’s tantamount to asking the City Council to impose a public dress code.

    There are plenty of ways to enjoy an artist’s work without putting money directly into the artist’s pocket, such as buying or borrowing used books. One can separate the art from the artist, and also separate one’s enjoyment of the art from the teeth-grinding realization that you’ve just contributed to the fame and fortune of one of the planet’s true fuckmuppets.

    SpiritZeroThree @71: Well, you can see how memorable that discussion was. In any case, it does seem a bit odd that you are expending time and energy talking about Scott Adams in an effort to tell other people “Talking about Scott Adams is a waste of your time and energy”. You like the guy, you get off on the “you’d LIKE this if you were SMART” thing, great; mazel tov. But running around asking everyone else to STFU cuz you like the guy is a little….well….twelve-year-old.

  58. mythago@73:

    Fuckmuppets? Seriously?

    Perhaps you have better debating skills, I didn’t get to take that class. The subtle personal attacks aren’t unnoticed and hardly on-topic.

    I have no expectation of getting anyone to STFU or even like Scott Adams. I’m saying that Scott Adams’ blog’s purpose is to entertain. It’s not entertainment if no one is listening/watching. If you find him offensive because of something you think he said and you choose to share your misconceptions with the whole Internet, you are playing his game with his rules. If you want to make an informed argument about the series of posts about “men’s rights” and the Dance Monkey Dance action that has been going on since the end of March try starting here: http://dilbert.com/blog/entry/im_a_what/

    I apologize as that’s admittedly a biased view but I don’t know where to find another view that is less biased and in on the joke.

  59. What about when Fred was getting out of hand and Wilma had to go undercover to let everyone know he was a square?

    Surely, that is an acceptable reason to sock puppet.

  60. SpiritZeroThree @74: I can’t actually take credit for inventing the term “fuckmuppet”, alas.

    You also really should get away from the fallacy that if anyone disagrees with you (or Adams), that they are ignorant, moronic, Californian, twisting his words and/or all of the above.

  61. mythago@76:

    I don’t see anyone disagreeing with me. All I see is someone misunderstanding what’s been said. You remind me of Monty Python’s Argument Clinic sketch. I came here for an argument only to find out this is Abuse and I need to go to 12A.

    Care to make a point about sock puppets or making people on the Internets frothy?

  62. All I see is someone misunderstanding what’s been said.

    Indeed. That’s the problem.

  63. SpiritZeroThree @77:

    I find this an interesting phrase: All I see is someone misunderstanding what’s been said. It seems to be a technique that Adams uses as well, saying that those who take issue with him or disagree with him simply don’t “get” what he’s saying.

    The implication of this is that if the reader did understand, then he or she would naturally agree with you. If she or he continues to disagree, then they must not understand, and are therefore not really intelligent enough to continue the conversation.

    So, by countering someone’s objections with, “You misunderstand,” the implication – perhaps unintentionally on your part, you seem like a nice person – is “You’re not smart enough for this topic.” And, of course, if the reader continues to disagree, then they continue to “prove” themselves too dumb to hold up their end. Eventually they give up, and the originator of the argument “wins” by default.

    And this is but one of the ways that Scott Adams really “makes the internet frothy.” [1]


    [1] Royally pisses people off.

  64. Oh, and I just thought of a corollary to that: “You misunderstand” can also mean that the originator of the argument has failed to explain his or her position properly. Happens all the time.

    By not then refining that opinion and making it easier to understand, especially when ostensibly engaged in a discussion, the unstated message is, “I don’t really care enough about your opinion to bother with a dialog. Agree or go away.”

  65. mythago@64: Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to read eviljwinter’s blog. For, uh, the articles.

    *kof* I did the same thing. *kof* Didn’t go far enough back to *kof* find those articles, so I started reading about his life. Now I’ll be heading back on a semi-regular basis.

  66. @60: Yeah, I shouldn’t try subtlety when sleep deprived. I’ve only read some short stories and his two ender cycles, but I wouldn’t donate money to his “donors choose” account most likely.

    @70: Except not really. A boycott doesn’t even need to be complete to hurt an author, you could do a used books only boycott where readers buy the used book of an author that some readers may mind politically abhorrent(although that seems a bit petty and vindictive). Censorship, by contrast, would be what “OMG Super Commie Leftist” Howard Fast experienced when he tried to sell the novel Spartacus(later adapted by Dalton Trumbo of the blacklist) after his stint in jail for contempt of congress(HUAAC, specifically). J. Edgar Hoover personally called the heads of every major publisher and made it quite clear that there was no room in his heart for anyone who employed Mr. Fast. His crime was protecting the identities of the board of a hospital administered by Quakers for the benefit of a Franco-free Spain. So Fast self-published it and ended up selling 40,000 copies, enough to justify

    The end result(usually, as Spartacus is still selling well) is the same, with a specific author failing to make income for reasons other than the quality of his writing, the only difference is that in one scenario consumers decide what’s important to them and in the other the elite attempt to decide it for them.

  67. Flogging your own work online via sockpuppet is the Internet equivalent of masturbating into a tube sock in front of your bedroom window. It feels good and makes you think you’re dodging the problem of do-it-yourself flogging, but when you get spotted, you’re still wanking.

    As for Adams himself, I abandoned him as a source of humor and intellect when he ragged on William Shakespeare for not using modern English. If he meant it, he was being an anti-intellectual jerk. If he didn’t mean it, it was one of the oldest jokes in modern times and far below his self-image as a good humorist.

    And I am more than entitled to vote with my money. I won’t support Roman Polanski’s films because he’s a criminal who is dodging sentencing. I won’t buy Orson Scott Card’s novels because he’s a homophobe and a bigot. And I could continue. Adams got my last dollar years ago. He’s demonstrated time and again that I made the right decision. Life is too short to try to enjoy work created by someone who would rather my kind of person dry up and blow away.

  68. I’m baffled by the argument that how one chooses to spend one’s money is “censorship”.

    You’re right, it’s not. If it was a coordinated campaign, that might be censorship, but a personal decision isn’t.

  69. SpiritZeroThree, you’ve said multiple times, “if you’re offended by something you think he said.” This is an interesting thing for you to continue to push, as it’s implication is that no one is offended by what he said, or meant, but rather, those who are offended are only offended because they just don’t get it. That’s a pretty extreme view. Having read just two of his blog posts, I wasn’t particularly offended, although I did find him to be offensive, if you see the difference.

    I can assure you, Mr. Adams problem does not have as its root that he is “too smart.” On the other hand, it does appear he has too high an opinion of his own opinions. Mind you, everyone thinks their opinions are correct, it’s sort of how opinions work. While most people acknowledge that their opinions could be in error, and are at least somewhat open to other views, neither he, nor you, appear to have that mindset.

  70. I’m sorry, I got to the part where the only context he recognizes in regards to a black man portrayed as a monkey is that a white man was once also portrayed as a monkey and I stopped reading.

    The man is a complete and utter numpty.

  71. @DA Munroe re: 85. I still don’t think a coordinated campaign is censorship. Censorship is a government action, one that can land people in jail or have similarly dire consequences; the sorts of things Hoover and McCarthy got up to would definitely qualify.

    A boycott, however, is a group action organized by the consumers. It can certainly have profound political implications–consider the Montgomery Bus Boycott, or the original land-manager ostracism that brought the word “boycott” into the language–but it’s ultimately a decision made by ordinary people. They deliberately choose to deny themselves something, potentially even something that would benefit them, in order to gain leverage over a more powerful entity. If that entity chooses to keep on doing its thing, it can, but it will have to accept a similar loss of benefits.

    That’s not censorship. Heck, it’s arguably just democracy.

  72. No, see, it’s ok to do it if you are a certified genius. Clearly you are just too dumb to understand the complex topic of when it’s ok to act like a complete douchebag.

  73. I would say that the “wait, PROVE that you are not Scott Adams! you sound like Scott Adams to me!” response to SpiritZeroThree illustrates an addition reason to never, ever resort to sockpuppetry: you do it one time, and you cast instant doubt on every one of your fans and defenders.

    I used to be a fan of Scott Adams, in addition to being a fan of the Dilbert Strip. He was the very first comic strip writer to put an e-mail address into his strip, in the early 1990s, and I remember being incredibly excited to see that, because OMG THIS PERSON WAS ONE OF US. I loved “The Dilbert Principle” and I subscribed to his newsletters.

    I think his work’s gone downhill since he lost/quit his job at PacBell and was no longer a working stiff with daily access to the sort of day-to-day workplace bullshit that made his strip so great. It’s not terrible — still one of the funnier strips on the comics page — but his expository writing has gotten steadily more self-satisfied and disconnected.

  74. Naomi @89: I once saw this referred to (in the context of another public figure who went from caustic commentary to Insane Assholery) as “starting to believe your own press releases”. Someone is surrounded by adoring fans who tell them they’re brilliant, tons of people read/buy/adore their stuff, and there are enough critics who are simply foamheads that it’s easy to fall into the belief that ‘the only people who criticize my work are the haters’. This is a good path to get totally disconnected from reality, and to get to a place where any evidence conflicting with “I am an awesome genius and always right” must be rejected. (One of my formerly favorite feminist bloggers has slowly gone down this road, and it’s a real loss, IMO.)

  75. @#31: you had Ben Stein — speechwriter for Richard Nixon — on a pretty pedestal? (I’ve found him amusing from time to time, sure, but that factoid always sort of made me give him the side-eye.)

    @#41, #47, and others: I’m just curious, for the folks who are posting saying they had never heard of Scott Adams — had you truly never heard of or seen “Dilbert”, or was it just that you didn’t really know the name of the guy who did that strip?

    Not knowing the name of a famous comic strip’s artist, I can well believe. But it would surprise me to hear that anyone has escaped knowing about “Dilbert”. I guess I wouldn’t have thought that it had the cultural penetration of, say, “Peanuts”, but I would have thought basic awareness of it was pretty widespread. I would have put it in the pantheon of strips I’d expect most people to recognize, even if they weren’t regular readers of it (along with Peanuts, Doonesbury, Bloom County, Calvin & Hobbes, Far Side, Garfield, Family Circus, Cathy…). Now I’m wondering if I’m completely off-base about that.

  76. cpolk@83:
    Scott Adams is a lot better at arguing than I am. See the comments by PlannedChaos on MetaFilter.

    Human communication is not just about words (which, unfortunately, is all we have here at Whatever). Context is also important. You take pictures of 2 men portrayed as monkeys as racist because one man is white and the other man is black. Someone else looks at those same pictures and sees the 43rd and 44th Presidents of the United States. Not racist at all. Nor are pictures of all 44 Presidents and all 535 members of the current session of Congress when shown as a group. In the politically correct climate of today’s world, posting such pictures in any kind of public forum is a really bad idea because people who find offense at things are much more vocal than in times past. [Note: I’m not saying you are wrong for your perception. I’m sad to admit I know people who might send me an email with those pictures because THEY think it’s funny and racist. Sigh]


    I see a lot of TL;DR here. I take as given that all posting this thread have at least read Mr. Scalzi’s view. Some few have gone on to get the bigger picture, Sara@38 being one.

    Mr. Adams post “Planned Chaos” had 2 goals:
    (1) Divert attention away from Internet rantings he found awful (falsehoods about his personal beliefs)
    (2) Froth the easily-frothed (or, as he likes to put it, “Dance Monkey Dance”)

    I have to say it looks like he achieved both goals.



    I am stunned and amazed. I completely agree with your point! [I should’ve realized Hell was freezing over. It snowed here yesterday.]

    Context works both ways. Remember though, the Dilbert blog (and his columns for the WSJ) are not advocacy sites rather they are entertainment so he’s much more like Howard Stern and Mancow Muller than your formerly favorite feminist blog or even Whatever (as a writer advocacy blog – “taunting the tauntable…” notwithstanding). And no, I don’t think his entertainment is for everyone. I think he should be more careful with posting outside of the Dilbert blog.

  77. SpiritZeroThree @94: I thought the “but it’s just entertainment” dodge was Rush Limbaugh’s gig, not Adams’s. It’s a pretense that jokes and humor are always harmless, are never barbed, never have any underlying intent, and cannot ever be used as a cover for venom; the old “geez, it was just a joke, don’tcha gotta sense of humor?” dodge was old when Limbaugh picked it up.

  78. #68 Robin — no, no, no. ;) OK, I’ll tell the story. “Thom” was Tom C. I was HTom. There were seven of us named Tom, all engineers at a campus radio network (there were about 30 engineers). Policy was that orders needed typed signatures for legibility, to demonstrate the friendly nature of network communication, first name only. (I did not make those policies!)

    One day the Network Manager boiled into my office, thrust an order into my face. “Who is this?” he demanded. I read the order, said “Tom Galagher.” He showed it to my secretary, who said the same, and to Tom C, who agreed. “This is so confusing, all of you named Tom. From now on, you :pointing at Tom C: are going to sign “Thom”, which you do anyway when you write Tom (Thom C was Italian, perhaps that’s where it came from?) You :pointing at me: I know what your real first name is. You don’t have to use it, but from now on, you’re H.Tom.” He also assigned other names — Little Tom (who was 6’6″, at least), Big Tom (5’6″), Red Tom (Native American), Atom (US Army artillery, qualified to shoot special materials warheads), and stuck, for a minute, asked if Tom G (who had wandered in) was in the Jazz Band. Yes, their drummer. Aha! Tom-tom!

    The period disappeared in the first week. The lower cased version arrived when tomt was already in use as a login at a lab using Unix.

  79. Adams’ sock puppet exchange on MeFi and eventual disclaiming post disappoint me quite a lot. Up-thread it was recommended that folk endeavor to separate the artist from the art, which I — belatedly — realize is exactly what I’d not done. Specifically I’d always imagined Adams as *Dilbert*. It would appear he is Dogbert, instead.

  80. mythago@95:

    Using “just entertainment” as dodge would imply apologizing for the ruckus. I don’t believe he intends to do that.

    I deliberately left the political guys out of my examples because while they’re technically entertainment most people react to them as advocates. Limbaugh, in particular, had been called the head of the Republican Party at one time (I believe it was just before his drug meltdown). Steven Colbert, on the other hand, deliberately advocates a hard conservative position for entertainment. I gather he is a good bit left of center in real life.

    As Mr. Adams was dismissing the spluttering of a few whiny advocates as relatively unimportant in the grand scheme of things I get the impression all this noise is of no grave consequence to him. Note he has not set off the monster that is Anonymous. As long as he stays away from them, no one else can really do much permanent damage to Dilbert(tm).

    The context of “the grand scheme of things” would be things like the BP oil spill, Japan’s ongoing earthquake/tsunami recovery, American health care, jobs (or the lack thereof) and democracy in the Arab world.

  81. SpiritZeroThree @#95: The context you and Adams are ignoring is the entire history of race relations in America. White people do not have a history of being demeaned and marginalized by comparisons – both literal and symbolic – to apes and monkeys. Sure it may be a case of supreme ignorance and white privilege rather than base racism, but that’s hardly better.

  82. @70 Well gee, since an individual can only affect || much I guess I shouldn’t bother recycling or speaking up or posting on a blog. I mean, since the overall effect is so little, why bother, eh?

    Honestly, there are so many other things to read and advocate, not reading books from one author is a very easy thing to do. And it’s absolutely an individual choice and I’m not offended that you read certain authors so please don’t take this as prosyletizing.

    Also, how am I censoring this author by choosing not to read him? He’s a well published author who will continue to publish until he dies. And then quite possibly posthumously. :)

    And yet, and yet, still not gonna pay to read his stuff.

  83. SpiritZeroThree @99: “It’s just entertainment” is not an apology. It’s simply a variation of “can’t you take a joke?”. That is, it’s a way to deflect blame by saying that I am not wrong for saying what I did; you are wrong for reacting to it negatively, therefore any offensiveness is all your fault, not mine. I’m not sure how you could possibly construe that as an apology.

    I’m a little puzzled by your comment that Limbaugh is “technically entertainment”. He’s not; he’s a political advocate, as you acknowledge. But, like Adams, he pulls out “it’s just entertainment/get a sense of humor” to excuse himself from – and avoid apologizing for – really nasty statements.

    I’m also a bit disappointed that you hauled out the tired old ‘grand scheme of things’ argument. On a logical level, it’s silly because it suggests that whether or not X is bad depends on whether I can point to something more momentous/awful/numerous than X. (“Somebody burglarized your house, killed your pets and beat up your wife? Big deal, dude, there are people being assassinated by snipers in Yemen because they want freedom.) It’s also a bit unconvincing to argue that Adams’s continuing parade of dumbth is so unimportant that everybody else should stop talking about it, but just important enough for you to spend time defending Adams and calling his critics everything from whiny to ignorant.

  84. Would you be interested in writing a canon-novel continuation/resolution for Stargate Universe if you were approached by MGM? This appears to be the fans only hope now!

  85. Okay, so Scott Adams is a satirist whose work on corporate life and computers I think most of us have enjoyed, and he’s made a mountain of money from it. I can understand that he might further want to keep his hand in by doing exaggerated positions as a joke, such as he did in the Wall Street Journal piece, which then prompted sockpuppetry, or on a let’s be controversial feature on his blog. But he chooses what subjects he will tackle in these pieces and he chose to go at the Men’s Rights thing by making tired jokes about women. These are not unusual jokes. A lot of stand-up comics use stuff like this and it may or may not be done with any degree of serious belief behind it.

    But when you do it, you are inviting, as part of that comedy, criticism, heckling, rotten tomatoes and opinions that your joke bombed. You willingly take the risk, or don’t get on the stage, no matter how much money you have. You can say that we have no right to not find something funny when it’s intended to be funny, but you actually have no right or ability to enforce that at all. And you meet it head-on as yourself, or at least as your comic persona. If you want continued respect for your comedy, if you feel like you still want to do it instead of just retiring with your loot, then you don’t hide yourself and try to explain and support your position by an anonymous name. That’s not going to get you much respect from the other comics, that you’re too chicken to face your hecklers and more importantly, to work with them. If Adams had used his sockpuppet not to cheer for himself and explain his misunderstood genius but instead to rail about how awful Adams is worse than anyone else — that would have been funny. Because good comics, as Adams used to be, know that first you disparage yourself, then others. That contrast is what makes the joke, what brings large groups with you because it presents all of us together as ridiculous. That’s something that Adams has always seemed to understand in his Dilbert strip, but seems to have lost here. And so I cannot take his rant about women as a provocateur’s joke. I have to take it as a comic whose work I’ve liked and found insightful turning out to be a really nasty person, who, in his sockpuppetry, also seems surprisingly insecure and floundering. That makes him human — comics and entertainers are often nasty in real life, often floundering. But it doesn’t make me interested any longer in what he has to say.

  86. tuttle@100:

    I totally understand why you would think portraying a black man as an ape or other primate is extremely offensive. I totally agree and for the same reason. Say a similar pair of pictures came out in 2007 depicting the current (George W) and previous (Bill C.) presidents. Would you see 2 white men being mocked or 2 Presidents of the US or 2 politicians? Indeed, none of these options is nearly as offensive as the race one. Do you not see that there are some people who don’t always see Barack Obama as a black US President but as a US President? In Afghanistan, the Taliban aren’t racist, they don’t see a white soldier or a black soldier or a Latino; they see an American.

    Carlos Mencia on his DVD No Strings Attached relates a long story about a ride on a roller coaster. He’s in line for a very long time and just when he thinks he’s about to catch the last seat on the ride, a handicapped kid rolls up and is given the seat. Carlos puts up a big stink because he doesn’t believe in special treatment. Turns out, there is in fact an empty seat in the ride next to the kid. The two of them give each other a hard time for the whole ride. As they’re getting out of the ride, the kid thanks Carlos as it’s the first time he wasn’t treated like he was handicapped and Carlos apologizes for being a dick. And now they’re buddies. Carlos spent most of his time between 2003 & 2006 slamming handicapped people – not the ones with honest medical disabilities but the dumbasses who ought to know better (like the people who park in handicap parking spots but don’t have the tag authorizing it).



    The “entertainment” tag applies to the purpose of Scott Adams’ blog. Applying that tag to a particular post is dependent on the reader. I don’t find baiting frothy people to be particularly entertaining, I prefer discourse to be more civilized such as this thread (mostly).

    Limbaugh is an entertainer because he is paid to generate an audience to transmit advertising to. He says whatever he wants (and/or thinks he can get away with) in a very politically conservative slant because that’s his ‘thing’. He is only a part of our political process because politicians (and the media) talk about him. Sarah Palin may be more qualified as a political advocate as she isn’t generating revenue for advertising, she’s generating revenue for herself and her supposed political aspirations. She also tends to be entertaining if you find being clueless entertaining. Mary Matalin and James Carville are political advocates because that’s their job – Mary is very Republican & James is just as Democratic.

    I mentioned the “grand scheme” as the motivation behind Mr. Adams’ going after the frothy people not to justify the contents of any of his posts. One of the main reasons I try not to complain about my problems is because someone always has worse problems than me. (“I cried because I had no shoes until I saw a man who had no feet.”)

    Can one really be called a critic of someone if all one knows of that person is a single misquote posted on a advocacy blog that has nothing to do with that person? That’s ignorance. Not in the “man, you’re dumber than a box of rocks” sense but “I’m a housewife, I don’t know how to perform brain surgery” sense. This does not prevent one from having an opinion or sharing it with the class.

  87. Do you not see that there are some people who don’t always see Barack Obama as a black US President but as a US President?

    And just by random chance, they happened to pick a racist trope that has a long history? Yeah, no.

  88. Lysana @#84

    Thank youfor the perfect description of sock-puppetry.

    Personally, I’m still marvelling at the rating of sock-puppetry as being one step worse than wearing Spanx. Really? Not that I’ve ever worn Spanx but if that’s what you want to do, male or female; who cares? Other than Scott Adams aparently.

  89. Do you not see that there are some people who don’t always see Barack Obama as a black US President but as a US President?

    And just by random chance, they happened to pick a racist trope that has a long history?

    Generally, they’d say, “Ooops. My mistake.”

    Yeah, no.

    Yeah. No.

  90. tuttle@100 and others:
    Apologies for being misinformed (Sometimes I suffer from TL:DR too). Marilyn Davenport, a 74 year old Tea Party activist, knew exactly what she was doing when she sent that e-mail. Portraying Obama’s family as apes is not nearly the same thing as depicting the current and most recent Presidents’ resemblances to apes. Passing it off as a ‘birther’ excuse is even more heinous.

    Ms. Davenport is one of those stupid racists. If she had any brains at all she would have saved that little gem of spite for a time when it would do her & her people some good. Hard to believe Orange County lets her make decisions for the community. I’d say she just outlived her usefulness to the Republican Party.


    Well said.

  91. Joyce @#108: I noticed the Spanx comment immediately, as well; really, you’re going to put “wearing Spanx” on a continuum with genocide? Possibly for humorous effect (even though at this point, I think Adams’ ability to wield humor to effect is under question), but… I still think it points to the idea that on some level, he sees that as “being immoral”.

    Why? Because wearing Spanx allows a person to slightly improve her appearance. Let’s be honest: it will not perform miracles. I say this as someone who’s worn various products of theirs. At best, it sort of mildly compresses flab, smooths things out to make what’s worn over it drape a little better. It’s not a corset. It doesn’t truly change shape. It’s not going to reduce anyone by several dress sizes.

    Yet Adams considers it “immoral”, even on a very low level? Because it is employed in the pursuit of making observers think that your body is just a little bit closer to cultural norms of beauty than it is without “help”? Because it is helping you to “fool” observers? It makes me wonder what Adams thinks, generally, about makeup, or bras that affect the way women’s breasts are perceived (which is to say, all bras).

    Darn that Spanx, making it so that men like Adams can’t actually tell how hot a woman’s body really is under her clothing! I don’t know. It seems a bit telling. Of what, I’m still not sure.

  92. I recall enjoying Dilbert comic, but haven’t bought a newspaper in years (mostly get my news from internet sources and tha radio these days) I confess that I was unaware that Mr. Adams existed outside of the Dilbert franchise- his sock-puppetery makes him look like a wanker.

    Which leads me to add my $.02 regarding seperating the art from the artist – there is a limit IMO – I can enjoy “Mission Impossible” even though I believe Tom Cruise to be a nut – for whatever reason I don’t have a problem divorcing actors from the charaters they portray. Authors, OTOH, I have more of a problem with (keeping seperate from their work), I no longer enjoy reading anything by Card. I find myself taking offense at stuff that may not be objectively offensive because of the source (in addition to the stuff that IS objectively offensive).

    Rush Limbaugh is BOTH – he claims, when he offends, that he’s an entertainer (actor role?) but he’s not working from a script (that I know of) so he’s the author also, I have to believe that he really IS like his on air personna (an asshole) – Steven Colbert is the opposite – he is workig from a script (which he helped to write) and plays a character on air – me have some insight into his psyche because of how he portrays his character and how he’s written (BTW #99 – Colbert does NOT advocate a conservative POV for entertainment – that’s what Rush claims to be doing- Colbert plays a character who satirizes a conservative POV –the mockery/satire is not subtle, it’s hard not to miss)

    re: boycotting vs. censorship
    Censorship – other people telling me what is not ok buy/read/listen to because it is offensive/subversive/ etc.
    boycotting – ME (or a group of like minded individuals) deciding not to buy/read/use something because we find it offecsive etc.

    example : a group trying to get “Huckleberry Finn” removed/ banned from the public library system = censorship

    I won’t buy Domino’s Pizza because of the causes the owners/corporation supports = boycott

  93. DA: Yeah, but then if people start boycotting an author because of his views, it starts to look like a form of censorship. …. You’re right, it’s not. If it was a coordinated campaign, that might be censorship, but a personal decision isn’t.


    Spirit: Do you not see that there are some people who don’t always see Barack Obama as a black US President but as a US President? In Afghanistan, the Taliban aren’t racist, they don’t see a white soldier or a black soldier or a Latino; they see an American.

    Unless Scot Adams normally targets his readership to be the Taliban in Afghanistan, I don’t see how this is relevant. When your readers are in America, you get American history (racist history and racism in current events) as a backdrop whether you want it or not.

  94. #46 by KSB: Adams’s argument founders on his initial premise, namely, that changing the messenger allows for a clearer appreciation of the message. He says: “As a general rule, you can’t trust anyone who has a conflict of interest. Conflict of interest is like a prison that locks in both the truth and the lies. One workaround for that problem is to change the messenger. That’s where an alias comes in handy. When you remove the appearance of conflict of interest, it allows others to listen to the evidence without judging.”

    No, no, no. Well, actually, there’s one yes — a conflict of interest makes it hard to discern truth from lies. (Not sure about that “prison” metaphor, but whatever.) But the reason a conflicts of interest makes people suspicious is because the source of information or the author of an argument sometimes matters.

    Adams fails earlier than that!

    A conflict of interest does not go away when one hides it. The point of disclosing a conflict of interest is to allow readers to be able to judge whether it matters.

  95. You’re right, it’s not. If it was a coordinated campaign, that might be censorship, but a personal decision isn’t.

    A boycott is both of those things(excluding censorship). The point of which is to provide economic pressure from the point of entry to the market rather than pre-product/pre-market stuff. So if you dislike Dole’s history with Hawaii then you could organize a boycott of Dole’s Pineapples and what not with all your friends taking part in it. Censorship is government action, whether formal or informal.

    The Director of the FBI blacklists you from working in fiction for the rest of your life in your chosen field(movies, television, novels, etc.) then that’s censorship. If consumers don’t want to watch your films because they disagree with your politics and make a compact to stop seeing them until you die then it’s a boycott. It has nothing to do with the effect to the targeted party and everything to do with WHO is targeting them. The difference is that a boycott usually ends and official or unofficial censorship and blacklisting tends to follow you around(ask Dalton Trumbo about that).

  96. @112 I dont know if Colbert can hide behind the ‘satire’ label anymore. To be satire dont you have to take a pov far beyond what people advocate in real life? With the rise of the tea party, his scripts could be word for word quotations of what some folks actually say.

  97. Many here seem to take themselves too seriously and think their opinion is really important just a observation.

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