I discovered yesterday that Bonnie Erbe at U.S. News and World Report wrote a column in response to my "Women Are Not Oppressed" piece. She then penned a follow up as well. Ostensibly, the reason for her devoting so much time to this issue is twofold. First, she wants to show people what uneducated bumpkins we internet writers are, and second, she wants to put a stop to any notion that women are not disadvantaged in America. As the reader may surmise, she fails in meeting either objective.
Before addressing the specifics of her complaint let me first point out that Ms. Erbe is a woman so persecuted that she is published by a major media outlet while also covering "Congress, the Supreme Court, the Justice Department, and occasionally the White House for radio and television networks. She also hosts PBS's weekly news analysis program, To the Contrary with Bonnie Erbe, and writes a weekly syndicated newspaper column for Scripps Howard News Service." Not to mention that the piece I'll shortly be dissecting was picked up by CBS News who reproduced it on their own pages. Yes, one must pity poor Ms. Erbe; harassment like the kind she's been through would produce tears of empathy from the survivors of the Bataan Death March.
From Erbe we can see just how little being a man is of benefit to the writer. My requests for equal time were ignored by U.S. News and CBS while my original piece was formally rejected by the Baltimore Sun. It seems that I, as opposed to Ms. Erbe, am the person disfranchised by the supposedly patriarchal media. Clearly, women are about as downtrodden in America as the Greek gods were upon Olympus. Although, perhaps the radical feminists might contend that explicitly favoring females is all part of the patriarchy's sinister master plan. By not providing men with equality of opportunity it is actually a way of advancing our own needs to be vanquished which then promotes a more ominous patriarchy [with a bit more mumbo-jumbo like that I just might find a spot on a university faculty yet].
I will now refute Ms. Erbe's positions although there really is not much that needs to be said. Let's observe first that she made a colossal blunder by linking to my article in the body of her piece. Interestingly, the folks at CBS News were smart enough to avoid doing so. The foolishness of her tactic will be immediately apparent to any reader who follows the link and discovers the kind of politically incorrect argumentation that they'll never hear on a college campus or in the pages of a mainstream media publication. For this mistake, I thank her wholeheartedly.
Getting to her first post, it is called "The End of Punditry." She states:
"But one of high tech's less ambrosial characteristics is the Internet's plethora of self-appointed pundits. Anyone with a computer and broadband may now make his or her thoughts available to a global audience. Some of those folks, let's be honest, have very little new, interesting, or enlightening to say. On the downside, they ratchet up anger levels in our already divided culture."
Were we to be so lucky! Anyway, now that she's come down from her place next to the burning bush we should brace ourselves for the demolishing of my positions, but the siege engines fail to roll forth. She mentions my column and that it was a response to a piece by Jenny Dombrowski. She then compliments Dombrowski and says "[m]ore in my next blog." We are told that it is the end of punditry, but there is no punditry with which to justify this claim.
The action we await comes in her second piece, titled "Internet Unleashes Unguided Punditry." She highlights a paragraph by Dombrowski and then modifies it, thus showing us low functioning types how real press work is done. The only problem here is that Dombrowsi's piece was reproduced on the internet after it originally appeared in the print version of the Baltimore Sun. Oh well, she gets an A for self-righteousness at least.
Then we come to the money sequence:
"Still, her column ends up making us think about the fact that many gen-Y women fail to experience the need for a women's movement the way their gen-X or boomer foremothers did: again, a point worth considering. Would that were true of the work of Bernard Chapin, who responded to Dombrowski's column. Instead, he weaves together a pugilistic response to each of Dombrowski's claims that doesn't teach or move the reader much at all."
Was my account pugilistic? Possibly, it's certainly not complimentary to Ms. Dombrowski or radical feminism. In my opinion, I would say that "logical" and "thorough" would be better words to describe my work, but pugilistic is not an entirely unfair representation. Unlike Ms. Erbe and Ms. Dombrowski, I definitely put effort into my claims by making use of citations which they are apparently above needing. Her statement about my not teaching or moving the reader is deeply rooted in bias, however. How could I ever persuade Ms. Erbe of anything when her mind is already made up? I have no hope of persuading radicals of my views-a belief I illuminated last week:
"For this reason, we can never hope to convince them of anything at all. Our battles are chiefly of indirect benefit alone. They are a way in which to persuade intentional or unintentional observers as to the rightness of our cause. Hearing us or seeing our words may be the only intellectual diversity to which some students every encounter."
From onset, convincing the likes of Ms. Erbe or Ms. Dombrowski is not possible and not one of my substantive arguments was mentioned or alluded to here.
Ms. Erbe continues:
"He writes, 'Although her accusations are quite preposterous, I will live up to my burden of rejoinder by analyzing them because crazed feminists multiply and become more powerful when good men think theyre (sic) above responding to them.' His 'burden of rejoinder'? Puh-leeze!!!
Burden of rejoinder is a term that remains embedded in my mind from my years in college debate. It can be defined as "The affirmative team assumes the burden of proof, i.e., to prove that the proposition is probably true. The negative team assumes the burden of rejoinder, i.e., to attack the affirmative team's arguments." I assumed this burden by refuting Ms. Dombrowski screed assertion by assertion. I took it up again when I answered my critics with a follow-up article and another that appeared shortly after the second. The burden of rejoinder is never met by saying, "Puh-leeze!!!" Valley Girl lingo is not the stuff of high debate. Think about this in relation to the title which includes "unguided." Who should be guiding internet writers? Think of how condescending that word is along with its reek of totalitarianism. Should we guided by people who don't know what the burden of rejoinder means? Why shouldn't we be allowed to think for ourselves?
Ms. Erbe identifies my spelling error which then becomes her entire rationale for dismissing my positions [she can't very well address any of the issues I raised]. She concludes, "I chose his work merely as an example of what passes for punditry, thanks to the Internet. No apparent editing, no correction, no questioning of his claims. Just write it, hit the "send" button, and you're global."
And that's that. I forgot an apostrophe so I'm an idiot who must be shunned. There are many things I can say here but the first is that substance should be reflexively favored over style. When arguing you should refute your opponent's ideas, and once you have done so you are then free to make whatever stylistic objections you wish. That there are few Nabokovs on the internet is a given, but the same can be said about the mainstream media.
Of course, I concede that I do make spelling errors on a regular basis. Those times in which I have had exposure to a top-notch blue pencil
1 were most rewarding. That is the reason that "Editor" is a job title so well known to the general public. They are useful, but, in their absence, a writer making grammatical errors is quite common. I have interviewed persons so intellectually powerful that I am not fit to touch their keyboards,
2 but their correspondence was often filled with the same type of errors that I commit. The reason for this is that our minds process information at a rate far faster than that of our fingers. Speed of processing errors mean very little on their own.
Yet, what is so priceless about this is that Ms. Erbe makes a clerical error of her own. Here our guide, our mighty mainstream media Sherpa provides a link for "Bernard Chapin" which turns out to be a link for the article by Ms. Dombrowski. Now ordinarily, due to my own highly evident fallibility, I would never make mention of this, but Ms. Erbe's self-righteous argument-what there is of it-entirely hinges on amateurs like your narrator being clueless rubes in comparison to the overpaid mandarins of the press.
As to her remark about the no questioning of claims, I had them questioned quite vigorously after the publication of the first piece which is why I responded with two more pieces of my own. I'll send this article to Ms. Erbe and we'll see if she does the same thing. Does anyone have any predictions?
Bernard Chapin is a writer living in Chicago. He is the author of Escape from Gangsta Island, and is currently at work on a book concerning women. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1 Such as the one wielded by S.T. Karnick when he was at Hudson.
2 And if I'm not fit to touch their keyboards, imagine what Ms. Erbe would not be fit to touch.