The essential predicate for a charge of sexual assault of an adult is a lack of consent on part of the victim. Nothing in Charlotte Waters’ original complaint, which has been modestly removed from Reddit, but happily remains available via the Wayback Machine, even begins to allege that she had failed to consent to any sexual act, any photo opportunity, or any other aspect of her modeling encounter with Terry Richardson. Interestingly enough, as any journalist ought to know, actual malice as the essential predicate of liability for libel is defined as “knowledge that the information was false” or that it was published “with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not” (New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254 (1964)). Thus in failing to align his accusation of Terry Richardson with the content of published allegations against the latter, Justin Jones acts with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not, and therefore willfully commits libel on behalf of The Daily Beast.
Finley Peter Dunne (1867-1936) as Mr Dooley
Vanity Fair, 27 July 1905
“Wanst,” said Mr. Hennessy. “But it wasn’t me. It was another Hinnissy. Was you?”
“Manny times,” said Mr. Dooley. “Whin I was prom’nent socyally, ye cud hardly pick up a pa-aper without seein’ me name in it an’ th’ amount iv th’ fine. Ye must lade a very simple life. Th’ newspaper is watchin’ most iv us fr’m th’ cradle to th’ grave, an’ befure an’ afther. Whin I was a la-ad thrippin’ continted over th’ bogs iv Roscommon, ne’er an iditor knew iv me existence, nor I iv his. Whin annything was wrote about a man ‘twas put this way: ‘We undhershtand on good authority that M—l—chi H—-y, Esquire, is on thrile before Judge G——n on an accusation iv l—c—ny. But we don’t think it’s true.’ Nowadays th’ larceny is discovered be a newspa-aper. Th’ lead pipe is dug up in ye’er back yard be a rayporther who knew it was there because he helped ye bury it. A man knocks at ye’er dure arly wan mornin’ an’ ye answer in ye’er nighty. ‘In th’ name iv th’ law, I arrist ye,’ says th’ man seizin’ ye be th’ throat. ‘Who ar-re ye?’ ye cry. ‘I’m a rayporther f’r th’ Daily Slooth,’ says he. ‘Phottygrafter, do ye’er jooty!’ Ye’re hauled off in th’ circylation wagon to th’ newspaper office, where a con-fission is ready f’r ye to sign; ye’re thried be a jury iv th’ staff, sintinced be th’ iditor-in-chief an’ at tin o’clock Friday th’ fatal thrap is sprung be th’ fatal thrapper iv th’ fam’ly journal.
“Th’ newspaper does ivrything f’r us. It runs th’ polis foorce an’ th’ banks, commands th’ milishy, conthrols th’ ligislachure, baptizes th’ young, marries th’ foolish, comforts th’ afflicted, afflicts th’ comfortable, buries th’ dead an’ roasts thim aftherward. They ain’t annything it don’t turn its hand to fr’m explaining th’ docthrine iv thransubstantiation to composin’ saleratus biskit. Ye can get anny kind iv information ye want to in ye’er fav’rite newspaper about ye’ersilf or annywan else. What th’ Czar whispered to th’ Imp’ror Willum whin they were alone, how to make a silk hat out iv a wire matthress, how to settle th’ coal sthrike, who to marry, how to get on with ye’er wife whin ye’re married, what to feed th’ babies, what doctor to call whin ye’ve fed thim as directed,—all iv that ye’ll find in th’ pa-apers.
“They used to say a man’s life was a closed book. So it is but it’s an open newspaper. Th’ eye iv th’ press is on ye befure ye begin to take notice. Th’ iditor obsarves th’ stork hoverin’ over th’ roof iv 2978½ B Ar-rchey Road an’ th’ article he writes about it has a wink in it. ‘Son an’ heir arrives f’r th’ Hon’rable Malachi Hinnissy,’ says th’ pa-aper befure ye’ve finished th’ dhrink with th’ doctor. An’ afther that th’ histhry iv th’ offspring’s life is found in th’ press:
“‘It is undhershtud that there is much excitement in th’ Hinnissy fam’ly over namin’ th’ lates’ sign. Misther Hinnissy wishes it called Pathrick McGlue afther an uncle iv his, an’ Mrs. Hinnissy is in favor iv namin’ it Alfonsonita afther a Pullman car she seen wan day. Th’ Avenin Fluff offers a prize iv thirty dollars f’r th’ bes’ name f’r this projeny. Maiden ladies will limit their letters to three hundherd wurruds.’
“‘Above is a snap shot iv young Alfonsonita McGlue Hinnissy, taken on his sicond birthday with his nurse, Miss Angybel Blim, th’ well-known specyal nurse iv th’ Avenin’ Fluff. At th’ time th’ phottygraft was taken, th’ infant was about to bite Miss Blim which accounts f’r th’ agynized exprission on that gifted writer’s face. Th’ Avenin Fluff offers a prize iv four dollars to th’ best answer to th’ question: “What does th’ baby think iv Miss Blim?”‘
“‘Young Alf Hinnissy was siven years ol’ yisterdah. A rayporther iv th’ Fluff sought him out an’ indeavored to intherview him on th’ Nicaragooan Canal, th’ Roomanyan Jews, th’ tahriff an’ th’ thrusts. Th’ comin’ statesman rayfused to be dhrawn on these questions, his answer bein’ a ready, “Go chase ye’ersilf, ye big stiff!” Afther a daylightful convarsation th’ rayporther left, bein’ followed to th’ gate be his janial young host who hit him smartly in th’ back with a brick. He is a chip iv th’ ol’ block.’
“‘Groton, Conn., April 8. Ye’er rayporther was privileged to see th’ oldest son iv th’ Hon’rable Malachi Hinnissy started at this siminary f’r th’ idjacation iv young Englishmen bor-rn in America. Th’ heir iv th’ Hinnissys was enthered at th’ exclusive school thirty years befure he was bor-rn. Owin’ to th’ uncertainty iv his ancesthors he was also enthered at Vassar. Th’ young fellow took a lively intherest in th’ school. Th’ above phottygraft riprisints him mathriculatin’. Th’ figures at th’ foot ar-re Misther an’ Mrs. Hinnissy. Those at th’ head ar-re Profissor Peabody Plantagenet, prisident iv th’ instichoochion an’ Officer Michael H. Rafferty. Young Hinnissy will remain here till he has a good cukkin’ idjacation.’
“‘Exthry Red Speshul Midnight Edition. Mumps! Mumps! Mumps! Th’ heir iv th’ Hinnissy’s sthricken with th’ turr’ble scoorge. Panic on th’ stock exchange. Bereaved father starts f’r th’ plague spot to see his afflicted son. Phottygrafts iv Young Hinnissy at wan, two, three, eight an’ tin. Phottygrafts iv th’ house where his father was born, his mother, his aunt, his uncle, Profissor Plantagenet, Groton School, th’ gov’nor iv Connecticut, Chansy Depoo, statue iv Liberty, Thomas Jefferson, Niagara Falls be moonlight. Diagram iv jaw an’ head showin’ th’ prob’ble coorse iv the Mumpococeus. Intherviews with J. Pierpont Morgan, Terry McGovern, Mary MeLain, Jawn Mitchell, Lyman J. Gage, th’ Prince iv Wales, Sinitor Bivridge, th’ Earl iv Roslyn, an’ Chief Divry on Mumps. We offer a prize iv thirty million dollars in advertisin’ space f’r a cure f’r th’ mumps that will save th’ nation’s pride. Later, it’s croup.’
“An’ so it goes. We march through life an’ behind us marches th’ phottygrafter an’ th’ rayporther. There are no such things as private citizens. No matther how private a man may be, no matther how secretly he steals, some day his pitcher will be in th’ pa-aper along with Mark Hanna, Stamboul 2:01½, Fitzsimmons’ fightin’ face, an’ Douglas, Douglas, Tin dollar shoe. He can’t get away fr’m it. An’ I’ll say this f’r him, he don’t want to. He wants to see what bad th’ neighbors are doin’ an’ he wants thim to see what good he’s doin’. He gets fifty per cint iv his wish; niver more. A man keeps his front window shade up so th’ pa-apers can come along an’ make a pitcher iv him settin’ in his iligant furnished parlor readin’ th’ life iv Dwight L. Moody to his fam’ly. An’ th’ lad with th’ phottygraft happens along at th’ moment whin he is batin’ his wife. If we wasn’t so anxious to see our names among those prisint at th’ ball, we wudden’t get into th’ pa-apers so often as among those that ought to be prisint in th’ dock. A man takes his phottygraft to th’ iditor an’ says he: ‘Me attintion has been called to th’ fact that ye’d like to print this mug iv a prom’nent philanthropist;’ an’ th’ iditor don’t use it till he’s robbed a bank. Ivrybody is inthrested in what ivrybody else is doin’ that’s wrong. That’s what makes th’ newspapers. An’ as this is a dimmycratic counthry where ivrybody was bor-rn akel to ivrybody else, aven if they soon outgrow it, an’ where wan man’s as good as another an’ as bad, all iv us has a good chanst to have his name get in at laste wanst a year.
“Some goes in at Mrs. Rasther’s dinner an’ some as victims iv a throlley car, but ivrybody lands at last. They’ll get ye afther awhile, Hinnissy. They’ll print ye’er pitcher. But on’y wanst. A newspaper is to intertain, not to teach a moral lesson.”
“D’ye think people likes th’ newspapers iv th’ prisint time?” asked Mr. Hennessy.
“D’ye think they’re printed f’r fun?” said Mr. Dooley.
Charles Simic asseverates, without adducing a shred of evidence or articulating a scintilla of argument, that the chief mission of NRA and other gun lobbies is “to drum up business for the 1,200 gun makers in this country”. Let’s see how his claim holds up.
In 2012, according to an analysis by business research firm Hoovers, the gun and ammunition industry in the U.S. generated an estimated $6 billion in revenue. In comparison, Exxon Mobil alone generated $482 billion, with WalMart coming in at $469 billion. Outside of the oil and gas and retail industries, we find Apple at $156 billion, closely followed by General Motors, General Electric, and Berkshire Hathaway at $150, $147, and $144 billion. In the general scheme of things, the aggregate revenue of the U.S. gun industry would place it around relative pipsqueaks on the order of Hershey and Kodak.
If the strength of the gun lobby is owed to the industrial base of its suppliers, why don’t we hear about the politics of chocolate bars or film stock unfairly dominating American lunch counters and movie theaters? Could it be that NRA, in deriving nearly half of its revenues from individual membership dues, functions as a legitimate conduit of public interest, no less so than the Supreme Court of the United States, in affirming the individual right to keep and bear small arms that are commonly used for self-defense and appropriate for service in the militia, including Simic’s bugaboos, “not only hunting rifles but also military-style murder weapons and even hollow-point rounds that are banned in warfare”? Is it possible that Simic bemoans this publicly disclosed and thoroughly litigated state of affairs for want of journalistic integrity that begins with accounting for the financial data and studying the legal rulings of our court of last resort?
As witness Dan Baum interpreting the politics of guns in terms of “the power of the individual in relation to the collective, and the extent to which each of us needs to live by the permission of the rest”, an American liberal need not be a nanny statist. Likewise Seventh Circuit Judge Richard A. Posner, self-identified as a “pragmatic classical liberal”, who invalidated under the Second Amendment an Illinois law, the last in the land to forbid most people, though not politicians, from carrying a loaded gun in public. Simic’s demagogical legerdemain is far more plausibly attributable to intellectual dishonesty than political convictions.
As Harry Callahan has taught us, man’s got to know his limitations.
Shills for asexuality are foredoomed to reenact Hitler’s favorite joke:
Hitler: My dog’s got no nose!
Soldier: How does he smell?
It has been settled over two millennia, that “there are some eunuchs, who were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, who were made eunuchs of men: and there are eunuchs, who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake.” But any kind of eunuch who won’t stop complaining about our inauthentic celebration of sex, wields no more authority than the blind grousing about our gaudy garb or the deaf clamoring against our cacophonous conversation.
“A normal person who does insane things on the internet” is an oxymoron. We all are a little bit insane, in our online capacities. What separates the men from the boys is the willingness to extend this insanity into the realspace.
In the course of promoting his pop psychology treatise, The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement (Random House, 2011), David Brooks has been disseminating the claim that 94 or 95 percent of professors in America say that they are above average in teaching skills. (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, etc.) The browsing functionality of Amazon.com permits all interested parties to find and read the relevant pages 218 and 397 in his book, which credit page 73 of another specimen of the same genre, penned by Andrew Newberg and Mark Robert Waldman, Why We Believe What We Believe: Uncovering our Biological Need for Meaning, Spirituality, and Truth, The Free Press, 2006. In its turn, endnote 8 on p. 286 in that book credits the statistics of professorial overconfidence to an article by Janet Metcalfe, “Cognitive optimism: self-deception or memory-based processing heuristics?”, published in Personality and Social Psychological Review, 2 (1988), pp. 100-110. The referenced article is available in its entirety from several online sources. (1, 2, 3.) Needless to say, it says nothing that remotely resembles the foregoing claim.
Update: Tracing the notion of Lake Wobegon, where “all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average” yields a reference to P. Cross, “Not can but will college teachers be improved?”, New Directions for Higher Education, 17, 1977, pp. 1–15, said to describe a study at the three branches of the University of Nebraska, where in responding to questionnaires that asked professors to rate their teaching abilities, 94% of the faculty considered themselves above average in teaching ability and 68% placed their teaching abilities in the top 25%. This likely source of Brooks’ statistic is not nearly as expansive as the countrywide claim that he erroneously credited to Metcalfe. It would be preposterous to claim that a certain percentage of professors in three branches of a single university in Nebraska, a state whose economy depends on delusional overconfidence, can stand proxy for the same proportion of their profession throughout America.