Thursday, January 13, 2005

previous entry | main | next entry | TrackBack (0)

Can the New York Times and booger jokes co-exist?

Over at Slate, Bryan Curtis has a subversive proposal regarding Dave Barry and the Grey Lady:

Here's an idea: As soon as William Safire shuffles off to the Old Columnists' Home, put Barry smack dab in the middle of the Times editorial page. Barry confessed a few years ago that he's a raving libertarian—just the kind of dyspeptic crank who would take pleasure in thumbing Washington in the eye. Give him 14 inches twice a week and let him write whatever he wants. Why settle for another graying libertarian when you can have a libertarian who makes booger jokes?

The big question -- aside from how quickly the Timesmen dismissed this suggestion -- is whether Barry would give up his blog to do it.

posted by Dan on 01.13.05 at 11:27 AM


I don't know that what the NYT's Op-Ed page suffers from is a shortage of snark. Bimbopundit seems to have that covered.

If not, what about a columnist who takes pleasure in poking spoiled, self-indulgent libertarians in the eye? Let's face it, "Washington" gets criticized by everyone all the time. Parts of it may react to an individual column, but most critical columns draw little or no response. How much fun is that?

Libertarians, on the other hand, can be relied upon to throw highly entertaining tantrums whenever they are criticized. Sometimes it doesn't even take criticism, just self-evident observations about what is really behind libertarians' opposition to drug laws (they want to be able to buy and use drugs without having to get them from black people in undesirable parts of town), religion (churches are always hassling people about sleeping around. Plus they ask for money a lot) or Michael Powell (he's against bad language on TV, and bad language is, like, cool). A steady diet of Hardees' Monster Thickburgers over the course of a decade wouldn't generate as many heart attacks as making any of these observations to a roomful of libertarians.

Libertarians are more fun to mock than fat people, and way more fun than Marxists. Seriously, it's mildly amusing once to hear a Marxist on some American university faculty explain that his ideology has nothing to do with Stalin, because genuine Marxism would be more discriminating about the people it sent to gulags and have a much more humane secret police. But after a while that gets pretty boring, and besides there aren't that many Marxists in this country. Even Kevin Drum's comment board doesn't have that many. I don't think.

But there are a lot of libertarians around, even if you subtract the people who drift away from libertarianism once they have kids of their own. Libertarians are not only excitable, they can be very creative, and they could no more ignore a New York Times columnist making fun of them than moths can ignore a flame. Honestly, The Times goes to a lot of unnecessary trouble stirring people up with biased news stories, misleading headlines and things of that kind. An Op-Ed columnist who regularly made fun of libertarians would be guaranteed to keep a large and vocal pool of people permanently stirred up at very little cost. How little? My agent will have that information.

posted by: Zathras on 01.13.05 at 11:27 AM [permalink]


No comments for 47 minutes. Must be less libertarians out there than we think, or they all are working on their 102nd rereading of Atlas Shrugged.

posted by: Appalled Moderate on 01.13.05 at 11:27 AM [permalink]

Some of us libertarians are not as easily provoked as Zathras suggests, and can recognize tongue-in-cheek.

Then again, I'm one of those libertarians who can't stand Ayn Rand.

posted by: fling93 on 01.13.05 at 11:27 AM [permalink]

Could a guy whose favorite line is "I swear I'm not making this up" possibly fit in at a paper which has officially disavowed any interest in whether or not its columnists are making things up?

posted by: Paul Zrimsek on 01.13.05 at 11:27 AM [permalink]

Post a Comment:


Email Address:



Remember your info?