Tuesday, July 11, 2006
THE LITTLEST EICHMANN
irst, let me assert for the record that everything I have written on this page for the past 2+ years represent the true feelings and opinions of a real person. Many readers know who I am, but the blog is anonymous for very good reasons. When I write something here, it won't be anything that I wouldn't say were we to be sitting face to face around my kitchen table. But unfortunately, the inter-tubes is not like my kitchen table -- there are some freakazoids out there that I don't want anywhere near my kitchen, or my family. Thus, when expressing myself here on the news of the day, or telling stories from Thailand, Aceh or elsewhere, it's genuinely what Agam (my actual self) really and truly thinks, sees and/or experiences. There is no fantasy persona constructed for some bizarre psychological reasons, as is so common on Sen. Stevens' inter-tubes these days. It's a real person over here, not a pretense. You know one of my names but not the other. That's all.
But not everybody works that way. Anonymity is frequently a shield behind which individuals construct a personality they wish they could be in real life, or in many cases, something grotesque and frightening to intimidate opponents on a faceless battlefield. In an environment of extreme polarisation on the plains of discourse, conditions are set for the debate to sometimes get way out of control, and people will say and do things behind their masks that they would never say or do in real life, to real people. Yet even that seeming truism might be showing a little too much faith in human nature because sometimes, apparently, they would.
I've been watching what innumerable observers have been calling a "slow motion train wreck" over the past 4 days or so, although that analogy seems insufficient to me. I can't imagine having this much fascination with an actual train wreck, slow motion or otherwise. I apologise to visitors for having not provided anything new to read here last week, but this is my excuse. I'd set aside some time for writing a couple of articles (which may yet come, or not), but could not pull myself away from following the unfolding disaster. I also happened to be present at the scene and time of impact, which is a place I happen to like very much. Plus, being witness to the birth of a new verb was sort of cool, so there's that.
By now, some will recognise that I'm referring to the Deb Frisch Affair, wherein a poster-child for Michelle Malkin's "Unhinged" thesis went trolling for outrage over at Jeff Goldstein's place. Now, Jeff is extremely and fervently hated by the online radical left, but that's certainly not why he's one of my favourite writers. The guy is an conceptual artist, with words. Whether the piece is a humorous installment in one of his conceptual series' or elaboration on intentionalism in literary theory -- or even a conversation with an item of food -- it always means something, stirs the intellect, encourages one to think in new ways not always obvious. The mind always gets a good workout (providing one is willing to get it up off its metaphorical butt), whether one agrees with Jeff or not. Plus, he's an actual classical liberal in the truest sense, in contrast with so many knee-jerk reactionists who too often stain the term "liberal."
I've been reading protein wisdom since the end of his hiatus a couple of years ago, and I don't think I've missed much of his writing since then. Lately, I've also been reading through the commentary on his articles, because his regular commenters are such a knowledgable and entertaining crew, but also because he welcomes contrary commenters with an open policy. Discussion is robust and interesting -- Jeff has a high tolerance for those whose aim is to disrupt, but it isn't infinite. Still, it's one of the freest venues anywhere for unfettered debate, and it's an infrequent troublemaker who actually gets banned from posting. He has more patience with such people than any other blogger I know of.
Jeff also draws more blind hatred from (mostly) anonymous commenters and bloggers than one would think possible. A few other writers have tried recently to analyze why this might be the case, since the phenomenon seems so completely over the top when considered in the context of his actual writings -- much of which appears to be sailing clear over the heads of those who hate him so. So "not getting it" seems to be a factor, but there's a lot more to it. He sometimes uses graphic or sexual humour (for a reason!), but somehow I doubt his hate-club members are otherwise puritanical about such things. The way many of them behave, I can imagine their real-life dialogues like, "Hey dude, didja see what they said on SNL last nite? It was about titties, huh huh huh!" And then settling down to a google search of Jeff's site to pull up all the off-colour satire quotes from years of archives, to string together in a ground-breaking "expose" and psychoanalysis devoid of any whiff of context, clapping each other on the back that their dishonest smear-job will be the definitive "smackdown" of protein wisdom. Sadly, Nyet.
By far the best analysis of why Jeff is so hated by the unhinged, appeared a few weeks ago on Ace of Spades HQ. I think Ace hits all the main points just right. Jeff is perceived as a threat, but much more than that, he has strayed off the identity plantation. He's supposed to be one of them -- the "progressivist" intellectual elite -- and is thus seen as a traitor to the "cause." A heretic or apostate of the most dangerous kind. His example shows many of these people how illiberal they actually are, which is a threat to their very identity. So it becomes personal, when the central fallacies of identity politics are exposed -- very, very personal. Enough so, that supposed spokespeople for "tolerance" have been seen to implode with uncontrollable fits of gay bashing and racism (usually the very first two weapons to be drawn).
One of these meltdowns took place last week in Jeff's comments section, unfortunately for him, an increasingly common occurrence lately. He had only just relieved his readers of one particularly obnoxious individual, who had made a vile reference to Jeff's 2 year old son. The guy apologised privately and promised not to comment any more (it was out of his hands by then, being banned for it) -- and then went over to lefty "progressive" sites to boast of his victory and enjoy the accolades. I suspect (but don't know, for sure) that the specimen known as "southwestpaw" was thereby inspired to try her hand at the same technique. But there was a difference here, in that she signed her posts with a link to her own blog, and was completely open about who she really is.
I watched the appearance of this person, and her descent into madness with utter fascination, and a small sense of dread. The lack of any rational argument was the first clue that she had other things in mind. She drew out the taunts of the commentariat with ease, owing to her mindless invective, bereft of actual rational content. As she began her final descent, most people were simply leaving her junk alone (usually such people will give up in boredom, once ignored). But she kept at it, getting cruder and sicker, demanding to be "banned." I had a mental image at the time of this Deborah (southwestpaw) Frisch, at home having a little party with some tolerant, progressive friends, laying a bet that she could get "Pasty" Goldstein to ban her before 9pm. That's exactly how she sounded. She was putting on such a show of her own that Jeff didn't see any need to ban her -- as I say, he has a high tolerance for idiocy, for the idiot is his (or her) own worst enemy.
Deb Frisch was so pissed that she didn't get banned by 9pm, that at 9:03 she pulled out all the stops. She must have had a lot riding on that bet, if my suspicion is correct. She made thinly veiled threats against Jeff's beautiful little boy, writing that she wouldn't mind if both of them would be shot in the head. "You are not human to me," she wrote. Bear in mind, this didn't come out of disagreement about some issue or other, it was simply derived from a deep well of hatred. Identity hatred, I guess you'd call it. But it wasn't a one-time deal where she'd do one extreme thing, then go someplace more friendly to crow about her warrior-ess-ness. She carried it further, alluding to somebody doing a "Jon Benet Ramsey" on Jeff's boy (several times), and even a bit of sicko sexual abuse.
Remember, this wasn't coming from email@example.com. She was proudly doing this as Deborah Frisch, adjunct professor of psychology at the University of Arizona, providing a handy link to her own website containing years of her own inane writings and "poetry." A cursory check of her history on the inter-tubes also showed that she had previously held a position at the National Science Foundation (!) as a "decision scientist" specialising in "risk management" (!!). Someone turned up a webpage detailing her invitation to FBI headquarters at Quantico, as a resource for a workshop on how such fields relate to terrorism investigations (!!!). I'm sorry, but it's completely impossible to make this stuff up.
Needless to say, she wasn't done yet by any means. Jeff's final post, before his site was struck by multiple DDOS (distributed denial of service) attacks, and put out of commission, detailed her deranged slide in her own words, and warning her of the consequences. In a comment therein, he made a prediction: "When I’m done with you, Deb, you’re going to be an internet verb."
I trust we all know about fisking and dowdifying by now. Trust me, you don't ever want to go on any frisching expeditions, ever. Although I would have preferred a somewhat broader term, along the lines of: [frisch - v. : the act of rhetorical suicide bombing, whereby the bomber is the sole casualty]. Or something like that.
So Jeff's site was attacked by DDOS bots from hell, and one had to go looking elsewhere to find out what was happening. A good synopsis and update was found at BLACKFIVE, written by someone who knows Jeff and his family. A few other links I'd saved while his site was disabled (and I was intending to write on it over the weekend), was this one at Hot Air, while Gaius had thoughts on Blue Crab Boulevard, and more at Flopping Aces. By now of course, dozens if not hundreds of bloggers have weighed in on the matter.
Jeff got his site up and running again for a day or so, before it was hit with another concerted effort to shut him down. During this period, the "decision scientist" was alternately apologising, un-apologising, boasting of her feats on like-minded lefty sites, resigning her University of Arizona position, claiming she "was going to resign anyway" because she preferred to live in Eugene since it's under "moonbat rule." A pathetically few honourable lefty bloggers castigated her mildly for the creepy behaviour, while giving a platform for their own commenting minions to cheer her blow against the "wingnut-osphere." Because Goldstein is evil, and Moonbattia has always been at war with Goldstein. Or something.
Hey. In Orwell's 1984, wasn't the sole surviving free thinker, whom everyone under Big Brother's gaze must hate, named Emmanuel Goldstein? Serendipity, perhaps.
In all this, Jeff Goldstein has shown remarkable restraint -- much more than I think most of us could muster under similar circumstances. His site is back up again now, on a new host. There are going to be expenses involved for him, and I encourage anyone so inclined to visit, and hit his tip jar. Frisch had contacted him in the last day or two, asking him to remove a link posted by a commenter, which led to an Arizona Star newspaper article about her and her domestic partner. He agreed to do so, out of hopes to de-escalate the situation -- even though a published news story is hardly an infringement of privacy. She immediately posted an insulting Photoshop of him on her own site! I'm not linking -- if you want to visit her page and read the inanity, you'll find it at one of the above links. But here is what she doesn't want you to see, yet they were presumably happy to pose for in less deranged times.
Frisch is a proud serial inter-tubes stalker of long standing, with a history going back several years. She's targeted online economist sites, law blogs and the like, when she finds one worthy of her hate. It's easy enough to follow the trail, for anyone so inclined. Oh, and she simply lurrrves Ward Churchill, penning a "psychologist's defense" of his "Little Eichmanns" thesis last year (that those people killed in 9/11 were deserving little Eichmanns). Now her chickens have come home to roost, and she "did a full Ward Churchill" in a fraction of the time Ward himself took.
The "littlest Eichmann" of course, according to her own conduct, is a beautiful young child who hopefully will never know any of this. He would be an "Eichmann" by very reason of his existence, the progeny of her target of hatred would deserve anything she could dish out, being that he is part of the enemy camp. So very, very sick, that words fail at this point. She should not ever hold a teaching position, or indeed any professional position again in her life. And she ought to consider herself very lucky if the whole thing ended now, and her former acquaintances at the FBI don't come calling for a chat. Or Family Services, for that matter.
But it may already be too late for Deb's scandal to be confined to the blogosphere. She kept up the loony behaviour even while friends were advising her to lay low... she just can't seem to leave it alone. Like picking at an itchy scab. Now she has actual MSM coverage of her antics, and she wants to do an interview on Fox News!
I don't believe she is unbalanced, or suffering from some personality disorder, as many of Jeff's commenters generously offered as a possibility. I think she knows exactly what she's doing. Wherever it takes her, it ain't going to be pretty. Like I said at the top, trainwreck doesn't even begin to cover it. I hope never to see another incident like it, but that may be a hope too far.