Commenting on the Comments
My other writing job involves scribing the Friday Op-Ed column for The Frederick News-Post. As they allow on-line commenting at the end of each column and article, anonymous feedback can be ascertained.
It’s the “anonymous” part that I love, as nobody holds back! After following the names people choose for themselves – the part preceding the @ symbol in any e-mail address – over time, much can be learned.
For me, the venting-in-secrecy does it; the same people can be counted on to keep their love-hate attitude pretty predictable. Many comment without even having read the content …like a drive-by shooting! Others comment on each other’s comments, as the strings of original thinking always degenerate over time.
Here are some classic examples. At the end of this column there is a link to the original columns that the comments refer to. However, you will see that is almost unnecessary, based on the real purposes of those commenting: catharsis and purgation, plus a need to be heard.
From last week’s “American War 3” are:
Steve, I understand that creativity may be in short supply down in your reinforced Obamageddon bunker, but it's still no reason to lift references from The Colbert Report without citing the source. And please, please have someone at the FNP (an intern, perhaps) give you a five-minute tutorial on the pitfalls of passive-voiced writing. The structure of your columns – a steadfast reliance on non-sequiturs and rhetoricals – has made them so confounding that it's a struggle to discern where you stand on YOUR OWN COLUMN. As is customary after reading your Friday enigmas, I'm riddled with self-doubt for being unable to find the narrative thread. Is it just me? Was that last hit of acid I did in the eighties a cognitive tipping point of no return? If so, I apologize. I was going to take issue with you commenting on the price tag of the Libyan engagement (after profound silence on the 1 trillion dollar war in Iraq), but I made the mistake of rereading the whole column and became too confused to go on. I'll try again next week. Good luck.
"prognosticators" and "perjorative" Were we in the p's in the dictionary today? LOL
From “Revisiting 9/11” is:
Beyond the normal anger and sadness most of us experience when remembering 9/11, one could easily get the queasy sense that Steve experiences a sort of twisted reverie for the residual effects of that terrible day. It seems that the ensuing American nervous breakdown was not without upsides (to Steve, at least): His hero, President Bush, was presented with his FINEST HOUR, and jingoes were given the green light to hate Muslims first and think later. Steve seems almost wistful at the possibility that President Obama will not ever experience the glory of an historical 9/11 moment – a sick and fundamentally deranged contemplation. Imagine the scene in Steve's writing pit when he sat down to pen this head scratcher: He's clad head to toe in a poor man's Captain America outfit – lots of stars and stripes, even a glistening American flag crash helmet and silk neckerchief. Battle Hymn of the Republic and the The Star Spangled Banner blare continuously on 11. The walls are bare except for the full-body portraits of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. Steve looks to them for one final surge of inspiration, dons his DON'T TREAD ON ME welding goggles, and manically enters the throes of composition. Sometime later – it could be 12 minutes or 12 days – Steve eyes his finished product with a father's beaming pride. "I've done it again," he thinks. "Pure gold."
And, one of my all-time favorites, with proper accreditation:
"He writes the worst English that I have ever encountered. It reminds me of a string of wet sponges; it reminds me of tattered washing on the line; it reminds me of stale bean soup, of college yells, of dogs barking idiotically through endless nights. It is so bad that a sort of grandeur creeps into it. It drags itself out of the dark abysm of pish, and crawls insanely up the topmost pinnacle of posh. It is rumble and bumble. It is flap and doodle. It is balder and dash." – H.L. Menken
From “Real nuclear danger” is:
And then some come to the author’s rescue when the ad hominem attacks become ridiculous:
ManfromMontgoCounty you are a big-mouthed jerk. You must be UNBEARABLE in person. But you know that. I bet you are a lonely, miserable, and angry person.
I liked that last one.
Please note, to let the Editor of TheTentacle.com off the hook here: All of the original typos were left as published, so don’t bother sending anything to: Letters@TheTentacle.com about that.
For reference, here is the link to all of the columns: Steve Berryman, so you won’t think I am making this up!