Tuesday, April 12, 2005


Michael Berube, liberal Penn State prof, complains at his blog about being punk'd by David Horowitz, political panhandler and proprietor of FrontPage, the rightwing comedy site. Berube participated in one of FP's "debates," where lefties have to deny taking glee in beheadings and mass graves before they can make their first point (which is usually countered with, "So, you say you're against beheadings and mass graves, yet your response suggests. . ."). Seems that, either intentionally or through some kind of computer glitch, Horowitz and his minions chopped out a substantial portion of Berube's argument, making it seem like he was ducking questions or simply unable to withstand the Moral Force of Horowitz's Correct Vision. In any event, Berube bitched about it, called Horowitz a fraud, said he'd never darken FP's url again, and that was that.

Alerted to this, and ever cognizant of the importance of PR, Jamie Glazov, Horowitz's sidekick, assured everyone watching that this was a technical problem, not a political one, and that Berube's response would immediately be posted at FP, which prompted Berube to say that maybe he was too harsh on FP, and perhaps they aren't frauds after all. And yeah yeah yeah . . .

This is what happens when you step into FP's swamp. Shit and leeches stick to you and it takes days, perhaps weeks, to clean yourself off. Berube seems like a smart enough guy, but why he willingly took part in such a fixed fight is beyond me. Anyone who's read FP knows that their "debates" are shit-flinging, lowbrow affairs, so Berube can't claim that it was an academic exercise. Vanity? Masochism? Only Berube can say.

Also, Berube's much too fucking generous to Horowitz. Even when he castigates the panhandler, a wink and a nod follow. Is this 21st century liberalism -- giving domestic fascists the benefit of the doubt? If you wanna debate the guy, do so face to face, with a moderator, in front of an audience. That way no one's arguments are mysteriously lost. If you won't bring it live, then don't bother playing tag on some McCarthyite website. You're guaranteed to lose.

I debated Horowitz for a week via email back in '03, and the guy simply doesn't have it. When he loses on one point, he makes a lot of noise and shifts quickly to something else. He's also into political/personal gainsaying -- no one works harder than he, is smarter, cares more about people and freedom, etc. In short, Horowitz is a hack. And an intellectual fraud. If he wants to challenge that, he or one of his minions can contact me and we can set up a public debate about the war, intellectual freedom, terrorism, whatever. But nothing at FP. Bathing in a public toilet does little to advance ideas.