LGF’s Theater of the Absurd

Dean E. unfolds the theatrical character, both absurdist and totalitarian, of the Little Green Footballs thread where Robert Spencer was denounced as a neo-nazi and expelled from Charles Johnson’s world, even as LGF commenters kept on chatting about computers, TV shows, and astronomy. (As background before reading Dean’s article, here is VFR’s initial response to and blow-by-blow summary of this interesting event, and here is a further comment about the irony, or, rather, the justice, of it all.)

Dean E. writes:

That entire LGF thread reads like some wicked stage farce written by Tom Stoppard based on Koestler’s Darkness at Noon. The thread opens with the usual flurry of idle chatter, one-liners, and silliness typical of an LGF Friday night open thread. And then Charles, LGF’s all-powerful Lizardoid Master, pops in with a terse pronunciamento; “I notice that Gates of Vienna and Brussels Journal are back in the blogroll at Jihad Watch.” (Cue scary organ chord.) There is a traitor in our midst! At first the ominous news is greeted by a drizzle of the usual idle chatter, non-sequiturs, and links to various off-site items. Finally one of the Master’s chief lickspittles takes the hint: “Bummer,” he says, understanding that sentence has been pronounced and now it only remains obediently to carry out the Master’s orders.

The thread carries on with the usual absurd postings, illiterate scrawls, foul-mouthed jesting, and low-brow analysis, with nary a word acknowledging the fearful portent issued from Behind The Curtain. Then another Little Green Lickspittle pops in with a link to where the Accused is accused of associating with an especial target of the Master’s ire. Things are heating up. Not a word is heard in defense of the Accused. The comment “oh no” appears, as if to say, “we all know where this is going to end up!” A steady chatter of inane comments about Halloween, sports teams, and election trivia make a fine absurdist backdrop to the proceedings. [LA comments: This LGF thread was a pot-luck discussion that LGF seems to have on Friday evenings, when posters can bring up any subject they want, and in fact a good part of the thread consisted of chat about computers. So it was as though there was a large social gathering, like a party, with various conversations going on, and in the midst of it the host laconically drops this bomb denouncing his long-time friend and ally.]

A trio of henchmen begin an examination of the Accused that seems to be modeled on that Monty Python skit, the one where a witch is proved a witch if she sinks in water. Verdict: the Accused is a Racist! It’s the kiss of death. The news is greeted by an oblivious sediment of toilet jokes, movie reviews, and Halloween stories. The henchmen continue adding new crimes to their case against the Accused. A commenter posts to say he is crushed, since he had so admired the Accused. (Must be a new poster to so rashly stick his neck out for a doomed man.)

Suddenly the dread words of the Master appear on screen: “When I was still bothering to check Brussels Journal, I saw some extremely hateful anti-Semitism at the site. I guess Robert has chosen his side.” So Master saw a comment not to his liking at a website the Accused failed to condemn. Off with his head! But the Master, that very model of compassion and temperance, is sad that “it’s come to this.” A poster pops in to say they haven’t read the thread, but what kind of fun drinking game can we play tonight?

A [deleted] comment appears. Master has the banning stick out. He pops in with a link that condemns the Accused by association, and reports he’s becoming mad. (Mad as a hatter?) Master declares he has de-linked to the Accused’s site—the process of excommunication has begun. The minions muster: “step on them Charles,” and: “they might as well link to Stormfront too,” and: “fascist sympathizers suck,” are mixed in helter-skelter with: “They bettew wun fast past my wigwam … “ and; “I like the accordion,” and; “that “chic” looks like “she needs a shave.”

Master keeps up the prosecution: “And Gates of Vienna has turned into a reeking sewer of racism. I’m done with Robert Spencer. And very, very disappointed in him.” Robert Spencer has been officially declared an apostate. He is the very worst thing in the world: a racist. His properties are forfeit, his reputation shall be slandered, he shall be airbrushed out of the official photographs, he is a non-person and anyone henceforth who associates with him is likewise a racist neo- nazi skinhead monster. Charles has spoken; fear this and tremblingly obey! A terrible blast of fire and smoke belches out from Behind The Curtain.

To this frightful scene the very next Lizardoid responds “Somehow I never pictured you with pink hair.” The next comment is, “Listen to the second movement of Verdi’s Requiem with the volume up.” The next comment is, “Only thing more frightening would me Moe, Larry, Curly.” Like some bizarre parody of Laugh In where trap doors, hatches, and windows open and out pop weirdly attired characters spouting ridiculous drivel while a man’s life and reputation are under serious attack. But then one of the Lizardoid Minions deigns to address the situation. This Minion had previously charged the Accused with race hatred, but another challenged him thus: “I have found his writings to be very factual and level-headed. He never delved in to race or hatred. Could you be more specific?” To which the 1st Minion replies, “Yeah, I recall there was one spot in particular, but I’m about ready to shut down—eyelids getting heavy—and I can’t seem to remember what it was. (Even thumbing through it for a few minutes.)” Such is the appalling level of discourse at LGF.

And then the Accused shows up to defend himself in this idiot parody of a kangaroo court. His opening words, “This will, obviously, be my last post here.”—are shortly to be eaten, but he continues, “I am not a racist or a race supremacist, and oppose all racism and race supremacism.” Clearly this is a useless approach in this venue since not only will denials be taken as proof of guilt, but simply showing up lends dignity, and thus fuel, to the lunatic proceedings. But the Accused has been labeled a racist, a thing that, even to the Accused himself, is the Very Worst Thing In The World. If the charge sticks one could very well find oneself, in good Liberal circles, an outcast, a pariah, a moral leper, scorned, derided, and ignored. Forfend! He must defend. Defense concluded, the Accused leaves the dock with a brave, “That’s all. Good luck.”

This heart-rending scene is followed by the usual inane comments, such as, “Underwater basket weaving isn’t a marketable skill?”, and, “I see Google’s search engine webpage has a nice logo on it for Halloween.” But another Lizardoid sinks in her fangs; “Fascist apologist would be closer to the truth.” Then from the bench the Master responds to Accused’s pitiful appeal, “You’ve chosen a different path than I have, Robert. I refuse to be associated with sites like GoV and Brussels Journal, but if you don’t see why, and pretend not to notice the reasons for it—you’re making a choice. And that choice obviates my support.” The Minions chime in with a chorus of denunciations, and not one word of support.

But then the Accused is back, “One last—pardon me, I know I said I was done, but I had not read all the comments above, particularly from Charles, which comments deeply sadden me.” Accused has thought of an impenetrable defense: “Unless you all are prepared to say that Buruma, the LA Times, West, Kimball, and National Review have “embraced the neo-Nazi movement,” you can’t logically say it about me.” Now if ever there was a comically weak argument to make on LGF it would be, “you can’t logically say.” Oh yes they can! Then the Accused once again signs off for good, “Now that really is all.” [LA comments: Spencer’s argument here was that if Spencer is a neo-Nazi, then various other people are as well, and Johnson should be denouncing them too, with the implication that since he is not denouncing them, therefore Spencer is not really a neo-Nazi either. Some Lizards mocked Spencer for this argument. I disagree. I think it’s an entirely legitimate argument. However, Spencer, by repeating and underscoring the argument, showed that he thought that this was the strongest argument that he could make in his own defense against the neo-Nazi charge, which suggests how ill-prepared he was to deal with this kind of attack. The argument, while logically correct in itself, is problematic in that it could be seen as saying, “Hey, why are you just calling me a Nazi? Why don’t you call those other people Nazis too?” Instead of refuting the Nazi charge, he’s implicitly challenging Johnson to spread it around further. Which, given Johnson’s modus operandi, he might very well do.]

But then he’s back once again to defend himself against some anonymous attacker accusing him of having the wrong friends, by claiming “I do not support the mass deportation of Muslim citizens.” This denial is not believed; “But you went on record as saying he’s [Fjordman] not a neofascist.” And then the coup de grace is administered. A new commenter on the thread named “jdow-antijihad” posts, “Islam is an ideology we must stop before we have to face the grand question, ‘When a group is determined to the last person to wipe out you, your family, your friends, your nation by any means available, is it still evil to commit genocide on them before they can commit genocide on you?’ It’s just the kind of red meat the Master loves serving up to his mindless Minions, and just in the nick of time! Now it’s proved beyond a shadow of a doubt just who the Accused’s friends are. The Master leaves the comment in place, explaining, “Editor’s note: this vile comment remains at LGF to show exactly why this person’s account was blocked.” (Because he’s an evil, right-wing neo-nazi skinhead friend of the Accused! QED!)

The Minions take the hint; “Interesting that JDOW suddenly appears after Robert Spencer comes in here and does his tap dance.” Another replies, “Are you thinking cronie, or are you thinking sock puppet?” Another Minion grovels, “Charles, would you please delete my 883 post. I’m ashamed I even gave this man’s argument a second look. I did not advocate violence but I was still wrong. I apologize.” And then the awful truth comes out: “Someone named jdow posts on Spencer’s site—I just did a quick search while trying not to pollute my eyes.” It’s classic LGF logic: Spencer encourages genocide! And here’s Master to confirm it, “Unbelievable. If I were you, Robert, I’d ask myself some serious questions about what I was doing to encourage the open support for genocide expressed by jdow. Good luck indeed.” he says, as the sinister “medaura18586” comes to escort the poor wretch down into the dank cells below, posting: “The man is a shill of the Discovery Institute, open supporter of Vlaams Belang, and of Putinist Russia.” [LA comments: I wonder how the commenter found all that out about JDOW so quickly.]

It’s like a scene out of Koestler’s Darkness at Noon, where the lunatic ceremonies of the Purge and Show Trial proceed with their demented logic. One wonders if our poor Rubashov is finally going to come around to condemning himself after all, after having been made to see the error of his ways. It’s a sobering thing, to dare the wrath of the Liberal establishment. Especially if one shares, deep down, some of their same basic premises. And so the LGF farce concludes, for the moment, with one wistful Minion saying,” “Damn. Painful thread. Sad to see this development.” And the Lizardoid Master’s final, “There will be more.” [cue scary organ chord]

—end of initial entry—

LA writes:

This is a brilliant (a word I use sparingly) article. You have beautifully demonstrated the bizarre quality of that thread, by going through it step by step and bringing out its meaning.

On a side point, you write:

LGF’s all-powerful Lizardoid Master, pops in with a terse pronunciamento…

I really like that phrase, “terse pronunciamento.” The combination of the short word with the long, fancy word. The English language is unique because of the way it combines short, monosyllabic, generally Anglo-Saxon based words, with longer, Latin-based words (although, in this case, terse is actually a Latin-rooted word).

Here’s an example of what I mean, from Hamlet’s soliloquy in Hamlet, Act IV, Scene 4, after he encounters Fortinbras’ army on its way to a war where 20,000 men will be killed fighting over a little patch of ground, while Hamlet has not roused himself to do the one thing he needs to do:

Examples gross as earth exhort me.

The juxtaposition of the earthy, monosyllabic phrase, “gross as earth,” with the fancy, Latinate word, “exhort”—it’s great.

Dean writes:

Thank you.

You asked how medaural18585 found all that out about JDOW so quickly. “meduara18586” is not referring to “JDOW” here, but to Robert Spencer. Robert Spencer is a “shill of the Discovery Institute, open supporter of Vlaams Belang, and of Putinist Russia.”

When it rains, it pours. Especially on LGF.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at November 02, 2008 12:15 PM | Send

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