Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Crying, Over You

Recently Megan McArdle wrote a post saying that mental illnesses should not have parity with other illnesses of the body, that monopolies help the consumer, and teachers are too lazy to improve in their jobs. Then she complained that people were being mean to her.

Note to My Angry Liberal Interlocutors

Before you pop off at me, would you please try to read all the words in the post? In order?

I say this because in the past few weeks, I've had a notable uptick of incidents where someone berates me by saying, "Well how come you don't think we need to help mentally ill people who have jobs!" or "You're completely ignoring the possibility that once a company gets a monopoly, they will jack up prices!", when I have spent a paragraph or so discussing exactly the problem that they are angrily demanding that I address . . . or rather, angrily declaring that my failure to understand this point is evidence of my total hypocrisy/ideological blindness/hatred of the unfortunate.

I have many flaws. There is no need to go fabricating imaginary ones.

There are many issues in this short post that could be disputed. For instance:

The people disagreeing with McArdle are all liberals.
The liberals are very angry at McArdle and pop off at her.
The liberals don't read what she wrote.
Her discussions actually address the counter-arguments.
Her discussions successfully negate the counter-arguments.

But my main question is, who declared that Megan McArdle is immune from criticism? She writes for the public, she appears in the public media, she has comments on her blog, and she states her opinions with unequivocal conviction. Of course she is criticized. Some journalists are proud of being criticized, because it means they are doing their job. But McArdle seems to feel that nobody should disagree with what she writes and that she shouldn't have to put up with dissent.

Perhaps the problem is that she is being forced to defend her principles, ideas and opinions, instead of grandly tossing them off and ignoring their effect on other people's lives. Perhaps the circle of admirers is getting smaller and nuttier. Perhaps having to defend the indefensible is getting just a tiny bit harder.

No matter. This is a great time to advocate for the dissolution of government services and a winner-take-all ethos. McArdle might very well end up the crown princess of Hell.


Dillon said...

Megan is fine with people disagreeing with her arguments, because that is the game she is paid to play. If liberals address her bad-faith arguments, she has managed to frame the discussion on her terms. She makes her dishonest arguments, liberals disagree, and the disagreement can be chalked up to philosophical differences or some kind of 'misunderstanding'.

McArdle draws the line at people questioning her intellectual honesty, however, because without the assumption that she is acting in good faith, her whole schtick falls apart. That's why she throws these periodic pity parties. Megan can't afford to be seen as dishonest hack, where her "failure to understand (the) point is evidence of (her) total hypocrisy/ideological blindness/hatred of the unfortunate".

M. Bouffant said...

Not sure she's really defending the "defenseless," more like the indefensible.[/pedant]

Susan of Texas said...

Thanks, Mr. B.

Dillon, I agree. She's also intellectual vain, and hates to have her authority questioned.

Dillon said...

Yep, that too. She thinks her arguments are so persuasive that if people don't agree, the problem must lie with the reader (you misunderstood me, etc.).

At that point, Megan gets all snotty and condescending when having to re-explain herself to her critics, because we are wasting her valuable time that could be better spent planning her wedding.

Clever Pseudonym said...

I love this post. Megan admits she has many flaws, the catch is they're just fabricated from the imagination of liberals.

aimai said...

I think the thing that strikes me about McCardle, in this an all other posts, is that she has a job peddling propaganda to the masses--all well and good, society needs lots of things, even people to carry out the shit for the upper classess--but she seems to think that she is paid simply to speak her beautiful mind to the ambient air.

She becomes upset, and, as Dillon says, throws herself a "pity party" every time the ambient air speaks back to her and says "wait, that doesn't make any sense" or" you are factually incorrect." This enrages her because she imagines that herself to be writing things that are obviously and trivially true, even if they have (apparently) not been articulated to her satisfaction before. Despite the bloggy setting she does not imagine herself to be engaged in a back and forth with her readers. She is writing down her beautiful thoughts and putting them into a drawer and imagining what will happen when the wondering world discovers her.

This is one reason we are continually surprised to discover, and rediscover, that she is 38 and not 18--because this is the attitude of the teenager writing her first earnest essays. She's done all the work she thinks anyone could ever have done! She's had all the insights necessary! She's pushed herself very far. And now its come back graded by the TA and he marked up all her best passages and made gentle fun of the lines that always got a round of applause from her parents and her best friend.

This, it seems to me, is why her responses to her readers is always so hysterical, unprofessional, and...well...I hate to put it this way but girlish. To her, if we disagree, we always seem to be coming at her unfairly, picking her up on little points, not respecting her goals or her good intentions. The genre here is not economic analysis but romance--Megan's with herself, or Megan's with capitalism. (Susan's brilliant comment, over at Roger Ailes' site, compares Megan's writing in the Atlantic to The Story of O. And, of course, "O" was not merely a pornographic novel but specifically a romantic gesture within a dying romance: the author wrote the book, about sexual submission and humiliation as a gift to an indifferent lover, as a gift to her indifferent lover, a tool to woo him back as she aged out of being able to hold his interest. This comparison perfectly encapsulates the weird quality of Megan's writing--its not really directed at her readers, as such. She always rejects their observations and insights unless they agree with her--its always done in service to a distant, uncommitted, neglectful lover: capitalism, wealth.