Tuesdays with Moron: Chatological Humor updates

May 10, 2011

Gene Weingarten's humor column, Below the Beltway, appears every Sunday in The Washington Post magazine. It is syndicated nationally by the Washington Post Writers Group.

At one time or another, Below the Beltway has managed to offend persons of both sexes as well as individuals belonging to every religious, ethnic, regional, political and socioeconomic group. If you know of a group we have missed, please write in and the situation will be promptly rectified. "Rectified" is a funny word.

On one Tuesday each month, Gene is online to take your questions and abuse. He'll also be publishing weekly updates in between his chats. This week, that day was Tuesday, May 10.

Submit questions for Gene's upcoming chats and updates here.

Important, secret note to readers: The management of The Washington Post apparently does not know this chat exists, or it would have been shut down long ago. Please do not tell them. Thank you.

Weingarten is also the author of "The Hypochondriac's Guide to Life. And Death," co-author of "I'm with Stupid," with feminist scholar Gina Barreca and "Old Dogs: Are the Best Dogs," with photographer Michael S. Williamson.

New to Chatological Humor? Read the FAQ.

Ed's Note: If composing your questions in Microsoft Word please turn off the Smart Quotes functionality or use WordPad. I haven't the time to edit them out.

As Dogbert once said in Dilbert, "I like the concept of Karma, it means I can treat people like crap and assume they deserve it."

Excellent.    And, okay, that gives me the opportunity to at long last discuss the Internet foofaraw about Scott Adams.


Several weeks ago, Adams pulled from his website a rant he had written that many people felt was rank misogyny.    The reason he pulled it, he said, was that portions of it were being lifted out of context by people trying to demonize him.

So here, in complete context, is the text in full:


The topic my readers most want me to address is something calledmen’s rights. (See previous post.) This is a surprisingly good topic. It’s dangerous. It’s relevant. It isn’t overdone. And apparently you care.


Let’s start with the laundry list.


According to my readers, examples of unfair treatment of men include many elements of the legal system, the military draft in some cases, the lower life expectancies of men, the higher suicide rates for men, circumcision, and the growing number of government agencies that are primarily for women.


You might add to this list the entire area of manners. We take for granted that men should hold doors for women, and women should be served first in restaurants. Can you even imagine that situation in reverse?


Generally speaking, society discourages male behavior whereas female behavior is celebrated. Exceptions are the fields of sports, humor, and war. Men are allowed to do what they want in those areas.


Add to our list of inequities the fact that women have overtaken men in college attendance. If the situation were reversed it would be considered a national emergency.


How about the higher rates for car insurance that young men pay compared to young women? Statistics support this inequity, but I don’t think anyone believes the situation would be legal if women were charged more for car insurance, no matter what the statistics said.


Women will counter with their own list of wrongs, starting with the well-known statistic that women earn only 80 cents on the dollar, on average, compared to what men earn for the same jobs. My readers will argue that if any two groups of people act differently, on average, one group is likely to get better results. On average, men negotiate pay differently and approach risk differently than women.


Women will point out that few females are in top management jobs. Men will argue that if you ask a sample group of young men and young women if they would be willing to take the personal sacrifices needed to someday achieve such power, men are far more likely to say yes. In my personal non-scientific polling, men are about ten times more likely than women to trade family time for the highest level of career success.


Now I would like to speak directly to my male readers who feel unjustly treated by the widespread suppression of men’s rights:


Get over it, you bunch of pussies.


The reality is that women are treated differently by society for exactly the same reason that children and the mentally handicapped are treated differently. It’s just easier this way for everyone. You don’t argue with a four-year old about why he shouldn’t eat candy for dinner. You don’t punch a mentally handicapped guy even if he punches you first. And you don’t argue when a women tells you she’s only making 80 cents to your dollar. It’s the path of least resistance. You save your energy for more important battles.


How many times do we men suppress our natural instincts for sex and aggression just to get something better in the long run? It’s called a strategy. Sometimes you sacrifice a pawn to nail the queen. If you’re still crying about your pawn when you’re having your way with the queen, there’s something wrong with you and it isn’t men’s rights.


Fairness is an illusion. It’s unobtainable in the real world. I’m happy that I can open jars with my bare hands. I like being able to lift heavy objects. And I don’t mind that women get served first in restaurants because I don’t like staring at food that I can’t yet eat.


I don’t like the fact that the legal system treats men more harshly than women. But part of being male is the automatic feeling of team. If someone on the team screws up, we all take the hit. Don’t kid yourself that men haven’t earned some harsh treatment from the legal system. On the plus side, if I’m trapped in a burning car someday, a man will be the one pulling me out. That’s the team I want to be on.


I realize I might take some heat for lumping women, children and the mentally handicapped in the same group. So I want to be perfectly clear. I’m not saying women are similar to either group. I’m saying that a man’s best strategy for dealing with each group is disturbingly similar. If he’s smart, he takes the path of least resistance most of the time, which involves considering the emotional realities of other people. A man only digs in for a good fight on the few issues that matter to him, and for which he has some chance of winning. This is a strategy that men are uniquely suited for because, on average, we genuinely don’t care about 90% of what is happening around us.

So, there it is, in context. My initial instinct was to defend Adams. He was trying to be provocative, and succeeded, and some of his points are valid; the truly over-the-top paragraph -- about the disabled and such -- he took pains to blunt.   I felt his error was mostly one of tone -- the whole thing seemed a bit too mean-spirited. The choice of the word "pussy" as a pejorative was very poor here, given the context of the column. And the key comparison of women to the mentally enfeebled or childish -- even as he sought to distance it -- seemed unnecessarily combative. But I was going to give Adams the benefit of the doubt, inasmuch as this was all in the service of sedition and provocation.  I was going to say that he was not showing a flaw in character but an error in tone.


Then, something else happened. He got outed as a troll.


It's fascinating reading, but basically in this we learn that Adams has been anonymously defending and extolling himself -- not just over this issue -- in blog posts all over the place.   He's called himself a certified genius! In one post, he wrote this:


"As far as Adams’ ego goes, maybe you don’t understand what a writer does for a living. No one writes unless he believes that what he writes will be interesting to someone. Everyone on this page is talking about him, researching him, and obsessing about him. His job is to be interesting, not loved. As someone mentioned, he has a certified genius I.Q., and that’s hard to hide."


I think it may be a character thing, after all.


It takes a withered, shriveled soul to shill for yourself anonymously -- precisely because it's so easy to do.


Is it unethical? I think so; I think even in the freewheeling and anonymous world of the Web, the reader has a right to make certain assumptions. If you blog about something that happened to you, it should be true. And if someone anonymously calls you a genius, the reader has a right to assume the anonymous person is not you.


Do you agree?  Take today's instapoll.

I have tortoises. They know their names. The male, Buddy, comes when he's called. He will walk all the way around the edge of the yard to come, which takes a while, but he will indeed come when called. He also used to goose my dearly departed cat for fun. The cat would be obsessively chewing grass; the tortoise would stomp up behind hime and nose him in the rear. The cat would get all in a catty huff and leap approximately 3 feet away. Buddy would doggedly follow him--goose, huff, leap until the cat got annoyed enough to leave. Turtles have a lot more going on than you'd think.

This seems like the perfect time to share this cartoon. 

An observation from a member of the faithful: I am in my late-30s and highly educated (this said to dispel the notion of the whole religion-is-for-the-dim argument). I am a complete believer, and there's nothing rational in it. The reason, at bottom, is quite personal, but I suspect I'm not alone: I am faithful because I need God (and, in contrast, the Devil) to be there to explain the unexplainable, and to punish the evil for doing ill that I cannot control. When truly terrible things happen (be they global or individual), I feel that I cannot cope or accept them without the belief, on some level, that they are part of some grander plan that will ultimately be made known to us by God (in the next life, heaven, etc.). This is perhaps an emotional weakness on my part, but there you go. The thing that I have trouble with is free will -- lots of good and bad stuff happens because of choices people make (or fail to make). Are we guided in making the choices? Does God/the Devil guide our hands? I dunno. The point is, you can't prove it. It's just faith.

One of the smartest people I know is a devout Christian.   She explains it this way:  "I feel deeply loved by someone or something."   Can't argue with that.   It's literally inarguable, and therefor unassailable.   It is the illogical logic of religion, and I buy it.  

You seem different, though.   You say you believe these things on faith, but then you seem to make it clear that your faith is an invention of your own mind, to meet a "need."   This seems very self-aware, but also not particularly spiritual or faithful.   

My disbelief is basically an offshoot of Occam's Razor.   To me, the assumption of a deity requires all manners of bizarre assumptions, and turning a blind eye to the most likely explanation of all.     An example is the endless, multi-millennia long theological angushes and agonies and discussions over how God could permit such suffering, without ever really daring to say, "Um, wait.  There is one other possibility..."

I also keep coming back to the fact that it is completely logical that man invented God out of terror, and a need for hope in terrifying times.    It's inconceivable that primitive man would NOT have created the idea of a God to pray to, to stave off disaster.    You know?    

Which brings us back to you.   

Perhaps I'm naive, but how could the Post publish a column so obviously not written by its supposed author?

Newspapers do that all the time.   I think it's bad.   But whenever you see a piece by a U.S. Senator or congressman or CEO, chances are it was written by a staffer.

Did you ever read his op-ed piece in the NYT on why he is an atheist? In it, he addresses the "how do you know there is not a god" question. He states that the burden is on the believer who questions the non-believer to prove there is a god since they are the ones so intent on there being a god.

Yeah, exactly my point.   But the Godsters are in the vast majority, so the burden of proof never shifts.   Atheists need to make their case  since we are so few in numbers we MUST be wrong.

I came across this story this morning, and I love it. I hope you and the chatters will too.

Hmm.    I started hating it because the author named her daughter "Mulan."

Then I fell in love with it because it got really funny and I laughed out loud when I hit this line "I am a monster. An incompetent monster of a mother."

At the end, I found myself really hoping it was all true, but suspecting some chicanery.   It seemed too well tied up.

But all in all:  Great read.

In This Chat
Gene Weingarten
Gene Weingarten is the humor writer for The Washington Post. His column, Below the Beltway, has appeared weekly in the Post's Sunday magazine since July 2000 and has been distributed nationwide on The Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing in 2008 and 2010.

Click here for links to Gene's past chats and updates.
Recent Chats
  • Next: