Not Sober Enough

The abortion-study blowup (with posts by Jill and Mike probably the last gasp), caused me to look into something.

Comprehensive list of woman criticized by John Cain:

Comprehensive list of men criticized by John Cain:

Note that these lists are based on a very small sample size (Soberish has two months of posts), and it it possible that this ridiculous skew will correct itself with time. Additionally, I merely point to a correlation, which in no way should be construed as definitive.

That said, I think John Cain dislikes women. Or maybe just smart women.

To those who may ask, “But wasn’t John right on the issues?” I reply: Maybe, sometimes — but that is irrelevant. One can choose to be ‘right’ against any number of online personalities; they’re hardly scarce. Who you choose to debate is a commentary on you. Exclusively correcting the follies of women is repulsive, irrespective of how wrong they may be.

A related observation: “liberal male pundit attacks feminist blog” is something of a cliche at this point, and needs to be abandoned as a goto posting strategy. Possibly it’s just that male pundits don’t understand feminism and need to be schooled. Maybe we attack feminists because they represent the most radical sector of the liberal blogosphere (the commies play in their own sandbox) and we all feel the need for a Sister Souljah moment from time to time to reinforce our seriousness/intellectual honesty. I don’t know, but it grates.

Update: I deleted Tegan and Sara from the list since they’re not actually a “person” and I didn’t intend to include groups or organizations.

19 comments to Not Sober Enough

  • I had no idea you could hold a grudge this long, Quixote. Apparently this cherry picked piece of crap is the best you can do. Oh well.

    For others who might be reading, my criticisms of Litbrit were in regards to her defense of 9/11 denialism. In fact, none of the posts Quixote lists above were in any way sexist arguments, unless not liking someone’s music is sexist all of the sudden. Additionally, he ignores much of my criticism of men (the Burmese generals, the Burmese monks, Sly Stallone, the entire New York Mets organization, faint praise for the Washington Social Club and Spoon, Andrew Wakefield, David and Mark Geier), my explicit praise of women (Megan McArdle, Rebecca Watson, the Frustrations), nor that I wrote of Tania Head only to take issue with my cousin’s (a male) take on her, nor that I wrote about most of the feminist bloggers up there only to defend Matt Zeitlin and Mike Meginnis (who are both on Quixote’s blogroll).

    Or are you saying women should not be criticized in any way, ever? That they’re to precious to be trifled with so? Because that certainly wouldn’t be sexist.

  • Dude, this is kind of bullshit, for the reasons he listed above, and more. John can have a problem with women all he wants, if he does, so long as he doesn’t make bad or sexist arguments, which I don’t really think he has, anymore than any of us will occasionally do. If you need to join in on the pointless character study (why does it matter if he’s an asshole if he supports the same policies we do?) it would be far more worthy of your time to identify something he actually did wrong and explain why it was wrong.

    This looks like the sweater-wearing beard-toting guy at parties who spends most of his time complaining about guys who don’t get it. Decent way to get laid, terrible way to accomplish much else.

  • Your arguments, taken together, form a narrative independent of their individual rigorousness. Even if everything you say is right and non-sexist.

    When the only men you’re willing to (occasionally) criticize are abstractions removed from any possibility of interacting with you, while the women are actual people who will read your piece, that’s hardly any kind of balance.

    As far as “why it matters if John’s an asshole”: it matters because it makes blogging less fun. Jill’s mischaracterizations of the Zeitlin-Meginnis Axis upset you; Do you not think the feminist blogs (or their readers) get similarly upset at the constant vitriol?

    Whatever our hopes, we have little impact on policy here in the big tail of the blogosphere; their’s little reason to ignore internal hostility “for the sake of the movement.” No children will lose health care as a result of me critisizing Cain.

    I am both sweater-wearing and beard-toting (Crap! I fell into a stereotype…) but I’m also married; so at least I’m reasonably sure I’m not trolling for for feminist play.

  • Your arguments, taken together, form a narrative independent of their individual rigorousness. Even if everything you say is right and non-sexist.

    I’m sorry, man, but this is the stupidest thing I’ve ever read. I don’t really give a shit what you think about me, so let me just say “fuck off” and leave it at that.

  • I think we’re going to have to agree or disagree here, but there are two points to make.

    1. We will not, any one of us, directly affect policy, but if you’re arguing to improve your opponents as people rather than to improve their chosen positions, you’re wasting your time. The latter is hard enough.

    2. I’m fine with people being hostile, I’m not fine with them committing what amounts to libel. I don’t really think there’s a contradiction there.

    It’s also sort of weird to ask if feminist bloggers are sick of the constant vitriol. Dude, they live in it — and that’s necessary in some ways, but the small list of logical fallacies it leads some of their number to *constantly rehearse* is pretty lame.

  • Jay O

    On the John Cain lynching:

    After a progressively horrifying review of the linked commentary at Quixote and Feministe, I’m not even going to address the study that started all of this, because clearly the validity of the study is not what certain readers have been calling into question. At least Feministe pretends to argue over his analysis while subtly suggesting that John is a sexiste, perhaps even genetically, simply because he is a man and therefore due to his gender is unable to fully understand Feministe’s position on abortion rights. This fallacy, echoed at Quixote with far less sophistication, is offensive on a democratic basis, and denies John the right to intellectual participation based on his sex, of all things. I’d love to put this argument to the test with animal rights activists. In any case, as with handicapped rights (my line of work), certainly the affected group must have their voice heard and included, but you can’t just exclude everyone else, especially if this exclusion is selective to those whom disagree with you. To do so is to a disservice to your own position, argument, and intelligence (intelligence refers to Feministe. Sorry quixote, but I didn’t detect any signs of intelligent life on your blog). So please, feminist blogosphere, please do not dismiss the voice of white male bloggers based on their gender (or race? where does “white” come into play and why did you bring it up?)

    Also John is not a sexist.

  • Jay O-
    Lynching? Are you serious? I suggest you read this Hugo Schwyzer post which explains exactly why this type of rhetoric is problematic.

    I don’t think the rest of your claims really apply to anything I have said, as John’s identity is irrelevant to how he allocates his blogging.

    Also: no intelligent life on this blog? That’s like a way harsh dig, Dude.

  • Mike-
    I agree with your (1) as personal change is even more fleeting than the policy kind. Mostly writing is its own reward (I like what you’ve written on this subject), but I do hope that occasionally someone will happen upon something here that educates/affects them.

    Obviously, this post served none of that purpose; people would just got mad. But I couldn’t not say anything, I did and do think Cain is writing from a dark place.

    As for (2), I don’t see how what I’ve written is more libelous that saying “Andrew Sullivan is a racist.” We both provide warrants for our assertions; you just don’t find mind convincing. That’s fine…but it hardly a libel case makes.

  • All right, Quixote, this has gone far enough. Let’s take a detailed look at all the shit you’ve said about me thus far.

    Note that these lists are based on a very small sample size (Soberish has two months of posts), and it it possible that this ridiculous skew will correct itself with time.

    It’s funny that you even bothered to post this, as this observation apparently had no impact whatsoever on your eventual conclusion.

    Additionally, I merely point to a correlation, which in no way should be construed as definitive.

    That said, I think John Cain dislikes women.

    Wow, you managed to contradict yourself in one sentence length. That’s got to be some sort of record. “Let’s not say anything definitive, except that John is a sexist asshole.”

    Exclusively correcting the follies of women is repulsive, irrespective of how wrong they may be.

    As I commented earlier, it’s a complete lie that I focus exclusively on women. That said, what percentage should I be hitting, Quixote, to assure that I’m not sexist. Is there a quota you had in mind? Also, aren’t you deliberately skewing the results in favor of your conclusions by omitting all the posts in which I criticize no one, male or female?

    After my initial response, you then write:

    Your arguments, taken together, form a narrative independent of their individual rigorousness. Even if everything you say is right and non-sexist.

    So I’m damned no matter what I actually write? Content is irrelevant? This is at best an illogical and superficial argument, at worst it’s the work of an idiot. Jessica Valenti chooses to debate with more women than I do in her blogging. That must make her a sexist as well, as we’re disregarding the actual content of any posts.

    When the only men you’re willing to (occasionally) criticize are abstractions removed from any possibility of interacting with you, while the women are actual people who will read your piece, that’s hardly any kind of balance.

    Watch those goalposts shift! Of course I’m going to keep appearing sexist if you get to keep changing the criteria for being a sexist!!

    But I couldn’t not say anything, I did and do think Cain is writing from a dark place.

    So you’ve psychoanalyzed me now, too? Why don’t you leave that for people you’ve actually had the occasion to meet, Freud.

    Q, this entire post is nothing but a smear, and a terribly constructed one at that. I expect an apology, although I doubt I’ll get one.

  • Saying “I think X is true, but it’s not definitive,” and explaining the limited information on which X is based is not a contradiction, it’s a qualification. An example of this is saying: “I think 16 Candles is the best movie ever, but I only watch Molly Ringwald movies, so my opinion is not definitive.”

    John also writes:

    After my initial response, you then write: “Your arguments, taken together, form a narrative independent of their individual rigorousness. Even if everything you say is right and non-sexist.”

    So I’m damned no matter what I actually write? Content is irrelevant? This is at best an illogical and superficial argument, at worst it’s the work of an idiot.

    Saying that one’s arguments have a larger meaning when viewed in mass is the opposite of saying content is irrelevant. It’s saying that a collection of short stories has a meaning beyond that of an individual story. How is that illogical? How is that superficial? If you want to have a discussion, you must warrant your claims. Are you trying to say you wouldn’t find a blog dedicated to refuting Asian bloggers, a bit odd? That after the 10th criticism of an Asian blogger, you wouldn’t wonder what was going on?

    John:

    Jessica Valenti chooses to debate with more women than I do in her blogging. That must make her a sexist as well, as we’re disregarding the actual content of any posts.

    You know that “debate” was never what I was talking about here, nor was the absolute number of women one decided to criticize, so you deliberately misconstrue my argument.

    John again:

    As I commented earlier, it’s a complete lie that I focus exclusively on women.

    I do not claim you focus exclusively on women, just that you disproportionately concentrate on them. You suggest elsewhere that criticizing Burmese generals/monks, a baseball team, and bands is the same as criticizing individual female bloggers. This, as I explained, is not the same because these are abstract organizations, not even aware of your posts. Do you really come off better if almost the only people you take on are women or people too big to notice you? Isn’t Judah the one and only man you’ve ever posted against who could possibly respond to you?

    I left these groups off my list, not because I wanted to further a “complete lie,” but because they weren’t women or men. I apologize if my lack of methodological clarity comes across as shifting goal posts. In reality, none of my arguments have changed; your changing understanding of my criteria is not the same as me changing the criteria. No where have I permuted anything in my original post.

    (An exception: Tegan and Sara were a mistaken addition to the list. I was skimming and didn’t realize they too were a band. This is now fixed, and works in your favor. A note: Tania Head and Easterbrook are also two far removed to ever respond, but they are individual people, so I included them, which also works in your favor John.)

    More John:

    That said, what percentage should I be hitting, Quixote, to assure that I’m not sexist. Is there a quota you had in mind? Also, aren’t you deliberately skewing the results in favor of your conclusions by omitting all the posts in which I criticize no one, male or female?

    If a quota would help you John, shoot for 1 man criticized for every 4 women — 20%. Skewed as that is, it would be an improvement. At some point though, just become a reasonable judge of what your blog’s collective content is.

    As for listing: It might be an interesting exercise to see what percentage of your total posts were dedicated to criticizing women vs. men, but even if your have a million neutral posts, the criticism ratio remains the same. I don’t see how this helps or hurts my argument.

    John’s last bit:

    Q, this entire post is nothing but a smear, and a terribly constructed one at that. I expect an apology, although I doubt I’ll get one.

    If I’m wrong, I will apologize, but that would require you actually making arguments, something that is distinct from an assertion, such as “this entire post is nothing but a smear.”

    I stand by everything I have written.

  • Cain says: For others who might be reading, my criticisms of Litbrit were in regards to her defense of 9/11 denialism.

    First, I am not a 9/11 denialist. I wrote a short post linking to a Robert Fisk piece in a British newspaper, The Independent, a column in which he called into question certain aspects of the WTC buildings’ collapse. Numerous commenters pointed out that most, if not all, of these questions had been successfully resolved by reputable bodies of engineers and architects.

    Not Cain, though. If you look at the comment thread following my post at Ezra’s, you will see that not only did Cain chime in right away with his attacks–not just disagreeing or saying I was wrong–but immediately called for my dismissal from Ezra’s group of weekend bloggers. At 1:47:18 pm:

    That you would post this makes me wish Ezra will take away your guest blogging status once he returns, for this is the stupidest thing I’ve ever read on this blog.

    You’d think that would be enough, right? Not for Cain. He joins forces with another male attacker, Vidor, and the two proceed to repeatedly spew, over and over and over, what was essentially the same thing. To wit, at 6:03:21 pm:

    I abhor this post so much because it’s the worst type of drive-by CT argumentation.[…] The science backs up the official story on all these questions, and if you deny that, you shouldn’t be offended when someone calls you a loony crackpot, because that’s exactly what you are.

    And at 8:35:32 pm:

    Litbrit says What is not important, what is certainly not necessary, is the personal attack mode in which some unfortunate persons have their language skills permanently stuck.

    You can play the martyr all you want, but it won’t make you any less wrong.

    He’s still up, on the attack, at 2:06:03 am (!!!):

    Who was that again? One of the people working on Litbrit’s house?

    When Vidor chimes in with this:

    This blog entry was by far the worst thing I have ever read on Ezra Klein’s blog. I do hope that he takes the keys away from Tornello if she continues to muck up his website with entries like this.

    Cain dutifully applauds him (it’s the next day now) at 10:58:35 am:

    Excellent point, Vidor.

    And after Quixote steps in and essentially says, “Enough already, the way to handle your displeasure with a guest writer is to privately email the blog host, not pile on like this…”

    Cain responds–again, same thread–with this, at 12:30:25 pm:

    Oh please. Why does Litbrit get a pass on being criticized for her views when no other person who puts their opinions out on the internet gets the same? I know she’s a guest blogger here but she still posted idiocy, and she deserves all the flak she’s getting for it.

    Get it? She deserves whatever I feel like giving her. She deserves it.

    Mind you, this is just my experience with this person (as Quixote points out, there are other women who’ve had the misfortune of being in his warped sights). When his comments are laid out like this, though, even a casual observer would be hard-pressed to deny that Mr. Cain has some serious and disturbing issues, most saliently as pertain to women he feels–correctly or incorrectly–are wrong.

    I’m not a psychologist, so I can’t and won’t speculate as to what causes someone to repress so much venom and then spew it all over a female online presence, but I will say this: I pity the women–or else the magazine collections–in Cain’s life.

    Excellent trendspotting and well-observed post, Quixote. Thank you.

  • Litbrit-
    Thank you for not thinking I’m crazy here.

  • One narrow correction — the libel thing was about the Feministe post, which was chock full of lies.

    And that’s the problem. You’re willing to squint all day at a man, do analyses of his whole posting history and comments he made elsewhere, to divine if he’s a sexist or not.

    But when Jill actually and obviously lies about not only him, but several other people including myself, she gets a pass.

    Why?

    And don’t you think it’s more sexist to give women an automatic pass on their bad behavior than to call them out for it?

  • Mike-
    Sorry for the misunderstanding about ‘libel.’ Your (2) point above makes more sense to me now.

    As far as Jill’s post? Yeah, I had problems with it, especially as I generally consider myself included in the Zeitlin, Meginnis, & Blogfriends group. But by the time I was aware of the discussion, Jill was already walking back her comments in response to your post.

    But I could have still said something; I could have backed you up, if nothing else. Why I didn’t and why I’m hesitant to criticize the feminist blogs in general is a good question, especially given the context of this post. I will post a separate explanation shortly.

    As for this situation, I don’t agree that Jill was posting “lies” any more than John is in the comments preceding this one. When we argue, we misconstrue each others points, we condescend, generalize. I’m not inclined to call it lying mostly because I’m not inclined to use inflammatory rhetoric, but it is a bad way of discussing something.

  • We have some differences! But I appreciate your response.

  • […] it. At the same time I ignored the female blogger, with whom I also had disagreements. This caused Mike to ask: Don’t you think it’s more sexist to give women an automatic pass on their bad behavior than to […]

  • Litbrit, you are lying. Let’s take a look at what you wrote:

    Numerous commenters pointed out that most, if not all, of these questions had been successfully resolved by reputable bodies of engineers and architects.

    It’s funny, then, that you never once conceded that point in the comment thread. In fact, you continued to defend Fisk’s “questions throughout the thread and then began arguing those points yourself, even in the face of overwhelming contrary evidence. You’re acting like I and others just kept harping on you for no reason, when in reality you and others kept defending these ideas throughout the thread.

    not only did Cain chime in right away with his attacks–not just disagreeing or saying I was wrong–but immediately called for my dismissal from Ezra’s group of weekend bloggers.

    I still stand by this. I detest the 9/11 Truth movement, as it represents both the nadir of human reasoning capability and a morally repugnant argument. I felt giving credence to these arguments was a bannable offense (a position shared by Kos). How is this sexist?

    Not for Cain. He joins forces with another male attacker, Vidor, and the two proceed to repeatedly spew, over and over and over, what was essentially the same thing.

    How is the gender of Vidor and I in any way relevant? And we kept saying essentially the same thing because you kept arguing the same discredited points over and over.

    He’s still up, on the attack, at 2:06:03 am (!!!)

    Oh my, you got me! I’m a night owl, heavens forbid. Nice red herring, though.

    Cain dutifully applauds him (it’s the next day now) at 10:58:35 am:

    Actually, I was commending him on his point that the point of journalism was to discover the truth, not question the government as you had said.

    Get it? She deserves whatever I feel like giving her. She deserves it.

    Jesus Mary and Joseph, you deserved it because you plugged and stupid and wrong argument and then kept making the same stupid and wrong argument yourself, not because you’re a woman. Why the search for subtext when the plain meaning is so very clear?

    I pity the women–or else the magazine collections–in Cain’s life.

    Ooooooh, burn. I guess the ad hominem makes you more right somehow.

    That entire thread had nothing to do with Litbrit’s gender, and to imply so is rankly dishonest. You were wrong and refused to admit so. You retreated to baseless charges of sexism in an effort to continue avoid admitting you were wrong. The only thing you were attacked for was your wrong arguments, and it’s a shame that you can’t see that.

    Quixote, back to the original point of this post, to bring my comments history into this only further shows that you were cherry picking and holding a grudge. For instance, what other thread at roughly the same time on Ezra’s blog was I very active in? The one where I and others battled it out with David Sirota, who happens to be male. In both instance I was attacking bad arguments, not the gender of the people making them.

  • I am not going to respond to any of this other than to say I am not a liar, and those who still care, at this point, can read the thread themselves and decide if I was the one who piled on–who kept insisting I was absolutely right (as opposed to saying I was unconvinced and that I remained open to further evidence if any arose and that I found the whole thing, still, disturbing considering my own experience with creating a steel building and what I had thus far learned from our engineer and architect. OR if instead, it was the gang attackers who piled on, who kept insisting–not just that they were right, but that I should be dismissed.

    They had, and have, no right to do that.

    No, my gender did not apply in the case of the Ezra thread, but it certainly led other commenters–male ones, even long-term centrist/conservative Devil’s advocate Sanpete–to state such things as “the personal attacks on litbrit are over the top” and another to name himself Big Manly Man With Logic-creating Penis.

    Where my gender does apply is when that thread is viewed in the context of all the other women Cain attacks online.

    Face it, Cain, you’re a nasty little piece of work, and you have issues with women. That much cannot be argued, though I don’t doubt you’ll attempt it.

  • At this point you’re attacking Cain for *his* gender, Litbrit, and that much *can* be argued. I would also note that *you’re* piling on. I’m not particularly invested in this question either way, but I continue to be really upset about the way he’s being treated here.

    Feel free to hit me up on AIM — TheBodyBurns — to discuss this stuff at length. I don’t like the way this whole thing has gone one bit.

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