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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Plumbing the Outer Limits of Stupidity

Plumbing the Outer Limits of Stupidity
Image © Austin Cline
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Conservatives are getting so extreme in their efforts to deny critics the ability to satirize them that even some conservatives are themselves getting annoyed by it all. It had to happen, because doing ridiculous things in all seriousness in order to undercut satire in advance will eventually make you look too stupid to be worth satirizing; some conservatives may have finally reached that low point.

…Oh, who am I kidding — there is no "low point" for them. They'll find something worse in a couple of months and I'll have an even harder time writing about it. So not only is satire apparently dead, at least where American conservatives are concerned, but the ability to underestimate how stupid they will behave has also died a grisly, painful death — and in both cases, the coup de grace is Joe Wurzelbacher, a.k.a. Joe the Plumber, going to Israel to report on the Israeli assault on Gaza from the perspective of the "average Joe."

I can understand why Joe the Plumber would want to take this gig — it gets him publicity for his book and some sort of career outside of plumbing. I'm guessing that his dream of buying the plumbing business he works for his on hold…not to mention becoming a licensed plumber at all. Any publicity is good publicity, they say, and this will surely put that slogan to the test.

What I can't understand is why Pajamas Media decided that it would be a good idea to send him. It was perhaps a good idea to send someone, but why Joe the Plumber? Why not one of their own bloggers? Even I would have been a better choice (at least I'm familiar with the history of the conflicts and could credibly push people to discuss the relationship between religion and violence), but I wouldn't have accepted because I know that I'm not a good choice (and I'd question anyone who thought differently).

Perhaps they got more publicity for themselves by choosing Joe the Plumber — I doubt we'd have seen this covered in the mainstream media otherwise. They got their name out there in front of people in a way they couldn't have achieved through almost any other choice — or at least any choice that would have been accepted, and maybe that's the key. Joe the Plumber said "yes," and that was enough.

Joe the Plumber has repaid the confidence of Pajamas Media by claiming that reporters shouldn't be allowed to report on wars because those reports are such a downer: the military should be able to dictate to the media what they can say and what they can't. War, I guess, is actually very exciting and manly — at least if you're a pseudo-reporter who can watch safely from the sidelines. Even a pseudo-reporter should presumably not be there, though, so why didn't Joe just immediately pack his bags and leave? Surely that wouldn't have required more intellectual consistency than he is capable of?

Pajamas Media isn't perturbed by this, any more than they are perturbed by being represented by someone so manifestly unqualified and unprepared for the task he was assigned. Their cheerleaders are encouraging them to send him on even more worthless junkets to hot spots around the world — and no, I don't think these are detractors secretly hoping that harm will come to Joe as a consequence. They really do seem to believe that Joe is doing a great job and should be given even more to do.

I personally wouldn't argue against that. Pajamas Media and like-minded conservative outlets should be encouraged to do more projects like this because maybe more people will wake up to just how ridiculous the conservative movement in America is becoming. I don't know how much credibility they still have, but it's obviously too much, and the more they can do to undermine that remaining credibility, the better. It will be sad that they can't be satirized anymore, but their absence from serious conversations about important matters will more than make up for that.

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We'll try dumping haloscan and see how it works.