So Balko, the only reason anyone with a functioning brain reads Reason in the first place is now calling for a blogger ethics panel? You suppurating wound of supercilious nonsense, you’re a writer for Reason for god’s sake.
You work with a stable of people who are so fucking callous they make a lumberjack’s hands seem like they have been soaking in Palmolive for 12 years.
You bemoan the political classes, you claim to have seen through the teabaggers, and yet, here you are a fucking Republican who just wants to smoke dope. What a sniveling little shit of a post from a sniveling little shit of a man. Smart enough to recognize authority run amok when it comes to the war on drugs but so fucking stupid you make Palin seem a MENSA member.
Face it, Libertarianism is nothing more than sophomoric hubris masquerading as intellectualism. What a fucking tool.
A few things, Mr. HumboldtBlue. First, I always like to start a critique with a compliment. We don’t want to stifle anyone’s creativity! So in that spirit:
….. suppurating wound of supercilious nonsense
….is a masterful use of alliteration. It also paints a vivid picture. You’ve shown, not told. Well done!
Now, on to the constructive criticism. First, there are some factual errors we need to address. For example, I’m a writer. It being a magazine and all, so is the rest of the editorial staff at Reason. So on average our hands are actually quite soft. Never mind our ideology, for the soft hands alone we’ll probably be among the first wave of executions after the communist revolution.
I know, I know. You were referring to the callousness of our personalities. Still, I think that gets lost in the clunkiness of the lumberjack/Palmolive metaphor. You’re making the reader work too hard. Remember, this is a blog! Worse, it’s a blog written by a libertarian. And it’s read by quite a few libertarians, a group of people, remember, who you think are pretty fucking stupid! So remember your audience! Keep it simple.
Second, as for this line . . .
“…here you are a fucking Republican who just wants to smoke dope.”
I haven’t registered as a Republican since 1998. I voted for John Kerry in 2004. Also, I’m not a pot smoker. But buck up! Two errors in ten words isn’t so bad. And everything else in this line is perfectly accurate!
Let’s move on. I’m going to get a bit more critical now, so prepare yourself. Let’s start with this:
What a sniveling little shit of a post from a sniveling little shit of a man.
This really feels lazy to me. You can do better. “Sniveling little shit” is already overused to the point of cliche. It is evocative, so I probably could still have lived with it had you only used it once. But to use it twice, and in the same sentence, really left me wishing you had come up with something more creative. Perhaps you were using repetition as a rhetorical device, but it really reads as if you just got tired of coming up with colorful ways to express your contempt for me. Which is disappointing, because those first couple lines really had me wanting to believe that you hated me. If I could offer a suggestion: This might be a good time to return to the puss-oozing lesion metaphor. I think it serves you well in a couple ways: It vividly and luridly conveys your disgust for me, and it links me in the minds of your readers to something quite unpleasant—a festering wound. And a call-back is always a good way to keep your audience on its toes. You might even add some extra ickiness the second time around. For example, you might set the sore on someone’s genitals, or perhaps on an anus. That’s the beauty of writing! You are in control!
This brings me to the weakest part of your composition:
Smart enough to recognize authority run amok when it comes to the war on drugs but so fucking stupid you make Palin seem a MENSA member.
I understand that you’re trying to juxtapose my smartness about the drug war with my stupidity . . . but my stupidity about what? You can’t just say, “You’re smart on the drug war but fucking stupid.” The lack of a second prepositional phrase describing the area of my stupidity in the same manner you’ve described the area of my smartness . . . well, it feels awkward. The way you’ve written this, it sounds as if you’re contradicting yourself. It’s as if you’re saying that I’m really fucking stupid—which, let’s face it, means possibly retarded—but that I still somehow managed to dumb luck my way into having unusually keen insight into “authority run amok when it comes to the war on drugs.”
I just don’t think this is believable.
If you’ll again indulge me the presumption of revising one of your insults of me, in a future draft you might write something like this:
Smart enough to recognize authority run amok when it comes to the war on drugs but so fucking stupid about economic issues that you make Palin seem a MENSA member.
See what I mean? This sentence has structural balance. Now I suspect your intent here was to convey that I’m fucking stupid about everything that isn’t the drug war. I think you’d be on firmer ground just naming a few other topics where I’m fucking stupid. But if you’re really committed to commenting on my overall fucking stupidity, you can simply add the word otherwise. To wit:
Smart enough to recognize authority run amok when it comes to the war on drugs but otherwise so fucking stupid you make Palin seem a MENSA member.
Or, if you’d like to spice things up by adding a nice rhythm to the put-down, trying putting otherwise on the other side of so:
Smart enough to recognize authority run amok when it comes to the war on drugs but so otherwise fucking stupid you make Palin seem a MENSA member.
See how it starts to march a bit once you hit the other side of but?
Also, the MENSA thing? Trite. Are there other indicators of really-fucking-smartness that you might use? Maybe something less obvious, but humorously niche, like, “…so otherwise fucking stupid you make Palin seem like the queen of backgammon.” See how the absurdity of Palin using her limited cognitive skills to dominate something as off-the-wall as a backgammon tournament makes it funny?
Perhaps you want to evoke an indicator of cleverness recognizable only to your fellow lefties. In that case, try something like, “…so otherwise fucking stupid you make Palin seem like she just replaced Paula Poundstone on Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me…”
Trust me, that’ll have them roaring!
By the way, Mensa is not an acronym. Hope they don’t cancel your membership over that one!
Of course, once you’ve accumulated a bit more skill, you’ll want to explain what’s so “fucking stupid” about recognizing that the same limitations, conceits, and problems with government authority that would cause it to “run amok” in the drug war might also cause it to “run amok” if, for example, we were to put it in charge of health care. But this is composition. We’ll get to all of that when we cover logic.
Overall, this was a pretty good first try. Remember, writing is a process! Hang in there!