Wednesday, March 30, 2005

This Week In McCarthyism: Discover The Bouillabaisse

Yesterday our pal Badtux ruminated on the latest craze in destroying critical thought: David Horowitz's academic bill of rights (capitalization omitted, not for stylistic reason, but just because the "bill" is a stupid idea that doesn't deserve the appearance of formality granted by proper grammar). Badtux and I must be two moonbats sharing a moonbeam; that same day I spent some time actually browsing discover the network to discover what the frontpage folks have to say about some of the writers I like. What I discovered is just how sub-par an enterprise it is.

As others have noted, the design is terrible, but that's hardly the worst offense. A 13 year old hacker working during breaks from Grand Theft Auto could generate far superior tech. I tried to launch the graphical map purporting to document the links between all of those deemed traitors, a new feature that didn't exist last time I visited, and it crashed my browser. When I rebooted the browser and went back, it took so long to load the map - I waited at least 4 minutes for exactly nothing to happen - that I got sick of it and actually went back to work. Thanks for killing my lunch break, you incompetent boobs. Note to Horowitz's hackers: SQL + Server Side Python + A Working Knowledge Of Set Theory will only benefit. One could excuse the horrible tech under the assumption that the tech is only icing on the content-cake. Unfortunately for the Horowitz crew, a large part of the content is supposed to be the "links", and without a way to display them, there's no "network", only a soup.

Then there's the writing in the individual entries. An old friend of mine once told me the following story: "My sister, she has no sense of direction. Just yesterday she walked out the front door and...Look, forget it. She just has no sense of direction." I feel the same sense of impatience trying to describe how bad the writing is. It's just bad. Cliche's, innuendo, gossip and stray facts are clumped together in unreadable clumps. It's painful.

Finally, we have the reasoning. Plenty of people, including me, have written about this. However, one point was driven home when I read the entry on Barbara Ehrenreich. Some point is made that "progressives like her" have killed one hundred million people. Excellent. If this is the standard of reasoning we are now allowed to apply, "conservatives like Horowitz" are far more directly complicit in the deaths of millions of Iraqis, just to name one population that was terrorized by someone Ronald Reagan - and Horowitz, by extension - supported.

This makes me wonder if Horowitz is trying, yet again, to make amends for his past. Perhaps he should realize that all the harm he keeps doing means he ought to get the hell out of public life, since no matter how far he swings in either direction he ends up speaking in defense of murder. It also makes one wonder if that thing he so despises, a liberal education, might do him some good.

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