THE AGE OF THE NOVEL: Journalist pleased that we don't know the facts!

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 22, 2019

A retreat to the realm of the novel:
On Sunday, October 13, in the New York Times' Book Review section, Jennifer Weiner reviewed Chanel Miller's new book, Know My Name: A Memoir.

The review was very favorable. Weiner described Miller as "a poetic, precise writer with an eye for detail." She described Know My Name as "a beautifully written, powerful, important story" which " marks the debut of a gifted young writer."

Plainly, Chanel Miller actually is a writer. Tomorrow, we'll look at the intriguing paragraphs with which she opens her book.

In January 2015, Miller also became the unfortunate victim of a widely-publicized sexual assault—the so-called "Stanford rape case." The case was widely discussed, for several years, within the mainstream press.

For that reason, the most interesting element of Weiner's review may be a wholly irrelevant factual error she seems to make. Weiner makes this apparent error as she provides the basic background to the story Miller tells.

Weiner's completely irrelevant apparent error occurs in the passage shown below. It shares space in this passage with two other basic elements in the type of modern anti-journalism we have described in the past as "the novelization of news:"
WEINER (10/13/19): In January 2015, Miller was 23 and a recent college graduate when she went to a fraternity party with her sister and a friend. She sipped warm beer, tossed down vodka, went outside to pee. “I was bored, at ease, drunk and extremely tired, less than 10 minutes from home. I had outgrown everything around me. And that is where my memory goes black, where the reel cuts off.” (A good thing, as it spares us the specifics of exactly what happened after Turner got her alone behind a dumpster, the kinds of details that have become commonplace in the small but emerging genre of survivor memoirs. If you aren’t already angry, consider that the genre of survivor memoirs is a thing that exists, and that Miller joins the likes of Jaycee Dugard and Michelle Knight, abductees who wrote about the horrors they endured in their captivities.)
Know My Name is a fascinating, intriguingly written book. That said, the passage shown above—from the Sunday New York Times—is fascinating in its own right.

What's the wholly irrelevant error Weiner seems to make in that passage? It's her statement that Miller was 23 when the assault in question occurred.

If that's an error, it's wholly irrelevant—so why do we find it intriguing? We do so because, quite literally, what's shown below is the opening sentence in just the second paragraph of Miller's fascinating book:
"In January 2015, I was twenty-two, living and working in my home town of Palo Alto, California."
In the winter if 2015, Miller was 22! In the second paragraph of her book, Miller makes this unambiguous statement. But even as she raves about the superb writing found in Miller's book, Weiner misstates this elementary fact.

Let's be clear! As suggested above, it doesn't actually matter whether Miller was 22 or 23 on the winter night in question. But we're struck by Weiner's apparent error—by what it can be said to show about this journalistic and political age, which we'll now call The Age of the Novel.

As we've noted in the past, everyone makes mistakes. If Weiner misstated Miller's age, it's an irrelevant error.

That said, Weiner would be misstating a very basic fact—a fact which appears at the start of paragraph 2 of Miller's memoir. As such, this apparent error can be said to help us see something important about this current era:

In this anti-journalistic age, basic facts no longer count! Or at least, elementary facts no longer seem to matter in the way they once supposedly did.

Is it true that basic facts no longer matter to major journalists, or no longer matter as much? In this instance, such a claim may seem absurdly harsh, but let's turn to something else Weiner says in that summary paragraph:
WEINER: ...[Miller] sipped warm beer, tossed down vodka, went outside to pee. “I was bored, at ease, drunk and extremely tired, less than 10 minutes from home. I had outgrown everything around me. And that is where my memory goes black, where the reel cuts off.” (A good thing, as it spares us the specifics of exactly what happened after Turner got her alone behind a dumpster, the kinds of details that have become commonplace in the small but emerging genre of survivor memoirs...)
What a remarkable statement! Weiner, a major American journalist, seems to say we should be grateful because we've been "spare[d]...the specifics of exactly what happened" in the widely-discussed incident under review.

Question: When's the last time you saw a journalist make such an unusual statement? When's the last time you saw a journalist say how lucky we are that we don't exactly know what happened in a widely-discussed, widely-debated, highly significant incident?

Because we're sympathetic people, we moderns will almost surely agree to agree on a basic point. We'll agree to agree, almost surely correctly, that Weiner didn't mean for us to take that statement in the way we're now suggesting.

Instead, we'll agree to agree that Weiner more likely meant something like this:
What happened after Miller's "memory went black" was surely very ugly. As such, we've been spared knowledge of the type of specifics decent people don't want to read about in detail.
We'll agree to agree, almost surely correctly, that Weiner meant something like that. We'll also agree to look beyond a basic fact Weiner omits in her account of the way about Miller's "memory [went] black."

What basic fact can Weiner perhaps be said to omit, or gloss, or fail to articulate in that summary paragraph—indeed, in her entire review? The basic fact is this:

According to Miller's account, her memory went black at roughly midnight that night. That was roughly an hour before the assault in question took place.

According to Miller's account, her memory didn't go black during the assault. Her memory went black roughly one hour earlier.

As such, it isn't just details of the assault which Miller can't remember. She explicitly says that she doesn't remember various phone calls she made that night. She doesn't remember other events as well.

As such, Miller has acknowledged—though only implicitly—that she doesn't remember "how Turner got her alone behind a dumpster" that night. Before the age of the novel took hold, this might have led a major journalist to note a basic corollary:

Because she was "blackout drunk" at the time, Miller doesn't remember if Turner actually "got her behind a dumpster" at all, what with all the obvious baggage Weiner's turn of phrase implies.

So far, we've seen Weiner make an extremely basic factual error. We've also seen her thank the gods that we don't know exactly what happened on the night in question.

We've also seen her omit basic facts about the timing of the evening's events, the events we can't exactly describe.

That said, the passage we've posted above includes one more basic element which helps define the prevailing culture of the modern journalistic novel. We refer to the part of the passage where Weiner might be said to prompt us in a particular way:
WEINER: ...[Miller] sipped warm beer, tossed down vodka, went outside to pee. “I was bored, at ease, drunk and extremely tired, less than 10 minutes from home. I had outgrown everything around me. And that is where my memory goes black, where the reel cuts off.” (A good thing, as it spares us the specifics of exactly what happened after Turner got her alone behind a dumpster, the kinds of details that have become commonplace in the small but emerging genre of survivor memoirs. If you aren’t already angry, consider that the genre of survivor memoirs is a thing that exists, and that Miller joins the likes of Jaycee Dugard and Michelle Knight, abductees who wrote about the horrors they endured in their captivities.)
Weiner has misstated one elementary fact. She has omitted or glossed another fact—a fact which isn't quite so meaningless.

She has even said she's glad that we don't know exactly what happened! Arguably, the reason for that somewhat peculiar statement may now be more clear:

The point of Weiner's summary is to make us angry, not to make basic facts clear.

In the reports which will follow, we'll be referring to the current age as The (journalistic) Age of the Novel, not as The Age of the Fairy Tale. But might we think of the Brothers Grimm as we read this passage by Weiner, in which complicating facts are dropped, perhaps in the search for increased anger and fear?

Tomorrow: The premises of our report

Also this: For a brief overview of this series, see yesterday's report

68 comments:

  1. Oh well, obviously your fellow zombies don't need facts, details, and nuances.

    All they need is a standard 'narrative', followed by the command to activate the only emotion they're capable of: righteous indignation.

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    1. Snowflake at 9:57 is starting to lose it.

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  2. Somerby says that the point of Weiner's summary is to make us angry, not to report basic facts.

    Weiner is writing a book review, not a news report. The point of her summary is to give the reader a flavor of the book under review.

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  3. Somerby is playing gotcha again. Whether Miller was 22 or 23 depends on what point in time you are talking about. She was 22 as the book begins, but she was 23 during the trial and older when she published her book. So what? As Somerby himself notes, it doesn't make any difference to anything.

    But he uses this to claim that all reporters mess up basic facts and no one cares about getting anything right any more. That is unsubstantiated by this single example. The more material a fact is, the more likely a journalist is to get it right, something Somerby doesn't recognize.

    Then he makes a fuss about her alcoholic blackout, as if her forgetting were Weiner's fault, another example of the desire to evade basic facts, and not a central and material point of the rape itself -- she was unable to give consent because she was blackout drunk, so drunk that it affected her later memory as well as her awareness of her own state and her ability to exercise judgment at the time of the rape.

    Somerby exhibits ignorance about how memory works (the fact that it is affected by alcohol) and ignorance about college parties and ignorance about the laws involving consent. He exhibits ignorance about the rules of sexual encounters -- a man is not permitted to take advantage of a woman's drunkenness to have sex with her, just as he is not permitted to take advantage of his greater body strength to force himself upon her, or to take advantage of greater worldliness to corrupt a child.

    There is an undertone of mocking dismissal in Somerby's handling of Weiner's review. Somerby clearly doesn't care that there is now a genre of books by victims of assault. He doesn't care that women who receive no justice in the courts must take their case to the public. He clearly has no sympathy with Chanel Miller (who he thinks he can impeach by pointing out that her memory gradually came back, presumably as the alcohol wore off as her body metabolized it).

    Somerby implies that facts are being manipulated to make readers angry about Chanel Miller's experiences. He can't actually point to how making her 23 instead of 22 does that, but that doesn't stop him. Miller couldn't remember, so that makes her fair game and Weiner shouldn't review her book as a serious work, because Somerby considers it fiction, though he won't actually say so.

    Those women, always be lying, always be trying to get men for just doing nothing wrong. She probably consented to sex, led Brock Turner by the hand behind the dumpster, peed and then consented to sex with him, and if she cannot remember what happened, decided to blame him for consensual sex, even though she was older, bored, and probably unimpressed by him, at a party with her sister. But hey, men always believe that women wanted it, even when there is no way in hell that could be true.

    But Somerby won't come out and give his opinion, like a mensch, he has to hint that Weiner is lying about things big and little, and if she is lying, so is Miller, and the judge did the right thing, protecting Turner from these lying bitches.

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    1. Your comment shows your hysteria and bias towards Somerby. Simply put, Bob is showing that facts are not important in the age of pseudo-journalism. Rather than to simply acknowledge that, you go into a hysterical rant, putting imagined thoughts and conclusions into Bob's head.
      The hysteria that followed the trial and sentencing of the young man is an example that shows that the public did not know the facts. Instead they went on a hysterical stampede to impugn the judge's character and call for his removal. This is what happens when journalists, and the public, prefer narratives, novelizations and propaganda.
      That is what Somerby is trying to show. Some of the people who comment here seem to be truly stupid and deficient in reading comprehension. Or they have a hidden agenda (Russian trolls?).

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    2. As pointed out, this is a book review, not "journalism" and Weiner is not reporting on an event but talking about a book.

      Persky was removed because he thought it was more important to preserve Brock Turner's olympic swimming aspirations than to give a young woman justice.

      Brock Turner was convicted. He was caught in the act by a witness who held him until the police arrived. There is no question about his guilt. The questions were about the sentencing.

      Is a woman's first-person account, in which she says there are events that evening that she does not remember, an example of novelization? How? Somerby wants to say that Weiner omitted those events, but she didn't. She merely noted that it would be unpleasant for the reader to reexperience those events with Miller.

      Your version of Somerby's essay is fictionalized, in my opinion.

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    3. I think they might have a public agenda, if they are a member of my tribe. My tribe wants to "save the world" or make it a better place. We are on a crusade to stop injustice and racism and sexism and homophobia and any sort of unjustified mal-treatment of another human being.

      A noble goal, I guess. Except our method to achieving this goal seems to be - stir up a lynch mob against those who are guilty of mal-treatment or wrong-think.

      Thus, for daring to use a lynch mob metaphor on twitter or a comments section, you might dox that futhermucker and force him to apologize, resign or get fired.

      Then there is journalism. Either because they are part of the tribe, or because they want to profit from the tribe, there are "journalists" who actively try to stir up these hate mobs. Thus they will latch on to the story du jour whether it is Trayvon, Brown, Turner, or whatever and write something to stir up anger and hatred in their readers.

      In this noble crusade, things like reason and truth and compassion do not have any place. Facts? We don't need no stinking facts. Anybody who tries to use facts or reason with the lynch mob is just a rape apologist, a racist apologist, and worse than that, is probably just a straight white male trying to preserve their privilege. They need to get lynched too. There's always room on the gibbet for one more. We can just sharpen the blade of the guillotine. Hell, just kill the innocent with the guilty and led God sort them out. If you're not part of the mob, you're part of the problem.

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    4. How do you use facts and reason to evaluate a personal autobiographical account of a person's life? The facts and reason were for the trial. This book isn't about that trial. Turner was already convicted. This book is about how Miller got her life back on track.

      Somerby clearly doesn't care about Miller or her struggles after being raped. It is hard to tell what he cares about. Mostly he appears to be attacking Weiner, another female writer who is daring to review a book that other women will care about, because it is about a widely shared experience among women in our society.

      What happened to Miller was horrible. It doesn't take Weiner to make it more so. Turner raped a woman while she was taking a pee behind a dumpster. A jury convicted him of doing it and there was a witness who held him until the police arrived. Those facts are not in dispute. There is no one trying to lynch Turner on scant evidence. He was convicted and he is guilty. The scandal is that he received too light a sentence given his crime because the judge ignored sentencing guidelines and decided that Turner's swimming career was more important than Miller's life. Miller is trying to show what the consequence of the experience was for her.

      There are no facts or reason involved. This book tells what happened to Miller afterwards. She has the right to tell her story, her way. If a man is still trying Turner's case, he is behaving like a rape apologist and it is hard to see a valid motive, other than arguing that rape laws are stupid and men should be able to do whatever they want to women. Did I mention that Turner was caught in the act by a witness, and that there is physical evidence? How do you argue that the guy is innocent? Is Somerby trying to hint that Miller wasn't really drunk and didn't black out and thus might have been capable of giving consent? On what basis can he argue that? She was peeing behind a dumpster! Who does that when they are sober (men might but women definitely don't).

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    5. @11:43 wrote: "Persky was removed because he thought it was more important to preserve Brock Turner's olympic swimming aspirations than to give a young woman justice."

      This falsehood has been widely disseminated. I followed the case, because it's a local issue. Liberal lawyer friends of mine highly respect for Judge Persky. He's a liberal Democrat BTW.

      Persky applied the exact recommended sentence for this crime. One can argue that the recommended sentence was too lenient, but that's not Persky's fault.

      Persky was effectively demonized by women's groups, even though he did nothing the least bit wrong.

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    6. Do facts not matter then?

      In your narrative you assert that "Turner was convicted of rape" and also that "Miller was raped".

      Neither of those are true. Turner was convicted of sexual assault. Thus, presumably Miller was sexually assaulted, and not raped.

      To convert a sexual assault into a rape seems like an attempt to create more anger, more hatred.

      You say that it is a scandal that Turner received such a light sentence.

      I will argue that Turner received too heavy of a sentence. One imposed by the media, primarily the left wing media.

      Miller wants us to know her name. Brock would be better off if he changed his name. According to wiki (the easiest source to find if not the most reliable) in 2012 there were 70,930 males and 4,394 females convicted of rape and there were 67,345 female victims and 12,100 male victims.

      That's 79,445 victims who suffered more than Miller - can you name one? Me neither. They were raped, not sexually assaulted, and also they can probably remember what was done to them.

      But never mind them, we need to know Miller's name. It's Miller time.

      What about the 75,000+ perps? They raped somebody, and almost nobody knows their name. Since the average sentence for rape is six years, many of them are presumably now out of prison, and unlike Brock, are free to go on with their lives in relative anonymity.

      Further, has it been proven that Turner accosted her when she was peeing? That's a possible scenario, but it has not been established with any proof at all.

      That is as purely speculative as the idea that anybody who raises factual concerns is arguing that "men should be able to do whatever they want to women." Those are the kind of imaginary things that get made up in order to justify a lynching.

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    7. Meh. The corporate media's "lynching" actually led to the death of poor little Osama bin Laden.

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  4. Somerby seems to have missed the important fact that Turner was caught in the act and detained by a witness until the police arrived.

    Why then would anyone need to dwell on the "facts" that this journalist is supposedly pleased to withhold (as if it were in her power to bring back Weiner's memory)? Being raped is not fun for women. Why would Somerby consider it anyone's right to know the details? This book isn't a trial, this isn't court testimony. It is a first person memoir. But Somerby thinks the reviewer (the journalist Weiner) should be concerned that ALL the facts of her experience are not revealed? What kind of ghoul is Somerby to demand this of either Miller or Weiner?

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    1. Typo: bring back Weiner's memory should be "bring back Miller's memory".

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    2. 'What kind of ghoul is Somerby '

      The kind who defends Roy Moore, in short, a Trumptard.

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    3. The kind who defends Brock Turner and Judge Persky, without saying so, by attacking not only Miller but anyone who writes about her book (Weiner) in the name of defending journalism (when he is actually defending everyman, like Moore, Elliot Rodger and Ted Bundy).

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    4. boy did you entirely miss somerby's point - he wasn't saying that we should know the details, he was complaining about the imprecise language that Weiner used with regard to Ms. Miller forgetting the episode.

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    5. Somerby is complaining because Weiner didn't point out that Miller's blackout was alcohol induced. To what end? The book isn't a rehash of the rape. It is about what happened in the aftermath. That doesn't concern Somerby because he is focused on the details of the trial and whether Turner is possibly innocent. That is Somerby's agenda.

      Turner was CONVICTED by the court, which no doubt heard everything. Turner had his defense. Further, it doesn't matter why Miller doesn't remember that part of the evening. Rape is not OK no matter what the reason for Miller's incapacitation.

      It is very telling that Somerby considers this an important detail. Women reading the book won't care about it.

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    6. 2:56,
      Where is deadrat to point out that if Somerby wants precise language, he can write his own book?

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    7. @9:07, I'm not sure what you mean, but no one needs me to point out that Somerby can write his own book. He has. Link above.

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    8. deadrat playing dumb about who can criticize who,per the deadrat rules, is adorable.

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    9. I'm pretty sure that you're not just playing dumb.

      I don't have any rules about who can criticize whom. How could I enforce them if I did?

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  5. 'Is it true that basic facts no longer matter to major journalists, or no longer matter as much? '

    Only to Trumptards and Roy Moore defenders like TDH

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    1. Somerby said that 32 year old men such as Moore "dating" barely legal teens (ages 18-19) is OK because the mamas approve (at least one of them did) and it is a Southern tradition to marry young. Moore, of course, was accused of assaulting girls as young as 14, but Somerby barely mentions that. He presents these other cases of harassment of young girls as if they were an exoneration of Moore's other troublesome behavior. The press used that behavior with the slightly older girls as evidence that he was interested in cradle robbing, but Somerby thinks Moore is only answerable for the accusations concerning the 14 year olds. Somerby's refusal to consider Moore's actions as a whole, in their full context, and his insistence that there was nothing wrong with "dating" 18 year olds constitutes a defense of Moore, since it tends to normalize his behavior and make it appear that he was just doing what others do in the South (and the mamas approved!).

      And Somerby wrote about 75 articles about it (forget the exact number but it was enough to show strong motivation to create a more favorable impression of Moore's activities).

      You can just shut up deadrat. We were here and we read what Somerby wrote. I wouldn't leave Moore alone in a room with any young lady I cared about. If you would, you are an idiot.

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    2. You can just shut up deadrat. explained @4:51.

      We were here and we read what Somerby wrote.

      Who’s we? I think you mean you. And you didn’t read for comprehension.

      I wouldn't leave Moore alone in a room with any young lady I cared about. If you would, you are an idiot.

      I wouldn’t leave anyone alone in a room with the Gadsden Mall Creeper. I think he’s a repellent human being. But he’s coming up on his thirty-fourth wedding anniversary to a woman with whom he’s had and raised four children, two of them daughters. Almost 652K Alabama citizens gave him their vote in his last election.

      Now, maybe Moore has treated his daughters monstrously and he’s managed to keep that a secret. Also maybe those 650K+ voters have all lost their moral bearings. But what I know for sure, is that Moore’s private, legal habits aren’t much of my business. Yours either.

      Somerby said that 32 year old men such as Moore "dating" barely legal teens (ages 18-19) is OK because the mamas approve (at least one of them did) and it is a Southern tradition to marry young.

      TDH pointed out that these days 18-19 year old females are considered women and are granted agency to run their personal lives., your delicate sensibilities notwithstanding. The women involved didn’t see a problem. The people who cared about them didn’t see a problem. So, who the hell are you?

      Moore, of course, was accused of assaulting girls as young as 14, but Somerby barely mentions that.

      You’re lying about this. Again. And I’m gonna call you out on it every time you do. TDH said that the assault claim by a woman who was 14 at the time was “credible,” and that the media barely mentioned the accusation, instead preferring to tut-tut about legal, consensual relationships.

      You don’t get to decide for other adults what’s dating and what’s “dating.” If you got “a more favorable impression of Moore’s activities” after reading TDH, then more fool you.

      It just goes to show that, as I said, you can’t read for comprehension. You’d rather guess about what shows the blog owner’s “strong motivation.” Which just shows your own prurient and puritanical sensibilities.

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    3. 'Also maybe those 650K+ voters have all lost their moral bearings.'

      Very likely, but not as much as TDH who spent lots of virtual ink defending Moore, and doing his usual 'useless idiot' schtick.

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    4. PU|SU, which let me remind you means "Put up or shut up." You won't do either. Quote TDH "defending" Moore. Consider it a dare.

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  6. "But might we think of the Brothers Grimm as we read this passage by Weiner, in which complicating facts are dropped, perhaps in the search for increased anger and fear?"

    It is almost as if Somerby wants to accuse Miller of deliberately not remembering in order to make her case stronger. But he cannot say that, so he instead accuses Weiner (the book reviewer) of dropping facts that Miller has omitted, in order to increase the reader's anger. As if what actually happened weren't enough to evoke anger!

    What fact on earth would excuse Turner for raping a drunk woman caught peeing behind a dumpster. Remember that there is a witness who saw him doing it. This isn't a he said-she said moment. It doesn't depend on Miller's memory. Turner was caught in the act and detained by a witness until the police were called.

    These are the facts that Somerby has chosen to omit from his review of Weiner's review of Miller's book, which is about the experience of the trial and being a nameless victim of a life-changing experience, how she got her voice back and dealt with the aftermath, which was traumatic too.

    But Somerby has no empathy for Miller and no doubt considers it immaterial that she is a good writer and her book is worth reading, even if you don't give a shit about women or what happens when a woman is raped.

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    1. There was also forensic evidence of sexual penetration, two of the three charges for which Turner was convicted.

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  7. It’s not difficult to imagine that Somerby wants to call the prosecution’s, and by extension, Chanel Miller’s, version of events into question.

    Because Miller says she blacked out around midnight, how would she know for sure that she had not given her consent to Turner?

    That is the most likely question Somerby wants to ask about the incident. Why else take the trouble to read Miller’s book (well, the first two pages at least)?

    It’s a valid question, I suppose, but so much of what passes for jurisprudence regarding rape/sexual assault cases relies on “he said/she said” testimony, and there often are no eyewitnesses or even physical evidence, which makes these types of cases particularly difficult.

    While this difficulty can theoretically result in false convictions of men, it can also be exploited by those who wish to make a public show of questioning women’s credibility or motives in such cases, particularly high-profile ones such as this. There is a certain vocal political group out there that wants to show how women/liberals hate men, and may be using #MeToo and the courts to punish men “unfairly”.

    Somerby comes close to giving this view a fair hearing, rightly or wrongly.

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    1. There seems to be very little concern among men about the large number of rapes that go unreported, the difficulty getting prosecutors to pursue rape and assault charges, and the unwillingness of women to face the stigma and continuing trauma that accompanies pursuing such a case. Miller's book should be educational for such men, including Somerby, if he reads it with any kind of open mind.

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    2. This is like a man worrying that because he owns a car, he will be charged with hit and run, even if he never hits anyone and never runs from police.

      If someone is wrongly charged, the justice system should sort things out. If it doesn't, the problem is with the justice system, not cars.

      It can be argued that the group of men who worry about women hating them, or liberals and #METOO running amok, are either paranoid, have no faith in our justice system (and journalistic establishment), or are guilty of something they shouldn't be doing.

      Trump claiming that all 27 of his accusers are lying skanks doesn't help the matter. Somerby, with his belief that women are out to get men, will identify with Trump's denials and rush to his defense, as he has done before with men who don't deserve his concern (e.g., Moore).

      Somerby needs to acknowledge that there are SOME men who abuse women, before he rushes to discredit the only mechanisms for righting wrongs done against women.

      How can women be using the courts "unfairly" when the courts are run by and dominated by men?

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    3. If someone is wrongly charged, the justice system should sort things out.

      That is just adorable. No, really, Sparky, just adorable.

      Somerby needs to acknowledge that there are SOME men who abuse women, before he rushes to discredit the only mechanisms for righting wrongs done against women.

      And since he does nothing to discredit these "mechanisms," why does he need to "acknowledge" that "SOME" men are abusers?

      Go back and read the blog entry again. Sound out the big words if you have to. TDH isn't talking about men or rape victims. He's criticizing reporters and their reporting. In this he may have a point or he may not. What's clear is that you don't.

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    4. How can Somerby be criticizing reporting and reporters when this is an example of a BOOK REVIEW and nothing is being reported at all. The author, Weiner, is discussing a book written by Miller based on her experiences. No one is reporting anything.

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    5. And they call me literal.

      Er, 4:43P, it's a book review -- why you think that needs to be all caps is a mystery to me -- and when you did these in high school it was called a book report. Weiner is, in fact, reporting on a book and the incident that prompted its writing (about which she can't seem to get the simplest facts straight). If it makes you feel any better, classify it under the "american discourse" that TDH announces he intends to muse upon. It's right there in the top banner.

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    6. 4:43pm, it is a book about an assault. Last I heard, that’s a crime.

      Weiner may find it some bit of consolation that due to the victim’s blackout, she and we are spared the gruesome details, but the specifics would certainly matter as to the criminal case. They’d certainly be as important as hell to the accused. To posterity in general.

      Why would anyone with more distance from the matter than the girl’s mother, want any thing less than the facts?

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    7. The book isn't about the crime. It is about the victim's life after the crime.

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    8. 9:08pm, Weiner is a journalist. She’s not a publicist for Miller or for Miller’s publishing company.

      In Weiner’s review of Miller’s book, she uses this incident (and what details of it that we have) to generate heat about crimes against women. Could Weiner’s ready dismissal of Miller’s blackout be the sort of incuriousness seen in narrative keeping rather than in truth seeking?

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  8. Somerby omits the most basic facts about the incident: Caught in the act, a court found Brock Turner guilty of sexual assault. That Somerby thinks readers could only be manipulated to feel anger about this or other proven crimes suggests that what he's really saying is:

    "I personally don't think sexual assault is a big deal. I am not politically motivated by appeals or accounts of such minor incidents, so I don't think people who may or may not have experienced these inconveniences should be heard from. Things should go back to how they were before, when women were routinely disbelieved and the kinds of people I don't really care about didn't say things that I find tedious and meaningless. I hate the Democrats."

    Like so many aging pundits whose opinions once predominated, Somerby presents dishonest arguments and avoids saying what he really means because at some level he knows it's not straightforwardly defensible. To quote the politician who seems to most impress him: Sad!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Somerby omits the most basic facts about the incident….

      Maybe because he’s not writing about the victim but about a journalist.

      Somerby thinks … what he’s really saying … Somerby presents dishonest arguments … [isn’t] saying what me really means

      How about you try climbing out of TDH’s skull and commenting on what he actually writes instead of what you think he’s thinking?

      Like so many aging pundits whose opinions once predominated,.…

      Predominated? For about 20 years TDH has been a blog crying out in the wilderness. No one reads it, no one links to it, and no one ever has.

      To quote the politician who seems to most impress him: Sad!

      Trump, presumably. You do know that TDH thinks Trump is disordered to the point of insanity and stands a good chance of ending the world, right?

      What’s Sad! is your inability to read for comprehension.

      Delete
    2. Once again deadrat thinks that his interpretation is the only possible one. If he ever took a college level English class, he would have been disabused of that notion.

      Delete
    3. “he’s not writing about the victim but about a journalist.”

      Ok. But why did he pick this specific case to pay attention to?

      Delete
    4. Once again deadrat thinks that his interpretation is the only possible one.

      Once again an Anonymous Ignoramus tells me what I think.

      If he ever took a college level English class, he would have been disabused of that notion.

      On a day of downright cute comments, this one has to be the most adorable. So far.

      Interpretations are not only possible, they tend to be thick on the ground. Some are supportable with evidence and argument; others, not so much

      Delete
    5. Ok. But why did he pick this specific case to pay attention to?

      Ferfucksake, I don't know. I'm not the TDH-whisperer. I'm the one who says just read what he writes.

      Delete
    6. I'm not even really sure what deadrat's point is here. A book reviewer does not operate under the same conventions or expectations as a news reporter, and Weiner is primarily a novelist. Both deadrat and Somerby are shifty about what exactly she's doing wrong, except, I guess for not repeating details of an assault that was adjudicated in a court or, in deadrat's case, hilariously, telling him how to feel, or something like that.

      Nor does deadrat challenge the idea that Somerby is questioning Miller's account of the incident and Weiner's retelling. This is why it's relevant that Somerby elides the fact that Turner was convicted of a serious crime. Somerby's complaints only make sense if he's suggesting that maybe things did not really occur as Miller has claimed and as the "narrative" has accepted. Both he and deadrat should just say this rather than hiding behind coy implications or whataboutist distractions.

      Finally, I didn't claim that Somerby likes Trump; I said he seems impressed by him, which I based on the fact that Somerby constantly bashes the Democratic presidential candidates and reiterates over and over how difficult Trump will be to defeat. This is a claim that Trump has strong political appeal.

      Delete
    7. I'm not even really sure what deadrat's point is here.

      Well, how embarrassing for you.

      My point is the one I often make here: commenters should stop pretending to read TDH’s mind, stop reading between the lines in place of reading the lines, and stop being tribal jackasses.

      Both deadrat and Somerby are shifty about what exactly she’s doing wrong….

      So you can’t read for comprehension, and that makes me shifty?

      I haven’t said what Weiner is doing wrong for the good and sufficient reason that I have read neither her review nor the book she reviewed. But here’s what TDH objects to:

      1. Getting the simplest facts wrong, like the stated age of the author.

      2. Discussing a book about an event and its aftermath and declaring how good it is that readers won’t know the details of what happened.

      3. Pretending to know anyway what happened.

      4. Telling readers how they should feel about the event.

      How do I know this? Because I can read for comprehension.

      In all of these objections, TDH may have some good points, a single good point, or none at all.

      Nor does deadrat challenge the idea that Somerby is questioning Miller's account of the incident and Weiner's retelling.

      It seems that Miller blacked out. She has no account of the incident, including how she ended up behind the dumpster. Weiner knows, however, that Turner got her there, something she couldn’t possibly know. What’s coy about stating this?

      Finally, I didn't claim that Somerby likes Trump; I said he seems impressed by him,….

      Ah, but not in a good way. Who’s coy now?

      Somerby constantly bashes the Democratic presidential candidates and reiterates over and over how difficult Trump will be to defeat. This is a claim that Trump has strong political appeal.

      The field of Dem candidates is eminently bashable from many points of view. Are you denying this? Doesn’t mean that any one of them wouldn’t be better than Trump.

      Trump will be difficult to beat as long as the economy doesn’t tank and he doesn’t lose a war. You think he’ll be a pushover? Note: difficult, not impossible.

      A reliable 40% of voters approve of Trump. Are you counter-claiming that he doesn’t have strong political appeal?

      Delete
    8. So you and Somerby claim that Weiner is promoting a false narrative that shows how liberals believe tribal nonsense because some people make possibly wrong inferences about tertiary events surrounding a documented crime committed by a felon convicted of sexual assault. This is a very weak point that doesn't remotely challenge the central thrust of the "narrative" Somerby suggests has fatal flaws and undermines liberals' intellectual credibility.

      It's true that most liberals believe sexual assault is a problem that has received insufficient attention. It's also true that one can find examples of liberals making slightly hyperbolic arguments or presenting stories in a way that may alienate readers hostile to the basic idea that sexual assault is an issue worth worrying about.

      Somerby's wrong, however, when he asserts or implies that there's some magic set of words that liberals could use to appeal to those people or that if the left just "focused on the facts" then our political problems would be solved. This is a bizarre fantasy that seems to serve only to mask Somerby's hostility to younger liberals with different attitudes and experiences.

      As for deadrat, these "arguments" are whataboutist gotchas he seems to think are very clever. Like Somerby, he likes to focus on individual lines and then spin the conversation off in different directions that miss the main point, which, in this case, is that Brock Turner sexually assaulted Miller, a fact that liberals are upset about, which apparently makes both Somerby and deadrat think liberals are bad.

      That Somerby has to mine parenthetical statements in a book review for phrases on which to build his theory that liberal overreactions drive conservative behavior shows two things: first, that this theory rests on very flimsy evidence; and second, that contrary to Somerby's favorite thesis, it's actually people like him who are being condescending to conservatives by arguing that they base their voting behavior (including voting for a poo-throwing monkey like Trump) on minor errors by or general meanness from liberals. It's hard to think of a way to belittle conservatives more than that.

      Delete
    9. 'The field of Dem candidates is eminently bashable from many points of view. Are you denying this? Doesn’t mean that any one of them wouldn’t be better than Trump.'

      Somerby bashes all. he is a concern troll, a 'useless idiot' for Trump.

      Delete
    10. If Bob was criticizing the media, he'd have no reason to mention liberals, never mind bash them.

      Delete
    11. Pedler,

      I quote this opening paragraph in awe and wonder:

      So you and Somerby claim that Weiner is promoting a false narrative that shows how liberals believe tribal nonsense because some people make possibly wrong inferences about tertiary events surrounding a documented crime committed by a felon convicted of sexual assault. This is a very weak point that doesn't remotely challenge the central thrust of the "narrative" Somerby suggests has fatal flaws and undermines liberals' intellectual credibility.

      First of all, I explicitly disclaimed making any claims about Weiner. You can look it up by looking up to 2:58A when I wrote,

      I haven’t said what Weiner is doing wrong for the good and sufficient reason that I have read neither her review nor the book she reviewed.

      How do you make this kind of mistake? I’m assuming that you’re replying to me in good faith because I have no evidence that you’re not. So where do you get the idea that I’m accusing Weiner of “promoting false narrative”?

      Next, what does any of this have to do with liberals? TDH didn’t mention liberals in his blog entry, and I didn’t mention liberals in my comments.

      Finally, where does TDH “suggest” that Weiner’s account has “fatal flaws”? One those flaws he says is “irrelevant.” In fact, he says it five times. The others imply nothing about the “central thrust of the ‘narrative’” (by which I take it you mean the unfolding of events that led to a sexual assault.) The flaws are, according to TDH, in Weiner’s presentation.

      Paragraph the second: liberals believe sexual assault is an under-considered problem and may “slightly hyperbolic” in bringing the issue to attention. I have no idea why this is germane. Do you think TDH has accused Weiner of being hyperbolic? Do you think I have?

      Paragraph the third: TDH is wrong to think a magic incantation will appeal to “those people” and he’s wrong to ask the left to concentrate on “facts” as a solution to “our” political problems.

      Paragraph the next in which finally, we get to me (and about time):

      As for deadrat, these "arguments" are whataboutist gotchas he seems to think are very clever.

      I don’t believe you understand whataboutism. It’s the tactic of parrying an accusation by pointing to someone else supposedly as bad or worse. Hardly apropos here.

      (I note in passing the mind reading that’s common here: you know what I seem to think, when you don’t because you can’t.)

      Two “arguments” are, I believe, 1) catering to “those people” and 2) facts as political saviors.

      I think this somewhat misstates TDH’s actual arguments, which are 1) stop gratuitously alienating “those people” and 2) stick to the facts because that’s the ethical path to take. (This last is often phrased as “we spotteth the bad in the Others as we ourselves commiteth the same sins. Amen”)

      The absurdity of this claim about me should be obvious. I’m the one who says that Trumpers (or Republicans or “conservatives”) merely walk amongst us as human, carrying voids where the rest of us keep our consciences, hearts, spines, and souls. Argument #1, in either form, is one I reject. How did you manage to convince yourself otherwise?

      In any case, I’ve apparently missed the “main point, which, in this case, is that Brock Turner sexually assaulted Miller, a fact that liberals are upset about, which apparently makes both Somerby and deadrat think liberals are bad.”

      (Again, noted in passing that you once again tell me what I think. Wrong again.)

      But this isn’t the main point of the blog entry, which is about bad reporting about a book about Miller and her life after Turner assaulted her. TDH rarely discusses particular events. He’s more about the discourse and reporting about particular events. Why haven’t you picked up on this?

      Delete
    12. If Bob was criticizing the media, he'd have no reason to mention liberals, never mind bash them.

      Some of the corporate media, on and off, cater to liberal audiences. RM comes to mind. Why wouldn’t TDH mention them?

      Are you paying attention or just trying to get some?

      Delete
    13. Somerby, on and off, criticizes the media on his blog, which caters to Conservative audiences.

      Delete
  9. The most benign view of Somerby’s take is that he simply criticizes liberals for supposedly rushing to judgment and jumping on the tribal bandwagon.

    That was his view of the Christine Blasey-Ford/Kavanaugh situation, and of the Zimmermann/Trayvon Martin story, or even Roy Moore, for example.

    He would argue that liberals tribally believe the woman (Blasey-Ford) and the black kid (Martin) without examining countervailing evidence, and without acknowledging that there are things about these cases that are ostensibly unknown or unknowable.

    That seems to be where he is going with the Chanel Miller case as well.

    It isn’t necessarily clear that he is attacking #MeToo or questioning women’s credibility or denying the prevalence of rape and sexual assault against women.

    What is clear is that he takes specific incidents as examples of the general tendency, as he sees it, of liberals to be tribally irrational, and of how the press creates narratives without facts to feed these irrational beliefs.

    ReplyDelete
  10. "What is clear is that he takes specific incidents as examples of the general tendency, as he sees it, of liberals to be tribally irrational, and of how the press creates narratives without facts to feed these irrational beliefs.
    Reply"

    If this were Somerby's intent, he would pick better examples. He is complaining in this case because Weiner neglected to mention that Miller's memory problems arose from too much alcohol. But he won't come out and say that, so we must, as ever, guess what Somerby is peeved about.

    Brock Turner was convicted by a jury. He isn't the subject of Miller's book. The book is about what happened to her afterward and how she returned to some semblance of normal life after a trying experience. Somerby thinks Weiner is discussing her book in a manner to elicit anger. I think Somerby is doing fine eliciting anger, all by himself.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If this were Somerby's intent,….

      Since you have little idea of TDH’s “intent” and little way to find out, why not discuss what he actually writes? It’s not like he’s subtle in his obsessive complaints about journalists — they’re too lazy to get even the simplest facts straight, they care more for narrative about events than the events themselves, and they love scandal and other forms of tribal shit-stirring.

      Brock Turner was convicted by a jury. He isn't the subject of Miller's book.

      And this blog entry is about neither, so what’s your point?

      Somerby thinks Weiner is discussing her book in a manner to elicit anger.

      Don’t you? Weiner starts a sentence, “If you aren’t already angry.”

      I think Somerby is doing fine eliciting anger,….

      Ya lost me at think, Sparky. Ya lost me at think.

      Delete
    2. Don't you think that rape is a bad thing and that someone experiencing it, even vicariously via a book, would be angry about it?

      Delete
    3. Yes, I think rape is a bad thing.
      Yes, I think that someone reading about a rape would feel angry.

      But, no, I don't want to be told what to feel by a book reviewer. I can figure out appropriate feelings for myself.

      Delete
    4. 'Since you have little idea of TDH’s “intent” '

      Anon may not, but I do. TDH's intent is to attack liberals and to defend the likes of Brock Turner, Roy Moore and Donald Trump.

      Delete
    5. My mistake. I should have said 'defend the likes of Ron Johnson, Brock Turner, Roy Moore and Donald Trump'

      Delete
  11. “Because she was "blackout drunk" at the time, Miller doesn't remember if Turner actually "got her behind a dumpster" at all, what with all the obvious baggage Weiner's turn of phrase implies.”

    Miller doesn’t remember anything about the assault. On the other hand, Turner had a quite detailed memory about what happened. Actually, he had three different memories. In his final version, at the trial, he claimed that Miller fell and ended up behind the dumpster and that she consented to having sex of some kind.

    Turner was convicted of assault with intent to commit rape. Turner’s story was not believed.

    In the quoted passage, Weiner is not ascribing the statement “got her behind the dumpster” to Miller. She interpolates that from the facts and the verdict in the case.

    If Turner had the intent to rape Miller, as he was convicted of doing, it seems likely that he would steer her behind the dumpster out of plain view. Why else would she end up behind a dumpster?

    ReplyDelete
  12. deadrat says:
    “For about 20 years TDH has been a blog crying out in the wilderness. No one reads it, no one links to it, and no one ever has.”

    Kevin Drum has linked to it, even recently. So has Paul Krugman, although not recently. Bill Moyers gave it a shout-out. Gene Lyons has called Somerby his “mentor.”

    Look at the Blogroll here:
    https://progresspond.com/

    It’s Martin Longman’s blog. He also writes for Washington Monthly. He still links to TDH.

    And for a blog no one reads, there seem to be commenters, including you. And you seem to read it. At one point during those 20 years, he had a readership and a reputation that likely exceeded those of lots of other smaller blogs.

    Why are you lying?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I used a backlink checker to find that 292 domains refer to TDH. Talkingpointsmemo has over 50K. That’s a ratio of .00584. The top news squib, one of many, on TPM has 440 comments. A blog entry here won’t get comments above two digits.

      At one point during those 20 years, he had a readership and a reputation that likely exceeded those of lots of other smaller blogs.

      Somerby is credited with starting the first daily political blog, but that was a long time ago, almost 20 years. You’re reduced to citing a Paul Krugman reference that’s not recent and the fact that Bill Moyers once gave the blog a “shout-out.” 3 years ago.

      Yeah, I read the blog, and I’m nobody. But at least I know what I’m talking about. You read it too, but you don’t know what you’re talking about, so that won’t be much comfort in the recognition sweepstakes.

      Why are you lying?

      Allow me to answer that question with one of my own. Why are you clueless?

      Delete
  13. I simply would like to give a huge thumbs up for the good data you’ve Write here on this post. I shall be coming again to your weblog for extra soon.
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    ReplyDelete
  14. "What a remarkable statement! Weiner, a major American journalist, seems to say we should be grateful because we've been "spare[d]...the specifics of exactly what happened" in the widely-discussed incident under review."

    Somerby is spectacularly tone deaf in this statement. First, he misunderstands the purpose of Miller's book, which is not to rehash the trial but to talk about how she got her life back on track after being the victim of an assault. The book is about her subjective experiences and her view of what it was like to be the victim of such an event, how it affected her and how she resumed pursuing her goal to be a writer.

    Women will identify with her experiences. Somerby clearly does not. Somerby is more focused on the crime, which is why he demands the details. Weiner is focused on the person. The book is about the person, Miller, not about the crime. Women reading her book will care about Miller and her thoughts and feelings and how she got her life back on track after it was disrupted by the crime and the aftermath of it. Somerby clearly doesn't care about any of that, because he feels unsatisfied with Weiner's level of detail, perhaps because he wanted to examine the facts and reassure himself that Miller had no basis for her trauma or that Turner was wronged, or some such. But this is not a true crime book. It is about how women overcome adversity, and women who read it are relating it to events in their own lives that may be different in the details but similar in the coping required.

    Somerby's response to this book is offensive because he seems to want to invalidate both Miller and Weiner's emotional reaction (or her understanding that readers should feel an emotional response to Miller's book). Part of the experience of trauma is that women's experiences are minimized by men. Women are told that they are "being hysterical" or "overreacting" or even fabricating a story. This is part of what makes dealing with assault difficult. Other women may feel sympathy, but there is also a tendency to blame the victim (in order for others to feel safer in their own skins), to tell her how she could have been less foolish, not "invited" her assault. But this is part of what women's advocates are addressing -- rape/assault is the fault of the rapist, not the victim. There is no excuse for assaulting a woman and the woman did not invite it, no matter how short her skirt or how drunk she was, or what she remembers afterward. So Somerby's desire for details that will exonerate Turner (and all men, by proxy) is wrong.

    Somerby is an asshole for picking this book (and reviewer) to malign. He doesn't understand the nuance but simply wants to batter so-called liberals for caring about women's concerns. I am not convinced that liberals in general, no matter their lip service, really do care about this particular issue. They know they should, but I believe this book and its review are aimed at women, particularly women who have experienced similar assault (as statistics show that many how, whether they reported the crime or not). Convincing liberals that their values, principles, ideals are foolish is not what a liberal would do, and Somerby reveals himself with this choice.

    It wasn't only Turner's swimming career that was derailed. That is Miller's concern in writing the book and it is what Somerby needs to consider and yet ignores -- because getting Miller's age right is much more important to him than feeling the emotional response to Miller's assault, which he thinks Weiner is wrong to assume a reader will feel.

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    Replies
    1. Somerby clearly does not [identify with the victim]
      Somerby is more focused on the crime
      Somerby clearly doesn't care
      he feels unsatisfied
      he wanted to … reassure himself that Miller had no basis for her trauma or that Turner was wronged,
      he seems to want to invalidate both Miller and Weiner's emotional reaction
      Somerby's desire for details that will exonerate Turner (and all men, by proxy) is wrong.
      He doesn't understand the nuance
      Somerby reveals himself with this choice.
      which he thinks Weiner is wrong to assume a reader will feel


      Take my advice and get out of TDH’s head. You can’t know any of the above, and your claim to know makes you look foolish.

      Stop hyperventilating — I’m told that breathing into and out of a paper bag helps — and address what TDH writes and not the offense you drag out of his every blog entry.

      TDH has said nothing about Miller or the book in which she tells us about her experiences. TDH doesn’t like Weiner’s review of said book for the reasons he actually gives. Why not address those instead of the ones you impute to TDH?

      TDH’s reasoning may be good, bad, or indifferent. If the last two obtain, why not heave yourself off your fainting couch and set him straight?

      Delete
    2. Get off the fainting couch, set Bob straight, and ignore deadrat telling you Bob can write anything he likes on his blog and if you have a problem with it you can get your own blog.

      Delete
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