Perhaps the best political or literary take-down of my generation was penned by Matt Taibbi in response to Thomas Friedman's "The World Is Flat." In the review, Taibbi notes the peculiar quality that distinguishes Friedman from the usual beltway idiots ( link ):
The usual ratio of Friedman criticism is 2:1, i.e., two human words to make sense of one word of Friedmanese. Friedman is such a genius of literary incompetence that even his most innocent passages invite feature-length essays...Thomas Friedman does not get [metaphors] right even by accident. It's not that he occasionally screws up and fails to make his metaphors and images agree. It's that he always screws it up. He has an anti-ear, and it's absolutely infallible; he is a Joyce or a Flaubert in reverse, incapable of rendering even the smallest detail without genius.
in a like manner, Paul T. Mero, alpha brain at Salt Lake City's conservative Sutherland Institute, has an anti-brain to match his blunted, ponderous prose style, in which occasional incoherent spasms of arrogant cruelty are held up as examples of "intelligence."
Mero has caught my eye before. He first came to my attention when, on a friend's Facebook page, he compared President Obama to Adolf Hitler, while insisting he wasn't really comparing Obama to Hitler (link here ). I later noted his hilarious defense of "traditional marriage," in which he opined (and I'm not kidding, link ):
[Polygamist marriages], though plural, were between one man and one woman.That should give you some idea of the caliber of intellect we're dealing with here.
Mero is a pompous, sneering dickhead, but that doesn't set him apart from the rest of his ilk in any extraordinary way. What gets my attention, and yanks my eyeballs to many of his online or in-print columns, is Mero's gift - much like the "genius" of Thomas Friedman as described by Matt Taibbi - for torturing logic, this way, that way, inside and out, and then accusing his ideological opponent of irrational thinking.
It's the intellectual equivalent of watching a drunken clown hopped up on methamphetamine juggle live snakes.
Recently, Paul wrote a column for the Salt Lake Tribune called "Secular Disdain For Religion" ( link ). It was an impressively Friedman-esque kernel of half-wittery in which Mero said, among other things:
Condemning organized religion because of the Inquisition or the Taliban is like condemning Albert Einstein because some people have low IQs.
Got that? Me neither, but Mero strolls smugly past this logical inconsistency as though he has just scored a master-stroke.
Mero's favorite targets for pie-flinging these days are Salt Lake Tribune columnists George Pyle - who was the subject of the Mero attack-column quoted above - and Peg McIntee. McIntee drew Mero's wrath ( link ) by taking issue with a recent statement by LDS Apostle Dallin Oaks, in which Oaks said that children of same-sex couples are like children of single mothers, that is to say at a disadvantage and at greater risk.
Mero starts out by saying:
In a day and age of "fact-checking" let's fact-check McIntee. Actually, we'll "logic-check" McIntee, because she offers only opinions.
To get more of the full Paul T. Mero flavor, note that "fact-checkers" (nice scare quotes, Paul) are suspect under his cod-eyed gaze.
|I painted this myself using only clown make-up and Crayolas|
Truly, this is a man in his preferred place and time, given Mitt Romney's presidential campaign's lies and public announcement that they will not be hindered by facts or fact-checkers.
For example, Mero bizarrely attempts to rebut - but actually reinforces - McIntee's statement that "It is an insult born of ignorance and blatant lies against gay couples and parents" to conflate same-sex parentage and child abuse and neglect. Here's how Mero doubles down while pointing out how "illogical" McIntee's point is:
The "it" she cites is her interpretation of what Elder Oaks said in his remarks about perils to children. Early in his address, Elder Oaks states "worldwide, we are shocked at the millions of children victimized by evil adult crimes and selfishness." Those "adult crimes" he mentions include child prostitution, child pornography, abortion and child abuse. Examples of "selfishness" of adults he mentions include premature deaths [Ed. - ?], avoidable accidents, and stunted growth due to neglect, psychological abuse, physical and sexual abuses, demeaning behaviors, and bullying designed to humiliate, divorce, cohabitation and same-sex relationships.
Mero, you foul, pea-brained jackass, that's the point McIntee was making.
When you conflate cohabitation and same-sex relationships with sexual abuse and child pornography, it is EXACTLY "an insult born of ignorance and blatant lies." ("Lies," because, as virtually every major mental health and social work organization has concluded, children of same-sex couples do great [ link ])
It must be nice to be Paul T. Mero.
You get up, you check your email. You get to sling broadsides at marginalized and/or persecuted minorities (in this case both gay couples and single mothers) without being held accountable for one single fact. You cook up some garbled and barely coherent essay for your think tank. A quick check-in with the Bishop, and that's basically your day.
Mero also has some creepy points to make about how his understanding of "gay love" and what it has to do with kissing his dad, agape versus eros, and why gays are sending us to hell in a handbasket.
I have plenty of scorn for and disgust with Mero to fill another post, so - TO BE CONTINUED!