There has been a huge kerfuffle across the blogosphere in the past week, and at the centre of it one can find none other than the Toronto Star’s very own Antonia Zerbisias. We’ve called out the Zerb before (back when her blog kind of sucked, but we’re glad to report it’s gotten a lot better since then), but this time is special.
It turns out that the Zerb is now heavily active on the Twitters, and, during a round of making fun of right-wing media personalities with other Twitterati, said the following: “Forget the Marxists. I wish the marksmen would take @MichelleMalkin. I’m thinking Dick Cheney. He’s such a great shot.”
Michelle Malkin, for the uninitiated, is the author of such books as In Defense of Internment, which defended Japanese-American internment camps during World War II (and which drew criticism from actual historians for such piddling little details like “the central premise of this book is complete bullshit“), and Unhinged: Exposing Liberals Gone Wild, which sadly had nothing to do with Mardi Gras or girls showing you their breasts in exchange for strings of cheap plastic beads.
Michelle Malkin is also rather notoriously thin-skinned. And herein begins the drama, because Michelle Malkin was very very hurt and upset by the Zerb’s Tweet comment. (Twomment? Tweement? What’s the proper stupid neologism to use here?)
Now, don’t get us wrong. The Zerb’s joke was lame. First off, a “Dick Cheney shooting people in the face” reference is about as timely as a “Kanye West says George Bush hates black people” reference. And, were we Michelle Malkin, we would probably not be that happy about people making dumb jokes about Dick Cheney shooting us in the face. Heck, Zerb could’ve made a joke about how Michelle Malkin is terrified of scarf-wearing celebrity chefs. At least that would have been timely.
But, true to form, Michelle Malkin went into full offended overdrive. It’s “hate speech.” (We’re not sure what segment of the population the Zerb was targeting, but apparently she hates them.) Also, she used the internet version of air-finger-quotes to call the Zerb a “mainstream” journalist, so that means she thinks Antonia is not in the mainstream! Or maybe she does, because later she complains that “since you’re a mainstream journalist and a lib, you think you are entitled to get a pass—and then entitled to play victim and complain.” And naturally, she ran to tattle.
We will just pause for a moment here to savour the irony of Michelle Malkin whining about somebody else playing the victim. It was, after all, Michelle Malkin who encouraged her readers to stalk an eight-year-old boy and his family after repeatedly lying about the family’s personal finances, and then whined like a little girl when she was called out for her behaviour. (Side bonus: that link includes Canada’s very own Mark Steyn telling us how once the eight-year-old boy went on the radio he became “fair game.” Remember, folks, Canada has its own very special breed of shithead.) It was Michelle Malkin who published the personal contact information of anti-war protesters in Santa Cruz, and then whined when people predictably told her that was outside the pale.
When pundits attack. Alex Jones confronts Michelle Malkin during the 2008 Democratic National Convention. Photos by Stephen Dohnberg/GlobalPundit.org.
But let’s not stop with Michelle Malkin, because where there’s one outraged blogger, there are hundreds of outraged bloggers! Jeff Poor at Newsbusters complained that the Zerb has made strong pro-choice comments in the past and has criticized abstinence as a form of birth control. (Memo to Jeff Poor: abstinence doesn’t work.) Poor also snarked that “[a]ccording to her online Toronto Star bio, she makes a living off of this.” Poor, you see, is a staff writer for the Media Research Center, a right-wing thinktank primarily funded by large right-wing foundations, and therefore has no experience in working in a position where merit actually counts for anything, so it’s understandable that he would be confused about how the Zerb makes a living.
And of course no discussion of ginned-up mock-outrage would be complete without a visit from Kathy Shaidle, a.k.a. “Canada’s Tiniest Racist.” Shaidle cattily comments that Antonia is a lonely old woman. “No husband. No kids. A closet full of shoes. Martinis with the girls, then goes home alone. You know the type.” Kathy Shaidle can make such accusations because Kathy Shaidle knows that proof is unnecessary. And probably also because she only got married last year in her mid-forties and therefore assumes that the Zerb has led the same sort of life.
But really, we could cite mock outraged post after mock outraged post after mock outraged post, all from people presumably smart enough to know a dumb joke when they see one. (Well, we’re not sure about that Dr. Roy guy.) It’s all very tired because cranking up the drama machine for this ephemeral little nothing is so utterly a waste of everyone’s time. This isn’t a threat. This isn’t even evidence of a violent mind. Dick Cheney with a shotgun is the new Wile E. Coyote with an ACME bomb.
Was it a dumb joke? Yep. Was it a lame joke? Yep. Was it in poor taste? Probably. But that’s what Twitter does. It is the internet version of chatting with your friends and shouting out things in a hurry. It is not meant for reflective thought. Some consider this to be a virtue, some a flaw, but that’s what it is. And personally, we’d rather have the Zerb being the Zerb and occasionally saying something stupid; the tradeoff is that you get her writing very smart pieces about the exploitation of flower plantation workers or Afghan feminist protest marches or Chinese adoption agencies and the resultant gender gap.
That’s why Antonia Zerbisias is fine right where she is.