Saturday, August 16, 2008

What's In A Name Initials?

Via the good people at Sadly, No!, I have learned about a paper-thin-skinned woman who blogs up a wingnut storm, who has a sense of self-importance inflated to Hindenberg dimensions, whose attitude of do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do can only have been developed with steroids, who egosurfs incessantly, whose radar for perceived slights is always turned to 11, and whose reactions thereto put volcanoes to shame. (Except for the limited vocabulary -- volcanoes are far more eloquent.)

In her mind, mockery equals censorship, liberals are fascists, and the best response to criticism is either play the victim card or threaten to sue.

And her initials are A.A.

No, I'm not talking about Ann Althouse. Good guess, though.

It turns out there's another A.A. fitting this description, Amy Alkon, the self-billed "Advice Goddess."

The latest storm began with a post she put up a few days ago, a racist screed saying that a black woman who was shot by some cops deserved it, and going on to condemn all those dark-skinned people and their "litters." Perhaps in response, someone did a prank edit of her Wikipedia page, inserting a line describing her as "a male-to-female transsexual." In true Althousian fashion, she simultaneously displayed outrage at the "attack" and delight at the attention. And, of course, she blogged about it. Which led to one of those Wiki-edit wars, eventual lock-down of the Wikipedia page, and much sputtering from our Amy. Well, the Sadlys took note, and the rest, as they say, was Pure Comedy Gold.

I wandered over to the post after quite a few others had, and observed that at one point in the comments, she said:

You can't be a newspaper columnist and a blogger and be all sensitive about what people say about you, and I'm not.

Ironic enough, given her meltdown over her Wikipedia page, but then I noticed quite a few other comments that she had added under the same post. I observed that by the time I happened upon the scene, she had been going for about twenty hours non-stop, feverishly responding to every comment that didn't come from one of her usual fawning clique. With a quick CTRL-u, CTRL-a, CTRL-c, CTRL-w, ALT-TAB, CTRL-v, and a few moments in Emacs, I extracted the time-stamp lines for all of her comments in the thread up to that point. I posted the list of lines as a comment, underneath a blockquote of the above self-congratulatory line. She responded within minutes, accusing me of "trying to kneecap" her. I posted a follow-up comment suggesting she calm down and not get so bent out of shape at a little lighthearted snark. She called me a "tiny little fascist" and banned me from posting any more comments.

A short while later, she put up a new post, whining about the attention that she was so obviously loving, denying that she was just another right-wing blowhard, and added this, in the comments below:

Some creep named Brendan just posted a copy of the time-stamps of the corrections I made in my Wikipedia page, everytime [sic] these tiny jackbooted thugs posted another lie on the page.

I used a little trickery to get around her attempt to block me, and posted a comment on the new post, wondering aloud about the dichotomy between her repeated trumpeting of her investigative skills and her inability to get her facts straight -- the time-stamps, I reminded her, were not from the Wikipedia edit history, but from her own comments on her own blog.

She didn't like that very much, and deleted my comment a few minutes after I posted it. The truth hurts, I guess, particularly when it's about the Empress's new clothes.

Ah, well. No biggie. I'd already started to feel a little silly about teasing someone so obviously unable to take it. Fish, barrel, and so forth.

I'm not sure if you have the same morbid fascination for these A.A. types as I do; if so, you might have a look and get a few laughs. Be aware, if you're tempted to leave a comment of your own that you think she might not like, that she has the habit of publishing what easily obtainable personal information she can pick up from your browser and how you sign your comment -- email address, home page URL, IP address, and so on. Because she's

… absolutely fine with (and even encourage[s] … Anyone criticizing me or my ideas on my blog …

and she's against

… intimidating and punishing … for speaking in a way not approved.

The only remaining question for me is this: as part of the righteous battle to expose wingnuttery to the light, should I check in on her from time to time? It's not like the Sadlys don't already do a masterful job, but there's a lot to keep track of out there.

Or is this A.A., like the other one, just so pathetic that it's best not to give her any more attention?

[Added] Just for the record, and so I have this link for my own future reference, I have retold this story in a comment on Glenn Sacks's site. Sacks is a friend of Amy Alkon's. He composed a blog post that appears to be based entirely on Alkon's side of the (larger) story. As a "tiny little fascist" who admires Teh Sadlys and think that they run one of the best and brightest sites on the 'Net , I felt compelled to add my voice.


John Evo said...


But it's still a hilarious post! You go, you little fascist! Damn, I never had a real fascist friend before. And I never even noticed the tendency in you. Guess I'm losing my touch.

bjkeefe said...

You're not allowed to answer an OR question with a YES.

Thus spoke my inner totalitarian.

John Evo said...

I did not know that! OK. Let me try again.

It is best to not give her any more attention. Sir.

bjkeefe said...


Mostly, I think you're right. However, I have some of the same thoughts running through my head about this as I do whenever I try to decide how to respond to some wingnut on the forums.

My mama always told me, "Just ignore them." As a first approximation, this is a good rule. It works very well for a child on a playground.

However, I don't think it's always the best policy later in life. One of the biggest problems with our country, I have come to believe, is that extremist right-wing statements have too long been allowed to stand unquestioned. We liberals have spent too long "just ignoring them," or at most, politely murmuring, "You may have a point there." This has resulted in a whole raft of objectionable and even abhorrent statements now being considered acceptable. The extremists point to these as precedent and then take it another step further.

In every society that has turned in on itself and tossed aside its best qualities, one of the things that is always said in rueful retrospect is, "If only I'd said something back then."

Now, I don't want to go Full Metal Hat and claim that the US is one step from plunging into the abyss. I do want to say that it's not easy, while things are happening, to say just how bad they might get, and how much risk we're running right now, of looking back sometime in the future and saying, "If only I'd said something." My best judgment, after considering these things since the Rush Limbaugh first became a household name, is that we've let things go too far, and it's time to start pushing back.

Is Amy Alkon the spearhead of the coming fascist state? Hardly. But she is an example of the mindset upon which such a state is built. Also, just as she is a Z-lister, so am I a Z-lister. It seems to me that I can do the most good by challenging someone at my own level and leaving people like Stewart and Maher and Dawkins and Hitchens to take on the other side's heavyweights.

I'm not really pledging a lifelong commitment to watchdogging Amy Alkon, but you get my point.