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09 January 2014 @ 06:52 am
The champion  
There is no such thing as America's Foremost Public Intellectual. I can't even begin to imagine how they'd do the brackets. But naming one seems a harmless form of sport, and when Ta-Nehisi Coates made a suggestion, it didn't bother me. But he named a black woman, and someone whose name I probably should know was shocked and said Coates obviously should have picked one of a few specific white men, or perhaps a particular dead white woman if she hadn't been dead. That doesn't make the guy America's Foremost Public Asshole (for the same reason and because the competition is even fiercer), but it isn't good. Coates discusses.

ETA: Charles Pierce joins in the fun.
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Johnjohnpalmer on January 12th, 2014 05:57 pm (UTC)
So, you're saying that Byers *could not* have been saying that MHP was not a significant intellectual? That he somehow ruled it out, and that TNC was therefore excluded (if he has any intellectual credibility) from believing that was his intention?

That'd be pretty impressive to do on Twitter, but I don't see it. Since it's not ruled out, TNC is not forbidden to guess (possibly incorrectly) that this is the intent, and it is not dishonest, much less staggeringly so. Now, if Byers were to say "I agree that MHP is an outstanding intellectual, but not in the running for foremost" and, subsequent to that being brought to TNC's attention, were he to deliberately state that he saw Byers as claiming she was not, *that* is when "dishonesty" would begin.

Of course, it is entirely possible that Byers thinks MHP is a fine, outstanding intellectual, TNC knows this, and nevertheless made his claim - but that would require mindreading ability which isn't present, leaving us without evidence to differentiate dishonesty from misunderstanding or incorrect guesswork. I can't accept "staggeringly dishonest" as a viable descriptor.

As to denigration, TNC *did not* call her "the foremost" but the "most foremost" and explained why he felt that was the case, rendering it an opinion, and his explanation did not leave grounds for denigration; I think you dislike what he said (or dislike him) and are finding justification.
Kalimackalimac on January 12th, 2014 06:40 pm (UTC)
So, you're saying that Byers *could not* have been saying that MHP was not a significant intellectual?

Absolutely. Because that's not what he said.

As to denigration, TNC *did not* call her "the foremost" but the "most foremost"

"Most foremost" means "more foremost than anyone else." So does "the foremost." Same thing.

rendering it an opinion

It was already an opinion before he gave his reasons. His reasons actually attempt to make it more objective. Byers thinks it a dubious opinion.

I think you dislike what he said (or dislike him) and are finding justification.

Actually, up until this I've been a great admirer of TNC. Now I see why you are defending TNC's ludicrously dishonest reading of Byers' tweet. You're prone to ludicrously dishonest readings of others' intent yourself. (Is that unfair of me to say? No more unfair than you and TNC are being.)
Johnjohnpalmer on January 19th, 2014 10:16 pm (UTC)
Absolutely. Because that's not what he said.


I see.

So everyone speaks with perfect precision? No, you're not that stupid. You know better.

So you're in an argument akin to the kinds of arguments I recall from siblings where the important thing is someone else being wrong. Please, enjoy yourself; I was having an honest (if somewhat pointed) discussion.
Kalimackalimac on January 19th, 2014 10:57 pm (UTC)
No, the important thing is that Byers did not say what TNC claimed he said. There's no matter of imperfect precision about it.

Once again, I see, you are claiming a remarkable - and remarkably inaccurate - insight into other people's minds.

Edited at 2014-01-19 11:03 pm (UTC)