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Saturday, January 08, 2005

WHEN ROOTING FOR HURRICANES LOSES ITS FRISSON 

Remember when John Kerry brought up Mary Cheney during the debates? I thought that was out of bounds, not because of the gay thing (whatever that might mean), but because it seemed like a breach of etiquette. In public discourse, especially between foes, here's how the rules work. (1) You can discuss your interlocutor's children to praise him--e.g., your kids turned out great so you must be doing something right (the tack Bush took when he mentioned Kerry's children, by the way). (2) You can discuss your own children to poke fun at yourself--e.g., my kids always roll their eyes when I do X. But, (3) it's tacky to discuss your own children to praise yourself--e.g., going on and on about how smart or talented or successful your little Eustace is. And (4) it's really tacky to discuss your interlocutor's children in a non-complimentary way, even indirectly--e.g., using his kids to score points against him (in other words, what Kerry did).

Well, methinks the Lileks-Wolcott feud (bang pow, if you missed it the first time around) has just taken a turn for the ugly. Now, I'll admit, Lileks walks the tightrope on Rule 3 a lot, and sometimes he wobbles the wrong way. But Rule 3 is a misdemeanor. Rule 4 is a felony, and Wolcott just committed it. Did the ocicats barb really sting that much?

UPDATE: Vanderleun from Side-Lines shares my reaction. Doug from Bogus Gold doesn't (closed circuit to Doug: Where have I been? Er, um . . . you know, busy. Yeah, busy!). Cameron from Way Off Bass rubs his hands in anticipation of a dust-up.

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