Friday, March 25, 2005

Let's Have a Snarkiness Contest 

At one time I read Andrew Sullivan fairly regularly. At that time I felt he was a well considered and thoughtful writer. Well, he seems to have gotten over that and fallen victim to Professional Writer's Snarkiness Syndrome. You know, that disease that causes an otherwise intelligent person to extract isolated events or statements in order to intentionally misrepresent the meaning and afford themselve's the opportunity to play the "look how stupid they are and how brilliant and witty I am" act. While this affliction used to mainly manifest itself when discussing some aspect of "Same Sex Marriage," it has spread to other areas of his commentary, most recently anything dealing with Terri Schiavo. Actually I may be over specifying here, as the peaks of his PWSS are seen directed toward "religious zealots."

First a thoughtful comment by Glenn Reynolds that the methods "conservatives" have employed in support of Terri Schiavo closely mirror the same tactics they have deplored when used by "liberals" is twisted by Andrew into a confession by Glenn about "what the religious right is doing to conservative principles." This is further expounded upon in the now typical Andrew hysteria as proof that "religious zealotry cannot be incorporated into conservatism." Of course, considering that "religious zealotry" is certainly unwelcomed in the liberal camps I can only conclude that Andrew's point is that those he considers these zealots simply should not be represented at all. (OK, that was a bit "snarky," too. God, I hope it's not contagious.)

But Andrew reserves the big guns for those who support Terri Schiavo's parents in their desire to sustain their daughter's life. A refusal to unquestioningly accept Michael Schiavo's word and prefer a stricter standard (i.e. a properly executed living will) to demonstrate Terri's wishes is, in Andrew's view, a hypocritical attack on the "religious-right's" avowed belief in the "sanctity of marriage." Perhaps he hits this so strongly because it not only plays against "religious zealots" but also relates to his other sacred cow. Granted, I'm not plugged into conservative Christianity, but I don't think it's all that hard to believe that the "sanctity of marriage" does not necessarilly mean that one spouse is allowed to unquestioningly speak for the other with no further legal documentation required. Further I'd wager a tidy sum that by the standards of many on the "religious-right" Michael Schiavo voluntarilly gave up his moral rights to speak for his wife once he decided to take on a defacto new wife, including starting a completely new family. While there is certainly room for disention on the validity of Michael Schiavo's claims, trying to depict questioning it as some sort of hypocracy on behalf of a large and nebulous religious group on the basis of the concept of the "sanctity of marriage" just doesn't fly.

The final example is probably one of the efficient uses of snark, based upon a line to snark ratio:
"I just heard Terri Schiavo's brother say on CNN that his sister is speaking to him. What did she say? Or is he lying?"
I didn't see the event, nor did Andrew provide a link to any source transcript, but might there not be a third possibility? Maybe a metaphorical use of the verb "speaking"? Something like the lawyer who claims the dead to be "speaking from the grave" through the evidence presented? C'mon Andrew, is it really that important to you to make fun of a man whose sister is dying while he is powerless to stop it but others could? Have you really become so myopic, mean spirited and small minded?

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