Pics or it didn’t happen?
One of the slow-news-day stories zipping around the blogosphere this morning is the tale of NRO’s Kevin Williamson act of bravery or hooliganism (depending on whose blog you’re reading). If you haven’t come across it yet, here’s the skinny:
Williamson wrote a blog post yesterday describing how he went to the theatre and was annoyed by a middle aged woman texting during the performance. So they had words, and yadda yadda yadda, he grabbed her phone and threw it across the room. He took a stand against vulgarians! He used cat-like reflexes! Criminal charges may be coming! He’ll keep us posted! Many bloggers (read: liberal) are making him out to be an abomination for having done so, while others (read: conservative) are trumpeting his ascendence to Tebow-like status. My own thoughts, as I read Williamson’s post, go in a very different direction:
I’m dubious that it ever actually happened.
In a lot of ways, Williamson’s post reminds me a lot of the New York Post article Dave linked to earlier this week, which employs the same kind of purposeful “That’s outrageous!” appeal Williamson’s cell phone throwing does. In the Post piece, unsourced quotes attributed to wealthy Manhattanites didn’t sound like things wealthy Manhattanites would say; they sounded more like things a terrible hack would imagine wealthy Manhattanites saying. Similarly, nothing in the exchanges Williamson notes sound or feel like the exchanges real people have in real life – it reads more like something he imagined doing while stewing in his seat. Being the latest in a long, long line of Irish Storytellers, I can usually tell a story from an account, and Williamson’s feels like the former.
I notice a lot of this in punditry, actually. The most famous example, of course, is David Brooks’s description of observing people at the Applebees salad bar – apparently not knowing when he wrote it that Applebees doesn’t have a salad bar. Several weeks ago I came across a blogger (a favorite of mine, actually) who was criticizing Brooks for the zillionth time about this very kind of hackery. In his anti-Brooks post, the blogger talked about how being anti-Brooks made him the rebel professor at the college he worked for; all the other professors were always going up to one another in the hallways, gleefully asking, “Have you read the new awesome David Brooks column?” It was the most post-modern blog post I have ever read, because coming from a family of academics and having spent a lot of time with academics of all stripes and sizes from all over the U. S. of A., I know that college professors don’t actually wander the halls looking for people that might listen to them sing the praises of David Brooks. It is one of those stories that sounds good, but doesn’t actually happen. It was an amazing instance of out-Brooksing Brooks. It’s the kind of story that, if you really enjoy the experience of hating David Brooks (as so many people do), you just want to be true.
Williamson’s cell chucking story is similar. Even though I don’t buy it I very much want it to be true. I very much hope that it is.
Williamson wrote my absolute favorite schadenfreude article about Mitt Romney during the election. In an attempt to combat the whole War On Women meme, he penned a cover story for NRO explaining that women should vote for Mitt because he was rich and chicks dig rich guys. He also argued that Mitt sired sons rather than daughters, which proved he wasn’t a p**sy – something that women find a turn-off. It was awesome. It was like a secret Obama agent had snuck into NRO and published a parody of the very misogyny liberals were accusing conservatives of supporting. This is why I hope the cellphone throwing story really is true.
In his account of his evening at the theatre, Williamson notes that it was a whole bunch of people, men and women both, who were distracting him with their phones. If the story is true and he actually decided to go after a middle-aged woman rather than one of the men, and then triumphantly crowed about his courageousness in doing so, it would be like reliving the joy of reading that Mitt Romney article all over again. It would be extra space awesome with awesome sauce and a chaser of awesome to wash it all down.
Sadly, though, it sounds like bulls**t.