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It's All Jon Stewart's Fault
March 3, 2006 2:15 PM   Subscribe

"Why Jon Stewart Isn't Funny" (Boston Globe) In an op-ed in the Boston Globe, Michael Kalin, a "2005 Harvard College graduate" isn't predicting that Stewart will bomb on Sunday night's Oscar show. Instead, "Stewart's ever-increasing popularity among young viewers directly correlates with the declining influence of progressive thought in America. Coincidence? I think not." He blames Jon Stewart for turning tomorrow's leader away from potential careers in politics. His evidence, "Meet Joshua Goldberg, a fictional composite of the typical apostle of 'The Daily Show" who goes to work on Wall Street instead of pursuing a job in inner-city teaching like Kalin did, as he told CBS. "Although Stewart's comedic shticks [sic] may thus earn him some laughs Sunday at the Oscars, his routine will certainly not match the impact of his greatest irony: Jon Stewart undermines any remaining earnestness that liberals in America might still possess." This left me speechless. In my personal experience, Jon Stewart has dramatically increased my own children's interest in politics.
posted by notmtwain (154 comments total)

 
They may be presented in a funny way, but Jon Stewart makes real and extremely valid points. For instance, during the whole Terry Shiavo circus, only the Daily Show pointed out that - at the same time - a young black boy was taken off life support because his mother could no longer afford to pay for it.
posted by sindark at 2:19 PM on March 3, 2006


It's an almost libelous piece. A long troll.
posted by raysmj at 2:20 PM on March 3, 2006


Sorry for the lengthy FPP. I was pissed off. I think that Stewart has had the exact opposite effect on young people. They now have an interest in following the news. And I don't think they get all their news from "The Daily Show", as some have asserted. Instead, I have seen my own children become much more interested in reading the newspaper and watching TV news programs as the result of watching TDS. They don't swallow it whole. You have to know what's going on in the news to follow the jokes.
posted by notmtwain at 2:21 PM on March 3, 2006


Unfortunately, the rise of mass media and the domination of television news give Stewart's Menckenesque voice a much more powerful influence than critics in previous generations. As a result, a bright leader who may have become the Theodore Roosevelt or Woodrow Wilson of today instead perceives politics as a supply of sophisticated entertainment, rather than a powerful source of social change.

Right. The reason Washington is a den of corrupt, incompetent buffoons that repels anyone with half a brain and even the tiniest shred of a conscience is because Jon Stewart points out what a bunch of corrupt, incompetent buffoons they are.

Mr Kalin's major was sophistry, I presume.
posted by gompa at 2:22 PM on March 3, 2006


Jon Stewart The established Democrats have, over the past fifteen years, undermined any remaining earnestness that liberals in America might still possess.
posted by eustacescrubb at 2:22 PM on March 3, 2006


American Politics is, and always has been, a total farce. All Jon Stewart has done is let other people in on the joke.

People call this generation "apathetic"; I think really it's just that they get it.
posted by maxreax at 2:25 PM on March 3, 2006


notmtwain: I meant the piece, not your FPP, which was fine.
posted by raysmj at 2:25 PM on March 3, 2006


Am I missing something? The center of this guy's argument is a "fictional composite"? I know I didn't graduate from Harvard, but at least I know bullshit when I see it. Especially bullshit from an unfunny pedant. Can we just tag him and move on?
posted by RakDaddy at 2:27 PM on March 3, 2006


Dude, why do you care? A rag of a newspaper published a poorly-argued Op-Ed from a bjorkin' kid. Personally, I stopped reading at "fictional composite"; I skipped to the end, saw "Michael Kalin is a 2005 graduate of Harvard College," laughed, and went about my day.

The only embarrassing part is that it's currently the #1 Most-Emailed article among Globe readers — but hey, congratulations, you just bit the same hook.
posted by cribcage at 2:27 PM on March 3, 2006


And I mean tag the wanker from Harvard. Not nomtwain.
posted by RakDaddy at 2:27 PM on March 3, 2006


Why are you getting worked up about a letter written by a 23-yr old guy to the Boston Globe? If he just graduated last June, how is he qualified to make any observations about the future careers of even his own classmates? No stats, no data, just a loud guy-on-the street opinion.

I mean, a survey of recent college grads, for example, might actually qualify as an argument.
posted by vacapinta at 2:27 PM on March 3, 2006


An 8 paragraph piece, 4 (ehh, maybe 3.5) of which deal with a made-up persona that is used as evidence. Awful.

Anecdotes aren't evidence, but I've seen the opposite effect on folks I know. The Daily Show, headed by Stewart, has engaged a lot of my friends who otherwise have been fairly apolitical. They donate to causes, volunteer time, etc, because they have been made aware of outrages they don't see in the regular media they digest.
posted by barnacles at 2:28 PM on March 3, 2006


I can't help but thinking this was a 5000-word essay that got hacked down to 500. In its current form, it reads something like

1. Jon Stewart's sarcastic political humor
2. ????
3. Political disengagement by liberals!

That said, I cannot imagine what you'd fill in for step 2 that would make it a valid argument. Sometimes TDS is the only decent news coverage on TV.
posted by adamrice at 2:28 PM on March 3, 2006


What a fucking prick. What, was Jedediah Purdy not available? Earnestness is another word for credulity.

(Kalin's profs never got around to teaching Wilde, Petronius, Swift, or Beckett I see.)
posted by bardic at 2:28 PM on March 3, 2006


A Wikipedia article about the situation I mention in the comment above. Unfortunately, the relevant video clip is no longer on the Comedy Central site.
posted by sindark at 2:29 PM on March 3, 2006


Instead of the words "fictional composite", he could have so easily used the words "straw man", and it would have been more to the point.
posted by thanotopsis at 2:30 PM on March 3, 2006


If Jon Stewart contributes to the amount of skepticism with which Americans view politics I don't see how that could be a bad thing. If enough Americans preceive that Washington is mostly a less-than-zero-sum game played by cynical career politicians, then maybe we'll start to see some meaningful change.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 2:30 PM on March 3, 2006


Michael Kalin meet Ann Coulter. Mann Coulter meet Michael Kalin.
posted by ericb at 2:31 PM on March 3, 2006


Here's a story about a fictional composite of a 29-year-old man bored to death of 2005 Harvard man's Slate-wannabe takedown of Jon Stewart. Okay, it's not a composite - it's me. What a joke.
posted by blefr at 2:32 PM on March 3, 2006


Kalin is a fucking tool.

What keeps bright people disengaged is the combination of unparalleled arrogance and detachment from the current administration, the outright lies of the right wing media that support it, criminal laziness of the other media, lack of conviction from democrats and everything in between.

If anything, Jon Stewart (and his franchise) gives such people hope that there are still people alive and with a voice who actually understand the hypocrisy and dysfunction of the current system and can point it out succinctly.
posted by psmealey at 2:32 PM on March 3, 2006


(Or Twain, Mencken, Beirce, or Thoreau. God, this "Harvard" place must be some sort of correspondence school.)
posted by bardic at 2:32 PM on March 3, 2006


Jon Stewart The established Democrats have, over the past fifteen years, undermined any remaining earnestness that liberals in America might still possess.

Exactly.

On another note, this kind of writing bugs. me Or rather, it doesn't just bug me, it infuriates. This guy doesn't know anything at all about John Stewart's cumulative effect. He's just imagining things and weaving together a handful of anecdotes.

I mean, really, it absolutely infuriates. The guy thinks something might be true, and rather then trying to investigate whether or it is or not, he just goes around telling people that it is true.

People who read this without critical facilities will now have their heads filled with falsehoods where before there was nothing. It's damaging, and the nation is filled with muddleheaded mush brains because people keep doing it, and our national discourse is riddled with it (In my opinion :P).

How hard is it to fucking say "I think maybe" or do the research to find out for sure?

Just disgusting and pathetic.
posted by delmoi at 2:32 PM on March 3, 2006


Meet Joshua Goldberg, a fictional composite of the typical apostle of 'The Daily Show" who goes to work on Wall Street instead of pursuing a job in inner-city teaching like Kalin did, as he told CBS.

Yes, all the world's problems would just be solved if starry-eyed young men and women from our best universities decided to teach inner-city kids to read instead of becoming lawyers, investment bankers, accountants, engineers, and executives.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 2:33 PM on March 3, 2006


Dear Mr. Kalin,

Don't hate the player, hate the game.
posted by S.C. at 2:34 PM on March 3, 2006


vacapinta wrote: I mean, a survey of recent college grads, for example, might actually qualify as an argument.

NEW YORK (AP) - In a survey of fictional-composite recent college graduates, fully 97% of respondents stated that they had no interest in a career in federal politics because recent Harvard grads who write nonsensical op-eds for the Boston Globe are "whingeing assholes." The remaining 3% said they felt "very strongly" that "Fictional Composites" would be an "awesome" name for an emo band.
posted by gompa at 2:36 PM on March 3, 2006


The problem with someone making you laugh while you are eating a shit sandwich is that you end up spraying little bits of shit all over anybody around you. Jon Stewart is safely removed from the consequences of his actions thanks to the glass on the tv screen. If that wasn't there he wouldn't dare be so funny.
posted by srboisvert at 2:37 PM on March 3, 2006


If any significant part of America ever wakes up to the scandal of the Bush administration, it will not be because of the regular media. It is people like Jon Stewart, and perhaps he is the only one, IMHO, who has the freedom to point out the foibles of current politicians (along with the incredibly low point that the media has sunk to).
posted by bluesky43 at 2:37 PM on March 3, 2006


Whats even more slightly embarassing is that, as a Class Marshall, he kinda represents the Harvard Class of 2005.
posted by vacapinta at 2:39 PM on March 3, 2006


Oh fuck, that was so painfully unreadable I almost imploded. The fact that this guy is allowed a column only implicates the paper's desperation and little else. If I had never had one encounter with Stewart's show I would have still felt as intensely embarrassed for this twit, starting with the always frightful "Coincidence? I think not." Jesus, who the hell even says that with a straight face?
posted by docpops at 2:39 PM on March 3, 2006


Why are people who graduated from Harvard so often way dumber than me?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 2:41 PM on March 3, 2006


As a result, a bright leader who may have become the Theodore Roosevelt or Woodrow Wilson of today instead perceives politics as a supply of sophisticated entertainment, rather than a powerful source of social change.

God. I can't belive this guy. He is seriously saying that "a bright leader" could be both brilliant and yet so dense as to not see that politics is a dirty business?

And that the only way that they would is due to the daily show?

I mean, maybe this is the mindset of people who love the corporate media and fox news: It's better we not hear about the government fucking up, because that will make us feel bad. Rather then try to fix it, we should just ignore it, so that our best and brightest can run for office and get blindsided by sleazy fucks without anticipating it at all.

I mean really, how can anyone be this stupid?

Politics has always been a den of shady characters, in America and the world in general. Duh.
posted by delmoi at 2:42 PM on March 3, 2006


Damn those comedic schticks!
posted by sonofsamiam at 2:42 PM on March 3, 2006


Next time I have a hissy fit I know who'll publish it.
posted by tommasz at 2:43 PM on March 3, 2006


I love the irony of using a fake "composite" example to critique the effect of a "fake" news show on the future of a fake government.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:43 PM on March 3, 2006


Why are people who graduated from Harvard so often way dumber than me?

I'm not quite sure what Harvard's admission standards are recently, but in my day (lat e80s), their philospohy was to build the "well rounded" class, as opposed to look for the "well-rounded (super) student" that Yale, Princeton and Stanford tried to attract. This meant that Harvard took in a lot of world class musicians, theater rats, debaters, chemists, etc. but people that were otherwise not star students.

Having said that, as much as its fun to generalize, I have two very dear friends that are both Harvard College graduates, and they are among the most intelligent and articulate people I have ever met.
posted by psmealey at 2:47 PM on March 3, 2006


today's shit fit is written by... who the fuck is this guy? well, who cares. he's just some asshole trying to make a name for himself by talking shit about jon stewart. anyway, here it is. we needed to fill the pages.
posted by shmegegge at 2:48 PM on March 3, 2006


Wow. People don't think there's at least a grain of truth to his point? I mean, do most people really believe what America needs now is more satire and more politics-as-theatre?

It's all so strange. We have television which sells people crap but then winks ironically so people feel good about being in on the joke--even if they're still swallowing crap. Then you've got the traditional newspapers who have yet to strike a consistent ironic pose but it's not clear whether their failure to achieve such a pose is due to incompetence or some outdated sobriety. And lastly you've got citizens who are totally outraged when a newspaper publishes a false story or an author makes up his memoirs, but are willing to give the POTUS a pass when leads the country into a war on false pretenses. You know, it reminds me so much of high school. I get the feeling that all these people laughing at The Daily Show have to laugh because if they didn't laugh and tried to approach the problem seriously they'd be scared out of their fucking minds.

Anyways, I can't blame Stewart for doing anything wrong. Like SC said, don't hate the player, hate the game.
posted by nixerman at 2:52 PM on March 3, 2006


I call TROLL! Duh.
posted by mooncrow at 2:53 PM on March 3, 2006


nixerman, what America needs now is more attention paid to the fact that politics is theater, and always has been. This is what (good) satire, like Stewart in a televised medium, does.
posted by bardic at 2:54 PM on March 3, 2006


Kalin's profs never got around to teaching Wilde, Petronius, Swift, or Beckett I see

Yeah. This guy never heard of Will Rodgers?
posted by tkchrist at 2:55 PM on March 3, 2006


Why are people who graduated from Harvard so often way dumber than me?

Presumably, Kalin's talents lie in other areas: Public service, service to his class. It's a mistake to think Harvard people are smarter than you. What is generally true is that Harvard people are more ambitious than you. I mean, he has an article in the Globe that we are all discussing and you don't right? ;)

This is my own personal observation from having attended there.
posted by vacapinta at 2:55 PM on March 3, 2006


Also, lets go back over this fictional composite:

Meet Joshua Goldberg, a fictional composite ... Born in Newton, Goldberg attended Newton South High School where he played an integral role in securing the school's debate championship. His 3.8 grade point average and impressive array of extracurricular activities earned him a scholarship to Vassar, where he majored in political science and joined a Jewish fraternity. Throughout his formal education, Goldberg stayed up-to-date on national politics through nightly coverage on 'The Daily Show"

Now, we have a Newton here in Iowa, and it's a total dump. Is Newton supposed to be a poor or regular area or what?

Anyway, the elitism that streams off this page is ridiculous. Vassar? If you tell an average American you went to Vassar, they'll just want to smack you. They probably won't but they'll want too. Kerry's Ivy League education was a huge stumbling block in the elections (although Bush's wasn't. hmm).

Anyway, it's just annoying that this guy seems to think our future "leaders" need to get a 3.8 GPA and go to Vassar in order to be any good.
posted by delmoi at 2:56 PM on March 3, 2006


You mean The Daily Show is the first to point out that the political fray full of 'buffoons and idiots?"

...a bright leader who may have become the Theodore Roosevelt or Woodrow Wilson of today instead perceives politics as a supply of sophisticated entertainment, rather than a powerful source of social change.

I coulda been a contendah! Damn you, Jon Stewart!
posted by leftcoastbob at 2:58 PM on March 3, 2006


The last time some idiot tried this argument CNN canceled Crossfire.
posted by y6y6y6 at 2:58 PM on March 3, 2006


So, Stewart is going to make liberals cynical, but at the same time rampant corruption in all levels of Republican leadership is going to insire people? Wuh?
posted by my sock puppet account at 2:59 PM on March 3, 2006


I don't know about not funny, but his vocal tic of saying "uh..uh..uh.." every 5 seconds makes his show unbearable for me
posted by horsemuth at 3:00 PM on March 3, 2006


Damn that cynical Frank Capra! Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is going to kill off politics forever!
posted by designbot at 3:01 PM on March 3, 2006


Now, we have a Newton here in Iowa, and it's a total dump. Is Newton supposed to be a poor or regular area or what?

There's also a Newton, MA, which isn't a dump. Relatively wealthy area-- even by local standards.

And you don't have to go to Harvard to figure out that the dude who went to school in Cambridge and writes to a Boston paper is probably talking about a city in Massachusetts.
posted by Kwantsar at 3:01 PM on March 3, 2006


bardic,

you really think Stewart provides a starting point for critical action? I don't watch The Daily Show regularly but from what I've seen this is definitely not the case. The Daily Show works because you don't get angry, you don't get scared and, most of all, because you already know exactly what you're going to get. Each and every joke is perfectly choreographed to align with all your standard ironic cliches. It's not real "news" in the very basic meaning of the world--it's not a "new thing." I'm not surprised college students eat it up since it must hit all their hotspots without threatning their safe little world in any way. It's pure cough syrup.
posted by nixerman at 3:02 PM on March 3, 2006


That black baby wasn't taken off of life support because his mother couldn't pay.
posted by Captaintripps at 3:04 PM on March 3, 2006


Yes it was. From the Wikipedia article:
Under the Texas Futile Care Law, health care workers are allowed to remove expensive life support for terminally ill patients if the patient or family is unable to pay the medical bills.
posted by designbot at 3:08 PM on March 3, 2006


Is Newton supposed to be a poor or regular area or what?

Newton, MA is a wealthy suburb outside of Boston. It has been named the safest city in the U.S. for two consecutive years.
posted by ericb at 3:09 PM on March 3, 2006


Wow, a boston globe op-ed. This will surely be intellectually challenging to read.
posted by wakko at 3:13 PM on March 3, 2006


nixerman, Stewart obviously isn't a good place for triggering praxis. I never said that. But for critical reflection, yeah--I think he's pretty good. I'd rather college kids watched him every night than do what most of their colleagues do, i.e., get drunk, get high, troll for hook-ups, etc. Hell, Stewart is no Hubert Humphrey, but better him than the PS2 or World of Warcraft, methinks.

I just re-read part of the op-ed. What delmoi said. It's just too easy to pick apart, but my favorite canard is that somehow there's this invisible wall between Wall Street and Capitol Hill. Ex-congresspersons don't have golden parachutes in the form of consulting businesses and giving lame speaches to business leaders? Copious amounts of money don't flow from IB and accounting firms to the candidates they'd like to see put into power? At first I thought this guy suffered from being young and naive, which is hardly a crime, if not a virtue. But no--he's just dumb wrapped in an Ivy League pedigree, brought to you by the bankrupt MSM.

(And is it too far-fetched to think a mefite might know this guy personally? I'd tithe 5 clams to buy him an account, although I suspect he doesn't need my abuse, nor the abuse of others.)
posted by bardic at 3:13 PM on March 3, 2006


You just have to love the sight of so many people piling on A FUCKING COMEDIAN because he's not storming barricades carrying the liberal torch. Let me repeat that -- because there's a few people who evidently haven't gotten the message -- Jon Stewart is A COMEDIAN whose show self-admittedly features FAKE NEWS. Of course the fact that he end up making more sense and apparently having a great deal more balls than most mainstream political journalists is a sad statement about the mainstream media in general, not about Stewart.

If you didn't know that don't feel too bad though, evidently you're in the company of at least one Harvard grad. Makes you wonder what the parents of Harvard students are paying for when they fork over their progeny's tuition fees...
posted by clevershark at 3:14 PM on March 3, 2006


nixerman: I get angrier watching The Daily Show sometimes than I do watching regular news. And I'm scarcely alone here, I think.
posted by raysmj at 3:15 PM on March 3, 2006


Odd, I didn't know the MSM was taking kuro5hin's rejects now.
posted by localroger at 3:15 PM on March 3, 2006


"Fictional Composites" would be an "awesome" name for an emo band.

Indeed it would.

you really think Stewart provides a starting point for critical action? I don't watch The Daily Show regularly but from what I've seen this is definitely not the case. The Daily Show works because you don't get angry, you don't get scared and, most of all, because you already know exactly what you're going to get.

That's interesting. I -did- watch The Daily Show regularly, and after Bush got re-elected, I couldn't watch for weeks, because I was so frustrated and felt so impotent that I didn't want to be reminded of what was really going on. So, essentially, The Daily Show has the exact opposite effect on me that it (theoretically) would have on you.

You have to understand that telling the truth, but making you laugh in the process, is a much more important thing to accomplish than telling you lies, but making you feel like it's the truth and everything's going to be all right. I'd much rather have the former, and the former is what keeps me wanting to enter politics -- the latter (see Fox News "Iraq Civil War: Made Up By Media?") is what makes me feel like there's nothing I can do and that I shouldn't bother.
posted by davejay at 3:18 PM on March 3, 2006


Why do fictional composites hate america?
And why am I not worried about people choosing not to go into politics when they get their entire understanding of government from a show on comedy central?
The message I get from TDS is not that politicians are idiots, but that we need better politicians, and if you're not prepared to step it up, be prepared to be stepped on.
posted by blue_beetle at 3:18 PM on March 3, 2006


note to self: do not criticize The Daily Show on a public medium.
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:18 PM on March 3, 2006


I don't think Jon Stewart is very funny either, but that's not why.

I fully expect him to bomb at the Oscars, unless he gets to show news video clips and whatnot.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:19 PM on March 3, 2006



And you don't have to go to Harvard to figure out that the dude who went to school in Cambridge and writes to a Boston paper is probably talking about a city in Massachusetts.


Wow, how did you get to be so smart? Did you go to Vassar?

I was asking wether Newton, Mass. was a poor or rich area, and comparing with Newton, Iowa. I didn't know, and I didn't know if it was a city or just an area on Boston. In fact, if you were able to read, you'd be able to see that I could not, in fact, have been asking about Newton, Iowa because I already mentioned its socioeconomic position.
posted by delmoi at 3:21 PM on March 3, 2006


Nope. Before John Stewart, no Harvard grads went off to become investment wankers. No, sir.
posted by nyterrant at 3:21 PM on March 3, 2006


I'd tithe 5 clams to buy him an account, although I suspect he doesn't need my abuse, nor the abuse of others

Well through the alumni website I have his parent's snail mail address. I could contact him through the Post Harvard e-mail system, but don't feel compelled to engage this asshole.
posted by ericb at 3:21 PM on March 3, 2006


Jon Stewart is A COMEDIAN whose show self-admittedly features FAKE NEWS

No, it doesn't. The Onion prints fake news. The Daily Show skewers newsmakers and reporters. It reports real stories in a satirical style. It doesn't make up fake stories.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:22 PM on March 3, 2006



Odd, I didn't know the MSM was taking kuro5hin's rejects now.
posted by localroger at 3:15 PM PST on March 3 [!]


LOL.
posted by delmoi at 3:24 PM on March 3, 2006


I figured Kalin was trying to be funny and just not succeeding. Y'all really think he meant this seriously? I mean, maybe he did, but I thought the "Fictional Composite" and "Coincidence? I think not!" clearly mark it as an attempt at humor.
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:24 PM on March 3, 2006



I fully expect him to bomb at the Oscars, unless he gets to show news video clips and whatnot.


Everybody bombs the oscars.
posted by delmoi at 3:25 PM on March 3, 2006


I just called homeland security.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:26 PM on March 3, 2006


the show's self-conscious aloofness pervades the liberal punditry.

True, this guy is a dumb ass, but based on this comment, it's clear that he never seen the show. "Self-conscious aloofness" misses the mark totally. This is certainly true of Bill Maher, who really is an aloof asshole who serves no purpose. Whether you think Stewart is funny or not, he's certainly passionate about getting his point across and from what I've seen, it is infectious among a certain demographic.
posted by psmealey at 3:26 PM on March 3, 2006


My fictionalized composite, is the lower middle class youth, senior in his highschool in rural america. Force fed republicanism all his life via Rush et all in his dad's Pickup, starts questioning the commandments from the government to belive, "Iraq is evil", "The president is always good". This because Stewart makes it ok to question and confront hipocracy in the government with his peers because Stewart makes it funny.

But then, because he was denied the opportunity to be tought by a "slumming" harvard grad, Again because of Stewart forcing such a grad into a career of Stock Manipulation, his indoctrination from the Republican camp to the Democrat camp will be prevented, and we'll just be left with another fence sitting unreliable indepentent free thinker.

(My spelling sucks, I know)
posted by jboy55 at 3:27 PM on March 3, 2006


senior in his highschool in rural america

BTW -- Kalin is from Sioux City, Iowa.
posted by ericb at 3:29 PM on March 3, 2006


There are at least two kinds of liberals with two sets of assumptions. On one hand, there are liberals who think they are doing the righteous thing, and feeling better for it, even if they might believe it to be a drag or sacrifice on the economy. On the other hand, liberalism provides some with the sound reasoning, thrift and motives for the entire economy, regardless of good feelings or perceived righteousness. Without liberlism, according to these, the entire economic game fails, from raw supply to labor demand. The latter are more inclined to be objectively liberal, while emo liberals are suspected as having ties to failed ideas.
posted by Brian B. at 3:34 PM on March 3, 2006


BTW -- Kalin is from Sioux City, Iowa.

Well, that place is a dump too.
posted by delmoi at 3:34 PM on March 3, 2006


Dude, ericb: the first rule of post.harvard....
posted by vacapinta at 3:35 PM on March 3, 2006


; )
posted by ericb at 3:37 PM on March 3, 2006


Unsurprisingly, the one statistic quoted in the article is completely wrong.

According to a survey by the Pew Research Center, only 2 percent of the show's audience identify themselves as conservatives.

Pew Research Center: News Audiences Increasingly Politicized

Most Americans (58%) do not care if the news reflects their own viewpoint on politics and issues. But the minority of Americans that like the news to reflect their own views (36%) are highly selective in their choices of news outlets.…

Among specific programs, the O'Reilly Factor, religious radio shows and Rush Limbaugh's show are important news sources for conservatives especially those who like the news to reflect their views. And Comedy Central's Daily Show, viewed regularly by only 3% of Americans overall, is a staple for 14% of liberals who like news that reflects their point of view.




So, what this report actually tells us is that:

A. Among all Americans, 3% regularly watch the Daily Show.

B. Among conservative Americans who prefer their news to reflect their point of view, 2% regularly watch the Daily Show.

Shocking! Absolutely shocking! My whole worldview just collapsed.
posted by designbot at 3:54 PM on March 3, 2006


I would also like to take this moment to point out that the reason why so few children are going into the priesthood is because of those molested children's inability of keeping their damn traps shut.
posted by any major dude at 3:55 PM on March 3, 2006


I hope the Boston Globe is some crappy local rag that no one bothers reading, because it would suckif a real newspaper ran this.
posted by Artw at 3:55 PM on March 3, 2006


Well, JS is funny but he does like to laugh at protestors. He dislikes Bush and favors at least somewhat progressive policies, but his show generally adopts a snide attitude towards activism generally. It's a bad idea to try to regard Stewart as a momement leader. He's a comedian.
posted by washburn at 3:58 PM on March 3, 2006


The statistic is also misused here, in the Washington Post:

Half of 18- to 29-year-olds say they regularly or sometimes learn things from late-night comedy shows, a Pew Research Center survey found. Fourteen percent of "Daily Show" viewers say they are liberal and just 2 percent conservative.
posted by designbot at 3:59 PM on March 3, 2006


his show generally adopts a snide attitude towards activism generally

Agreed. I don't put much stock in the opinion piece, but I do think the prevailing attitude of TDS is that the government is fucked and there's nothing we can do about it.
posted by mrgrimm at 4:05 PM on March 3, 2006


Yet another Harvard nimrod who gets a forum because of the school he went to, and the jerks at teh Globe who play up to that, who thinks that they've done the ultimate by NOT taking the big paycheck after graduation.

Piece of news, Barnies: the average salary of a Harvard grad as compared to others, twenty years after graduation, is equal or less. Equal...or less.

You might want to invest in your future NOW, while you still have the cachet, and THEN sacrifice your existence to the whims of inner city kids. After you've learned something, of course.

Just ask my jobless, penniless, unemployable sister. Class of '03.
posted by jsavimbi at 4:07 PM on March 3, 2006


designbot - But that 3% that watch the Daily Show _really_ like to talk about it.
Which generally leaves the other 97% of us who don't _really_ annoyed.
posted by madajb at 4:07 PM on March 3, 2006


'Cause it's so hard to avoid reading 84 comments in a post about a subject_I_don't_care_about.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:10 PM on March 3, 2006


The last thing that the American Left needs is more earnestness. What it needs is smart people who aren't afraid to laugh at things. When you laugh, you fundamentally reconsider the sense in which you consider something, and that's a really powerful action. That's where satire succeeds. That's where Swift and Twain and Stewart hit.
posted by klangklangston at 4:13 PM on March 3, 2006


He makes fun of everyone, actually, including himself. And if protestors can't take a joke, they shouldn't be putting themselves out there. Meanwhile, one of the things satire does best is the highlighting of absurdity. What effect do you think street protests really have, in our media-driven age? It's also pointed out that they have conflicting messages, or too many messages going on in one or two protests.

In any case, slackers are skewered by TDS even more (see the recent "Trends" piece involving the guy with 9,000 friends on MySpace and his Emo rock for an example--well, it's not on the Comedy Central site, but believe me, it's hysterically funny).
posted by raysmj at 4:14 PM on March 3, 2006


Looks like yet another idiots underhanded way of incorrectly blaming the Jews for the woes of the society.
posted by Effigy2000 at 4:15 PM on March 3, 2006


He now has 23,000 friends.
posted by raysmj at 4:17 PM on March 3, 2006


We mention the concept of "politics as theater" and that America has always been this way.

But let me ask a question: is it possible that in today's America, our world has become far too complex to let mere actors that are part of this 'theater' call the shots? Terry Sciavo, stem cell research, Iraq, global warming, peak oil, etc. etc. - these are all issues that call for serious, careful study and thought and solid execution. There isn't much room for theatrics when there are so many serious issues to be dealt with.
posted by tgrundke at 4:19 PM on March 3, 2006


On the other hand, liberalism provides some with the sound reasoning, thrift and motives for the entire economy, regardless of good feelings or perceived righteousness. Without liberlism, according to these, the entire economic game fails, from raw supply to labor demand.

A.K.A. "Classical liberals."
posted by ZenMasterThis at 4:20 PM on March 3, 2006


And if The Daily Show destroys future liberals of tomorrow, does The Colbert Report's parody of conservative journalism destroy any future conservative leaders watching it?
posted by Effigy2000 at 4:20 PM on March 3, 2006


I suppose a point could be made about how irony and cynicism breeds apathy and contempt for mainstream politics (or mainstream anything, for that matter) by a certain portion of an audience that might not understand the role of satire. This is by no means the fault of the critic/entertainer, especially one as scathingly successful as Stewart. But I'd be interested in reading something that discusses the role of self-consciousness in culture and how this might lead to more people choosing career paths that are not subject to scathing criticism.
posted by sharkitect at 4:21 PM on March 3, 2006


Not to harp on this one point, but the only survey I can find with actual statistics on the Daily Show audience makeup (The National Annenberg Election Survey) indicates that among people who watch 1 or more days of late-night and prefer Jon Stewart to Letterman or Leno, they are:

18% Conservative
38% Moderate
43% Liberal

(Incidentally, the primary finding of the survey was that Daily Show viewers were better-informed about the positions and backgrounds of presidential candidates than those who do not watch late-night comedy.)
posted by designbot at 4:24 PM on March 3, 2006


Amen, Flo. He came all this way to tell us he was annoyed?
posted by psmealey at 4:30 PM on March 3, 2006


Yeah, the Daily Show is horrible and must be stopped at all costs. Otherwise, people may stop thinking of us as humorless twats, and then we'd have to start winning elections again.
posted by Afroblanco at 4:36 PM on March 3, 2006


Stewart's ever-increasing popularity among young viewers directly correlates with the declining influence of progressive thought in America. Coincidence? I think not. Let me explain.

No no, let ME explain (in 4 words, on google!):

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=%22common+fallacies%22+correlation+causation
posted by zekinskia at 4:41 PM on March 3, 2006


Hahaha, coincidentally, the first term defined on the first link listed by Google for that search is ad hominem. I believe you guys have covered that one...
posted by zekinskia at 4:42 PM on March 3, 2006


Wait, you have to be jewish to watch the daily show?
posted by afu at 5:10 PM on March 3, 2006 [1 favorite]


You are all missing the obvious upside to this article:
The Daily Show can do a piece about it. At which point it will have been transformed into something of value.
Admittedly, it would be better if the kid had attacked Colbert...
posted by uosuaq at 5:24 PM on March 3, 2006


I know too many people who's total knowledge of current events comes through the comedy filter of The Daily Show. It's good that they at least have some idea of what's going on in the world, but sad that it comes from, what is basically, a half hour version of SNL News.
posted by acetonic at 5:26 PM on March 3, 2006


This is totally run into the ground at this point, but I just read the article again, and I can't help myself from going point-by-point on some of the mind-numbingly dumb things here:

Stewart's ever-increasing popularity among young viewers directly correlates with the declining influence of progressive thought in America.

Really? You have a graph for this? How do you measure "influence of progressive thought"? Wouldn't "popularity of progressive TV shows" be one good example? Oh, wait. That would make this a self-contradictory statement. Didn't The Daily Show start its upswing during the 2000 elections, as conservatives took control of the House, Senate, and Presidential cabinet? Oh, if only we could get back to that golden age of progressive oligarchy!

Meet Joshua Goldberg, a fictional composite

Enough said.

of the typical apostle of 'The Daily Show." Born in Newton…His 3.8 grade point average and impressive array of extracurricular activities earned him a scholarship to Vassar…

It should go without saying that this is not a "typical" viewer of anything.

Many of Stewart's die-hard supporters might use this persona as proof…

No, because you just made him up. He's not proof of anything.

Although he no longer follows Washington's daily political squabbles, Goldberg gives a significant annual contribution to the Democratic Party. The tragedy of this portrait is… that the students who abandon politics out of a naive self-consciousness often represent our country's most idealistic minds.

WTF does this mean? "Naive self-conciousness?" Your straw man still contributes to the Democratic Party, but he's "abandoned politics" because he has a job outside of Washington? What office is Michael Kalin running for, again?

Stewart's daily dose of political parody characterized by asinine alliteration

Wait a minute. Maybe this guy is yanking our chains. Stewart puns; he rarely alliterates. Kalin alliterates 3 times in this sentence. This can't be unintentional.

People who possess the wit, intelligence, and self-awareness of viewers of 'The Daily Show" would never choose to enter the political fray full of 'buffoons and idiots."

Who is he quoting here? The imagined view of an imagined liberal Daily Show viewer responding to his imagined example of another imagined viewer?

The type of folksy solemnity brandished by President Bush does not resonate with 'The Daily Show" demographic.

This is bad? This is Jon Stewart's problem?

According to a survey by the Pew Research Center, only 2 percent of the show's audience identify themselves as conservatives.

Wrong (see above).

At a time when the Democrats desperately need inspired leadership, the show's self-conscious aloofness pervades the liberal punditry.

Yeah, I'm always going, "That darn Hillary Clinton & Ted Kennedy. Why are they so cynical and sarcastic, just like Jon Stewart?"

Jon Stewart undermines any remaining earnestness that liberals in America might still possess.

Because when a comedian hosts a talk show, he is responsible for the inescapable fact that every person who watches that show will act and think exactly like his comedic persona in their own personal & political decisions.
posted by designbot at 5:32 PM on March 3, 2006


How many presidents (or senators) have been inner-city teachers, compared to the number who have Wall Street and business backgrounds?
posted by unmake at 5:36 PM on March 3, 2006


Wait a minute. Maybe this guy is yanking our chains.

I'm with designbot - this column is so bad, so poorly reasoned, that it has to be a prank.
posted by Staggering Jack at 5:40 PM on March 3, 2006


Wow, Harvard's just determined to remain the world's greatest bastion of stuffy humorlessness. Seriously: is this what passes for academic cred these days?
posted by slatternus at 6:13 PM on March 3, 2006


this column is so bad, so poorly reasoned, that it has to be a prank.

Perhaps the guy who wrote it also wrote this?
posted by me & my monkey at 6:15 PM on March 3, 2006


Kalin makes my straw man hurt.
posted by klangklangston at 6:41 PM on March 3, 2006


He is getting very repetitive.

Funnier than Colbert anyway.

Unwatchable show that one.
posted by HTuttle at 6:58 PM on March 3, 2006


career paths that are not subject to scathing criticism

Like what?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 7:07 PM on March 3, 2006


I'm late to the party, but...

delmoi: On another note, this kind of writing bugs. me Or rather, it doesn't just bug me, it infuriates. This guy doesn't know anything at all about John Stewart's cumulative effect. He's just imagining things and weaving together a handful of anecdotes.

As opposed to what we're doing here? You and the rest of the indignant folks in the thread somehow know what the truth of Jon Stewart's cumulative effect is, but Kalin doesn't? Your lack of research is better than his lack of research? Barnacles' anecdotes are somehow better than Kalin's suppositions?

I mean, really, it absolutely infuriates. The guy thinks something might be true, and rather then trying to investigate whether or it is or not, he just goes around telling people that it is true.

Delmoi thinks something might be false, and rather than trying to investigate whether it is or not, he/she just goes around telling people in the thread that it is.

It's damaging, and the nation is filled with muddleheaded mush brains because people keep doing it, and our national discourse is riddled with it

I think your reaction is damaging, and the site is filled with muddleheaded mush brains because people keep doing it, and mefi's discourse is riddled with it. So I'll join in! It's kinda fun!

I'm staunchly middle of the road politically, and don't agree with a lot of Stewart's politics. But he's wonderfully clever, so I watch the show whenever I get the chance (I don't have a television, so it has to be at other people's houses). I don't watch it for the information, I watch it for the comedy. It's on Comedy Central. I think that says it all, really.

However, and here comes my anecdotes, many of the people I know who watch the show really don't care about the politics, per se. They watch it because they think it's funny how Stewart and the others make fun of people.

There are also individuals who really don't think much about politics, but identify as liberals because they want to smoke dope and have sex and think Bush is dumb because he doesn't want them to. Either that or they're people who, again, don't really think about politics but are opposed to the war because killing people is wrong, man, and peace rulez, so Bush is dumb because he's out killing people. They say that Bush lied to us, but when pressed can't say exactly what about.

I hate to say it, but there are uninformed, "muddleheaded mush brains" on both sides of the political spectrum, and Jon Stewart is very attractive to the ones on the left who don't really care about politics but like to have their unconsidered views supported in a funny way. He's also very attractive to people who have a certain sense of humor and enjoy sharply barbed, intelligent skewering of public figures and public events. He gets the dummies and the smarties.

Dumb and unthinking liberals watch the show because it supports their views and doesn't challenge them in any way, like nixerman said. Smart or thoughtful people of any political view who have a certain sense of humor watch the show because they appreciate the comedy. Dumb and unthinking conservatives don't watch the show because it doesn't agree with their views.

This has all been a long way of saying that I think the article's crap, because my unresearched belief about Jon Stewart's effect on careers in public service is that people who go into politics do so because they want to go into politics, and people who don't go into politics do it because they don't want to. Watching a show like the Daily Show might make you laugh, but it's not going to change your decision to go into politics. The people I know who watch the Daily Show either aren't going to go into politics because they don't want to, or aren't going to go into politics because they don't care about politics. Not because of Jon Stewart.

That's my experience, but I can't say that my anecdotal evidence is any better than his definitely made-up anecdotal evidence. Neither can you, delmoi. It's all just supposition.
posted by Fontbone at 7:09 PM on March 3, 2006


opposed to the war because killing people is wrong

Seems like a pretty fuckin' good reason to me.

They say that Bush lied to us, but when pressed can't say exactly what about.


Uh, even the dope-smokingest hippie will tell you "WMD," my friend.

As for your larger point, Kalin is the one making wild claims, so the burden of proof is on him, not delmoi.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:29 PM on March 3, 2006


What a wretched piece. Poorly written with a hack argument as its centerpiece. I don't know what Harvard's professors require from their students, but I know I would've been ridden out of Main Building on a rail if I'd turned this in at NYU. Hell, even the editor of the now-defunct 'zine I wrote for would've given me a tongue lashing.

There's no point getting upset about it, though. What does Michael Kalin know about politics, really? Did he...am I crazy, or did he name-check Teddy Roosevelt? As a hero?

Why aren't kids jumping on the big, bloated corpse of American "liberalism"? Because it's starting to stink, that's why, and rigor mortis has set in, which doesn't make it too comfortable a ride. And the Republicans are the vultures of our Republic. So, you can be a corpse or a vulture, and I don't think either of those options appeal to us old, Charlie Chaplin-style humanist sorts.

So what do we do? We laugh, or else we go mad. Barring that, we band together and stick our fingers in the many holes in this here dam, hoping and praying that by our futile attempts it doesn't break and wash us away.

Alternately, you could always repair the dam.

Michael Kalin: The Ivy Leaguer, in all his classist glory. You'll excuse an NYU alum who has a bone to pick with the Harvard, Columbia, Yale, Princeton, and Stanford lot, I hope? Oh, good.
posted by ford and the prefects at 7:51 PM on March 3, 2006


>Michael Kalin meet Ann Coulter. Mann Coulter meet Michael Kalin.

I hear wedding bells!
posted by skallas at 7:55 PM on March 3, 2006


ZenMasterThis wrote: A.K.A. "Classical liberals."

That was before humans figured out that a privately printed money supply doesn't work. I was thinking of liberals who appreciate that their freedoms are mutually guaranteed. If Adam Smith was right, then there is nothing wrong with voting for personal interests.
posted by Brian B. at 8:06 PM on March 3, 2006


Kalin's piece drips with the style of scornful, lofty academic condescension Conservatives keep beating Liberals over the head with. Unhelpful and unproductive.
posted by slatternus at 8:07 PM on March 3, 2006


Michael Kalin meet Ann Coulter. Mann Coulter meet Michael Kalin.

I hear wedding bells!


Only if he doesn't stare at her adam's apple.
posted by homunculus at 8:30 PM on March 3, 2006


What clevershark said.
posted by dwordle at 8:31 PM on March 3, 2006


I wish there was a term for when someone in metafilter posts a topic ridiculously similar to your own post just two days later -- AND YOU GET NO SUPPORT FROM ANYONE IN THE THREAD POINTING OUT HE DID IT. :(

At any rate, I feel the Lee Siegel piece from the New Republic probably critiques Stewart much better than the kid's does.

Wow, can anyone who graduated from Harvard get op-ed space in the Boston Globe?

Stewart's affect on liberalism is probably the same as Michael Moore's or Bill Clinton's in the last election: not much.
posted by skepticallypleased at 8:39 PM on March 3, 2006


Wow, Harvard's just determined to remain the world's greatest bastion of stuffy humorlessness. Seriously: is this what passes for academic cred these days?
Don't mistake Harvard undergraduates for Harvard. It's a decent college, but a great university.
posted by uosuaq at 9:04 PM on March 3, 2006


Optimus Chyme: opposed to the war because killing people is wrong

Seems like a pretty fuckin' good reason to me.


If someone was trying to kill your spouse, and the only way to stop them was to kill them, would you do so? I think "killing people is wrong" is a ridiculously oversimplified argument. The world isn't black and white... it's a whole lot more interesting than that, and reducing it to black and white is what the political extremists and religious fundamentalists on both sides do and it's what depresses me the most about the level of discussion in this country.

As for your larger point, Kalin is the one making wild claims, so the burden of proof is on him, not delmoi.

You're absolutely right. I actually meant to qualify my comment by saying that, but, well, I forgot to do so. However, just because the burden of proof is on Kalin doesn't excuse delmoi or anyone else for making crappy arguments too. It's an example of the muddleheaded mush brain argument in our national discourse that delmoi decries even as he muddles it even more.

The best way (what I, admittedly, didn't do) to deal with crappy papers like these is to point out the problems and the places where the person hasn't proved their point. Then you just let the holey argument fall on its own lack of merit... you don't make your own wildly unsupported claims in response.
posted by Fontbone at 9:12 PM on March 3, 2006


If someone was trying to kill your spouse, and the only way to stop them was to kill them, would you do so? I think "killing people is wrong" is a ridiculously oversimplified argument.

It's a ridiculously oversimplified argument that just happens to be right 99.999% of the time. Killing a human being in one's own self-defense or the defense of another is justified. Anything else isn't. Anyone with a moral bone in his or her body knew that bombing the shit out of Iraq wasn't going to do anything productive and was in no way a defensive action.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:15 PM on March 3, 2006


Wow. I knew that Open Mike Night at the Hong Kong in Harvard Square was harsh, but I never thought it was so harsh as to turn out this.

Reading the screed, I imagined the unhappy freshman that was standing behind Rob Cordrey at some Boston-based Daily Show tryout.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 10:05 PM on March 3, 2006


Right on Fontbone.
posted by shivohum at 10:15 PM on March 3, 2006



posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:23 PM on March 3, 2006


If ninjas flipping out and killing people is wrong, I don't want to be right.
posted by klangklangston at 10:26 PM on March 3, 2006


Anyone with a moral bone in his or her body knew that bombing the shit out of Iraq wasn't going to do anything productive and was in no way a defensive action.

That post made decent sense riiight up to the non-sequitur.
posted by kindall at 10:26 PM on March 3, 2006



As opposed to what we're doing here? You and the rest of the indignant folks in the thread somehow know what the truth of Jon Stewart's cumulative effect is, but Kalin doesn't?

Yes, I do know an absolute fact about Jon Stewart's cumulative effect that Kalin does not: that it has never been empirically measured, therefore no one can make any statements about it without speaking out of their ass. No one.

Reread what I wrote, I never said what Stewart's effects actually were. If you think I did, please point out the specific instance.
posted by delmoi at 10:28 PM on March 3, 2006


I forgot to do so. However, just because the burden of proof is on Kalin doesn't excuse delmoi or anyone else for making crappy arguments too. It's an example of the muddleheaded mush brain argument in our national discourse that delmoi decries even as he muddles it even more.

Too bad I'm not so it's not. But thanks for playing.
posted by delmoi at 10:29 PM on March 3, 2006


If someone was trying to kill your spouse, and the only way to stop them was to kill them, would you do so?

I would not. I would lay my life down attempting to stop him, but I would not take the same liberty with his life.

You know who else wouldn't? Jesus.

Need a more modern historical character? Ghandi.

Need a whole bunch of characters? Quakers.

If this terrible man kills my spouse, then I pray she is whisked to Heaven, tout de suite. Truly, she would be the lucky one.

And she will die, knowing that I am still her husband, that I will be joining her, that I am not a murderer.
posted by I Love Tacos at 10:37 PM on March 3, 2006


Oh, and in case you think I'm kidding, please check Exodus 20. I own several editions of the Bible, but none of them have an asterisk indicating that there are times when killing is a fine idea.
posted by I Love Tacos at 10:40 PM on March 3, 2006


Optimus Chyme: Why are people who graduated from Harvard so often way dumber than me?

Kid who spent high school studying every single night and approaching college apps like they were the end of the world: went to Harvard.

Kid who did his/her homework at the last second every morning b/c he/she spent too much time reading Metafilter and playing Starcraft: didn't go to Harvard.

Dude, do you even remember the people you knew from high school who ended up going to Harvard? This is purely anecdotal (I've since met some bright folk there), but those I knew were for the most part 75th-percentiles who worked at the 95th percentile. (That said, I'm sure they'll end up making much more money than me, but at least I won't be making a fool of myself writing stupid articles for the Globe ripping on Jon Stewart. ...I will be writing articles for my imaginary newspaper or my 'zine.)
posted by spiderwire at 10:43 PM on March 3, 2006


That post made decent sense riiight up to the non-sequitur.
posted by kindall at 10:26 PM PST on March 3


I don't see how it was a non-sequitur; the original point was more or less that "anyone who believes war is bad because killing people is wrong are just dumb hippies"; I responded that killing people is wrong; he responded with the self-defense thing, I pointed out that the war against Iraq wasn't defensive in nature.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:44 PM on March 3, 2006


Wow, I didn't expect this thread to crash and burn that bad. Can we start talking about Tookie and the death penalty now?
posted by spiderwire at 10:46 PM on March 3, 2006


There are also individuals who really don't think much about politics, but identify as liberals because they want to smoke dope and have sex and think Bush is dumb because he doesn't want them to.

Well, they are correct. If they want to smoke dope and fuck they should absolutely be opposed to bush. Do you believe they should put their own interests for some reason?

Either that or they're people who, again, don't really think about politics but are opposed to the war because killing people is wrong, man, and peace rulez, so Bush is dumb because he's out killing people.

Truth is an absolute defense against libel, and correctness is an absolute defense against charges of stupidity. These people, as addlebrained as they might be, are correct. Killing people is wrong, and peace is good, and bush is killing people, even a fool can see that.

They say that Bush lied to us, but when pressed can't say exactly what about.

Well, there have been many episodes of the dailyshow where specific pre-war 'misstatements' have been highlighted..

There's no point getting upset about it, though. What does Michael Kalin know about politics, really? Did he...am I crazy, or did he name-check Teddy Roosevelt? As a hero?

As well as Woodrow Wilson, who re-segregated the US Military by executive order, and was a major player in the second wave Klan.

If someone was trying to kill your spouse, and the only way to stop them was to kill them, would you do so? I think "killing people is wrong" is a ridiculously oversimplified argument.

Obviously you haven't met my wife.

In all seriousness, you realize metaphors don't prove anything right? That situation is not the same as the actual situation, so it's rather irrelevant. I could come back with well, maybe wife needed a heart transplant you could only get from this guy, so you killed him and stole his heart. Is that wrong? It's quite similar to the situation you outlined above, and we could go back and forth. One can always come up with convoluted examples that disprove a general ethical rule, without invalidating the ethical rule, or absolving those who broke it simply.

you don't make your own wildly unsupported claims in response.

And again, if you could read, you would see that I had not. So I can only conclude that you cannot, or at least that you have a very low ability to understand the English language.
posted by delmoi at 11:13 PM on March 3, 2006


Michael Kalin: The Ivy Leaguer, in all his classist glory. You'll excuse an NYU alum who has a bone to pick with the Harvard, Columbia, Yale, Princeton, and Stanford lot, I hope? Oh, good

is this the same new york university that costs $31,000 (and counting) per year to attend? but it's only the ivies that are classist?

pardon me if i don't hum the "the internationale" for you, comrade.
posted by Hat Maui at 11:17 PM on March 3, 2006


This is a pretty terrible op ed piece.

It does raise an interesting point.

I think it's much better for people to watch the Daily Show than to not get any news or commentary. However, what is the effect of a large segment of population getting most of their news and commentary from a satirical source? I would posit that a more balanced news diet would make people more well informed.
posted by lemur at 12:25 AM on March 4, 2006


Hmmmm, who else who's doing good for the liberal cause can we liberals pick on, the better to perpetuate the infighting divisive stereotypes our opponents have gotten so much mileage out of in the past...

Oh yeah: Arianna Huffington is a stupid dumb cow with a weird foreign accent. And she's even less funny than Jon Stewart.
posted by slatternus at 12:26 AM on March 4, 2006


I don't feel quite right about how those cheerleaders on the second level of Optimus Chyme's pyramid are making me feel.
posted by Cyrano at 12:27 AM on March 4, 2006


I don't have much more to add, but I agree with others like nixerman , Fontbone, and lemur for the most part.

The Kalin article is idiotic, but that seems to be a given. It seems equally idiotic to me that people are so critical of "real" news sources, yet give a free pass to the "fake" news. I remember when The Daily Show first started with Craig Kilborn, and it never took itself as seriously as it does now. I think Stewart and the whole team recognize that they do have some influence over a sizeable demographic. It's sad to think that there are lots of impressionable librerals who aren't quite progressive out there using TDS as their main source for news. It seems irresponsable on their part, but the new generation's all about instant gratification. It also seems to me that TDS/Stewart have started to listen to the hype and believe it, which is sort of turning me off of the show. The jokes are pretty predictable and not quite as effective. Perhaps I'll watch the "real" news when I want to be scared. TDS just seems more like an inside joke for the cool kids who want to act outraged, but won't actually do anything to help. It's like D.O.A. used to say, Talk-Action=0.

I hope the Colbert Report doesn't suffer the same fate.
posted by kendrak at 1:08 AM on March 4, 2006


I don't see how it was a non-sequitur

I think I was thrown by the "not doing anything productive" part, as if that's what it would take for you to call killing okay.
posted by kindall at 1:55 AM on March 4, 2006



is this the same new york university that costs $31,000 (and counting) per year to attend? but it's only the ivies that are classist?

pardon me if i don't hum the "the internationale" for you, comrade.


...your base assumption being that I paid for it out of pocket, Hat Maui? No, friend, my parents and I are in massive debt. MASSIVE. But the education I received was top-notch, and I snagged every grant and scholarship I could.

And yes, hum "The Internationale" for me. I did post an FPP about it, you know.

And what was your point in saying that? Base refutation? Plain old snarkiness? You'll pardon my whiskey-glutted gut, but go to hell. And capitalize -- not doing so is a sign of faux-poeticism (e.e. cummings) or poor education. Which is it, "comrade"?
posted by ford and the prefects at 4:20 AM on March 4, 2006


Anyway, it's just annoying that this guy seems to think our future "leaders" need to get a 3.8 GPA and go to Vassar in order to be any good.
posted by delmoi at 2:56 PM PST on March 3 [!]


Yes. America does SO well with people who got into college because their Daddy was someone and barely graduated.
posted by rough ashlar at 6:45 AM on March 4, 2006


"I own several editions of the Bible, but none of them have an asterisk indicating that there are times when killing is a fine idea."

Really? I seem to remember some parts where, say, Samson kills a whole slew of people. Or when, y'know, there's an officially-sanctioned Philistine smiting. Perhaps the Bible is the consistent moral guide you'd make it out to be.
posted by klangklangston at 7:44 AM on March 4, 2006


That black baby wasn't taken off of life support because his mother couldn't pay.

You're wrong of course. If you have money, you can pay to keep someone on life support no matter how futile doctors think it is. The fact is, the baby's body was being kept alive by life support with no hope of recovery and the family couldn't pay to maintain that. If you can't pay for it yourself, then there is no reason for society to pay for it, and that is the right thing, but there was no hullabaloo from the "culture of life" folks about it, which seems hypocritical.
posted by McBain at 11:37 AM on March 4, 2006


I thought Michael Kalin's pretentious editorial was cheap and flimsy, but some of the comments in this thread are veering toward the equally insufferable!

Did I actually read this?:

You'll pardon my whiskey-glutted gut, but go to hell. And capitalize -- not doing so is a sign of faux-poeticism (e.e. cummings) or poor education.

LOL! You don't see too many tough-talkin' folks of self described "whiskey-glutted gut" to be so particular about the punctuation matters of others. ...But you run with that, Mr. Hemingway!

....Ah, I loves me some Peda[nt]Filter
posted by applemeat at 12:15 PM on March 4, 2006


..."whiskey-glutted gut" to be so particular about the punctuation matters of others. ...But you run with that, Mr. Hemingway!

Yeah, you read it, applemeat.

I actually was fairly whiskey-filled at the time. And I'm a big ol' pansy fop, not a Hemingway.

But just for the record, there's nothing pedantic about bitchy grammar-attack at four in the morning. Now, there's something fucking pitiful about it, but nothing pedantic.

And capitalization is important. So....there.

And using LOL automatically sets you down a few pegs. SOOO teenage girl. Like, for sure.

Cough.

OK, I'm done. Really. I promise.
posted by ford and the prefects at 12:28 PM on March 4, 2006


I read this article twice yesterday, first because I was curious about how Stewart could have a deleterious effect on young folk, and then a second time because the piece made no sense. It still makes no sense. The person who suggested this might have been cut from 5,000 words to 500 may well have been right. What was cut out was the logic, sense and point.
What a stupid piece. And to once again point out how valuable and insightful Stewart is, here's what he said about the Democrats the other day.
49 percent of the vote. 3 percent of the power. The Democrats should fucking hire him but then he'd fire them all.
posted by etaoin at 12:52 PM on March 4, 2006


delmoi: Reread what I wrote, I never said what Stewart's effects actually were. If you think I did, please point out the specific instance.

You said this: "People who read this without critical facilities will now have their heads filled with falsehoods where before there was nothing." Emphasis mine. This states directly that what Kalin said was false, implying directly that YOU have some way of knowing that for sure. If you didn't, how could you say that what he said fill the readers' mushheads with definite falsehoods? Possible falsehoods, sure. And I completely agree that what he said was probably wrong. But I don't know that for sure, so I'm not saying that people who read this will now have their heads filled with falsehoods. I said that due to my own logical consideration what he said seems wrong. Not that "people who read this... will now have their heads filled with falsehoods."

Optimus Chyme: Anyone with a moral bone in his or her body knew that bombing the shit out of Iraq wasn't going to do anything productive and was in no way a defensive action.

So... as kindall pointed out... this seems to imply that if bombing Iraq would have done something productive than it would have been justified. That implies that there are times when killing is justified. If that's what you meant, you've proved my point that the correctness of war and killing is not a SIMPLE yes or no answer. If that's not what you meant, then please clarify and I'll respond to that. I'm guessing that whatever response you give, though, will show that, again: there's no simple yes or no answer. The world is complicated.

Optimus Chyme: I don't see how it was a non-sequitur; the original point was more or less that "anyone who believes war is bad because killing people is wrong are just dumb hippies"; I responded that killing people is wrong; he responded with the self-defense thing, I pointed out that the war against Iraq wasn't defensive in nature.

I actually only gave the defensive answer because it was the first one that came to mind where killing could be justified, not because of any connection to Iraq or anything else. There are others, but the whole point of the comment was that a simplistic, unthinking approach to the war in Iraq and/or opposition to Bush is not a Good Thing (tm). Emphasis on the "simplistic, unthinking" part of that statement. Opposition to the war is well and good, but have a good reason for it. I don't believe that "KiLL1nG Iz R0nG!" is a good reason.

delmoi: Well, they are correct. If they want to smoke dope and fuck they should absolutely be opposed to bush. Do you believe they should put their own interests for some reason?

I can't really answer that until you complete the question--seems like you're missing a word. Do I believe they should put their own interests... where? "Put their own interests aside?" There are plenty of cases where yes, that's a good thing. Parents who sacrifice their own self-interest for the good of their child. Soldiers who die in defense of their country serve the good of the country. Having to put aside your own self-interest at times is an established fact of living in a community.

Tell me what you actually meant by that question and I'll answer it.

Truth is an absolute defense against libel, and correctness is an absolute defense against charges of stupidity. These people, as addlebrained as they might be, are correct. Killing people is wrong, and peace is good, and bush is killing people, even a fool can see that.

Later in your own post you invalidate the simple, no exceptions allowed statement that "killing is wrong": see below. For the rest of it, no, correctness is not a defense against charges of stupidity. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day... that doesn't mean it's functioning. If someone in a math class throws out the jersey number of their favorite lacrosse player as the answer to a question and it happens to be correct, they did not get the answer right because they were smart.

I personally am glad that those who killed the enemy in World War II were willing to do so, so that Europe and the rest of the Allies could remain free in the face of the Japanese and German threat. There are times when war is correct; there are times when killing is justified; and those who take a 100% stance opposed to it--who take a 100% stance opposed to anything WITHOUT THINKING ABOUT IT--are fools. If you'll stop looking at the specific situations and instead use that vaunted reading comprehension you accuse me of not having, you'd see that that's my argument... I've now spelled it out for you anyhow.

In all seriousness, you realize metaphors don't prove anything right? That situation is not the same as the actual situation, so it's rather irrelevant. I could come back with well, maybe wife needed a heart transplant you could only get from this guy, so you killed him and stole his heart. Is that wrong? It's quite similar to the situation you outlined above, and we could go back and forth. One can always come up with convoluted examples that disprove a general ethical rule, without invalidating the ethical rule, or absolving those who broke it simply.

Yes, and thank you for proving my point that killing = wrong is not easily provable to be 100% correct all the time. That was, however, not the point I was trying to make with the two situations; I probably erred by using such contentious hypotheticals. I'll quote selectively from my original post: "There are also individuals who really don't think much about politics, but identify as liberals because..." "Either that or they're people who, again, don't really think about politics but are opposed to the war because..." "I hate to say it, but there are uninformed, 'muddleheaded mush brains' on both sides of the political spectrum".

You'll notice, using your superior knowledge of the English language, that the recurring thread in my post was lack of thought. My point--and again, I'll be extremely clear here since more complicated statements weren't parsed correctly--was that I believe there is a significant portion of Jon Stewart's audience who watches the show because it agrees with their unconsidered opinions. These people are not going to be deferred from going into politics because they never wanted to go into politics in the first place, because they never give politics a thought. Their opinions come from the basis of selfishness (wanting to get stoned and have lots of sex with lots of people) or TOO simple ideals (peace rulez, killing is wrong), and not the place where politically aware, intelligent liberals (or conservatives, or moderates, or ANYONE) get their beliefs: considered thought based on a knowledge of the facts in question. If they happen to be right a lot of the time--which I'm not saying they are or are not--it's not 'cause they're smart. It's 'cause they happened to latch onto the right platitudes.

The only difference between liberal scene kids getting stoned and having sex after the concert and conservative rednecks getting drunk and having frat boy/sorority chick sex after NASCAR is the color of their bumper sticker. Neither group really cares about the politics in question, they just want a slogan to shout that agrees with whatever politics they happened to come across.
posted by Fontbone at 7:43 PM on March 4, 2006


this seems to imply that if bombing Iraq would have done something productive than it would have been justified.

Sure it does. The underlying implication in the slogan "killing is wrong" is that there's a implied word in there: unjustified. There are people who believe that all killing is inexcusable, but for us moral non-Quakers, it's that it needs to be in direct defense of a person or persons, and that the harm caused by the deaths of others does not outweigh the harm prevented. The fact of that matter is that the Iraq war is so unjustified that you need not explain it any further: killing people there prevents no harm and has done irreparable damage to millions of people.

The only difference between liberal scene kids getting stoned and having sex after the concert and conservative rednecks getting drunk and having frat boy/sorority chick sex after NASCAR is the color of their bumper sticker.

One, you're conflating stereotypes here - frat guys aren't usually in the NASCAR set.

Two, bullshit. It's a lot harder to be against war than it is to "support the President, support the troops, and be a true-blue American" and simply rubber stamp every cockamamie hegemony-spreading doctrine that's brought to your attention. Hell, I knew that I should have invested in defense stocks the moment Bush II got into office, and I know that I could make a fucking killing writing op-ed pieces for the Heritage folks or any other Scaife-funded thikntank in the country. But I choose not to because it's vile and inhuman. Liberalism pays shit. So keep that in mind the next time you demean the people who want to honor our country by pointing out her errors.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:29 PM on March 4, 2006


I know that I could make a fucking killing writing op-ed pieces for the Heritage folks or any other Scaife-funded thikntank in the country.

I sincerely doubt that you're as smart as you think you are.
posted by Kwantsar at 12:14 AM on March 5, 2006


You don't have to be smart. There's a template.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:15 AM on March 5, 2006


Optimus Chyme: It's a lot harder to be against war than it is to "support the President, support the troops, and be a true-blue American" and simply rubber stamp every cockamamie hegemony-spreading doctrine that's brought to your attention.

Not when all you're doing to be against the war is applauding at a concert when the singer says "Yell if you hate the war!" and putting "BUSH SUCKS! Forward this bulletin if you hate Bush and the war!" on your myspace page.

Hell, I knew that I should have invested in defense stocks the moment Bush II got into office, and I know that I could make a fucking killing writing op-ed pieces for the Heritage folks or any other Scaife-funded thikntank in the country. But I choose not to because it's vile and inhuman.

Awesome. Not that the opinion of Joe Nobody Fontbone on the internet means anything, but you're the kind of guy I like, because you obviously have your own moral compass and know how to use it. I probably disagree with you on a lot of the specific details, but you've got something you believe in and it obviously comes from thoughtful consideration and a desire to have the best possible world. I think I've got more in common with you than someone who shares my exact political views because they're fashionable in a particular social circle.

So keep that in mind the next time you demean the people who want to honor our country by pointing out her errors.

I really hope you don't think I am. You'll note I said "Their opinions come from the basis of selfishness (wanting to get stoned and have lots of sex with lots of people) or TOO simple ideals (peace rulez, killing is wrong), and not the place where politically aware, intelligent liberals (or conservatives, or moderates, or ANYONE) get their beliefs: considered thought based on a knowledge of the facts in question." I LIKE having people of many different political beliefs in one country. I wish the two-party system would die a horrible death, so that there could be twenty or thirty parties. However, I want those people to have their political beliefs for good reasons.

I don't demean people who honor our country by pointing out her errors; I demean people who dishonor our country by not caring enough to actually learn enough to vote knowledgeably, or by not having a legitimate basis for their beliefs. I demean people who, as I said, base their political opinions on selfishness or simplistic, stupid, fantasy-world ideals.
posted by Fontbone at 2:49 AM on March 5, 2006


Well, this certainly gives me the last bit of excuse I need to get with the future and drop my already anemic Sunday-only Globe subscription. Bah to Globe.
posted by VulcanMike at 3:06 PM on March 5, 2006


so... based on this guy Kalin MADE UP, Jon Stewart hates America. Wow, talk about a straw-man argument.
posted by medea42 at 2:23 PM on March 6, 2006


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