Saturday, January 20

Goldberg responds:

http://corner.nationalreview.com/post/?q=YWY1MzdjMDk3ZWVmNTg5NGYwYjQ0ZWViNGI0M2VlMDI=

A few quick points (well, okay, neither few nor quick -- but I hope you might find them worth reading nonetheless):

1.) Notice how his first, and only, idea is to attempt to denigrate and devalue me and my position without addressing any single argument. Without answering a single question, or even attempting to defend, say, his preposterous characterization of Socrates. ("I am the wisest of men, for I know that I know nothing.")

2.) I never accused him of believing, or even suggesting, that all moral certainty is always right; I accused him of shoddy scholarship in his examples, of using cheap straw men to pretend he's answering a real objection, and (by implication, anyway) of displaying, in a single column, nearly every negative intellectual characteristic of "moral certainty" short of advocating actual political oppression or violence.

3.) I do not feel threatened by any defense of moral certainty. I feel that our nation, and the world, is threatened by ignoramuses who act out of moral certainty. My objection to Mr. Goldberg's article was not that it was in defense of "moral certainty," though I find the whole concept intellectually bankrupt. My objection was to his misrepresentation of fact, and his substitution of slogan for argument, and his smears of anyone who might take issue with him (exactly, by the way, what he accuses his opponents of doing).

Breathtaking arrogance, indeed.

4.) The anonymous example of his "lot of email like this" is unfortunate, but hardly unexpected. My skill (or lack thereof) as a writer, which he takes care to insult, is actually irrelevant to any point in my original email. Nothing I said was predicated on my being anything other than the author of the Episode III novelization. My objections are based on the flaws in his positions, not on any presumed Authority as a Great Writer. Which flaws, I cannot resist pointing out once more, he apparently can't be troubled to explain away, or defend in any manner beyond a variation of the schoolyard classic: "Oh, what do you know anyway, you four-eyed dork?"

As for the opinion of the anonymous "fan," my vanity demands I point out that every major publication which reviewed my book disagrees with this anonymous person's assessment.

All is vanity, y'know. The Bible says so.

5.) If he (and his nameless supposed "email correspondent") knew half as much about my business as I know about theirs, they both would have realized that the scripts he has linked linked to his blog actually underwent considerable editing and redaction in the shooting process. Those may be shooting scripts; they are not transcripts of the actual film.

6.) As for the idea that I am misrepresenting what Obi-wan and Yoda trained Luke to do:

LUKE
There's still good in him.

BEN
I also thought he could be turned back to the
good side. It couldn't be done. He is more
machine now than man. Twisted and evil.

LUKE
I can't do it, Ben.

BEN
You cannot escape your destiny.



The anonymous fan may very well find some contorted way to pretend that Obi-Wan isn't telling Luke to kill him . . . but if that's the case, why would Obi-Wan not correct Luke's obvious misperception?

Especially, for example, a few lines later:


LUKE
I can't kill my own father.

BEN
Then the Emperor has already won. You were
our only hope.


I am forced to wonder if Mr. Goldberg presented his supposed point in an "anonymous email" because he knew the "point" is a conscious, fully intentional and malicious lie. This is, at the very least, another example of Mr. Goldberg refusing to do the most minimal homework to support any of his positions.

But then, he doesn't have to have a reason to hold a position, does he? Fact is irrelevant in the face of his "moral certainty."

7.) The contention that Mr. Lucas had been, even in the Original Trilogy, a staunch advocate of moral certainty can be disposed of with reference to that exact scene, viz.:

BEN
Luke, you're going to find that many of the
truths we cling to depend greatly on our own
point of view.


Now, I confess I can't actually remember if that line ever appeared in the film; however, it does indeed appear in the script to which Mr. Goldberg has posted a link. Which seems to reinforce my suspicion that Mr. Goldberg must be too intellectually lazy to spend five minutes on the Internet to make sure he has his facts straight. Or to discover if he has any facts at all.

8.) Please observe that I am devoting this post to answering his points, and highlighting the misrepresentation and general shoddiness of his "response." It's unfortunate that he has not seen fit to respond in a dignified fashion, but perhaps that was inevitable; when one can't attack the argument, all one has left is to attack the arguer.

9.) If my response to his response leaves anyone (including Mr. Goldberg) with an impression I am attacking him ad hominem, they are mistaken; any unflattering characterization of him in the post above is simply the result of reasoning from available evidence.



Moving on:

I would like to point out a couple of really offensive rhetorical tactics that cropped up in the comments section below that original post.

I'm not going to worry about the ones from people too gutless to sign them; I've deleted those posts already. However, there are others, which I am leaving above their byline, because I think they're indicative of the disease of "moral certainty."


"Ah, I think I begin to see. Another anti-Semite and seeing the name Goldberg set you aflame."

This is possibly the most insulting thing anyone has ever written about me on this blog (which is really saying something, as frequent readers will already know). If the author of this post as any evidence to support this incredibly stupid and inflammatory assertion, I invite him or her to post it. Otherwise, I invite him or her to apologize.

The poster goes on:

"I think you would prefer that Israel did nothing and allowed innocent civilians be killed because somehow in your twisted mind they deserve it.

You probably think the US deserved 9/11 don't you?"

Again: post evidence that supports this opinion, suspicion, or whatever you want to call it. Or apologize. Or future posts will be deleted without comment.

It's tempting to speculate why this poster uses a handle; I have noticed it's easier to be an asshole when you're pretending to be somebody else.

Me, I can be an asshole under my own name. Because I'm not a fucking coward.

18 comments:

Azrof D said...

The art of argument is just that. Taking the time to research a position and enjoy the tacit pleasure of debating a subject that is worthy of such attention requires a sacrifice that many are unwilling to make; namely time (and brain power).

....This makes me pretty curious. What else are would you be willing to debate Matt?

P.S. Fuck anyone who doesn't think Matt is one of the top authors of our time.

MWS said...

I'm willing to debate almost anything, Az; I've been known to savage people I agree with.

As my ol' buddy Nietzsche once put it:

"There is nothing more insulting than to hear one's own views from the mouth of a fool."

I am also a great proponent of another of Nietzsche's principles:

"Convictions are more dangerous enemies of truth than are lies."

Not that I lack conviction -- but my convictions are provisional, much likie scientific truth; my convictions are subject to ongoing reality checks, and I modify them to accord with available evidence.

As for fucking everyone who doesn't think I'm a top author, well . . . I'll leave that to you. I'm a married man.

gabe said...

It was kind of unfair to delete the anonymous posts, Matt. Most of them were from people that came here from the National Review page, and likely didn't *have* a blogger ID or anything. Of course, they should have signed their names... but still. We can forgive the idiots, can't we?

MWS said...

No.

Anonymous posts are not allowed on this blog, even if they're complimentary.

If any of these National Review knuckleheads had had the intellectual fortitude to actually read some of this blog before they started ranting, they would have known that already; further, if they had intellectual integrity of any kind, they would WANT to claim authorship of their opinions, even of only pseudonymously.

And a couple of the hardcore shit-flingers are still there -- because they gave themselves a (at least) virtual identity.

If any of the deleted posters wish to return and post their drivel under or above an actual byline, I will let their posts stand and undertake to reply.

Otherwise, they can fuck off.

MWS said...

Sorry: should have written "re-post their drivel."

Though they're welcome to post fresh drivel as well.


I find myself wondering if Goldberg's gonna leave the link active.

If he reads the current post, I mean -- which of course he's free to avoid doing. If he's too busy to do even minimum research, or to formulate even the most basic defense of his positions, I'm sure he's too busy to waste his time here.

However, at this point I am no longer writing to him, but to whatever netmonkeys still buy into his bullshit.

Chris said...

y'can turn off anonymous posting. Pretty sure you can, anyway. Didn't Gabe set this up? He should be able to do it.

Or just delete 'em!

Started flickin' through So Say We All in Borders the other day, Matt. I read three pages of your essay and realised I needed to pick up the book as it was too long. Noticed Summer has one in there too, so I'll definately get it sometime.

Shane said...

Eh, please don't turn off anonymous posting, as I know some people (like me when I forget my username on blogger) end up signing their name at the bottom of their anonymous posts.

But yeah, there really isn't any reason to keep around posts by people who aren't going to sign their work. You can't take anything they have to say seriously, there's no point in responding to them, so why bother even keeping useless things like that around to take up space?

--Shane

MWS said...

Signing your name at the bottom counts -- as I'm sure you've noticed.

I can't figure out how to turn off anonymous posting anyway. I can get the email alert and the "pre-screen commentary" shit rolling, but why bother?

Azrof D said...

You know....sometimes I think Matt can be a snarky, snarky bastard.

Anonymous said...

Like most whom study law, the facts only matter if they are on your side of the arguement. Atleast that is my experance with laywers and politics.

Matt, you may enjoy this read.

http://www.morningstar.nildram.co.uk/A_New_Sith.html

Thamos W

Midelne said...

It's not exactly hard to sign your posts even without a Blogger ID; I've never had one and I've never had any difficulty clicking the Other radio button and typing out my handle on the rare occasion that I have a comment. Anonymous comments, even if they make valid points, have very little value in a serious discussion.

I periodically foist Blade of Tyshalle on my friends and end up buying another copy for my own use. I've sent copies to six different states now. Last week, someone who's been reading both this blog and MWS's books for years now as a result of one of those forcible gifts thanked me for making him read them and said he's "going to buy crappy Star Wars-related books now because Stover wrote them". If a lifelong antagonist to all things Star Wars can be broken down to purchase softcover SW, anything is possible.

Remember kids, use the "Other" button, not the "Anonymous" button.

Quentin Montagne (musemetonight@hotmail.com) said...

While I find myself in agreement with you that Mr Goldbergs rhetoric is vainly mean, I must say that I am surprised you spent time adressing him a formal message in the first place.
I mean, you did not expect him to change his mind, did you ?(or even to contemplate that he actually might be wrong).

I say this, because being used to inflict my thoughts to others on internet forums, I have frequently been the witness of smart, if not clever, if not brilliant people waste their time in showing pricks precisely how it was that they are pricks (and pricks never heed).
There is expression fot that : it's called 'concours de bites". A conversation which ineluctably toward the point when someone will argue with something like "mine's bigger than yours" (and I must say Goldberg was impressively fast at reaching that point).

In short : I humbly suggest that you save your witty comments for us who visit this blog precisely to read them, rather than on some mediocre journalist who would have been more suitably taught if he had remained anonymous, merely a dog barking with the rest of the pack.
"An eagle does not hunt down worms"

PS : That Episode III novelization WAS good, you know. I just thought that your writing style does not quite fit with Lucas way of telling a story.

PPS : sorry about any mistake I might have. Where I live, it's neither the tongue people are used to write in, or the time to write anything for that matter.
Hope all I've written does not turn out to be sanctimonious.
And wish you well

MWS said...

I appreciate the advice.

I wasn't trying to change his mind. I was trying to provoke some (at least) mild embarrassment at his shoddy reasoning and cheap-ass rhetorical tactics. In that, I'm pretty sure I succeeded (viz. his vitriolic response, and the sudden silence from him and his supporters ensuing once I pointed out that his response contained just as many errors of fact and reasoning as had his original column, and in a much shorter space).

If he had been obscure, I wouldn't have bothered -- but he's a nationally syndicated (supposed) pundit, and I thought (and think) that he has a certain responsibility to exercise due diligence with regard to the factuality of his assertions. In other words, he has a duty to the truth.

This, it seems, is another point on which he and I are fated to disagree.

And your English is fine.

Shehzad said...

Matt: the Ben quote regarding truths being dependent on point of view actually appeared in Ep 6. Here's the proof:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0086190/quotes

Mike D said...

Matt,

Just wanted to pop in and stroke the ole ego for a second. I thought your novelization of Episode III was the best out of all the SW movie novelizations.. Not only that, but my suedo educated self feels that it is most deserving of its spot in your biography next to your other amazing novels. Can't wait for CBK keep up the good work! Oh and I'd like to give a shout out to Barra and I hope we haven't read the last of her adventures.

--Mike, Chicago

Mike said...

Oh yea one more thing. thanks for pointing out Scott Lynch on your blog last summer, I went out picked it up and absolutely loved it and I have been anxiously awaiting book II ever since. Anymore wonderful authors you can point out? I think the only downside to reading "The Lies of Locke Lamora" is the fact that now I have another few books to add to the list of 'Impatient Awaiting'. That's all I got, just never took the time to thank you before.

Mike, Chicago

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