Twitter, the social network that allows people to express themselves with 140 characters or less, is a wonderful invention. It’s a gigantic virtual bulletin board covered with Post-Its, a food fight conducted entirely with fortune cookies.
What Twitter does not provide is “context.” If you can’t pack all of the context surrounding an idea into 140 characters or less, it’s probably best to leave that idea simmering in the back of your head. Maybe it wasn’t quite as witty as you thought it was. I use Twitter quite a bit (I’m @Doc_0 if you’d like to see my timeline) and a moment of reflection before posting has led me to crush a few Tweets before they hatched.
Such reflection is apparently beyond Greg Sargent of The Washington Post, the latest boor to perform the “Nir Rosen” – a lively fandango in which the dancer’s reputation is crushed by an unwise Tweet, and he spins around the ruins trying to explain what he really meant, until he collapses from exhaustion.
In Sargent’s case, the Tweet in question read as follows: “Dear union thugs: Will you please get violent in Wisconsin already? Pretty please?”
If your initial reaction to reading this message is outrage and horror, followed by curiosity as to how long it took the Washington Post to fire Sargent, you just don’t understand the “context” of his little bon mot. You see, this Tweet was crafted by a brilliant raconteur, created in a freak transporter accident that separated Oscar Wilde into Charlie Sheen and Greg Sargent. His true purpose was to mock conservatives, who are supposedly pleading for those noble hippies surrounding state capitols to get ugly, and validate their stereotypes of union thugs. If Sargent was on the radio, he would have used a funny voice to say it. Of course, no one would have heard him, because nobody likes listening to liberals whine on the radio.
In order to further appreciate the wit and wisdom of Greg Sargent, you have to internalize the official media action line for the War On Taxpayers, in which union protesters are childlike innocents who are peacefully protesting their impending slavery at the hands of a Republican shadow government controlled by the Koch Brothers. Media drones like Sargent digest these narratives fully, and have not yet come to terms with an alternative-media era in which a large number of Americans have access to inconvenient facts. His Tweet was written days after union thugs had already assaulted several people, including Tabitha Hale of Freedom Works. To anyone more informed than Greg Sargent’s audience, he was calling for more violence.
Erick Erickson at Red State had the temerity to point out that Sargent was demanding a level of context and nuance that he would never be willing to extend to conservatives, whose culpability for the Tucson shooting was a disgusting idea he was willing to entertain… and by “entertain,” I mean he tossed it a beer, invited it to sit on the couch, and asked if it had ever watched the extended editions of the Lord of the Rings trilogy back-to-back. As Erickson pointed out, Sargent is not above inventing “context” to slander people like Sarah Palin and Thomas Sowell. Someone who plays that game cannot expect the targets of his vitriol to grant him the benefit of the doubt when he makes a boneheaded public statement.
The final weary steps of the “Nir Rosen” dance have led Sargent to castigate Erickson for telling “comical lies” by quoting him word-for-word. If you ever find yourself reduced to such extremities, it’s time to close that Twitter account and stick to pumping out long columns that might not make any sense, but appear less seditious to reasonable observers. The pages of the Washington Post are padded with thick layers of “context” to prevent liberal writers from hurting themselves.