September 22, 2002
Polemic II: 'Hesiod'

The man or woman or boy or girl who calls him(?)self 'Hesiod' has tried to answer the Shropshire Challenge, but he hasn't tried hard enough. Since he continues to imply that supporters of war on Iraq are no better than Nazis, I'm not going to give him a link, but the date was 9/8, the time 07:08:20 PM, and he calls his site 'Counterspin Central'.

Let's look at what he says:

MINI ME: Dr. Weevil (or as I like to call him, "Dr. '[E]vil"), challenged those opposed to a war with Iraq to either shut up about "chickenhawks," or donate their services as "human sheilds" for Saddam Hussein.

So if I'm 'Dr. Evil', who's the "MINI-ME" in the title? Apparently 'Hesiod' is too busy piling up insults to make them even minimally (minimeally?) coherent.

Bad spelling may seem a venial sin, but: (a) It's really rude to put other people's words in quotation marks and then spell them wrong: I most certainly did not write "human sheilds". (b) Sloppy spelling on the scale seen here is usually a sign of sloppy thought or arrogance or both. If the author doesn't care enough about his own words to run them through a spell-checker before posting, why should anyone else take them seriously?

The premise of this challenge is that, some of those who are opposed to the war in Iraq have been suggesting that "chickenwaks" (or chickenbloggers in Dr. '[E]vil's case) should be in the first wave attacking Baghdad.

What's the difference between a "chickenhawk" (I suppose that's what he was aiming for) and a "chickenblogger", and why am I the latter rather than the former? 'Hesiod' doesn't say: again too busy piling up the personal insults to worry about whether they even make sense.

Frankly, since I'm a hard-headed realist who's in favor of the war on terror, but who doesn't see the cold-blooded rationale for attacking Saddam, I'd be sitting on the sidelines watching these fools needlessly slaughter one another.

If he wants to insult the intelligence of Bush, his cabinet, his generals, and others planning the war on Iraq, that's one thing, but why does he call the common soldiers who would fight the war "fools"? It's not as if they have any choice about going to war or not. I seem to detect more than a hint of contempt for the U.S. military, as well as the Iraqi draftees.

Chickenhawks should ask themselves this question, however: "Are they willing to see their son or daughter die as a combat casualty in Iraq?"

If they are not willing to put their own son, or daughter at risk, they have no business putting anyone else's at risk. It;'s that simple. Would Dubyah, for example, be willing to see Jenna with her legs blown off?

I will have more to say about this in my next post, since 'Level Gaze' is even more explicit in his assumption that 'warbloggers' have no loved ones in the armed forces. The assumption is in many cases, including my own, utterly false.

Those who are opposed to an attack on Iraq, are not, as Dr. '[E]vil dishonestly implies, in favor of his remaining in power, or of his regime.

If you claim to be in favor of some goal, but refuse to do anything to achieve that goal, or to support others attempting to achieve it, are you really in favor, or are you just talking through your hat? 'Hesiod' doesn't seem to have any other suggestions for overthrowing Hussein, and no other country is capable of removing him, so he is in fact in favor of Hussein remaining in power.

None of us would fight on Saddam's side [or be human sheilds] if an attack is launched. That's just plain old [and '[E]vil will love this] Goebbels-esque demagoguery.

Why should I love being compared to a Nazi? I suppose being compared to a Nazi by an asshole like Hesiod is a sort of honor in a perverse way, but it's one I'd just as soon forgo. And how is it demagoguery to suggest that those who vehemently oppose war on Iraq might want to do something to prevent it?

There will again be more on this topic in my next post. In brief, a sufficient number of human shields could in fact prevent the war, but those who claim to oppose the war are unwilling to enlist as human shields, though ready enough to sneer at supporters who fail to enlist as soldiers. That is the hypocrisy at which my original post was aimed.

It's not a morally equivalent argument to make. He knows that.

I know nothing of the sort. I think the position is exactly morally equivalent: if you oppose the war but refuse to put your life on the line to stop it, you're just as 'chicken' as those who support it and decline to enlist. More so, actually, since the U.S. armed forces have specific age limits and experience requirements, while the human shield movement does not. Even if I were young enough to join, I would be highly unlikely to make it through boot camp and training before the fighting is over. But Philip Shropshire and 'Hesiod' could be human shields by the end of the week, if they chose to do so.

            But his job is to accuse those who have legitimate concerns about an Iraq invasion of being in league with Saddam, or soft-headed liberal pantywaists.

My "job"? Does 'Hesiod' think I'm a paid propagandist for the Bush regime? That I take my marching orders from Commander Reynolds and write what I'm told? I guess I won't be getting my usual check this week, since I've been slacking off on the job and not writing much at all.

In fact, I have no objection to people who have "legitimate concerns" and even strong doubts about an Iraq invasion, and link to at least six or eight such people: to name just a few off the top of my head, James Bowman, RiShawn Biddle, Charles Oliver of Shoutin' Across the Pacific, and Unqualified Offerings are all at best highly dubious about invading Iraq. The difference between them and 'Hesiod' (and the boys at WarbloggerWatch) is that they do not compare supporters of war to Nazis, or call them 'chickenhawks', but argue like adults.

Frankly, the onus is on the PRO-INVASION folks to show why an invasion is the ONLY way to solve the problem. So far, they have failed miserably to do so.

They are morally bankrupt unless they do.

In fact, they have explained things slowly and carefully, over and over. Their arguments may not convince 'Hesiod', as they have not (or not entirely) convinced those listed above, but he doesn't seem to have a particularly open mind on the question, as we shall see in a moment.

Skipping a bit . . . .

Let me directly address the "best of the available alternatives" argument. I don't think an invasion IS the "best of the avilable alternatives." And, quite honestly, I don't think those who favor an invasion have done a very good job arguing that it is. P robably because it's easier, they tend to fall back on scare-tactics, or implausible assumptions.

None have come up with any evidence or reasoning [that I have seen], which shows that Deterrence and containment of Saddam will not work, if we develop a coherent, consistent policy.

They still presume, for some reason, that Saddam is suicidally nuts. [He may be nuts, but he's hardly suicidal.]

Poor 'Hesiod' seems to be claiming that he knows whether Saddam is suicidally insane or not. Is 'Hesiod' a trained psychiatrist? If so, has he examined the patient personally? Does he have sufficient command of Iraqi Arabic to be able to do so competently? Does he have CIA connections or other sources of knowledge not available to the general public? How the Hell could 'Hesiod' possibly know whether Saddam Hussein is sane or insane? And why does he think that's a simple question to answer for anyone? I thought only nasty right-wingers believed in simplistic black-or-white right-or-wrong answers. Anyone who claims to have copied an entire Koran with his own blood, as Saddam does, is hardly likely to be entirely sane. His authorship of trashy romance novels is another disquieting sign: it's not as if he needs the money. And anyone who has murdered as many men, women, and children as Saddam Hussein must certainly be at least mildly disturbed.

If there's even a 3% or 5% chance that Saddam wants nuclear weapons for offensive rather than defensive purposes, so he can immediately drop them on Tel Aviv or smuggle them into New York rather than keeping them at home for protection, that would in itself justify a great deal of risk and even bloodshed to prevent him from acquiring them in the first place.

I won't go into the myriad reasons why he is extremely unlikely to give nuclear material or weapons to rogue actors like Al Qaeda [even if he IS in cahoots with them in other ways]. Any cooperation between Saddam and Al Qaeda is a marriage of convenience. It's not a very strong bond.

Again, how does 'Hesiod' know it's unlikely? Does he have special psychological insight? A marriage of convenience can be quite strong and sometimes lasting, as long as it remains advantageous to both sides. Hitler and Stalin for a while, Hitler, Mussolini, and Tojo for quite a bit longer: these had little in common ideologically, but stuck together against their shared enemies long enough to do enormous damage. Iran has been playing footsie with Iraq lately, despite a history of enmity and rivers of blood: they both fear Bush, and that's enough.

Suffice it to say, however, that Saddam is probably on Al Qaeda's top five hit list. He'd have to be, again, suicidally insane to give them nuclear weapons capablilty, unless he exercised a great deal of control over the operation.

But that would, of course, defeat the stealthy-purpose of giving them the material in the first place.

More ridiculous assertions: Saddam on Al Qaeda's hit list? Sounds like bullshit to me, and no evidence, or even argument, is offered. Once again, how does 'Hesiod' know how sane Saddam is? And has he considered -- as some bloggers have -- that Saddam is not a young man, and will therefore, if he stays in power, some day in the not too distant future leave his soon-to-be-acquired nuclear weapons to such unknown quantities as Qusay or Uday? Perhaps not entirely unknown: both are reputed to have strong psychopathic tendencies. That may just be vicious rumor -- I'm not a psychiatrist and haven't examined them -- but it is certainly possible or even probable, given their upbringing.

But that would, of course, defeat the stealthy-purpose of giving them the material in the first place.

Unless of course the purpose was to cause maximum damage to the U.S. and its hated Bushes while preserving Iraqi deniability.

There's a bit more, but why bother? To sum up, 'Hesiod' doesn't support war on Iraq, proposes no other method for removing Saddam from power, but claims he doesn't support leaving him in power. In fact, he does just that. I'm surprised that Glenn Reynolds and others continue to take 'Hesiod' seriously.

Personal Postscripts:

1. Since 'Hesiod' continues to call me "Goebbels-esque" and refuses to withdraw his accusations of chickenbloggery, I will point out that he doesn't know how to spell his own name. He signs his e-mails 'Hesiod Theogeny', but the real Hesiod's work is the Theogony, with a hard G and an O in the second-to-last syllable, like 'cosmogony', not Theogeny with an E and therefore a soft G, despite the examples of 'ontogeny' and 'phylogeny'. I think that makes him a pretentious ass as well as a vicious and dishonest polemicist. (Iain Murray pointed out the spelling error in the last comment on this post. I had thought of doing so myself, but kept putting it off, since it seemed rude and needlessly cruel. Call me a Nazi, and I take the gloves off.)

A Google search on 'Hesiod' + 'Theogeny' draws 224 hits, but that proves only that our Pseudo-Hesiod is not the only ignorant or incompetent person in the world. There are 266 hits for "Xeno's Paradox", which is also wrong: the man's name was "Zeno", and the misspelling "Xeno" is most likely inspired by subconscious thoughts of Xena the Warrior Princess. There are over 1000 hits for 'Hesoid', as if it were a chemical compound, which is equally wrong: the name is three syllables, and usually pronounced HEE-zee-uhd. How do I know? I've read it, in Greek, and taught it nine or ten times in English translation to over 1000 students in all. I've also given a lecture at five different universities that is partly about Hesiod, though mostly on the Prometheus Bound.

2. 'Hesiod' still thinks calling me 'Dr. [E]vil' is funny. PejmanPundit and I have both tried to explain it to him, but he will not listen. I feel like Butt-Head trying to explain puns to Beavis (this is quoted from memory, since it doesn't seem to be available on the web):

They are watching a video of some woman dragging an agricultural implement across a field:

Butt-Head: What's that hoe doing in the video?
Beavis: She's dragging something.

Butt-Head tries to explain how confusing 'hoe' and 'ho' is funny, using the example of 'choking a chicken' both literally and metaphorically. Then Beavis tries his hand (as it were):

Beavis: I've got one. Masturbation!
Butt-Head: That doesn't work.
Beavis: Sure it does! I do it all the time.

Poor 'Hesiod' can't seem to figure out that if my pseudonym is modeled on 'Dr. Evil', turning it back into the original is not very witty. I've already explained this before, pointing out that calling 'Daddy Warblogs' (Steven Chapman) 'Daddy Warbucks' would have been stupid and unwitty, but 'Hesiod' is as unwilling to listen on this matter as on so many others.

By the way, my pseudonym more or less chose itself. I have been using 'curculio' (Latin for 'weevil') as my e-mail address for many years. I also have a doctorate. It was only after I had been wearing my hair as in the ID-card picture above for several months that I realized that if I'm a doctor, and a weevil, and have some physical resemblance to Dr. Evil, and my students like to think that I'm evil (I expect them to work hard at learning Latin), that makes me . . . Dr. Weevil. As a lit critter would say, the name was overdetermined.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at September 22, 2002 09:58 PM

The debates are much more refined in France.

Posted by: Phil on September 23, 2002 12:03 AM

Can you look any happier in that picture?


Posted by: ravenwolf on September 23, 2002 07:51 AM

Ah, Dr Weevil, a fine job on the Slanderer. But alas, you waste your efforts as your points to the Slanderer are far above his ability to comprehend. Robert Crawford has some comments on him as well where he shows the ass too incoherent to understand even his own postings.

Posted by: Robin Roberts on September 23, 2002 04:09 PM

Ravenwolf: It's an ID-card, what do you want? You've seen me in person and know I can smile. This just happens to show my resemblance to the criminal mastermind better.

Posted by: Dr. Weevil on September 23, 2002 04:19 PM

Dr. "Goebbels" Weevil doesn't have a very sound ring to it. All the same, welcome to the harsh reality of Godwin's Law.

Posted by: anon on September 23, 2002 06:38 PM

You want to explain what you're talking about, Anon? Like whether you're criticizing me or 'Hesiod' or both or neither? Your second sentence sounds like it's criticizing me, but 'Hesiod' is the one who keeps comparing his opponents to Nazis.

Also, I don't mind anonymity -- I use it myself -- but a usable e-mail address would help. Just so I know you're not a sock puppet, you know.

Posted by: Dr. Weevil on September 23, 2002 06:53 PM

Wait! Sock puppets aren't welcome here? Rats. No one told me.

Posted by: Quana The Sock Puppet on September 24, 2002 02:53 AM

I think anon was saying that you should have expected Godwin's Law to manifest itself ("the longer a thread goes, the probability of a Nazi reference beins used approaches one"). He appears to be saying that Hesiod fulfilled Godwin's Law by comparing you with Goebbels. Godwin's Law also stipulates that anyone who uses a Nazi reference to compare their opponent with loses automatically and is ignored.

Posted by: Pejman Yousefzadeh on September 24, 2002 10:24 PM

That would be "being used."

Posted by: Pejman Yousefzadeh on September 24, 2002 10:24 PM

your a fucking asshole war hawk. go fight our war if that is what you want to happen; you have already lived your life and there are KIDS that are going to die, because bush has personal issues with saddam, who won't have the oppurtunity to live any kind of life.

Posted by: lindsay on February 25, 2003 07:44 PM

yeah dude, i dont really know where your comming from. i mean get your facts right before you waster your time Mr. Weevil. Anyways, my opinion is probably invalid since i didn't read it, but i did feel it was a little long. So please try and shorten your work from now on, and add more picture of yourself. Or write about Mini Me and Dr. Evil more, thats fun stuff. L8er Homes Fry.

Posted by: Ian on March 14, 2003 12:48 AM