Sunday, July 23, 2006


Okay, I hate nothing about the Internet more than the phenomenon of 'piling on'. But, this is also the funniest example of a net fustercluck that I've seen in a while. So, here goes.

Here is a cartoon by Chris Muir that makes some sort of point about the NYTimes hating America. Why do they hate America? Well, according to the cartoonist, because they subscribe to 'Kantian nihilism'. And then it ends with an ass joke. Okay, I get the ass joke: "behind the times". Is it funny? Well, funny is subjective, right? Let's say it's 'Bazooka Joe funny'.

But, the first thing you wonder if you've ever read Kant is what in the living fucking hell is 'Kantian nihilism'? I could say many cruel things about Kant, but the absolute last thing I would say is that he was a nihilist, much less characteristic of nihilism. One commenter compared this to writing about "Marxist capitalism". I might throw in "Augustinian secularism". But, the point is that it makes almost no sense whatsoever. Like your head might explode from trying to figure it out. But, hey, ass joke, right?

I've never quite gotten the 'cultural nihilism' argument anyway. It always reads like: "Do you know why teenagers are dressing slutty and smoking so much pot these days? Heidegger! It's totally Heidegger's fault!"

So, a bunch of people have piled on to ask "WTF mate?" And then a bunch of other people called these people "pompous", as if writing a comic strip whose central conceit is "Kantian nihilism" isn't pompous. Muir himself (or an imposter poster) wrote "Way to miss the entire point, cretin," after having been called out on, well, missing the entire point. Then someone else added:
"The philosophy-reading, sushi-eating elitist groupthink in this thread is why you guys don’t win elections anymore." Yeah, what kind of jerk reads philosophy anyway? Much better to make bewilderingly uninformed jabs at it without having read it. I almost, you know, spit out my sushi laughing at that one.

Then someone pointed out that Ayn Rand thought that Kant was a nihilist, and Muir may have heard this from her. Nobody has yet pointed out that Ayn Rand was an irritating gasbag.

Muir himself explained his bizarre reference in the next strip:
Chick: "The New York Times are Kantian nihilists?" (as opposed to her asking What in the living fucking hell is a Kantian nihilist?!?)
Dude: "Moral relativists anyway. No objective truths, we are all the same, etc." (Which is, of course, again the opposite of what Kant actually said, and gets at why Nietzsche hated Kant so much.)
Dude: "But this country was founded on Judeo-Christian moral values as well as Kant, Schopenhauer later." (At this point, the chick in the bikini starts smacking the male and screaming: "But, Kant was a Christian, you braindead avacado! And his entire ethical project is founded in Christian morality! Fuck!! And how in bizarro world was America founded on Schopenhaur?")

Then it ends with someone at the NYTimes being asked to distinguish between a terrorist and a US soldier and saying: "I Kant." Yes. They're now bashing the Christian thinkers of the Enlightenment with the same 'terrorist lover' crapola. Please. Head. Do. Not. Explode.

This got me wondering-maybe Muir actually has read Kant. Maybe the Enlightenment is now considered not sufficiently Christian for the conservatives not to bash on. Maybe even the Christian Enlightenment? Like you could almost understand if they were attacking Voltaire, but Kant? But, perhaps Kant really is not conservative enough because he really did think that all people could recognize the universal truth of (basically Christian) ethics. Maybe to be conservative, you have to argue that someone somewhere is innately immune to ethical imperatives, although I have no idea who. Are we supposed to believe that Arabs can't understand ethics? Or just Muslims? Or what?

And then Andrew Sullivan called out Muir as not having a clue what he was talking about, and he responded by drawing a strip making fun of the fact that Andrew Sullivan, as a gay male, is familiar with butt sex. Yes, another ass joke.

And then my head exploded.

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