Don't Let The Bret Stephens Bite: NY Times' Hypocritical 'Free Speech' Columnist Flips Out After Being Called A Bedbug
from the a-streisanding-for-the-ages dept
I will admit being only marginally aware of Bret Stephens in the past — as someone the NY Times seems to employ to write really dumb opinion pieces that get people angry with how dumb they are. This latest bit of Bret Stephensisms isn’t going to improve that impression. One of Stephens’ big things, apparently, is whining about “the left” not believing in free speech any more, and complaining about things like “safe spaces on campus.” Here are two recent examples:
If you’re unable to see those, they’re two columns by Stephens, with the first one entitled “Free Speech and the Necessity of Discomfort,” and the second one entitled, “Leave Your Safe Spaces: The 2017 Commencement Address at Hampden-Sydney College.” No matter what your stance is on “the necessity of comfort” or “safe spaces,” once should at least conclude that Bret Stephens has positioned himself as one who believes that free speech is important, and people should chill out before getting offended.
Oh, and he sometimes tweets about free speech too, and has some more tweets that he’s likely to regret before all this is over:
In the first tweet, he’s quoting David French, saying “Our nation cannot maintain its culture of free speech if we continue to reward those who seek to destroy careers, rather than rebut ideas.” Remember that one. And the second is “The right to offend is the most precious right. Without it, free speech is meaningless. That’s what Charlie Hebdo was about.”
Okay. That’s a little background on Bret Stephens’ professional opinion on free speech and people being offended when he’s acting all intellectual-like. Now let’s take a look at Bret Stephens’ unprofessional opinion on free speech and people being offended, when someone calls him a bedbug.
On Monday morning, an assistant editor of the NY Times opinion section, Stuart Thompson, tweeted: “Breaking — There are bedbugs in the NYT newsroom.” Lots of people made jokes about this. My favorite, from Lindsey Barrett, mocked the NY Times’ unwillingness to call racism racism by rewriting it as: “I think you mean there’s an insect-tinged problem in the NYT newsroom.” She made some more jokes about bedbugs, including a fake headline by Bret Stephens: “‘There Are No Bedbugs and If There Were, The Caustic Twitter Socialists Put Them There and Bed Bugs Are Good, Actually’ –half a column by bret stephens, who was itching too vigorously to finish it” That one got lots of likes and retweets. But it’s not the tweet that exposed Bret Stephens as the free speech hypocrite many people seemed to always assume he was.
Instead, it was a not even that funny tweet from Dave Karpf, an Associate Professor at George Washington University:
The bedbugs are a metaphor. The bedbugs are Bret Stephens. https://t.co/k4qo6QzIBW
— davekarpf (@davekarpf) August 26, 2019
Then, last evening, Karpf noted that while that original tweet (cue ominous music: at the time…) had only 9 likes and 0 retweets, and did not in any way tag Stephens himself, Stephens took it upon himself to not just complain about the tweet to Karpf, but to cc his university provost:
Alright fine… here is the email: pic.twitter.com/A4E5I6CoB6
— davekarpf (@davekarpf) August 27, 2019
We’ll get to the contents of the letter in a moment. But, first, let’s revisit those tweets from Stephens about free speech. He talked about how the right to offend was so important. And also was apparently against “those who seek to destroy careers rather than rebut ideas.” Of course, there’s no good reason for Stephens to cc the GWU provost except in a weak, thin-skinned, hypocritical attempt to destroy Karpf’s career.
And let’s not avoid the contents of Stephens’ email. Because, it’s weird.
Dear. Dr. Karpf,
Someone just pointed out a tweet you wrote about me, calling me a “bedbug.” I’m often amazed about the things supposedly decent people are prepared to say about other people — people they’ve never met — on Twitter. I think you’ve set a new standard.
I would welcome the opportunity for you to come to my home, meet my wife and kids, talk to us for a few minutes, and then call me a “bedbug” to my face. That would take some genuine courage and intellectual integrity on your part. I promise to be courteous no matter what you have to say.
Maybe it will make you feel better about yourself.
Please consider this a standing invitation. You are more than welcome to bring your significant other.
It certainly sounds like Stephens “took offense” to Karpf’s random joke. Perhaps he felt being a NY Times Opinion columnist gave him a “safe space” from criticism? It must be that, or otherwise, to think that calling him a “bedbug” is a “new standard” of Twitter-based discourse, suggests someone who is so shielded from the way Twitter arguments normally play out as to be a poor judge of what the “new standards” are of insults. And, yes, you could argue that Stephens’ creepy invite to come over to his house (with Karpf’s significant other) and insult him to his face, is a request for “more speech,” in response to “speech.” But, we should remind everyone that Stephens’ cc’d the George Washington University provost.
Anyway, if you couldn’t already guess what happened next, I should tell you that Merriam-Webster chose last evening to (not for the first time), tweet out their explanation of the Streisand Effect. Whenever the dictionary starts adding to my own mentions, you know something good is going down.
The 'Streisand effect' occurs when the attempt to cover something up only brings it more attention or notoriety. https://t.co/VgBJObll5g
— Merriam-Webster (@MerriamWebster) August 27, 2019
And, so, yes, within just a few hours, Karpf’s tweet mocking Stephens, that had just 9 likes and 0 retweets, has many thousands of retweets and tens of thousands of likes. And, tons and tons of people are now associating Bret Stephens with bedbugs. Here’s just a few fun tweets.
Goodnight, sleep tight, don't let the Bret Stephens bite.
— Jessica Valenti (@JessicaValenti) August 27, 2019
same rule for me: if you?ve ever mocked me online, please go have dinner at Bret Stephens?s house
— Owen Ellickson (@onlxn) August 27, 2019
Bret Stephens: The biggest threat facing our society today is the stifling of free speech on college campuses.
Also Bret Stephens: I?m going to try and get a college professor fired for a joke he tweeted that didn?t get a single retweet.
— Matt McDermott (@mattmfm) August 27, 2019
WTF. You had this your feed 10 days ago, and now you've narced on some college professor because he called you..checks notes..a "bedbug." Motherfucker, any day I don't get addressed here as a libtard, cuck, Hollywood Jew and (((David Simon)))? I'm not even trying. You hypocrite. https://t.co/vQlKUV8ieU
— David Simon (@AoDespair) August 27, 2019
Please bear in mind that Brett Stephens, who thought this would turn out well, was hired by the New York Times to explain society to us.
— SeductiveReasoningHat (@Popehat) August 27, 2019
911 OPERATOR: what?s your emergency?
911 OPERATOR: Bret I swear to Christ this better not be about twitter…
BRET STEPHENS: *hangs up the phone*
— Michael Tannenbaum (@iamTannenbaum) August 27, 2019
sometimes i think of the deluge of cruelty folks like jemele hill and jamelle bouie and other folks get and they basically have to sit on their hands. meanwhile bret stephens got called a third-grade insult and tattled to the dude?s boss. he would never make it if he was us.
— Joel D. Anderson (@byjoelanderson) August 27, 2019
bret stephens would not survive 3 minutes of being a woman on twitter tbh
— Talia Lavin (@chick_in_kiev) August 27, 2019
Subject line: From Bret Stephens, New York Times
Dear Merriam-Webster twitter account,
It was brought to my attention that you subtweeting me. Would you dare do this in front of my wife & kids? Put up your dukes, dictionary!
cc: Your manager. https://t.co/D021TA7lLG
— Jeet Heer (@HeerJeet) August 27, 2019
Since we?re all picking our favorite parts of this Bret Stephens email, I will go with him saying calling someone a ?bedbug? sets a ?new standard? for nastiness on Twitter. This is the sort of risible analysis we would expect in one of his columns. https://t.co/crJE84Wiaj
— Josh Barro (@jbarro) August 27, 2019
Is Bret Stephens for fucking real.
I would LOVE for someone to call me a bedbug. The shit I get called on here on a daily basis? ?Bedbug? would be a welcome respite.
Get the entire fuck out of here.
— Imani Gandy? (@AngryBlackLady) August 27, 2019
The line to Bret Stephens?s house to tell his family that he?s a bedbug and a terrible columnist would look like the cars pulling up to Ray Kinsella?s farm at the end of FIELD OF DREAMS. Bret could be there playing catch with a ghostly relative. I?d tell the ghost the same. pic.twitter.com/OkBl54jf8C
— Jamil Smith (@JamilSmith) August 27, 2019
Maybe Bret Stephens would stop denying climate change if he found out that it caused his skin to become perilously thin https://t.co/xspO9mKxaG
— andi zeisler (@andizeisler) August 27, 2019
I think you're all being very mean to Bret Stephens, who at 45 years old is clearly doing something right considering the average bed bug only lives 6-12 months.
— Tony Webster (@webster) August 27, 2019
The punishment for mildly joking about Bret Stephens on the internet is having to hang out with Bret Stephens in real life. https://t.co/SvrMmLyoUP
— Robyn Pennacchia (@RobynElyse) August 27, 2019
Like bedbugs, those tweets just keep on coming. On my Twitter account, at least, Bret Stephens, was the top “trending” topic for many hours last night. Note how many likes and retweets all of those tweets have. Bret Stephens has taken a throwaway line that most people ignored and ensured that, for years, people will associate him with bedbugs.
Incredibly, overnight, rather than realizing that he’d fucked up, Stephens apparently decided to dig deeper and make it worse. First, he shut down his Twitter account, laughably claiming that Twitter “is a sewer” that “brings out the worst in humanity.” He then went on MSNBC and compared being called a “bedbug” to the worst “totalitarian regimes,” while also (laughably, ridiculously) trying to argue that cc’ing the GWU provost wasn’t about trying to get Karpf fired. He claims he just wanted the provost to know what his staff was doing. Which… come on. No one believes that.
On MSNBC, Bret Stephens characterizes Dr Dave Karpf referring to him as a metaphorical "bedbug" on Twitter as akin to language used by "totalitarian regimes," adds that he had "no intention whatsoever to get him in any kind of professional trouble" when he tattled to Karpf's boss pic.twitter.com/iNJAvzPnMt
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) August 27, 2019
Of course, like bedbugs, I’m guessing that the NY Times won’t get rid of Bret Stephens either.
He says he's leaving but experts say you have to go three weeks without seeing one before you know they're gone for good https://t.co/aGjSmk2mt2
— Matt MAYBE MORE FOLLOWERS THAN JOHN DELANEY Negrin (@MattNegrin) August 27, 2019
Filed Under: bedbugs, bret stephens, david karpf, getting people fired, hypocrite, insults, offensive speech, safe spaces
Companies: george washington university, ny times
Comments on “Don't Let The Bret Stephens Bite: NY Times' Hypocritical 'Free Speech' Columnist Flips Out After Being Called A Bedbug”
Yeah, I was startled to learn NYT has a "conservative"!
But I think with this outed himself as just another loony "left-liberal-libertarian". You can be certain that at most he’s a NEO-con rather than even vaguely near a "paleo-conservative".
Say. Any hope of an even vaguely important topic this week? I’d settle for your opining on Google’s laughable assertion that disallowing all cookies will worse privacy. Want to see you try to handle that one, so PLEASE?
Re: Yeah, I was startled to learn NYT has a "conservative"!
This reads like a https://twitchy.com/ post.
I think Trump’s brain is leaking directly into Blue’s head.
Re: Re: Re:
…that we know of. Mebbe the dinosaurs had really good infosec
Re: Yeah, I was startled to learn about ignorant motherfuckers
Gorsh I can’t imagine you’d take an interest in some thin skinned prick who way, waaaaayyyyyy overreacted to a throwaway joke.
Saw this and realized ...
This seems familiar, oh yeah, I made fun of him on twitter also.
The amazing thing about all this is how the “offending” tweet in question didn’t even tag Stephens’s account. The only way he could’ve seen the tweet (if you assume he wasn’t following that user, which I do) was to search for his own name on Twitter. Not only did he prove himself a hypocrite, he also outed his own vanity. In the words of Slappy Squirrel: “Now that’s comedy!”
Okay, slight correction: He could’ve also seen the tweet if someone @’d him in the replies. But considering how little traffic the original tweet received before Stephens tried to end someone’s career, I have to assume no one did that.
Re: Re: Re:
I believe there were no replies at the time Stephens emailed.
Re: Re: Re: Re:
There’s something else being overlooked here too: Kampf never called Stephens a bedbug.
In the context of NYT staff talking about bedbugs and insinuating it had to do with Stephens, Kampf said:
This isn’t Kampf calling Stephens a bedbug; it’s Kampf explaining that when NYT staffers were talking about bedbugs, they were doing so as a metaphor for Stephens.
At least in any coherent interpretation of events.
I haven’t laughed this much in months.
He seems a little touchy at the observation of the right winger’s fundamentally parasitic nature – wanting to exploit the benefits of civilized society whilst contributing less than nothing back.
“Everything is a grift.” — the unspoken right wing ethos, probably
Re: Re: Re:
The grift, in this instance, is that right-wingers rant about how liberal the New York Times is, so that the New York Times fills its op/ed section with right-wingers ranting about how liberal it is, to balance out all that liberal-ness.
In an era of thought control...
Free Speech is criminalized. Yup, you will literally get called a nazi now for advocating for free speech.
Yeah. That’s how mental our Media have become. That’s your world now.
Pray tell, how did the government punish Bret Stephens for his dumbass decision to try destroying someone else’s career over a playground-level insult?
Re: In an era of thought control...
[Zof the Liar offers no facts in his complaint]
Re: In an era of thought control...
He needs to do better than just advocating for "free speech for me but not for thee". To have free speech you need the right to call out something offensive just as much as you need the right to say something offensive.
Re: In an era of thought control...
Zof shows up to take a metaphorical shit in the corner.
Re: Re: In an era of thought control...
I thought he WAS the metaphorical shit in the corner…
Re: In an era of thought control...
Considering what has happened since in this debacle, I think this post is a bit ironic in hindsight.
Well done, @MattNegrin. Most of the other jokes were amusing, but that one genuinely landed. Kudos.
Oh and, the NYT doesn't care about free speech
They care about Yellow Journalism, and selling war.
Re: Oh and, the NYT doesn't care about free speech
Yes, I too learned about the Spanish American War in checks transcript US History 101.
Re: Oh and, the NYT doesn't care...
They care about
They have editorial control over what the publish, and it’s their job to pick the news people are going to find most interesting.
Unlike Cadet Bonespurs, who outright lies every time…
'Insults are only acceptable when I sling them!'
Ah good old free speech hypocrites, touting how people need to grow thicker skins and insults are just part of life right until someone uses their free speech to insult them, at which point it’s nothing less than totalitarian oppression in action.
Is what Stephens was really saying.
Love the Filler.
I love a person standing infront of a crowd Berating NONE OF THEM, and Some Oddball becomes offended. Then another, and another…
THINKING in their own little minds, that what that person said, relates TO THEM..
Go look up R/slash and RSLASH on YT…get a huge Laugh over much of it.
Try not to be offended..
Just to let you folks know.. I had to learn to Hold my emotions ling ago, because of Epilepsy. ITS NOT easy. but you also learn something with it. Learning to LISTEN, before you open your mouth.
The saddest part about this
I’m mainly disappointed only Stephens is being made fun of. Where’s the well-warranted disdain for David Brooks??
Re: The saddest part about this
David Brooks wasn’t dumb enough to hand a megaphone to an unknown tweet.
The most surprising thing about this…
…isn’t that he took offense, or that he is a free-speech hypocrite, or that this backfired horribly, or that he doubled down, or that he decided to shut down his Twitter account.
It’s the fact that, of all the tweets to be offended over, this was the one he couldn’t take? Seriously? It was a minor insult that few people saw, few people Liked, no one retweeted, and hadn’t been directly sent to him. And it’s not like he was following the guy who posted it. It had to take some effort to find the thing. And why was this so offensive? Knowing Twitter, there had to be better insults than that to get worked up about.
Re: The most surprising thing about this…
Well the bed bugs had to come from somewhere, and maybe he was the source, so perhaps the tweet was a bit too close to the truth.
Re: The most surprising thing about this…
To be fair, a good journalist should always have a search alert out for his own name, which he probably did.
I’m tired of these so-called free speech advocates who confuse freedom of speech with right to audience, right to platform access, freedom from criticism, and freedom from consequences.
“Worst Totalitarian Regimes”?
Is there a term for the logical fallacy of saying “A is no better than B”? Because the flip side of that is the inevitable implication that “B is no worse than A”. In this case, saying that being called a “bedbug” is comparable to what is done in “totalitarian regimes” is also saying that what they do in “totalitarian regimes” is merely comparable to calling someone a “bedbug”.
This is a law that needs its own name.
Re: “Worst Totalitarian Regimes”?
In this instance, it’s not a logical fallacy, it’s just hyperbole. Stupid, stupid hyperbole.
Looks like it's gonna stick
Bret "The Bedbug" Stephens
Stephens is right. His being called a bedbug is a horrible insult, as he is a much higher order of vermin. Now, of course, this "free speech advocate" might try to sue me for defamation.
"Please bear in mind that Brett Stephens, who thought this would turn out well, was hired by the New York Times to explain society to us."
What Stephens should have done is trademark the term "Bretbug", then sue everyone who uses the term "bedbug".
Given the climate of trademark and IP law he’d have a far better chance of getting away with it.
Hypocrisy, or experiment to prove a point?
Cc-ing Kampf’s provost can only be seen as hypocritical if one thinks Stephens believes, contrary to all evidence, that an American university administrator would discipline a faculty member for insulting a public figure on the political right. Maybe it was an experiment to confirm what the evidence suggests.
Ah yes, the old “social experiment” excuse — the fallback for bad trolls and assholes of all types. “I wasn’t trying to get him fired for insulting me! It was a social experiment!”
GTFO with that shit, son.
Maybe calling him a bedbug was a reference to how thin the outer covering on his body… and based on the reaction, I’d say it was generous.
Re: Thin skinned
Saying Bret Stephens has any skin whatsoever is giving him far too much credit.
Thanks to this story, when the national news radio channel said "The Washington Post HQ has a cockroach infestation" my first thought was: "The cockroaches are a metaphor. The cockroaches are the right-wing commentators."