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>Scott Adams: I meant to do that!

>

Easier to believe than Scott Adams.

There’s a classic scene in Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure in which our hero falls off his bike in a spectacular fashion in front of a bunch of kids. Instead of lying there in misery and shame, he quickly gets up, dusts himself off, and says, somewhat less than convincingly, “I meant to do that.” If you’ve never seen the movie, or simply want to relive the moment, here it is

It’s perhaps the oldest, crudest, and most utterly transparent strategy ever invented to recover from an embarrassing mishap: we either pretend that nothing happened, or that whatever did happen was all part of our super seekret master plan all along. We’re not the only animals that do this. Cats do it. Birds do it. Even drunk squirrels do it.


Now we can add Scott Adams to the list. Recently, as regular readers of this blog will be aware, the Dilbert mastermind caused a bit of a contretemps on the internets by posting a blog entry so astoundingly idiotic, and so patronizingly misogynistic, that it managed to offend Men’s Rights Activists and feminists alike. Adams managed to make himself look like an even bigger idiot by pulling the blog post down in what seems to have been a futile attempt to make the controversy go away, only to find it reposted on an assortment of sites; some have begun to wonder if he actually understands how the internet works. (Things posted generally cannot be unposted.)

I wrote about the whole embarrassing spectacle here, and when I posted a version of that piece up on Feministe, Adams showed up to defend himself– badly – by insisting that his critics were too dumb and/or emotional to understand his oh-so-subtle argument. He then insisted, puzzlingly, that we actually weren’t his critics at all: “You’re angry,” he wrote, “but I’ll bet every one of you agrees with me.” Naturally, this did not advance his cause.“Mr. Adams,” wrote Feministe commenter Sheelzebub, speaking for many, “thank you so much for coming back here and entertaining us with your special brand of epic fail.”

But rather than letting this whole thing die, Adams has come back with even more detailed, and even more transparently ludicrous and contradictory, explanations as to why he wrote the post in the first place, why he subsequently deleted it, and why he decided to defend himself in such an obtuse manner on Feministe and (apparently) elsewhere. The whole embarrassing spectacle wasn’t an embarrassing spectacle at all: He totally MEANT TO DO IT.  As Feministe commenter Laurie sarcastically summed up his new claims, the whole thing was apparently “a form of sophisticated performance art,” and the controversy it generated was all “part of Adams’s master plan in the first place. He’s pulling all the strings. BWAHAHAHAHA!”

Yeah, right. 

So let’s go through his new explanations. Prepare for a bumpy ride.

Adams wrote the original post, he says, in a deliberate attempt to send the Men’s Rightsers into a frenzy:

I thought it would be funny to embrace the Men’s Rights viewpoint in the beginning of the piece and get those guys all lathered up before dismissing their entire membership as a “bunch of pussies.”

This part of Adams’ explanation actually rings true. Originally, you may recall, Adams decided to let his readers pick the topic of his next blog post for him. When he saw “men’s rights” jump to the top of the poll results, he knew, as he put it, that “the fix was in. Activists had mobilized their minions to trick me into giving their cause some free publicity.”

This is in fact true; MRAs on Reddit, and perhaps elsewhere, did indeed flood his site to vote for their pet issue.

And so, even though he agrees with some of the Men’s Rights agenda, Adams says he’s been suffering from a “wicked case of ‘whiner fatigue.’” In a world full of  “financial meltdowns, tsunamis, nuclear radiation, and bloody revolutions,” complaining about men having to open doors doesn’t seem like such a big damn deal.

So far, so good. But it’s about here, as he gets into his decision to take the post down, that Adams’ explanations go completely off the rails. Indeed, he’s got two distinct, and almost completely contradictory, explanations for why he took the post down.

First, he says he deleted the post, even though he knew people would repost it, as a sort of “meta joke” apparently designed to rile up feminists and garner even more attention. As he explains, somewhat less-than-lucidly:

A few people appreciated the meta-joke of removing the post.  If you didn’t get it, read the deleted post, consider the feminist backlash, then think about the fact that I took down my post and ran away.

And to those of you who triumphantly scrounged up a copy of the deleted piece from Google’s cache, republished it, and crowed that I don’t understand how the Internet worked, I would politely suggest that perhaps I do.

Adams goes on to suggest that the seemingly obtuse and arrogant comments he left on Feministe (and, apparently, elsewhere), were part of the same Puckish strategy of provocation:

I was enjoying all of the negative attention on Twitter and wondered how I could keep it going. So I left some comments on several Feminist blogs, mostly questioning the reading comprehension of people who believed I had insulted them. That kept things frothy for about a day.

But, he says, this wasn’t the whole story. And so he sets forth his second explanation for why he took down the original post:

I didn’t take down the piece just because I thought doing so would be funny, or because I wanted attention. Those were bonuses. The main reason is that when a lot of drive-by readers saw the piece, and they didn’t know the context of this blog, it changed the message of the post to something unintended. As a writer, unintended messages are unbearable.

You might notice that this new explanation does not so much complement but completely contract his earlier explanation: in the first scenario, Adams portrays himself as a “meta joker,” a deliberate provocateur, trying to rile up readers outside of his normal audience with a puckish prank.

In the second scenario he portrays himself as a writer deeply concerned about being misunderstood, and troubled that his words were being misinterpreted by “drive-by readers” outside of his normal audience, a situation he describes as “unbearable.”

In other words, after telling us that he pulled down the post in an effort to rile people up and garner even more attention, he tells us he that he really didn’t like the extra attention his words were getting, and that he pulled down the post in an attempt to cut the discussion off. As he puts:

Men thought I was attacking men, and women thought I was attacking women. The message changed when the context changed. I saw that developing, so I took down the post.

There is, of course, a simple way for us to cut through this confusion: to recognize that Adams’ talk about “meta-jokes” is almost certainly utter bullshit.

My theory as to what actually happened is much more straightforward, and fairly similar to Adams’ second explanation: Adams wrote a post designed to rile up MRAs, and it did. But once the discussion spilled over beyond the relatively safe confines of his own blog, with its sympathetic – or is that sycophantic? – audience, he had second thoughts, and in a moment of peevishness he took the post down, hoping the whole thing would just go away. It didn’t.

Then the whole debate got a second wind after feminists, myself included, noticed his post, and noticed that it happened to be crammed full of patronizingly misogynistic bullshit. Unable to simply wish away the criticism, Adams waded into the fray. Unwilling to, or simply incapable of either justifying his original post or apologizing for it in front of an audience of non-adoring non-fans, Adams simply asserted that none of his detractors understood what he *really* meant. So far, he has not given us any explanation as to what this might be.

Instead, in his post as in the discussion on Feministe, he simply repeats his assertion that those who have criticized his post are too emotional or invested in the issues to truly “get it.” The culmination of this line of, er, “reasoning” is this bit of passive-aggressive fuckery at the end of his post:

To the best of my knowledge, no one who understood the original post and its context was offended by it. But to the women who were offended by their own or someone else’s interpretation of what I wrote, I apologize.

This sounds like it might be his last word on the subject. No such luck. Like a terrier worrying a bone, Adams still hasn’t quite let this one go. Today, Salon ran a couple of articles on the controversy, including an interesting interview with Men’s Studies doyen Michael Kimmel; Adams urged his minions readers to rush over and defend him in the comments against the “the poorly informed [who] are in full unibation mode over their shared hallucinations of my Men’s Rights post.”

“Unibation?” Apparently they speak a different kind of English up Scott Adams’ ass.

If you enjoyed this post, would you kindly* use the “Share This” or one of the other buttons below to share it on Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, or wherever else you want. I appreciate it.

*Yes, that was a Bioshock reference.

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Posted on March 30, 2011, in douchebaggery, idiocy, kitties, MRA. Bookmark the permalink. 42 Comments.

  1. >It is pretzel logic without the tasty goodness of salt or cheese or additive of a person's choice.

  2. >I wish you hadn't mentioned his ass. How is what goes on up his ass relevant to this site? Let him do what he wants with his ass and leave us out of it.

  3. >Yeah, he is handling the whole situation badly. But, Dilbert is still funny. That is the only comic in mainstream newspapers worth reading. Of course, Ted Rall's cartoons in the weeklies are good too. We all can't recover gracefully from our embarrassing moments.

  4. >What amuses me the most is that I think Adams is enough of an arrogant git to actually believe in the truthiness of the excuses he's written, including the contradictions. His writing has the internal consistency of a badly sprained knee.

  5. >I have read Scott Adams for a long time. I like him most of the time, and don't think his comic is sexist. He definitely uses the technique he calls "DMD: Dance Monkey Dance" on a regular basis. But now after this kerfuffle, I can't help thinking it's just Trolling 101. I'm not going to stop reading him, or write any letters to him or his editor. I don't think it's effective. But I am going to pay attention in the future to whether or not he ever responds to criticism. If not, I'll reevaluate my interest in his writings.

  6. >I've been theorizing this new media concept for the internet age. I call it "retroactive satire". It's when someone makes or says something offensive, or alternately makes something unintentionally terrible, and then when the negative response mounts tries to play it off as "satire". Right now the director of "Sucker Punch" is trying to do this, for example. Bot it's a surprisingly common phenomenon in general.I'm wondering if this counts. I feel like if it doesn't it's at least a close relative.

  7. >Magdelyn, you are completely wrong. It is Pearls Before Swine that is the most readable comic in these modern times.

  8. >Hold on guys. What if his contradictory justifications are intended to be a super-meta joke? Maybe a commentary on what happens when people embarrass themselves on the internet?Did I just blow your mind?

  9. >I like "Cathy".(Not really, I just wanted to make the Buffy reference. I like "Get Fuzzy" and "Retail")

  10. >The mental gymnastics that Scott Adams is putting himself through to avoid admitting he's done something wrong are truly impressive. I'm going to bookmark everything as a reference for the next time I need to explain 'cognitive dissonance' to someone.

  11. >Lady Victoria von Syrus said… "The mental gymnastics that Scott Adams is putting himself through to avoid admitting he's done something wrong are truly impressive."Don't be modest.Compared to your ilk Scott Adams is an amateur.

  12. >I'll grant you this, evilwhitemaleempire: you are remarkably consistent in your arguments. By simply ignoring every shred of real-world evidence that contradicts your preconceived worldview, you manage to avoid the mental gymnastics entirely. For that I respect you more than I respect Scott Adams.

  13. >He likely received a lot of threats from the woman-child-goddesses over at feministe that can't debate outside of an ideological echo chamber where the game is fixed.He should never have said arguing with women is like arguing with children, is should have said feminists instead of women, there are plenty of rational women out there.

  14. >"He likely received a lot of threats from the woman-child-goddesses over at feministe that can't debate outside of an ideological echo chamber where the game is fixed."…So he's a "mangina?"

  15. >Dance mangina dance!

  16. >I do have a logical defence for him and his attitude.Look I am a normal man. I have no goddamn clue about feminism since most of it uses big words. I think women should be treated as equal to men but I am also tarnished by my own upbringing as a man to have tendencies to treat them like "women". It's hard to break that programming. This seems to be a genuine faux pas. A man trying to grapple with MRAs without understanding a lot of feminist theory. Which is fine. I don't understand a lot of it. I make faux pas all the time. All men do, because we don't really understand what women go through. We can never understand that because we are not women, in the same way that women won't really understand why the PUA clique exists. It's because men are regarded as failures if they don't pick up women. Remaining single without dating/bedding vast quantities of women has other men put you under vast amounts of peer pressure. We don't understand. But we really want equality. Think of us like the USA, in power and extremely clumsy about it. Sometimes we miss and accidentally make sexist comments. It is out of ignorance or accident rather than malice. The ultimate tragedy is that the whole MRA attitude regarding the game works. Either that or they are lying through their teeth. And that is what tempts people into their way of thinking.I will honestly raise my hands and admit that I am not that good looking. I know my limits here. I kind of got hit by the ugly shovel growing up. I am not possessing a fantastic physique and am just of average height.But it's people like me who they advertise to. The "game" is supposedly designed to reduce the advantages of a supposed competition between us and the beautiful people.The idea plays off a very simple issue. Average/ugly young men aren't all gifted with wonderful senses of humour (my only saving grace, IMHO) that makes them better with women. The PUA/MRA movement portrays itself as the great equaliser. A way to get back at the beautiful people by appealing to something that every ugly person assumes about themselves. That we all are smart. Scott is just a normal man who probably tried to weigh into a subject with what a normal man knows. I could have made this kind of mistake a few weeks back. So cut the dude a bit of slack. The real issue is… can he be a real man and admit his mistake and learn from this rather than being tarred by both sides for what (IMHO) looks like a stupid mistake that any man could have done.

  17. >Apparently you folks just insist on being offended no matter what the actual facts are. Seriously, work on your reading comprehension. ALL the words count.DMD

  18. >Apparently you folks just insist on being offended no matter what the actual facts are.Apparently you folks will claim that any bullshit you pull out of your ass is a "fact" just because you say it is. Also: I can't speak for everyone, but I don't think offense is an issue here — or at least, it isn't for people who have no personal relationship with Adams. The extent to which his claim that men should treat women like children or the retarded is offensive — that's something that's between Mr. Adams and his wife.Seriously, work on your reading comprehension. ALL the words count.Right, Adams said women aren't children or retarded, they should just be treated like children or retards. Also, being served in a restaurant 3/4 of a second later than one's female companion is a far, far heavier burden to carry than, say, contending with the treat of rape. Luckily, men, unlike women (who make a totally irrational fuss about trifles like doing more housework than men and getting paid less in the workplace), possess the Herculean strength necessary to cope with such hardships, which are totally unimaginable to women and three-year-olds. Yep, we got it.

  19. >Johnny::: I've been theorizing this new media concept for the internet age. I call it "retroactive satire". It's when someone makes or says something offensive, or alternately makes something unintentionally terrible, and then when the negative response mounts tries to play it off as "satire". :::I like that terminology. If you don't mind I'm definitely going to borrow it the next time I find myself in a discussion about Rush Limbaugh's latest mouthings.

  20. >ANother well written article.But what I don't understand is – how will this make my erections last longer?

  21. >carswell said… Johnny::: I've been theorizing this new media concept for the internet age. I call it "retroactive satire". It's when someone makes or says something offensive, or alternately makes something unintentionally terrible, and then when the negative response mounts tries to play it off as "satire". ::: I like that terminology. If you don't mind I'm definitely going to borrow it the next time I find myself in a discussion about Rush Limbaugh's latest mouthings."I was just kidding!" is an excuse that's as old as the hills, right up there with "honest, Mom, I was just holding this weed for a friend of mine." What's amazing is that people still fall for it.

  22. >ScareCrow said… ANother well written article. But what I don't understand is – how will this make my erections last longer?I would imagine that a scarecrow wouldn't have any trouble getting a woody. (rimshot)

  23. >Avicenna-I would agree with you but for the fact that I have read a lot of Scott Adams' stuff over the years and the guy really is the way he is acting.

  24. >To Amused- Again, paraphrased into something he didn't say, but into something you feel righteous about being indignant about. Par for the course and exactly the point he was making.

  25. >Frankly, I think Adams should just go into damage control mode and STFU about the whole thing. The more he talks about it, the more legs the story has.

  26. >Avicenna, a lot of guys aren't doing this shit accidentally. It's deliberate. And as the victim of this shit, I think women get to define it. Of course, the dudes doing it aren't going to agree, but if we let them define it, nothing that men do to women would be illegal at all.

  27. >Scott Adams has a theory, which he repeats every chance he gets, that arguments involve misinterpreting the opposition and vehemently arguing against the misinterpretation. However, that can be a self serving hypothesis when one says something that's on it's face objectionable (e.g. every time Adams puts his foot in it).It's possible (even likely) Adams was trying to troll his immediate audience, but I doubt he was attempting the sophisticated multi-level trolling he now claims. His trolling is about as sophisticated and original as the rest of his comedy.

  28. >There aren't many times I wish I had me some of that sweet male privilege, but being able to convince myself that losing a debate is proof that the other person is mentally retarded compared to me… damn, must be nice.Heidi MacDonald of The Beat got off the best zinger: "Scott Adams argues as well as he draws."

  29. >Okay, so let me see what the possibilities are:1) Adams is a misogynist who genuinely believes what he wrote.2) Adams is an obnoxious troll who (a) has no sense of good satire and(b) is perfectly okay with hurting the marginilized group to make a cheap joke and(c) is perfectly willing to attack said marginilized group if they do state that they were hurt using a stereotype traditionally used against themEither case makes him a sexist, it is simply a matter of which exact sexist ideas he holds.

  30. >It's just a guy's opinions, distasteful as they may be Of course he ran later, he has a lot more at stake to loose than you. How many kid shows and stoner movies have you been in? Nobody's seeking you out in the name of defamation.As far as I'm concerned, I've never really made that much money. Right now I'm trying to find a job, but attractive women keep getting hired over me (Of two accounts, one of them definitely never had a job or worked in a kitchen before, WTF). Oh yeah, and he was right about men suppressing sexual urges. Women get to have way more sex than me, i know it, it blows. Not to mention me being expected to have money in order to get a girl-friend. I wish I could date someone who wasn't a prostitute.

  31. >To DarkSideCat- a binarian through and through I see. I really like this from the Dilbert blog comments which seems to apply here-There are only 3 types of people in the world.1. People who agree with me.2. Hitler.3. People who are worse than Hitler.

  32. >I see String's comment has the Pee Wee crowd wrapped up firmly.

  33. >Scott Adams has a theory, which he repeats every chance he gets, that arguments involve misinterpreting the opposition and vehemently arguing against the misinterpretation. AKA the straw man fallacy, which anyone who's taken even a high school debate class knows about and can identify and avoid.If someone thinks that every conversation in the world is just following a worthless debate trick, that says to me that he doesn't want to bother having real conversations and wants to justify himself by dragging everyone else down to his level.

  34. >If someone thinks that every conversation in the world is just following a worthless debate trick, that says to me that he doesn't want to bother having real conversations and wants to justify himself by dragging everyone else down to his level.It seems to me that Adams always thinks he's right, and that anybody who doesn't recognize that he's right must be stupid or overly emotional or something. Humans can't actually disagree, you see – if we were all rational we'd be able to tap into the universal, objective truth to which Scott Adams has access. ^_^

  35. >I haven't read much of his work, I figured the mistake was something like I could have done. I found the few things I have read to be tedious. Just a world alien to me. I worked in an office for a while and I hated it (I really hate paperwork and answering calls. I found it soul destroying.)And I accept, it's women who get to define what sexism is but often a lot of men (including myself) have heard arguments and just looked puzzled at the entire situation. Sometimes I don't understand what is sexist about something. Like I said, men can never understand for the same reason women can never understand what our traditional pressures are like.

  36. >@Avicenna, I want to point out that there do exist people who have been percieved by others as different genders in different times of their lives. There are women who were raised as boys and men who were raised as girls. Don't forget that trans people exist, okay?Though I do understand to some degree what you are getting at. Privileged people (in this case, men) often are inattentive/unaware of their own privilege and make mistakes. If Adams had genuinely meant the first post to be satirical and was not intending to come off as believing those sexist views, a proper response when he realized he was being hurtful would have been to clarify and apologize (i.e. "I was trying to be satirical. I do not hold these views about women. I am sorry that people were hurt and I will think about how I can do better in the future.) What he did instead was throw out yet another damaging stereotype ("women are over-emotional, irrational, and too angry to be taken seriously!"). His statements in the first article were things he could have very easily fact checked and found false, and even a small amount of consideration would have told him that some of what he was saying was offensive. He made sexist statements and then reacted to being called out on them by making yet more sexist statements. That is not an indication of someone who is privileged and holds bullshit ideas but is trying to work on them, that is an indication of someone who is privileged and holds bullshit ideas and is perfectly willing to continue doing so.

  37. >What he did instead was throw out yet another damaging stereotype ("women are over-emotional, irrational, and too angry to be taken seriously!").(DSC)Doesnt everyone dabble in stereotypes once in a while? Funny thing is, sometimes they are right.

  38. >Doesnt everyone dabble in stereotypes once in a while? Funny thing is, sometimes they are right.It seems like you just drop by Manboobz on occasion specifically to say this. It's like you're the Ghost of Asinine, Sophomoric Axioms.

  39. >I do this for you stephen or should I say Chad.April Fool.

  40. >I'm going to send my level 3 Insect Swarm after Scott as soon as I finish up with these Splicers…

  41. >I just find it hard to believe that Adams couldn't pull himself out of this swamp, instead he's just deeper in the thick of it. What he said was graceless, his response was panicked, he's revealed himself to be juvenile and nasty – now he needs to cool off and not really talk so much for awhile. Jeezus what a tool.

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