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Comments by YACCS
Saturday, September 02, 2006

Baseball caps 1: Lee Siegel 0

Do NOT disrespect the cap. Never disrespect
the cap.

Lee Siegel is no more

by kos

Another Friday news dump:

An Apology to Our Readers

After an investigation, The New Republic has determined that the comments in our Talkback section defending Lee Siegel's articles and blog under the username "sprezzatura" were produced with Siegel's participation. We deeply regret misleading our readers. Lee Siegel's blog will no longer be published by TNR, and he has been suspended from writing for the magazine.

Franklin Foer
Editor, The New Republic

It's not like TNR isn't a target-rick environment. But none was more mockable than Lee Siegel. From "blogofascism", to the terrors of wearing baseball caps, to psychoanalyzing my childhood, to wishing he had screwed a 16-year-old Uma Thurman, none illustrated the irrelevance of the New Republic more than their so-called "culture" writer.

He will be missed, even if I do have a huge-ass smile on my face right now

Bwaaaah. What a fucked up little man. Yeah, I wonder how Professor Thurman and his 6 foot sons took that you would have fucked his then teenaged modelish daughter. Not well, I would think. Here are the comments which got him in trouble.

Reposted from the earlier thread, just in case they were missed:

Let’s leave as said that in Part II Siegel openly and unambiguously accused Kincaid of being a pedophile (“Kincaid has frankly admitted his predilections . . . if you know where to look for them.” “Kincaid . . . hide[s] his own appetite for children” “Kincaid's lust for children”) and now he has backed down, somewhat, from that accusation (“I have no idea whether [Kincaid] is a pedophile himself, though in my opinion, he certainly seems to be"). Let’s also leave as said that Siegel stubbornly refuses even to begin to address the reasons we’ve given for doubting his “opinion,” and bizarrely prefers to insist that our arguments, too, are merely evidence that we’re “soft on pedophilia.” The question now arises, in blogese, WTF? Is Siegel’s thickheadedness, high-handedness, excitability, recklessness, goofiness, and immoderate persecutorial spirit simply his alone? Or are these faults somehow attributable to TNR (at least to the back of the book)? How representative are Siegel’s failings?

(Just for the record, so there’s no mistake, I think pedophiles should be put in jail, and if good psychopathology tells us they can never be reformed, kept segregated from children by law once released. And also, for the record, sex with a 16 year old is not pedophilia or statutory rape, but may in many circumstances be morally reprehensible nonetheless. My interest in all of this is the wild disproportion between the incidence of pedophilia and the cultural obsession with it, as well as, to my mind, the disproportionate “the intensity of punitive violence” (as Mark Greif wrote in n+1) heaped on pedophiles.)

Here’s one thought I had on the subway this morning: Siegel’s attraction to writing is particularly unsuited to blogging, and his bad motives have caught up with him. From all I’ve read of Siegel, he seems to have come to writing, as so many writers have, because of the temptations of power. He is attracted to the authority of the word and the page. The page, for him, was a place to remake himself, steel himself in well-wrought phrases, fix his own wavering, groping, tentative mind. This is a temptation for many of our class (and for me as well) -– with a little education, a feel for the rhythms and sinews of a good sentence, and a generous editor, we can hold the attention (we dream) of the masses, achieve authority unknown (we believe) by even the rich or the beautiful. He may even have almost succeeded in persuading himself that as a critic he was especially penetrating, or intelligent, or worthwhile.

And here comes a technological shift that robs him not only of his treasured page, but also of the kind of authority that the old medium promised. For blogs are a place for the wavering, the groping, the tentative. The blogger steps down from the Olympian platform of the “critic” and shares his uncertainties, his confusions, his stabs at sense, with a community of equals. The best blogs involve a wonderful give-and-take between the author and his community of readers -– addenda, corrections, re-thinkings, admissions. And this on blogs run by extremely smart, extremely authoritative people -– Eugene Volokh, for example, or even Richard Posner. One comes to respect such people’s minds all the more for their agility in responding to, and often incorporating, dissent and correction. For all its shortcomings (and it has many), the profoundly democratic medium of the blog shakes, must shake, an author like Siegel’s dream of his exceptionalness. One fears, alas, that but for this false and dear dream, Siegel would never have become a writer in the first place.

I also worry that Siegel’s arrogance may be fed by Wieseltier, who always holds a brief for moral and intellectual certainty, and is the master of the Olympian tone. But then again, Siegel is no Wieseltier.

To jhschwartz
posted by sprezzatura on 2006-08-27 17:05:24 [respond]

You have quite an obsession with Siegel! Sounds to me like you're an envious young writer. I mean, first you have a wife and two kids, and now you're a poor young lawyer with time to write extended tirades against Siegel. Men with two children don't take time out to defend obscure academics from charges of pedophilia, their defense replete with (pretentious) references to ancient Greek categories of desire! If I had to guess, you're this person Mark Greif himself. Or someone in his circle. Every young write in NYC has it in for poor Siegel it seems. They all write like middle-aged hacks. He has the fire and guts of a young man (I assume he's middle-aged himself, or somewhere near there.) Who am I? Someone who knows who you are.

posted by sprezzatura on 2006-08-27 17:09:27 [respond]

I just googled Grief and n + 1. Seems the magazine has its own obsession with Siegel and TNR. And Leon Wieseltier. Hello, n + 1. I guess if you can't get into TNR's pages, writing envious, obsessive screeds in response to a TNR blog is the next best thing.

posted by jhschwartz on 2006-08-27 17:18:42 [respond]

Fair enough (better to be accused of envy and a middle-aged prose style, which has at least some truth, than of pedophilia). But I am who I say I am (if I weren't a lawyer, why would I have cause for envy?).

posted by sprezzatura on 2006-08-27 17:22:05 [respond]

You're a fraud, and a liar. And a wincingly pretentious writer. You couldn't tie Siegel's shoelaces.

posted by sprezzatura on 2006-08-27 17:33:02 [respond]

I'm a huge fan of Siegel, been reading him since he started writing for TNR almost ten years ago. (Full disclosure: I'm an editor at a magazine in NYC and he's written for me too.) I watch the goings-on and have to scratch my head. The people who hate him the most are all in their twenties and early thirties. There's this awful suck-up named Ezra Klein--his "writing" is sweaty with panting obsequious ambition--who keeps distorting everything Siegel writes--the only way this no-talent can get him. And I ask myself: why is it the young guys who go after Siegel? Must be because he writes the way young guys should be writing: angry, independent, not afraid of offending powerful people. They on the other hand write like aging careerists: timid, ingratiating, careful not to offend people who are powerful. They hate him because they want to write like him but can't. Maybe if they'd let themselves go and write truthfully, they'd get Leon Wieseltier to notice them too.

To jhscwartz
posted by sprezzatura on 2006-08-27 17:41:39 [respond]

Cat got your tongue, you dishonest little phony?

Lee, give it up.
posted by jhschwartz on 2006-08-27 17:47:50 [respond]

Googling "sprezzatura" and TNR yields really interesting results. sprezzatura appears only to weigh in on TNR forums to admonish and taunt posters who dislike Lee Siegel and to praise in lavish terms the piece under discussion, in all but one case, written by Lee Siegel.


Of the many things you are, coward is not one of them. Fucking around Red Star and Rangers and asking questions takes balls, and I respect that.

But come on, you guys got a lawyer letter from Prof. James Kincaid and his or your legal team has been parsing every word you've published this year. They're starting with the relevant matters and then will work their way backwards. This is the third major scandal regarding honesty in the magazine's recent history. And they haven't even gotten to Zengerle's fuck up.

But they will.t

We both know this shit didn't just come up. This came up because Siegel was being reckless with the truth and because Kincaid's lawyers or yours dropped this in your lap, fucking up another Friday, as I warned you would happen.

Siegel called the professsor a pedophile with no proof, which is a real problem. But once again, Frank, you waited until someone forced your hand. Now, you have this shitstain of a problem and no real solution without humiliation.

Frank, that blog is a nightmare. It is an embarassment with none of the minimal standards of your magazine. Maybe you think us bloggers write out of our asses, but libel law exists right here as it does in print. You should have tossed Zengerle out on his ass as well. He's part of the reason that you had to shitcan Siegel. You have no defense given his sloppy reporting. Put him in a deposition, Marty is fucked. As are you.

Either take blogging seriously or stop embarassing yourself.

posted by Steve @ 12:57:00 AM

12:57:00 AM

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