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Balanced Fare: We Report, You Deride

Wednesday, July 17, 2002

This is Too Good to Miss

We have a lot to cover. Bradford DeLong has a post with a wild attack on Scalia. He was then criticized in the comments section by the Man Without Qualities (Robert Musil), who apparently used the magic phrase "academic dishonesty". Bradford deleted his post, and a subsequent post with the magic word "Mussolini".

Bradford then announced a new "Politeness Policy", and is being trounced for it in the comments. Why do we laugh out loud so rudely? Because, a while back, Bradford D called Andrew Sullivan a "loathesome toad", and in the Scalia piece described Scalia as:

"a theocratic intellectual zombie, a strange creature from the ranks of the undead, a creature that belongs at the benighted court of the medieval imperial Pope Innocent III".

His comments don't seem polite, somehow, but surely it would be rude not to laugh at his joke.

And where are we now? The Scalia argument has retained a bit of a "left v. right" flavor, but a "free expression v. Bradford repression" theme is emerging elsewhere. The "Politeness Policy" is being revised before our eyes, and comments are being deleted without explanation, so hurry over to see how top academics handle questions of academic integrity before Bradford brings the whole show down.

UPDATE: "Hey, it's Brad, what's with Bradford?" someone wonders. Glad you asked. A "Brad", as any handyman can tell you, is a small nail with no head, designed to be hammered into the wood until invisible. I think that roughly summarizes the situation at DeLong's site, but it seems impolite to say so.

So What is it With You and Bradford DeLong?

Do you have the impression that there is more here than meets the eye? Prof. "Brad" DeLong (sorry, "Brad" seems rude, as I explained in the UPDATE above) and I got off to a bad start when he was introduced as a side character in a piece I was doing on one of Krugman's columns. Since then, we have had our ups and downs, and just last week I was praising his effort to debunk some Andrew Sullivan statistics.

Now, regrettably, but given my mercurial and impetuous nature, not surprisingly, I have turned on him like a snake. Or hopped at him like a loathesome toad. Something animalistic, anyway. But let us see what the day brings.

UPDATE: We have identified the animal: "[The MinuteMan] is a jackass", says Paul Musgrave, whose blog seems to be better than his manners. This from Bradford DeLong's site, where the struggle for the courteous and free exchange of ideas spills over into other posts.

"I'm not sure whether...Kaus is not quite right in the head": Brad DeLong

A faux DeLong? At this point in the chaos, I suppose anything is possible, but the comment has been up for a while. DeLong attacked a Kaus piece on miscegenation; different readers offered defenses of the most creative and consistently insightful journalist in blogdom down in the comments; and DeLong produces another possible breach of his new "speech code". The "nut graf", as Mickey might say:

A reader:

"...Like all running gags, sometimes it's hilarious and sometimes it comes off as an incomprehensible inside joke.

Posted by Neel Krishnaswami at July 17, 2002 01:05 PM

A reply:

"Thanks. Interesting point. I'm not sure whether your point is true, or whether Kaus is not quite right in the head."

Brad DeLong

I expect it's been a long day over there. Has Bradford become a psychologist, or is he just looking for one?

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