The worst hatereads of 2014
"Have you ever found yourself visiting a website, Twitter feed, or Facebook page for the express purpose of ridiculing — or indulging your disdain for —the author and/or content? Then you're hate-reading. And unless you're a saint with limited Internet access, you're probably guilty of doing it at some point." - Katie J.M. Baker, "The Art of Hate-Reading."
Since 2012, when Baker wrote this seminal explainer, hate-reading has gone from a little-publicized display of perversity to its own mini-publishing economy. While the correlation between hateability and web traffic is perhaps overstated, a cost-benefit analysis of the Internet's outrage machine means that a good hateread can bring a publisher a nice haul of clicks while causing only marginal damage to a website's reputation. All it takes is a new outrage for the Internet masses to forget the old one.
But instead of allowing these terrible, willfully ignorant, often outright racist or sexist posts to fade from memory with each fresh atrocity, let us remember. Here are eight of the worst hatereads of the year.
8. "Pathetic Privilege" by Kevin Williamson, National Review
(This is paywalled, and please please PLEASE do not pay to read it. Instead check out Tim Herrera's excellent takedown of the piece at the Washington Post)
The jist: Lena Dunham sucks. In part it's because -- according to Williamson's reading of her book -- she is a false rape accuser and a child molester. But mostly it's because she's rich, she doesn't know the difference between“nauseous” and “nauseated,” and -- despite being "Hollywood fat" by Williamson's estimation -- she has the audacity to desire attractive men. Gross!
Worst quote: "Dunham is busily building an ever-thicker cocoon of fantasy, prescription drugs, and weaponized celebrity, manipulating reality to her own specifications. If she is emblematic of her generation, it is in that her life, in her own telling, is a reminder that being ruined by comfort and privilege is as easy as (perhaps easier than) being crippled by privation and abuse."
7. "Is Terry Richardson an Artist or a Predator?" by Benjamin Wallace, New York Magazine
The jist: Maybe we should hold photographer Terry Richardson accountable for being a horrid creep who creates wildly inappropriate and unprofessional environments for models and "strongly suggests" that they participate in sexual acts with him on set. Or maybe we shouldn't because "art"!
Worst quote: "There’s something interrupted about Richardson. It’s present in the ’70s-fetishizing costume; in the sad-eyed picture of him at age 9, dressed as Billy Jack for Halloween, that’s tattooed on his chest; in the puerility of much of his humor; in the three teddy bears he sleeps with." (Three teddy bears! Awwwww!)
6. "What the Gay Rights Movement Should Learn from Martin Luther King, Jr." by Brandon Ambrosino, TIME
The jist: Ambrosino co-opts Martin Luther King to argue that, not only should gay people be more tolerant of the people who treat them as subhuman, but anyone who criticizes a homophobe is merely being a "hater."
Worst quote: "The current landscape of queer politics is growing increasingly hostile. We no longer prize intellectual conversation, preferring instead to dismiss our opponents in 140-character feats of rhetoric. We routinely scour the private lives and social media accounts of our political opponents in the hopes of demonizing them as archaic, unthinking, and bigoted. Whenever we find an example of queer hatred, we are quick to convince the public that the only proper way to deal with these haters is to hate them."
5. "The Sexodus, Part 1: The Men Giving Up On Women and Checking Out of Society" by Milo Yiannopoulos, Breitbart
The jist: Men are sad that women are making their own choices about who they sleep with (thanks to an "experiment" known as Feminism), and so men are giving up on sex altogether. Poor men!
Worst quote: "Never before in history have relations between the sexes been so fraught with anxiety, animosity and misunderstanding. To radical feminists, who have been the driving force behind many tectonic societal shifts in recent decades, that’s a sign of success: they want to tear down the institutions and power structures that underpin society, never mind the fall-out. Nihilistic destruction is part of their road map."
4. "An Open Letter: To the Parents of the Victims Murdered by Elliot Rodger" by Joe the Plumber, Barbwire
The jist: Parents of children who are killed by guns should really shut up about gun control.
Worst quote: "Your dead kids don’t trump my Constitutional rights."
3. "Transphobia is Perfectly Natural" by Gavin McInnes, Thought Catalog
The jist: Getting a sex change operation is bad. Transsexuals are bad people. People who attack transsexuals are perfectly okay.
Worst quote: "We’re all transphobic. We aren’t blind. We see there are no old trannies. They die of drug overdoses and suicide way before they’re 40 and nobody notices because nobody knows them. They are mentally ill gays who need help, and that help doesn’t include being maimed by physicians. These aren’t women trapped in a man’s body. They are nuts trapped in a crazy person’s body."
2. "Blame only the man who tragically decided to resist" by Bob McManus, the New York Post
The jist: Because Eric Garner committed a crime, no matter how petty, the police officer was justified in murdering him.
Worst quote: "Cops who need to worry about whether the slightest mishap — a minor misunderstanding that escalates to violence of any sort — might result in criminal charges and a prison term are not cops who are going to put the public’s interests first."
1. "Hey, ladies — catcalls are flattering! Deal with it" by Doree Lewak, the New York Post
The jist: Women -- stop complaining about sexual harassment, particularly when it's done on the street by strangers who might follow you home and kill you.
Worst quote: "I imagine the catcall stretches back to ancient construction times, when the Israelites were building the pyramids, with scores of single Jewish women hiking up their loincloths, hoping for a little attention."
See you next year, haters!
[illustration by Brad Jonas]