[Executive Summary: LGF LIZARDS BEWARE! CHARLES JOHNSON CAN, AND HAS, BETRAYED THE PRIVACY OF HIS READERS AND POSTERS AND WILL SACRIFICE YOUR TRUST TO MAKE A TRIVIAL POINT. HE DID IT TO ME; HE CAN DO IT TO YOU.]
Nuke the Fridge: A colloquialism used to delineate the precise moment at which a cinematic franchise has crossed over from remote plausibility to self parodying absurdity [...compare "jump the shark"]. From an incident in the movie Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
In the "mock rockumentary" movie "This Is Spinal Tap", there is a running gag about the band's drummer(s)... apparently, the band is incapable of keeping its drummers alive for more than one album at a time, as they keep dying in bizarre and unexpected ways. Two of them spontaneously combust. Another drowns, not in his own vomit, but in somebody else's.
This is the story of a jazz guitarist who, without ever playing for Spinal Tap, very deliberately nuked the fridge, spontaneously combusted, and drowned in vomit very much of his own making. His name is Charles Johnson, and his story is a cautionary tale for those of us who think that blogging is the Wave of the Future.
A long time ago in a left coast far, far away, there was a guy who played the guitar. He was pretty good at it, most ways, but never got famous; apparently, either he never tore up any hotel rooms nor did he manage to die spectacularly in the line of duty. (This is, indeed, a good thing.) However, at the end of his career, finding that he was not ever going to become the next Uncle Frank, he decided he needed another career if he was ever going to see retirement.
So Charles Johnson decided to become a computer programmer. As it developed, a rather good one. Not perhaps great, not spectacular, but good and workable; he apparently made a decent living at it.
At one point or another, he decided to start a blog as a sort of in-house project at his computer company. He called it, for irrelevant reasons that remain obscure, Little Green Footballs. Originally it was a blog about his rock career and his spectacularly uninteresting hobby of long-distance bicycle riding. It was primarily useful at the start as a source of model coding of various Web-related bells and whistles; its only major flaw was that its creeping featuritis made it, then and now, somewhat of a slog to download.
Then, 9/11 happened, which rocked our world in many spectacular ways.
Johnson started blogging on The Global War on Terror (yes, we used to call it that, before its primary purpose got changed and it was renamed The Local War on Sarah Palin). Johnson then became one of the leaders among those known as "Warbloggers" - i.e., individuals particularly interested in the activities of Radical Islam worldwide, as well as activities related to the war against Iraq. He became, reluctantly, a bulwark of the Bush administration for a number of years.
And he developed a following.
Johnson's posts are not terribly analytical; he often just makes snarky comments about news stories he doesn't like. However, he has always had a sharp eye for news stories that bury the lede or otherwise hide, for ideological purposes, the true "news" within their verbiage. Between his eye for news and his whiz-bang website, he has acquired a number of readers, and with readers come suggested links, and with the links come more stories, etc. A snowball effect, as it were.
In 2004, LGF made the first of its major coups: The Dan Rather Scandal. I'll quote Johnson's Wikipedia entry on the subject:
Johnson, and other conservative bloggers, gained attention during the 2004 U.S. presidential election for their role in exposing as forgeries several memos purporting to document irregularities in George W. Bush's National Guard service record. (See Killian documents and Killian documents authenticity issues.) CBS news anchor Dan Rather presented the memos as authentic in a Sept. 8, 2004 report on 60 Minutes Wednesday, two months before the vote. Days after the broadcast, Johnson showed the documents, supposedly typewritten in 1973, could have been created easily on a modern computer using Microsoft Word.
In 2006, during the Israeli war against the terrorist group Hizbollah, he got a second notch on his ideological gun: the Reuters "fauxtography" scandal, wherein he found that a Reuters photographer had submitted photographs that had been deliberately altered, via Photoshop, to give the appearance of Israeli air-war atrocities against Lebanon.
These two coups were to Mr. Johnson's enormous credit. It was long past time that the serial liar Dan Rather be consigned to the ashheap of history. Furthermore, the dangers presented by digitally counterfeit news photographs needed a very public airing. His eagle eye brought that to public attention and for that he should receive full credit.
But then.... Charles Johnson found his god.
No, it wudn't Jesus. It wasn't the Buddha either. It certainly wasn't Mohammad. Or even the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
He found Charles Darwin.
Now, most intelligent people who are Christian believers have no trouble accepting the idea of evolution as the source of the origin of species, and the idea that we live in an old universe (13 to 17 billion years) is not threatening in the least to our religious faith.
However, while there is a certain attraction among religious believers in an old universe (hey, I think it's cool that God took 17 billion years to cook me out of His Primordial Soup), fanatical belief in evolution as something to be held onto as an end of itself is a touchstone among many who actively hate and fear traditional religious belief-in particular, Christianity.
It is, indeed, a fundamentalist secularism that has taken belief in Darwin and raised it as an item of religious devotion. To evolutionary fundamentalists, the anointed Darwin is not to be dissed; evolution has replaced transubstantiation as the Mystical End-All of the mystery of life. The Trinity is replaced by the trilobite; the Crucifix by the Cretaceous; the Virgin Birth by parthogenesis.
And this is where Charles (Johnson, not Darwin) began to fall off the edge of the plate.
This is of course an absurd movement. There is no more such a thing as "Christian views on evolution"any more than than there are Christian views on algebra. Two plus two equals four is true regardless of whether Christ rose from the grave. So it is with evolution.
A Catholic can say it: Intelligent Design is nothing more than an attempt by certain Protestant fundamentalists to deny the undeniable-that the Bible is, in fact, not literally true in every line. It is an attempt to preserve what Catholics correctly term a 'heresy.' I.e., it ain't so.
The problem was that Charles wanted to go beyond mere opposition to Intelligent Design. He doesn't simply attach truth to the idea of evolution; he has come to view any expression of religious belief as a threat to Science Itself and therefore anathema. Yes, anathema, a Catholic word: for the truth of it is that Charles Johnson is a Roman Catholic, who has for now turned from the faith: his Wikipedia entry states that he "now considers himself an agnostic." (Although there is no sign of his agnosticism where Darwin is concerned.)
It is in the light of this religious fundamentalism, this Darwin-worship, that Johnson began the fridge-nuking process, when he began to equate every single theist, without exception, as an "I.D.-er" regardless of whether they advocated I.D. or not. Furthermore, he has a nasty habit of seeing mail that he hates and thinking that that is the definition of "hate mail." Finally is his well-known fondness of banning anybody, anybody, who disagrees with him on any subject.
I am sure he has been doing this for a long time, but on February 10, 2009, on a thread concerning Mike Huckabee's fantasies about updating the Constitution, I first noticed this as regards myself--Charles became openly hostile toward me for posting, not in support of Huckabee as such, but in support of those who might wish to change the Constitution without actually succeeding in doing so. (The Abolitionists were among these in the 1850s--and were as universally reviled in their day as political Christians are in ours.)
It was at this point Charles began to become hostile toward me, an individual whom he had previously not even noticed, accusing me of being an anti-evolutionist and a theocrat. (I won't bore you with a full recount of the events involved; if you're really interested you can read them yourself.)
A couple days later, after seeing Charles continued vitriol, I transmitted to him a simple "I Resign" post, saying words to the effect that I was sorry I could not continue to "chant in unison with the rest of his choir."
Charles took that rather amiss.
The next day, Charles continued to crap all over Christianity and Christian Republicans, making it clear that he viewed us as nuts or worse. So I sent him an Email where I took him to task.
That got me THIS expression of his very personal attention. I'm reposting it below:
We Got Mail!
Opinion Sun, Feb 15, 2009 at 9:27:16 am PST
Sure enough, after my post yesterday on respecting the Constitution and opposing theocracy, the hate mail started pouring in, from self-labeled "Christians." There are four of them this morning, but I'll just post this one because the others are banal and uninteresting. (The contact form has an explicit notice: "Messages may be published in our weblog, unless you request otherwise.")
The title of this one was "not a hate mail...", which seems a bit inaccurate.
....but I respectfully take a parting dissent to your claim that Christian activism that "desires" to change the Constitution is "not conservative and unamerican."
Sir, wishing to change the Constitution is NOT unAmerican.... if you accept that yours is a minority view and not able to pass. Taking up arms when you can't get your way? THAT is "unAmerican."
By labeling all Christians who refuse to shut up and simply "pray, pay and obey" secularists like you as un-American, you have just consigned a good 1/3 of the population to un-personhood.... and 2/3 of the GOP to non-participation in a representative government whose [taxes] they must still pay.No sir. We're here, we're Christian. Get used to us. Otherwise, get used to outer darkness yourselves. The GOP CANNOT WIN WITHOUT US.
When the jackboots of the left come for YOU, who will you count on for support? You can't shit on our altars and then ask for our help. It doesn't work that way.
Richard L. Kent, Esq.
Good grief. What do you even say to something like that? ((snip))*
*Yes I know that there is more; I'll address that in a later post.
Well, a little while later, Charles clearly has no trouble coming up with "what to say": in the comments below on that thread he deliberately identified me and my pseud, he outs me, as being the individual posting under a pseud on his blog-Arkay-and, when other individuals identified me and posted my professional blog site (http://www.richardlkentesq.com/). The obvious point was to urge each other to contact my "employer" with denunciations so as to try to get me to lose my job. Whether Charles did this or not is immaterial; he let the posts remain. The threat was obvious.
Fortunately for me, I'm self employed, so nothing you can say to my boss could possibly damage me.
But that is not the point.
I have posted elsewhere and I'll repeat it now:
Readers and posters on LGF should now be on notice that CHARLES JOHNSON CAN AND IS WILLING TO BETRAY THE PRIVACY OF HIS READERS AND POSTERS AND WILL SACRIFICE YOUR TRUST TO MAKE A TRIVIAL POINT.
What is most amazing about this is that this is against Charles's own best interest. Now people will be afraid to speak their mind, lest six months from now they cross him and he "outs" them. This is the death knell for his blog once people understand it clearly.
A nasty cat fight ensued: Did Phoenix want to round up all Muslims and deport them? Or was Charles as dishonest as he was nasty and willing to change peoples' posts for trivial purposes?
Beats me. Your guess is as good as mine. I can't judge either way, based on what I know about Charles.
However, based on his behavior, Charles' problem is plainly that the thought that Christianity may actually be truth terrifies him. IMHO, something (or Someone) is tickling his sense of mortality and dread at the Creator he has abandoned and he's very touchy right now. Understandable; many have precisely that difficulty at his stage in life. ("Men Wobberts' age are offen unstaaable, pwohn to weeekness." - Edna Mode.)
But it doesn't excuse his recent bad judgment, bad temper... or the fact that he's simply acting like Trelane, the Squire of Gothos, when someone more adult threatens to take away a toy of his.
This is not a rant about "how I got banned from LGF"--who cares about that? (And for the record: I wasn't banned; I quit.) This is more important than that: it is about the promise to keep anonymity and its breach. If you can't trust Charles, why would you dare post on his blog?
I also would like to add that I am not the only one who noticed. The respected "Atlas Shrugs" blog noted that Charles' habit of banning those unwilling to join the LGF Claque has reached the point that he has become "officially" "a joke." Alas.
And how does Charles deal with this lese-majeste? By accusing Atlas Shrugs of harboring "neo-Nazi agitprop". He cites extremist comments made by Atlas Shrugs as signs that Atlas Shrugs is extremist. Of course, posters of nastiness on HIS site are not his fault!
Post to LGF at your own risk! Remember: there is no god but Darwin and Charles Johnson is his prophet!
I address this last to Charles:
Dear Mr. Johnson:
You have read the above indictment. Mr. Johnson, you are now on notice: when you try to destroy the careers of people who do not agree with you, you cross the line into an internet menace. Responsible people will no longer trust you and you will no longer get either quality opinions posted to your site or, ultimately, good leads. They will go elsewhere, where the poster need not fear betrayal at the hands of a vengeful godoid with a keyboard.
But. You now have a chance to redeem yourself. You can admit you were wrong to out me by name and promise not to do it again in the future.
If you so fear disagreement, I am sure that you can simply script a program. It would take a small number of monkeys on keyboards about five minutes to create a script that generates comments, by randomly quoting one of your snarky posts, and then follows it with some variation of "You are most certainly right, Charles!" Just like your Uncle Frank Sez generator. It would read almost like a Platonic dialogue, with you as Socrates.
I'm sure an internet god you could do it without difficulty. And think of all the web editing it would save you in the future.
Richard L. Kent, Esq.
P.S. Why am I even blogging this? Who cares? Answer: As you see, Charles has a habit of digging up people's old posts (or worse!) when they attack him or even disagree with him. I'm simply making a record in case I ever come up on his radar again.
UPDATE MAY 16, 2009
IT TURNS OUT THAT CHARLES JOHNSON HAS ANNOUNCED HE WILL OUT EVERYBODY WHO CROSSES HIM.
READ THE DETAILS HERE: