Charlie Hebdo he ain’t

Another entry in the “horrors inflicted on other people are as nothing compared to a minor insult aimed at me” file: NY Times columnist Bret Stephens goes nuclear on one unnoticed tweet.

On Twitter Monday afternoon, a George Washington University professor compared conservative New York Times columnist Bret Stephens to a bedbug after a Times editor had posted that bedbugs were spotted in its newsroom.

David Karpf’s tweet, which read, “The bedbugs are a metaphor. The bedbugs are Bret Stephens,” initially gained little traction.

“Little” traction meaning no traction – zero retweets. But never mind traction; Stephens emailed Karpf all the same, and copied in the provost at GWU where Karpf is a professor.

“This afternoon, I tweeted a brief joke about a well-known NYT op-Ed columnist,” Karpf wrote Monday night. “It got 9 likes and 0 retweets. I did not @ him. He does not follow me. He just emailed me, cc’ing my university provost. He is deeply offended that I called him a metaphorical bedbug.”

As many people have pointed out, Stephens should try being a woman or black on Twitter. He doesn’t know he’s born.

The exchange went viral soon after, when Karpf posted Stephens’ full email on Twitter.

“I’m often amazed about the things supposedly decent people are prepared to say about other people — people they’ve never met — on Twitter. I think you’ve set a new standard,” Stephens wrote. “I would welcome the opportunity for you to come to my home, meet my wife and kids, talk to us for a few minutes, and then call me a ‘bedbug’ to my face. That would take some genuine courage and intellectual integrity on your part. I promise to be courteous no matter what you have to say.”

A new standard? Good grief. Donald Trump says worse things than that every other day, and then there are all the other shits on Twitter.

Today Stephens Deleted his Account.

Stephens, an MSNBC contributor, was then asked about the spat by network host Chris Jansing on the air Tuesday morning. Stephens said being compared to a bedbug was “dehumanizing” and “totally unacceptable.”

“Analogizing people to insects is always wrong,” Stephens said, adding there is a “bad history” of comparing humans to insects that “goes back to a lot of totalitarian regimes in the past.”

Always wrong? What about comparing someone to a mosquito whining in your ear? Or a spider? Or an industrious ant? Or a butterfly? Or a moth? Or a caterpillar?

His claim just isn’t true – he should have said “vermin” or “noxious insects” or similar to make it accurate.

But more to the point there’s a consistency issue, combined with a “yes but this was about ME” issue.

Matt McDermott:

Bret Stephens: The biggest threat facing our society today is the stifling of free speech on college campuses.

Also Bret Stephens: I’m going to try and get a college professor fired for a joke he tweeted that didn’t get a single retweet.

I mean come on, @nytimes.


The right to offend! Most precious right! Except when you’re talking about ME!

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