Anarchy in the Gutter: The Internet's Information Contamination in the Age of Sophistry.


Katy Way's shrill personal attack email to Ashleigh Banfield is very instructive in explaining why the new generation of self-styled reporters/writers/etc. are useless.

Yes, useless.

We have fairy princesses and queen bees (both patriarchal constructions that firmly keep women in destructive loops all while falsely thinking they are special and cunning) who cannot fathom that they can be wrong, and Way's personal attack on Banfield was childish and archaic, not feminist.

We can have a long debate on's outing of Aziz Ansari's behaviour during a date with an anonymous woman. It was not workplace sexual harassment. It wasn't rape. It wasn't a date rape. It wasn't "enthusiastic consent", whatever that means.

From the original description, it was consenter's remorse over a date that involved two individuals who do not seem to have mature and defined communications skills: one who is obtuse in nonverbal communications skills, and one who needs assertiveness training as she seems incapable of expressing herself clearly, taking a decisive action, such as cutting a date short when she realized this wasn't her thing, and then settling and retreating.

It was certainly one shade worse than a mere "bad date", but this wasn't criminal. Dysfunctional, yes. Mutually emotionally immature, yes. Fodder to amuse Dr. Phil's live studio audience, definitely.

And it is the last one on that list that's the most unsettling. With one bad article, #MeToo veers into tabloid territory. It was always such a delicate balance that required finesse and nuance, but when someone doesn't know the finer points of strategy, their lack of understanding can derail an entire movement in one fell swoop.


The Ansari scoop was guerrilla gossip, nothing more, almost along the lines of Spy magazine, but more Gawker than anything else. It was meant to humiliate, but just a hair away from actually indicting.

And in the whole scheme of violence against women, this does not register.

This murder is genuine outrage. This is violence -- killing a victim of domestic violence...and if accounts are true, done in front of her four-year-old daughter.

Ashleigh Banfield had every right to be upset by this so-called "scoop." She is a veteran of the business; so for Way to attack Banfield on the basis of what she does to her hair, is childish, and infuriating. Women have been exposed to "what were you wearing?" for decades; so making some shallow swipe about a woman's appearance is just trying to create anarchy in a gutter to get your own way. Sorry, not buying that propaganda.

If you cannot use logic and facts to make your case, you have no case.

Worse, this public tiff has been called a "catfight." Thank you, Ms Way, for setting women's rights back with your temper tantrum. If you thought it was legitimate, rationally outline the reasons with research to back up your claims.

Or, do not respond. Life is not about arguing with people who do not agree with you. You registered your beliefs. So noted. Banfield registered hers. You can ignore bait and barbs. People disagree with me online all the time. I am not going to agree with them, nor I am going to engage them. If they are lonely, they can find someone else to indulge them.

Feminism does not mean all the women in the world all mindlessly walk lockstep and agree and applaud each other like brainless servants. Men expected that from women for centuries, and we didn't push so hard for liberation just to cheerlead a sheltered 22 year-old writer who obviously never heard of the logical fallacy called personal attack.

Feminists come with all sorts of different and even contrary ideas. We can debate. We can disagree. We can call other women out on the carpet. We can go in separate directions and have different schools of feminist thought just as every other discipline has different schools of thought. Not everyone's life requirements are alike.

For example, you won't catch me cheering Hillary Clinton, for instance. She is no feminist.

You will catch me supporting people like Rose McGowan, and she too, can do with her hair whatever she pleases. It is none of my business.

Just as I have the right to do with my hair whatever I wish.

It is disturbing how much sophistry has infected the information pool, and it is spewed by those who are culturally and historically illiterate, telling other people with far more knowledge and experience that they don't "get" it.

You don't know a thing.

You are merely parroting whatever you heard in your university lectures, and now honestly believe that you invented that idea.

But there is a big divide between theory and reality.

And for the record, I would say Banfield's characterization wasn't quite as banal as she believed it to be, but she has every right to express her perspective in the marketplace of ideas.

That's the way of progress: not shutting people down. But debating, researching, and revising ideas.

And she has the right to say it without someone making petty and catty remarks about her appearance. Get over yourself, and grow a pair of ovaries.


But it is not just the pantywaist set who need to grow up. Journalism has been marred by both emotional and intellectual immaturity for a very long time. When you cheat with bombast and sensationalism, your understanding of reality is shallow at best. There are no nuances, and Shibboleths and subtle clues get lost. It is the reason why such simplistic propaganda has infected so much of social media.

No one knows how to handle it. Google fact check came and went. A recent discussion about fake news shows those left in the dead profession of journalism still don't get it. They do understand people do not trust them. They do not understand it is their own sloppiness and old habits that did them in.

Sophistry and opinion has replaced facts and logic. Reporters get fooled and played daily. They are followers, not independent thinkers. They make no attempt to define their methods or their terminology.

New generations of writers are worse than the previous generations, but as they have never had any proper model to inspire them, it is not surprising. All the President's Men romanticized the profession, and movies since then gave people some sort of idea that newsrooms had focus and discipline.

It could not have been further from the truth.

Journalism always fell back to smearing and reporting the cheap and easy stories, and when circulations and ratings took a hit, the press went a little further down a rabbit hole to find the next freak to parade.

The rabbit hole was a gutter, and the freaks became quick studies, and turned the tables on the press, gaining control of their own coverage by using chaos.

What was needed was practical empiricism: there are ways to find information and analyze it at the same time. There are ways to verify information, but also ways to present information and find stories that serve as daily memos to the public: this is what is working. This is what isn't working.

When the mandate is to present facts as they are, clarity makes information-gathering a straightforward affair. When it is about "taking down" people, it becomes a brawl in a sewer hole.

Focus comes from the motives of finding information. When it motive is to show facts, an information-gatherer can easily defend their work.

But when the motives are about vendettas, self-promotion, and harming, the gossip-monger becomes defensive and shrill -- wildly attacking anyone who questions them, all a ruse in hopes others do not see the truth behind their methods.

Journalism has done very badly in part because their motives for gathering information are anything but noble, and their motives drove them in the direction they were looking -- down.

And when that decline brought misfortune, they panicked, making them vulnerable to grifters, liars, propagandists, and other deceivers.

It could have all been avoided.

How so?

Seek truth. Represent reality. Present facts.

With such a simple foundation, it would have made the profession a thriving one.

Instead, it imploded as its rot was exposed.