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Monday, May 19, 2003  

Around the web

•Jeanne fisks Eric

Jeanne d'arc of Body and Soul went straight to the core of what bothered me about Eric Alterman's article defending accused domestic abuser John Fund, as is her wont.

John Fund is, according to Alterman, a "gentleman." To anyone who knows anything about domestic abuse, that comment sets the alarms ringing. Abusers are often charmers, described as "the nicest guy in the world." One of the problems in media coverage of domestic violence, in fact, is that the abuser's nice face is often the one that ends up in the newspaper -- at least if the guy is white -- as a FAIR study of San Francisco newspapers showed in 1994. Batterers are very good at fooling the neighbors, the cops, and the press.

Obviously that doesn't mean that every seemingly nice guy is a suspect. It does mean that when there's reason to suspect abuse, the fact that the guy seems like a decent sort to his acquaintances means nothing whatsoever. And I have to add that Alterman's use of the word "gentleman" is disturbing in another sense. It carries an implicit class bias, suggesting that only uneducated and unmannerly slobs beat women. That's one of the dumbest and most tenacious myths advocates for battered women face.

Like Jeanne, I don't know what is in John Fund's heart or what he has done with his hands. However, as Atrios said in his entry on the topic, the phone transcripts reveal the man can be emotionally, if not physically, abusive.

David Ehrenstein has stated more emphatically why the empathy overload doesn't make sense, citing Alterman's book and his commentary, including the startling line: "To my genuine regret, John Fund comes out the winner in this tawdry story, alas, in more ways than one."


Name ONE way in which John Fund "comes out the winner," Eric? He had affairs with two unstable women and paid for the abortion of one of them. In terms traditionally associated with the word "gentleman" he was -- at the very least -- "a cad."

Make no mistake, when this story first surfaced my taste for schadenfreude went into overdrive to the degree that it even crossed my mind that the daughter might well have been the issue of Fund's affair with the mother. That doesn't appear to have been the case. But that Fund behaved shabbily with two women -- however mentally discombobulated -- is a matter of public record. And therefore as manifestly "fair game" as William Bennett's slot machine fixation.

That he behaved in a "gentlemanly" fashion in your presence, Eric, proves only one thing.

John Fund has no interest in fucking you.

Consider yourself a very fortunate gentleman indeed.

Alterman has surely jumped the gun in defending Fund. That is Fund's lawyer's job, not mine or his. Yes, Alterman did take on the role of defense attorney for his friend, but he is not qualified for it and revealed bad judgment in doing so. I hope he reconsiders what he has said.

•An animated commander-in-thief

James McLaughlin at A Skeptical Blog and some of his friends have prepared an animated treatment of the sins of the scoundrel in the White House. Be sure to visit the site, "Midnight Confessions of Emperor G. W. Bush."

•Fakers are all around us

I haven't read Newsweek's cover story on con man Jayson Blair yet, but intend to do so. Today I came across an article by John Jurgensen of the Hartford Courant in the Oregonian. I believe it previews what is likely Blair's story.

Meet the faker.

He takes credit for someone else's work. She says she did something she didn't. He always has an excuse. She has her bosses fooled.

Actually, you've probably already met. Such operators dot the work force at every level. But let's be honest. For those of us who grind along from roughly 9 to 5, faking it, to some degree, is essential for survival.

I've been meeting such people since elementary school and you probably have, too. Just this evening at Starbucks, I sat next to a young man who was impressing another guy with an improbable yarn about his adventures as a film maker. He looked like he would have difficulty raising the funds for a grande latte, not to mention a magnum opus.

So what makes a fake?

"There's something wrong with their basic self-concept. They're overcompensating or trying to cover up for something," says Andrew Dubrin, a professor of management at the Rochester Institute of Technology.

Ira Glass, who won infamy as a fabulist at The New Republic, is now a fiction writer and author of a novel, appropriately named The Fabulist. He says Dubrin's analysis is on point.

That's the consensus Glass came to himself after lots of counseling. "I was circled by brilliant young people who I thought were better journalists and better people than me," he says, referring to his peers at The New Republic, the weekly magazine that ran the greatest number of his concoctions, including a great read about a church that worshipped George H.W. Bush.

Jayson Blair's story is likely similar. That is the reason I have been dismissive toward the people who have tried to blame his career of falsified reportage on his being African-American. (Do they really believe there is a gene that makes black people lie more than other folks?) As Jurgensen discovered researching his article, deceptive behavior by applicants for jobs and employees is surprisingly widespread. The piece, which is not long, deserves a read.

•Racism in the blogosphere

Is it ever acceptable for a teacher, particularly a white teacher, to call a student a 'nigger'? Blogger Stefan Sharkansky says 'yes.'

11:41 PM