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August 29, 2013

Slate, The Blog That Trolls Its Own Readers, Last in a Series

This is the blogpost that everyone's talking about.

This appears in Slate's Frequent Dumb Offender ghetto "Double X Factor." That is where they let the girls write.

See, if Matt Ygelsias writes a stupid post, it's part of Slate's MoneyBox feature.

If a girl writes a stupid post, it goes into Double X Factor.

What this writer is writing about is not a "woman's issue." It's about education. It is no more a "woman's issue" than Matt Yglesias' article (which mentions protecting children from the brain-damaging effects of lead paint) was a "woman's issue."

But she's a girl, and this too dumb for the rest of the blog (and consider the implications of that), so into Double X Factor her dumb blogpost goes.

Because Slate is totally against the #WarOnWomen, guys.

This is something, by the way, they seem to be learning from the Daily Mail, which has been accused of deliberately embarrassing women in order to generate links. For example, that woman who said It's So Hard to Be Beautiful But Was Not In Fact Beautiful at all? The Daily Mail's leftwing critics asserted that the paper has long offered up such Sacrificial Lambs, always female, prodding them to write monstrously dumb articles in order to profit from Bus Crash Rubbernecking.

Provocative Title:

If You Send Your Kid to Private School, You Are a Bad Person
A manifesto.

Writer: Allison Benedikt. She is married to John Cook, who occasionally writes stupid things for Gawker.

Evidence of Trollish Intent: Read the headline again.

Other Evidence of Trollish Intent: Well... Let's look at the outcome. She trolled half the internet into linking her.

People like @danfostertype are now begging everyone else to stop talking about this stupid thing:

Plus, if you need more proof than that, there' the actual blogpost, which is scatological in its stupidity.

Yeah I gotta link this one. Everyone else already has. (Congratulations, David Plotz.)

It has to be read in its entirety.

Now as I quote, you will begin to suspect that this article is actually a sneaky ironic post which is actually making the case for private school while ostensibly arguing against it, by presenting a chilling portrait of public school (which failed to educate the author, as she's about to inform you).

Like Swift's A Modest Proposal.

But I don't think so.

Enjoy the hardcore link-trolling, David Plotz style:

You are a bad person if you send your children to private school. Not bad like murderer badóbut bad like ruining-one-of-our-nationís-most-essential-institutions-in-order-to-get-whatís-best-for-your-kid bad. So, pretty bad.

You usually don't see the link-a-string-of-words-together-by-hyphens-blogger-style-trick in political treatises which announce themselves portentously as "A Manifesto," but then, we're going to be seeing a lot of things we usually don't see in written essays.

I am not an education policy wonk: Iím just judgmental.

I have no real expertise in the field in which I offer this radical proposition; I'm just annoyed with people. But hear my words.

Very bloggy. I do that all the time, the sort of offhanded "I don't know what ckuf I'm talking about but let me now ramble on it for 1000 words." I usually don't title such things "An Manifesto," though.

But it seems to me that if every single parent sent every single child to public school, public schools would improve. This would not happen immediately. It could take generations. Your children and grandchildren might get mediocre educations in the meantime, but it will be worth it, for the eventual common good. (Yes, rich people might cluster. But rich people will always find a way to game the system: That shouldnít be an argument against an all-in approach to public education any more than it is a case against single-payer health care.)

We have just dispensed of several of the key objections to her entire scheme with "But whatever, what's gonna happen is gonna happen, let's Do This Thing already."

You know, like Manifestos do. They just go, "Eh, don't worry about that."

So, how would this work exactly? Itís simple!

Yeah her husband's article on the same sort of idea said "It's simple," too.

I'm going to digest this rather than quoting it: It's the straighforward proposition that if the state compels you to put your child in a horrible school, you will have skin in the game, an investment in the system, and then will in turn forced to vote the way the Teachers Unions want you to, and this will make Skoolz Better, or something.

Although she does specifically say she doesn't want to ban schools; she just wants to make the moral case why you're horrible if you attempt to educate your children.

It's her husband who's into Banning Private Schools. We'll get to that later, in the Unexpected Trollish Twist.

There are a lot of reasons why bad people send their kids to private school. Yes, some do it for prestige or out of loyalty to a long-standing family tradition or because they want their children to eventually work at Slate.

This is going to come up again. That may seem like a joke -- that parents invest tens of thousands of dollars in a private primary education so that their kids can one day work for a groupblog -- but you'll see later on that she thinks this is a pretty damn nice spot to be in, as far as Careers n Stuff go.

But many others go private for religious reasons, or because their kids have behavioral or learning issues, or simply because the public school in their district is not so hot. None of these are compelling reasons.

I'm omitting something here. You can check the article for her exact words. She sneers off the idea of religious reasons outright, but then says wanting your kid to go to a school which is not horrible is a worthy impulse in and of itself, but that's all the more reason to send your kid to a horrible school.

Here it comes. Here's the part where she starts saying -- and she really does say this; I won't be paraphrasing, but quoting -- that she went to terrible public schools and learned (by her accounting) almost nothing, which is precisely why all kids must be forced to go to public school.

Strap in. We've got some Dumb Turbulence.

I believe in public education, but my district school really isnít good! you might say. I understand.

Do you understand?

You want the best for your child, but your child doesnít need it.

You didn't understand. [Emphasis added.] You say that you understand why people want the best for their children, and then insist, insanely, that people's children do not need the best. That they can skate with merely okay, or, like the author, with inadequate and poor.

If you can afford private school (even if affording means scrimping and saving, or taking out loans), chances are that your spawn will be perfectly fine at a crappy public school.

Emphasis added. Your "spawn" will do just fine at a "crappy public school," so shut up whiner.

Why, they might even wind up being Double X bloggers at Slate!

Now, being a Double X blogger at Slate isn't, like, giving handjobs under the docks for crack or anything. But no one is going to think about careers they want for their children and think, "blogger at Slate, that's what I want I want for my boy!"

It's not exactly threatening to roll-over the scoreboard on the Pinball Machine of Life, you know.

But I guess it's... well, it's fine for your children to end up at the bottom rungs of the white collar ladder, as she'll soon be telling you.

She will have support at home (thatís you!) ...

First I thought this was all crazy, dumb, and bitchy, but then you kept using those friendly Hi, There Exclamation Points! and suddenly I started nodding and before long you won me over.

...and all the advantages that go along with being a person whose family can pay for and cares about superior educationóthe exact kind of family that can help your crappy public school become less crappy. She may not learn as much or be as challenged, but take a deep breath and live with that. Oh, but sheís gifted? Well, then, sheíll really be fine.

Emphasis added. Your child is gifted, and thus has the potential for actual greatness, but if you send her to a crappy public school, well, she won't actually attain her potential, but she'll be... fine.


Well sign me up sister!

Now, key in on this word "fine" and let Allison Benedikt, Manifesto Blogger, inform you of what "fine" means.

She doesn't mean the older version of "fine," meaning "superior (though not quite exceptional)." She means it in the current way-- barely acceptable.

I went KĖ12 to a terrible public school. My high school didnít offer AP classes, and in four years, I only had to read one book.


There wasnít even soccer.

Um, you moved off the "I only had to read one book" thing pretty quickly to get to the non-shocking "there wasn't even soccer."

Let's go back to the "no reading in 4 years of high school" thing.

This is not a humblebrag!

I'll go you one better -- it's not a brag at all. It's sad. Your schools failed you, and you're not even aware of what they denied you.

I left home woefully unprepared for college...

But I'm sure she ultimately dug within herself and found the love of learning that public school failed to impart to her. So, she's setting us up for a Standard Happy Ending After Initial Adversity.

... and without that preparation, I left college without having learned much there either.

Nope. Boy I was waaaayyy the ckuf wrong on that one.

I thought she was going to turn it all around in a Happy Ending "cream will rise to the top" paean, but then she just said "Oh and I continued learning nothing at all for the rest of my life. The End."

You know all those important novels that everyoneís read? I havenít.

This is sounding better and better by the moment.

I know nothing about poetry, very little about art, and please donít quiz me on the dates of the Civil War.

I didn't even realize that could be a quiz question, except for... little children.

Iím not proud of my ignorance.

And yet you sound pretty okay with it. Earlier you assured me the lack of reading wasn't a "humblebrag."

But guess what the horrible result is? Iím doing fine.

So's my mailman. In fact, I think he's got it too good, to be honest.

Iím not saying itís a good thing that I got a lame education. Iím saying that I survived it, and so will your child, who must endure having no AP calculus so that in 25 years there will be AP calculus for all.

Ah. We'll sacrifice our current children for hypothetical future children. Maybe. Like, maybe that will lead to improvements.

Or maybe it won't.

Who cares either way? You can do "fine" without an education!!!

She now discusses the fact that her parents didn't care much about her education, and so just didn't care that she was at a "terrible" school. But don't worry about it, she says -- who cares.

It's just school.

This is like the sort of sneeringly dismissive essay about education I'd expect from Bugs Meany, the thuggish antagonist to Encyclopedia Brown.

Not like "An Manifesto" published on something that once sort of tried to pretend to be a "smart" alternative to real media.

Also remember that thereís more to education than whatís taught. As rotten as my schoolís English, history, science, social studies, math, art, music, and language programs were...

You had me at "Rotten as my school's English," but then you just added so much more.

And there wasn't even soccer!!!

... going to school with poor kids and rich kids, black kids and brown kids, smart kids and not-so-smart ones...

Ehhh... if you got through high school reading only one book, let's stipulate it for the record your competition was almost entirely "not so smart ones."

...kids with superconservative Christian parents and other upper-middle-class Jews like me was its own education and life preparation. Reading Walt Whitman in ninth grade changed the way you see the world? Well, getting drunk before basketball games with kids who lived at the trailer park near my house did the same for me.

Trailer park kids are drunks. Citation: Slate magazine, the Double X Factor.

Oh, but even though People In Trailer Parks are Bad People and Drunks, you should hang out with them, because their primitive folkways are endearing or something. Your kids will learn a lot from their Strange Moonshinin' Ways.

In fact itís part of the reason I feel so strongly about public schools.

I was kind of psyched about the lack of soccer.

So, let's sum up:

Hey parents, you're terrible for sending your kids to private school. Send them to public school where they won't learn anything and will get drunk with the degenerates from the Trailer Park! Then they can go to inferior colleges and continue not learning and also enjoying drinking a whole heck of a lot.

But there's more:

Many of my (morally bankrupt) colleagues send their children to private schools.

Summing up these Morally Bankrupt Parents' reasons: They want their children educated and not just drunk, not reading, not learning, and not playing soccer.

You know who else wants those things? Everyone.

That's because they're good things... which you would endeavor to take from them, so that we may all be equals, gettin' drunk off Boones' Farm Wine on some inbred Trailer Folks' collapsed trampoline.

She then tells you Serious You Guys send your kids to the same shitholes I went to.

Donít just acknowledge your liberal guiltólisten to it.

"Heed it" was the word were looking for but that word would have been contained in the second book you should have read in high school.

What the hell can you even say? I don't know.

Now here's the Surprise Twist. It turns out that hardcore Trolling of the Mommyblogs is a family business. A guy named John J. Cook wrote a similar piece for Gawker a while back, and I assume that's her husband. (She married a John Joseph Cook.)


That's from Gawker's linkwhoring article, "Let's Ban Private Schools," which makes many of the same basic point as Slate's (you know, the whole We Shall All Be Equally Miserable Under Communism thing).

Now at first I thought this was a catch Because Plagiarism, but having read both, they're not plagiarizing each other. It's the same basic idea, but boy howdy, does Allison Benedikt rise to the occasion to offer her own very weird take on Sacrificing Your Children To the Drunk and Rowdy Trailer Gods for the good of humanity.

But it does seem that there is some shared family wisdom in this business of outrage-fishing. They seem to prefer the same ponds.

Corrected: I wrote that I thought the couple was childless, based on their complete lack of any mention of children in these pieces (despite it being a natural place to mention such a thing).

But a commenter says I'm wrong, and they do have kids.

So I retract.

digg this
posted by Ace at 06:37 PM

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