May 3, 2006

The Intellectual Standards of The Dartmouth Independent

After reading this article (Immigrating Nonsense) just uploaded by The Dartmouth Independent, I wrote the following, addressed to TDI and to the article's author, Douglas Hayes. I suppose TDI isn't quite worth bothering about because its impact on campus discourse is really limited, but a) I despise stupid people who make (implicit) claims to intellectualism and b) I think TDI is showcasing how much racial tensions underlie a lot of campus life, but I think they're going about it blindly and stupidly.
Anyway, a little disputation. Enjoy.

--- You wrote:
A reporter's take on the intellectual standards of Dartmouth's immigration rally
--- end of quote ---

Given that you're so concerned about intellectual standards, I would like to point out that the repetitive misuse of the word "xenophobia" and its various inflections in your article robs that word of its actual denotative meaning, which is "fear of foreigners." In describing the College Republicans' opponents as being xenophobic, you are clearly missing the point. Mr. Sangwan's nationality did not seem to be at issue even in the "brown" statement--just his skin color. While I am not condoning such racializing, I would like to point out that conflating xenophobia with race is etymologically incorrect and, in this case, shows a complete lack of care about what words actually mean in favor of a rapid (and, honestly, rather vapid) response. While it is patently obvious that racism is mixed up with xenophobia in the case of immigration here, your word choice is not only incorrect and poor, it is ignorant. You talk about "intellectual sensitivity," and yet you do not even know what the words you are throwing around actually mean.

And while I'm on the subject, please refrain from using the word "intellectual" ever again. Your constant yammering about it voids the word of any distinctive meaning, causing it to fall into a base synonym for "civilly discursive." As I read your article, I began to wonder what kind of person might have such an infelicitous relation to the wonders of varying diction, so I facebooked you. Your two favorite books are the dictionary and the thesaurus. I suggest you become better friends with them.

Also, I would like to point out that the compound noun "collective un-conscience" does not exist. In fact, the noun "un-conscience" does not exist. So much for your "intellectual rigor," Mr. Hayes.

Best wishes,

Andrew Seal


  1. Douglas Hayes3:34 PM

    Mr. Seal,

    Thank you for such an elegant blitz! As it is obvious that my alarming transgressions had caused you great distress, and I am now relieved to see you have an outlet for your indignation. I only hope you did not - in the fury of such a mean-spirited blitz - spill your nightcap on the cardigan your mother recently knit for you... But to the meat of my correspondence!

    While it was obnoxious throughout, I have taken your blitz to heart, and will be more careful with my use of words. It scares me that I have made it this far without such thoughtful correction, and that is why I've enrolled myself in an ESL class at Hanover High. Fitting, no?

    Your point concerning Sangwan's "brown" skin color remark had potential. But alas, you arrived at an incorrect conclusion because the real arguments in my article did not leave room for an in-depth recount of the exchange. When the ignoramus was asked the thought process behind her remark, she admitted to linking "brown" with "not American," thus of foreign nationality. Sorry to say, but nationality was a principal issue for her when she called Sangwan "brown."

    I agree, "un-conscience" is not a noun. License is, however - as in artistic license. While I am not as artistic as, say, Joyce, I think the construction of this word helped convey my ironic allusion to the overused term "collective conscience."

    Getting to know Merriam-Webster continues to be my goal, and I appreciate any words encouraging me to reach it. You are a model of SAT-vocabulary, a trait which could only strengthen your pragmatic worldview. What good is practicality when people are using slightly deviant forms of "xenophobia" and "int*ll*ctu@l?!"

    But enough about me, Mr. Seal. So very often I am "stupidly" consumed with my own "stupid" self. I have even been known to use variations of such a banal adjective twice in one sentence.

    After seeing your shrewd research pay off, I was inspired to do my own. (Three religion courses this term? Impressive.) Some of the content of your profile seemed incongruent, however, and I wish to straighten some things out.

    Among your interests I see "cultural criticism." This sounds very intriguing, but I am confused as to why the attacks leveled at my piece were not of this variety. Rather, I have been beaten into linguistic submission without one actual critique of the content of my article. Pragmatic? Billy would be shocked.

    I see you are currently into women, but find yourself single. Perhaps I could suggest a few lovely females who could provide a healthy, protected avenue for you to relieve the acute sexual frustration apparent in your blitz? Jergen's is also available.

    Again, Mr. Seal, I appreciate your genuine concern. In fact, I invite you to stop by and give me a crash course in fifty-cent words. Don't knock, just come on in. I have the door propped open with a stack of the latest DFP.

    Better wishes,

    Douglas Hayes

  2. There are only three small things worth responding to, so I will confine myself to those.

    First of all, to answer the criticism that I did not address the content of your article, I assert that I found no content to which I could respond. Your entire article was a prolonged excursus of the childhood taunt, "I know you are, but what am I?" (which in this case you carefully changed to "but what are they?"). I did not deem a thorough deconstruction of an argument frequently made by 3rd graders to be a necessary task.

    Secondly, replying to your defense of your "artistic" sensibilities: I protest, I had no idea you had such aspirations! How could I possibly expect a creative neologism after such an unremitting stream of worthless verbiage? I really have no idea.

    Thirdly, I am honestly rather embarrassed that I criticized you for using "xenophobic" incorrectly when you now have shown it to be an appropriate descriptor of the "brown" comment. But I would be infinitely more embarrassed were I such a poor journalist as not to make mention of this key—crucial, in fact—revelation at all when it was, apparently, the complete basis for the crux of your article. Assertions depend on evidence, and evidence of xenophobia is precisely what your article utterly lacked. Present in your mind or memory or no, your accusation requred a demonstration of its accuracy, a charge you shirked completely. That is not intellectual responsibility in the slightest.

    Let me know if you need some more DFPs to stop your door. It is the least I can do when I have just used your own product so brutally.

    Good day.

  3. Please tell me that a Dartmouth student did not actually write that previous post. It's even worse than Malchow's long-winded attempts to sound eloquent.

    This Douglas Hayes kid is either the subject of a mean prank, or a pretentious shit-head.


    PS--Does anyone know if "shit-head" is hyphenated?

  4. PPS -- by "previous post," I meant the one signed douglas hayes.

    Good god, I just read that first paragraph again! "To the meat of my correspondence"? I hope he his croquet mallet removed from his ass soon, it must really hurt up there.

  5. Holy fuck!

    He wasn't lying about that shit with the thesaurus. It's pretty clear that Doug is one of those people who- through no fault of their own!- are simply unable to grasp the idea that just because they can get a bunch of big words together doesn't mean that they'll go together. Hayes, homey, I'm sorry. Some people just don't have it, and you are unfortunately one of those people. That's okay, though! You can be a good reporter! Just stop trying to sound good, and focus that energy back on the piece at a global level. It was a good call with the Sangwan thing! He was getting picked on, and it was gross! You saw that, man, and you got it together. If you had been watching your shit a little better, you wouldn't have gotten owned so hard. You keep at it!

    Also, Seal, you should know better than to pick on people's facebook profiles. You pick on their pictures. Doug Hayes, you look like a Dome Unit's Dome Unit. Depending on where you pledged, that can work out real well for you. Put down that thesaurus, pick up some stones, and get the boys together for a face-chug!


  6. Well, Connor, you should give Doug some credit—he could be much worse. He could have a facebook pic like Daniel Killeen, who wrote probably the worst op-ed I have ever read.

  7. Michelle Pfeiffer1:18 AM

    You people are honestly retarded. If you look at Hayes' response, you'll notice he's satiring Seal's flamboyant abuse of big words in the english language. You sound like you're a British drunk with a stick and the twelfth night shoved up your ass, Seal. Once again you miss the point.

  8. ^^haha yeah he's totally "satiring" it

    mysterious woman, that argument would be a lot more persuasive if he hadn't written the original TDI article in a somewhat less exaggerated version of the style used in his letter. i guess you could argue that he was preemptively mocking andrew, but that would just be pretty fucking stupid.

  9. i'm re-putting up the one i removed cause the placement didn't make sense after that dumb kid showed up. this involved "daniel killeen."

    hahahaha at least that kid is REALLY excited to be here! or at least REALLY excited about something!

    he's a english major- wtf. at one point during that (fabulous) oped he busted out "mis-balance."

    i guess TDR has yet to put him through the Buckleyizer- maybe they should send him to that special camp they all go to to learn how to ALL SOUND THE SAME.

    what an idiot kid. i did stupid shit when i was a freshman too, but this is just beyond the pale. he's up there with Matt McDonald in the Shittiest Freshman contest.

  10. Michelle Pfeiffer! I am so glad you read my blog! OMG, I am like soooo overwhelmed!

    Why don't you act very often any more? I just loooooooved your early 90s output—Dangerous Liaisons was a total triumph. And then there was your heartfelt performance as Catwoman. O God, please please act again!

    Seriously, though, I can turn this shit on and off at will, as should be apparent. I wanted to mock Hayes in a hyper-priggish tone, and then when he tried to reduplicate it, I just had to continue to show him (again) what pretension looks like when it's done well. I think it is you who missed the point, my dear.

  11. Anonymous1:17 PM

    You all should honestly STFU. Except maybe connor. You are a bunch of windbags, and douchebags. And none of you can write worth shit.

  12. My my, the eloquence of your critique puts all of our writing skills to shame, anonymous.

  13. Steve McQueen4:44 PM

    Honestly, I think it would benefit everyone if someone deleted this entire post. If someone writes a stupid article, refute the basis of the article. If they fuck up a word or three, and you really feel compelled to address it, don't do it in a forum that pretends to involve itself only with things that are significant and worth caring about, and certainly don't use it as the basis of an attack on someone's entire idea, or worse, some personal attack. If you are going to write at all, don't try to use your most impressive prose and whatever, because even if you don't fuck up some of those really tough words, you look like an ass.
    As far as someone cares enough to talk about an issue at Dartmouth, and isn't a Reviewdouche, they don't deserve to be shat on for it - just corrected. Being a bit offensive can be hilarious, but it takes some self-awareness and taste to do it well. This post and some of the comments after just really suck.

  14. "Steve,"

    I'm not going to delete this post, but I will take your comments into consideration.

    I do maintain that there was nothing of value to address in the article, but that it was nonetheless so horribly loathsome that I wanted to point it out. Perhaps I didn't do so in a way that pleased you or many other people, but I think it's a bit of a misdirection to complain that I didn't "refute the basis of the article," when there was no basis of the article other than the motivation to embarrass the protestors and those who supported them. It was gotcha journalism, and I gotcha'd him right back. I think that was legitimate and called for. If you disagree, well, fine.