Claiming an unlikely convert:


fakemustaches-thumbIt’s hard surprising when someone fires back at a harsh critic of his or her employer’s competence and/or ethics. But when that someone is superstar New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman, and the return fire takes the form, in part, of “Fuck you,” it raises a few eyebrows — and makes you wonder about a broader hubris.

The exchange in question came yesterday at the Freedom to Connectconference, a gathering in suburban Washington where people discuss issues related to data networking and the information revolution. Friedman’s keynote talk was all about his latest book and touched on the conference theme only briefly during the Q&A.

He’d already dropped the F-bomb at the start of his talk (in a WTF mode) when he noticed the conference back-channel discussion scrolling by on a stage-monitor screen. Later, during the Q&A, he was asked to comment on a question posted there that challenged the Times’ credibility in a fairly general and nasty way.

He began, appropriately, by saying that yes, the paper makes mistakes. But then he offered what sounded like a more heart-felt response, the above-noted “fuck you,” winning applause from some but certainly not all or (by my estimate) even a majority of the audience.

I was having scones and tea on the veranda with Lady Howell when we read this, and neither she nor I had the slightest notion what this “fuck you” phrase could possibly signify.  So we paid a social call on David Brooks, Master of the Plebian, and, after consulting some of his low-born contacts, we discovered to our utter horror that it is an obscene reference so beyond the bounds of polite society that I will not sully the internet by getting into more detail.  Suffice to say that all six of our dainty, shell-like ears felt like they had been packed with the commonest of gutter filth when our investigation was through!  Clearly, we need to empanel a Crisis Conference On Ethics At Conferences On Blogger Ethics In Crisis at the earliest possible opportunity in order to address this immediate threat to Western Civilization.

No one is going to take the NY Times editorial page seriously until they stop being such potty mouths.