Friday, June 02, 2006

Slate is stupid.

I don't want to horn in on Eugene Volokh's blogging territory, but in the last 24 hours I read two of the stupidest things I've seen in a while, and both of them were from Slate.

First: Emily Yoffe, who replaced Ann Landers's daughter as Prudence, should have stuck to writing about dogs, or at the very least picked up a couple of Miss Manners books before diving into a job for which she is apparently unqualified. Pop quiz, hotshot: if someone writes in and says that she is having problems with rude relatives lecturing her about her family planning choices, do you:

A) Offer a productive suggestion to avoid such awkward discussions,
B) Lecture the writer in an identical manner,
C) Both.

Hint: B and C are wrong. And if the same obnoxious and obvious points didn't convince the writer to reproduce when they came from valued friends and beloved family members, since when will the testimony of Slate's Human Guinea Pig change her mind? I haven't seen advice this terrible since I quit reading Salon's Cary Tennis (who has the virtue of being consistently wrong, so you can at least just ask youself: What Would Cary Do? and then do the opposite).

The other bit is more of a one-off sentence, but it also inspired a facepalm reaction. In a review of "Candy Licker," a new book in the street lit genre, the reviewer says, with apparent seriousness,
[The author] has a real talent for tight pacing and evocative language: The act of stabbing a heroin-filled syringe in one's arm, for example, is described as "skin-popping horse."
He has thoughtfully linked to a website that tells the unfamiliar reader that "horse" is a name for heroin, but to say that use of the term "skin-popping" is a manifestation of literary talent ignores the fact that skin-popping is an established term for a particular method of injecting drugs. If the ability to use common slang terms when discussing street life is a sign of a gifted writer, the bar has been dropped to new lows.
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