May 18th, 2013 / 12:16 pm

Dear Everyone

This is a post about Seth Oelbaum, and I wish that it wasn’t.

I got my copy of the keys to this blog while I was unemployed. I had just quit a job not because I hated it, and not because I didn’t like the people there, but because I wasn’t very good at it. This was hard for me because I am the sort of person who needs to believe he is the best at basically everything. I am a teacher’s pet, a perfectionist, a people-pleaser, a needy pile of nerves, sometimes. The way I started writing here is this: I had written at the blog for my magazine for a while, and some people here had liked some of the posts. Roxane Gay was one of those people. She told me she had suggested to Blake Butler that I be invited to post here. Blake seemed receptive, but nothing happened, and meanwhile I was looking for work but not finding any and I spent most of the day sitting on my couch reading job listings and feeling my heart hurt. I needed to feel like I was succeeding in something. I thought that one way I could feel like I was succeeding would be to write for this blog, which had been a comfort to me in grad school, where two different instructors made me openly cry by telling me that I was no good at fiction. I liked to tell myself that the sort of people who read this blog would like what I was writing, and in fact had liked it in the past, as evidenced by certain posts and discussions, and that there were a lot of people who read this blog, and so I couldn’t be all bad. Now, unemployed, heart aching, I thought that writing things here might help me feel better again, and that it might advance my writing career in some way, which is important to me, because of said personality defects. So I sent Blake a gchat and asked him if I could please start writing here. I think I e-mailed him about it too. He said yes. And so I did.

So for a while I posted a lot, and I watched my posts closely to see how they did in terms of traffic and comments, especially as compared to other posts by other, more popular writers, to the extent that the WordPress back end would let me discern that. It made me feel productive. My heart hurt a little less.

My posting slowed to a trickle when I found new (and very stressful) work. I also had a super-long novel to finish, and a story in Best American Short Stories, which made me feel that I needed to do other things (like finish said super-long novel) in order to capitalize on this success, for the sake of the aforementioned writing career. For a while, I didn’t read this blog, except very occasionally when I saw that A D Jameson had written something especially geeky, which is basically my jam. When I started reading again, I saw that Seth Oelbaum was posting with some regularity. And that made me want to never write here again. It made me want to stay away.

Like a lot of people, I sometimes find some of this blog’s writers and commenters infuriating. The thing I like least about this blog is when it tries to be cool. (This is also the thing I like least about other human beings in general.) The usual strategy for achieving coolness around here seems to be some combination of disappearing up your own ass, demonstrating value, and saying bewildering, inflammatory things in such a way as to create the illusion you are a radical dissident, important thinker, etc. These qualities, combined and multiplied, describe the Seth Oelbaum persona in its entirety. (Well, almost: Seth also likes to post jpegs of people, including himself, in ugly clothing, and to sometimes write like an infant.)

If Seth had ever written something genuinely interesting or provocative, this is where I would feel obligated to respond to the meat of his writing. I might quote some especially frustrating passages and respond to their particulars. Because he has produced literally nothing of any value in his time here — even the comment threads in response to his posts, in which he rarely deigns to participate, are hideously dull and repetitive, especially my own contributions — I feel no such obligation. There is no there there. It is enough to say that his work is uniformly ugly, boring, and totally devoid of insight. It is hateful, bigoted, witless, and misspelled. It contributes less than nothing. It actively detracts from everything else that happens on this site. I feel less alive when I read it. I feel less capable of love.

Seth may or may not believe that he is bringing attention to injustice. But I can’t name even one of the atrocities he’s written about. The Oelbaum persona overshadows anything it purports to discuss; everything the persona creates is subordinate to its creator. The dead bodies Seth posts are not dead bodies: they are advertisements for the Oelbaum persona. Seth accuses “the white race” of indifference to the suffering of other people. I would accuse Seth of using the suffering of other people as a platform for his own self-aggrandizement. He expresses his privilege by using their bodies as fuel for his tacky machine.

It may well be that Americans, and perhaps even white Americans in particular, do not think often enough about the ways that other people live and die. I probably don’t. I’m not sure how my thinking about them would help, in all fairness; Seth claims to hate money, but money is probably what most of these people need most of all, so that they can feed themselves and their families, and so they can use their money to buy politicians, so that they will own these politicians, so that they can tell these politicians to stop ordering and allowing their deaths. I do not give enough money to other people. I do not help them as much as I could.

But worse than that, I don’t love them enough. I have limited money, but my love is potentially infinite. I choose — and it is very much a choice, one that I make actively each day — not to give it to them anyway.

I began with how I started posting to this site because I’m curious about how Seth got here. Did Blake give him the keys? Maybe he did. Did someone invite Seth? Did Seth invite himself? Did he tell anyone what he was planning to do once he got here? Is there someone here who likes the Oelbaum persona? Does the person who gave him the keys regret it now? I have no Earthly idea. I regret it on that person’s behalf.

Seth believes that we care too much about Jewish people. He claims that we care too much about the Holocaust. He claims that we care too much about the deaths of people in Boston. He claims that we only care about the deaths of white people. He apparently feels that these are very important points, because he returns to them again and again. He is wrong on all counts but the one. (We who are white Americans may genuinely only care about the deaths of white people, though I don’t think this is the result of racism so much as a more practical concern: we’re so relieved it wasn’t us, and that it won’t be us, that we forget to empathize. I don’t offer this as a defense, but in an attempt to more precisely define the problem the Oelbaum persona is so clumsily addressing.) The problem is not and never has been that we care too much about anyone. It is that we have never cared enough.

We can mourn two things at once. Better still, we can love them. In Seth’s imagination, there is a limited supply of love. He claims to want to give it to the people who need it most. In reality, the only limits on our love are the ones we impose. If Seth wants to love the people who are suffering in this world, then he can do that. And he can help us do it too. He can write informative posts about them. He can send them money. He can encourage us to send them money. He has chosen to make us love less. He begins by making us hate him. He hopes to make us hate each other. He imagines this will lead us to love more deserving and more needy people. He’s wrong about that too.

I’m not writing this in hopes Seth will be “fired.” That’s not really how this site’s culture works, though if he were fired, I would welcome that. I’m not writing this in hopes that Seth will stop posting. I don’t think that he will stop until no one’s reading, which might take a long time. Let’s be honest: I am writing this to hurt Seth. I am writing this to give you an opportunity to hurt Seth too. I’m writing this because I want him to stop, and because I want him to know how badly I want him to stop, and so that other people can let him know also. I’m writing this because I want it established very clearly, here and now, that participation in this site does not imply any kind of association with the Oelbaum persona. I have no idea where this jerk came from, folks, and when he’s gone, he won’t be missed, by me or anyone I love.

I want to love everyone. (I want to want to love everyone.) I want to be kinder and more generous. (I want to want to be kinder and more generous.) But I can’t love Seth Oelbaum. Not even a little. My heart is hard, and I’m not even sorry.




  1. Caleb Powell
  2. Bill Hsu

      I used to comment on Seth’s posts, poking holes mostly. But I’ve stopped. He’s not interested in a conversation, it seems. I don’t even disagree with a lot of the political points he seems to be making. But I don’t have time for the grating style and hateful nonsense on the surface.

      I suppose I don’t have the kind of personal attachment to htmlgiant that a lot of the regulars have. I only read about 10-20% of the posts.

  3. Mark Walters

      I have been reading this site for years and years and Seth is easily the
      worst. Maybe people want this website to die, maybe that’s the reason
      Seth is here. I would love if this website could continue on. I have
      learned about tons of great writing and writers through this site. I’ve
      never learned a thing from one of Seth’s posts. I would be willing to post here if HTMLG needs contributors, but I’m with you, Mike: this clown needs to go.

  4. mimi

      i don’t think you need to love SO; i don’t think you need to ‘love’ anyone (tho you may love all those you want)

      but it is a ‘ideal’ of mine that one ought to strive for compassion for an Other, rather than pity, or anger, or repulsion – nor even ‘understanding’

      tho it is not always possible – i struggle often to ‘live’ my ‘ideal’

      and that belief is most often challenged when the Other is most difficult, most contrary, most un-lovable

      just my two cents y’alls

      great post, btw

  5. Mike Meginnis

      I agree with you. I am failing at living up to my ideals right now. I feel like he’s helping me fail, though; he is making it much easier than it usually is.

  6. deadgod

      You’re a deadgod-pleaser, but here, your vehemence leads your strike astray, in my view.

      Here are the twelve blogicles between Oelbaum’s two previous efforts:

      Soderbergh talking about film (& sounding like a writer hostile to normativity)
      thumbnail review and interview of Ali Liebegott
      Chen GRE test
      interview by Luke Goebel with Susan Steinberg
      Kyle Minor evocation
      Carson review (Red Doc>)
      Jameson piece on Sontag’s Against Interpretation
      Higgs’ summer-course reading
      call for entrants to Wonder book prize
      25-Points review of The Stud Book
      Blanchotesque by Garrett Strickland
      a second Blanchotesque by (I’m guessing) same Strickland

      Not responding to this work–well, hell. I responded to one (mostly with an obsession of my own) and thought-commented on eight others. Everybody’s busy, right?

      But not reading any of these blogicles… because of Oelbaum?

      That’s hard to believe.

      I don’t think the objectionable actually has the power to drive out the interesting; I think other things are happening when people don’t read or do read and don’t comment.

  7. emmab

      thanks for writing this. I agree with you on the point that this site is at its worst when it’s trying to be “cool,” or stylish/aloof without much substance or critical thought. I’m glad that you put Seth’s posts into the terms that you did– making you love less– because more than anything, I’d like for this site to be a host for earnest critical engagement and a lot of people who love the same things to love them, and argue about them, together. it makes me real sad (and makes me love less, also) when someone tries to disrupt that in a way that is, as you said, literally just detracting. being “cool” and insincerely aloof for no reason other than to bolster their personal brand. I wish a lot of things for this site, I guess; I wish that people would engage with political or social issues in a more direct and serious way, and Seth seems to be turning that sort of political engagement into a joke.

  8. mimi

      way back in the olden days of htmlg i asked justin taylor, in a comment thread, how he felt about having written a long, well-thought-out post that received relatively few comments, while other ‘goofier’ posts were receiving many comments

      my question got a great, thoughtful reply from justin, and resulted in a rather long discussion in the comments…
      i don’t seem to be able find it now, erggh, wish i could… this was long before the days of disqus

      i guess my point, if i have one, is that the number of comments a post receives isn’t necessarily a reflection of its ‘quality’

      surely most posts get read, get ‘hits’, and i suppose the authors must learn to live with knowing that what they’ve written meets certain standards of their own

  9. Mark Baumer

      Sometimes I wish Jimmy Chen was the only one that was allowed to make posts on HTMLGIANT

  10. John Minichillo

      This is a terrible advertisement for that long novel you’re writing.

  11. deadgod

      In your quotation from Jasser, you have “between Westernism and liberalism”. It seems to me, though, that in this context, he (?) means that “Westernism” and “liberalism” are descriptors of the same system, which he (and many) see opposed to and by “Islamism”. Did you mistranscribe ‘between (Western) liberalism and Islamism’ or some such?

  12. deadgod

      Jimmy’s great (though not uniformly uncontroversial–even here). If you really appreciate his art/lit, he has a twitter account (locked, but he didn’t block me from following, so maybe he’s pretty relaxed about that), which I’d be surprised to learn he wasn’t the exclusive contributor to. Also, at that account, you can jump to his blog (one of?)–also all Jimmy, I think. He also has a formspring that’s linked to here (at the About page). Maybe he also has tumblr and Facebook outlets for his work?

      Why do you sometimes want only Jimmy Chen to post blogicles here?

  13. Mike Meginnis

      Yeah, I don’t think it’s going to sell that book.

  14. Mike Meginnis

      Suppose you had a circle of friends who held semiweekly parties. These parties would be low-key — a way for people to get to know each other, to drink and talk together, and maybe sometimes meet cute guys/ladies. Suppose one day a new guy started attending the parties. He talks louder than everyone else, and he never brings any beer. (But he hates the stuff you bring, and he makes a point of telling you.) This is bad, but it’s not going to drive you away or anything if the conversation is good in general.

      Then suppose one day he says — shouts, really, if we’re being honest — that people care too much about Jewish people and the Holocaust. Suppose he even says, at one point, something weird and paranoid-sounding about Jewish people being unusually good at assimilating into the American culture. Everyone feels weird and tries to change the subject. Eventually he does shut up, and everyone is relieved, and you go on talking about other things. This still isn’t enough to drive you away from the semiweekly parties.

      Now suppose this happens every single time you attend one of these parties. He just won’t stop talking about the “icky white race” and how unduly lucky Jewish people are. And suppose no one makes a point of giving him a talking to. Suppose no one confronts him about how inappropriate his behavior is, or how bad he’s making everyone else at the party feel. How long do you keep going to these parties?

      How often do you even want to see these people who shared these experiences with you, your long-time friends, after you stop going? I don’t think I’d want to see them anymore.

      The objectionable absolutely has the power to drive out the interesting. I know for a fact that a lot of writers have sworn this place off, and that for a number of them the Oelbaum persona has been the final straw.

  15. Caleb Powell
  16. columbusmatt

      Seth is what he is.

      *You* sound like a self-righteous, self-absorbed, infantile/self-important Christ-twat.

  17. Brendan Connell


  18. Brendan Connell

      I think we can feel compassion for Seth, but not want to read him, meet him, or know him. I mean, yeah, sure Seth has Buddha nature. But his posts still suck.

  19. Mike Meginnis

      I understand and agree with all of those but “Christ-twat.”

  20. mimi

      let’s not invite columbusmatt to the party either

  21. mimi

      yep, i don’t want to know him, and yep, his posts suck

      i think it’s good to express one’s political, ethical or aesthetic disagreement with his posts, without stooping to the same level of his particular ‘tactics’, which is Quite Low

  22. bemightee

      it’s not possible to love everyone. you don’t need to feel guilty about that. if you don’t like his posts just skip them – i do.

  23. melontrout

      My goodness. The time has arrived to never visit this site again. Thanks for your help, Mike. Good luck with life.

  24. Adam Digged

      successful troll is successful.

      if you had wanted to hurt this person, it sounds like you have done the exact wrong thing here. this is a dear diary entry.

      quite frankly, htmlgiant is not your own personal dinner party at which only those who are as quiet or quieter than you can speak.

      here’s what i would have done if i were you and i had wanted to hurt this person and i were a good, or even decent, writer. i would have talked louder. you have lost before you have even begun. your infantile “i’ll take my ball and go home” because you want to love everyone and you have failed does not make me want to go grab my pitchfork and run this monster out of town. the fact that you wanted to hurt this person, but have also failed, gains no sympathy from me, i wish you’d have stepped up and hurt him.

      of course you could have just ignored him and wrote cooler stuff and not feel the need to be validated by page hits and adoring comments. as a less than decent writer, it takes more than someone talking louder than me at a dinner party to drive me to a very public catharsis on my own shortcomings.

  25. mimi

      it didn’t seem to me that mike was trying to hurt seth

      he wrote about his own experiences and feelings

      his perspective

      and if you see it as “a very public catharsis on [his] own shortcomings” so be it

      his post here is as ‘justified’ as seth’s or anyone else’s

      not that mike needs me to step up to his defense

  26. William VanDenBerg

      There is never any talking louder.

  27. deadgod

      Now I see the context: The Blaze, Glenn Beck’s septic tank, reasonably comparable to Sludge Report, Dullbart, and the Grimalkin’s Twitchy.

      Thanks to Gleck for paying forward some of Jasser’s rhetoric, like this phrase:

      [T]he list of hundreds of American Muslims either attempting to commit or having committed acts of terror continues to pile up.

      Tailgunner Joe!

      And Jasser’s claim to offense–deep offense–taken at Muslim victimology reminds me, anyway, of Clownance Thomas’s sense of insult–deep insult–taken at affirmative action (which sensitivity he benefited from every step of the way in his academic and professional life).

      It’s a side track from the concerns of Mike’s blogicle, but what is the contrast “between Westernism and liberalism”? Does he mean, by “Westernism”, (his preferred) ‘conservatism’, counterposed to (progressive) “liberalism”? Or does he mean, by “liberalism”, ‘neo-liberalism’–that of supply-side economics denial and ‘austerity’ economics denial–, counterposed to, eh, the destructively careless tolerance of “Westernism”?

  28. reynard

      ahh, ‘the seth oelbaum question’

  29. deadgod

      I don’t think much of that analogy! At a party, the noisy, taunting flame-thrower is, as you say, inescapable–I mean, how many rooms does the apartment have?

      What you don’t have at those parties is the ability to Scroll Right Past.

      That list I copied out: a reader can read and, inwardly or in the comment thread, respond to any or every one of those blogicles without ever getting past the name “Oelbaum” and the pictures shown on his blogicles’ platforms on the master thread.

      That’s just not the same as being buttonholed at a party, or having clusters of chat horned-in on, or hearing shouty provocation from across the room or around the corner.

      Yes, in each of those cases, the objectionable makes the interesting hard-to-impossible, but that dynamic isn’t how it works at this site–for me, anyway.

      (And it’s not true that nobody’s confronted Oelbaum in his medium. Not a physical “talking-to” (that I’ve heard about), if that’s what you mean at the party, but Oelbaum’s been roundly condemned here.)

      As far as ALL the people for whom Oelbaum has been the last straw… Remember a Jimmy Chen post of, I think it’s been a couple of years ago now, that was a Cartesian array of four quadrants, each axis labeled, and the graph sprinkled with locally-known literary (or -ish) names? Partly joking around, partly intelligent, provocative comment: Jimmy Chen.

      But on the array was a mean-spirited joke that made a target of Kate Zambreno–and man, she was angry.

      Zambreno made an issue of the post, and the point was this: HTMLG fosters a climate of misogyny so pervasive and underchallenged that it thoroughly characterizes the site.

      ‘HTMLG is an internet snakepit of hatred for and mistreatment of women.’

      And it wasn’t Zambreno alone; other people expressed the concern that HTMLG is mannish-boy’s club where women are justified in feeling unwelcome, and Jimmy Chen’s cruel jape was the last straw.

      Well, others came to Jimmy’s defense: he’s not a misogynist–his writing and art betray not only a concern for women’s feelings, but a sensitivity to his own ‘masculinism’ and his discomfort with himself on that ground. (At least, that’s how I read Jimmy and remember expressions of support for him.)

      –to the extent that such is important: to the extent that you’ll not read writers whom you find morally offensive.

      Now, this unhappy spasm is maybe barely remembered: Jimmy’s deservedly popular, and nobody’s saying–here, anyway–that they think his work is hateful.

      –and, OF COURSE, you can reach, from today’s master thread, an interview/review of Ali Liebegott, an interview with Susan Steinberg, a review of Anne Carson’s most recent book, another discussion of Sontag, and a review of Monica Drake.

      In other words, to the people who left and never came back because of Jimmy’s piece: HTMLG just is not, on the face of today’s master thread, a place unkind to and unsafe for women.

      Again, maybe I have it wrong about Oelbaum, but I don’t think it’s so that he really despises and would harm Jews qua being Jewish. I think a reasonably defensible political perspective is behind inflammatory language like “J E W I S H” and Baby Adolf and all that.

      To abandon the list I copied out above–not even to look at any of the blogicles–because of Oelbaum??

  30. Bill Hsu

      While I agree with most of this, it’s much easier to ignore a post on a website, than a loud person in a room. (Especially if s/he is on a cellphone, but I digress.)

      I also have to say, I think the ability to track views with this internet publishing thing brings out the worst in a lot of people, and that includes me. I can’t help checking my vimeo views and likes. But I also want to slap myself when I do it too often.

  31. Matt Rowan

      I’m not usually so dismissive, but is anyone honestly taking Seth and his arguments seriously? He reads like Adam has alluded to: a young person just become familiar with philosophers and theorists like Arendt, Chomsky, ZInn. He reads like a naive college kid who thinks he’s figured something out that the rest of us don’t see. And he seems to believe this perception elevates him above the rest of us, the peons who’ve failed to realize how awful our nation (and our history and our “indifference” to those living and killed outside our nation) truly is. It’s condescending, obviously, but it’s also stupid. I’m kind of over it. I thought I’d add this. I imagine others have said similar things in previous posts by Seth or critical of him.

  32. Matt Rowan

      As long as we’re on the topic of ludicrous presentations of the victim’s perspective by so-called academics and other representatives of said historically oppressed group, here’s a dozy:

      I enjoyed it because it’s the pinnacle of all means-to-an-end ideologue drivel. Hundreds of white gun owners will applaud this piece because on the one hand it serves their purposes. On the other they’ll likely portray most minorities as precisely the forces against whom they need in-home protection. Or have I been misreading the latent racial tinge to all the arguments made about crime and its being attributable to blacks and other groups society tends to associate with gangs and the criminal element (for both sensible and hysterical reasons)? I mean, that’s certainly the impression I was getting from most supporters of George Zimmerman in the wake of Trayvon Martin’s shooting death.

  33. Mike Meginnis

      As I’ve said to you before when we’ve disagreed on this stuff, I can see your side of this disagreement, and I’m not even going to say you’re definitely wrong. My experience of the blog is different, and for me, the use of images of freshly murdered people, for instance, is extremely hard to ignore — it colors everything else I see on the page. I understand that other users aren’t going to have that sort of experience or relationship with this website! That’s okay. But this is how I felt. And I know that a lot of other people have felt this way also.

      To address the Jimmy Chen comparison briefly, here’s why that doesn’t hold up: the joke in question may have been ill-considered. And I think this site does have a demonstrable history of periodic hostility to women, though more in its comment threads than in its main page. But Jimmy was willing to converse with the people he offended. He was willing to discuss what he’d written. If I recall correctly, he didn’t ignore his critics. If Seth were to engage with the people who find his writing objectionable, if he were to change his strategy in any way at all (even ways I didn’t like (even ways I found actively worse than his original strategy)) in response to criticism, I would have simply ignored him, the way I do most basically harmless things I dislike. It’s the fact that Seth presumes to post here, again and again, saying more or less exactly the same things, without responding meaningfully to any criticism raised, without taking any apparent interest in his commenters, that makes him so objectionable. If I could believe he were grasping at something, that he was learning from these experiences, then I would say, “Yeah, I was a dick too when I was at your level of emotional development,” and leave it at that. But I don’t see any evidence of that. So I want it to stop.

      The good news is that I think this post can be my final word on the matter, and hopefully it can let the other people who find Seth upsetting let go of him too. I’m assuming he’ll post something sooner than later, and that it will be identical to his output thus far. But because I’ve said this on the main page, I won’t feel it needs to be said ever again. He can go on doing his schtick forever, as far as I’m concerned, if he wants to. I’ve gotten a lot of notes outside this post from people expressing what seems like genuine relief that this finally happened. I feel relieved too. Is that a weakness of character on my part? It might be. And I agree with the critics of this post and of my person: there’s a lot to dislike about this post, and the person who wrote it. But still! I felt someone needed to clear the air a little. Now it’s cleared. And, again, I don’t plan to ever acknowledge the Oelbaum persona’s existence again, unless it addresses me directly — and probably not even then.

  34. Caleb Powell

      The Blaze is horribly biased and Glenn Beck a tool. Don’t fight “toolness” with “toolness.”
      I’ll qualify the following generalization existentially and say that it’s ironic how there are times (not many, but enough to wonder) that tolerant Muslims and apostates from Islam get quoted and support from conservatives, and conservative Muslims are defended by liberals. Here’s not the place, though. Shed your anonymity and come to my blog to discuss, I think it’s an argument worth having.

  35. Richard Grayson

      Nice post, but it raised this question, probably stupid, from an elderly outsider: Does this blog have actual keys or is that a metaphor or are “keys” a technical term I’ve never heard before?

  36. Mike Meginnis

      It’s just a cute way of referring to a user name/password. Every user has his or her own login information.

  37. Richard Grayson

      Thank you so much. I am not so familiar with the technology.

  38. columbusmatt

      “Let’s be honest: I am writing this to hurt Seth. I am writing this to give you an opportunity to hurt Seth too.”

  39. A D Jameson

      I was given an actual key. Blake told me that if I don’t wind the site every day, it will stop.

  40. mimi

      my bad

  41. elizabeth ellen

      when is mean week? i miss mean weak and boob friday. back when no one whined about any of this shit and it felt like everyone who posted here had a sense of humor and didn’t take themselves (or anyone else) seriously.

  42. Guest

      Nothing more offensive than bad humor, which isn’t to say that offensiveness can’t be funny–it’s just means that there’s nothing more offensive than “bad” humor. Seth, in other words, sucks at humor, and that should bother anyone who appreciates humor.

  43. mimi

      well said, guestie

      because in the last day or so these SO posts have made me tell myself that SO is just a ‘character’ (that is, i tell myself: “just think of SO as a ‘character’ and ‘then it’s not as bad’ as if it were a ‘real person’ writing these things”)

      because i was reminded of several other ‘characters’:

      1. rush limbaugh, who plays a ‘character’ but is also a ‘real person’

      2. walter sobchek, a ‘character’ in the coen brothers’ ‘the big lebowski’

      3. dave chappelle’s crackhead, a comedian’s ‘character’

      all three of the above are ‘characters’

      1. rush limbaugh, is despiccable – to me – not funny, not smart, not ‘naughty’ – just sad, and ‘scary’, and ‘mean’

      2. walter sobchak, is hilarious – to me – (“Say what you will about National Socialism, at least it’s an ethos”), and ‘over the top’

      3. like ‘whoa’, a black dude riffing on a ‘black stereotype’ that is ‘really non-PC’ and ‘really funny’ – to me

      it has helped me to think of SO as a ‘character’ (maybe a ‘fictional character’ that he has created)

      but there isn’t the ‘smart humor’ (and it takes a smart person to make edgy-ness, in-appropriateness, over-the-top-ness funny) to ‘redeem’ SO’s ‘bad writing’ (or, ‘bad humor’, if ‘humor’ is what he is attempting)

  44. mimi
  45. Dave K.

      Who is Seth Oelbaum and why are we all whining about his opinions?

  46. columbusmatt


      That would be “super long,” “for the sake of the aforementioned writing career.”

  47. columbusmatt

      Well then think about it (but please, no real tears now…).

      You claim to want to love everyone but are thwarted in this Christ-like desire by dat big ol’ debil Setherous.

      He owns you.

  48. Guest

      I’ve yet to see anyone defend his humor as “funny.” The people defending him never really defend his humor, more than his mere right to exist and post on the Internet. That says a lot.

  49. columbusmatt

      I see the “down voters” don’t like Mr. Mike’s words either.

  50. columbusmatt

      I see the “down voter” of the above comment also snorts at Mr. Mike’s words.

  51. deadgod

      The gruesome photo being above the cut is a fair analogy to the shouty person at the party–you can’t just Scroll Right Past the image so fast it doesn’t register or unsee it once it does.

      (To be fair all around, that’s Oelbaum’s point: the marathon-bombing images were repeated scores–hundreds–of times on tv over a few days (including, from what I saw, some gore, with explicit parts pixillated out), while war imagery from Syria–after Gaza and Bali and London and Madrid and Egypt and Libya, and Iraq and 11+ years of Afghanistan–is market-censored on grounds of low entertainment value. Not sure what’s to be done by the US (or American consumers?) for Syria; can’t find a constructive suggestion in Oelbaum’s blogicle. Don’t get bourgeois-gay married?)

      Jimmy Chen didn’t really argue with the accusations of misogyny, that I remember, because how do you say you’re not when someone calls you Evil?? I think you’re right, though; Oelbaum could retain his integrity and be explicit about his perspective without the garish mediation of, eh, Baby Adolf.

  52. Jake Levine

      I used to read this site on the regular, but most posts these days are either some kind of self-promotion shit or some kind of off handed self promotion. same with this post. inter-html giant politics / self promotion shit. it has progressively gotten to be less about what’s going on with literature… and has gotten more about what’s going wrong with literature. like some hatred or i don’t understand nonsensical i don’t understand other people shit. it is a good place and was the first of its kind to have a kind of internet hangout for small press peoples, but i think the lack of quality control, openness, everyone is invited m.o is a doomed model.

  53. Dressing Up Seth Oelbaum | HTMLGIANT

      […] Meginnis’s recent post, and his follow-up comments below, clearly express his desire to pronounce some final word on “the Seth Oelbaum question” […]

  54. Jackson Mace

      Plot Twist: Seth is actually just a disgruntled Zachary German in disguise

  55. Diana

      Mike, thank you so much for posting this. I’ve been feeling so upset about all the S.O. bullshit, and how he (or a dear friend of his) is clearly deadgod just protecting him through comments, and making me irate and sad about HTMLGIANT. But this makes me truth y’all again.

  56. deadgod

      No, no, and no: I’m neither Oelbaum nor a dear friend of his nor just protecting him through comments. Sometimes clarity gets in the way of what you’re looking at!

      Excepting the (in)artfulness of his prose, what about Oelbaum’s blogicles makes you irate and sad?

  57. Mike Meginnis

      Thanks Diana, but I will say that deadgod isn’t Oelbaum or a defensive friend; just a generally cool person with maybe a bit of a contrarian streak (much like my own) who disagrees with me about this one thing.

  58. Diana

      The fact you need to ask this question (despite your responding to my angry comments to his many posts and defending him) makes me not want to engage with you at all on the topic.

      It’s like asking what, exactly, is upsetting about bigotry.

  59. Diana

      Fair enough. I suppose I’m just confounded by any defense of him (and so thoroughly and consistently)…

  60. deadgod

      No, it’s not like that. It’s asking, where, exactly, is the “bigotry”?

  61. columbusmatt

      Put on your big-boy pants, Mikey, and stop blaming others.

  62. Guest

      You should’ve stopped engaging him after he used the word “blogicle” for the thousandth time, a neologism that would make even the ickiest copywriters gag.

  63. Jamie Felton

      I also stopped reading this blog after reading Seth’s posts. A healthy community (online or otherwise) cannot allow people to behave the way Seth does. There’s this idea that to be “liberal” or “progressive” means anything goes. However, healthy communities have rules/etiquette for a reason, that is, to keep people like Seth from systematically destroying the community simply by alienating each every person until all that’s left are people exactly like himself. That will be basically just a bunch of people who are exactly the same, zero diversity, and probably all white dudes, honestly.

  64. deadgod

      Apologies for the delay.

      Among his spray of Fox goebbels-points–that is, Big Lies–, Jaffer says something most progressives–all?–agree with: liberal and progressive voices should be enabled in every culture. Yes: megaphones for tolerant Muslims!

      And agreed: toolness is a good choice never.

      I don’t think comparing Jaffer’s words with McCarthyite and phonily inclusive Right rhetoric is toolish.

      If it was accurately quoted at The Blaze, what do you think Jaffer meant by the conflict “between Westernism and liberalism”?





  66. columbusmatt

      “My heart is hard, and I’m not even sorry.”


  67. Mike Meginnis

      Thank you ZZZZZZZIPPPP. I like you and wish we could hang out.

  68. columbusmatt

      And den, in th second grade, we could hab a sammich togedder cuz we be all growed up by den…


  69. mimi

      you’re jus’ being mean matty

      i’m telling mom

  70. columbusmatt


      I’m just looking out fer Mr. Mike!

      (he such a sensitive, slump-shouldered chile…)




  72. columbusmatt


  73. mimi


  74. columbusmatt


      That don’t sound good…


  75. mimi

      well, we all know that ZZZIPP isn’t REALLY an UNCLE, any more than you, matty, and mikey are thekkund gwayderrz

      and, ZZIP, i hope i haven’t offended you in any way with the ‘UNCLE’ thing – if so i am sorry – and i hope you can phind it in the wave-or-particle nature of your photon heart to phorgive me, and that we can still be phriends