I’ve been to Germany dozens of times. In my opinion, the Germans tend to be more respectful of authority and less comfortable with moral ambiguity than we. Still, I have never been able to comprehend the atrocities committed under Hitler. Similarly, I’ve had a hard time with those Muslim fundamentalists who do evil, in the name of God.
Some of the comments I've received to my posts concerning the Frisch/Goldstein mess have actually given me some hints that further my understanding of such people. In no way am I comparing those who made comments on my posts to Nazis or Jihadists. But there is a quality in some of the comments that smells of an angry level of groupthink, combined with a sort of litmus test, able to determine good and evil with a certainty beyond question.
Quite a few of my readers argued that if I had received comments similar to the ones Goldstein received, I would feel threatened. Abolutely true. If I received comments like the ones posted by Blackfive, cherry picked and vacuum packed as they were by Blackfive, I’d feel threatened.
But the key isn't what I might feel – it’s what Goldstein did feel. And he said that he did not feel threatened “I don’t feel victimized… I don’t think she’s a threat. She’s more of an object lesson in having too many cats.”
Jamie McArdle wrote me that it was noteworthy that Jeff didn’t contact authorities, or anyone else; that his commenters did. I agree that it’s noteworthy; in fact I think it incredible. If I thought that my child was being threatened, I would call the cops in two minutes. But Goldstein didn’t. Again, in such a situation, I'd be furiously pissed off. Not Goldstein. A few days after most of the vile comments were made and after Frisch offered her “apology” and resigned from her job – Goldstein wrote “Because until now, I haven’t really been pissed…” In one of my posts I wrote in amazement that Goldstein had allowed this to go on for a few days. If I thought that a commenter was threatening my child, I would ban that IP address immediately. But I heard back that Jeff only banned people who made really horrible comments. Which was it: He didn't think that threatening his child was a really horrible comment? Or he didn't think his child was threatend?
This was a game to both Jeff and to Deb. That is why I described Blackfive's comments as cherry picked and vacuum packed. If you only read their comments, they seem threatening. In fact they are only disgusting and vile. Jeff acknowledges that it was just a game for him when he wrote:
"2. I allowed Debbie to continue commenting here because she was threatening to show her ass. Not that any of us wanted to see such a horrid, rippled thing, of course - but, well, we're intellectually curious. And adventurous!
3. She showed her ass. And it was every bit as ugly as we all knew it would be.
4. But no matter. I don't want apologies."
(Jeff can be pretty disgusting himself.)
In the comments section of his July 6 post, she writes that "you think that I am the scum of the earth and the feeling is more than mutual.', and then she compliments him for "just writing a post that disses me instead of just banning my bitchy ass." Goldstein responds by saying "When I'm done with you, Deb, you're going to be an internet verb. Enjoy."
At 12:28 AM on 07/07 she announced her disappointment in not being banned by that point, saying "u win, jeffy baw. good nite." He began his response at 12:34 by saying "I can smell your fear, Deb..."
At 10:09 PM 07/06 he writes: "Aw. I do believe Deb's got a crush on me! Don't despair, though honey - you're like the fifth "academic" lesbian I've turned."
These taunts and dares are hardly responses I would make to someone threatening sexually abuse of my child.
In fact, Deb explains why she is making such odious comments about two hours later:
Jeffy boy Goldstein allowed people to comment on my anatomy, etc. and make veiled threats of physical/sexual violence. He just sat by and watched and laughed... I decided to fight fire with fire and make comments about his "tyke" the same way his pathetic minions made comments about me."
I am not saying that this explanation is in any way a sufficient justification. I do think it's important to note that Goldstein does not ask her to stop, nor to say that he finds her comments threatening. Instead he points out how pathetic he thinks her to be,"how sad."
Throughout these posts and comments, his readers advised Goldstein of the various law enforcement agencies they had contacted because of her "threats" or her "assault." Jeff never asks them to refrain from making such contacts.
On July 7, a friend of Goldstein's, Froggy of Blackfive wrote a post repeating an argument of Jeff's: "Frisch ought to become her own unique internet verb for a deranged troll/cyber stalker." He went on to complain of the "repeatedly and quite disturbing (sic) levied DEATH THREATS against Jeff's 2 year old child. " He updated the post to say he had just talked with Jeff on the phone. After talking to Goldstein, he issued a second update giving out detailed information about her employer and whom to contact to register a complaint. After a lot of e-mails were received by her employer which complained of her making physical threats, some of them threatened to try to harm that employer if she was not fired, she resigned. Later, she said that she had planned to quit anyway.
Frisch's comments were despicable. So was Goldstein's behavior. He could easily have asked his friend Froggy or his audience to not contact her employer. He could have suggested that if they wanted to report her, they should be sure not to talk of threats. He knew that there were no threats. But instead, he let his friends speak of threats and of sexual abuse Any basic, decent citizen would ask people to refrain from bothering the FBI and various law enforcement agencies from wasting their time on "crimes" that had never been committed.
It's my sense that Goldstein is quite proud of his little game of exposing Frisch's "ass." For him to imply that he or his family were somehow victims is a blatant lie.
Hitler made a specialty of laying blame on the other, most heavily on the Jew. He knew that by making public accusations against a group, the mere fact of their being untrue never removed the taint that clung to the accused. It's a talent that Karl Rove, and I fear Jeff Goldstein, have learned well. Jihadists, also, enjoy demonizing their opponent, and blaming them for their own failures. It's this willingness to lie to achieve one's goals that I find so frightening.
She made vile comments. She did not threaten a child.