Out of Their Gawking Minds

by Daniel Foster

I see the folks on the trendy side of the Internet once again consider me Gawkable (must be the three pounds I lost, thanks for noticing!).

It’s not much of a post. This is it in its entirety, referring to my questions for Snowden, below:

National Review writer Daniel Foster thinks that assassinating Edward Snowden would be hilariousDiscuss…

Oh, and discuss they did! Not only on the pages of Gawker, but here as well. My favorite comments are the one that suggests I look like a fat James Murphy (lead singer of the gone-but-not-forgotten LCD Soundsystem) and the one that refers to me as “pseudo-tough guy Danny Boy Foster”.  But others were less creatively unkind, and many suggested, in various ways, that I am a sociopath.

It would be perfectly understandable for any mothergawker familiar with my work to hate me. I did, after all, once write that “Gawker’s imperative role on the Internet is that of the mother bird, partially digesting the work of others with the enzymes of bored irony and the gastric juices of sarcasm, and regurgitating stub articles fit for the consumption of the shrieking, featherless hatchlings that comprise my doomed generation.”

But it’s important to me that they hate me for the right reasons.  That they get me. Sadly, none of the angry commenters seem to understand exactly what it is I find “hilarious” about the whole NSA/Snowden situation.

So here’s a quick primer. I’m concerned about the scale and the nature of the NSA surveillance program. I think it’s unwise and maybe unconstitutional. But I don’t think Snowden is a hero. And his implication that the government is trying to kill him, without providing any reason to think that might actually be happening, is kind of funny to me. That’s what the “jokes” in my post (which probably aren’t my best) are pointing at. Not that I think it would be “hilarious” if the government extra-judicially assassinated an American citizen abroad (Hey, look here, I’ve written about that as well!)

Language is ambiguous. Tone can be hard to read. Context matters, et cetera et cetera. I get it. But it seems clear that if Nolan or any of his commenters had read anything else I’ve written on the topic, they would have gotten the tone of the joke immediately. I’m also willing to bet it would have been obvious if I were a known liberal, or if the words “National Review Online” didn’t appear in proximity to my byline. But the hip tend to think of conservatives in primary colors—crimson-red staters with lilywhite skin and black-as-pitch hearts. We just aren’t capable of shade or hue or, God forbid, humor.