Counting down the top ten not according to Warren Kinsella
In a recent post on his blog, Warren Kinsella outlines his "top ten jerks in the known universe". It turned out to be a very predictably partisan list.
Well, we at the Nexus (of Assholery) would probably be remiss if we didn't compile our own list of the top ten jerks in the universe. After all, considering the blog's name, we should know a thing or two about that topic.
Unsurprisingly, Kinsella makes the list (he's number five). More interestingly, positions one through three proved to be very closely packed. Who managed to take #1? Read on and find out.
10. John Rocker - Just when you thought this washed-up former Major League Baseball pitcher had disappeared off the face of the earth, he drags his racist, homophobic, sexist carcass out of the grave just long enough to savour some sour grapes by helping to bring down Major League Baseball as we know it.
Well, OK. So maybe that wouldn't be such a bad idea. And maybe Bud Selig himself only barely dodged making this particular list himself. But Rocker apparently isn't content to have ruined his own career with his public embarrassment of his sport and mediocre play. He just might bring his sport down with him.
9. Gordon Laird - So far as Canadian political analysis goes, Gordon Laird tends to writes really good fiction.
Laird actually makes this list almost exclusively for his 1998 book Slumming It At the Rodeo, in which he takes various swings at former Alberta Premier Ralph Klein, former Ontario Premier Mike Harris, and former Leader of the Opposition Preston Manning, and the rather astounding lengths which he goes to invest practically any issue with undertones of racism.
In perhaps the most amusing section of his book, Laird relates the story of a Reform party barbecue held during the Calgary Stampede. While himself clearly being an individual who would not be in attendance at the event, Laird suggests that Rahim Jaffer was the subject of various racial jokes which suddenly stopped when he showed up.
Except that Laird wasn't there. And that's a story that would be considered unlikely to be told by those in attendance at that event even if it did happen in the first place. So how is one to treat this alleged episode other than as complete fiction?
The idea that Laird would try to pass it off as fact, despite the episode remaining largely unsubstantiated, speaks volumes about him.
Alberta Politics Uncovered author Marc Lisac would duplicate that very same feat in what basically amounted to an ad hominem attack on former Alberta premier Ralph Klein in the course of his book. Not only is Laird easily dismissed as a jerk for perpetuating that fiction in the first place, but he clearly set a very bad example for other would-be authors.
8. Scott Reid - Mr "beer and popcorn" himself. When he isn't demonstrating his complete contempt for the Canadian electorate or musing about nefarious Conservative party conspiracies while sparring with Tim Powers on Mike Duffy Live, one can imagine he's hunkering somewhere in the basement of the Toronto Star trying to figure out how to do these things even better.
Perhaps what really solidifies his status as one of the top ten jerks in the known universe is the fact that Reid represents everything that is wrong with the federal Liberal party -- he's obnoxious enough to say absolutely anything he thinks his party will get a quick political charge out of, and arrogant enough to think he can do so and be entitled to a free pass.
Why the Liberal party continues to put this guy on TV is anyone's guess, but this guy's more a boon to the Conservative party than an asset to the Liberals.
7. Robert Spencer - Robert Spencer's website, Jihad Watch, has one overwhelming theme: "be afraid of Islam. Very afraid. Oh, and by the way, buy my book."
Of course, Spencer isn't alone in the post-9/11-booming industry of Islamophobia profiteering. But he is the industry leader in cherry-picked examples of the violence he alleges to be inherent in Islam, and in offhandedly dismissing any evidence that suggests otherwise.
He promotes himself as one of the world's top experts on Islam, and that certainly must help to inflate his book sales. However, he's never studied Islam -- his Master's Degree is in the study of early Christianity.
Last but certainly not least, Spencer's work is parroted by thousands of those leading the Islamophobic post-9/11 charge. Not only is he a massive jerk in his own right, but he also enables other jerks to be even jerkier.
Just what the world needs.
6. Sean Avery - Considered by many in the hockey world to be a synonym for "creep", Sean Avery has refined being a jerk to a fine art.
Whether it's cracking racial slurs at Georges Laraque, mocking Jason Blake for his leukemia, or generally running his mouth while refusing to drop the gloves -- unless he holds a serious advantage over his opponent -- Avery is a hockey pest that gives all hockey pests a bad name.
5. Warren Kinsella - It should be far from surprising that the man who inspired this list should make it. While he's been at the forefront of one particular very important social battle -- the fight against racism -- he's also proven to be one of the anti-racist movement's biggest liabilities, as he constantly bends over backward to find any excuse to label his political opponents as racist.
Kinsella is a leading factor in the ficklization of racism as a social issue. While his book Web of Hate reminds us all who the enemy is in terms of the battle against racial extremists, he's proven to be extremely content to undermine that entire battle whenever it might benefit him politically.
But where Kinsella really takes a turn for the irredeemably obnoxious is in the closing pages of Kicking Ass in Canadian Politics wherein he grades the Canadian media of the day -- and indulges his inner political warhorse by giving passing grades to those who support his beloved Liberal party, and failing grades to those who oppose them.
When Alan Fotheringham -- the "wicked wit of the west" and a political journalist whose boots Kinsella is unfit to so much as lick -- rates a mere "is he still alive?", it becomes immediately apparent that Kinsella is barking up the wrong tree.
4. Anonymous - If you were to believe Anonymous in its recently-declared War on Scientology, they're merely a band of would-be online superheroes trying to balance the scales in the name of justice and truth.
But Anonymous has been on the proverbial radar screen far before their recent crusade against Scientology. One particular news story proved to be particularly damning:
Long before Anonymous turned its online sights against Scientology, at the very least, various members were making asses of themselves harassing people who were more or less innocent, and doing it just for kicks.
Meanwhile, their war on Scientology has, even not purposefully, stirred up some predictable religious bigotry against the church. While some members of Anonymous probably legitimately feel very strongly about some of the church's practices, sometimes even the most well-intentioned campaigns can gather some flies.
3. Rush Limbaugh - Rush Limbaugh is only barely not #1 on this list. Limbaugh is an individual who has proven to be so despicable that even those who had decided that they maybe -- just maybe -- like him enough to marry him have changed their minds and thought "hmmmm. Maybe I don't like this guy very much."
His most recent episode suggesting that Michael J Fox was exaggerating his Parkinson's symptoms has provided more than enough impetus to write this guy off as one of the most reprehensible people on the planet today.
He's an individual who will do or say almost anything to benefit his political allies. Unlike Canadian blowhard Scott Reid, however, Limbaugh has never been blessed with the good sense to apologize when he crosses the line -- or even admit he was wrong.
2. Canadian Cynic - By all accounts, this guy could also very well have been number one. He's only barely number two. Like the Nexus' #1 biggest jerk in the known universe, he's a hateful demagogue propped up by an equally vicious and hateful flock of sheep (but more on this later).
Cynic first managed to pop up on the Nexus' radar back in July when he indulged himself in telling Wanda Watkins, the mother of a Canadian soldier killed in Afghanistan "fuck you and your grief". She had the nerve to suggest that the families of soldiers killed in Afghanistan wanted Canadians to support the mission.
Cynic has, under the guise of being "progressive", plied his trade as a blogger by viciously attacking his political opponents, often resorting to ad hominem attacks in order to do so. His blogmates, Lulu and Lindsay Stewart (aka Pretty Shaved Ape) are disturbing in their own right in that they share his hatred of anyone who disagrees with them and his inability to contribute anything of any value to any kind of debate. But they're really just small potatoes.
The seemingly endless ability of Cynic's coterie of fellow hateful demagogues to defend him no mater how many lines he crosses only serves to underscore precisely how powerful a gospel hate can be -- and, sadly, Canadian Cynic preaches it well.
1. Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church - There really is only one person in all existence who could justify pulling down number one on this list. While Canadian Cynic may find himself a little disappointed that he didn't manage to pull in that ignominious honour, at least he can take comfort that it was claimed by someone with whom he shares a lot in common.
Like Cynic, Fred Phelps hates virtually anyone and everyone. And like Cynic, Phelps does absolutely everything he can to convince anyone he can reach out and touch (so to speak) to hate them as well.
In particular, there's each individuals' stance on dead soldiers. Cynic's Wanda Watkins episode has been well-documented across the blogosphere (and within this very post). Phelps, on the other hand, protests at the funerals of dead soldiers. Both encourage hatred of soldiers and their families, but Cynic settles for doing it for political reasons. Sadly, this is what we've come to expect from the most hateful political actors. Phelps, meanwhile, does it for religious reasons, and perverts the meaning of his very own religion in order to do it.
For that, he edges Cynic out (if only slightly).
Then, there's Phelps' congregation. Like Cynic's merry band of sycophants, these are some of the sickest people one could ever encounter. At least Phelps' congregation has a decent excuse should they ever decide to make use of it: most of them are related to Phelps, and as such, their hatefulness and craziness could at least be argued to be genetic.
They're the group of people responsible for this particular artistic "masterpiece":
(On a personal note, I much prefer this:)
Of course, giving Phelps and his flock any attention whatsoever is almost certainly affording them more credibility than they deserve. By the same token, it is important to remind people that: yes, there are people in the world who are so hateful that virtually everyone should be more than a little bit concerned.