Monday, October 11, 2004

Public Editor Relishes Lofty Position, Irony of Title 

In closing, let’s note the part of this piece that has come to define Okrent’s work for the Times. That is the open tone of derision he takes toward readers who bother him with their e-mails. As usual, Okrent takes sidelong shots at these “irate readers” and their reasons for disputing his judgments .... Okrent began displaying this tone in his fourth column (1/18/04), and the tone has been present from that day to this. By the way: Was there something he might have learned from the “hundreds of messages” he received about the Swift Vets? There is, of course, no way to know—Okrent brags that he has ignored them! Indeed, he hasn’t even read “every word” of the coverage in the Times! Nobody does that, he says.

Dickens invented characters like Okrent, as he strove to describe a world in which idle, privileged, insolent people felt unvarnished contempt for their social inferiors. Okrent strolls straight outta those novels. But make no mistake—powdered people like Daniel Okrent are now in control of American discourse. Lazy, pampered, self-indulgent and stupid, they’ve made a sick joke of your interests for years. At some point, the public will have to find ways to end their control of our discourse.

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