A particularly odious antivaccine "warrior" doubles down on her attacks on a 12-year-old boy who made a pro-vaccine video

A couple of days ago, I told the tale of a really bright and justifiably snarky 12-year-old boy named Marco Arturo, who posted a video of himself on Facebook with the caption “Vaccines DO cause autism”:

I know I posted that video just two days ago, but it’s so epic that I can’t resist posting it again, particularly given how it went viral and how its going viral drove antivaccinationists out of their minds. They posted online attacks that included comments like:

  1. “I want to punt Marco in the jugular though honestly. ?“ (As if the laughing emoticon makes up for expressing the desire to kick a 12-year-old boy in the neck.)
  2. “I want to throat punch this kid.” (This is basically the same as saying he wants to kill Marco, given that a throat punch could easily collapse the trachea. What is it with antivaccine nutjobs and hitting people in the neck, anyway?)
  3. “Poor child is brainwashed.”
  4. “The child is a moron, as are the rest of you.”
  5. “This kid is an arrogant dick.”

Stay classy, antivaccine warriors. Stay classy.

The biggest, baddest conspiracy mongering antivaccine warrior of all was a pseudonymous blogger going by the ‘nym Levi Quackenboss, a woman who in attacking Marco Arturo engaged in racism (Arturo is Mexican and Quackenboss can’t believe a Mexican child could be so articulate), attacking Marco for not using his “real name” (a particularly hilariously hypocritical line of attack given Quackenboss’ refusal to write under her real name), and pure, unabashed conspiracy mongering at which antivaccine warriors excel.

Quackenboss latched on to a seeming anomaly in the date on the article by A+ Media featuring Arturo’s video that fueled its ascent into viral awesomeness. That article is dated May 27, three days after Arturo’s video was posted on Facebook. The Google search dated that A+ article to May 24, although more recent Google searches date the article as having been last updated on May 27, agreeing with the publication date. Quackenboss’ conspiracy theory? That A+ Media had already written a post about Marco Arturo on May 24 that was ready to go live as soon as Arturo posted his video. Of course, that leaves out the fact that the video was posted on a popular science Facebook page, A Science Enthusiast, and that the A+ post credited A Science Enthusiast with bringing the video to Lisa Winter’s attention. Basically, Quackenboss labeled this as evidence that Marco Arturo is a tool of...someone. His parents? A+ Media? Who knows? Someone, however. Quackenboss just knows it. So does Forest Moready, who produced this video:

It’s nothing but the same tripe that Quackenboss is pushing, inspired by her “investigation.” Funny, though, that in the face of criticism and some followup, Moready backed off from his claims yesterday on his Facebook page in a post entitled 12-Year-Old Vaccine Boy Update/Partial Retraction:

Here are his retractions:

Here are my partial retractions:

  1. I don't believe the Vaccine video was shot on a professional camera anymore. I believe it was shot on an iPad. I did some eye-alignment tests using the front-facing camera on my iPad Air (shot in Landscape mode with front-facing camera on my left), and looking at the right of the screen to align a paper I was holding produced similar eyelines as the kid. I also noticed the exposure changing whenever he brought in and out the paper- something that a professional camera would likely not do (pro camera operators don't use auto-exposure very often).
  2. I don't believe the APlus media writer knew about the video before it went up. I spoke at length with her, twice over the past two days and she has convinced me she found the post organically through a Facebook group she follows (not a member of) called A Science Enthusiast. She is an avowed Believer, I realize. She could be lying to protect an elaborate PR set up, but I think she is telling me the truth.

The second point is the most important. Unless Lisa Winters was lying to Moready and to various others who have contacted her, both pro-vaccine and anti-vaccine, then there is no conspiracy. By her own account, she wrote her post after having seen it on the Facebook page of A Science Enthusiast. Even given that there is no evidence of a conspiracy or a marketing campaign behind Arturo’s video going viral, Moready still can’t believe there isn’t something going on:

I still believe that there is money behind this kid, that someone is dropping some dosh or working very hard to make him an Instastar. Perhaps vaccines just happened to come up on the radar. Perhaps he will never talk about them again. We'll see. I'm more than happy to have him on my show. We can play Ping-Pong if he doesn't want to debate vaccines. Loser admits the winner is correct in their belief.

The funniest thing about all the conspiracy mongering about Arturo by antivaccine warriors is a misconception on their part. They seem to think it’s easy to make a video go viral, that all it takes is a savvy media company and some money and you can have a viral video. Many are the companies that have tried to produce content that goes viral and failed.

So Moready has backtracked (somewhat) from his conspiracy theory that Marco Arturo’s video was an astroturf marketing campaign in which wily pro-vaccine advocates (funded, no doubt, by big pharma). But what about Levi Quackenboss? Not one to admit a mistake or to fail to dive deeper into the crazy in the name of counterattacking any perceived threat to her deeply held belief that vaccines are dangerous, Levi Quackenboss decided yesterday to double down. She apparently thinks that she’s dropping the mic but not realizing that dropping the mic only makes you look really, really pathetic if you haven’t made your point in a way to shut down your opponent. Let’s just put it this way. Quackenboss’ post, The last word on Marco Arturo, is really pathetic. Quackenboss tries to frame her last word on Marco Arturo, even though it’s the sixth post she’s written about Marco Arturo. She’s averaged almost as much verbiage per post on Marco Arturo as an Orac post. Almost. Does anyone believe that this is Quackenboss’ last post on the subject? I certainly don’t. But let’s pretend that it is, and, pretending that it is, make fun of it in the way that it deserves.

Quackenboss begins by scoffing that Marco’s parents let him run a 55,000 follower Facebook page “where so many people are hostile to him,” opining:

I hope not. I truly hope his parents are running it or his doctor friend who speaks for him all the time. I thought it was age-inappropriate for Marco to reference sex in a guest post about vaccines that he has since deleted, but yesterday I saw another age-inappropriate comment he made about sex and pedophilia, so maybe he just says some age-inappropriate sexual things sometimes.

Wait a minute. A guest post means that the page owner didn’t write it. Be that as it may, even if every word of the disgusting paragraph above is true, so what? None of it implies that Marco Arturo is incorrect about vaccines, and the only purpose of Quackenboss posting those observations is to tell her readers: Don’t listen to Marco Arturo. He’s just a kid who does kid things. That’s it.

Next up, cast doubt:

Do I think that Marco made his vaccine video on his phone? No, I don’t, but he said yesterday in a comment on his page that he used his iPad, which I think he now said might be broken, I’m not really sure, but it was his excuse for not hopping on Periscope and answering questions live. Hey bud, you can do Periscope with your phone.

Anyway, on the topic of where the heck he was looking each time he held up his magic folder, it’s possible with an iPad that he would appear to look way off camera to see the edge of the folder he’s holding, as brought up in the video I shared yesterday.

Do I think Marco knows how to edit video in iMovie? Yes, I do.

I’m sure Marco Arturo knows how to use Periscope. Why should he answer questions live from the likes of someone like Quackenboss, who is too cowardly to ask him under her real name and so hypocritical that she just spent five posts trying to dox Marco and his parents? Arturo doesn’t answer to her. If he’s smart (and we all know he is), he will ignore her.

If attacking Marco Arturo doesn’t work, leave it to Quackenboss to try to cast doubt on whether Arturo’s video was all that popular. The contortions she makes to try to accomplish this are deliciously stupid and desperate, for example:

Do I think Marco’s video has been watched 7,500,000 times? Don’t be ridiculous. Facebook’s default setting is to autoplay and they count a play as 3 seconds. So, make of that what you will but when it was claimed that it already had a half million views by May 27th when A Plus picked it up, there is no way on God’s green Earth that half a million people watched the video– and a media site like Babble should know better than to make that claim.

Maybe half a million people said, “What the hell?” and moved on after 3 seconds but Facebook counted it as a play. If the video appeared in your feed 15 times in a day, Facebook will count you as having watched it 15 times if you didn’t move on in two seconds. Facebook’s embedded video feature is a business tool and Marco (or his admin/s) knows exactly how many people watched the video to 95% completion, so maybe he’ll screeenshot that and share it with us.

Even if all that is true, over 7.5 million views (going on 8 million) is damned impressive. It’s far more impressive a reach than anything I’ve ever written, and I’d bet serious money that Quackenboss has never come close to that for anything she’s written. One can’t help but wonder if there isn’t a hint of envy that a 12-year-old nerdy kid can have more influence than she can. It is difficult for me to describe just how pathetic this woman is, how despicable, how worthy of contempt and mockery.

Perhaps you think I’m being too hard on Quackenboss. I realize that my regular readers probably don’t think that, but perhaps a newbie, someone who’s never encountered the Insolence this blog regularly features, might think that I’m being too hard on Quackenboss, attributing motives to her that she doesn’t have. If you fall into that category, consider this. Quackenboss tried her best to “out” Marco Arturo and his family, to dox them. She published information about where Arturo’s stepfather works. Apparently, though, she’s feeling the heat, because she finishes with a classic “notpology”:

So Marco, I’m sorry if I made you or your parents feel unsafe by posting their names that you do not use and sharing information they made public on their own. However, I have to qualify that with the fact that you gave an interview to Mexican media that broadcasted your full name and the name of your relatively small town, so it does seem that you and your parents are eager for you to become famous and not concerned about your own safety in the least.

And I hope that you do become famous, Marco, but for far better things than insulting vaccine injured children.

Screw you, Levi Quackenboss.

So Quackenboss is sorry that she might have made Arturo or her parents “feel unsafe” by doing a bunch of searches and digging to find public information. Her intention couldn’t be any more clear. She dug and dug and dug to find what she could about Arturo and his parents in order to publicize that information and intimidate Marco into silence, all the while hiding behind her own pseudonym. Tell you what, Ms. Levi Quackenboss. Start posting under your own name, and maybe I’ll view your notpology as something somewhat more sincere. (And, once again, my pseudonym is the worst kept secret on the skeptical blogosphere; you can even find my real name right here on this real blog through a very simple maneuver. So don’t try to throw my pseudonym back at me.) No, the very purpose of her “digging” was to make Arturo’s family “feel unsafe” to the point of shutting him down. Fortunately, she’s failed.

Of course, Levi Quackenboss won’t do anything like that. She’s a hypocrite content to try to dox and thereby intimidate 12-year-old boys.

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I've said it in other places, and I'll say it again here. Quackquackboss is despicable for attacking a 12 year old boy. Her post (the first one - I refuse to pollute my mind with her other droppings) is so full of lies, racism and outright nastiness that if I knew her in real life I'd immediately drop her as a friend. And doxxing Marco and his family is worse.

But, on the bright side - this gives the on-the-fence people a chance to see what little proof the antivaxxers have, and how nasty they are if you disagree with them. Many don't care about other adults, but they do care about how someone treats a child/tween.

Don't worry, Orac, you're not being too hard on Quackenboss. Rolling over her head with a Mack truck would be too hard on Quackenboss. A Hummer would do.

Antivaccidiots generally are too arrogant to believe vaccine science because they cannot fully understand it on their own. Similarly, this person writing as Quackenboss clearly does not believe it is possible for a twelve year old to be intelligent, a prodigy, above average, etc. Remember, to the antivaccidiot, they are the smartest people they know.

MI Dawn@1: Plenty antivax zealots are perfectly happy to torture and abuse their own kids for the cause. Why on their Earth would they think other people's kids are even worthy of living, never mind any respect? Wonder how much it takes before local/federal law enforcement start to take an interest; I mean how many huge red flags are these sickos waving with pride?

As you say, the best response is to hold up these monsters so the whole world can see. Let their own words and deeds reveal their true agendas, and prove how far they're willing to go should anyone, even the children they constantly claim to defend, correct or question them in any way. Because if Quackenboss &co. think it's in any way socially (never mind legally) acceptable to sic their internet mobs on a twelve-year-old kid just because he dares speak truth to their power, I wonder how larger society will respond to these disgusting disease perverts self-outing as malignant child abusers themselves?

@Has

Rolling over her head with a Mack truck would be too hard on Quackenboss. A Hummer would do.

C'mon. We're better than that. Rhetoric of inflicting physical violence on others is what anti-vaccine activists use. I would settle for Quackenboss/Robyn Charron/Robyn Ross/Skye Tormenta/Jordan Baker/Probono eyecandy/Michael Chad (Stay-At-Home Dad)/Doritos Reid/CitizenGACNN/Bobby Dee/Reece Barnett/Johnston Roslyn/Heather Green facing legal action and getting disbarred. (Interestingly, a good number of the aliases she uses can be pieced together from names found in the Emory University donor report.)

Todd W.@6:

Mr Swift is most disappointed in you. Please see disclaimer above.

And to reinforce the point: Our gracious host has absolutely no apologies to make, pre- or post-, for being "too hard" on this appalling poisonous woman. Frankly he's going well beyond being a perfect gentleman (as always), and next to QB's holy army of fecal baboons is so gentle-spoken and forgiving that it's unbelievable to think he and she are on the same evolutionary trunk, never mind leaf.

Ms. Quackenboss considers Marco Arturo insulting autistic children, because he says the thruth, which is vaccines don't cause autism and she is a member of a group that considers autistic children as being damaged?
Let her look in the mirror to see someone who is really insulting to autistic people. Not to mention the damage that is done by members of her group, in order to 'cure' autistic children.

Don't know whether I'm autistic or not, but though I know I'm wired differently, I don't feel damaged. Would I like to be a bit more compatable with people? Yes, but I'm am who I am and even though I sometimes feel awkward, I'm not damaged. Put that somewhere you can see it every day and every hour ms. Quackenboss: 'Autistic people are not damaged'. The only damage done is by people like you who love to see childhood diseases come back, with all the nasty consequences.

OT but CNN just announced Gordie Howe has died at age 88. His maladies were discussed here at length some time ago.

I'm with you Todd. "Has" is doing exactly what the antivaxxers do and it's unacceptable.

Orac, given only the information about "Quackenboss" in this post I would say you are not at all hard on her. I so adore these posts calling them out. Go Marco!!!

Also, Todd wasn't suggesting Orac had any apologies to make.

Is Quackenboss "Erin" from health nut news?

My dissertation was on an invertebrate sea snail and involved the motor control of a defensive behavior that could be classically conditioned. This invertebrate has about 50,000 neurons total. I now feel very confident that Aplysia californica is more intelligent--along with a much higher functioning neuron count--than anti-vaxxers.

By Chris Hickie (not verified) on 10 Jun 2016 #permalink

C’mon. We’re better than that. Rhetoric of inflicting physical violence on others is what anti-vaccine activists use.

Yep. In general, I do not take kindly to even jokes about killing people in violent ways.

Quackkenboss is a deeply troubled psychopath lmao

Wow, if the AV'er spent half the time they spend dousing for 'evidence' of a conspiracy actually evaluating the REAL evidence for vaccination, they might actually stumble onto the truth.

Pretty disgusting they doxed his parents. Who in the hell is so threatened by a 12 year old kid they want to ruin his parents' careers?

Lastly, what a smart and articulate human being. Mr Arturo is going places. :)

P.S. I totally get how easy it is to wish physical harm on these people, but yeah, leave that as the MO of AV nutjobs...

Well I'm certainly not apologizing the most perfect pun of the week. I'm British: you don't get to make a perfect opener like "I'm being much too hard on X" and not expect it to be exploited to death. We didn't beat Hitler with manners, you know. However, I really shouldn't have suggested you go anywhere near the head as that thing's a bloody great block of deadly-sharp flint and indestructible granite, so I sincerely apologize should you futilely wreck your suspension on my account.

"P.S. I totally get how easy it is to wish physical harm on these people, but yeah, leave that as the MO of AV nutjobs…"

Oh dear, this is what I get for forgetting you colonials never had a proper Jonathan Swift; two nations divided by a common language, and all that. When Brits say something awful with a perfectly straight face, it means they're royally taking the piss. Whereas when Muricans say something awful while chuckling jovially at their own joke, they're actually being deadly serious and you really should've ducked and covered five minutes ago cos you're buggered now but good.

I would like to suggest we stop calling this people "warriors". That has very positive connotations, ones they don't merit, except in their own minds. While I may refer to them as "whack jobs" in private conversation, I think more neutral terms like "activist" or "believer" would be appropriate. Even activist is fairly positive but at least it doesn't conjure the imagery of nobility and sacrifice that warrior does.

I always refer to antivaxxers as whackaloons.

Quackenboss is one of the most vile whackaloons I have ever seen and seriously pathetic, she is an adult trying to bully and intimidate a 12 year old. If she did this was in a school or club environment she would be in serious doodoo.

By Kochanski (not verified) on 10 Jun 2016 #permalink

I would like to suggest we stop calling this people “warriors”. That has very positive connotations, ones they don’t merit, except in their own minds.

Apparently you don't recognize obvious dripping sarcasm when you see it. In any event, I plan on continuing to call antivaxers whatever I wish whenever I wish, although maybe next time I'll put "sarcasm" tags around the word "warrior," for those who are sarcasm-challenged.

When Brits say something awful with a perfectly straight face, it means they’re royally taking the piss. Whereas when Muricans say something awful while chuckling jovially at their own joke, they’re actually being deadly serious and you really should’ve ducked and covered five minutes ago cos you’re buggered now but good.

Ah, the "I was just joking" gambit. Lame. You really should stop before you dig yourself in deeper.

https://ethicsalarms.com/2010/02/26/the-dishonest-or-cowardly-joke-excu…

@RPh #12

"Is Quackenboss “Erin” from health nut news?"

No. She's Mrs. Andrew Hurd, aka Robyn Ross, aka Robyn Charron, aka Jordan Baker, aka Skye Tormenta, aka Probono Eyecandy, aka Michael Chad (Stay-At-Home Dad), aka Doritos Reid, aka CitizenGACNN, aka Bobb.y Dee, aka Reece Barnett, aka Johnston Roslyn, aka Heather Green, aka Levi Quackenboss, aka Lazarus T. Jones, aka Byrdie Blu, aka Robbie Rose,aka Trent Goldhammer, aka therobynnest. She's an attorney in Colorado.

By Allison Hagood (not verified) on 10 Jun 2016 #permalink

The first time I came across QB I was absolutely stunned, an anti-vaccine type linked to what they described as a "brief" on "VINDA-autism". I wrote a bit of a rant about it. Then felt terribly embarrassed when I read this:
http://www.healthnutnews.com/exclusive-interview-levi-quackenboss-vacci…
The only conclusion I could possibly draw being that QB was a very amusing Poe, in the style of Landover Baptist Church.
I actually couldn't believe QB was genuine, it had to be a parody of an extreme anti-vaccination crank.
Rather in the way I have seen "Their first injection was a vaccination" parody poster shared in all sincerity as a real anti-vaccine meme.
It's a bit, well...sad to discover QB is real.
Cheers,
Magdalen

Quackenboss gaslit everyone along with Here This Well. They knew they looked numpty after threatening Walgreens.

There is a list of Quackenboss name and alias floating around so she cant be that invisible.

PS I did find out she was/is (apparently) the real McCoy quite quickly...Though my use of parentheses clearly shows I still harbour hopes...

Don't forget that one of the anti-vaxxer mantras is that unvaccinated children are not only healthier, they are smarter than vaccinated kids because mercury. This crops on many of the warrior (gag me) mama sites and is repeated as an article of faith. There is no such thing as a safe vaccine because vaccines damage everyone who gets one, lo unto the third generation, FACT.

Of course they can't stand Marco!

By shay simmons (not verified) on 10 Jun 2016 #permalink

@Magdalen: That's the point of Poe's Law. There is a fine line between parodies of positions of unreason and positions that are actually held, and Quackenboss is one of the many who have erased that line.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 10 Jun 2016 #permalink

I have spent the last 48 hours obsessing over every little detail of this thing and I mean every little detail, down to hair styles and conflicting shirt collars.

I did too and it's obvious now that Marco was facing the grassy knoll.

So Marco, I’m sorry if I made you or your parents feel unsafe by posting their names that you do not use and sharing information they made public on their own. However, I have to qualify that with the fact that you gave an interview to Mexican media that broadcasted your full name and the name of your relatively small town, so it does seem that you and your parents are eager for you to become famous and not concerned about your own safety in the least.

Yes, because every person who has ever been in the public eye for anything is asking for it.

It just occurred to me that anti-vaxxers often instruct their children in the arcane secrets of their lore and occasionally, one of them, writes or creates videos for the parents' group.

So Marco isn't the only one... only the SB one.

Jake Crosby long functioned as the Voice of the Autistic at AoA and related clubs prior to going his own way ( sort of).

Natalie Palumbo as a high school student ( and later as an art school student) wrote articles and made videos for AoA.

One of Cathy Jameson's daughters, Fiona, writes at both TMR and AoA in a strictly the-party-line fashion..( age 13 or so)

Another daughter of the TMs writes for them as 'Trinity' about her experiences as an autistic/ other dx person.( similar age).

AoA featured another sibling, a guy who wanted to be a stand-up comic not sure of his age).

I wonder how being such a rebel works out in each of their peer groups?

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 10 Jun 2016 #permalink

Wait a minute...
Q is a lawyer?
Shouldn't she know better

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 10 Jun 2016 #permalink

Q is a lawyer?
Shouldn’t she know better

From The Devil's Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce:

Lawyer, n. One skilled in circumvention of the law.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 10 Jun 2016 #permalink

Meg, I am quite in agreement with you. They should not be called "warriors". I think the word that comes closest is "terrorists".
Here's the first entry at Dictionary.com: " the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes. "
Here's the definition of domestic terrorism that the FBI and other Federal agencies use:
""Domestic terrorism" means activities with the following three characteristics:
Involve acts dangerous to human life that violate federal or state law;
Appear intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination. or kidnapping; and
Occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the U.S."
Kind of speaks for itself.

By Old Rodkin' Dave (not verified) on 10 Jun 2016 #permalink

Eric Lund:
My edition of The Devil's Dictionary defines "Lawyer" as "A liar with a roving commission."
Either works in this case.

By Old Rodkin' Dave (not verified) on 10 Jun 2016 #permalink

http://lizditz.typepad.com/i_speak_of_dreams/2014/04/dear-parents-are-y…

Prior to attending law school, Robyn earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology and worked for two years in laboratories researching genetic disease. When her first child suffered an injury from vaccines at two months old, her conventional parenting went out the window, and she ushered in a world of organic food, supplements, and non-toxic living. She currently lives in Denver where she advocates for allergy awareness and parents’ rights to make medical decisions for their children without government intervention.

Damn that keyboard anyway!

By Old Rockin' Dave (not verified) on 10 Jun 2016 #permalink

The March post on the harassment of Allison Hagood

http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2016/03/10/once-again-facebook-report…

has closed comments, so I will leave this here.

https://karenvaxblog.wordpress.com/2016/06/10/smells-like-desperation/

How is this happening? How are they gaming the system? It turns out the anti-vaxxers are creating many accounts and sitting on them, sometimes for over a year. They are naming these accounts after actual people–friends of the people they want to attack. Sometimes they use the names of the people they are attacking themselves. And then, using those phony accounts, they report any post using that name. I imagine they have to report quite a few and get their friends, also, to report, until the report sticks.

https://karenvaxblog.wordpress.com/2016/06/10/smells-like-desperation/

Remember SB277, California's new law disallowing any but medical exemptions to school-entry vaccine requirements? It goes into effect July 1.

Well, the Health Officer for Santa Barbara County decided to run a pilot program to evaluate medical exemptions filed for the first time for the 2016-2017. The letter announcing the pilot program has been widely shared by anti-vaccine activists (including Del Bigtree) and a torrent of abuse is being heaped on the doctor.

Charity Dean MD MPH is the public health officer for Santa Barbara County. She is a smart, young, committed doctor who is now receiving Dr. Pan-level vicious, insulting backlash, with anti-vaxxers swarming her FB page and making nasty memes out of her, calling for her resignation and smearing her publicly.

It's gotten so bad that she now has security at the Public Health office and at home.

If Quackenboss doesn't like Marco Arturo's videos and views him as a troll, why doesn't she, you know

ignore him.

Especially when she sees him as "obscure". Because otherwise, she'll probably invite major organizations ('specially those funded by the scary Big Pharma) and they'll fund someone she finds "obscure" and then guess what, he's now another famous person spreading and preaching to this "delusion" that vaccines don't cause autism.

Unfortunately, that would be the smart thing to do. Quackenboss's brain is surrounded by venom rather than cerebral fluid.

By L.G. Mario (not verified) on 10 Jun 2016 #permalink

Ah, the “I was just joking” gambit. Lame.

From Orac's link to Ethics Alarms:

I tend to be in general sympathy with the concept of giving humor free reign. The problem with its application here is that I see no evidence [the individual who attempted the “I was just joking” defense being discussed] was joking.

In has's defense, unlike the AVer's comments on Marco quoted, has can point to evidence of joking intent as the language in #3 is clearly punning on "too hard", as seen by the repetition of the phrase, and the comparison of 'hardness' between the vehicles... In that context, the whole idea of running over LQ with a truck can be taken as parody of the AVer wanting to throatpunch Marco. However, while the pun is clear if attention is called to it, I don't think it's obvious in a quick blog-comment-type read, and my first reaction was similar to Todd's. My eyeball scan skipped over has's 'location' field, with it's explicit reference to Swift's "Modest Proposal" ("selling baby pie"), and I'd guess Todd's did, too.

The Ethics Alarms: post continues:

Even when it is a joke, the jokester is still accountable for how people react to it.

That's a little vague, and I'd interpret "people" as a reflection of the audience in question as a whole. There's always someone who won't get the joke, and will take offense at sarcasm or irony. Our accountability as jokesters doesn't extend to making sure everyone's sensibilities remain unruffled, or that everyone understands that a joke was indeed intended. (I.e., no Orac needn't change his ironic use of "warriors".)

The Ethics Alarms: post also suggests this criteria [I've softened the language a bit to reflect my own 'take']:
"It was a joke” is a poor defense if it wasn’t a good enough joke to compensate for the trouble it causes. That is, I think we can cut has some slack here, but that doesn't let him off the hook. "I was joking" isn't always,/i> lame, nor is it necessarily a "gambit" if you actually were joking. But in this case, as a sometime professional-joke-editor, my assessment is that "a Mack truck would be too hard" isn't exactly a boffo gag, and RI in general and this thread in particular aren't the place for joking about physical violence against specific individuals.

[joke]Given what LouV called Levi's "'interesting' position on sexuality" there was enough trouble with Orac using "hard on" and "Quackenboss" in the same sentence, much less has repeating it twice. And LouV, if you know what position Levi likes, don't tell me, I don't want to know.[/joke]

[sarcasm] That "Ah, the “I was just joking” gambit. Lame." follows "next time I’ll use 'sarcasm tags for those who are sarcasm-challenged" obviously makes the 'lame gambit' line sarcastic (lest the sequence from #21-#22 be irony-meter-breaking hypocrisy)... but then the promise to use sarcasm tags was obviously itself doubly sarcastic, since it was not only disingenuous, but self-provingly so, as it wasn't enclosed in the sarcasm tags it promised to use![/sarcasm]

Todd and Allison have doxed Levi Quakenboss! It's a good thing has lives in the UK, or the Colorado authorities would have to put up truck barriers outside a certain attorney's office.

@Sadmar #45
[joke]But,but, but, I had helpful schematics and everything ! ;( [/joke]

Orac@22:

No, I was using humor to make a completely serious point. And I do take issue with any suggestion I'm pulling the "I was only joking" excuse, because that's precisely what the Levi-style bullies that dress their violence in faux humor do when they're busted, cos they don't have the courage to stand by their convictions. Whereas my goal is to decorate humor in faux violence, because I have the twisted British humor, a great love of the old school Tom & Jerry and Stooges (and absolute loathing of the Reaganite A-Team-ism), and no shortage of hard-won personal experience in how one's willful self-delusion and inability to accept or acknowledge one's own error will not only fuck up one's own life (tough titties) but seriously hurt others too (utterly unacceptable). If you're going to use violence as entertainment (because what does the audience love most?), use it to do good.

So, getting back to the point I tried to make, before we all got derailed into comedy crit (hey, not all mike drops are intentional or good), your criticisms of LQ are so far from being unreasonable or "too hard" that anyone who tries to infer your argument is wrong because you're a big meanie deserves a bloody good bitch-slap themselves, not just for trying to silence your criticism by any way other than bringing the evidence that shoots you down, but for being dumb enough to think everyone else in the world wouldn't instantly see straight through it, other than those just like them who choose to lie to themselves and never self-check or self-criticize just because their ego and religion, social status and even pocketbook cannot take it.

Of course I'm not advocating anyone physically slaps anyone, because - duh - "assault charges"! But if you did, I would vote to convict you; just as if I did, I would vote to convict me. Which is ultimately the mindset that separates 'us' from 'them'. We criticize ourselves first and foremost, and then we criticize others as well, not because we are sadists or egomaniacs who take pleasure in hurting others or acting like we're better than them, but because we're trying to assist them: helping them to recognize and understand their own errors, or at least keeping them from hurting others even if they won't.

Of course, if they've never self-criticized themselves and lack even the empathy or insight to conceive how others' minds might work differently to theirs, all they see is the criticism of them, which they identify as attacks because that's what they would do. But what to do you? Give up (and at least save your own sanity)? Adapt and try a slightly different tack in future (science)? Keep beating the same old same-old, even after it's proven to fail every single time (altie religion)?

So communication, it's a tricky, sticky thing. And sometimes you get it right, and sometimes not so much, and sometimes it falls totally on its arse or blows up in your face. But whatthefuckit, if it paves the way to that one perfect rimshot (or, hey, seed of doubt), then it's worth the cost of the occasional cockup along the way. So yeah, apologies for sticking the slam dunk and providing the AV shitweasels with a nice decontextable tu quoquer via your house, and if bloody SB had a preview or edit I'd have already gone back and tweaked it to (hopefully) disambiguate its intent further, but since it doesn't here's the draft I had before I clicked 'Submit' and immediately reflected it would've been the better one:

Don’t worry, Orac, you’re not being too hard on Quackenboss. Rolling right over her with a Mack truck would be too hard on Quackenboss.

(A Hummer would do.)

Which I trust makes the rimshot a bit more clear. Oh, and even if you still don't like it, as you are completely entitled to do so, at least give us credit for thieving a truck joke from the best.

sadmar@45: "My eyeball scan skipped over has’s ‘location’ field, with it’s explicit reference to Swift’s “Modest Proposal” (“selling baby pie”), and I’d guess Todd’s did, too."

Duly noted. Though the Location field is the natural - and really only - place to put any sort of meta-commentary on the comment itself. What's the pleasure - or barb - in humor when has to spell out the entire answer to you, for fear that making you think for yourself or even do a double-take is going to cause offense?

What can I say? I write fault-tolerant systems. Even if I do botch the main act occasionally, you don't get to question my intent when the backup policy's already spelled it out in advance.

And don't worry, folks, I ain't going to get offended or ticked that you interpreted it "wrong"; it's the nature of art that whatever message or meaning the artist may have intended to convey, and no matter how subtly or blatantly they might spell it out, an audience will always bring its own interpretations, be it through personal preconceptions, or fuzzy reading, or lateral thinking and original creative transformation, or even just seeing instantly the denuded emperor at the center that the artist himself has been completely blind to, whether through overfamiliarity or lack of due attention or whatever.

Still, the 40ft disclaimer's right there in the original comment, so feel free to point it out to anyone else who might have fears, doubts, or even a mendacious eye to opportunity regarding the rest of its text.

And now can we can get back to the actual important point of agreeing what an vile disgusting human being this cowardly Quackenboss has unambiguously proven herself to be.

Apparently the jarring discordance of criticizing antivaxers for expressing a desire to do physical violence to a 12-year-old boy by making a joke involving crushing a woman's head with a Mack truck or Hummer continues to be lost on some here. A shame.

Isn't there a law in Colorado against threatening a minor over the internet?

You may have heard of Jimmy Carr and his "Rape Joke".

Those outraged saw the joke contained a rape scenario within it and therefore it was a joke about rape, inexcusable for very good reasons.

However, those NOT outraged included me who (and this is not the only way to not be outraged) saw it as a vilification of the "But if the popular vote wins it..!" argumentum ad populum argument. Using gang rape as stark reference to no matter HOW many people engaged in this crime enjoyed the act, the very fact that the minority DID NOT is the overwhelming concern, popular request be damned. And, being rape, unlike the "a million flies cant be wrong!" gambit, we KNOW it's wrong to take the majority view in the scenario.

Even if we can't explain WHY. At least to a contrarian with sufficient expertise and the desire to troll over it.

And this has occurred here too.

Has has the right idea that a HUGE amount of this is the different slants of humour, and dark humour being quite a popular (relative to population size) brit characteristic, whereas the USA tends more to the bombastic jovial humour.

That you concentrate on the segment of the scenario is fine. The fact that you ignore there was anything else there is, like those who vilified Carr, is a shame.

Shorter version: "That wasn't at all funny" would have been 100% as accurate and apropriate but would not have had the "I am the moral guardian and you are scum" shaming that was taken.

Query yourself inside the privacy of your own home whether you were looking to shame more than you were looking to stop offensive "humour", and this drove the choice of response you've made.

Shay sagely notes: Don’t forget that one of the anti-vaxxer mantras is that unvaccinated children are not only healthier, they are smarter than vaccinated kids because mercury.

Please stop toying with us, AVers! Bring forth your uber-smart special non-GMO all-organic unvaxxed snowflakes who can smite Marco with just a stare and a sentence. In the name of humanity, I beg you--torturing us with the likes of Quackenboss must stop.

By Chris Hickie (not verified) on 11 Jun 2016 #permalink

In other anti-vax new er..fol de rol...

It seems that Dan Olmsted is gracing us with his theories about why polio was so deadly a century ago.
To make a long story short** was the arsenic in the sugar.

** so far, it has gone on for 7 excruciating episode.
Almost like Adriana Gamondes without the artwork.

By Dencie Walter (not verified) on 11 Jun 2016 #permalink

has, can you see the lights of Beijing from the bottom of that hole?

By Dangerous Bacon (not verified) on 11 Jun 2016 #permalink

It seems that Dan Olmsted is gracing us with his theories about why polio was so deadly a century ago.
To make a long story short** was the arsenic in the sugar.

Geez. He's still going on about that? The first time I saw him spout that nonsensical pseudoscience was almost five years ago:

http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2011/09/23/mark-blaxill-and-dan-olmst…

http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2011/09/28/mark-blaxill-and-dan-olmst…

Yeah right, he has quite a few alternative (to) medicine theories.. At least this one doesn't involve Freud.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 11 Jun 2016 #permalink

My dissertation was on an invertebrate sea snail

Too bad it wasn't on a vertebrate sea snail, for that way lies Nobel speeches.

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 11 Jun 2016 #permalink

I found it most fascinating that so much effort was spent analyzing, theorizing and then attacking Marco and his family in an attempt to suggest grownups/pros did this, not a very intelligent pre-adolescent. There was no argument about his assertions nor rebuttal to them. LQ's blog posts, which are obviously written to the True Believers in the first place, boils down to, "Move along, nothing to see here."

The alarm that a young person posted a video is this crazy on their side reminds me of chicken alarms. One bird sees a stray feed sack blow by and the whole group joins in squawking.

Geez. He’s still going on about that?

It's also quite the just-so story, along with sloppy composition:

"Here we are, then, in June 1915, with arsenic being sprayed for the first time – ever, anywhere, as far as I can tell – on a sugarcane crop. “It may be said that this method of weed control already has passed the experimental stage,' the article stated, “as it has been adopted as a part of the normal field work in the extensive plantation at Olaa.'"

Um, Dan, no, that's why your own illustration says "1913 model." But whatever. Now, what's with the "on a sugarcane crop" bit?

Aren't there a lot of other dots crops that you need to connect?

Has:
"...we criticize others as well, not because we are sadists... who take pleasure in hurting others..."
Speak for yourself.

By Old Rockin' Dave (not verified) on 11 Jun 2016 #permalink

@ MOB #58:
I actually used that phrase in the dissertation and no one ever noticed (including me). As a mammalian vertebrate, I will not soon forget this.

By Chris Hickie (not verified) on 12 Jun 2016 #permalink

It is easier to declare "this system is fault-tolerant" or "this post is funny" than to make a system fault-tolerant, or write something that a broad audience of strangers will actually be amused by. Announcing after the fact, while looking at the ashes, "but I specified the backup system that was supposed to be in place" doesn't help. I read an article several years ago about a plane crash caused by the failure of the plane's "triply redundant" hydraulic control system. In that case, the three control lines passed through the same small area of the plane. A fire somehow started in that bit of a fully-loaded plane, in midair.

The impressive thing in that incident isn't that the manufacturer thought they had a safely redundant design. It's that not everyone on board died, because after that one thing went badly wrong, other things went right: but you don't design your "failsafes" around things like "the weather over the Great Plains in summer will be calm," "there will be a passenger who knows about the hardware," and "the hospital near the airport will be notified in time to have two shifts of doctors and nurses on duty." (The article I read was written by the pilot who landed the plane, some time after he got out of the hospital.)

When you fall back on insulting your audience for being from the wrong culture, even though you knew you were addressing Americans on an American's blog, you might as well just admit that you messed up. Alluding to Swift does not make you a skilled satirist.

When you fall back on insulting your audience for being from the wrong culture, even though you knew you were addressing Americans on an American’s blog, you might as well just admit that you messed up. Alluding to Swift does not make you a skilled satirist.

Exactly. It's more like pure arrogance, as the implicit attitude is that we Americans are just too damned unsubtle, dense, and sensitive to get his incredibly subtle and intelligent subversion of violent threats. Bullshit. Also, context matters. Again, to make a joke about crushing someone's head with the tire of a large vehicle is jarringly discordant in a discussion about people making casual threats of violence directed at a 12 year old boy. And he's surprised that people don't take kindly to this?

There was no argument about his assertions nor rebuttal to them.

Yes, I thought the same. Just goes to show how fragile their beliefs are when a 12 year old on the internet can raise this much hysteria. And it demonstrates that this goes well beyond a discussion of vaccines.

By Not a Troll (not verified) on 12 Jun 2016 #permalink

@ Narad:

Dan is often a source of unintended hilarity.

What gets me though is his inability to consider that he- of all people in the world- might possibly be in error when speculating wildly about the causes of various psychological and developmental conditions which have been studied virtually to death by actual scientists.
Yet HE revolutionises medical science on a nearly bi-monthly schedule.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 12 Jun 2016 #permalink

When I was about 12-years old (8th Grade) my science project was about the atomic bomb which received the most points. But, the Catholic Nuns awarded the 1st place Blue-Ribbon to "The Health Benefits of Acupuncture" :-(

In parallel, the 12-year-old boy's video scores a lot of points but won't get the big prize because vaccines can be scary.

By Michael J. Dochniak (not verified) on 12 Jun 2016 #permalink

Urgh, what a vomitous human being. The notpology reminds me uncomfortably of the way one of my family members with sociopathic tendencies treated the rest of us. I get the same sort of 'yeah, I'm just going to say words to get the heat off me' vibe they gave off whenever someone called them on something they did.

"Has:
“…we criticize others as well, not because we are sadists… who take pleasure in hurting others…”
Speak for yourself."

And this is the "I'm rubber, you're glue".

I believe the truth more nuanced, because if we see something *we don't like* we assume that because *we* are nice and good, then the one who did that *is not*.

And that's easier if we can distance ourselves from them.

Skin colour is an age-old version of segregating "us" from "them", and anything done by the wrong coloured person is evidence of how your earlier assertion ("they're not like *us*") was correct.

And a world where your preconceptions are shown correct is a hell of a lot less scary than one where your preconceptions have to be abandoned: what you don't understand can kill you.

So you don't like what Has said, and now anything said merely confirms what you already think. Even if you can't actually elucidate how that worked.

It IS easier to hate people you see as different.

PRECISELY what this antivaccer was doing to the kid. The doc thought that this boy was BAD because what he was doing was killing kids and spreading autism (as far as their worldview is concerned). Therefore they MUST be a BAD PERSON.

And it's precisely what you did there.

It's easy to empathise with someone we can consider us swapping places with, but when our self-image refuses to accept WE would do that, we throw empathy out of the window, just the same as the most rabid closed-minded bigot.

Leaping to conclusions SAVES TIME AND EFFORT. And frequently is accurate enough.

But empathy is not leaping to conclusions.

Next time try working out why you, keeping all your moral stances and outlook, would be persuaded to say the same exact thing and still be 100% the person you currently are.

That's where empathy lies.

Otherwise it's merely "There but for the Grace of God go I". IOW Self Preservation, and not empathy.

"It’s more like pure arrogance, as the implicit attitude is that we Americans are just too damned unsubtle, dense, and sensitive to get his incredibly subtle and intelligent subversion of violent threats"

Or the pure arrogance that your first thought was 100% accurate about the internal workings of another psyche...

Or that decent people would agree with you and that disagreement must mean being indecent.

"It is easier to declare “this system is fault-tolerant” or “this post is funny” than to make a system fault-tolerant, or write something that a broad audience of strangers will actually be amused by."

Black humour isn't to make you amused.

Indeed the age old job of "Fool" was absolutely the opposite of making people amused, it was a safety valve for discontent with authority in a rapacious and repressively violent feudal system.

Much of the very best humour doesn't make you laugh.

IT MAKES YOU THINK.

Jokes about farting make everyone laugh (IMO even bacteria probably do the bacterial equivalent of a snigger when another bacteria releases carbon dioxide in an inappropriate manner). But it's hardly good humour.

Think of Charlie Brown, or indeed Charlie Chaplin's sad capers that don't merely make us laugh, but make us sad at the unfortunate lives of a fictitious other.

And compare with slapstick that makes fun of the misfortune of others.

Why is it so much easier to laugh at the latter? Which is the best comedy?

Wow: There is nothing particularly entertaining either as drama or comedy in watching a bunch of happy strangers being happy. Somebody has to overcome or endure something to make a story.
The misfortunes of others as humor depend on circumstance. Puncturing the dignity of the arrogant is a fairly reliable laugh getter,
It's also no wonder that "Seinfeld" was such a hit. After decades of sitcoms where everything is resolved in a downpour of saccharine sentiment, "Seinfeld"'s guiding principle of "Nobody hugs, nobody learns" was a breath of a sort of reality we could recognize in ourselves.
The only exception I can think of is when I went through a particularly miserable time; seeing other people happy made me think there was hope that I would be happy again. It helped me greatly.

By Old Rockin' Dave (not verified) on 13 Jun 2016 #permalink

I would like to suggest we stop calling this people “warriors”. That has very positive connotations, ones they don’t merit, except in their own minds.

Apparently you don’t recognize obvious dripping sarcasm when you see it. In any event, I plan on continuing to call antivaxers whatever I wish whenever I wish, although maybe next time I’ll put “sarcasm” tags around the word “warrior,” for those who are sarcasm-challenged.

No, I am not among the sarcasm-challenged. I'm quite aware of your sarcastic intent. Heck, a big part of the reason I read this blog is because you're sarcastic. However. Many, many people fall into that category. The phrase "warrior mommies" or some variant has become common, and is frequently used without an ironic intent. I think that's unfortunate.

I would never presume to tell you what to do on your own blog. That was not my intent. I was making a more general suggestion. Labels affect perception.

"Context matters" is kind of an understatement. There's a lot that goes into the context of any utterance, and taken together, all those contextual factors are pretty much determinative of what that utterance means, and how it functions.

to make a joke about crushing someone’s head with the tire of a large vehicle is jarringly discordant in a discussion about people making casual threats of violence directed at a 12 year old boy.

Nope. It's not discordant enough. That is, in the larger context here, crushing someone’s head with the tire of a large vehicle doesn't 'read' as a joke. Black humor would be appropriate here if it came off as has apparently intended it: as satire of the threatening language directed at Marco.

Rather than trade accusations of arrogance, lets leave attempts to read personality out of it, and intent as well, and look at why the Mack/Hummer joke didn't work.

If you cop material from a Bill Hicks monologue, the notion that Americans don't do or appreciate dark humor evocations of violence is strictly 'that dog don't hunt'. So what's the difference between Hicks' joke as has's? Hicks was giving a comedy performance to an audience who attended at least with the expectation that he would be saying funny things, and most of whom likely knew his reputation, style, comic persona, thus giving them a clear context of interpreting anything he said as satire. Furthermore, the individual 'laugh lines' aren't isolated utterances, but woven into a longer rant that sets them up with a quite precise frame. They're not meant to work as one-liners. They're also not meant to work as text-on-a-page. The doesn't just accept the utterance as satire because it comes under the rubric of 'comedy show'. The humor is dependent on the non-verbal cues of persona and delivery: tone of voice, vocal inflection, comic timing, facial expressions, gestures and body language, costume, etc. etc.

In contrast, has dropped the 'truck joke', with only an oblique reference to Swift, into an internet comment thread about a highly contentious social issue. Which is to say, he dropped trash into a sewer. The norm on Web threads generally is that lots of folks make nasty disgusting comments they very much mean to be nasty and disgusting. The norm here on RI is also primarily serious and relatively strident. This isn't 'Deadspin'.

What then is required for a joke here to be perceived unambiguously as a joke – be it either 'just for the lulz' or Foole-ery that "makes you think" and swallow your nerves rather than laugh? The baseline way utterances are interpreted is defined by audience expectations established by the conventions of the situation or form. In order for an utterance to be interpreted outside of those conventional expectations, it must be clear as a bell that those conventions are being violated. This is what I call The Principle of Deviation. A small difference will be perceived as no difference, or an error. Go big enough, though, and 'this is something else' become hard to miss. (I used to tell my students one jump cut is always a mistake, but three jump cuts in a row is a style.)

The truck joke fails because it's not funny, even with the clarifying punctuation has offered at #48. It's not funny in large measure because using a truck to crush the head of an opponent in the vaccine wars isn't different enough from the rhetoric that fills this arena sans humorous intent to be recognized as meta-commentary on that rhetoric.

Which goes to another problem with has's joke, a factor that would make even a more absurdly over-the-top and off-kilter invocation of violence unfunny if directed at Quackenboss. All she did was call Marco's YT persona a "little prick", and suggest his parents were the true authors of his videos. Nothing, I repeat nothing, in any of her posts on Marco advocates violence or even remotely suggests he or his family would be appropriate targets for violence. The violent rhetoric directed at Marco appeared on FB, and is absent even in the long comment threads beneath her posts. Lots of the usual insult trading and argument over vax 'evidence', very little about Marco, actually.

Satirical violent language would need to be aimed at the sources of the not-satirical violent rhetoric: the FB commenters, not Quackenboss. She's just slinging insults and conspiracy theories, and not suggesting any course of action whatsoever. So, a joke based on 'being too hard on Quackenboss' would have to be eschew the quasi-pun of physically hard objects landing on her, and stick to inflating the figurative 'hardness' of insults and conspiratorial accusations. Given that Orac has already called LQ a cowardly, craziest-of-the-crazy, despicable, disgusting, odious, pathetic, vile prick, that might be a challenge, but, being a Brit and all [ ;) ] I'm sure has could come up with something.

Or, perhaps, he could turn the phrase from Quackenboss to the FB a-holes: e.g. 'I wouldn't say you're being too hard on Quackenboss, but I'm wondering what would make for being to hard on the cowardly, despicable, odious, pathetic prick who wrote “I want to throat punch this kid” on a public forum. I'd say dropping Pike's Peak on his head would be too hard. Dropping Levi Quackenboss on his head would do.' (Thanks! You're a great audience! I'll be here the rest of the week.)

Narad -- thanks for your observation. sugarcane is a two year crop in hawaii and takes quite a while to harvest. so if they started in 1913 with the arsenic treatment i'm thinking they ended up with their first arsenic-treated crop in 1915.

By Dan Olmsted (not verified) on 15 Jun 2016 #permalink

i'm not too sure about sugar beets either! i'm glad to be a source of hilarity, unintended or otherwise, to denice. it's lacking in our world....

By Dan Olmsted (not verified) on 15 Jun 2016 #permalink

In reply to by Chris (not verified)

Mr. Olmsted: "i’m not too sure about sugar beets either!"

Obviously we need to heed the advice of a former journalist versus a professor of horticultural science. That is why you are hilarious.

Almost as hilarious as candy companies creating more environmental problems for "sugar purity." Sucrose is sucrose.

I just got back from an exhausting episode of choosing the wrong public-transit route, but before I go over this, I'll go ahead and pose one question:

Dan, did you ever reply directly to the assertion by Danchi (a/k/a "elnura") in the comments to one of the more recent entries in this saga that there's no proof that poliovirus even exists in the first place?

Hi Narad, I didn't respond to that comment, no.

By Dan Olmsted (not verified) on 15 Jun 2016 #permalink

In reply to by Narad (not verified)

@ Dan Olmsted:

Although I am often highly entertained by your speculation, I would be much more pleased with you if you took a few life science related courses at your local university.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 16 Jun 2016 #permalink

Denice, I remain pleased that you are highly entertained. I fear that exposure to actual experts might reduce my ability to amuse, so I'll avoid it for now.

By Dan Olmsted (not verified) on 16 Jun 2016 #permalink

In reply to by Denice Walter (not verified)

"The only exception I can think of is when I went through a particularly miserable time; seeing other people happy made me think there was hope that I would be happy again. It helped me greatly."

Indeed, it can work that way, but (and here is where people often get it wrong and go "Cheer up, mate!" at the wrong time, place or person) it has to be based on the person who is in a bad way.

Hell some women who have been sexually abused have found release taking the piss out of the situation they found themselves in. Minimises the trauma or horror? Yup, that's how it works. Make light of the issue and as long as the victim isn't made smaller too, they end up bigger than the problem and can overcome the past to make a future.

The basis of a lot of black humour in really desperate times.

Or as was put lightly in a pop song a long time ago: you have to laugh, in case you cry.

"an audience who attended at least with the expectation that he would be saying funny things"

Not those going to their second Hicks' stand up routine. Saying them in a humourous way, maybe. Which frequently DID NOT HAPPEN.

cf the "If you're in marketing, here's a bit of advice for ya right here. kill yourself. No, really, I'm not kidding, kill yourself".

Where it stopped being threats was when it was not believable AS a threat from him. When it started being a comedic act was when you released the frustration and laughed at the anger you yourself were feeling, even if unacknowledged.

Hicks was very much the 20th century Fool.