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May 28, 2002

A little history In the multi-blog debate over teenagers and sex, blogger Richard Bennett dropped quite a few jaws this weekend by asking, in Benjamin Domenech’s comment section, “Is Glenn Reynolds in favor of teen sex because he gets a lot of it?”

Did Bennett really mean to suggest that Glenn Reynolds, well-known blogger and dad, is a pedophile? In a later post, Bennett insists he didn’t. But Bennett appears to have a history of, shall we say, leaving people with the distinct impression that they’ve been called something vile. Here’s another instance, from Usenet in 1996, of Bennett not-quite accusing someone else of being a pedophile. Here’s another Bennett message from a little later. Readers can draw their own conclusions.

Google Groups is full of history. A simple browse through “Advanced Group Search” on “richard@bennett.com” is illuminating all by itself. Those perplexed to find themselves recipients of abuse from Bennett in his latter-day incarnation as a weblog pundit may be consoled to find that, evidently, this behavior is nothing new. Quite the contrary, it appears to be extensively rehearsed. [08:42 PM]

Welcome to Electrolite's comments section.
Hard-Hitting Moderator: Teresa Nielsen Hayden.

Comments on A little history:

Richard Bennett ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2002, 09:31 PM:

Now I have my own personal stalker. Welcome, Pat, and have a ball.

Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2002, 09:40 PM:

Patrick, is there some reason you're not saying "blogger Richard Bennett" = "Bubbadude"? Not everyone knows him under that name, but those who do will never forget him. The man makes an indelible impression.

I mean, we're talking here about the guy who clocked the single fastest ascent on record from "WELL newbie" to "single most-killfiled WELL user" (going by those WELL users who make their killfile lists publicly readable, which AYKB a bunch of them do). He blew the competition out of the water in a matter of weeks.

I'm just saying.

Anyway, Patrick, you know what your problem is? You're too darned tactful.

Richard Bennett ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2002, 09:43 PM:

Don't be so coy, Teresa - Pat can smear with the best of 'em, and he's just shown his colors right here.

This post is accessible from my blog, BTW - it's an object lesson in the way the hive mind punishes those who don't comply. Pat's making his own web history here.

And we all know about the Wellberts.

Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2002, 09:44 PM:

Scrud! That was fast. He popped in while I was typing.

Richard Bennett ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2002, 09:48 PM:

Pat's "subscribe" feature doesn't seem to be working, so maybe I should offer a little tech support. It's been my experience that mud-slingers like you two are best dealt with head-on. I know you prefer to operate in the shadows, but homey don't play that.

Your move, scum.

Richard Bennett ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2002, 09:58 PM:

Hey Pat - good news bubba, you've been linked by Instapundit!

I guess your little scam worked as intended, so may I be the first to offer my congratulations. This is your first time, isn't it?

Still, you wonder why Glenn has to rely on the fawning mass to do his dirty work for him - it must be his sensitivity that won't allow him to sink so low.

Now how come you don't have any Google history on the guy I was responding to on Ben's site? You know, the one who said "Ben feels left out when people talk about teen sex, cause he wasn't getting any!"

Surely you have a snappy comeback to that, don't you? Come on now, you're embarassing yourself.

Christopher Hatton ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2002, 10:29 PM:

Wow. This is amazing. Calling you a "stalker" because you criticized his behavior (or is it just for reading his blog)? And referring to "the hive mind" like, uh, ever?

Much as he makes one legit point -- if he was responding to someone who said "Ben feels left out..." he might have been attacking that statement by comparing it to one manifestly absurd, viz., the Glenn Reynolds remark -- these other statements weaken his argument. One wonders if his hat is lined with foil...

Richard Bennett ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2002, 10:35 PM:

You make a good point, Christopher - but when people spend hours searching Google for one obnoxious remark from 1996, I have to drop my own jaw in amazement.

The Wellbert story was pretty funny, however.

Christopher Hatton ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2002, 10:37 PM:

One other thing, though, slightly off topic. I don't think someone who has sex with adolescents is a pedophile. A chickenhawk, maybe (I dunno what the straight term is), but not a pedophile.

Real pedophiles are attracted to children (I mean actual children (you know, preadolescents), not the silly "anyone under 18" definition), often without regard to their sex.

When I was a kid, I knew a man in our community who was highly respected, by colleagues and neighbors alike. Wrote wittily, father of several children. Found out years later he was messing with his own daughter. (I don't know Glenn Reynolds, and I'm definitely not (that's NOT) saying anything against him; just saying you can't tell much about someone's private habits from their public persona.)

Avram ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2002, 12:06 AM:

So who's this "Pat" guy the asshole keeps talking about?

Richard Bennett ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2002, 01:05 AM:

Pat owns this blog, Avram. There doesn't seem to be a lot of traffic in this corner, because the hits to my site from this smear are pretty light.

Oh well, better luck next time.

Alan Hamilton ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2002, 02:33 AM:

Avram, I think "Pat" is related to the "Allen" guy I keep hearing people talk about around me.

Scott Janssens ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2002, 09:00 AM:

Mr Bennett,

First, I don't think Patrick measures his stature by the number of hits his blog receives, perhaps you're overcompensating for something. Secondly, I've never been to your site, and after reading your comments here, I don't feel compelled to click-through Patrick's link.

Laurie Mann ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2002, 09:21 AM:

Life is too short to worry about certain sets
of idiots. Thanks, Patrick, for pointing out
yet another blog to avoid, and thanks to Richard
Bennett showing that Patrick was right!

Aaron ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2002, 10:46 AM:

Mr. Bennett's blog (1) is the most aesthetically pleasing site to me and RoboPundit (2) is fantastic!

He's very intelligent and can be funny, but the name-calling is something that he just can't seem to break. No one is perfect though.

1) http://www.bennett.com

2) http://mail.bennett.com:8080/

Richard Bennett ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2002, 02:23 PM:

It's probably not obvious to either of Pat's readers that he's engaging a practice here that's traditional among Wellberts, the BBS where he spends most of his time. When Fredda Weinberg, Greg Palast's publicist, joined the Well, the little darlings dug up her resume and posted her address and phone number to their system. They've also been known to dig around in credit histories and what not, all in the name of what -- "community".


Anton Sherwood ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2002, 04:08 PM:

Has anyone seen Dick Bennett at the same time as Terry Austin?

Mary ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2002, 04:32 PM:

Bennett is a damn smart guy with a real record of achievement, but it appears that he rarely resists the urging of his inner 9 year old to blast insults and call names when he's angry. I don't have to use Google to find out from this comments area alone that:

* Bennett thinks it's amusing to use little nicknames for people such as "Pat" and "Wellberts". I hope he's using them for the annoyance factor (which doesn't seem to have worked yet) rather than because he actually believes these to be witty.
* Bennett resorts to rhetorical overkill at the drop of a hat: a quick Google search is "stalking", comments from several people who are exasperated with his behaviour reflects "the hive mind".
* Bennett draws spurious parallels between posting a few links to public postings archives and displaying someone's true name and address or credit history in public.

And I only had to read his blog over the past few weeks, plus all the usual sites I was reading anyway, to see that he deliberately trolls, disparages others in language both sharp and crude, and walks a fine line between observation and insult, to the point where it seems that fewer and fewer people are ready to give him the benefit of the doubt when he says something like "Is GR in favor of teen sex because he gets a lot of it?".

I did read the statement in context, plus all the associated commentary, and while I agree it would be fair to interpret it as an obviously ridiculous statement that Bennett does not believe is true, and that he posted it as a rejoinder to the "Ben's not getting any" post, it's not the only interpretation that could be drawn.

According to Ben's biography and blog, he's a university junior, a conservative, and someone who has grave concerns about teen sex, although he seems most concerned about sexually active younger teens. I know of a few people with similar views who are themselves chaste or virginal and who make this information known in public.

So when I was reading DS's "not getting any" comment about Ben, my first thought was that Ben was also one of these chaste young adults and that this was public knowledge. (Whether he is sexually active or chaste is not something I have attempted to research -- if he hasn't spoken about either choice, it's really none of our business. Ben, if you're reading this, my sincere apologies if this embarrasses you or puts you on the spot in any way).

I only bring up this topic to give you the two different interpretations that can be reasonably drawn from the exchange between DS and Bennett:

Scenario One:
* It is public knowledge that Ben is chaste.
* DS's statement is a nasty reference to this fact.
* Bennett's response "'DS' apparently stand for 'dumb shit', given the nature of that last comment. Is GR in favor of teen sex because he gets a lot of it?" can be interpreted as "Yes, both statements are true but irrelevant, because both men can think about the issue apart from their own sexual practices".

Scenario Two:
* It is public knowledge that Ben is sexually active, or else Bennett either knows that it is true (from a private communication or gossip, perhaps), or else he simply assumes that Ben is sexually active.
* DS's post is both nasty and false
* Bennett's response is meant to point out the falsehood of DS's statement by making a statement meant to be equally false about GR's sexual practices.

Too bad Bennett just didn't try saying something simple and clear, such as: "That was crude, stupid and irrelevant". But perhaps the habits of years of posting are hard to break, so he went for the direct insult to DS and yet another plausibly deniable slap at Reynolds.

Dave Trowbridge ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2002, 05:23 PM:

This reminds me of the good ol' days on GEnie.

Nice thing about the Internet, though. A trail of slime never dries up, so you always know where to throw the metaldehyde.

Or salt, if you enjoy green foam.

Mark Shawhan ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2002, 05:50 PM:

I have to say, I'm very unimpressed by Mr. Bennett making a serious allegation about the behavior of the Nielsen Haydens without providing any sort of evidence or documentation. Left hanging as it is, his comment about "digging around in credit histories" has the unsavory appearance of a smear. Mr Bennett: would it be to much to ask you to provide evidence for your allegations, or else retract them?

Mark Shawhan

Moira Breen ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2002, 07:33 PM:

Whatever one's general opinion of any of the participants involved in this little spat, it's pretty obvious from the exchange attached to Domenech's post that this time Bennett didn't make the slur Reynolds is attributing to him. Bennett can be a real asshole, and I've told him as much, but that's no excuse for propogating a falsehood.

Richard Bennett ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2002, 11:12 PM:

Mark, if you want to know how Fredda Weinberg was treated on the Well, why don't you ask her? Try freddaweinberg@yahoo.com. She's not expecting your call, so you'll have to explain yourself. Fredda's an interesting case because her politics are as doctrinaire lefty as the N/H's and most Wellberts.

As for the Wellbert practice of invading credit files, you'll have to ask a current Wellbert who has access to the archives to pull the data for you; the name you're looking for is Laura Proctor.

Have a ball, but remember to get back with me on who's the biggest slime in the Blogosphere when you're done researching the facts.

Scott Janssens ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2002, 01:53 AM:

Mr Bennett, no one is denying your allegations that some members of the WELL committed the acts that you claim. What is disputed is your inference that PNH engaged in those acts. As the accuser, it is your responsibility to provide proof of your allegations. Or are we to conclude that you are a liar?

Richard Bennett ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2002, 04:43 AM:

Scott, you can certainly infer what you want to infer and nothing I say is going to influence you one way or the other. I haven't said that Pat & Teri performed any specific acts of creepy stalking on the Well, but I did say the acts of creepy stalking Pat committed - and reported here - are consistent with general Wellbert standards of behavior. Pat spent several hours searching the Usenet archives hoping to find some dirt on me, and lo and behold, he discovered that I taunted somebody seven years ago, for a while.

For some reason known only to Pat, his therapist, and his God, he thinks there's a connection between this Usenet posting and a comment I made to an abusive cretin on Ben Domenich's blog last weekend. Perhaps more importantly, he thinks this remark is more illuminating than the generally bizarre comments made by the speedreading dyslexic, Glenn Reynolds, in connection with the article in US News that several bloggers discussed last weekend.

The conclusion of most of the intelligent people who bothered to actually read the article in question was that Reynolds either hadn't read it or had completely misunderstood it. In order to throw up a smokescreen against such criticism, he cried foul over allegedly "personal" remarks made against him. This man, you will recall, said that anyone who was concerned about teen sex was either a hypocrite or a prude.

So tell me, Scott, what's the relevance of your comment, other than to convey your lack of basic reading comprehension skills to the audience?

Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2002, 06:12 AM:

Whee! Cat fight!

Seriously. Mr Bennett: I'd never heard of you before running across Patrick's blog entry. And I didn't take up the invite to do a google search on somebody I'd never heard of. But seeing your comments in this forum have convinced me that you are, fundamentally, a master of the ad-hominem defense. Really, the comment comparing you to Terry Austin made it all come clear.

I shall continue to admire your weblog from afar; that way I'm less likely to shatter any illusions. Have a nice day, and please don't let the doorknob smack you on the arse on your way out.

Lydia Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2002, 04:14 PM:

Dear Mr. Bennett,

I recognize a troll when I see one.

Dear Everyone Else,

Important Usenet Rule: Don't Feed the Troll.

Dear Me,

Stop it this instant!

Richard Bennett ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2002, 08:02 PM:

Since I don't inherently remember the context of every Usenet discussion I took part in back in 1996, I checked the archives on the message that archive stalker Patrick Nielsen-Hayden dug up and tried to smear me with here (with the full cooperation of Reynolds, Steve Green, and Eric Olsen.)

The point in question was a claim by lesbian activist Carolyn Gage, in "On the Issues" magazine, that "pedophilia is inherent in gay male culture." I pointed out that such a charge, if made by a man, would be condemned as homophobic by feminists, but because it was made by a woman was getting a free pass. When some disputed my charge, I illustrated by calling Jay, a gay man, a pedophile. After I was roundly condemned for that, I withdrew the charge and said my point had been proved.

Patrick N/H brings two turns in the exercise up for examination here, and offers them as proof that I like to imply bad things about people, which essentially proves my point a second time. One of the interesting side-effects of Patrick's smear is that it's brought him favorable mention on blogs that would otherwise eschew his anti-war stance, and from a certain gay blog that you wouldn't normally associate with supporting attacks on Oscar Wilde, Carolyn Gage's chief target.

Which all just goes to show that when you have an Alexa rating of 500,000, you have to try harder for hits. Of course, the most interesting thing here is that Patrick himself can't defend his stalking.

Lydia Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2002, 03:24 PM:

Ok. I can't take it. I know I'm feeding the troll, but --

Two points:

I don't understand how anyone can equate checking past Usenet posts with stalking. That's like saying that looking up someone's phone number in the phone book is stalking. It's just too weird.

Secondly, I laughed like a drain when I read "One of the interesting side-effects of Patrick's smear is that it's brought him favorable mention on blogs that would otherwise eschew his anti-war stance..." I have to assume that Richard Bennett hasn't read any of Patrick's commentary on 9/11 or the Middle East, or Afghanistan. Patrick is one of the more hawkish people I know.

One of the reasons why things like Usenet archives are wonderful is that they can prevent one from making a fool of oneself in such a fashion.

Richard Bennett ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2002, 09:55 PM:

Patrick spent several hours pouring through Usenet postings until he found something he could take out-of-context to win himself a spot in Glenn Harlan Roberts' blogroll.

Let's not kid ourselves - Patrick's blog has a 341,888 ranking by Alexa, and nobody reads it but pathetic PC types.

Laurie Mann ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2002, 08:23 AM:

Life is too short to worry about certain sets
of idiots. Thanks, Patrick, for pointing out
yet another blog to avoid, and thanks to Richard
Bennett showing that Patrick was right!

Richard Bennett ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2002, 06:36 PM:

I've learned a new usage from this discussion:

troll - someone who makes me uncomfortable with my knee-jerk intellectual reactions, received beliefs, and conventional wisdom. Usage: "I can't construct a rational argument against what you are saying, so you must be a troll."

The Internet is so educational.

andrea ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2003, 10:24 PM:

Looks like Richard Bennett spent some time looking your ranking up on Alexa. You might have a stalker!