When the hardline feminist Andrea Dworkin died, in 2005, the sex writer Susie Bright offered a comment that resonated with me: "I loved that she dared attack the very notion of intercourse. It was the pie aimed right in the crotch of Mr. Big Stuff. It was an impossible theory, but it wasn’t absurd."

I find this line of thinking is applicable to a lot of provocateurs. Even if they're not making a substantive contribution to serious discourse, there's a role for an occasional pie-thrower. They're offering an expressive gesture about the terms of the debate. I think this is especially true in America, where unruliness is often patriotic.

So I had mixed feelings about Andrew Breitbart, who died early this morning at the sadly early age of 43. I only met him once. He was no doubt an egotist and a bully, at least in public. But insofar as his goal was to expose sanctimony and hypocrisy--well, as this collection of tweets celebrating his death suggests, there's plenty of that going around.

In any case, here are three thoughtful comments (all with varying degrees of criticism of Breitbart's practicies), from Patrick Goldstein at the LA Times, Dave Weigel at Slate, and David Frum at the Daily Beast.
 


Doug
03/02/2012 03:15

I hope the devil checks Breitbart's pockets.

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