Jonathan Kay helpfully reveals what we all know already — that not only are these people too stupid to tell us how to live, but that they are craven scum whose professional demise we should hasten and celebrate — but it’s nice to have incontrovertible evidence by an “insider”:
A few weeks ago, shortly after I left my magazine gig, I had breakfast with a well-known Toronto man of letters. He told me his week had been rough, in part because it had been discovered that he was still connected on social media with a colleague who’d fallen into disfavour with Stupid Twitter-Land. “You know that we all can see that you are still friends with him,” read one of the emails my friend had received. “So. What are you going to do about that?”
“So I folded,” he told me with a sad, defeated air. “I know I’m supposed to stick to my principles. That’s what we tell ourselves. Free association and all that. It’s part of the romance of our profession. But I can’t afford to actually do that. These people control who gets jobs. I’m broke. So now I just go numb and say whatever they need me to say.”
My friend’s financial situation isn’t an incidental detail here. Observe the arenas where many of the most vicious Twitter mobbings now occur, and you will find intellectuals who have made extraordinary financial sacrifices to pursue their artistic or activist passions, and whose entire livelihood hinges on a thin patchwork of government grants, modest book advances, sessional teaching contracts, and honoraria from small journals, websites and magazines. Just one wrong Tweet or misplaced open-letter signature can send these people back to a life working for Uber or foodora.
This essay you’re reading: There are probably a thousand other writers in Canada who have some draft version of it on their hard drive or rattling around their brain. The only reason it’s my byline sitting at the top is that, by luck and good fortune, I’ve attained enough financial and professional independence to step outside the system. If I put food on the table from writing BuzzFeed columns, or were up for course renewal at a local journalism school, this piece of writing would not exist.
And now that he’s spoken his piece, he can shut up, too.
Because guess what?
I have never had his, yes, privileges.
I have never had “luck and good fortune,” nor “financial and professional independence,” yet somehow I was able to “step outside the system” who knows how long ago.
This is because I’m not a wimp; have an above average IQ; was raised by nuns, and also, not incidentally:
Because my “entire livelihood” does NOT “hinge on a thin patchwork of government grants, modest book advances, sessional teaching contracts, and honoraria from small journals, websites and magazines.”
Astonishingly, like Kafka, Wallace Stevens and other writers too numerous to name, I have usually had what used to be known as An Actual Job.
I applied for, and received, my last arts council grant about 20 years ago.
My conscience and principles (remember those?) got the better of my greed.
So you are wrong, Kay:
One’s “financial situation” IS “an incidental detail,” and I’m sick of hearing otherwise.
The signers of the Declaration of Independence weren’t risking their (half-assed, white collar, overpaid) “jobs,” but their lives.
I would be here all day typing the names of Catholic saints who were tortured to death rather than deny Christ.
Now, were the individuals Kay is pleading for have either such courage, or at least the decency to acknowledge that they do not, that would be more than something.
But instead, these are PRECISELY THE SAME PEOPLE who are making the world a living shithole, with their junk science, hoax history, craven, cowardly careerism and smug, self-congratulatory, conformist, censorious endeavours.
All wielded against:
People like me.
So it’s too late for apologies or regret.
Just die faster, all of you.