Give her a little grace

Apropos of dpm’s post on Bill Keller’s latest…Keller just doubled down with the condescension:

I think some readers have misread my point, and some – the most vociferous – seem to believe that anything short of an unqualified “right on, Lisa!” is inhumane or sacrilegious.

This shouldn’t have to be said, but…cut her a little fucking slack, she might be dying. Yes, anything short of “good luck to you” is indeed inhumane and sacrilegious.

Corey Robin points out that Keller had quite a different reaction to his buddy Chris Hitchens’ very public battle with cancer:

[H]e is dying of esophageal cancer, a fact he has faced with exceptional aplomb.


Christopher Hitchens: American patriot. We’ve done a lot worse.

Anyway, every time our overlords tell us “Shut the fuck up and die, plebe”, the guillotines get closer.

109 replies
  1. 1

    Hitch was always good for a drink. This chick’s got nuthin.

  2. 2
    gogol's wife says:

    What a creep! As I mentioned below, this is the same guy who thought that an appropriate column about Mandela right after his death was to disabuse us all of the notion that Mandela was a saint, and to retail some anecdotes about his vanity, etc. It turned my stomach.

  3. 3
    Tom Levenson says:

    There is so much fail in the Kellerdammerung. I’m so filled with rage on this one (personal reasons) that I’ll probably commit some classic Balloon Juice overkill with a rant tomorrow. Short form of one of my many peeves with all this: if the New York Times dies anytime soon, one of the reasons will be its willingness to tolerate any random bullshit from its sacred columnists.

  4. 4
    HinTN says:

    Wait, Hitch was a citizen? Oh wait, none of those patriots were citizens.

    /resumes snoring

  5. 5
    WereBear says:

    The condescension. It’s viscuous.

  6. 6
    HinTN says:

    @Tom Levenson: I look forward to the long form.

  7. 7
    JPL says:

    My brother died of cancer a little of a month ago and he lived until he died. I know that sounds odd but he really did and if Keller doesn’t understand that, then he doesn’t have a heart. Keller’s column this morning actually helped me because I was able to look back on the last year of my brother’s life and finally let my emotions flow. I don’t understand the Keller’s of the world who think they can callously write articles that incur wrath on others, but maybe I don’t have to. Maybe my job is to give hugs when I can.

  8. 8
    beltane says:

    Bill Keller: American monster. We’ve done a lot better.

  9. 9
    JPL says:

    @Tom Levenson: When I read Keller’s comment this morning, it upset me on a level that I couldn’t comment on their site. Friends of mine understood what that meant.

  10. 10
    chopper says:

    yes, but hitch was his friend. That means it affected him personally. So it’s okay.

  11. 11
    beltane says:

    Bill Keller is basically trolling a terminally ill woman. It’s hard to imagine anything lower than that but I’m sure he’ll think of something.

  12. 12
    Starfish says:

    @Tom Levenson: Promises. Promises. Who will read Megan McArdle so we don’t have to?

  13. 13
    LanceThruster says:

    The GOP health plan (hurry up and die!) is based on the notion that the deceased will be in a “better place.”

  14. 14

    When the best you can do is take exception to the fringiest subsection of your opposition, you’re losing. Desperation pivot is desperate.

  15. 15
    Aji says:

    From Sullivan:

    It suggests that Mr. Keller didn’t make a full effort to understand the point of view of the person he’s writing about on the very big and public stage that is The Times.

    No, what it suggests is that Mr. Keller, like his wife, is himself a malignant asshole.

    Bill: Fuck you, and your little wife too.

  16. 16
    notorious JRT says:

    As I read the Wonkette article, for the first time in the many months since completing active treatment for breast cancer, I felt as scared and alone as I felt the day I was diagnosed. I a m guessing the Kellers have been fortunate enough not to have been in that place. Dealing with cancer was lonely and singular for me. The knowledge that I did not dodge that bullet walks with me every day. It is hard enough making choices that all seem at once a Hobson’s and a lifeline. DIAF, Bill and Emma, That is how your useless rants have made me feel. God / pasta speed Lisa & family.

  17. 17
    Gex says:

    My favorite part of reading Cory Robin’s tweet:

    SandraN: “not a Hitchens fan but he didn’t blog nearly every day about his illness in every minute detail”
    CoryRobin: “No, he just wrote about it frequently, at great length, and in very high-profile places.”
    SandraN: “did he? honestly don’t recall-then I stand corrected”
    SandraN: “I paid very little attention to what Hitchens wrote in his last yrs”

    I have no idea why someone would feel the need to assert a fact that they don’t really know. But I’m pretty certain this is what fuels the Internet and keeps it running.

    ETA: I mean, isn’t that even a little bit embarrassing?

  18. 18
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @beltane: There are terminally ill children.

    “The kid hasn’t been around very long so people can’t be too attached to it. They can just make a new one.”


  19. 19
    beltane says:

    @LanceThruster: If they really thought the deceased were going to a “better place” they would go to great lengths to prevent anyone from dying. How dare the moochers and takers go to a better place, such an outrage cannot stand.

  20. 20

    OT but Jonathan Karl has a tremendous sad that the O admin is “kicking Christie when he’s down” with the Hurricane Sandy probe.

  21. 21
    Violet says:

    @notorious JRT: I think Lady Keller did have breast cancer. So how the hell she gets off telling someone else how to live their experience of cancer is mind boggling.

  22. 22
    kdaug says:

    Torn. Wish the Kellers a speedy journey to a better place, but the NYT a reforging and rising.

  23. 23
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @ranchandsyrup: That’s not kicking him when he is down; it’s throwing him an anvil. Karl should get his cliches right.

  24. 24
    MTmofo says:

    The she Keller piece has been taken down at the Guardian.

  25. 25
    gratuitous says:

    I will decline to click on Mr. Keller’s justification, as the quoted excerpt sounds particularly whiny in a way that would cause a spoiled three-year-old to stop for a moment and intone, “Dude!”

    Can someone with a stronger constitution than mine share with us the point that Mr. Keller says was so badly misread?

  26. 26
    Aji says:

    @Violet: Well, if so, that explains a lot. There is very definitely a certain class/category of person who thinks that whatever they went through WRT a given experience is Teh Worst Possible Scenario Evar, and no one else could possibly have it worse. And they, due to their position of great wealth and privilege and biological luck nose-to-the-grindstone efforts, honest sweat of their brows, and sterling good character, made everyone else’s lives hell with their constant whining weathered the storm like champs without inflicting it on anyone else in such an . . . unseemly fashion. Ergo, anyone who talks about their own experiences in a way that suggests it might be a teensy bit worse is simply a nasty, low-class attention whore.

    IOW, your average Villager/Republican. But I repeat myself.

  27. 27
    aimai says:

    @JPL: I want to reach through the screen and give you a big, big, hug. I can’t imagine what you are going through. Or rather, I can. Grief comes in waves, in my experience of the loss of my sister, my grandparents, my niece–its possible to forget and then to have the reality crash in on you in new ways, knocking you off your feet and leaving you gasping for breath. Two things moved me to tears, even years after the losses–Warren Zevon’s song “Keep my in your heart for a while.” (I apologize for the advertisement that youtube sticks in front of this). And Vice President Biden’s incredible speech to the families of the veterans.

    Anyway, huge, huge, hugs to you and your entire family.

  28. 28
    Ash Can says:

    I don’t even know who the fuck these Keller people are, let alone why they have writing gigs.

  29. 29
    aimai says:

    For some reason I’m in moderation for a post linking JPL to a song and a speech by Joe Biden, can someone get me out of mod hell?

  30. 30
    The Other Chuck says:

    “We’ve done a lot worse.”

    Yes, that would be you, Bill.

  31. 31
    geg6 says:

    What hateful, horrible people. Don’t believe in gods, but I’d sure like it if karma was a real thing. Just so people like the Kellers could experience it.

  32. 32
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @gratuitous: The link above is to the NYT public editor’s column.

  33. 33
    Mike E says:

    Mom had breast cancer, then, a few short years later, got leukemia and I watched her die from complications due to the treatment. 26 years ago. On my birthday.

    I sooo really want to kick the entire Keller family in the taint. Repeatedly.

  34. 34
    MTmofo says:

    @MTmofo: Shudda grabbed this first.

    “This post has been removed pending investigation.”

  35. 35

    @Omnes Omnibus: LOL. Anvil indeed. Can we get some tumbrels?

  36. 36
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @MTmofo: You can access it through a link in the NYT PE’s column linked up top.

  37. 37
    LanceThruster says:


    Good point. If they let in the unworthy, heaven will be all, “There goes the neighborhood.”

    Who knew you could bring your hatred with you to the afterlife?

  38. 38
    pete says:

    @Aji: I’m pretty sure that’s about the closest the official Public Editor can get to writing “fuck you” …

  39. 39
    👾 Martin says:

    Hitch could pay his bills. Lisa is just running up the cost for everyone else and then bragging about it publicly.


    Also, too. The theater shooter in Florida was a retired police officer. These things never happen with responsible gun owners.

  40. 40
    Roger Moore says:


    Wish the Kellers a speedy journey to a better place

    A more appropriate place, I can buy, but a better place? Let’s just say I won’t be too upset when they go to their eternal reward.

  41. 41
    LanceThruster says:

    @👾 Martin:

    Respect my authoritah!


  42. 42
    Aji says:

    @Roger Moore: Better for all the rest of us, I think he means.

  43. 43
    Omnes Omnibus says:


    I’m pretty sure that’s about the closest the official Public Editor can get to writing “fuck you” …

    In polite-speak terms, I thought the PE’s column was very harsh.

    I don’t make a practice of commenting on whether or not I agree with columnists, or whether or not I like their columns in general or on a particular day. That may have to do with David Brooks on pot-smoking or Maureen Dowd on Chris Christie. That’s pretty clearly not my job as public editor.

    In this case, I’ll go so far as to say that there are issues here of tone and sensitivity.

    In addition, Mr. Keller’s views here fall within what journalists would call “fair comment” only to the extent that they are based on facts. A line often attributed to Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the former New York senator, makes this point well: “You’re entitled to your own opinion; you’re not entitled to your own facts. “

    There is a definite element of “What the fuck is wrong with you?!” in there.

  44. 44
    Punchy says:

    Bill’s wife is having a hard time hearing his point. Indeed, Helen is speechless. Damn fool can’t make anyone happy….

  45. 45
    slippytoad says:

    I sense in the Kellers’ concern-trolling something that lies at the loathsome root of everything I can’t stand about right-wingers (which based on his sociopathic inability to apologize seems to just about figure Mr. Keller):

    Hey! Mind Yer Own Damn Business


    If You Can’t Say Something Nice, Don’t Say Anything At All

    These are basic rules of thumb that make for a civil society, that a certain shall we say ‘class’ of Americans just can’t abide by. Can’t get their noses out of everyone’s bedroom, can’t let alone someone who is just doing what they’re doing, even if it’s something so personal as dying.

    Some folks were just not raised properly I think.

  46. 46
    Tom Levenson says:

    @MTmofo: Idiocy on the Internet is forever. Emma Keller’s stylings can be found here.

  47. 47
    bemused says:


    Another tweet called it a “weird psychodrama” which describes the Keller’s obsession quite well.

  48. 48
    Ruckus says:

    I’ve posted here before that my sister died from breast cancer. She spent 6 years, beating it twice but the third time got her. My reaction to either keller’s bullshit is they can DIAF. I’d suggest that they both get cancer and die but I’m not nearly as inhumane as them. They are pompous, arrogant fucks though.

  49. 49
    kdaug says:

    @Aji: Point taken. I should have put it in quotes.

  50. 50
    Rob_in_Hawaii says:

    Guess Keller & spouse believe they’re speaking truth to power. Or something.

  51. 51
    Annamal says:

    There are very real and important (and painful) discussions to be had about palliative care and heroic measures but trying to have them at the expense of an individual is unpleasant and mean and profoundly stupid.

    The Kellers have now made it harder for people to have those conversations.

  52. 52
    shelly says:

    The GOP health plan (hurry up and die!)

    I guess Keller is one conservative who wouldn’t have a problem with Death Panels.

  53. 53
    aimai says:

    Look, basically, both the Keller’s were looking around for columns to write and were on deadline. Mrs. Keller was bitchily and voyeuristically obsessed with another cancer survivor/struggler and wrote out of her jealousy of a better writer with a more interesting struggle and a more active followership. She got lambasted and her husband, still looking around for a topic and still on deadline, picked up where she left off and thought the entire world would be interested in hearing his and his wife’s breakfast table musings about life and cancer and all that. They never, ever, thought that either Lisa or her readers, or their readers for that matter, didn’t need Keller-style-morality-pundit-lectures about how to think about cancer, or Lisa’s tweets, or anything else. Both essays are written in an almost archaic “let me translate this for you, my readers, from popular “event” to intellectual topic.” They are really shocked, I think, to have the mass of protoplasm that they consider their readers actually speak back.

  54. 54
    Aji says:

    Schadenfreude. It’s what’s for dinner. I give you the marital history of Bill Keller and Emma Gilbey Keller.

    Now, normally, I don’t give a shit about people’s love lives, or sex lives, or marital infidelities, or extramarital conceptions, or what have you. People are human, they make mistakes (or sometimes not mistakes), shit happens, we’re all adults here.

    But as soon as you start waving around the “ethics” of a dying woman talking about her situation all while you’re obsessively stalking her Twitter feed, quoting her publicly without her knowledge or consent, and dumping on her via international media platforms, sorry, dears – your every fucking foible just became fair fucking game.

    These really are bad people.

  55. 55
    WereBear says:

    It suggests a serious inability to grapple with these issues. Did they not handle family struggles over just these issues very well?

    Or are they just bitchy snobs?

  56. 56
    shelly says:

    These are basic rules of thumb that make for a civil society, that a certain shall we say ‘class’ of Americans just can’t abide by

    As Jimmy Durante once said, ‘Why can’t everybody leave everybody else the hell alone.’

  57. 57
    Aji says:

    @bemused: Oh, I wasn’t complaining. Just clarifying how I interpreted it. It’s all good.

  58. 58
    bemused says:


    Oh, I didn’t think you were complaining at all. I enjoyed the tweets as well.

  59. 59
    Ruckus says:

    It is a shame when one’s lessers actually lack the timidity to tell their betters to fuck off. I mean what is this world coming to if money and power can’t buy one the undeserved admiration and devotion of the masses.

  60. 60
    Cassidy says:

    @slippytoad: The only thing that makes a civil society is guns. /wingnut

  61. 61
    rea says:

    Do not go gentle into that good night.
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

    But don’t do it on social media, or you’ll offend the Kellers.

  62. 62
    shelly says:

    Idiocy on the Internet is forever. Emma Keller’s stylings can be found here.

    I just don’t get the point of Ms. Keller’s column. She acknowledges that Lisa’s tweeting and blogging helps distract her from her constant pain, and helps her feel connected and less alone for a moment. So what is she complaining about? The number of the postings? It’s weird that she’s totaled them all up. That this daily revealing of her condition is somehow unseemly? “It’s just not done, Darling.”

  63. 63
    TS says:

    Maybe I’m missing the point – but this seems to be based on the GOP concept of health care – just go away and die – we don’t want to know about it – and we don’t want to pay for it

  64. 64
    beergoggles says:

    I wish Keller would follow his own logic and get cancer so he can shut up.

  65. 65
    Gex says:

    @JPL: My condolences on your brother. (((hugs)))

  66. 66
    GHayduke (formerly lojasmo) says:


    isn’t that a bit embarrassing?

    I don’t know.

  67. 67
    wmd says:

    Give her a “coup de grace” is more like Keller’s sentiment.

  68. 68
    Ahh says fywp says:

    Britboy Hitchens is America’s Patriot?

    Brought to you by Irish Need Not Apply, English Only, and tge Colored Waiting Room.

  69. 69
    Citizen_X says:

    [Hitchens] is dying of esophageal cancer, a fact he has faced with exceptional aplomb.

    That’s a funny way to spell “the same way as everything else in life: by getting pie-eyed drunk,” but that’s just me.

  70. 70
    Judge Crater says:

    Solipsism, when practiced by the elites (Keller, his friends, the villagers of DC) is treated reverently. Their anguish and struggles are given Shakespearean import. The lives of the rest of us are simply “data” which can be used for debate, or for filler for long-winded columns that are both vacuous and offensive.

  71. 71
    Roy G. says:

    That’s what happens when you run out of hippies to punch. For their own good of course.

  72. 72
    JasperL says:

    The part of his article that got me was this:

    Her relationship with the hospital provides her with intensive, premium medical care, including not just constant maintenance and aggressive treatment but such Sloan-Kettering amenities as the Caring Canines program, in which patients get a playful cuddle with visiting dogs. (Neither Adams nor Sloan-Kettering would tell me what all this costs or whether it is covered by insurance.)

    OK, the cost of treatment in the final stages of disease is a legitimate societal concern. But 1) he implies that her “relationship” with the hospital is somehow illegitimate and because of it she gets special care. If he wants to imply that, he damn sure ought to back it up with facts.

    2) What her particular treatments cost and whether and to what extent they’re covered by insurance is none of his (or our) f’ing business.

    3) And he whines that she not only got treatment BUT ALSO “AMENITIES” like visits from dogs!! A person has to be a special kind of evil to worry publicly about those kinds of costs, and who pays them. It’s at that point I quit trying to understand his point and just said “F you. DIAF asshole.”

  73. 73
    WereBear says:

    @JasperL: Especially since therapy dog visits are almost always volunteers who bring their own dogs.

    There are no costs involved to the hospital, insurance, or anyone else.

    It’s a “goodness of the heart” kind of thing. It’s obviously alien to the likes of the Kellers.

  74. 74
    shelly says:

    amenities as the Caring Canines program,

    Sweet Jeebus, he makes it sound like patients are getting free Swedish massages and chocolate fondue parties. Someone should enlighten him that these therapy dog programs are almost always run by volunteers, who train their dogs at their own expense. They do it cause they see how it is for patients to have a bit of normality and pleasure visiting with these dogs.

    (Beat me to it, Werebear. If I was more mobile, I’d get my sweet Katie into the therapy dog program)

  75. 75
    shelly says:

    Her relationship with the hospital provides her with int

    And……I guess he suspects she has this secret deal promoting the hospital so us average joe’s will try and get cancer so we can go there and have the same sweet-sweet care.

  76. 76
    SiubhanDuinne says:


    {{{{{backatcha my friend}}}}}

  77. 77
    Mike with a Mic says:

    Oddly enough I met Hitch, though I don’t know him. I ran into him at the PNC bank in Dupont while handling various issues for work.

    This short, hunched over, and oddly disheveled man was hurling insults at everyone who worked there. Really nasty shit as well and ranting on about how all his time in the Gaza Strip he’d never had problems. He was an utter ass, obviously drunk, stank to hell, and generally seemed like hobo rather than the upper class you see in that area. It took me a moment or two to realize who the fuck he was. Up till that point I’d generally thought highly of the man. I knew he was a jackass, but I had no idea just how much of a wreck he actually was. At the end I just felt sorry for him.

    He wasn’t very dignified at all, seemed like a run of the mill drunk.

  78. 78
    Mnemosyne says:


    Per Wikipedia:

    Tobacco smoking and heavy alcohol use increase the risk [of esophageal cancer], and together appear to increase the risk more than either individually. Tobacco and alcohol account for approximately 90% of all esophageal squamous cell carcinomas.

    Hey, if Keller is going to imply that Lisa Adams is getting treatment she shouldn’t, I’m perfectly happy to point out that Keller’s buddy Hitchens’ lifestyle almost certainly caused his cancer, so why did Hitchens deserve treatment and Adams doesn’t?

  79. 79
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Mike E:

    Mom had breast cancer, then, a few short years later, got leukemia and I watched her die from complications due to the treatment. 26 years ago. On my birthday.

    Oh fuck, I can’t imagine anything more sucky. Big {{{hugs}}} to you, and hope your birthdays get a bit easier as they become more frequent.

  80. 80
    Mnemosyne says:


    Honestly, I don’t have a problem spending resources on young cancer patients who could potentially recover and have many more years of productivity. It’s when you get 80-year-old cancer victims whose families insist on going through painful chemo because Grandma might be able to eke out an extra three months that I start to wonder who’s really going to benefit.

    Comparing Lisa Adams’ situation to that of his (presumably) elderly father-in-law is not the most tone-deaf thing in the essay, but it’s high up on the list.

  81. 81
    Another amazon says:

    @JasperL: The kicker is, when Emma Keller had Stage 0 breast cancer in just one breast last year, she had the healthy breast removed as well and then had one (if not the most) complicated and involved types of reconstruction, to the tune of $250,000! It’s all here:

    Well, what isn’t there is any mention of the federal law that requires most group plans to pay for reconstruction. If the Kellers were really concerned about health care costs, she could have gone with a prothesis and a couple of pocketed bras for well less than a thousand.

  82. 82
    JaneE says:

    If I had a son and daughter-in-law like the Kellers, I would probably want to hurry up and die too.

  83. 83
    SiubhanDuinne says:


    As Jimmy Durante once said, ‘Why can’t everybody leave everybody else the hell alone.’

    A philosophy to live by.

  84. 84
    WereBear says:

    @shelly: If I was more mobile, I’d get my sweet Katie into the therapy dog program

    Aww. I’m sure she takes good care of you!

  85. 85
    jl says:

    @JasperL: That is the part that riled me too, and I made a comment about it, but WP done ate it.

    I do not see how it is relevant to a vacuous and offensive (thanks for phrase to commenter above) screed about the propriety of using a public platform that is effortlessly avoided (if one is not interested, or finds it discomforting or annoying) to share one’s struggle with, well, just, a deadly disease and high probability of impeding death, is all (not like something important) with interested people who do in fact want to read it.

    The subtext that jumped out at me is that why should her dire situation bother her so much, since she has all this nice stuff and state of the art medical care. I guess maybe Keller is so clueless or unaware, that he thinks that solves the problem, then. Death? Who cares, I got fancy stuff, the best! So, whatever, what will happen to my kids, I may have to face the ultimate fate soon, who cares, I got all the best stuff, I’m good to go. Or what, exactly?

    Or, more darkly, that a lesser nobody liker this woman should feel lucky that she has access to that care (and… should she have access…?)

    The Kellers richly deserve every complaint they get over these offensive dreck columns.

    Edit: I firmly believe that if someone wants to just let go, that is their right. I would never dream of judging how others want to handle their fate.

  86. 86
    Debbie(aussie) says:

    If either of these arseholes really wanted to start conversations 1) about how social media and death/dying are currently being utilized & 2) the costs of treatment versus palliative care: the columns written would have been vastly different. Death panels is what ‘some’ people deserve, but of course will never face.

  87. 87
    Ted and Hellen says:

    Same old Delicate Flower, Faux-Pious, Balloon Juice group rant.

    The woman has cancer and writes about it on the world wide web, for the consumption of everyone in the world. In great and excruciating detail.

    And the Ballooners have hurted fee fees that someone dared to express an opinion about what she wrote.

    Utter stupidity.

  88. 88
    Ted and Hellen says:

    Same old Delicate Flower, Faux-Pious, Balloon Juice group rant.

    The woman has cancer and writes about it on the world wide web, for the consumption of everyone in the world. In great and excruciating detail.

    And the Ballooners have hurted fee fees that someone dared to express an opinion about what she wrote.

    Utter stupidity.

  89. 89
    Gravenstone says:

    @Mike E: That sounds painfully familiar. My mother developed leukemia as a result of her breast cancer treatment as well. Doc told us the one med has about a 1% chance of that result, onset typically five years after the chemo regime Guess we drew that short straw.. However, her heart was already so weakened from the several past events that she couldn’t even try chemo for the leukemia. Five weeks after the diagnosis, her heart stopped as I held her in my arms.

    The Kellers can go fuck themselves with a very dull and rusty implement.

  90. 90
    PurpleGirl says:

    @JasperL: I don’t know for certain, but knowing how things go in other places, the cost of Caring Canines is probably covered by foundation and individual donations.

    I guess the Kellers would also object to the recreation program for adults and the program/playroom for children. (I was an intern for one term in the children’s playroom when taking a master’s degree in therapeutic recreation.) These programs provide important supports to patients and let them feel that life can be good and there are things to look forward to.

  91. 91
    greennotGreen says:

    At my last check up with my oncologist, I asked the nurse if she liked working in oncology. She said she wouldn’t do anything else. People who are living with cancer inspired her, she said. The attitude, the commitment to see it through, she thought we were wonderful for having such strength in the face of sometimes pretty poor odds. And when patients decide, enough is enough, I’m ready to go – that acceptance was inspiring, too.

    I’m sorry the Kellers are unable to see that in Lisa Adams or other people who are living – and possibly dying – with cancer. I would like to think that they will become wiser and learn to experience empathy for their fellow beings, but I don’t hold out much hope.

    As a 50%-er, I think I’d rather be in my shoes, on a path that may not be that long, than theirs, on a longer path filled with bitterness amidst plenty.

  92. 92
    Gravenstone says:

    @Ted and Hellen: Back in the sin bin with you, you ambulatory fuckstain.

  93. 93
    PurpleGirl says:

    @PurpleGirl: I should be explicit — I interned in the Children’s Playroom at Memorial Sloan-Kettering for one term in the mid-1970s.

  94. 94
    Tehanu says:

    Her relationship with the hospital provides her with intensive, premium medical care,
    Yes, “premium” — which she can’t possibly deserve since premium care is reserved for our betters. Is Keller’s middle name “Snidely”?

  95. 95
    Ruckus says:

    Speaking of useless shits…..

  96. 96
    Gus says:

    Anyway, every time our overlords tell us “Shut the fuck up and die, plebe”, the guillotines get closer.

    The sooner the better.

  97. 97
    Suffern ACE says:

    I didn’t realize that going to Sloan Kettering was such a bad thing. I figured that if I got cancer, that’s where I’d try to go.

  98. 98
    zoot says:

    every time our overlords tell us “Shut the fuck up and die, plebe”, the guillotines get closer.

    I wish they would hurry up – it only takes one.

  99. 99
    sm*t cl*de says:

    It was her fault anyway, she was just asking for it:

    she invites us to think about and debate some big, contentious issues

    There is also smug self-congratulation about having “touched a nerve”.

  100. 100
    sempronia says:

    Yeah, that Keller piece was petty, a little voyeuristic, and apparently, according to reader comments, rife with errors about Adams. But I thought the more general point he was trying to make was that the warrior mentality can be glorified by many people, whereas acceptance of a fatal diagnosis and palliative care are looked down on as giving up.

    He’s got a point – surveys have shown that, compared to the general population, more doctors who are given certain grim diagnoses would opt for a six-pack and fishing rod vs. some of the treatments we’ve got now. Doctors know how much we can f you up at end-of-life, and they don’t want it.

    Obviously Keller picked a poor subject and is getting lambasted for it – Adams apparently has specifically addressed the warrior mentality, doesn’t subscribe to it, has a realistic view of her mortality, and is too young to accept stopping treatment. Anyway, breast cancer is generally pretty slow-moving, as cancers go, with plenty of reasonable life-prolonging options. Doesn’t compare at all to Keller’s elderly father, or to Hitch’s pancreatic cancer, with its dismal prognosis and minimal treatment options, all bad.

    But his general smugness aside, I thought that he was just making points about the higher value our use of language confers on the “fighting” approach vs. palliative. Didn’t think he was suggesting that she just chuck it and die already. And in her confused, ham-fisted way, I thought his wife was talking about over-sharing, whereas it seems that most commenters view Adams as a “talented memoirist”.

  101. 101
    sm*t cl*de says:

    So Keller was just using Lisa Adam’s reports as a jumping-off point for voicing his own opinions on quality-of-life, heroic medical interventions, and so on. He did not intend to attack her personally, so one shouldn’t expect accuracy about her actual statements, diagnosis, treatment, circumstances or experiences, which do not concern him.* The real Adams is just collateral damage in Keller’s War Against Militaristic Imagery. You go to war with the strawmen you have, not with the strawmen you’d like to have.

    Also from the Public Editor:

    Emma […] wrote a sensitive and provocative piece, clearly aimed at stimulating a reader discussion of this hyper-transparent world we inhabit. (She responded to the backlash in The Guardian’s comments section.)

    She wanted to provoke and stimulate a discussion! Instead all she got was a backlash! Is there no justice?

    * I am not sure how this fits with Keller’s pique that “Neither Adams nor Sloan-Kettering would tell me what all this costs or whether it is covered by insurance”, as if he is entitled to an itemised bill for someone else’s “amenities”.

  102. 102
    sempronia says:

    @sm*t cl*de:

    Yup. Think he just picked the wrong jumping-off place and is now getting beaten on by the commentators. Appropriately, considering all the errors in his piece. Too bad, because his poorly-expressed opinion about “battling” is worth a discussion.

    That thing about how much the pet therapy or whatever cost was just petty. Why shouldn’t hospitals supply things that make patients happy?

  103. 103
    Joey Maloney says:

    @beltane: Bill Keller is basically trolling a terminally ill woman. It’s hard to imagine anything lower than that but I’m sure he’ll think of something.

    I can’t wait to hear his thoughts about Batkid.

  104. 104
    Annamal says:


    My 75 year old grandfather went through some very painful and unpleasant chemo for bowel cancer and has had a reasonably high quality of life for the last 5 years (last time I saw him he was planning a trip to Europe with my grandmother), I’m the last person to want to restrict cancer resources.

    However as you say, quality of life can sometimes be missed as a consideration when it comes to end of life treatment and that’s something that should be discussed.

  105. 105
    Hawes says:

    I agree with TBogg. People hate Bill Keller, so they jump on his nuts for continuing the conversation Lisa Adams started, but in a direction that’s different. So instead of responding to whatever merits Keller is making, DougJ wants the guillotine readied.

    How is that different in substance from Michelle Malkin’s counter-top investigations? I know the topic being looked at differs in power, but basically people have reached a priori conclusions about the thing because Keller.

  106. 106
    Hawes says:

    I read Emma Keller’s piece, in no way shape or form is she “urging Lisa Adams to die sooner”. She’s expressing questions about whether embracing social media will lead to the end of all privacy. It sounds like she’s wondered about this before.

    I just read Keller’s piece, too. He commends her “fight” and acknowledges that is her choice and says it “has worked for her.” He then says that her writing has opened a chance to discuss end of life choices by patients with terminal conditions. Keller never says that Adams has made the wrong choice for her, but rather that there are other choices available, and we shouldn’t confuse our admiration of her courage with condemnation of those that choose a quieter exit.

  107. 107
    Nutella says:

    @Another amazon:

    So it’s OK for Emma Keller to write up her own cancer story for the whole internet to read but not for Adams. Nice.

    I like how suddenly this morning commenters have come out to defend the indefensible. Perhaps the Kellers have realized their mistake and hired a PR agency to contain the damage?


    How is that different in substance from Michelle Malkin’s counter-top investigations?

    The Kellers are the ones doing counter top investigations. We are objecting to the Kellers publicly criticizing an individual cancer patient for conducting her own life in a way they disapprove. We want the Kellers to leave Adams’s counter tops alone.

  108. 108
    slippytoad says:


    Fucking -a I have not even read more than his insensitive headline-worthy comments, and every glimpse I get into the cesspool of this man’s mind makes me sicker.

    Mr Keller, your ice floe is ready. Git on it!

  109. 109
    J R in WV says:

    As far as what costs are incurred and how they are paid for, Mr Keller misses ignores the fact that health care issues of all kinds are covered by HIPPA, and medical providers are not even allowed to admit that a person is being treated at their facility, much less what their condition is, how they are being treated, or how their treatments are paid for.

    This is for a very good reason: it is none of his frickin business!!

    It won’t ever be any of his business, even if the patient is sharing some of her most intimate thoughts and feelings as she undergoes death.

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