On the Value of Knowing When to Shut the Fuck Up

Or just apologizing and recognizing that you were being a jackass.

Apparently, one of the biggest problem for our Tory immigrants in the media sector is learning when to shut the fuck up. Last night, Piers Morgan had Janet Mock on, which means that one person I wish I had never heard of was interviewing someone I had never heard of, and apparently Piers made a total ass of himself on twitter after the interview:

Last night, Piers Morgan had trans activist Janet Mock on his program. It did not go well. And today, when confronted about it by various trans activists and allies, he threw a Twitter temper tantrum for the ages.

Cliff’s notes version of the dramz: Morgan is upset that he’s being accused of transphobia and insists that during the interview, Mock seemed fine with his line of questioning. But today, Morgan would have been better served to step away from the computing machine and prep for a revisit of that discussion tonight rather than engaging like a jackass on Twitter. It’s hard to pick a moment that’s the most over the top and childish, but here are a few good ones.

Part of his twitter meltdown included calling her formerly a man, which really got a number of people pissed off. I was initially sympathetic, because I really know fuck all about the topic. If forced, at gunpoint, to accurately describe the difference between transgender and transsexual, I can guarantee I would fuck it up every time and dig myself into a hole because my only personal experience anywhere in the genre is being kissed in the mid 90’s by a drag queen dressed as Marilyn (she serenaded me with Diamonds, and my gay friends were all hysterical and one actualy has a picture he claims he is saving for if I ever run for office) at a gay bar in Morgantown (the Class Act). And at that point, having answered incorrectly, they would probably just shoot me out of sympathy. I do know that for some fucked up reason I will not comprehend, I remember a number of high profile bloggers who are basically all gay rights oriented but who don’t want trans to get included in the progress, and that makes no sense to me, because rights are rights regardless of who you are.

And that lack of insight isn’t because I am a hater, it’s because it just isn’t part of my routine daily existence- there really is not a very big trans community in my town of 300. I tend to not know about things I don’t have to deal with or are not exposed to, like most of you. And that isn’t a crime or an issue or even a problem if you are not being judgmental- which I am not, as I have long prided myself on being a “whatever blows your trumpet” kind of guy. What you do that you do because you like to do it ain’t my concern, and I am not going to give a shit if it isn’t something I don’t do.

Plus, the things I do not know in this world so vastly exceed the things I do sort of know by, well, a lot. Knowing that, though, means that I am infinitely more self-aware than Piers Morgan. He couldn’t even be bothered to use the google before his interview, made an ass out of himself on tv, and then went to the twitter, where he immediately did more damage.

But he didn’t stop there with one stupid tweet as he just couldn’t shut the fuck up about it, and just went for the gusto, and invoked Jared Leto, demanded an apology from Mock, the person he insulted, and then just went totally insane. The whole thing kind of reminded me of me on this blog from 2002-2005.

I also think I am going to tag everything I write with OLD MAN YELLS AT CLOUDS because I have been feeling so splenetic lately.

69 replies
  1. 1
    gwangung says:

    Obviously, Morgan had no clue on what went down at Grantland and how it had relevance to him. (Because, DUDE….it’s YOUR JOB to know the ins and outs of that).

  2. 2
    Little Boots says:

    that is a good skill, seriously. I don’t have it. I don’t know when to shush.

    I don’t.

    admittedly, I’m almost always right, but I know that is not always the time to speak up.

  3. 3
    Alison says:

    The digging in and casting himself as the victim was so disgusting and reprehensible. Even if you want to be charitable to him for his initial fuck-ups – which I don’t because I don’t care if someone in his position knows nothing about trans* people, if you’re having a trans* person on your show you do a little fucking research first – he seemed to actually enjoy continuing to fuck up on purpose, refusing to respect Janet’s identity, autonomy, her story, etc. And for this dude, who has pretty much every single element of privilege someone can have, to whine and cry about the poor treatment and *abuse* he was getting…it was repugnant.

    I admire the hell out of Janet for going back on to try to get through to him, but I had a feeling it would go badly and it sure fucking did. He’s a monumental tool.

  4. 4
    srv says:

    splenetic

    Good god, I’ve never seen that word before. This is an absolutely splendiferous post of learning.

  5. 5
    Biff Longbotham says:

    John, you’re being too hard on yourself. Now, go to bed and get some rest. so you’ll be fresh for all the inevitable kookiness of the new day.

  6. 6
    Fake Irishman says:

    Ignorance is not a sin as long as you’re willing to learn. I respect you much Cole, in part because you recognize when you don’t know something, admit it honestly and try to learn more. And you do with the peculiar yet profound grace and elegance only a bad-tempered, foul-mouthed West Virginia hillbilly can muster. (earning extra style points in the process.) Keep on growing, but don’t change a thing.

  7. 7
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @srv:

    Good god, I’ve never seen that word before.

    Are you serious? Dear god.

  8. 8
    Little Boots says:

    can we post neil, already?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hn1BapsppXM

  9. 9
    YellowJournalism says:

    OT, but The Pussy Riot interview on Colbert is amazing. The women are going toe-to-toe with him perfectly.

  10. 10
    J.Ty says:

    John, even I couldn’t explain the difference on camera. I could do it right now, in print, but not when put on the spot.

    And the trans* community in my little city of 750,000 isn’t exactly big either.

  11. 11
    Little Boots says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    people are kind of sensitive around here.

  12. 12
    Calming Influence says:

    …”I was initially sympathetic, because I really know fuck all about the topic. If forced, at gunpoint, to accurately describe the difference between [whatever]…”

    Thanks for this, John. This is really the point, isn’t it? I’m not supposed to know, Joe Shmoe isn’t supposed to know… A journalist’s job is not to be a cool, swell, really well liked journalist. He should have been prepared, but he went into it without knowing. We all feel defensive when we find ourselves out of our depth and are caught out. But fer fucksake, when it’s your job to uncover and/or expose the facts, shouldn’t you prepare? And if you fuck up, shouldn’t your instincts tell you to hold back on the defensiveness, even if you feel really embarrassed? Shouldn’t this be a huge red flag to future employers?

  13. 13
    max says:

    I can guarantee I would fuck it up every time and dig myself into a hole because my only personal experience anywhere in the genre is being kissed in the mid 90′s by a drag queen dressed as Marilyn

    If Marilyn wasn’t into the whole physical sex change thing, Marilyn was transgender (unless Marilyn did it solely for a living). If Marilyn took hormones/got surgery, Marilyn would be a transsexual.

    I remember a number of high profile bloggers who are basically all gay rights oriented but who don’t want trans to get included in the progress, and that makes no sense to me, because rights are rights regardless of who you are.

    Do they? Huh. Well, there is some boundary policing going on with some gay folks (mostly men I think) coming down on bisexuals and transpeople. (i.e. ‘I’m normal, *you’re* weird!’) Yeah, whatever.

    And that lack of insight isn’t because I am a hater, it’s because it just isn’t part of my routine daily existence

    You’re supposed to keep up with things you never experience, aren’t involved with, don’t keep up with and never talk about! Sensitive people will get upset. (Of course, if you do talk about, you should maybe know something about it. Not that anybody in the Village ever follows this advice.)

    But he didn’t stop there with one stupid tweet as he just couldn’t shut the fuck up about it, and just went for the gusto, and invoked Jared Leto, demanded an apology from Mock, the person he insulted, and then just went totally insane.

    See, there’s this reason I don’t watch CNN, Piers Morgan or use Twitter. (And Twitter is the most useful of the three.) I might get sucked in, then I’d have to pay attention and jeez, I could be watching paint dry.

    The whole thing kind of reminded me of me on this blog from 2002-2005.

    Well, if it helps, some ridiculous amount of the country went bugfuck with you. Probably because they paid attention to things like CNN & Piers Morgan! This nation has not and never was all that it was cracked up to be, but I remember when it was only mildly kooky and not ravingly bugfuck.

    max
    [‘”You’re not going crazy in a sane world – you’re going sane in a crazy world!”‘]

  14. 14
    Calming Influence says:

    God, I’m in a cantankerous mood. Anybody wanna fist fight? I’ll buy the winner a beer.

  15. 15
    Little Boots says:

    @Calming Influence:

    contemplate this post.

  16. 16
    J.Ty says:

    @max: There’s a ludicrous amount of trans- and bi-phobia in the gay community where I live (San Francisco!), not to mention a pretty big measure of racism. The transphobic stuff seems to come from people who don’t know what they’re saying (and yes, mostly gay men); gay women/lesbians (pick your preferred nomenclature) generally seem to have a better handle on it.

    The worst is the lack of curiosity, it’s like LGB people don’t even want to learn about the T’s.

  17. 17
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @max:

    Well, if it helps, some ridiculous amount of the country went bugfuck with you.

    Yes and no. Some of us didn’t and I think we retain the right to look askance at some of those who did on occasion – no matter how much they have come around.

  18. 18
    Calming Influence says:

    @Calming Influence: I think it’s caused by the popular media telling me why I should really love Jay Leno, when I actually wish he was homeless and washing windshields on the GWB entrance ramp.

  19. 19
    Little Boots says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    the hell is going on with this blog?

  20. 20
    J.Ty says:

    @Little Boots: One master said to contemplate his post; the other asked for a fistfight. In the end, they both contemplated each others’ fists.

  21. 21
    Little Boots says:

    @J.Ty:

    but seriously, we both get that something has gone terribly awry here, right?

  22. 22
    J.Ty says:

    @Little Boots: I’m +3 right now, can you summarize?

  23. 23
    Little Boots says:

    @J.Ty:

    omnes is making no sense,

    which is rare.

    for one.

  24. 24
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Little Boots: Not particularly related to this post, I sometimes get a bit annoyed by ex-GOPers telling me how to be a liberal – I’ve been trying to do it right for damn near my whole life. Cole has been touching that nerve, tangentially, a bit.

  25. 25
    Little Boots says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    now you’re starting to be normal again.

  26. 26
    Little Boots says:

    and yeah, I don’t quite get john cole.

    he doesn’t like me, which, I’m lovely, not sure what that is about.

  27. 27
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Little Boots: Sometimes people annoy me.

  28. 28
    J.Ty says:

    I’ve not been commenting long enough to really weigh in, but Omnes does seem to be correct in this particular matter, based on what I’m reading right now.

    (That was to be posted a few minutes ago but I wanted to be really careful with the wording because I’m conflict-averse)

  29. 29
    Suffern ACE says:

    Arthur Chu is not ruining Jeopardy.

    Oh and on topic, I went to find out more about this topic and found that piers Morgan is also having a twitter war over the selection of the British Cricket Team. Perhaps the reason he isn’t prepared is that he spends all day having opinions.

  30. 30
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Suffern ACE: Morgan is an unsanitary douchebag. He makes me embarrassed to support Arsenal.

  31. 31
    Little Boots says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    yeah, I don’t get that either.

    seriously, what have I done?

  32. 32
    Fort Geek says:

    @J.Ty: I read somewhere online that to many transgender folks, the “T” is silent in LGBT. That’s unfortunate, because civil rights are civil rights no matter which letter one is.

  33. 33
    Little Boots says:

    @Fort Geek:

    exactly.

  34. 34
    Calming Influence says:

    @Little Boots: I can’t hear you, I’m listening to Neil. (…still looking for someone to butt heads with, but only in a fun WA/Vancouver way…)

  35. 35
    Little Boots says:

    @Calming Influence:

    better choice.

    it’s true.

  36. 36
    Calming Influence says:

    @J.Ty:

    “…because I’m conflict-averse…”

    Conflict averse, are ye?!? Well yuv come ta the wrong domain address then, havent’ye, matey?!?

  37. 37
    Little Boots says:

    @Calming Influence:

    no kidding.

  38. 38
    Little Boots says:

    omnes, you have wonderful taste. favority neil young?

  39. 39
    Calming Influence says:

    @Little Boots: Hey, I need another Neil fix or I’m liable to bite this new @J.Ty: guy…

  40. 40
  41. 41
    J.Ty says:

    @Fort Geek: Absolutely, and that’s a great reason to be mad when a non-T-inclusive anything happens legislatively; and it’s a good reason to be outraged when the LGBABC* community keeps forgetting the T, despite the alphabet soup. It’s horseshit.

    For instance, with other mister J.Ty, I’ve seen his opinions of a person darken when I told him they were trans (in a situation in which I was allowed to, of course).

    I’ve felt the same way, of course. It sucks. I hate it.

  42. 42
    Alison says:

    @J.Ty:

    The worst is the lack of curiosity, it’s like LGB people don’t even want to learn about the T’s.

    Yup. As a member of that community, under the L, who is fiercely supportive of trans* rights, it drives me fucking mad that so many others are dismissive at best. People like Dan Savage who, other than being gay, are super privileged and are laser focused on marriage equality and such act like bringing up trans* needs is distracting or annoying. Similar in a sense to how WOC were treated (and sadly still are in a lot of intances) by feminism in the 70s. People just fail so hard at being intersectional and then get all sniffy when you call them on it.

  43. 43
    J.Ty says:

    @Calming Influence: Bite if you must, but you can’t go wrong with The Caves of Altamira https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pt9VCuAbRxc

  44. 44
    hilzoy says:

    I didn’t see the interview; I did not read the tweets. Life is short. That said: “Part of his twitter meltdown included calling her formerly a man, which really got a number of people pissed off.” — As well it should. If you’re going to be not just a normal citizen but an interviewer, you need to make some minimal gesture at knowing what you’re talking about. And part of that is: a lot of the problem with being trans, pre-transition, is that your biological gender does not square with your identity. Saying “you used to be a man” just obliterates that fact.

    I empathize with “I really know fuck all about the topic”, when the person saying it is not a CNN host who has decided to interview someone who’s trans, but a civilian. When a friend of mine told me that she was trans, I realized that I was completely ignorant about trans issues, and thought: but that ignorance ends NOW. Having myself paid absolutely no attention to trans issues before, and then coming to realize how much that ignorance plays into e.g. the reaction of co-workers when someone decides to transition, I felt awful — but I also understood. Of course. No one can understand everything. But in this case, I think it matters to try.

  45. 45
    J.Ty says:

    @Alison: Dan Savage… bless his heart. He helped me through some rough patches in middle & high school back in his “hey faggot” days, but… yeah. Handsome white guy to the end. His bi thing still pisses me off, even though he’s now “accepted the science” about it. And yeah, he’s never been a friend to trans* folks, either.

    I’d call him a smug bastard, but he’s always been a smug bastard. Not like there’s anything wrong with that.

  46. 46
    Calming Influence says:

    @J.Ty: O.K, now I like you a lot. Don’t be hiding in the wings, friend. Lot’s of good people here.

  47. 47
    J.Ty says:

    @Calming Influence: I’ve been coming out of the woodwork more and more lately, first time I’ve run into you too :)

    ETA: Who installed this lightbox comment editor? I love it!

  48. 48
    Alison says:

    @J.Ty: Yeah, I don’t deny he’s done good work, but…yeah. he’s got issues, lol. “Accepted the science” – gee how nice. *eyeroll*

  49. 49
    J.Ty says:

    @Calming Influence: I’m just glad we can all agree that Steely Dan is great.

  50. 50
    J.Ty says:

    @Alison: I will continue to blame “older” people for things until the point that I myself am “older”… but…

    Well, Douglas Adams’ definition of technology kind of works here for social thinking too:

    1. Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works.
    2. Anything that’s invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.
    3. Anything invented after you’re thirty-five is against the natural order of things.

  51. 51
    Calming Influence says:

    @J.Ty: Comment edits were a long time coming. Cole is a real dinosaur, and it’s taken some enormous prodding by dpm (dread pirate mistermix) to get beyond simple improvements in ASCII text here.

  52. 52
    J.Ty says:

    @Calming Influence: I actually meant that as a compliment. This is the first time I’ve seen same-window AJAX lightbox comment editing here.

  53. 53
    Alison says:

    @J.Ty: Ooh, I’m getting close to #3, let’s hope I can resist the impending curmudgeonliness :P

  54. 54
    Calming Influence says:

    I’m not gay, so It’s hard for me to understand the subtleties regarding Dan Savage. But since he’s kind of a local hero (Seattle, and at least to straight people who support equal rights) it seems that there are few enough high profile proponents to undercut them. Am I making sense?

  55. 55
    Calming Influence says:

    @J.Ty: No, I get it. I was just saying that it wasn’t long ago that commenting on Balloon Juice was like acrobatics without a net. If you put out some shit, it just sat there and stank. ;-)

  56. 56
    J.Ty says:

    @Calming Influence: He has his problems. He’s a great, highly vocal advocate for the kinds of things that white gay men tend to care about, though (I’m a white gay man btw). There’s just a lot of other kinds of LGBT existence out there that he doesn’t understand, and (from a few years ago) it feels like he didn’t understand–for example, he didn’t believe in bisexual men (until like two years ago!).

  57. 57
    Fred says:

    I once saw that drag queen movie starring Patrick Swayze and thought it was pretty good. My girlfriend and I went with a lesbian friend so she could explain the finer points to us. I also once saw an ugly skinny guy walking down the street in a gold slinky dress.
    Thus I am an expert on trans gender stuff and I say: Whatever floats yer boat!
    But if yer gonna do an interview about a subject and are, ya know a “journalist” it might not be a bad idea to kinda, you know do some background research first just so you don’t stick yer foot in yer pie hole. It’s a thought.

  58. 58
    currants says:

    @Fake Irishman: Yes. I came across this post on Pharyngula a week or so ago, and found the included links really helpful. You’ll note that one of them is directly intended for the use of journalists….

  59. 59
    Cervantes says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    I sometimes get a bit annoyed by ex-GOPers telling me how to be a liberal – I’ve been trying to do it right for damn near my whole life. Cole has been touching that nerve, tangentially, a bit.

    On the other hand, he did just write this:

    On the Value of Knowing When to Shut the Fuck Up
    Or just apologizing and recognizing that you were being a jackass.

    So there’s that.

  60. 60
    gnomedad says:

    Plus, the things I do not know in this world so vastly exceed the things I do sort of know by, well, a lot. Knowing that, though, means that I am infinitely more self-aware than Piers Morgan.

    Applause.

  61. 61
    Paul in KY says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Go Chelsey!

  62. 62
    brantl says:

    these chuckelheads make a living out of talking non-stop for an hour or two, if they aren’t particularly thoughtful, this becomse knee-jerk, as though it is constantly expected of them, they fear dead air a lot more than dead brains.

  63. 63
    Robert says:

    In case anyone was wondering, it got worse after the Twitter exchange. Piers brought Janet back on his show yesterday for a live interview that amounted to “How dare you villify me? I’m your biggest fan. Now apologize to me for my show mislabeling you as a boy or a man in all of our captioning. You know you’re not really a woman until you have gender reassignment surgery. Say it. SAY IT!” It was something else. Link

  64. 64
    chopper says:

    @Calming Influence:

    you’re on. let’s dig out the 6-sided dice. you roll first.

  65. 65
    evinfuilt says:

    First off, Piers can go… himself.

    Second, I’m trans. I don’t care if you call me transgender, transexual or just Chris. In fact I just prefer you call me Chris or Christina.

    I’ve been lucky that all my gay/lesbian friends are supportive (especially my bi wife of over 15 years.) I love that I’d make a horrible drag queen, I leave that to all my gay friends. I have friends who still accidentally call me a he occasionally, it doesn’t bother me. I just joke with them, see I consider myself a whatever (like Gonzo.) Joking around about what I’ve been through even makes most of the right-wing males I know fine around me. Nothing breaks the ice like saying “I loved boobs so much, I got my own pair.” Yes, it doesn’t go into the details why, they don’t care, they just want to know that its okay to be around me and laugh.

    Life is absurd, that I had to go through those decades of pain show that.

    So to Piers… You’re a c..t, and you could learn to do a little research and find the empathy inside yourself. Then again, your a modern journalist so it seems knowledge and research go against your well being.

    To John Cole, you’re awesome! You learn, you adapt, you rock.

  66. 66
    Hal says:

    Too Wong For had a good starter primer:

    When a straight man puts on a dress and gets his sexual kicks, he is a transvestite. When a man is a woman trapped in a man’s body and has a little operation, he is a transsexual. When a gay man has WAY too much fashion sense for one gender, he is a drag queen. And when a tired little Latin boy puts on a dress, he is simply a boy in a dress!

  67. 67
    Anna in PDX says:

    @brantl: This is a great summary of how these news blowhards work and how their own system incentivizes their awful thoughtless pontificating.

  68. 68
    Anna in PDX says:

    @max: Thanks for the easy distinction between transgender and transsexual. I never knew it before. I am also kind of a dunce about this topic. Like other topics of which I am not very aware, I figure it’s a topic on which listening is a better avenue for me than talking.

    I am very happy about the younger generation being more aware and also more blase about this whole topic, though. My daughter in law is very active on this issue and it is great to hear how much she cares about and supports rights for everyone on the gender spectrum, and my son who is in college was roommates with a person who decided she was female later and he discussed this with me in such a matter of fact way that I was amazed. It really didn’t seem to him to be anything to write home about. The only reason he mentioned it to me at all was that I asked him if he was still friends with that roommate from freshman year.

  69. 69
    Thymezone says:

    It is not possible to spend too many pixels bashing Piers Morgan, one of the world’s foremost horse’s asses. He’s one of many reasons that I make it a point never to even surf through the CNN channel at night, just the sight of his face is enough to cause me to turn into a dangerous psychopath.

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