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Tilting at Windmills

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August 11, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

NUTPICKING....Last night I held a contest to create a name for the moronic practice of trawling through open comment threads in order to find a few wackjobs who can be held up as evidence that liberals are nuts. It's both lazy and self-refuting, since if the best evidence of wackjobism you can find is a few anonymous nutballs commenting on a blog, then the particular brand of wackjobism you're complaining about must not be very widespread after all.

Anyway, I emailed the guy who suggested this contest and appointed him the official judge of the responses. Today he emailed back with his decision. Proposed by BlueMan, the winner is:

Nutpicking

Hoorah for BlueMan! If I had a free t-shirt to send you, I would. As it is, all you get is your own tiny slice of immortality. For the rest of you, here are some usage examples:

I see that K Lo is busily nutpicking away over at The Corner.

Lanny Davis is now the official King of the Nutpickers.

Man, the nutpickers were out in force after Tuesday's Ned Lamont victory.

As for the law itself, Tim F. suggests "Drum's Law" instead of "Kevin's Law" because, as one of his commenters puts it, the latter "sounds like its a response to an abducted toddler."

That's fine with me. Now go out and propagate this meme!

Kevin Drum 12:26 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (50)

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Comments

Thanks for the laugh!

Posted by: Freqency Kenneth on August 11, 2006 at 12:27 AM | PERMALINK

Does nutpicking refer to a blog-troll's process of scrolling selectively through the comments or else to what the troll is doing with his other hand?

Posted by: troglodyte on August 11, 2006 at 12:36 AM | PERMALINK

What's it called when I trawl through threads looking for a nutjob to criticize/attack?

I'm thinking maybe... "Cruising?" Is that too easy?

Posted by: other jerry on August 11, 2006 at 12:36 AM | PERMALINK

Will Watcher / slim post an example on this thread?

Posted by: Thomas on August 11, 2006 at 12:49 AM | PERMALINK

Hey I need a pony at least. I've been ripped off.

Posted by: nut on August 11, 2006 at 12:50 AM | PERMALINK

I'm thinking maybe... "Cruising?" Is that too easy?

Lackey-bashing

Posted by: snicker-snack on August 11, 2006 at 12:52 AM | PERMALINK

You should add a wikipedia entry for it...

Posted by: Amit Joshi on August 11, 2006 at 12:58 AM | PERMALINK

It's hard for them. All we need to do is quote Coulter, Savage, Limbaugh, Hannity, Hewitt, and so on.

Speaking of which, can we get Ann to do a CT for Lieberman ad?

Posted by: HeavyJ on August 11, 2006 at 12:59 AM | PERMALINK

Does nutpicking only apply when a single comment is taken out of a long thread? Or does it include surveys of rampant nuttery, as I often see in excerpts from Free Republic comments?

Because, of course, the latter example is seen (by definition almost) on lefty blogs, while the definition of "nutpicking" suggests that it's a righty practice only.

Posted by: Grumpy on August 11, 2006 at 1:04 AM | PERMALINK

Nutpicking... He, he... That's dirty.

Posted by: troll on August 11, 2006 at 1:12 AM | PERMALINK

Someone get this up on Kevin's wikipedia page!

Posted by: Steve Brady on August 11, 2006 at 1:14 AM | PERMALINK

I see that K Lo is busily nutpicking away over at The Corner.

Lanny Davis is now the official King of the Nutpickers.

Man, the nutpickers were out in force after Tuesday's Ned Lamont victory.


- These guys are really dirty. Wonder what the problem is...

Posted by: troll on August 11, 2006 at 1:14 AM | PERMALINK

"Nutpicker" is great, although I think "nutplucker" has a better ring to it.

Posted by: es on August 11, 2006 at 1:34 AM | PERMALINK

"Nutpicking" is good. I'm not happy with "Drum's Law", though, since it seems it should have been named after the e-mailer who suggested naming it. Also, we still haven't got a clear, succinct phrasing of the law itself.

Posted by: KCinDC on August 11, 2006 at 1:49 AM | PERMALINK

Nutpicker: Pundits who pick through blog comments looking for the periodic rantings of Nut Jobs, in order to find choice quotes in which to smear blogs in general.

It's kind of like Navel Gazing, only with nutz!

Posted by: troll on August 11, 2006 at 1:57 AM | PERMALINK

Nutpicking is a great term, it offers a good short term for explain the phenomena. What is then "Drum's Law"?

Seems like there should be a rule thats followed like murphys law. So what is the actual law part of Drum's law? That naysayers will only pay attention to the looniest response in a thread?

Posted by: david b on August 11, 2006 at 2:12 AM | PERMALINK

Does nutpicking only apply when a single comment is taken out of a long thread? Or does it include surveys of rampant nuttery, as I often see in excerpts from Free Republic comments?

perhaps that's 'nuttroughing' or 'nutcropping' and planting comments to later pick is 'nutseeding'?

Posted by: snicker-snack on August 11, 2006 at 2:13 AM | PERMALINK

though I prefer the sound of 'seednutting'

Posted by: snicker-snack on August 11, 2006 at 2:14 AM | PERMALINK

How about NutPlucking? Playing off your title, but the word "plucking" evokes a "plucking out of thin air" symbol, which translates nicely into the general worthlessness, or weightlessness of their argument.

Posted by: Kepler on August 11, 2006 at 2:19 AM | PERMALINK

Would multiple occurances of nutpicking count as sharecropping?

Posted by: Eric Paulsen on August 11, 2006 at 2:20 AM | PERMALINK

Eric Paulsen asks: Would multiple occurances of nutpicking count as sharecropping?

No I think its more like Nutgathering. Sort of like an RNC convention.

Posted by: troll on August 11, 2006 at 2:28 AM | PERMALINK

As for the law itself, Tim F. suggests "Drum's Law" instead of "Kevin's Law" because, as one of his commenters puts it, the former "sounds like its a response to an abducted toddler."

You mean to say "the latter", don't you, and not "the former"?

Posted by: Ed Fitzgerald (unfutz) on August 11, 2006 at 2:39 AM | PERMALINK

ES: Actually, "nutplucking" seemed like a better variant to me too. But the judge's decision was final!

KCinDC: You're probably right, but he's anonymous for now. Besides, I need the publicity. I can't live off the reflected glory of Friday Catblogging forever. As for the law, I'm certainly open to a pithier expression of it.

Ed: Right you are. Fixed now.

Posted by: Kevin Drum on August 11, 2006 at 3:26 AM | PERMALINK

It's now on Wikipedia, but it's not official until it's an answer on "Jeopardy".

Posted by: Mark Kawakami on August 11, 2006 at 3:55 AM | PERMALINK

Ah, Kevin, you're a luv! Tks so much for a ray of laughter in an otherwise misery of a newsday.

Posted by: Waccamaw on August 11, 2006 at 4:08 AM | PERMALINK

It's hard to believe it's not already a word.

Posted by: Daniel McIlroy on August 11, 2006 at 4:35 AM | PERMALINK

Personally, I think the law should be stated as a probability, in accordance with the Godwin formulation.

Something like, "As a person needs to rely on random blog commenters to prove the prevalence of disagreeable behavior, the probability that the person is an asshat approaches 1."

Posted by: Royko on August 11, 2006 at 4:50 AM | PERMALINK

Also, I think it needs the LFG Exception (alternatively, the Freeper Exception), which states that if the scope of the argument is limited to the disagreeable behavior of commenters on a specific blog and significant examples are given, Drum's Law does not apply.

Posted by: Royko on August 11, 2006 at 5:02 AM | PERMALINK

I enjoy nutplucking liberal bloggers eventhough they have forgotten about the corpses of 9/11 did not have quote-marks around them. Kevin, I just gave you an award so you better start answering my emails.

Posted by: Sully on August 11, 2006 at 5:08 AM | PERMALINK

Yeah ME!

Tshirt size: XL (just in case)

Posted by: BlueMan on August 11, 2006 at 5:22 AM | PERMALINK

Drum's AXIOM.

Posted by: Nancy Irving on August 11, 2006 at 5:34 AM | PERMALINK

Yes, "nutpicking" definitely works better than Drum's/Kevin's Law, since we're referring to a specific activity. Using "Law" doesn't make sense in this context, and would also give the activity an aura of respect it doesn't deserve.

Posted by: PapaJijo on August 11, 2006 at 9:18 AM | PERMALINK

I am not a nutpicker
Nor a nutpicker's son
But Coulter will pick her nuts
She's a nutpickin' Hun.

Posted by: bubba on August 11, 2006 at 9:56 AM | PERMALINK

Drum's law states that nutpicking is self-refuting. FYI -- I added the original text of Kevin's/Drum's law from the first post to wikipedia as well. We'll see if it survives the editwars. :)

Posted by: dbt on August 11, 2006 at 10:19 AM | PERMALINK

I like Pic-A-Nut more.

It was the name of a shop in my neighborhood. Unfortunately I wasn't reminded of it until I read the title of this post.

Posted by: aaron on August 11, 2006 at 11:01 AM | PERMALINK

PapaJijo: Nutpicking is the activity, but it is not in itself Drum's Law. To wit:

If you're forced to rely on random blog commenters (i.e. nutpick) to make a point about the prevalence of some form or another of disagreeable behavior, you've pretty much made exactly the opposite point.

Posted by: Dony on August 11, 2006 at 11:19 AM | PERMALINK

Drum's AXIOM.

This is a thread about nutpicking, not nitpicking.

Posted by: frankly0 on August 11, 2006 at 11:34 AM | PERMALINK

Since Michelle Malkin used my comment about her to bash Political Animal and The Washington Monthly, I was hoping this behavior might be called the Hostile Protocol.

Posted by: Hostile on August 11, 2006 at 12:14 PM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: F on August 11, 2006 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

The Chinese spam beat me. Damn!

Anyway, I submitted a definition (based on Mark Kawakami's Wikipedia entry) to Urban Dictionary, and it's under review now.

Posted by: Avi on August 11, 2006 at 1:12 PM | PERMALINK

I would, however, like to have a small, sad, moment of silence for "Penny's Law", named for the poor little brutally murdered by internet blog comments. Otherwise, her blood is on your hands. ;)

Posted by: weboy on August 11, 2006 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

i thought the governing statute is: if you need to find a random nut to show how off-the-wall your opponents are, you make the opposite point you intended.

Posted by: benjoya on August 11, 2006 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

ES: Actually, "nutplucking" seemed like a better variant to me too.

Oh, please. Nutpicking brings with it the rich connotations of "nitpicking", namely the seizing on irrelevancies to try to undermine credibility. What does nutplucking bring to the table but assonance?

Really, nutpicking is so perfect it's as if divine powers wanted us to hit on it.

Don't look God's gift horse in the mouth, OK?

Posted by: frankly0 on August 11, 2006 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

If you're forced to rely on random blog commenters (i.e. nutpick) to make a point about the prevalence of some form or another of disagreeable behavior, you've pretty much made exactly the opposite point.

Sorry, I wasn't clear. I agree with your point, but the context I referred to was in propogating the meme. Saying that some right-wing pundit is "nutpicking" is more effective than saying he "demonstrated Drum's Law" (or however one would phrase it). The former is catchier, and therefore easier to infiltrate the media. The latter is awkward and has the stench of academia, which is like poison to the media.

Posted by: PapaJijo on August 11, 2006 at 4:12 PM | PERMALINK

For the record, Kevin, I decried this technique, calling it the War On Straw, back in 2003. (Ted Barlow linked it at Crooked Timber, as did a number of other folks.)

Posted by: Gary Farber on August 11, 2006 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

Now we got to find some common phenomena on the blogs and call it Tit-Licking. And if these particular persons are Nutpickers too we can call them Nut Picking Tit Lickers.

Posted by: barts on August 11, 2006 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

Seriously, this is a killer word, one we really need today. It's a powerful and incisive way to dismiss a BS nutpicking argument with a single word. I hope like hell it catches on, there's nothing out there that serves this burning need of rational discourse.

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http://time.blogs.com/daily_dish/2006/08/moore_award_nom.html

Of course, it's got to be sully...

Posted by: mc on August 14, 2006 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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