This is exactly the kind of dystopian horror story that Rod Serling would have thought up. What I find most fascinating about it isn’t its conspiratorial misogyny (Return of Kings publishes crazier and more pedantic pieces than this on a regular basis) but the eerie appearance that Roosh has indeed figured out how to manipulate reality for other people by exploiting technologies that have leapfrogged ahead of the ethics of those using them.
It’s creepy shit. Serling didn’t live to see the effects of the internet, which was still in its embryonic stage during his lifetime, but he was a keen observer of other frighteningly advanced technologies and social control mechanisms: mass advertising, television (his own preferred artistic medium), surveillance, industrial totalitarianism, the atomic bomb, space travel (often by humanoids of dubious existence, but it’s all good). He was certainly adept at exploring the dangers of excessive knowledge and power.
That’s a chap who would have loved him some Google. He would have quite enjoyed Google’s grandiose motto of “don’t be evil:” “And me? I will wear the mask of death, because I am alive!” (Word to the wise: it’s better to doff the mask than to become it.) Google, of course, maintains an instantly searchable database of everyone’s life. It tracks and catalogues everything about everybody. You might say that its search platform has some potential for mischief. Roosh, a globetrotting cockhound who complains bitterly about bar sluts who don’t wear high heels at all times and jump up from a one-night stand to fix him a nice dinner, would enjoy fubaring life for his adversaries in the absence of internet search engines, so a million times the amplification, a million times the fun.
It’s doubtful that this Beltway STEM dropout has a gentlemanly bone in his body; he’s certainly no gentleman in the use of his own gentlemanly bone. If there’s such a thing as karma, dude’s totally gonna end up prostituting himself to the CIA’s little old ladies in tennis shoes. He’ll be the one rolling out of bed and fixing them dinner.
Should an alpha male sexpot be able to bake his old lady a roast? Todd Palin thought so, but it was a lesson too far in domesticity (and intellectual rigor) for his little girl’s baby daddy. As it happens, Levi Johnston managed to contribute to American intellectual life, against all probability, by utterly confouding Larry King with a story about “sheep huntin’.” You learn something new everyday: some days, it’s that your wife is sleeping with your kid’s baseball coach; other days, it’s that one can do things with sheep other than herd them. And unlike Roosh, “I’m a gentleman, Larry. I don’t kiss and tell.” Even if he smirks and giggles like Eric Cantor’s subnormal nephew when confirming that he and Bristol used a condom “most of the time.”
This will surprise, if not also annoy to hell, a wide swath of the American left, but the Palin-Johnston soap opera isn’t ultimately all that salacious or dysfunctional for its principals and immediate hangers-on. When you were married with children in your early twenties (apparently, for Todd and Sarah Palin, as the result of an unplanned premarital pregnancy) and you then spent your subsequent reproductive lives having another kid every two or three years, it doesn’t come as a huge shock when your seventeen-year-old daughter gets knocked up by the village idiot. Sure, you wish he were a bit brighter; he’s now your de facto son-in-law, and you’d rather not have a drooling idiot coparenting your first grandchild, since parenting by dumbos has a way of resulting in a lot of nonsense; but if he’s a decent enough fellow, a good-tempered idiot with enough common sense not to grossly endanger the little tyke’s safety, it could be worse, and you’re relieved that the newest addition to your family isn’t in worse hands. A pregnancy by Levi Johnston is a pregnancy not by some Ed Hardy flatbiller thug or tweaker from the East Medford Ministry of Silly Walks. Hyper K-strategic SWPL families would totally flip their shit over their daughters getting into Bristol Palin’s circumstances and carrying the resulting pregnancies to term, but families like the Palins tend to have enough experience with (or at least exposure to) unplanned teen pregnancies to more or less take them in stride.
Sure, the Palin-Johnston clan milked the fame attendant to Sarah Palin’s Vice Presidential bid like a top-producing Holstein (don’t buy it if you can get it for free, kid), but their stand for family values isn’t just a bunch of cheap talk. They walk the walk, too, if at a slightly slower pace since Levi’s now along for the journey of life. As they always told us in Boy Scouts, the slowest hiker sets the pace for the troop. Levi Johnston, then, is the whiny little dork bawling about how “all I want right now is a fifty-gallon thing of waah-terrrrr,” Todd Palin, the rear-guard troop leader dispatched to mind his sorry ass.
The extended Palin family is a crazy-pants made-for-TV circus even without Mike “Safety Bear” Wooten, but notwithstanding the incredible hot mess that it occasionally becomes, the basic impulses at play are pretty much honorable at heart. It’s the kind of thing where some in-law breaks into someone’s house to steal his beer and the state public safety commissioner ends up out of a job for crossing the dipshit by holding him accountable, but by highlander frontier standards, this stuff is really pretty mild-mannered. No one’s telling his daughter’s boyfriend about how he has a shotgun, a shovel, and plenty of room six feet under in the back forty; the worst this clan is able to muster is retaliatory adverse personnel decisions and hey, kid, since you got my daughter pregnant, maybe I could instruct you in the manly arts of cooking for the family, or, on second thought, I guess it’s less trouble if I broil the roast myself.
What other kind of asshat isn’t making noise on behalf of the Palin family and its values? The prissy dandy who preens about rawdogging strangers he just met in foreign clubs and then mooching off their domestic impulses, for one. It’s like Richard Nixon said about Fred Thompson: “He’s dumb as hell, but he’s friendly.” This Johnston kid ain’t smart, and I have the sneaking suspicion that he can’t match Roosh’s competency as a writer, but he’s less likely to go around smearing his baby-mamma as an intractable carousel-riding slut, and he’s more likely to do his part to support their child as long as he isn’t flat broke and out of work pursuant to his ontological st00pid. If he talks shit about her, it’ll probably be just about her, not about all of womanhood, and it’ll probably be in furtherance of some stupid family beef; I haven’t been watching enough CNN lately to be up on recent developments with this crowd.
To be clear, this model of family formation is pretty volatile, and some things about it are legit wack. Just because the extended Palin family is making a good-faith effort and doing well given the circumstances doesn’t mean that their lives of high-frequency pregnancies in an environment of high ambient drama are worth replicating. They don’t seem to be doing anything ruinous enough by a long shot to merit intervention by child protective services, but it’s also reasonable to say that their family life is pretty fucking crazy and that this is largely on account of their imprudent decisions.
But Roosh. If the extended Palin family look like admirable enough parents and grandparents out of context, they look stunning in the context of pedantic, condescending, self-important, misogynistic pricks who combine the coarsest sort of raunch culture with seedy tradcon concern-trolling of the family, the church, unborn babies, and hidebound “traditional” sex roles, and then roll this incredible pastiche of awfulness into a Social Darwinist/Randian/evo-psych political philosophy verging on Satanism. It’s some seriously gnarly shit. In conspiratorial moments, I suspect that Return of Kings, Chateau Heartiste, and probably other MRA/PUA sites are covertly bankrolled by hard-right plutocratic operators along the lines of the Koch brothers and the Heritage Foundation. It’s speculation, but their hideous politics dovetail exquisitely with those of the worst moneyed incipient tyrants in the land. The evil goes back to Carnegie, the DuPonts, and the Southern slaveholding aristocracy. It’s practically one of this country’s original sins.
Return of Kings is an amazing cesspool. It synthesizes misogyny, contempt for the poor, an obsession with loose women, handwringing over the collapse of traditional sexual values, and contempt for men who adhere to traditional sexual values instead of gaming bar skanks. He has writers describing the benefits of “game” with Dos Equis internet meme references and using Focus on the Family publications to prove that sluts can never settle into stable relationships. (“You aren’t a housewife, Mrs. Bemis; you’re a whore! You don’t understand domesticity, baking, childrearing, monogamy; you understand cocks, carousels of cocks!”) It’s a Rush Limbaugh screed rewritten by a committee of Ross Douthat and Charlie Sheen. Believe it or not, Chateau Heartiste is even worse, in large part because it’s also aggressively racist; frankly, CH is an American prose version of Radio Mille Collines, its saving grace being that its audience is (so far) small. It beggars the imagination, but what we’re dealing with here are anti-suffragist throwbacks who look relatively good if they aren’t inciting genocide.
The “New York City media liberals” that Roosh wants to destroy are themselves contemptible. Their writing is as sophomoric as anything on Return of Kings, and sometimes worse, with the additional annoyance of being pervaded with passive-aggression instead of RoK’s house style of straightforward belligerence mixed with ridiculous condescension. Compared to the insipid feminist left, RoK is honest, and it’s weirdly refreshing. Roosh and his cult boys at least appear to take ownership of their own cultism. As bad as they are, they don’t exude the backhanded smarm and prickly defensiveness of so many feminist bloggers. They’re less censorious (in fact, a lot less censorious) than the likes of Nitasha Tiku, Roosh’s main scapegoat for his how-to in destroying media liberals. Tiku really rubs me the wrong way. Maybe I put too much stock in the photographs of strangers, but there’s something off-putting about her demeanor. It’s kind of snarly and haughty. Worse, her style of argumentation appears pretty unethical. She apparently has a history of firing the first shot, then turning around and trying to censor her targets when they return fire. If I’m assessing her behavior accurately, it’s reprehensible. No one should be given quarter to be a chameleon-like woman-child. No one should be given dispensation to arbitrarily reset the rules of engagement on the fly at any sign of resistance. At the risk of using a disreputable metaphor, if she can’t take the heat, she needs to get the hell out of the kitchen.
This doesn’t mean that Roosh has cause to barge into the kitchen brandishing a tire iron and a flamethrower. One of Roosh’s arguments is that since he and his manosphere allies are being attacked by unscrupulous feminist adversaries out to destroy their careers, they should respond in kind and abandon all scruples. This is an exceptionally bankrupt worldview. Another of his arguments is that since the major online media outlets employing these feminist smear artists (Salon, HuffPo, etc.) are impervious to attack, the appropriate thing to do is to destroy the reputations and careers of individual writers who are already living beyond their paychecks (if they’re paid at all) in expensive markets and beholden to the good graces of current and prospective employers for career advancement. The specific retaliatory tactic that Roosh proposes is to organize blog posses to trash the online reputations of writers, mostly junior writers, who smeared manosphere bloggers so that the former are preemptively disqualified from future jobs when hiring managers discover the scandalous things that they published online.
This son of a bitch deserves to get sued to kingdom come. I’m not kidding. What Roosh is proposing here is the exploitation of already tortiously bad hiring practices in order to deprive what amount to his political opponents of a living for the rest of their lives. He’s trying to worm his way into the personnel departments of companies where he has no business at all. His goal is to gin up a vigilante junta to blacklist his political opponents from the outside. The moral character of his adversaries is immaterial; what he’s encouraging, and has in fact already done to Nitasha Tiku, is absolutely filthy.
It’s also quantifiably tortious. A court can easily calculate the earning potential stolen from a plaintiff by this kind of rat bastardy. Using rough lowball figures, it’s something like $20k per annum ramping up to $60k, multiplied by the total number of years of income lost through retirement age. This means that unless Roosh smears someone who’s provably on track for a part-time career on the Burger King fry line, he can expect to be on the hook for a million or two per pop, and that’s before attorneys’ fees and court costs. Worse, he is exposed to this liability at a time when he has published a methodical description of how he believes his opponents’ careers can be most effectively destroyed with negative search engine optimization, including bragging about how he successfully used these specific tactics against a specific adversary.
This sort of cutthroat asshattery will be a most munificent and fitting gift to the trial bar. Could be good business for process servers in Eastern Europe, too. That law train’s a-comin’ down the track, and you never know when Casey Jones will ram that motherfucker clear up to Run 8. As they say on Return of Kings, you’ve been warned. It may not happen today or tomorrow, and if you intimidated a really pathetic weenie it may not happen at all, but if you’re pulling a Roosh and scheming to deprive someone of a cool million over the next forty years because she made you all hurty on teh interwebz, you’ll want to be ready for some plaintiff’s attorney to go full Admiral Farragut up your ass.
It could hardly be uploaded into a more deserving data port.