Bret “Bedbug” Stephens backs out of a free and open exchange of ideas:
New York Times opinion columnist and man who thinks it’s deeply important to engage in open debate Bret Stephens has backed out of an upcoming scheduled event at George Washington University, where he was set to discuss civil discourse online with professor Dave Karpf. The discussion would have put a bow on a highly public back-and-forth Stephens instigated a month and a half ago, but at the last minute, Stephens insisted that the event be closed to the public. When Karpf disagreed, Stephens pulled out entirely.
Karpf, for his part, said that if Stephens had never written the column comparing Karpf to Nazi propaganda ministers, he might have relented. “If he’d just said, ‘You know I’ve been teased a lot about this because of that one email that I sent you—I’m willing to talk with you, but I don’t want it to be public,’ then I probably would have been OK with that,” Karpf explained. “But if you’re going to go full Godwin against me in the New York Times, I don’t think you then get to say, ‘Oh, by the way, it’s all off the record from here on out.’ That’s just creating a safe space for him so that he could talk about how the Bretbug affair felt for him, but not in a way that anyone would be able to cover. It didn’t seem reasonable or appropriate to me.”
The key to understanding Stephens is that the Wall Street Journal op-ed page, where he cut his teeth, is one of the most coddled bubbles in the world, a place where nobody would dare to tell you that you’re being ridiculous when you compare being lightly criticized on Twitter to Nazism. He doesn’t want the public to see how far in over his head he is when faced with intelligent criticism, and on some level I can’t even blame him.
Further reading here.
…CS Clark in comments: ” I can’t wait to read the column by Bret Stephens attacking the vicious no-platforming of Bret Stephens by Bret Stephens.”