‘Dear verminous cretin’: Smiggy replies to a reader

In response to ‘Theyocracy: The argument’, Nancy Lebovitz writes:

I realize it’s unreasonable to expect a demon to supply links or evidence.

I looked up Cruz’s speech, and it seemed like a bunch of insults, and lacked a description of what Obama had done which was so awful.


I found the above, which claimed that Cicero was pushing for insurrection, and Cruz quoted him with that in mind. This may or may not be true, but it’s certainly not a general attack on politicians using classical quotations.

What are your sources?

H. Smiggy McStudge answers for his own purposes, not for Ms. Lebovitz’s benefit, so you must excuse the whiff of brimstone. For my own part, I apologize to Ms. Lebovitz. It is not that Smiggy lacks manners; he understands them exquisitely, and when he is offensive, he always does it on purpose. But Smiggy will be Smiggy, and if I edited out his rudeness, half of his meaning would be lost along with it. If you took all the malice out of him, you could not see him without an electron microscope. I hold you in high regard, Ms. Lebovitz, whatever a McStudge may please himself to say.

My dear verminous cretin,

You are only a human, and your powers of comprehension are therefore minimal. I therefore shall not try to simplify my response for your benefit. As a matter of principle, I never do anything for the benefit of humans.

What we have here is a fine, nay, a shining and glorious example of the befuddlement wrought by our Propaganda Division. A human knows vaguely about Cicero: that, from our point of view, is a great evil in itself. Fortunately the evil is self-limiting: it cannot spread its infection so far as to interest the human in discovering the truth, for that would require effort.

At one time, as I wrote previously, every learned person knew who Cicero was, and who Catiline was, and exactly what they did; they had the Orationes in Catilinam by heart, and knew what the issues were, and why Cicero said what he did. The more intelligent among them even knew where he was exaggerating his case, and when he was outright lying (for Cicero was a human, too, and a politician at that). No more. Thanks to the comprehensive reform of the human schools wrought by our Propaganda Division, the schools no longer turn out learned vermin. What they produce instead are educated vermin: that is, creatures that puff themselves up with pride in their superior intellect, but actually know very little and understand nothing. We teach them not to understand.

How that is done is a matter for another lengthy treatise, which I am not, at present, commissioned to write, but could if I chose. The fundamental principle is that we instruct the humans to reverse the functions of the head and the heart. Nature would have these creatures use their emotions to want things, and their reason to figure out whether the things are good to have, and how to go about getting them. Instead, the whole thrust of modern education is to make them try to reason out what they ought to want (or rather, what it is socially approved to want), and then consult nothing but their feelings as they go about getting it. And we carefully prevent them from receiving any real training for either their hearts or their heads, so they will be hopelessly incapable of using these faculties even for the wrong purposes. The ideal product of this is a human who shrewdly and cold-bloodedly calculates what his peers will praise him for seeming to want, and then goes out and demands that thing (which he does not actually desire at all) by a series of tantrums and manipulations. I am very happy to say that this ideal product has been realized. The universities, which once were disgusting sinks of rationality and enlightenment, now turn out perfect idiots by the millions.

You, my poppet, probably conceive yourself to be unusually intelligent; and you are, at that, for a human: you ask for sources, at least, and have a disquieting habit of not trusting your media implicitly, which your schooling has not entirely expunged. Fortunately, you have to a considerable degree imbibed our instruction, particularly as touching this inversion of reason and emotion. In your natural state, you would consult your reason about the matter of Mr. Cruz’s speech, and your reason would tell you that a quick Google search would provide you with both the text of Cicero’s speech and that of Mr. Cruz’s. The former can be found in hundreds of repositories of classical literature, both in the original Latin and in translation. The latter can be found in the transcripts of the United States Senate. Neither source is protected by copyright: the one because it is very old, the other because it is a matter of public record and exempted from copyright by statute. All this you could have done with five minutes’ work, if you had consulted your reason. Instead, having reasoned out what you are supposed to want, you let your emotions do the rest. And they tell you to say, ‘I want it,’ and demand that someone else perform the work. It is the spirit of the campus protester, and we McStudges love to see it. Hey hey, ho ho, library research has got to go.

However, I shall throw you a bone with a little meat clinging to it, because you may end up fighting over the scraps with some other disgusting animal, and that, too, is something we McStudges love to see. Here is an article containing an exact transcript of both speeches, cleverly formatted to show which of Cicero‘s words Mr. Cruz left out, and which words are his own interpolations. It even comes from one of the fountains of mendacity and misinformation that we have trained you to regard as authoritative:

Ted Cruz goes Peak Senate in opposition to Emperor Obama’ (Philip Bump, Washington Post blogs, 20 Nov. 2014).

There; and so much for you. Now, my junior McStudges, observe how this half-learned lump makes a hopeless hash of the issue at hand. She has heard of Cicero; she has even read the Atlantic article (by a qualified Professor of Classics, no less); but she comes away with a total misunderstanding of the situation, because she is only half learned and has no adequate frame of reference. Every schoolboy, as I have said, once learnt Latin as a matter of course, and the cleverer ones were rewarded by being taught Greek, and flogged for getting it wrong. (The flogging was entirely satisfactory, from the McStudge point of view. The learning was thoroughly regrettable; and we have sadly given up the transitory pleasure of sadism for the solid and permanent reward of making humans even more stupid.) Girls were not subjected to this process, partly because of the gross prejudice against the female intellect which we propagated among the humans in those times; but more because the humans had a delicacy about flogging girls and refused to do it. This delicacy, which they regarded as arising from chivalry, was primarily sexual in nature; but this is not the place for that discussion. In any case, Ms. Lebovitz is about as ignorant in this matter as her ancestresses were, except that she imagines herself to be a free and equal citizen, as good and as educated as any man. And if she is right, it is only because we have worked so long and hard to bring the men down to her level.

Now, being in this condition of vague near-literacy, our subject has some idea who Cicero was, but none about Catiline. She consults this Professor of Classics, whom we have taught her to regard as an Authority, and who is published by that awful and infallible Authority, the Atlantic rag. For we have taught the humans to put all their trust in secondary sources, having a superstitious fear of primary information, and only daring to approach it through the offices of the clerisy. We train them never to do their own thinking, but to rely on other people’s interpretations of fact. These interpretations are spoon-fed into the humans, who cannot even tell for themselves whether the spoon contains food or arsenic.

So our Professor of Classics (who, being a teacher by trade, knows all about his subject but has no idea how to teach) explains the whole matter very badly, and with his own partisan prejudices on naked display, and naturally his reader gets everything mixed. The Professor actually claims that Mr. Cruz was accusing Mr. Obama of murder and treason, because of the words that Mr. Cruz took explicit trouble not to say. No, Sir: Mr. Cruz was accusing Mr. Obama of unconstitutional abuse of his office, which is of course technically correct, but all politicians in this age are guilty of that. But to know that, one would have to attend to the words Mr. Cruz actually spoke, and not slyly insinuate that he really meant the words that he did not speak; and that would not give a Professor of Classics an opportunity to show off his own erudition. Besides, any stick will do to beat a dog.

Faced with this mess, this three-agenda train-wreck of an argument, our subject ferrets out a conclusion that is pretty exactly the reverse of the facts. She imagines that it was Cicero who was preaching insurrection against Catiline; and she is reinforced in this by the evident fact that Mr. Obama is President of the United States and Mr. Cruz is only a Senator – and also, we need hardly doubt, by the partisan prejudices that we have ladled into her head, which she may fondly imagine to be her own. In fact, it was Catiline who was a mere senator, who had raised a private army to overthrow the State; and it was Cicero, in his office of consul, who held the supreme executive authority in that State.

By casting himself as Cicero, Mr. Cruz pretends that he is defending the American republic against a dangerous and violent demagogue who wants to destroy it. This, of course, is absurd. It goes without saying that Mr. Obama is a demagogue, and he would dearly love to destroy the republic and substitute a rational and enlightened totalitarianism. But he is far too effete to be violent, and too incompetent to be dangerous; and anyway, he can do nothing without answering to us. Contrary to popular belief, politicians do have souls to sell: we buy them by the ton, very cheaply, and then use them as we will.

As I say, every learned person used to know about Cicero and his chums; but thanks to our efforts, the knowledge is now safely confined to a small group of history buffs, and even among the history buffs, it is only the Roman Republican history buffs who understand the matter in any detail. Consequently, nobody is in a position to appreciate Mr. Cruz’s little joke, or even understand his bald meaning, except the devotees of an obscure and unpopular hobby. The intellectual classes are as much in the dark as Ms. Lebovitz; the general public is in the dark absolutely.

For the specialization of labour is one of the great achievements of the humans, by which they have produced cornucopias of wealth, supporting billions in abundance where once there were a few millions in constant fear of famine. This, I need not say, is a very grave evil. To our credit, my fellow McStudges, we have turned this to account, by one of the moves which we learnt at the feet of the Old Original Studge himself. We have made a parody of it. We have taught the humans to confuse labour with knowledge, and to make bad analogies between them; so they suppose that specialization of knowledge is as desirable as specialization of labour. The result is that no human knows both the beginning and end of any given question. They rely upon principles that they have never even heard spoken, and work towards conclusions that they will never see, and that would horrify them if they did. In between, their reason works only on their little station on the assembly-line of thought, tightening Nut #24-B on Sub-assembly F. Only the philosophers and theologians, nowadays, try to concern themselves with the entirety of any question, from first principles down to final answers. And we have taught the humans to regard both philosophy and theology as useless and even stupid pursuits, and thereby cut them off from any possibility of meaningful knowledge.

For this achievement, our Propaganda Division is to be praised in every corner of the machinery. Let every McStudge raise his voice; let us all shout encomiums. But let us not reward them, for there is a war on, and much work still to do. Were I in charge of that Division, I would order the floggings to be temporarily reduced, since morale has evidently improved. But only temporarily. Let no one ever forget that we are on a mission that is more important than any of us, and that War is Hell, and Hell is War. Now, my fellow McStudges, get back to your work, or I will have your numbers for it, and put every one of you on report.

And as for you, my dear disgusting Ms. Lebovitz, if you have read this far and not yet died of an apoplexy: I thank you for making yourself an object lesson in the success of our propaganda. It is not your own fault that you are a fool; we take all the credit for that. Likely you would have been an intelligent being without our intervention, and there is some danger even yet that you may become one. From now on, you will be watched. Think on that from time to time, and tremble. Meanwhile you may have a kick in the teeth and a bone for your supper: which is a better reward than you have any right to expect from me.

And now I must return to my austere and noble duties, which you could not possibly comprehend; and I sign myself

   Your infinite and indifferent superior,
   H. Smiggy McStudge


  1. Stephen J. says

    The devil doth protest too much, methinks. (In his assessment of Ms. Lebovitz’s character, at any rate.)

    His charges against our culture in general ring much truer, though I am pleased to see he commits the same error as all his breed; for all his threats of watching, it is clear he has no real expectation of being understood, and speaks purely to gratify his own pride through assuming his audience’s incomprehension. For it to occur to him, even for a moment, that a mere human may better understand his words, and he himself, than he realizes; for him to wonder if the trinket he tosses to one he sees as less than a dog might become a weapon in the mind of one who can use it against him; for him to remember that we beings who live in Time, and must adapt to an objective and changing reality, are by that necessity of adaptation always capable of being broken free of any spiritual paralysis — these thoughts will never occur, can never occur, to him. Which is why he will lose, in the end.

    • In just the same way, when Sauron had Thráin son of Thrór in his dungeon at Dol Guldur, he robbed him of his Ring of Power and then left him to rot – leaving him with the map and key which Thorin would receive and use in The Hobbit. As Gandalf observed in ‘The Quest of Erebor’ (Unfinished Tales):

      ‘A small oversight; but it proved fatal. Small oversights often do.’

      Or for that matter, as Syndrome said in The Incredibles:

      ‘You sly dog, you got me monologuing!’

      • Of course, in Incredibles, nothing is more logical than Syndrome going to gloat over Mr. Incredible. Half the pleasure of the revenge would be lost if Mr. Incredible thought it was just dumb bad luck that he died.

        • ‘Logical’ is perhaps not the best word. But he was certainly motivated to do it.

          That scene not only completed the parody of a Bond villain; the parody was actually better than the original. How often does that happen?

  2. “The universities, which once were disgusting sinks of rationality and enlightenment, now turn out perfect idiots by the millions.”

    Jesse Weiner provides a perfect example, judging by the Atlantic article: http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2014/11/ted-cruz-confused-about-cicero/383066/

    • I don’t mean to be an ass about this, but that is the same link Nancy Lebovitz consulted, which is included with her comment, and it was that precise article that Smiggy eviscerated in his unutterably rude reply.

      But it is very good that you testify independently: for a McStudge is always a liar, even when he happens to weave facts in with his lies, and the word of an honest man necessarily carries far more weight. So thank you for that.

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