The Blog

Snobbery for Dumb People

The Internet allows liberals to be herd activists and conservatives to translate text into different dialects.

11:01 PM, Dec 20, 2001 • By DAVID BROOKS
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SNOBBERY is an ugly thing. The women's television network Oxygen ran an ad in the business section of Wednesday's New York Times. The body of the ad purported to be a series of quotations from made-up middle American newspapers about Oxygen's programming. "Too urban" said "Smalltown News." "Too hip" said "Heartland Journal." "Too smart" said "Mainstream Press." "Too sophisticated" said "Midwest Gazette."

The message of the ad was that Oxygen is too sophisticated for those unlettered rubes who live off the coasts, about as pure an expression of elitism as has been seen since Marie Antoinette lost her head. It boggles the mind to contemplate the mentality of the management at Oxygen, which approved the ad, and of the people at the ad agency who designed it.

To top it all off, of course, Oxygen's programming is as moronic as can be.

In the current Nation, Katha Pollitt plugs an amazing web site: progressivesecretary.org. You sign up and the people at Progressive Secretary will write up left-wing letters for you to send off to politicians. Not only do you not have to form your own opinions, you don't even have to pretend to think for yourself. You just join the herd of progressive independents and they do the thinking for you. Some current letters include:

-Seattle Release WTO detainees and apologize

-Cut Military Budget for 2000

-Letter to President to Lift Iraq Sanctions

-President listen to WTO protests

-Guanajuato Keep pressure on Congeladora

The great virtue of this site is that you don't even have to know why Guanajuato should keep pressure on Congeladora (I think they are two characters in a Brazilian soap opera). All you need to know is that all thoughtful, enlightened people think pressure should be kept up, so you should too.

On the other hand, unenlightened, thoughtless people will be amazed by
The Dialectizer, which takes any piece of prose you paste in and translates it into dialects such as redneck, Swedish chef, and so on. For example, here's Winston Churchill as Elmer Fudd:

You ask, What is ouw powicy? I wiww say, "It is to wage waw, by sea, wand and aiw, wif aww ouw might and wif aww the stwengf that God can give us: to wage waw against a monstwous tywanny, nevew suwpassed in the dawk wamentabwe catawogue of human cwime. Dat is ouw powicy." You ask, "What is ouw aim?" I can answew wif one wowd: "Victowy--victowy at aww costs, victowy in spite of aww tewwow, victowy howevew wong and hawd the woad may be; fow without victowy thewe is no suwvivaw."

I don't know if it's tasteful, but it's an amazing display of computer power. Imagine if they could translate Katha Pollitt into Interesting.

David Brooks is a senior editor at The Weekly Standard.