Daniel Henninger is (Probably) Not a Cannibal
April 24, 2006
Mr. Henninger, I had the good fortune to review your column, in which you express, at length and in some detail, your extreme distaste for people publishing their own opinions on the Internet. I wanted to let you know that I am glad that you have published your own opinion on this matter. On the Internet.
Also, you ask, "At the risk of enabling, does the Internet mean that all the rest of us are being made unwitting participants in the personal and political life of, um, crazy people?" Your example aside, I think not. I fear you are the exception to the rule, though if I could ask your indulgence in reviewing some of my own past crazy ramblings, you might understand that I truly appreciate the intellectual dishonesty you exhibit when you mention that you "don't think the blogosphere is breeding cannibals. But..." How could you lower the legendarily high standards of the Wall Street Journal's editorial page by making such an accusation without factual evidence to back it up?
The truth is, it is still an open question whether the growth of cannibalism around the world is due to the blogosphere, or whether this growth is in fact due to instant messaging. Let's get some fact-checkers on this!
Referring to the growing trend towards "uninhibited speech", you lament, "On the Web and on the street, more people than not talk like this now." Truly, these outbreaks of free speech are a scourge and a disappointment. Your examples of this reckless tendency for people, even poor or uneducated ones, to say whatever they want serve an important purpose. The litany of transgressions helps call attention to how these cannibals-in-training are inflicting their "thoughts" on anyone without filtering, or indeed, without even asking you.
It's almost as if free expression for people who aren't editors at newspapers is a gateway to the consumption of human flesh, just as access to the postal service is a gateway to incest and bigamy. And who are the people treading this dangerous path of expressing themselves? It's not just young people on the Internet; It's exactly those whom you'd expect to hasten the end of civilization and our inexorable descent into savagery:
- Hip hop artists
- Actors on the Sopranos (curse that HBO!)
- Construction workers
- People who go to bars
And also, people who comment on the Huffington Post.
Most importantly, you've pointed out "the isolation of Web life" and the serious implications of unfettered communications. Indeed, those who would claim that bloggers, or even those who merely use email, are communicating with "other people" on the Internet have a grave misunderstanding of the medium. Unlike your own efforts to publish your opinions on the web, when any average people, or even a mere construction worker, publish our thoughts on the Internet, we have only one goal in reaching other people.
We want to eat them.