Scott Adams – Dilbert – Just Can’t Stop Digging

Is it good news or bad news that Scott Adams is the one who can’t stop talking about his recent gender faux pas? Or that he is so convinced of his own importance that he is convinced the rest of us still give a shit? Or that he’s now attempting to express what he assumes will pass for “serious” thoughts on the “serious” matter of whether men or women are treated more unfairly by society, which seems to be the only thing he has left to talk about?

The answer, of course, is that there is no good news when it comes to Scott Adams. If you drink a lot of beer with friends, perhaps you’ve noticed a phenomenon. Well in his or her cups, someone says something stupid and offensive. Someone else tells them it was stupid and offensive. The first friend says, “But everything I say is smart, so you must have misunderstood me. And why is it offensive anyway? See, all I’m trying to say is–”

It never ends well.

So in case you missed it, here’s the short version. As Violet observed in her recent Nibbles, Dilbert creator Scott Adams created a kerfuffle recently when he said some unsupportable, weird, and stupid things about women, men, and the mentally challenged. He then made it “all go away” by taking the post down when people complained.

But Adams hasn’t been reading the inter-office memos the rest of us have been helpfully placing on the bulletin board. Any idiot knows you can’t kill Stupid — not on the internet, which is apparently its natural habitat, judging by the fact that’s principle advertiser appears to be — wait for it — Groupon! Isn’t this fun?

Post UPDATE and response to comments after the jump.

Adams also trolled feminist blogs with inflammatory comments berating people who objected to his post. Then he bragged on his own blog about trolling feminist blogs and posting inflammatory comments. “Wow,” I can hear you all saying. “How much cooler can this guy be?”

The answer is in his post from the 27th, where he bragged about trolling and reposted his original dumb comments — and his post on the 28th, when he makes up several derogatory neologisms to abuse people who objected to his dumb comments, while actually (believe it or not) berating such people for labeling him — and his post of the 29th, when he’s apparently coined yet another neologism to describe people who criticize him. For a guy who made his career criticizing corporate doublespeak, he sure uses a lot of it.

Then there’s his post of the 30th, when he takes a break from considering gender politics to pat himself on the back for making fun of the green movement, as far as I can tell without having read beyond the headlines of the posts he links to — and his post on the 31st, when he tried to nail himself to a cross because (he claims) he got fired not once but twice specifically for being male and white (are you as suspicious of that claim as I am?)

Frankly, this wouldn’t still be going on in the first place without lots of effort on Adams’s part…but he makes it all look so effortless. In fact, it almost seems to come naturally!

Adams should have cut his losses at the start. Where I come from, shrugging and “agreeing to disagree” is a reasonable way to save face when you’ve been outed publicly for believing the absolute most shit-stupid things a human ever believed, and not even being able to articulate those worth a damn. But Adams’s original flavor of idiocy is more insidious than any garden-variety Stupid. It’s packed with classically reactionary red herrings. In making his “argument,” Adams cherry-picked examples that he doesn’t bother to support. He then props up straw men to argue with. He puts words in other peoples’ mouths and tells them they’re wrong. But that’s not all he does.

He uses the language of the social sciences — without once utilizing the critical thinking facilities absolutely necessary to posit a defensible social sciences argument. He doesn’t address specific facts or studies or methodologies or definable social trends; he just lays down made-up crap that, he claims, that the opposing monolithic armies of “women” and “his readers” have supposedly convinced themselves of.

If he had anything to say in the first place, he might have come up with just one coherent point, rather than straw men, made-up shit and “conventional wisdom.” On the other hand, he could have been talking out his ass. That’s a time-honored tradition of media figures who open their mouths on a topic they don’t know jack shit about. But they should balls to admit it when they’re caught doing it.

Instead, Adams has adapted a classic technique of right-wing trolls: the unsupportable (or at least unsupported) pathology of unreasonable minds puts on the dress shirt and curlicue necktie of “telling-it-like-it-is.”

“Telling it like it is” is another way to describe the favored refuge of every flavor of bigot: “I’m just saying what everyone knows.” This is the Pulls No Punches, privilege-defending bully. That’s one thing when it comes from Glen Beck. But when Adams does it, it’s even more disturbing.

Why? Because “telling it like it is” is exactly what Dilbert always claimed to do.

Dilbert claimed the mantle of “telling it like it is” even after its cubicle-farm satire got turned into “Guides to management” designed for managers in cubicle farms. And in so doing, Adams’s Fifteen Minutes of Satire devolved very quickly into a rabid defense of male privilege. In Dilbert’s world, the smart guys with boots on the ground always know more than the dumb assholes in management. And the ones in management are the ones making “rules” about appropriate behavior, sometimes dictated by civil rights legislation — thus pissing on the Privilege Parade of the put-upon straight white male that Adams feels compares favorably in terms of his talents and qualifications to such Untermenschen as women, kids and the mentally handicapped.

Those rules are there for a reason: because society changes when society is changed. That’s why women get to complain if they make 80 cents on the dollar. That’s why men get to complain if they don’t get equal time off for childcare. But Adams tries to have it both ways. He tries to support his “argument” using the language of the social sciences, but then he disregards social sciences discipline. Is science smart or stupid, Dilbert? Make up your fucking mind and stick to it. Or is never having to support what you say just one of the things white guys like us are supposed to get as a bonus when they hand us our male privilege?

Viewed in that context, writing Adams’s bizarre assertions off as simple sexism would be a mistake. It’s another symptom of the abandonment of critical thinking in favor of the view that “everyone’s opinion is equal.”

Then again, are sexism and male privilege ever simple? Of course not. Nor is idiocy; it’s among the most complicated things in the universe. There are infinite variations of Dumbshit, and every day someone out there is discovering new ones.

Lately, it’s usually been Scott Adams.

So maybe I’ll try to recruit a posse of Sociologists, Anthropologists, and Cultural Geography grad students to help me track Scott Adams down and punch him in the face.

Think he’d hit back?


Judging from the response to my post earlier today about Scott Adams and Dilbert, I have placed myself squarely in the intellectual cross-hairs of white men out there who feel they are getting a raw deal by society.

Did I suggest that white guys do not ever get discriminated against? No. The whole point of my post was that Adams’s assertions were unsupported and represented an obsessive clinging to male privilege. I don’t think that means men — or anyone who is ever discriminated against — should “get over it” (VB note: as women are told to do every time they raise their voices over something that places value on their sex and gender over their humanity).

On the contrary, I believe all forms of gender discrimination are bullshit. I’ve gone hammer-and-tongs at this with some friends of mine. I do not believe doing unfair shit to men because they’re men is justified because we’ve got it so easy. I don’t believe that for a second, and if you do, then you’re not on my side in the overall debate. But for the record, Scott Adams isn’t on anyone‘s side. He hates us all.

When I implied that Adams was the one who had “…been outed publicly for believing the absolute most shit-stupid things a human ever believed, and not even being able to articulate those worth a damn,” I was perhaps naive in believing that it would be clear that I meant Adams’s own assertion that:


The reality is that women are treated differently by society for exactly the same reason that children and the mentally handicapped are treated differently. It’s just easier this way for everyone. You don’t argue with a four-year old about why he shouldn’t eat candy for dinner. You don’t punch a mentally handicapped guy even if he punches you first. And you don’t argue when a women tells you she’s only making 80 cents to your dollar. It’s the path of least resistance. You save your energy for more important battles.

How many times do we men suppress our natural instincts for sex and aggression just to get something better in the long run? It’s called a strategy. Sometimes you sacrifice a pawn to nail the queen. If you’re still crying about your pawn when you’re having your way with the queen, there’s something wrong with you and it isn’t men’s rights.

[Link to Tiny Sprout so Adams won’t get any revenues from his advertiser Groupon, a company that thinks Tibetan genocide is high-LARious.]


Yes, that’s actually what Scott Adams said. Would someone like to defend that?

Adams is also the one who told you, and I quote:

Get over it, you bunch of pussies!

Had I chosen to assert (which, just in case you’re not paying attention, I did not and do not) that men are never discriminated against in the workplace, a cherry-picked example or two of a crappy experience you personally had might have set me straight. I didn’t, I don’t, and I’m not asking for examples.

Nor will I suggest for an instant that I don’t have sympathy for individual examples where men were treated badly for being men. I do. Gender discrimination is wrong, and in some cases illegal. In other cases it’s not illegal only because it’s hard to prove. I don’t give a rat’s ass if it’s a man or a woman being discriminated against — it’s wrong.

However, I would like to hear the whole story of how Adams got fired twice for being a white male before I believe any aspect of it. But that’s because he’s proven himself to be completely incoherent and defensive on many occasions. He also loves to make crap up to prove his point. But that’s about Scott Adams, not any other man who claims to have been discriminated against. My saying “white men” tend to be whiny would be as essentialist as Scott Adams saying women are stupid. Scott Adams is whiny. Sarah Palin is stupid. That doesn’t mean Margaret Thatcher is dumb because Palin is, or that another man who asserts that he has been the victim of discrimination is whiny just because Scott Adams is.

For the record, an African-American woman asserting that she was fired for being a woman would get the same skeptical treatment from me. I do not accept accusations of discrimination at face value because I’ve heard too many people paint themselves in a rosy glow and their enemies in sludge in order to silence other people who are criticizing them. This tendency pretty much crosses all gender and racial divides, in my experience.

If you, however, are a man who’s been discriminated against, I am not the person telling you to “get over it.”

That’s not my style. To do so would be rude. I don’t care if you’re male, female, or trans, if there has been a gender double standard, that sucks and you have my compassion — and NO, I am not being sarcastic.

However, my compassion toward you is not relevant to whether Scott Adams is a douchebag. Don’t forget, he is the one who called you names and suggested you get over it. Here:


A man only digs in for a good fight on the few issues that matter to him, and for which he has some chance of winning. This is a strategy that men are uniquely suited for because, on average, we genuinely don’t care about 90% of what is happening around us.


Who’s the man-hating pig here? This son of a bitch Scott Adams is going to tell me “we” don’t genuinely don’t care about 90% of what is happening around us, and I’m going to get accused of taking the side of “uppity feminists?”

What the f#$*#!$!! do you mean “we,” white man?

Examples and counter-examples do not necessarily add up to social trends, but for the record I believe a white man discriminated against for being a white man should have access to legal, professional and social redress.

He should. He does. You know why those laws were put in place? To protect women and minorities. If he doesn’t like the redress options available to him, I don’t blame him. A white man far smarter and more talented than Scott Adams or me once said:


The law isn’t justice. It’s a very imperfect mechanism. If you press exactly the right buttons and are also lucky, justice may show up in the answer. A mechanism is all the law was ever intended to be.


That’s Raymond Chandler, and he knew and I know and (hopefully) you know that an awful lot of women and minorities over the years have been on the unlucky side of pushing all those right buttons. Does that mean that the complaints of white men who believe they are discriminated against are, should they prove supported by evidence, somehow less important? Well, just speaking for myself, I sure as hell didn’t say that, nor would I.

You know who did? Scott Adams:


Now I would like to speak directly to my male readers who feel unjustly treated by the widespread suppression of men’s rights:

Get over it, you bunch of pussies.


That’s not me. That’s Scott Adams. Blame the asshole who said this shit, rather than the person pointing out what an idiot he is.

Throughout history, certain people have made enormous sacrifices to ensure that a system of laws existed to protect everyone’s rights. Laws that for decades or centuries had excluded certain populations from the power structure were challenged and changed, often at the cost of peoples’ lives. You know what? They did a shitty job, because, as Chandler said, “The law is only a mechanism.” But it’s a damn sight better than not having one.

And you know who changed those laws? Women. Men. Minorities. Whites. Black women, white women, Latinas, Asian women, black men, immigrants, Native Americans…every flavor of human came together, and continues to come together, to fight discrimination. These are people who believed that no one is free when others are oppressed.

The freedoms we have in this country give incredible opportunity both to men and to women of all ethnicities and background. They do a shitty job of it. But they do a hell of a lot better job than most other places. That is true partially because those opportunities are guaranteed in the law — and if American law is an imperfect mechanism, it is, to my mind, much less imperfect than Sharia, or Turkish law, or the law in Russia or China or Uzbekistan or Colombia.

Those freedoms were won not by whiners, but by patriots. They were won by people of all genders, races, and religions, or lack thereof, who didn’t wait until they were discriminated against to raise holy hell and demand that action be taken.

That included — believe it or not — a significant number of white men.

Those white men were ones who did give a damn about what happens around us.

They were not Scott Adams.

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  1. Since mine is the only currently visible, overwhelmingly negative comment, I’m assuming you’re talking about me when you mention being in the “intellectual cross-hairs of white men out there who feel they are getting a raw deal by society” (unless you’re referring to e-mails – correct me if you like).

    But I never even said I was male, did I? Nor did I ever say anything even close to suggesting that I give a rat’s ass about discrimination – be it against men, women, or those of us who are somewhere in between. On a personal level, or more generally. So my overall response to that is simply, “huh?”

    In fact, I was explicitly suggesting that you read Adams’s argument more carefully. Specifically, the part where he says “I realize I might take some heat for lumping women, children and the mentally handicapped in the same group. So I want to be perfectly clear. I’m not saying women are similar to either group. I’m saying that a man’s best strategy for dealing with each group is disturbingly similar. If he’s smart, he takes the path of least resistance most of the time, which involves considering the emotional realities of other people.”

    And wasn’t all of this originally about that comment at the beginning of his original post? But that wasn’t even his point. His point was that he’s sick of hearing people whine about discrimination. (I understood that. But then, I don’t wander through life looking for things that I can claim offend me.) At some point – I can’t for the life of me figure out where – this became a discussion about discrimination and someone’s very specific notion of justice. I would hazard a guess that this transition took place about the same time Thomas realized that his criticism of Scott Adams made no sense.

    In fact, to be honest, the entirety of this post sounds like an extended attempt to demonstrate one’s moral superiority in as many ways as possible, using as many words as possible. After reading the entire thing twice, I can honestly say I have no clue what it is the author is trying to say, other than (a) he is a better, more socially concerned person than Scott Adams, and (b) Groupon is also morally inferior. And it took him over 2,500 words (a significant portion of which was devoted to unnecessary profanity and name-calling) to make those points.

    Of course, if one is dedicated to viewing the world in terms of gender, race, or whatever else is in PC-vogue at the moment, it’s relatively easy to scribble out page after page of sanctimonious indignation. We’ve come a long way in terms of recognizing individual rights at an institutional level. We’ve actually reached the point where we can afford to care less. Adams has chosen to take advantage of that. This doesn’t mean everyone has to.

    It also doesn’t mean he’s any of the things you say he is (other than occasionally inarticulate).

  2. @Kenton — Indeed using “telling it like it is” as a cover for repeating a prejudice is not limited to the right, but I was taking aim specifically at trolls, not cartoonists.

    “Telling it like it is” can potentially be a stand-in for an unsupported claim from anywhere on the political spectrum.

  3. On one hand, I’m surprised – This is a reasonably smart guy, he writes Dilbert, he figured out how to cure his own speech condition through singing.

    And then I remember, Dilbert has devolved from funny office geek comic into what amounts to “Family Circus, But replace the christian overtones with engineering jokes, and set it in an office”, I remember that he’s also a dead-set beliver in Affirmation – Not that he declares a lot of things true, I’m talking about The Secret with the serial numbers filed off – and some of the other ludicrous garbage he’s come out with over the years.

    I’m no longer surprised.

  4. Did you even read the original piece carefully? Do you even understand what he was trying to say in his original post? Albeit, Adams did a monumentally crappy job of explaining his point, but I think it’s fascinating that no one appears to have made any attempt to understand what the man was actually arguing. It appears that everyone has just seen the words “women,” “children,” and “mentally handicapped” in close lexical proximity and assumed he’s a terrible sexist. Or – even worse – his critics have engaged in a long, drawn-out deconstruction of Scott Adams and Dilbert as they relate to gender. You know… the kind of thing that no one outside college Humanities departments has the patience to try to understand. God help us.

    Go back and read Adams’s original post. Then come back here, re-state what he was saying in your own words, and explain how your point logically connects to his.

    Or, just follow your own advice and leave stupid alone.

  5. White male heterosexual guy type. · Edit

    Right, so how did the proverb go… even if you win a discussion on the internet – you’re still an r-tard. Apply here, then realise that you’re just feeding the trolls. You’re wasting your breath and logic, really. Guys like that just cannot be put right – or offended. They live for picking fights. Don’t let them.

  6. “Instead, Adams has adapted a classic technique of right-wing trolls: the unsupportable (or at least unsupported) pathology of unreasonable minds puts on the dress shirt and curlicue necktie of “telling-it-like-it-is.””

    Hardly confined to the right cf Tom Tomorrow.

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