From Case File: Gotcha-Coming v. Gotcha-Going

Stephen Spruiell, age roughly 12, of the National Review’s Media Blog, is onto another hot story, and this time it involves everybody’s favorite post-Lacanian philosopher, Slavoj Žižek:

Žižek: Far more empirically grounded,
all in all, than Jean Baudrillard

NYT Edits Out Op-Ed’s Final Line: “Who Will Hang George W. Bush”

Michael Moynihan, a friend of mine who works at the Swedish think tank Timbro, sends along this item:

A story you might be interested in: The New York Times published an editorial a week or so ago by Slovenian Marxist Slavoj Zizek ostensibly on the Saddam execution. It was a typically muddled affair, pieced together from earlier Zizek screeds. But it seems that the Times (and the IHT, whose op-ed editor Serge Schmemann told me that he hadn’t seen the original) edited out Zizek’s final sentence, which was published unexpurgated in both Sweden (Aftonbladet) and Spain (El Pais). And what was the offending line? “Which is another reason to ask: Who will hang George Bush?�*

You can find the El Pais version reprinted on a number of Spanish-language anti-war web sites. Just search Slavoj Zizek and “¿Quién ahorcará a George W. Bush?”

I like how the New York Times sees nothing wrong with publishing these nutty rants, so long as a generous dose of white-out is applied to anything that might tip off readers to their true nuttiness.

Meanwhile, in an alternate universe:

OMG!1!!! NYT Publishes line, “Who Will Hang George W. Bush”!!1!!!one!

Everybody in the whole wide world is in a titanic rage at the latest anti-American salvo by the terror-supporting New York Times!11!!!

Woop! Woop! Incoming! The New York Times published an editorial by Slovenian Marxist Slavoj Zizek ostensibly on the Saddam execution. It was a typically muddled affair, pieced together from earlier Zizek screeds. It ends with the line, “Which is another reason to ask: Who will hang George Bush?� Ah-oogah!

Gabble-yabble-yabble woo-woo! Treason, arrests, punishments! Shocked, appalled, outraged!
At last the Times shows its true face, as everybody knew it would all along. TEH CRAP BASTARDS!1!!!eleven! (Seize Them!)

* Among Žižek’s points is that the trial (and the spectacle of the hanging) of Saddam Hussein carefully avoided the dictator’s most grievous crime against the Iraqi people and the world community: that of military aggression against Iran. Žižek draws an obvious connection between this omission and the Bush Administration’s desire to use Iraq, once again, as a means of pursuing a military campaign against Iran. An answer to the question, ‘Who will hang George Bush?’ would be, ‘Naturally, no one.’


Comments: 29


Who will hang George Bush?

Mark Noonan, over the mantelpiece, with a tasteful frame.

Principal Blackman

Mark Noonan, over the mantelpiece, with a tasteful frame.

Hahaha, awesome. It’s like some wingnut version of Clue!

“I say Dan Riehl, on the ceiling over his bed, with anti-commie thumbtacks!”


Mantelpiece? *Bedroom door* *cough*


To whine again, I cited that Zizek essay last week in the long post no one read.


Retardo, I always read your long posts, but have to spend so much time jumping back and forth to Google, Wiki and Miriam Webster I usually don’t have much to say afterwards. But don’t stop, you’re where I get my “History of Punditry” degree…



Of course, being “far more empirically grounded
all in all, than Jean Baudrillard” is like being “far less gay than Paul Lynde”, or “far more rock ‘n’ roll than an Enya album”.

Just sayin’.


I read the long post, too. But I don’t remember the Zizek, maybe I didn’t follow a link. I’ve got a suggestion, for easier searching (I just searched montalban sadly + zizek, I got three posts latest was June 2006). How about adding a year stamp up there?


From Timbro’s “About” page:

Timbro faced an uphill battle in its nascence.

In Sweden? Who’dathunk?

Cornelius Dribble

My memory is failing: somebody please remind me, who was it that coined the phrase, in regards to the Republican outcry over John Kerry’s botched joke, “fake outrage?” It’s a wonderful term that also describes equally well the response to Senator Boxer’s question to Condi Rice last week. Fake outrage is when punditry intentionally wrests a statement out of context in order to divert the press from the issue at hand. Even the most irrational, illiterate, drug-addled, rightwing blowhard knows that Kerry was not insulting the Armed Services and that Boxer was not outing Rice (or whatever it is she is accused of), but if they bellow loud and long enough, people will forget the stench of mendacity (not to mention burning bodies) and turn their wrath upon the meddlesome troublemaker who’s badmouthing Uncle Sam. You can’t argue with somebody who doesn’t really believe what he’s saying in the first place. It’s an age-old bully’s tactic (“are you calling my friend a liar?”), and it’s not surprising to see it being used by so many perpetual adolescents with keyboards.

Anyway, that’s what’s happening here with Zizek. Everybody knows what he’s saying, but accusing a “Marxist” foreignor of inciting regicide is less troublesome than comtemplating the true extent of Bush’s crimes.


Who will hang George Bush?

Pamela, over her bed, next to Marilyn Monroe.



Thanks. I needed that.


Of course, being “far more empirically grounded
all in all, than Jean Baudrillard� is like being “far less gay than Paul Lynde�, or “far more rock ‘n’ roll than an Enya album�.

Far sexier than a Will Ferrell character?


Jeff Gannon, in the TV room, with a Pretzel.


Y’know, Gav, the wingnuts do have a point here, in that the NYT published a provocative leftist essay, but only after a bit of genital mutilation.

One would think Retardo would be just as pissed off about this as anyone at the National Review, but I haven’t seen any protest from him. Or from any other leftists, not even the media-critical ones.


The proper level of abstraction makes things clear.

If someone killed 3000 americans should they be hung?



Porn stars are “hung.” Former dictators, and other criminals, are “hanged.”

(no, this is not original. And the True Source, somewhere in SLOG, was anonymous)


Far sexier than a Will Ferrell character?

Far more relevant than anything that has ever once come out of the donut hole that passes as Jonah Goldberg’s mouth?

And I love the smear about “why aren’t leftists pissed off about this”. Why should we be? People who commit criminal acts are, on occasion, executed. As a matter of fact, if I recall correctly, the last time people were executed by the international community for actions that took place during the conduct of a war, hanging was even the manner of execution used.

None of this applies to George Bush. None of it ever will. Whether or not his actions in launching a war with Iraq are criminal, he’ll never face any demand for justice for it. Henry Kissinger is a completely unabashed war criminal who doesn’t even leave the country until he gets some degree of assurance from his destination’s State department that they aren’t planning on kidnapping him and dragging him off to the Hague, and he’ll go right on living out a nice, comfortable life here in the good old U.S. of A.

I submit that, among the large portion of the rest of the world that doesn’t like us very much, one of the main reasons for that lack-of-like is our “Justice for thee, but not for me” attitude. Remember the reason why we got involved in the *first* Gulf war? It was because of Iraq’s baseless war of aggression against the sovereign state of Kuwait, based upon some never verified claims of slant-drilling on Kuwait’s part.

I’d really like to think that I live in a world where all acts of aggression by one sovereign state against another are judged by the same standard, and all parties judged guilty are held equally culpable. But seriously…I don’t even put teeth under my pillow or leave cookies out for Santa Claus anymore.

Or…..what bago said.



My comment in the “why aren’t leftists pissed off about this” mode was not in reference to the execution itself, but rather to the censorship on the part of the NY Times of the most trenchant line in Zizek’s essay.

Why should leftists be pissed about that? Well, for starters, because it’s censorship. And also, as I thought I’d made perfectly clear, because it is specifically censorship of a leftist viewpoint.

Tell me, out of curiosity: on what grounds do you support the NY Times deleting the critical last line of Zizek’s essay?



It’s not censorship. Zumlautediandthenanumlautedzwhat?anumlautedz!ek submitted his essay to an EDITOR. You know, someone who EDITS? And he got paid for it.

If you’ve ever submitted a piece or even a letter to a newspaper you know they will EDIT words out. It’s what they do. I’m sure it defanged the piece but boo freaking hoo. Liberals are a little busy whining about a disaster across the world to moan about a philosopher who is actually making money.

Famous Soviet Athlete

Y’know, Gav, the wingnuts do have a point here… blahblahblah… One would think Retardo would blahblahblah

I’m sensing a pattern here.

Gloria Throckmorton

What does “teh” mean? It’s often used here and I don’t get the lingo.



A newspaper’s censorship of reporting or opinion pieces can not be brushed aside simply because the deletion is called “editing,” particularly when the redacted material is a) available elsewhere, and b) politically charged. Yes, newspapers censor all the time, and there are perfectly good reasons for it, but such reasons are not in evidence in this case.

Famous Soviet Athlete:

What “pattern” is that? Gav wrote the post, and as far as I can make out, Retardo is the SN editor who would be angered most by “editing” that changes a piece’s politics from far left to, well, less far left.

Still waiting for anyone to tell me why they approve of the NYT editors neutering the essay.


Who will hang George Bush?

The odds on favorite is Cheney, but Rove has to be a close second.


Still waiting for anyone to tell me why they approve of the NYT editors neutering the essay.

Was the editorial printed exactly as it was submitted to the NYT by the author? If your answer is “no,” explain how you know this.


Fine grampaw. I’m a leftist and I’m outraged that the NYTimes edited out the last line. Outraged, you hear? The Times isn’t suitable for fishwrap, let alone reading.

Stupid MSM right-wing corporate bastards at the Times. Oh, how I hate them.


You know all this political stuff bores the hell out of little Stephen. All he really wants to write about are wizards and ninjas.



Given that the essay was printed in many other publications and languages with the line in question intact, I don’t feel it’s unreasonable to suggest that the onus is on you here to show us that the piece was for some reason submitted to the NYT without the final line, as you imply.


Sorry I didn’t get back to this sooner….today was one of those days where I leave for work at six and don’t get back until around ten at night. I hate those days.

If the Times promised Žižek they’d publish his piece as written and then didn’t, then that’s bad form on their part. Shame on them. If they didn’t, then I don’t care.

You see, despite the fairly widespread conceit of a Vast Left Conspiracy to Ruin America, “The Left” is not a monolith. The little I know about Žižek tells me that he’s part of the modern academic postmodern Left – my most humble apologies here if I’ve unfairly tarred him as such. But, if you’ll pardon my going all country on you for a moment, those folks ain’t my kin. I don’t pay much attention to those doofuses, because in my opinion they are wrong about almost everything, and when they are right, it’s merely coincidental that they are right, and not the result of any sign of clear thinking on their part. I’ve always done my best to distance myself from that corner of the Left, and I’ll do so again now: I hereby renounce all affiliations with any organization, group, or individual that thinks highly of the influence on politics of Lacan, Lyotard, Baudrillard, or Foucault, or has ever quoted approvingly from a document containing either the word “monoperspectivalist” or the prhase “discursive metanarrativity”. When the revolution comes, they’ll be second up against the wall. Or third, Or fourth. Or whatever. There. Good enough?

Furthermore, even setting aside the question of whether or not newspapers *can* “censor” things (without government intervention along the lines of the Sedition Act), it’s the fucking editorial section. All those wonderful journalistic standards of objectivity, brevity, clarity, balance and whatever that are supposed to apply to newspaper articles don’t apply in the editorial section. Newspapers can write whatever they flipping well want to in the editorial section. Generally speaking, the idea behind an op-ed section is to balance out the views of the standard editorial line of a newspaper, but even that is a matter of the discretion of the paper’s editorial staff. Back in the day when there used to be genuine independent papers in this country, the bulk of them were pretty obviously partisan in their editorial section, and didn’t spend a lot of time balancing that out with pages designed to be in some way “opposing” the “editorial” slant of the paper. When papers do crap like this in their news section, it’s unethical. In their editorial section – it’s a matter of editor’s discretion. And that isn’t censorship….just wanted to repeat that for the legally impaired out there.

Thirdly….why would anyone care about the editorial section of the Times? Have you looked at the crap they normally publish? David Brooks? Frank Rich? Thomas Friedman? Are there still people anywhere on the planet who take the editorial section of the Times seriously? I feel bad for them.

Fourthly…..if removing a line from this article was a heinous case of censorship – why is it that only leftists should be upset about it? Is censorship wrong, or is censorship only wrong when it affects people you agree with? ( And can anyone explain to me why I’m trying to teach remedial ethics to a windbag at ten thirty at night when I’ve been up since four? Was I just not mothered properly as a child?)

So, to sum up…..someone I don’t agree with and don’t care much for had an article published in a newspaper’s op-ed section that I don’t even read, from which one provocative line was removed, which may or may not have been done with or without the author’s knowledge and/or permission….and I’m supposed to have my knickers in a twist over this. But only because I’m on the politcal left. No one else should really care, because….well, I don’t know why. I guess us lefties have nothing else we really need to be doing with our time.

Right. I’ll be sure to add that to my list of things I’m thoroughly incensed about. When should I pencil that in for?

Apologies for any incoherencies. Apologies again for any typos or too-obscure references to left politics inside baseball. I’m not trying to be obscurantist; it’s just late and I’m tired. Oh, and any comments about “putting people up against the wall” should be read in the ironic manner in which they were authored. I think I’ll reclaim irony from the pomo Left…..right after I finish getting all up in Andrew Rosenthal’s grill for being an evil, censoring bastard.

That’s it. I’m done.


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