New York Times writer and all around awful human being Bret Stephens apparently googled himself. He found a tweet with 9 likes and no retweets where the author, a Washington DC university professor jokingly called him a bedbug.
And Stephens totally lost his shit. He wrote a cringy email to the tweeter where claimed that being called a bedbug was some kind of new low for twitter abuse and invited the author to dinner so that he could call Stephens a bedbug to his face in front of Stephens’ wife and kids. If he’d just done that, then there would be no story and the author would have a new after dinner story and that would be that.
But Stephens cc’d a copy of the cringy passive aggressive email to the provost at his university. So… the original tweeter points this out and it quickly goes viral suddenly getting tens of thousands of likes and many thousands of retweets and the combined weaponized tomfoolery of twitter went to town on Stephens. Stephens deleted his account and apparently has gone full morose on TV self-righteosly whimpering about the mean people and comparing the tweeter to a totalitarian government.
There is so much to this story, from supposed free speech champion Bret Stephens becoming unglued at a very innocuous third person insult (not directly aimed at him) to his inappropriate and disproportionate result and the complete lack of humor and grace of his reactions. He’s batting 1000% in fielding the worst possible reaction.
I think the simplest explanation isn’t the insult itself (from a tweet I can’t find right at the moment). Stephens almost only deals with people that he’s not so shocked at the insult – he’s shocked an traumatized that he can’t get an inferior fired for using a disrespectful tone.
These are the new American elites – think skinned crybabies who can dish it out and go crying to mommy provost or mommy tv talk show to whine at the people being mean to him.
He could still save this, by a non-groveling apology for his poor response to the original tweet “Yeah, I overreacted. Sorry about that. I’ll try to do better from now on” and by being a little thicker skinned about the bedbug jokes he’s going to have to endure for a time (joining in briefly would kill it in a hurry). That would be enough. But something tells me he doesn’t have the emotional stability or reserves of personality to carry it off.