Meridianfrost as Jim Taggart: Contrived Laughter in Lieu of Rational Counter-argument

June 17, 2008 by  

I find it difficult to bring myself to watch shows like the Daily Show. Don’t get me wrong, some of the content on that show is quite funny. However, much too much of what today passes for “comedy” (especially on that show) consists of little more than running a clip of someone, then looking into the camera and either laughing or smiling.

The contrived laughter or smile, in such cases, is intended to provoke laughter amongst the viewership, in the hope that the viewership will dismiss the person about whom everyone is laughing. Why do they want the audience to laugh?

Consider that Ayn Rand once said that “humor is the denial of metaphysical importance to that which you laugh at”. I would argue that it follows that contrived laughter is a contrived denial of metaphysical importance to that which you pretend to laugh at. Those who offer up phony laughter believe that, if they can get everyone laughing at Mr. X tripping over a word or scratching his head, they need not provide a rational counter-argument to any argument offerred by Mr. X; they can offer up as “proven” the notion that Mr. X is an moron who can and should be ignored. The goal, of course, is to discourage people from listening to Mr. X’s arguments, for fear those arguments will persuade the listener.

Let us consider a case in point, as it relates to attacks on Objectivism and Objectivists.

Having relentlessly criticized subjectivism and intrinicism, Brandon Cropper (an Objectivist who goes by the youtube handle MrCropper) has established himself as‘s resident thorn in the side of subjectivist and intrinicist youtubers. As a result, there is now literally a cadre of people (especially post-modernists) who apparently cannot get Cropper (and Objectivism) out of their minds and who, as a result, spend much of their time making videos comprised largely of ad hominem attacks on him (or upon Objectivism). Consider, as just one example of how obsessed these people have become, the amount of time and effort that was wasted on this anti-Cropper/anti-Objectivism video:

“When Objectivists Cry” by Meridianfrost

Such efforts bring to mind the old saying that the opposite of love is not hate, but indifference.

However, most of the videos attacking Cropper are even more pathetic than the one above, and fall into the contrived laughter I refer to above. For example, Cropper recently posted a video complaining that he never receives, from a post-modernist, an unequivocal, unambiguous argument about philosophy. Instead, he says, post-modernists (such as Meridianfrost, and other youtubers) are posturing sophists who “always resort to some sort of a metaphor” that is “non-concretizable”.

This ultimately led Meridianfrost to post an eight and a half minute video of himself watching a follow-up video by Cropper in which Cropper (who is a teacher, by trade) reviews metaphor and simile. Meridianfrost watches bits of Cropper’s video, then pauses to look into the camera, smile and/or laugh, and say something which implies that Cropper is a moron. The central thrust of his critique is that, because Cropper is reviewing the topic of metaphor and simile, it must be the case that Cropper himself never learned about metaphor and simile in the first place, such that his comments about post-modernists’ use of metaphor is uninformed, and such that Cropper should be dismissed.

“Mr Cropper Concretizes” by Meridianfrost

Perhaps the only thing more pathetic than Meridianfrost’s obvious attempt to dismiss Cropper without debating him is the fact that 745 people subscribe to Meridianfrost’s channel. They could all save a lot of time by just reading the following passage from Atlas Shrugged, and replacing the word “Jim” with “Meridianfrost”.

“Now this is why I say that you’ll never outgrow your background. If you had, you would have learned to appreciate Dr. Pritchett’s philosophy.”

“What philosophy?”

“If you don’t understand it, I can’t explain.”

She would not let him end the conversation on that favorite formula of his.

“Jim,” she said, “he’s a phony, he and Balph Eubank and that whole gang of theirs…”

– Ayn Rand, “Atlas Shrugged”, pp. 875-876


3 Responses to “Meridianfrost as Jim Taggart: Contrived Laughter in Lieu of Rational Counter-argument”

  1. Elisheva Levin on June 21st, 2008 8:37 pm

    Hi, Paul,

    Now I am not an Objectivist, and to be honest, I cannot even say that I am currently a student of Objectivism, although I have become interested in it due to reading some of Ayn Rand’s fiction. So please excuse my ignorance about some tenents of Objectivism. A person must start somewhere in learning, and I am starting by reading Jenn’s blog and her links.

    What I notice is that Objectivists are not the only target of this kind of smear in the place of argument. I have seen such non-arguments in the political scene, as well as in any other forum in which a person attempts to argue or discuss POMO or POMO-influenced ideas rationally.

    When I see such non-arguments, I judge the (non)arguer to be ignorant and uneducated in discourse or worse, deliberately attempting to discredit without evidence their opponent’s discourse. I wonder why people are taken in by this?
    Perhaps viewers want to remain ignorant?

    About humor: There is another purpose to humor, one that I am familiar with due to my cultural background. Black humor is not so much an attempt to deny metaphysical importance to an event, as to deal with absurd and/or terrifying and hopeless situations over which those doing the humor have no power. I believe that it provides a momentary break from an overwhelming situation. Thus all of the “we did too crucify him” jokes told among Jews. In general, black humor is kept within the group, and not shared with those who have made the situation so dire.

  2. Maira on May 20th, 2009 7:03 pm

    I have recently come across Mr. Cropper’s videos and did a little bit of background reserach on him to figure out exactly who he is. What I discovered is that he is hardly above the same kind of behavior that his critics are guilty of. How may we categorize his decision to post fliers around his alma mater that reprinted Muslim caricatures and the words “F**K Muhammad”? That he was expressing his belief in unrestricted free speech is obvious. The real question is, do we place it in the category of rational debate or ad hominem attacks? What is so rational about continuing to maintain the belief that there is something fundamentally wrong wrong with Islam, when all of the evidence indicates that the real problem lies with a violent minority? To say nothing of the way he dismisses his critics in his videos as morons that are incapable of reason. My point is that both Mr. Cropper and his critics are feeding into this circus of dilettantes. If he were half as reasonable as he purports to be, he would have long since ignored most of his critics because that’s what reasonable people do when they recognize that dialogue is degenerating. People who are really secure in their own beliefs do not feel the need to churn out a “video response” to every trite, hackneyed accusation that comes their way.

  3. notadothead on October 31st, 2009 6:21 am

    Dear Maira,
    “…hardly above the same kind of behavior that his critics are guilty of…” Your opening argument here is an example of the ad hominem, Tu Quoque.
    I will illustrate to you why I think islam “should only exist in books”.
    Get out your Koran and substitute Jew ,infidel, kaffir or whatever the non muslims are called for whatever muslims are called wherever these words occur. Not very pleasant is it?
    Are sharia courts, barbaric laws and punishments only the preserve of a “violent minority” in islamic states?
    Perhaps they are.
    Cropper dismisses his critics because he can find no reason in their critiques.

    To apply your own reasoning from your last two sentences to islam and muslims would lead to the conclusion that muslims are “not really secure in their own beliefs”.

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