Columnist for Conservative News Site Quits After Neil deGrasse Tyson Takedown
While that righteous Twitter takedown between “Neil deGrasse Tyson” and a “science facts” account turned out to actually be from a parody NdGT account, we’ve still got a pretty nice comparable burn to check out. Apparently a columnist for a Conservative website has resigned from his column after Tyson took him down in a blog post of his own, which was itself a response to the column. Let me explain.
Radio host and (former) columnist Neal Larson wrote what amounted to a hit piece about Tyson, responding to an article that said Tyson lashed out at a young girl who said she wanted to live on Jupiter. The only problem was that the article Larson referenced came from ClickHole, a sister satire site in The Onion family. More than that, Larson tried to take Tyson down on a few more things such as his being atheist (which is wrong, Tyson is agnostic), climate change, and him being a Liberal—y’know, the typical things Conservative people attack others with.
Tyson responded to Larson’s column with his own blog post, surgically taking apart each and every factually incorrect point.
After his 550 word response, Larson took to his column once more to post a farewell, announcing his departure. It reads, in part:
I love writing. I mean I really love writing. Not that I’m good at it, but it’s therapeutic. It’s an escape. It forces me to order my thoughts. It’s an alternate form of expression. It’s all the reasons writers write. In my field I write to persuade. But for me, right now, I’m conceding defeat to a machine that is horrifyingly efficient in destroying people who make a thoughtless, foolish mistake. Perhaps I’d have the mettle to power through this had there not been so much personal collateral damage.
One day maybe I’ll take another crack at it, possibly when the stigma of being the nation’s laughing stock wears off and I can write with a cleaner slate. Let me end on a note of gratitude, first to the editor of this paper for carrying my column, and to the readers for reading it. And finally, to those who encouraged me this past week and did not pile on when you could have. You mean the world to me.
For now, farewell.
While Larson is done with being a columnist, he’ll continue to stay in media as a radio host.
I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t at least a small part of me that feels just a little bit for the guy. The internet does have a tendency to take a mistake (albeit an egregious one) and run with it, causing what Larson correctly calls personal collateral damage. While I’m mostly referring to the response that exists in tweets, Facebook posts, and other forms of social media, it’s certainly something that happens a lot within online news media as well.
My sympathy may end there, but I will say that while I’ve absolutely made similar mistakes in the past, this highlights just what could happen when you’re wrong on the internet. Not trying to shame anybody, just saying that people should come correct, I suppose.
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