“The villainy you teach me I will execute, and it shall go hard, but I will better the instruction.”

-Shylock, The Merchant of Venice

A few weeks ago, this noble paper matched the author of this column up with all of Wesleyan in a hypothetical “death match,” and declared yours truly the winner. There is nothing to quarrel with in this assessment, but unfortunately, though other authors would take this as evidence of their own tenacity, or ideological courage, I am far too jaded to be so arrogant. The reason I have triumphed over Wesleyan has nothing to do with the persuasiveness of my arguments, or the substance of my ideas, but rather with the disgraceful lack of self-consciousness on the part of the Wesleyan Left, which has, with rare exceptions, remained blind to a deep-seated and essential fact: This column was never intended to be taken seriously.

The Ampersand, in a rare moment of clarity, was correct: this column is, and always has been, intended to troll the rest of the campus. Contrary to their interpretation, that does not meant that I, the author, am not a conservative Republican (I am). What it means is that I am not a self-important, pretentious, intellectually vapid idiot. You see, when this column was first conceived, it was conceived as a sort of satire in the tradition of Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal.” That is, while the conclusions I ended up reaching in the column were largely reflective of my own views on issues, the reasoning used to arrive at them, with a few rare exceptions, was designed to be a mirror—an uncharitable mirror—that I had meant to hold up to the utter lack of intellectual seriousness that was exhibited by-and-large by the Left-activist wing of this campus.

I didn’t expect to get away with it for very long. I mean, come on, this is one of the hardest schools to get into in the country. Originally, I just wanted to elevate discourse, and thought that lobbing mean-spirited softball arguments at you would get the more reasonable people at Wesleyan to start writing to the Argus, thus mitigating the stream of polemical and vitriolic garbage that frequently graces the Wespeak section, while simultaneously making such garbage less socially acceptable. “Come on,” the reasonable Leftists would say, “you’re too smart to write like Mytheos Holt!” Eventually, I could even let my writing get better, to reflect the elevated style of discourse on-campus, thus permitting a genuine Right-Left dialectic.

Instead, I was placed in the position of a satirist whose satire is too close to the grim truth to be noticed as such. Rather than spotting my gratuitously acidic phrases about “peaceniks” who supported divestment, or about “nature fetishists” in EON as cutting mimicry of students who called the WSA “conservative sycophants with no sense of right and wrong,” or who claimed that Wesleyan’s obsession with being the “stuffiest, tooliest, preppiest” school drove it to cheat out Mother Nature, the Left took it all seriously.

It only got worse from there. When I complained of the tendency by antiwar activists to “shove all dissent under the showerhead of scorn” and force “rhetorical Zyklon B” down the throats of their foes, rather than taking it as a mockery of the hyperbolic ad hominem attacks about “confederate flags” and “fascism” that students such as John Chisholm ’09 used, they took it seriously.

When I suggested that the only reasons to give money to Haiti were grounded in “saccharine” notions of charity, or that concern for the peoples of Bangladesh could only be supported under a theory of “radical egalitarianism,” rather than take it as a mockery of the fact that nearly every Wesleyan student presumes egalitarianism to be the starting point of moral analysis, they took it seriously.

When I compared homosexuality to pedophilia, and called the actions of queer activists in the March for Equality “masturbatory displays of radicalism” while simultaneously complaining about the oppression of conservative students on-campus, rather than take it as a parody of the blatantly faulty analogies and clear double standards employed by activists such as Trent Grassian ’09 and Devon Hopkins ‘11, they took it seriously.

And most scandalously of all, when I accused Melanye Price of being a poor teacher on the basis of anonymous comments and subjective opinions from friends, rather than see it as a mockery of a campus culture which takes the word of the ACB and ratemyprofessors.com as reliable information about a professor’s capacities, they once more took it seriously. Indeed, even faculty took it seriously, a fact for which I am very sorry indeed, given my generally high regard for the Wesleyan faculty.

And through it all ran the constant refrain: “Oppression, oppression, oppression.” But in order to be oppressed, you first have to threaten the dominant society, and based on what I have seen, the average Leftist activist at Wesleyan is no more a threat to said society than gnats are to the human race. This does not prove that they are stupid, but rather that they cannot escape the assumptions of the society they seek to overthrow, and their “revolutionary” ideas are nothing but word salads drawn from a buffet of paradigms offered up by that society. They are inescapably attached to their privileged position as intellectuals, and will defend it to the death.

Therefore, at bottom, it is this, and only this, that separates me from the Wesleyan Left: Whereas I have accepted and embraced the natural fact of social intellectual hegemony, they will only continue to flail impotently against it, even as conservative satirists arise anew each day to cackle over their state of hypocrisy and futility.

  • ’10

    yeah, everyone knows this, i was going to write a piece a while back critiquing your bad and wrong ideas about how to promote discourse & debate for the sake of debate not actually being a good thing but then i realized there was no way to make that point without contradicting and also you’ve never been worth the effort, godspeed & get a hobby maybe

  • ’09

    “What it means is that I am not a self-important, pretentious, intellectually vapid idiot.”


  • Abram

    Sorry Holt, but if that was your plan all along, to elevate discourse , I think it was pretty stupid.
    “I thought that lobbing mean-spirited softball arguments at you would get the more reasonable people at Wesleyan to start writing to the Argus”
    How does that make sense? If you write a strong argument for a position someone disagrees with, they might reconsider their position on the issue at hand, and possibly respond with a thoughtful counter argument.
    When you defend a belief with crazy bullshit, even if the belief is legitimate and defensible, people will either ignore you, like I have until now, or see you as evidence that they are right, and everyone who disagrees with them is a nut who needs to be shouted down.
    I don’t know if I even believe you.

  • Josh

    Mytheos, I always thought you were smarter than some of the things you wrote in that column.

    I just hope that the Tea Partiers are trolling too…

  • Not your friend

    I think the weseleyan community’s failure to call you on your bullshit speaks more to the low regard they held you in – they expected nothing better – than it does to their lack of critical or well reasoned discourse.

  • anonymous

    Seriously, how do you promote discourse by trolling the way you did?

  • David Thompson ’11

    Wesleyan is indeed a place marked by a pervading thoughtlessness in its public realm, a thoughtlessness masked by ‘social concern.’ I see it everywhere I look.

    The concept of ‘sustainability’ illustrates our situation nicely. Our student groups, our administration, even Bon Appetit, which uses the concept as a cost-cutting tool, are all obsessed with ‘sustainability.’ I don’t actually think Mytheos was wrong to call Wesleyan environmentalists ‘fetishists,’ it’s just that their love object is the notion of “sustainability,” not “nature.”

    The most flagrant and obvious refusals to think through the concept have been discussed. For instance, the Feiring-Firke campaign smeared the word ‘sustainability’ on massive amounts of useless pieces of felled trees and mined metal. No matter what the team manages to ‘accomplish’ on the WSA in terms of ‘sustainability’, the fact remains that they could have easily been elected through an internet-only campaign, and their campaign did unnecessary damage to the environment while constantly proclaiming: ‘sustainability!’

    But, again, the Feiring-Firke campaign was only one of the more obvious refusals to think. (The WSA and its members are notorious for this sort of thing: A student body wide flyering campaign pointlessly promoting the success of a WSA “Save the Trees!” effort would not be out of character.)

    The more central but less obvious refusal is the lack of thinking through what ‘sustainability’ actually means. This central question is never addressed: What is it that we want to ‘sustain’? Our standard of life? But our standard of life is not ‘sustainable’. It simply cannot, due to the scarcity of our natural resources, be extended to most of the world’s population. There are too many people. Natural resources? For how long? We will inevitably use up non-renewable resources, and at that point there will be a drastic reduction in both population and, for many, quality of life. Is it that we want to give up a bit now so that our grandchildren will not have to suffer extreme, but only moderate, deprivation? But what of our great-grandchildren? etc etc.

    It still is not clear to me why hurting our planet at a slower rate is preferable to doing it at a higher volume more quickly and being done with it when we run out of things with which to hurt it. How long can we ‘sustain’ our way of life? How long do we want to? Why is it that the call to environmental stewardship is framed in this language of preservation, when what it seems like we need to avoid disaster is radical, fundamental changes in the way we live our lives? It would certainly be helpful for a thoughtful environmentalist to take up the task of addressing these questions, but it certainly doesn’t happen at Wes.

    The point is, ‘sustainability’ is an easy, thoughtless route of conscience-assuaging for the typical Wesleyan student, ‘socially concerned’ but constantly refusing to think.

    People discussing Mytheos’ column would often talk about how they just couldn’t comprehend how he could stand by the things he said. This stemmed, too, from a refusal to think. For all the curricula problematizing language in Wesleyan courses, language itself was never questioned in the knee-jerk-liberal response to Mytheos’ columns. That is, if he said it, it was assumed that he meant it. There was no room made even for the most elementary challenge to language, irony, in the responses to Mytheos’ work. Or, rather, people refused to make room for it by their refusal to think, by their adherence to the dogmatically non-dogmatic principles of ‘tolerance,’ ‘diversity,’ and the like.

    I had this debate with someone close to me years ago: I maintained that there was value in positing something objectionable in order to prompt an objection, in order to reach a higher synthesis. The person said no, I was morally dangerous (and a fool) because I was neglecting my ethical responsibility to at all times say what I sincerely believed.

    The problem with the latter position is that it upholds beliefs that are ossified, in multiple senses of the word. When only defended and never challenged, beliefs are not given the chance to develop and remain rigid, but for all their rigidity, only grow weaker. Osteoporosis.

    I am not saying that ‘tolerance’, ‘diversity’, and other concepts that Wesleyan liberals hold dear should necessarily be discarded, but unless they are sincerely and rigorously thought through, they are useless to us. Mytheos’ column is pretty much the only thing I would read consistently in the Argus. This was simply because I enjoyed the work of an intelligence at work, and at work sincerely, for all his irony and absurdity. That is, Mytheos in Mytheology did not think in service of a goal. I doubt if Mytheos ever hoped to convince a single Wesleyan student to support a cause he believed in or wrote about. But because Mytheos allowed himself free reign to venture into the absurd, objectionable, intentionally controversial, he, perhaps alone in Wesleyan’s public realm, provoked thought.

    Unfortunately, the response was almost always the same from what Mytheos rightly lumps together as the “Left-activist-wing” of Wesleyan: a knee-jerk panic to defend principles, without any attempt to actually think about whether those principles were worth defending.

  • ’12

    So, let me get this straight: Wesleyan students are stupid for not realizing that Mytheos isn’t as stupid as his writing makes him appear?

  • Emily, ’10

    Mytheos, you say that the inflammatory tone of your column was intended to raise the quality of discourse and provoke reasonable people to write to the Argus, but when people took the time to respond with well-reasoned arguments (I think it is fair to call a significant number of the responses well-reasoned even if you did not find them persuasive), you criticize “the Left” for taking you seriously.

    I am a strong believer in the role of satire in intellectual and political discussions, but the vitriol you published week after week was ineffectual. I did stop taking you seriously, and as a result stopped reading your column. Turning yourself into a mean-spirited joke does not raise the quality of discourse, it ends it.

  • This article is itself a troll tactic. Don’t believe the hype.

  • Poe ’10

    Poe’s Law, Mytheos. Look it up.

    When there are people out there as stupid as you “pretended” to be, it becomes impossible for people to tell the difference between satire and reality (especially given that the vast majority of campus didn’t even know you).

    You can claim that you were being an idiot on purpose, but frankly, for the last 4 years I’ve been ignoring you purely and simply as an idiot, and I’m not about to change that now.

  • ’10

    All I think of when I read this:


  • Ron Medley, `73

    Frankly, I think maximum plausible deniablity is a worthwhile skill every future Republican should have.

    Best of luck, Adam! Don’t be a stranger. [winking emoticon goes here]

  • Austen

    Nice try, but no thanks.

    Let me get this straight: you got to campus, primed and ready to assume the role as Chief Conservative Ideologue, you saw the entire spectrum of Leftist/Post-Leftist thought on this campus, and then decided to engage the lowest-common denominator. Instead of promoting a dialectic discourse by seeking out the most articulate, you decided to bait the people with the crudest opinions. And so you did, for 4 years, frequently ignoring sensible challenges to your columns in favor of making the most asinine limousine liberals on campus look even worse than they did before.

    I won’t accuse you of using this ruse to cover your own mistakes, as others seem to be doing, partly because I’d like to give you the benefit of the doubt, but partly because I hardly think it matters. Maybe the sloppy thinking, straw-man targeting, and cherry picking argumentation you’ve been using was just your idea of being in-character. Maybe. But your writing style betrayed you as just another windbag; if you mix your drinks half as well as you mix your metaphors, Mr. Holt, I’ll have a cocktail with you anytime.

    But here’s the crux of it, and I say this as someone who likes, from time to time, to sharpen his claws on the hard rock of reactionary thought: it just doesn’t matter. Because, in the end, “political diversity” is a farce, a contradiction-in-terms. A political-academic-cultural environment is self selecting, and the Left on campus is here to work together, before and after they graduate, on their common project. They critique themselves from within, and have access to plenty of sophisticated Conservative opinions from without. They don’t need an easily appointed token to do it for them (and it’s so easy to be a token, isn’t it, just as it’s a particularly cutthroat and competitive business to stay relevant on the Left at this school?).

    So I hope that you’ve found other ways to keep yourself productive, healthy, and happy during your time here, because I’m afraid your crusade against the Left hasn’t amounted to much. Because in the end, I just don’t think they were listening very intently, busy as they were with their own interests.

    In the end, I just don’t think they had the time for you.

  • anonymous

    This troll was excellent. Would be trolled by again. A++++++++++++++

  • anon

    David Thompson — please understand environmental science before talking about it. Thank you.

  • Well Done

    Mytheos, if you ever run for office on the national stage, I’ll make sure to put my ballot in your slot.

  • Wow

    There’s so many things wrong with this I can barely start typing. I guess I’ll just name a few:

    1) Do you really expect us to believe that everything you wrote, publicly spoke about, and privately spoke about (and yes, I have heard you speak privately, and you were as much of a crazy-conservative caricature as you were in your columns, if not more so) was all part of a performance-art-esque ruse? I can only hope that you intend this column to the joke, good sir, because you’re not fooling anyone.

    2) Even disregarding point 1, if you were in fact just method acting this whole time (which, again, you obviously weren’t), what exactly were you trying to accomplish? You were frustrated with the level of discourse at the Wesleyan community, so you decided to improve it with the idiotic, base level partisan hackery? Don’t you think that that would maybe, oh I don’t know, make the situation WORSE? Which, I’d like to gently point out, it did?

    3. Even disregarding points 1 and 2, wouldn’t you think that making yourself the face of Republicanism at Wesleyan and then feigning the appearance of an “intellectually vapid idiot” would actually HURT Wesleyan conservatives, and make everyone on campus loose respect for them, even the sensible intelligent ones, which, again, I’d like to gently point out is exactly what happened?

    4. Even disregarding points 1, 2, and 3, what exactly do you think it proves that nobody “got” what you were doing? Do you really think the your detractors are stupid for not getting it, or could it be that they have enough RESPECT for you (not that you merit any, clearly) to actually take what you said seriously, and not assume that you’re not crazy enough to be putting on some megalomaniacal wanna-be sociopathological game that people who want to have an actual political discussion don’t even the have the energy to give a shit about?

    I have to stop. Mytheos, it was always very obvious to me that you were batshit crazy. But it’s a little disappointing to find out that you’re also really, really, REALLY fucking stupid.

  • Adhominem

    Holt wins debate Wow loses

  • A Member of the Faculty

    “I am not a self-important, pretentious, intellectually vapid idiot.”

    Glad to hear it, since I thought Wesleyan let you in because you were a full payer or something. But you are an a$$hole who could use some therapy. Who you really trolled were those Argus editors who (foolishly) stood up for you.