Patterico's Pontifications


Scumbag of the Day: Ken Layne

Filed under: General,Scum — Patterico @ 6:46 am

Via Andy Levy comes a lovely story about douchebag Ken Layne:

Meghan McCain, daughter of former presidential candidate John McCain, got involved in a Twitter controversy today, when a man sent her a note that suggested he was suicidal. McCain then tried to find help for the man. The whole situation was then mocked on, a blog dedicated to political gossip.

The situation unfolded via Twitter while McCain was on a roadtrip in her home state of Arizona. When someone sent her a tweet with the message “please pray for me. SeriousLy please I want death. End it for. Me please. I hate,” McCain became alarmed. The website link in the tweet was to a map indicating that the person was in Seattle, WA. McCain then posted a note to her own twitter account asking for help: “Twitter I need your help, I don’t know if this is real or not but this person @rolson141 just implied they want to kill themselves, I just read this just now. Who can I alert, what should I do? Like I said, I just read this just now, I am freaked out by this twitter message”

She and her publicist ended up contacting the police in Seattle and continued to talk to the man over Twitter. The whole situation was disturbing to McCain, as she continued to share over Twitter: “please pray for him everyone, I am shaking. I don’t know the situation but when someone tweets me “they want death”, I am going to do something about it.”

Perhaps the most upsetting thing about the story is how Wonkette chose to cover it. Instead of noting that she was trying to help someone who was depressed and in danger, they made fun of her. “Behold her nervous illiterate twitters,” wrote Ken Layne, a Wonkette writer, “about somebody she doesn’t know who may or may not exist, on the Internet, and perhaps at minimum exists on the other side of the country, typing some sadsack stuff about wanting to die. Teen-agers are hyper-emotional, Meghan, sort of like you…” Certainly, McCain had no idea if the person on the other end of the tweet was really depressed or just seeking attention, but she was legitimately trying to help someone. That deserves respect, not taunting. Yet Layne continued to make fun of her, accusing her of being a second-rate “Bat Man” and of going “progressively more nuts while reading the random twitters of other people.”

You know, I once saw a blogger threaten suicide, in comments to a post of his. Some of you will remember the situation I’m talking about. Some of his commenters mocked him and encouraged him to do it. The next post on his blog was from a relative saying he was dead.

The family deleted the ugly comments, but I saved them somewhere, as a reminder of how subhuman people can be on the Internet.

Regardless of what you think of Meghan McCain, mocking her for trying to help a possibly suicidal person is bottom-feeding, scumbag behavior. From what I know of Ken Layne, however, it’s typical.

51 Responses to “Scumbag of the Day: Ken Layne”

  1. no good deed goes unpunished.

    redc1c4 (fb8750)

  2. I why do I not read Wonkette again? js

    jesse (4414ab)

  3. That’s pretty typical of the whole Wonkette crew, actually. But then, when the founder stopped maturing emotionally at the age of 12, that’s to be expected.

    Another Chris (2d8013)

  4. That’s the Wonkette crew. And it is sad.

    There are lots of people with whom I disagree. But I don’t think they are horrible people because I disagree with them. And when they genuinely are disturbed by something as serious as this, I don’t pile on.


    Eric Blair (204104)

  5. But jokes about assf*ckin’ are edgy.

    Kenny Layne would prolly get along really well with Rich Puchalsky and Mr. Karl Steel.

    JD (93cafe)

  6. judicious silence

    happyfeet (42470c)

  7. Ms Mccain wasn’t afraid to look in a panic or less polished in this case. Good for her. Twitter continues to be lame.

    Juan (bd4b30)

  8. I am a retired psychiatric nurse. Ms. McCain did the right thing. Prudence dictates that I say nothing about wonkette so soon after reading about their response.

    snaggletoothie (91286f)

  9. These people claim that their political opponents are hateful, and then prove that the reality is that they are simply projecting their own vile lack of character onto others.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  10. nocwydrn (2:06)

    happyfeet (42470c)

  11. Wonkette is nothing but a lethargic fat a$$ has been desperately grasping at any attention it can get as it continues its slip into oblivion.

    Ray (3c46ca)

  12. I recall seeing Wonkette on a C-Span piece on the media.
    She had an interesting technique. She’d make a couple of insinuations, plant an axiom or two and, when the sentence should be coming to a conclusion, she’d give a cute nod and….that was it.

    Richard Aubrey (a9ba34)

  13. Oh great. I shouldn’t read this stuff at work. Now Kenny Layne is in my ears and in my eyes.

    Gesundheit (47b0b8)

  14. So desperate for attention that they mock those trying to do good.

    htom (412a17)

  15. I am no fan of Megan McCain’s punditry, but Wonkette is completely wrong for mocking this. Megan McCain deserves thanks not ridicule for this. She did the absolute right thing and even followed through, even if it was a craven prank. Rest assured that if they did nothing, Wonkette would have then said what a monster Megan McCain is. This is about politics and attacking the oppoentent.

    Wonkette just shows what utter scum they really are.

    Joe (17aeff)

  16. Rest assured if Megan McCain had done nothing, Wonkette would have…


    Joe (17aeff)

  17. When will the trollish defenders of Wonkette show up to defend the indefensible?

    Dr. K (eca563)

  18. Twitter is not just lame–it needs to die. Not because of this case. But because Twitterers are annoying and invasive and out of control. Twitter will die if reasonable people stop using it. It will die if reasonable people/bloggers stop linking to Tweets. Please help this happen. Get on the bandwagon. Helping Twitter die will help save the world.

    And, no fair bringing the Beatles into this, #13!

    Elizabeth (1cb352)

  19. Mean people suck, or so I’m told.

    Which reminds me that Iowahawk is suggesting that Harvard needs a Department of As$hole Studies, for obvious reasons. I suggest that the Wonkette sire be included in the curriculum.

    Kevin Murphy (0b2493)

  20. Supercache!

    Phil Smith (1cf25d)

  21. When you consider that Wonkette was started by a woman who wrote almost non – stop about anal sex (either receiving, or others experiencing, etc.), this is not a surprise. Now that woman is a writer at Newsweek, I think – awesome.

    Dmac (e6d1c2)

  22. Oh yeah, agree completely about Twitter – it’s 15 minutes are just about up. Typical posting at a Twitter account:

    7:45 AM – got up and showered, going to work.

    8:15 AM – hate those Starbucks Frappuccinos, but they’re soooo gooood.

    9:10 – forgot to take the kids to day camp before work. Suxxx to be me.


    Dmac (e6d1c2)

  23. Twitterers are annoying and invasive and out of control.

    Annoying, perhaps, but precisely how is a twitter feed – that you have to subscribe to in order to see, mind you – in any way invasive?

    Phil Smith (1cf25d)

  24. Ms. McCain was trying to do the right thing, regardless of it turning out to be a hoax…

    Regardless of what you think of her opinions, you have to admire her humanity in this instance. She could have simply ignored the “tweet” and went about her business. But instead, she chose to try and do the right thing…

    And I mean that in the luteral sense, and not the Spike Lee, hip-hop euphamistic one…

    Ken Layne is a vile, cynical person; but not surprisingly, about the caliber I would expect from a “Wonkette” content provider. That site jumped the shark long ago…

    Bob (99fc1b)

  25. Helplessly “near” a suicide-in-progress maybe the most upsetting thing I have ever experienced.

    Years ago (before there was an “Internet”) a man (whose name the onset of age has hidden from me) committed suicide on-line on The Well.

    He had the first text-message pager I ever saw.

    He went methodically through what we would now call the archives of The Well and “scribbled” (you couldn’t “delete”) everything he had ever written.

    The ethics debate raged as to whether the admins should “unscribble” his stuff, because some of it was important stuff.

    Larry Sheldon (86b2e1)

  26. People still read Wonkette ? I thought she went off to be a big magazine person.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  27. I just went and took a look at Wonkette (quite possibly the first time I’ve ever visited that site) and not a single commenter comes to Megan’s defense.

    There are attacks on Megan, attacks on Republicans, attacks on god, an attack on Palin, but not a single word of concern given to the “suicide” or appreciation for Megan’s attempt to do something.

    tim maguire (4a98f0)

  28. Man, Matt Welch and Ken Layne sure went off on separate paths from their old band compadres days. Or maybe that is just the way it looks from the outfield (allusion to Matt’s baseball jones).

    political agnostic (e3d1f7)

  29. Demi Moore may have prevented a suicide via Twitter.

    As for Twitter, it’s a platform with its own distinct advantages and disadvatages. It would be a mistake to see it as any one thing in particular, much as it is largely pointless to generalize about blogs.

    [Disclosure: I am on the Twitter, primarily at the request of Patterico. IMHO, there is some pointless oversharing, but it’s also handy for quickly exchanging links and such.]

    Karl (fa7301)

  30. This si why I stay off of places like Twitter. Facebook is bad enough. I joined because I was looking for an old high school classmate. I found him. Rarely is it ever useful for anything, but a day doesn’t go by that 20 people want to “friend” me. It’s a bore.

    David Ehrenstein (2550d9)

  31. While we’re discussing this ….

    I’m considering watching an episode of The View

    Can someone please stop me?

    /A cry for help

    JayC (203941)

  32. ok so that ends the judicious silence part cause of there’s something that bugs me about the examiner thingy.

    this is fair:

    Regardless of what you think of Meghan McCain, mocking her for trying to help a possibly suicidal person is bottom-feeding, scumbag behavior. From what I know of Ken Layne, however, it’s typical.

    this is goofy:

    When someone is asking for help, it should be taken seriously, not called out for mockery. Making fun of people who try sincerely to help a suicidal person only encourages other people not to help. It also tells people who are asking for help that no one will believe so they should just not bother.

    Do we really have to lay this sort of melodramatic and highly unrealistic sort of implied causality on the wonkette guy? No one is gonna die cause of what wonkette guy did. I promise. At least maybe we could agree that we would need to see a demonstrable pattern of mockery before we started to worry about suicidal people fearing that people don’t care about them, cause why? Cause I’d bet it’s not hard to find suicidal people that are quite convinced that people don’t care about them. And it’s not wonkette’s fault.

    happyfeet (71f55e)

  33. Although McCain is truly worthy of mockery in many areas, in this area she is not. I have counseled a few desperate people in my years as a minister, and know just how if feels to fail. I would suggest that anyone in public office be aware that the next call can be on your phone. I am not sure whether or not I understand the call to be fake or not. If it is, it is the worst sort of nastiness possible.

    timothyJ (8fb937)

  34. Man, Matt Welch and Ken Layne sure went off on separate paths from their old band compadres days. Or maybe that is just the way it looks from the outfield (allusion to Matt’s baseball jones).

    Comment by political agnostic — 7/28/2009 @ 9:42 am

    Welch and Layne both strongly turned against Bush and the Iraq war in the wake of 9/11. The difference is Welch turned against it for libertarian reasons and retains that stance in his writings about Obama in Reason. Layne apparently decided it wasn’t cool/hip to be worried about terrorism anymore around the end of 2002 and just headed off in the direction of the normal leftist boilerplate snark (though he may just have been lost and was following Oliver Willis’ tire tracks…)

    John (f82202)

  35. good lord, somebody fix the supercache

    Phil Smith (1cf25d)

  36. People still read Wonkette? Who knew?

    Ag80 (99168f)

  37. Outstanding posting, Patterico.

    DCSCA (9d1bb3)

  38. Inquiring minds want to know: which of the Wankette trio of scumbags was rolson141?

    htom (412a17)

  39. If karma exists, someday the rather vile Mr. Layne will find himself in need of help from passersby, and will only receive mocking laughter as a response before he suffers some grisly consequences. Since life is rather unfair at times, he’ll probably luck out and get assistance–which will have absolutely no impact on his future willingness to mock others for being willing to help.

    M. Scott Eiland (5ccff0)

  40. I blame George Booooosh.

    And the internet. Hard to tell yet if the internet’s ability to allow losers like the entire staff of Wonkette to act like assholes all day and get some desperately-needed human affection is a good thing or a bad thing. After all, before the internet these people would just be hidden away in some corner somewhere, so it’s good for them, but for the rest of us…

    chaos (9c54c6)

  41. I’ve never read Wonkette til this…I looked at the comments after Layne’s idiocy and I suspect I will never read Wonkette again, unless there is some pressing need to become clinically depressed over what people can think, feel and write.

    lazlo toth (6a6617)

  42. Let us not scoff at her good samaritanism. Let us scoff at her twittering.

    imdw (98ea39)

  43. Back before the “Internet” in the old (original) Compuserve Forum days, I witnessed a similar situation where a poster called out for help. She continued to post and her posts became more and more irrational until they stopped. They Sysop called the local police in her home town and they responded and found the woman passed out. In her case, it wasn’t suicide. She had suffered a massive stroke. She was only 28 and a grad student. The quick action from the Sysop helped to save her life.

    I would hate to think that if any one of us called out for help that someone, instead of responding, mocked those who showed concern. I don’t have a lot of faith that a call for help would get much response in today’s “it is all about me” world, but I still have a teeny bit of faith left that there are caring people out there who would do something.

    Sara (Pal2Pal) (84fd4f)

  44. Although McCain is truly worthy of mockery in many areas

    I have counseled a few desperate people in my years as a minister, and know just how if feels to fail.

    I think it’s safe to say that this attitude is exactly what turns people off to religion in general. First we have the extremely judgemental opinion, followed with a slight walk – back of empathy. One negates the other.

    Back to Divinity school, your “eminence.”

    Dmac (e6d1c2)

  45. I hope Dmac is engaged in a bit of sarcastic wonkery himself, but it is inappropriate. I give you credit for saying that timothyJ. There was nothing judgmental about what you said, just sadness at losing a fellow human being. Thank you for trying.

    Joe (a32cff)

  46. Yet Layne continued to make fun of her, accusing her of being a second-rate “Bat Man” …”

    Obviously for this to work, she’d be a second-rate Cat Woman. Idiot.

    Although McCain is truly worthy of mockery in many areas.

    Eh, she’s young, she’s got a cause (hip Republicanism) and most likely, she’ll eventually grow up. But seeing her concerned response to this and her willingness to make a fool of herself just to make sure this person was okay, garners some respect from me.

    Ken Layne gets no respect from me. Little man that he is, he simply makes fun of what he hasn’t got the stones to do: risk looking liking a fool to come to the aid of another in need. That’s not a man. That’s a mouthy little poser. And real women find that very unattractive in a “man”.

    Dana (57e332)

  47. […] There are some ugly things on the internet. You know, I once saw a blogger threaten suicide, in comments to a post of his. […]

    Ugly Blogging « Something should go here, maybe later. (c67638)

  48. Just before the Bush vs Kerry election President Clinton went in hospital for emergency surgery. This was when I was really into the political blogs, especially the democratic blogs like Atrios. I’d go in there and mock them pretty much. Must have typed “Why the long face?” about a hundred times. Bill’s heart attack showed me something I would not have noticed otherwise.

    At the Rep blogs most all of them had a “get well soon Mr. Clinton” post, where the commenters echoed the sentiment more or less.
    Strangely these posts were absent from the Democrat sites. If they discussed Bill’s heart surgery at all it was to comment that he wouldn’t be available to campaign for John F’n Kerry.

    The phenomena was pervasive. Try a google search of Get well soon Bill Clinton or Best wishes for a speedy recovery President Clinton. Bet you most returns will be conservative or right leaning sites, very few liberal or left leaning.

    It’s their nature.

    papertiger (3a3033)

  49. There is a big difference between the sickness of an enemy of freedom (Clinton), and the impending suicide of a random person.

    ParatrooperJJ (8a6914)

  50. Why anyone who’s main claim to internet fame was writing extensively about taking it up the pooper is taken seriously is beyond me.

    Techie (482700)

  51. “Why anyone who’s main claim to internet fame was writing extensively about taking it up the pooper is taken seriously is beyond me.”

    Who? Ken Layne?

    imdw (c62956)

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