JISHOU, HUNAN — In the strange virtual society that is the Internet, there are celebrities, both major and minor. Some are famous people in the “meat world” — George Takei, for instance — and others have carved out a niche mostly in the virtual world.
Take for example, the blogger, Charles C. “Chuck” Johnson, proprietor and main instigator of a “news” website and a seemingly never-ending stream of tweets that range from self-congratulatory paeans to his many godlike attributes to cheap antagonistic slams of victims of various crimes like rape or murder. To get a taste of Johnson’s prodigious output, take a look at my Tweet-based Dossier on him.
I started the dossier mostly to record his assertions of Supreme Godhood, but it’s nearly become obsolete, as several other websites, including The New York Times, have picked up on the infamous Mr Johnson and some of the more, um, colorful escapades of his 26 years on this Earth.
The storm surge that breached the levee was Johnson’s attempt to besmirch “Jackie,” the pseudonymous subject of a Rolling Stone article about her rape while a student at the University of Virginia. Johnson’s apparent raison d’etre is to ruin the credibility of crime victims — and anyone he personally dislikes — by digging up dirt and looking for skeletons in their closets.
He calls it journalism.
One of Johnson’s paid researchers told him there was a photo of “Jackie” in her Instagram feed. He ran with it, stating at first it definitely was “Jackie,” then backpedaling somewhat when it became clear it was not “Jackie” at all, but an entirely different woman who may now file a lawsuit against him.
In short order, Johnson became the subject of critical and/or satirical articles at Gawker.com (two in fact), Wonkette.com, which had already examined his checkered career, Politico.com and The NY Times. None of them were especially flattering, and they make my Tweet-based Dossier seem tame in comparison.
The comments are even more harsh, as people who identified themselves as former classmates of Johnson alleged he had shat on the floor of a dormitory, pissed in his ex-girlfriend’s mouth as she gave him a blowjob (to punish her for cheating on him, allegedly), stabbing someone’s knee with a pen while muttering in German, and similar over-the-top behavior.
Johnson has denied he’s done any of these things.
He also tends to threaten retaliation against people who cross him, by threatening lawsuits, or summoning the police. He also has no compunction against publishing home addresses and phone numbers of people he dislikes, for no other apparent reason than to bring his loyal following of howler monkeys to harass them.
This sucker has more than 18,000 followers on Twitter. His account has been suspended at least three times for tweeting private information, but the suspensions have been too brief to have been effective in quashing his outrageous Twitter use. While many conservative writers and websites have severed any connections they may have had with Johnson — rather like rats fleeing a sinking ship — his fellow disaffected and misanthropic fans stand by him, even as he makes a complete joke of himself and his grandiose plans of a major media empire.
Johnson claims he is autistic, and he told the Times reporter that he was bullied all his life, I suppose by ways of an explanation for his total disregard for civilized behavior or responsible journalism. One commenter at Gawker reprinted a Facebook post, allegedly penned by Johnson, dissing his former college classmates for giving him the cold shoulder and sloughing them all off as insignificant mites.
Dear past classmates,
I have received a number of emails, tweets, and phone calls, etc. from you and want to make some things clear about me and you now.
Please relay this message widely as it needs to be internalized by you about me.
I wasn’t friends with most of you. Most of you weren’t particularly kind to me throughout my academic career. That’s fine. I didn’t ask for it. I did well despite you. I wrote books, formed companies, got married, traveled widely, and had interesting, formative experiences.
Perhaps you were angry at me because I was poor. Perhaps it was because I was neuroatypical. Perhaps it was because my mother was ill. Perhaps it was because we didn’t get along because I was busy making a living and doing interesting things while you were not. Perhaps you were mad because your parents saw more of themselves in me than you and so liked me more and you were resentful. There are many reasons why weaker people dislike strong people: jealousy, misunderstandings, hatred of what’s different.
That’s not important now.
Now that I have some measure of notoriety and success, I do not owe you phone calls or responses to your condescending “concern” for me. Please know that most of these emails will be deleted or archived. Some will be openly mocked. Others may be retweeted or written about in future things.
Some of you have talked to the press about me and pretended that we were close. We were not but you’ve decided to trade on relationships we never had in the hopes of seeing your name in the press. This is pathetic.
Here’s what you may not do:
You may not accuse me of racism, sexism, blah blah-ish without asking me for my point of view first. I may or may not choose to give it to you.
I’m also not interested in your pop psychological explanations about what’s wrong with me.
The truth of the matter is that I’m the happiest I have ever been doing the work I love doing. I’m very busy on that project.
I have lived a colorful, difficult, exciting, crazy life thus far and it’s only just beginning. I make no apologies for it. I have made and will make mistakes and some of them may be huge. But I have lived life on my own terms.
Those of you I count as true friends, you know who you are. I owe you the world.
Did Johnson really write this? Given the common grammatical errors in his tweets, it’s hard to see how this letter could be his. It may well be a fake. On the other hand, he has managed to get two books published, so his inferior Twitter English may not represent his true command of the language. If he did write the letter to his Facebook followers, he is one messed-up guy.
It’s hard to decide whether I should mock him, or pity him.