New York Times columnist Bret Stephens, perennial victim of the culture wars and erstwhile teacher of the uncouth, is now on day two of a splendid, fully-unhinged meltdown over a man on Twitter calling him a “bedbug,” in a reference to the Times’ very real bedbug infestation.
Stephens announced this morning that he was quitting Twitter (again!), but do not fear! You won’t see less of him—he’s still on MSNBC, where he said that being called a bedbug was a “dehumanizing,” “totalitarian,” and just about genocidal act.
This whole thing is just ridiculous. Stephens has a long history of sending snarky, vaguely threatening emails to people who he thinks are below him, intimating that their criticism of him could get them in professional trouble.
That’s absolutely what he was trying to do here and don’t believe his bullshit for a second. To then pivot to comparing a guy dunking on you to authoritarian government dehumanizing their own citizens is just shockingly stupid and incredibly dishonest—especially coming from someone with a long history of dehumanizing statements about people. The joke was clearly about the bedbug infestation in the Times building, not just calling him an insect out of the blue.
Stephens said Twitter “brings out the worst in humanity,” which is mostly true—and also why the site will miss him so much.