The Day the Bed Bug Got Bit

Kim Dixon

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It's rather strange to see something trend twice a day on social media, but that's exactly what happened yesterday on Twitter with bed bug.

First it was #TrumpBedBugs -- a jab at President Trump for suggesting the 2020 G7 Summit be held at his Doral Miami Golf Club. This brought back the memory of a settled lawsuit where a man sued the resort after being bitten by bed bugs in 2016.

The second trending of #bedbug -- which morphed into #Bretbug -- was rather unexpected and worthy of an Aesop Fable-like interpretation.

It all began with a report that the New York Times literally had a bed bug infestation, to which David Karpf, an associate professor at George Washington University, tweeted:

This, of course, was a witty slap at NYT columnist Bret Stephens. That's it and that's all.

Stephens, viewed generally as a conservative Never Trumper, is a contributor to the New York Times and NBC. One would assume that Stephens receives criticism quite often from both the left and right political spheres which leads to the ultimate question: How did comparing him to a bed bug take things too far?

Maybe Stephens was having a bad day, but his reaction to a critical tweet was to examine who sent it, find his contact information and that of his employer and fire off an email expressing his displeasure at being likened to a bed bug.

This action backfired in many ways. First, Stephens had previously been critical of suppressed speech which doesn't jive with his actions. No matter what Stephens claims in hindsight, the very act of copying Karpf's employer is a threat to his free speech. Journalists do have the power of the mighty pen and should be extra careful as to how they wield it.

Second, Karpf is a liberal professor. Perhaps Stephens should have spent a little more time in researching who Karpf was and he would have realized that copying the employer on the email was futile. The rules that apply to conservatives do not, in fact, apply to liberals. This double standard has been proven time and time again.

Third, the email itself is weak and outs Stephens as having the thinnest of skins, probably indicating the chosen outlet for his profession is finally getting to him. No explanation quite works in this particular case other than Stephens made a foolish gamble and lost big time. The final result is a shuttered Twitter account and an interview on MSNBC.

So, what is the moral of this story? Perhaps there are multiple ones:

  • Revenge will hurt the avenger.
  • We often give our enemies the means for our own destruction.
  • Look before you leap.
  • Sometimes you don't choose the bug life but it chooses you.

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