EDITORIAL: Hunter S. Thompson went too far - iMediaEthics
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“It was a risky thing to say, but so what?”

Gonzo journalist and Nixon nemesis Hunter S. Thompson, famous for his drug-sodden search for the American Dream “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” was referring to a sports prediction, but it could be applied to his more controversial statement later in the article about the photos from Abu Ghraib (“all-american prison in Baghdad”).

Marc Cenedella of Stone commented on Thompson’s quote, which he includes for context:

“Who knew?

“He blithely asserts:

‘These < horrifying digital snapshots of the American dream in action on foreign soil are worse than anything even I could have expected.  I have been in this business a long time and I have seen many staggering things, but this one is over the line. Now I am really ashamed to carry an American passport. Not even the foulest atrocities of Adolf Hitler ever shocked me so badly as these photographs did.’

“Michael Moore, Ted Rall, Hunter S. Thompson — do facts matter as long as we chuckle?”

But click on Cenedella’s link and you’ll find part of that quote. All except for the “atrocities of Adolph Hitler.”

“Yes, sir. We have taken the bull by the horns on this one, sports fans. These horrifying digital snapshots of the American dream in action on foreign soil are worse than anything even I could have expected. I have been in this business a long time and I have seen many staggering things, but this one is over the line. Now I am really ashamed to carry an American passport.

“And why would I want to go to Athens in the summer, anyway? Only a fool or a paid sportswriter would do a thing like that. … Or a suicidal terrorist, eh?”

Those ellipses are Thompson’s. But the Godwin argument, the invocation of Hitler that usually causes any online argument to spiral out of credibility land? Was that Thompson’s? Or a misquote on Cenedella’s part? Well, apparently, that WAS Thompson’s, until it got edited out, making Marc Cenedella of Stone look like he too is blithely unaware of the importance of facts.

But according to the Drudge Archives, via Seat of the Revolution, “after being linked to the DRUDGE REPORT, an order from a top editor demanded the sentence be taken down, according to an ESPN.com staffer.

“‘Hunter can go too far sometimes,’ the Bristol-based ESPN employee told the DRUDGE REPORT.”

The Slobokan blog said, “It’s one thing to use psychological warfare against enemy combatants, it’s another thing to kill millions of innocent people, and Hunter S. Thompson knows that.”

The quote caused the Rebel Yell to ask, “Is it worse than making lampshades out of human skin? Worse than injecting dye into the eyes of children, trying to make them blue? Is humiliating a couple dozen people more serious than the wholesale murder and cremation of millions?”

The Spacecraft blog had harsher words, saying, in response to the Drudge article, “We all know he’s an idiot, but I think he’s finally consumed so much airplane glue that his brain is a total loss.”

Thompson, who has been quoted in the past as saying he considers marijuana “a basic staple of life, along with beer and ice and grapefruits,” has addressed his penchant for hyperbole before.

In his book Songs of the Doomed, he is quoted as saying, “Some of the things I called Nixon obviously were not accurate. Nixon does not, as far as I know, f— pigs and sell used cars with cracked blocks. Nor is he corrupt beyond the ability of modern man to describe it. Those are exaggerations to make a point. My concern with accuracy is on a higher level than nickels and dimes, in a word, line by line.”

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EDITORIAL: Hunter S. Thompson went too far

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