Thursday, April 13, 2006

Smells Like Week-Old Sushi

As soon as I read the first sentence of Eric Zorn's blog entry yesterday about the Chicago Tribune's investigative piece on Sun Myung Moon's control over the sushi industry, I could sense that he had really "stepped in it." It's a sort of sixth sense that bloggers develop -- a way of knowing that a certain piece is going to incite a shitstorm of critical comments. My most recent example was an entry about Brokeback Mountain that drew more comments in a few hours than my entire blog gets in several weeks (and I wasn't even criticizing the movie or gays).

First of all, I agree with Zorn's position here. I have never desired to even try sushi. Heck, I don't even like cooked fish much, and with all the toxins in the water that fish soak up, that isn't necessarily a bad thing these days (I know there are health benefits, but even nutritionists warn about eating more than a couple servings a week). A friend of mine once said, "People always act shocked that I don't eat sushi, but what shocks me is that anyone would be shocked that someone wouldn't want to eat raw fish."

I have also never had a positive impression of Moon or his Unification Church. I first heard of him as a kid when they showed one of those mass weddings (not be to confused with Mass weddings) on the TV news. He always seemed like a nut (that isn't really an educated opinion, just a hunch). More recently, I have become aware of his power and influence in the American conservative movement. He owns the Washington Times and other conservative media outlets, and GOP pols regularly kiss his heinie. In that sense, he's every bit as repulsive to me as Richard Mellon Scaife, bankroller of the "vast right wing conspiracy" against the Clintons that his minions ironically claim did not exist. At least Scaife keeps a low profile, though.

At first, the response to Zorn's criticism of Moon and sushi was mixed. Some people thought it was petty to avoid sushi because of Moon. Others spoke out vociferously against Moon and his church. Some accused Zorn of being a bigot, and this sentiment magically swelled overnight to epic proportions. Yep, Eric stepped in it, all right, and the Moonies were mobilizing!

While I read those comments this morning, the title of Zorn's blog mysteriously morphed from "Change of Subject" to "Change of Shorts" as I nearly wet myself laughing so hard at the ridiculous accusations and threats leveled against him and his newspaper.

One of the best was a comment from "Joseph" of Nigeria as news of Zorn's blog piece spread around the globe: "I will mobilize Nigerian online community to disregard this piece and also stop reading the Chicago Tribune." Now I may be going to go out on a limb here, but I have a feeling that the Nigerian readership of chicagotribune.com is not exactly a key demographic. I can't imagine the head honchos saying, "We've got to get Zorn to tone it down -- we can't afford to lose the Nigerians to the Chicago Sun-Times!" Hey, maybe now the Trib won't get as many Nigerian money laundering E-mails as the rest of us do.

Zorn stuck to his guns despite the looming threat of a Nigerian boycott and wrote a column in today's paper unrepentantly reiterating his disdain for sushi, Moon, and any combination thereof. Now some commenters attempt to draw analogies between Zorn not eating Moonie sushi and Nazis exterminating the Jews. When you step in it online, the only question is how low your critics will go.

UPDATE 04/14/2006 - Well, Eric Zorn has reached his limit with the Moonies. He cut off comments this afternoon. I'm a little disappointed because I thought maybe this could break the comment record set by his "gone but not forgotten" entry (inspired by the announcement that Field's would become Macy's). On the other hand, I can see how this was becoming tedious, especially as the demographic shifted from devout sushi lovers to devout Moon defenders. I got to the point where I just skimmed for his responses and skipped over the Moonie apologia altogether. I give Zorn credit for staying reasonable in the face of religious zealotry, which can be hard to do. I can't wait for him to blog about $cientology!

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