Little Debbie Makes Me Ask: Why Are So Many Would-Be Censors Stone Crazy?

The world was so much easier for crazy people before the internet.

Let's face it — in the bucolic neighborhoods of pre-internet America, you could pretty much phone the crazy in. Spend a few minutes shouting at the geese on the town commons and make the occasional pronouncement about aliens at the school board meeting and you could call it a day. But now, with floor-to-ceiling media and all of the world's crazy people at your fingertips, the bar is terrifyingly high.

But Little Debbie clears it.

"Commentator" Debbie Schlussel is the stream of bat's piss that shines out like a shaft of gold when all around is dark. She is the manic and oddly-worded blog post in the darkness, the watcher of the malls, the fire that burns the homes of incorrectly-hued neighbors, the light that brings the truthiness, the shrill honking voice that wakes the sleepers, the shield that guards the realms of the totally mental. Little Debbie stands out.

And apparently, as is common with floridly nutty people in public life, she's an aspiring censor. Go figure.

You might recall that we've discussed Little Debbie before. When she smirked and chirped over Lara Logan's sexual assault in Egypt we were there. When she worked herself into an unmedicated frenzy over an Arab-American Miss America we were there. When she lunged for her flag-shrouded fainting couch at the prospect of a black man portraying a white man we were there. When she rubbed her sweaty palms together gleefully at the prospect of North Korea imprisoning human rights reports we were there. When she explained that the real tragedy of a mass shooting at an immigration clinic was that immigration clinics are full of foreigners we were there.

So we're happy to be there for Little Debbie today as she erupts into a lawsuit-threatening tirade.

Much of Little Debbie's freakout happened on Twitter, the ideal platform for people who already communicate in word fragments, glottal clicks, and vaguely threatening grunts. I'm having trouble piecing together exactly what set her off on her Twitter feed. Perhaps it was mockery over her recent assertion that Snow White And The Huntsman should be read as Muslim propaganda. Perhaps it was criticism of her suggestion — apparently aimed at a critic who was a non-white doctor — that some doctors wouldn't be doctors without affirmative action.

At any rate, Little Debbie did not react well to criticism. She lashed out at critics, including attacking one for being a "fake convert" Jew and thus somehow inauthentic. When a few people suggested she had used twitter on the sabbath, she began to issue legal threats and demands, demanding retraction and threatening a defamation action, chortling that she would sue in Michigan to make things more expensive for her foes, suggesting that she would attack the careers of her detractors, threatening critical attorneys with bar actions, and ridiculing possible opposing counsel based on their sexual preference. Debbie repeatedly vowed that she knows the law, despite being under the false impression that prevailing plaintiffs in defamation cases get attorney fees. Perhaps she's confused about what country she's in. And, most of all, she pressed her theme that her detractors are just jealous of her awesomeness. [Note: If Little Debbie sends any of these down the memory hole, I have screenshots.]

Her threats were not confined to Twitter — she was also issuing legal threats and demands based on an article about her at Right Wing News. I'd quote it but the whole site is down as of the time of this writing, possibly because she ate it.

It's difficult to see how Little Debbie thinks she can prevail in a defamation action. She's a public figure, and she'd have to prove that her detractors acted with actual malice in saying that she tweeted on the sabbath. Even if she could do that, she'd have to prove damages. I ask you — how can you possibly make the reputation of someone like Debbie Schlussel any worse than it already is? Also, I must ask Debbie herself: you rant and rage about how Americans are insufficiently muscular and aggressive in the face of the various foes you perceive. Is this the sort of strength, the sort of bold Americanism, the sort of fighting spirit you are looking for — encouraging people to run to the courts to sue when someone is very mildly mean to them on Twitter? You sniveling pissant.

Many perceive Little Debbie as a buffoon. Certainly she's a foolish, pathetic woman, a freak who pushes hate to the ragged edges of dark self-parody. Perhaps it's all a marketing schtick, not that it matters for evaluation of her character. But even if she's a buffoon, and whether or not her behavior is an extended Andy Kaufman set piece, she's troubling. First, she's troubling because some media figures inexplicably treat her as a serious commentator. Second, she's troublesome because censorious legal threats, even when issued by the aggressively unhinged, chill speech. In fact, legal threats by the unhinged are particularly chilling of speech, because threatened people perceive (often correctly) that the unhinged will sue without regard to reason or legal merit.

Our legal system lets crazy people sue you for no good reason and inflict huge expense and disruption upon you, often with no recourse. We've seen that in the case of Brett Kimberlin, who abuses an incompetent legal system to silence critics. Schlussel looks like just the sort of person to do the same. What can we do about it? Well, as I've argued before, we can advocate and agitate until we have either a federal anti-SLAPP statute or an anti-SLAPP statute in every case. We can publicize behavior like Debbie's for two purposes: first, to invoke the Streissand Effect and ensure that any threat brings tenfold negative publicity, and second, to attract supporters who will take up the fight with the threatened. Those of us who are lawyers can offer pro bono help, as we at Popehat are able to do from time to time. Join the fight. Take up the cause.

I offer to anyone threatened by Debbie Schlussel what I've offered before — if she sues you, I will be happy to help find counsel in your jurisdiction through the Popehat Signal and through the First Amendment Lawyers Association. We've had excellent luck finding pro bono counsel to defend bloggers from deranged threateners. I'll also help personally however I can.

Debbie sees herself as defending America against a horde of enemies. Despite very occasional areas of agreement — for instance, my strong belief that censorious fuckwittery on the part of some Muslims is contemptible and must be defied openly — I find Schlussel to be a terrifying, bigoted lunatic. If she were, as she sees herself, the shield that guards the West from the Sharia hordes, then her behavior in this instance shows why we would be doomed to minarets and calls to worship everywhere — because her censorship shows her to be at heart a pathetic, narcissistic, coward.

Last 5 posts by Ken White


  1. says

    > Perhaps it was criticism of her suggestion that some doctors wouldn't be doctors without affirmative action.

    That seems like an unassailable point: according to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the average MCAT scores of blacks in med school is stunningly lower than the averages for whites, Asians, etc.

    Thanks to left-wing racism, one is now put in the very real and very distasteful scenario where it makes sense to avoid doctors based on skill color. Ideally, there'd be one cut-off for everyone, but because of societal engineering from the same folks who brought us eugenics, it's nwo the case that your lowest quartile Asian doctor is likely to have higher MCAT / Q scores than your highest quartile black doctor.

  2. says

    Whether that is true or not, TJIC, if you were arguing with a black doctor over something completely unrelated, and offered that argument as pure ad hominem, could I not draw conclusions regarding you?

  3. says

    "stunningly lower": Bit of an exaggeration, especially considering those numbers only apply to the self-identified.

    But, back to the article: Regrettably I visited her site, and the anger and hostility there is profound. Since fear drives anger, I can only imagine she has at least been successful in attracting people who have the same (irrational?) fears. What I find repellent though, as I would with people like her IRL, is the horrible logic. And there's that "Contempt prior to investigation" thang…

  4. Marc says

    I love that you can mix the substance of a blog post with the Night's Watch pledge from Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire. Having now sufficiently geeked myself out for one day, I will move on…

  5. firehat says

    You guys are missing the context of her affirmative action line. She was talking to a black doctor about something that had nothing to do with affirmative action or any race-related policy. Her comments were meant purely to imply that he was unworthy. She also asked a co-conversationist if he'd ever been to a black doctor in an apparent attempt to confirm that black doctors can't be competent. Trust me, this was no debate over the merits or injustices of affirmative action policy. It was pure bald racism.

  6. says

    > Whether that is true or not, TJIC

    I think that disclaimer is a bit of PC grandstanding, given that the medical schools themselves say this.

    > if you were arguing with a black doctor over something completely unrelated, and offered that argument as pure ad hominem, could I not draw conclusions regarding you?

    Oh, absolutely.

    Above and beyond it being the height of asshole-ism to belittle someone based on race / gender / etc., it's also the height of poor rational thinking: if you've already pulled the ball from the urn the time for a priori probabilities is well past.

  7. says

    So I was mulling over whether it was worth likely wasting my breath pointing out that the requirements to graduate from medical school are exactly the same for everyone and the MCAT is a standardized entrance exam akin to the SATs that doesn't actually measure much in the way of medical knowledge, or that differences in score between qualifying MCATs are a better measure of who can afford an intensive cramming prep course than anything else, or how affirmative action even works (it doesn't mean you take a weaker candidate, let alone an unqualified one, it means you use race/whatever as the deciding factor between two equally good candidates in the qualifying pool- I still disagree with the practice, but AS IT ACTUALLY EXISTS)….

    …And then I looked at the actual chart. And discovered

    a) Apparently it's actually Puerto Ricans I should be deeply suspicious of,

    b) The size of the differences aren't "stunning", they're so small as to be of questionable statistical significance at all, especially given the radical differences in sample size (the two highest groups are larger than everyone else by several orders of magnitude),

    c) People who declined to answer the question at all do better than everyone else.

    Obviously statistics on the race of people who refuse to answer questions about race don't exist, but who has a motivation not to vs. who has a motivation to do so?

    White people who are in the majority anyway and for whom listing their race won't particularly hurt or help vs their scores…

    Lesser scoring candidates of a nonwhite race, for whom listing their race will help a little…

    High-scoring candidates of a nonwhite race who don't want race as a factor because some idiot is likely to assume they're unqualified based on their skin color. "Actually I didn't even answer the question."

    Medical schools have more qualified applicants than they have slots. Unqualified go directly to the rejection pile and do not pass Go or receive 200 dollars.

  8. says

    Quoting the Night's Watch oath: great. Quoting a rather obscure Monty Python sketch, even better. Ken, you're a big jam donut with cream on the top.

  9. says


    > the requirements to graduate from medical school are exactly the same for everyone

    Indeed. 1) be admitted to medical school, 2) have professors give you grades sufficient to graduate.

    Even if professors graded absolutely fairly without attention to race, if the tight part of the funnel is the admissions process, then we'd see exactly the effect I worry about.

    We know that this problem exists in law schools, where people of different races manage to graduate, but the objective and pitiless bar exam fails out blacks at a higher rate.

    Anecdotal evidence is that professors in the humanities, and even in the sciences, cut minorities more slack. (Feel free to attack the "anecdotal" bit; I'll let you have it because I'm not really feeling like a race fight this morning).

    I know that as an employer I've cut a black employee more slack than other employees because, in part, I wanted to think of myself as a good person.

    and the MCAT is a standardized entrance exam akin to the SATs that doesn't actually measure much in the way of medical knowledge, or that differences in score between qualifying MCATs are a better measure of who can afford an intensive cramming prep course than anything else, or how affirmative action even works (it doesn't mean you take a weaker candidate, let alone an unqualified one, it means you use race/whatever as the deciding factor between two equally good candidates in the qualifying pool- I still disagree with the practice, but AS IT ACTUALLY EXISTS)….

  10. C. S. P. Schofield says

    There are times when I wish it were possible to lock the likes of Debbie Schussel, Rosanne Barr, and all the UFO loopies, 9/11 truthers, Obamaramadigndong birthers, Illuminati watchers, etc. in a single football stadium, with a supply of baseball bats and tire irons. Open in six months and start deportation proceedings against the residue.


    She has an absolute, God given right to spout her drivel. And we have an absolute right to pronounce her barmy as bat-poo, early and often.

  11. says

    labrat writes: how affirmative action even works (it doesn't mean you take a weaker candidate, let alone an unqualified one, it means you use race/whatever as the deciding factor between two equally good candidates in the qualifying pool- I still disagree with the practice, but AS IT ACTUALLY EXISTS)

    The reality, labrat, is that that isn't how affirmative action in academic admissions works. I've not seen medical school admission data but I've seen undergraduate and other graduate school data like law schools. Students of lower objective scoring are admitted on the basis of ethnicity.

  12. says

    Her demands of "where did you graduate?n are the sort of thing sad, worthless little creatured – without any real argument to sustain them – ask.

    She's the sort of crazy the needs heavy medication and a long stay in a menal hospital to deal with…

  13. Jack B. says

    If you're really lucky, some of Debbie's followers will show up to defend her, um, honor.

    We're talking the type of crowd who thinks WorldNetDaily is the propaganda arm of the Obama administration…

  14. Luke says

    Posts like this make me wondering if Ken is daring someone to sue him. Part of me hopes that the Little Debbies of the world wouldn't be that monumentally stupid but after reading some about some of her previous comments I'm not so sure.

  15. Pebbles says

    WOW I am always amazed when I see people spouting their obvious racist views on the internet with their picture and name right there for everyone.

  16. says

    Excellent post, Ken. I'm particularly impressed by the veritable shitload of links that you included.

    This is the first that I've heard of Debbie Schlussel. I agree that she sounds bonkers. On some level, I think, she may be crazy like a fox, but not to too great an extent. No one who is that venomous can maintain a clear head and remain fully rooted in the reality-based community.

    Still, this sort of unhinged hatred is something to which segments of American media aggressively cater; witness Nancy Grace and Ann Coulter. It's lucrative, and if you're that nasty you probably don't have the scruples to refrain from exploiting and exaggerating your anger for mercenary purposes.

    I find it a bit disturbing that the first two examples to come to mind were women. It occurred to me that this sort of anger may be more prevalent among women, but then I remembered Rush Limbaugh. Rush is more influential than either of them on the right wing, but he doesn't have their crossover prominence in the center and on the left. These asshats are encouraged to make ad hominem attacks, foment lynch mob riots in Grace's case, and fabricate and spread fantastic lies, e.g., Coulter's provably false assertion that no innocent person has ever been executed. Media officials who know better retain people like these because it's more lucrative than hiring the thoughtful or the talented.

    The sad truth is that much of this country is consumed with hatreds that, left unchecked, will demand a police or military response at some point. We saw some minor disturbances during the Casey Anthony trial, and I think that we saw an example in the Johannes Mehserle trial, in which my gut feeling is that the jury bowed before the threat of race riots in the event of an acquittal, but it could get a lot worse. For instance, what would be the appropriate response on the part of foreign governments to an American government under the thumb of Curtis LeMay wannabes in the Air Force officer corps and their useful idiots in the fundamentalist churches, all convinced that they can whup any country's ass because they have God's favor and superior air power? This scenario may sound fanciful to big city ears, but in parts of flyover country it sounds all too likely, and the constituencies that would bring it about are among the most organized and influential in the US.

  17. mojo says

    Well, well. Looks like is declining to be visited – 403 "No Permission" errors. Even got one trying to pull an error page. Classic.

  18. says

    CSP Schofield:

    I like that image. I'd add that there's definitely room in the stadium for the vaccine/autism freaks, the chemtrail Cassandras, Oprah Winfrey, and the hardcore repressed "purity" scolds on the religious right, e.g., Michele Bachmann. Congress would fit en masse, and I wish I could say I would be sorry to see more of them go.

    There's probably some space for the FEMA camp fools, too. I can imagine a dystopian scenario in which the military or one of the federal law enforcement agencies runs an American Gulag, and the Bureau of Prisons is already arguably something of the sort, but how FEMA could ever have the wherewithal to run a concentration camp is beyond me. Agency incompetence aside, the FEMA camp yahoos are clearly barking up the wrong tree and distracting people from real threats in the government. They can't tell incompetence from competent malice. They're total twits. If there isn't space in the stadium, they should be consigned to Michael Browne's Arabian horse farm for a life of equestrian leisure. Whoever killed JFK should blow up the DSL line and all the cell phone towers within range as a precaution so that they can't go online and corrupt the impressionable with their rubbish.

  19. C. S. P. Schofield says

    Andrew Roth,

    I'd really prefer to limit any (even hypothetical) purge to those who are really receiving Radio Venus on their bridgework. That lets out Oprah, Rush, and most of the Politics as entertainment industry – possibly excepting the staff of the New York Times, which is fast approaching the level of deranged one associates with smeary mimeograph sheets about the Tri-latereal Commission. But I think we can include the Birch John Society, assorted Holocaust deniers, and the sad diehards who insist that FDR planned Pearl Harbor.

    Of course the problem with my vicious little scenario is that most of the foil hat brigade would probably get long just fine, and cross pollenate their derangements. They'd come out firmly convinced, for example, that FDR planned the assassination of JFK, on the orders of the Greys.

    We hardly need that. Robert Anton Wilson (with a collaborator whose name escapes me at the moment) already imagined a world where all conspiracy theories were true, even those that contradicted each-other. Illuminatus is a fascinating trilogy, but the world doesn't need another.

  20. says


    Students of lower objective scoring are admitted on the basis of ethnicity.

    And if additive objective scoring were how school admissions were determined, this might mean more. Even for a racially homogenous group, GPA, standardized test scoring (LSAT, MCAT, GRE), the admitting school's overall judgment of how high your school set the bar for you, and "character" factors are considered when deciding among qualified applicants and judging who is "highly qualified", "qualified", and "borderline". Again even assuming a universe in which race is not a factor because everyone is the same color, an applicant who is moderately qualified by scoring but had to claw their way to that while working a steady job and going to a mediocre school may well be better suited to meeting the demands the admitting school is actually going to be putting on them than a somewhat higher-scoring candidate who was a full-time student with a lot of tutoring and a Kaplan spoon in their mouths.

    Read the literature the actual people who favor, set, and try to influence affirmative action policy put out. Admitting lower/unqualified candidates has been tried a few times. It has resulted in disastrous failure, because unqualified students can't hack it, drop out, and result in a colossal waste of time, resources, and resentment among faculty and student body. Affirmative action proponents want qualified candidates because "political correctness" does not actually make incentives for rational behavior by the institution disappear.

    Admission into graduate school (or undergraduate schools that aren't just hungry for bodies) isn't a ranked system among slightly better to slightly worse candidates, it's a bet the institution is placing on your ability to finish. "Qualified" is the only real bar that counts, the rest is the institution choosing among what exactly they want in their students. If that weren't true the field would be owned by grade-inflating degree mills and students with the time and money to afford cram school.

  21. says

    TJIC: And yet, if the tight part of the funnel is admissions, and the professional bar is colorblind (doctors have board exams just as lawyers have the bar), it's still only qualified students who are admitted, and only qualified graduates that are permitted to practice their field. Your argument was that it was rational to trust nonwhite doctors less, which… doesn't appear to logically follow at all. The rest of your argument is purely that you suspect, based on your experiences and worldview, that people cut blacks a break on grading.

    None of which address the problem that you don't seem to have that strong a grasp of statistics if you think the table you linked represents "stunningly lower" means, which makes me wonder about the source you didn't bother to cite for the bar. And the fact that you singled out blacks when they weren't even the lowest scorers does as well when it comes to "slack" you cut them because you want to be a nice person.

  22. Niedermeyer's Dead Horse says

    I had never heard of Ms. Schlussel until last night when I segued to her site through Twitter. I promptly returned to the moron herd to ask how that could be…. How could I NEVER have heard of her before? They informed me that I had been quite fortunate in that respect, and they weren't kidding.

    After reading her back and forth last night, stomping her feet and rolling her eyes like a 14 year old girl, I have to say that a lawsuit is, indeed, imminent.

    If I were you, I'd expect a lawsuit from all the Nutty Bar, Banana Twins, and Dunkins Sticks fans who will associate forever her petulance with our favorite yummy snack cakes.

    I must warn you, stay away from Berger Cookies!

    That would be the final straw.

  23. says

    LabRat, so the solution to the observation that affirmative action in academic admissions admits less qualified students is to move the goalposts of "qualified".

    I know that admitting less qualified students has poor outcomes, as in fact a law professor at my law school actually did some studies of the effects and concluded that affirmative action in the law schools he studied did harm those students by putting them into schools that there were not suited to. That they would actually have had better success at the "lesser ranked" law schools that they would have otherwise been admitted to.

  24. Shay says

    If Schlussel truly wants to defend the USA against the commie socialist Muslim sharia raghead hordes why isn't she in uniform?

    Strike that suggestion. The Pentagon has enough to worry about.

  25. says

    Move the goalposts? Have you ever been to school? I went to a snotty prep school and they taught relentlessly that test scores were only a part of what the admission committee considered. Even being from an underpopulated state counted as something- and I'm so white I reflect enough light for a greenhouse.

    Ability to take standardized tests does not equate directly to ability to hack graduate/professional school and admissions committees have known this for long, long before affirmative action was ever conceptualized. You might as well avoid certain last names and Greek affiliations for the likelihood of having been legacy admits.

    Again, I don't agree with affirmative action for a number of reasons, but saying it results in less qualified professionals based on pretending admission works any differently than it has for the last hundred years doesn't actually demonstrate a thing except your worldview.

  26. AlphaCentauri says

    If there's racism in medical school admissions, it's bias against Asians. No matter how many generations their families are in the country, they are perceived as foreign, and a hospital staffed by Asian doctors is perceived as one that can't attract Americans.

  27. Piper says

    TJIC – some doctors wouldn't be doctors if they didn't graduate.

    Every Doctor Graduated. Period. They might not have gotten the degree from the same school, but if they were capable of the same work, then they have the same degree. So the statement is complete BS. Might as well say that some doctors wouldn't be doctors if they didn't have rich parents. It's the same thing – the Doctor still completed the work at the institution, or they wouldn't be a Doctor! So, complete BS.

    Now, as to the ones who failed out, dropped out. There, the argument can be made that they took up a slot, but they never became a Doctor – at least not from that institution.

  28. says

    First, a small correction: Well, as I've argued before, we can advocate and agitate until we have either a federal anti-SLAPP statute or an anti-SLAPP statute in every case. How about: …in every state.

    Brilliant work. I was going to follow her on twitter just to provoke her but you have so thoroughly and utterly destroyed her that she will likely obsess over you for the next few months and I look forward to seeing it all play out here.

  29. Turk says

    "Commentator" Debbie Schlussel is the stream of bat's piss that shines out like a shaft of gold when all around is dark.

    Now that is some awesome writing.

  30. Turk says

    Thanks, but praise belongs to John Cleese et al.


    (I shoulda known … it was just too good.)

  31. says

    LabRat – I think you and TJIC are arguing past each other. he is saying that, while qualified, minority doctors might be on the low end of the bell curve in their respective classes due to affirmative action.

    You are arguing that they are, indeed, qualified.

    I don't think TJIC ever claimed that they weren't qualified. he is simply saying that they are more often than not on the lower end of the qualifications scale. I've not reviewed the data, and have no intention to do so, so I can't develop an opinion on what he is saying or what you are saying.

    All I'm saying is that I think you guys are arguing two different points and as a result are arguing past each other.

  32. ParatrooperJJ says

    Piper – They are not capable of the same work – they are capable of the minimum amount of work needed to get licensed.

  33. Piper says

    @Paratrooper – still a Doctor. The Quote is that they wouldn't be a doctor. Additionally, that is complete BS. While the MCAT as a whole *can* be an accurate indicator of future performance, that is by no means guaranteed. In fact, studies have indicated that MCAT scores tend to be overpredictors for Med School GPA/Performance, and that there are a number of other factors that need to be accounted for : "call for studies examining other important qualities, such as integrity, interpersonal skills, capacity for caring, willingness to commit to lifelong learning, and desire to serve in underserved areas."

  34. says

    If you're attacking *John Hawkins at Right Wing News* for being a lefty Islamist sympathizer, yeah, I'd say you've probably gone around the bend.

  35. rocketgeek says

    It is likely that at least some of that gap in standardized test scores is a product of the fact that black applicants are likelier to come from poorer backgrounds, and therefore have less access to expensive cram courses like Kaplan. The gap in the table posted above is within the range of MCAT score improvements claimed by Kaplan, which lends a certain amount of credence to that hypothesis.

    I've known at least half a dozen people who sit (or have sat) on admissions committees of various highly ranked universities at both the graduate and undergraduate level. And without exception, they have expressed the view that if they picked students at random from the pool of qualified applicants, those students would do just as well as the ones they do admit. I think they ought to drop the pretense and admit by lottery. It's at least as fair as the current system, and would tend to remove many of the ways that wealthy parents can boost their childrens' chances of admission by buying their kids cram schools and the sort of experiences that tickle the prejudices of the admissions committee.

    And to say one thing on topic: This Schlussel character makes Golum look like a sane, well-balanced, good-hearted person.