Good Faith, Stupidity, And The Internet

Part 2: Dean Esmay, Sociopathy, And The Wasted Blogosphere

Copyright © by Dan Schneider, 1/24/09


  In the first installment of this series of essays, I demolished the poor dialectic that two not too bright poets were having over things that neither had any real grasp of, and posited that, unfortunately, this sickly inability to even be able to argue correctly, was a mere symptom of a larger ill- not only of the Internet, but of the larger society; online or off. I detailed how diehard Communist poet Lyle Daggett still had no fundamental understanding of the fact that art, especially great art, needs no overt didactical tones, for that is redundant, as great art enlightens by the sheer quality of its structure and the ability to leave something memorable and potent in one’s mind. Whether or not its position (or that of its artist) is pro or con any given point is irrelevant. Any true lover of art would rather experience a piece of great art written by someone they find personally or ethically repugnant than a piece of artistic tripe composed by a person they care much of. If they do not, simply put, they are not true art lovers. And to try to reduce art to a simple political or apolitical stance, as Daggett repeatedly does, naturally shows off the intellectual failure of the claimant; for politics is a tiny portion of the lives of any given individual; even those who make their living in that basest of human pursuits. Imagine trying to reduce one’s life to whether or not one has an opinion on the relative merits of one donut chain versus another; and then having the person making the comparison claiming that you still are inextricably tied to the donut chain question even if you shrug the entire query off with apathy.

  Of course, such is to be expected when dealing with the relatively lightweight philosophies of the Far Left. That stated, the Far Right is not much better; if at all. It is for this reason that I will now turn my attention to one of the silliest people of the Far Right, pro-Iraq War blogger Dean Esmay (and for those who’ve wondered, here are two photos of the man: here and here). Cosmoetica fans are sure to recall how, in the past few years, I have censured this war apologist for his repeated lies and sciolism. Here and here I detailed Esmay’s intellectual sciolism and cowardice, after banning me from his website because I pointed out his lies about the Vietnam War. A bit later I savaged his hypocrisy on the war, by taking on his Couch Potato’s Burden. I then detailed some of his slimy blog tactics here. And in my last take on Esmay, a little over a year and a half ago, I linked him to other malign online forces.

  One might ask why, out of so many idiotic bloggers, I have come back, a few times, to pick on old Dean-o? Well, for one, he’s a better blogger than many; and it would be pretty poor logic to try to find fault with the worst bloggers out there. If I were to claim films or poetry were in dire shape, I could easily find bad filmmakers and poets to make my case; but if the rot is with one of the best of the bunch, the case is all the more damning. Secondly, I simply detest bullies; and Esmay is a bully and a coward. A month or so after banning me from his blog, my old PC was knocked out by a computer virus. When the tech guy I brought my PC to told me where the virus came from: a computer from a suburb of Detroit (where Esmay lived at the time), the chances of it not being Esmay (who works as a computer geek) were slim. Also, if you Google about you will find dozens, if not hundreds, of people that he has banned from his blog for, like me, no greater sin than being more knowledgeable about a certain subject than he is. Not that that is difficult, when Esmay, to this day, refuses to admit his errors on the most obvious of topics. One need only look here to see that Esmay still supports disgraced and disproven AIDS Denialist Peter Duesberg’s wacky HIV ideas. And, looking at my old essays, one will see that Esmay will often issue epithets and statements that hint at a darker, more racist side. But, in the last year, in the few times I check Esmay’s blog a week (for he is one of the better Internet linkers), I’ve noticed that the man has utterly spiraled out of control. He’s slipped in and out of alcoholism, ruined his marriage to a conservative female blogger- although she is often as wacky as he is, linked himself up with an unhinged and disingenuous Men's Movement apologist, and generally displayed idiocies above and beyond the call of even a run of the mill alcoholic and Tourette’s Syndrome sufferer (look here, at #19). To say that Esmay has been a bully and an exhibitionist is to say the least.

  So, despite it seeming like I’m picking on someone when they are down, the fact is that Esmay, just like his mentally frazzled loony Left Wing counterpart, Lyle Daggett, eminently deserves all the opprobrium he is about to get; as well as serving as an exemplar of what is wrong with the blogosphere, and other people who similarly abuse it. Esmay routinely uses his blog to display all the gory details of his life, until he is called on it. Around Halloween of ‘07, Esmay’s wife up and left him, taking their two boys with her, due to, according to Esmay’s own post (since removed, as even his zombie-minded acolytes chided him on his egotism and insensitivity in making private matters public), his rampant and repeated returns to alcohol. Not surprisingly, not long after this debacle, Esmay, who proudly considered himself an agnostic, turned to Roman Catholicism. This was no surprise to me, as the man (as he portrayed himself online) was always weak willed and intellectually marginal, but what I found heartening was that, despite Esmay’s later passive/aggressive turns at vilifying women who leave their men (while carefully avoiding any real life drama, lest be cut off from seeing his boys), his wife fought back, with this post. Interestingly, note how the commenters on the wife’s blog easily digress from the main thrust of the post, and into their own self-absorbed little worlds. This will be a recurrent theme I point out in this essay and the rest of the series.

  Yet, as the weeks went on, Esmay’s soap operatic psychodrama played itself out across the pages of his blog, although most have been removed, likely due to Esmay’s wife’s censure or legal threats. In this post, Esmay relayed the fact that he’d had a nervous breakdown and was in alcohol rehab. In this post, hilariously titled Dean Is Angry!, Esmay lashed out at the commenters on his blog- usually a bunch of obsequious nincompoops, for blasting him for his exhibitionism. He followed up with this post; a ‘Request’ to his readers to cut him some slack after their prior diss of him sent him off into another bout of depression. Naturally, it delved further into his personal traumas (which I won’t detail) and narcissism (oddly in tandem with his self-loathing). Poor Esmay was so frazzled that, when a commenter on his blog called him a sociopath, due to his online vilification of his wife and all things female, Esmay responded with, yup- you got it, a post titled Sociopath, wherein he delved into the definition of the term and was mulling in public whether he was one or not. Hmmm? A person with no self control, who bans others who merely disagree with him, who vilify those he feels personally betrays them, who narcissistically cultivates a band of acolytes, and who, if really pissed, will come out of cyberspace, and into the real world, and try to destroy their property with viruses.

  Now, go Google the definition of sociopath: here is the top link (at least, as of today). Let’s look at some of the qualities it lists, and then I ask you to do some research, or just follow the above links to old essays I’ve done.

  -Glibness and Superficial Charm: glib, certainly; charming, eh.

  -Manipulative and Conning: two for two.

  -Grandiose Sense of Self: look at his blog’s title, and a typical Esmay post. Check.

  -Pathological Lying: a look at my old essays shows this in full bloom. So far, 5 of 6.

  -Lack of Remorse, Shame or Guilt: putting aside no shame for how he runs his blog nor his dialectic, a look at how Esmay handled his divorce and breakdown pushed Dean-o top 6 for 7.

  -Shallow Emotions: at least online, yes. What goes on in private is not known. Give him a ½ a point, so 6.5 of 8.

  -Incapacity for Love: possibly, since Esmay, himself, was even questioning this. Another ½ point, so 7 of 9.

  -Need for Stimulation: an odd factor, but if the website defines it as this- ‘Living on the edge. Verbal outbursts and physical punishments are normal. Promiscuity and gambling are common,’ then Esmay’s a go, and at 8 for 10; thus, so far, an 80% shot he’s a sociopath. No wonder Esmay doubted himself.

  -Callousness/Lack of Empathy: In spades- 9 of 11.
  -Poor Behavioral Controls/Impulsive Nature: a boozer who types first, thinks later. 10 of 12. Perhaps the first known sufferer of literary Tourettes.

  -Early Behavior Problems/Juvenile Delinquency: can only speculate on what Esmay has written of himself; but it seems to fit. Another ½ point, and we’re at 10.5 of 13

  -Irresponsibility/Unreliability: look at how he embarrassed his wife and kids. He never accepts blame when at fault, and occasionally admits an error only when one of his zomboid fans points out the obvious. Then he admits a mistake, just so he can say he admits an error. 11.5 of 14.

  -Promiscuous Sexual Behavior/Infidelity: only Esmay and his wife know. Thankfully, he did not disclose this detail. We’ll give it a pass, and we’re at 11.5 of 15.

  -Lack of Realistic Life Plan/Parasitic Lifestyle: Esmay apparently bobs through his real life without any real focus. Bingo, and we’re at 12.5 of 16.

  -Criminal or Entrepreneurial Versatility: the criminality part is a guess, although, if he indeed did send the virus to ax my old PC, this is a bingo, but changing his image is dead on. That means, of the 17 listed personality traits that a psychopath has, Esmay scores a 13.5, and possibly higher if those that know the man can fill in the blanks. For those interested, that means there’s a 79.41% chance Esmay’s a sociopath. Again, no surprise to those of us who have suffered by him.

  However, if Dean Esmay were merely an online sociopath, amidst a cyber-sea of sane, mature, and articulate individuals, there would be no reason for this essay. The reason it exists is not because Esmay is an aberration, but because he (and his ilk) is the sick rule of the game. In his essence, Esmay is an addict; one who, since his meltdown in 2007, has merely switched his addiction from alcohol (he recently boasted of celebrating his 9th dry month) to religion (his conversion to Roman Catholicism) and his pro-male rantings, such as this one, called Pond Scum: Divorce Attorney, where he rips (in a not veiled way) his ongoing divorce, and his wife’s attorney. Naturally, it’s been removed. And, as if to emphasize his sociopathy, there was this gem of a post, where Esmay, again, has the brass to rip on others for his alcoholism, only to have his wife respond and chide him, again, for his public lies. Note how Esmay, who routinely rips PC, falls into the easy way out of calling his alcoholism a ‘disease, when it technically fits none of the qualities a disease has. Esmay claims, ‘Your character defects can lead you to alcoholism, but the alcoholism itself is not the defect in your character, it’s a defect in your brain chemistry.’ By comment 35, Esmay starts into a major defense of his inanity:

Wonderful: Yes. Also, Skydiving While Blind and Poking Rabid Dogs With Sticks.

(Trivia note: I once broke my back skydiving, but, I wasn’t blind and it was before college.)

More seriously: I’ll try to avoid getting into another jeremiad on this, but, a little-known fact is that a majority of college students drop out, because college is hard. The dropout/lapse rate for returning adults is even higher, for reasons that should be obvious: if you’re working full time and going to school full time, you have time for almost nothing else. The stress is enormous, and stress kills, especially as you begin to approach and enter middle age (I was in my mid to late 30s).

For me, college was/is even more stressful than it is for other people, because I have always–and I do mean always, going at least back to second grade–hated school. And I do not mean “hate” as in the typical kid-moaning, I mean hate as in, was utterly miserable most of the time. The reasons are varied, but the shortest explanation is that I am a fairly atypical learning type in that I do not learn well, at all, from verbal instruction. I have begun to suspect strongly that I am on the autism/asperger’s spectrum somewhere. I don’t learn well by listening to someone explain things to me, and, my patience for listening to lectures where I already understand what others are still struggling to grasp is practically nonexistent (and has been since I was a small child). On top of that, due to severe chaos in my childhood, we moved a lot, which ultimately added up to me changing schools approximately once per year (which military brats are also familiar with). For me, I moved schools an average of once a year; spending two years at one school happened once or twice, but that was mixed in with years where I switched more than once in a school year; by memory, listing all the schools I remember going to, I went to about 8 grammar schools and four high schools. Thus I never developed the strong friendship bonds that get a lot of kids through school. By the time I graduated High School, my hatred for school was so intense that I swore that I would never voluntarily go to college.

Still, when I was laid off from Progeny Linux Systems, and came back to Michigan to be with Rose’s family (instead of, say, Chicago or Texas where I had job opportunities aplenty) it was clear I could not possibly find decent work, especially then in 2001, in the IT industry. Every decent-paying job in my field in Michigan was demanding a degree, and while they often said “four year degree or equivalent” it was increasingly apparent that “or equivalent” was code for “someone who we already have in mind for the job,” because no one was impressed with my long and impressive-looking list of experience.

I reluctantly concluded that a degree was going to be what I needed to be able to support my family with the security and especially the medical insurance (Rosemary had horrible health problems, especially back then, I watched her nearly-die more than once) they needed.

One thing that was nice about the very crappy tech support job for the very Crappy Company was that they had fairly generous tuition reimbursement. So I took maximum student loans, and we merely kept the tuition reimbursement for living expenses rather than paying the debt with it; that added $10,000/year in income which we desperately needed, what with Rose home full-time. It was also something of a mixed blessing, as it was a source of more stress; as much as I was hating school, it would have been a $10K/year income drop were I to quit school. So I at least credit the crappy job with the crappy, treat-you-like-dirt company for holding my feet to the fire and not allowing me to quit, even if that wasn’t their direct intention.

So, I was working the midnight shift, which adds stress (you’re always exhausted on that shift, and your family and social life disappears, so the stress is terrible and the stress relief mechanisms available are highly limited) and school itself is tremendously stressful for normal people, even more stressful for someone who doesn’t learn well in or enjoy the classroom environment as a student. And like I said, stress kills, especially after you leave your 20s; ask any doctor if you don’t believe it.

Another source of stress, because Rose wasn’t bringing in direct income (although she was working hard on the family and helping some with the blog and school), was that we of course had money problems. So, while this blog originally started as a stress reliever, it became a second job as I worked hard (with help from Rose) to turn it into a source of extra income. We had some success with that, and it eventually landed us a contract with Pajamas Media which paid fairly well. But that also made the blog become a burden and responsibility and not just a stress reliever. Also, once you’re a high-visibility blogger, you become a target subject to massive criticism and often pelted with emails, comments, and trackbacks attacking you personally and/or demanding answers for everything under the sun. It became just another thing I was often afraid to even look at, although I had to to keep it going. So it was a mixed blessing, sometimes a source of pleasure and stress relief, but even more often just another business responsibility.

I also decided to write a novel during those years, which got much critical claim and award nominations, but to my disappointment didn’t make much money. Not sure where that goes in to the story, but, it was another source of stress and yet also stress relief, both at once.

All of this combined also to rob me of even much opportunity for quality family time. I had been extremely involved and interactive with the Elder Prince from the very beginning; I was even the first to change his diapers and feed him. With the Younger Prince, I had almost no time with him early on. I’d never had the time with him that I’d had with Jacob, although I wanted it.

What we’re basically talking about here is five years of stress wherever I looked, and a lot of loneliness and isolation. I might as well add in that during these days I also helped co-found Operation Give, a non-profit to help the efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, which I was proud of but was yet another burden and responsibility, although it was a source of pride and I often told myself it was minor compared to what the families of those serving over there were going through and was the minimum I could do without enlisting (and the military wouldn’t take me anyway because of my age and health problems like diabetes, which I’d also been diagnosed with by the way).

Also I guess while I’m mentioning all this I discovered in November, with consultation from doctors in the hospital, that I’m moderately bipolar. That’s being treated now, but untreated bipolar episodes will complicate life, and they pretty clearly did back then.

Stress started to get better in early 2006, when I graduated. But the crappy job stayed crappy, and the Pajamas Media contract was radically changed to pay a lot less (because their initial business model hadn’t worked, not because I was doing anything different or had failed to do anything their contract specified). Indeed, my lack of a college degree had seemed to be what was preventing me from advancing to better positions in the Crappy Company, but it wasn’t. I had no opportunities for advancement, and sending out new, updated resumes to recruiters and various companies on Monster and such netted me nothing. By August I was let go from that job, for reasons that were utterly absurd and even a little obscene, which the State of Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency agreed with when the Crappy Company tried to fight my unemployment claim and lost completely (indeed, they were practically bitch-slapped, which was gratifying at least).

Well I didn’t want this to go long, but it did anyway. So let me summarize: went from well-paying job I really liked to a totally crappy job that paid crappy, had a secondary line of business that went from an enjoyable hobby to a burden, and was going to school full time which I hated and got almost nothing out of despite excellent grades, and had my personal/social life all but destroyed by all of that. Going to school ultimately not only robbed me of all that, and added immeasurably to my stress, but in the end, despite graduating with high honors, did not do much of anything to provide the job security that would have made all that a worthwhile investment in the first place. All I got was massive debt and a feeling of futility. And by then (early 2006) my alcoholism (which is a profoundly dangerous and progressive disease, whether ignorant twits believe it or not) had progressed from early to intermediate to advanced/acute stage was taking a toll not just on my family, but on my health and my ability to think straight, or any ability to quit (despite multiple efforts, I’d reached the point where I couldn’t even stop for 48 hours, although I kept trying). So despite the fact that the school was over and that source of stress was theoretically gone, it only brought an income drop (no more tuition reimbursement money), a massive new debt we couldn’t pay, and no visible improvement in prospects for a better job.

In short, then, the decision to go to school was near-fatal because it netted me no career or personal improvement (so far), destroyed my family life, and aggravated the progression of my alcoholism. I wish I’d never done it; I learned almost nothing at all, probably took ten years off of my life, and lost a marriage and an early relationship with my precious younger son, not to mention the estrangement with my wife and elder son. Why the fuck did I even do it?

So there you go. Feel free to mock and treat it with contempt, though.

  Well, mockery was not coming, but a rebuke from his wife, which was posted (#40) by her brother, who, if the comment is correct, was, like me, one of many banned from Esmay’s blog:

Rose tried to post this but her comment was caught up awaiting moderation..

Below is a copy & paste of her comments:

I feel the need to respond here since I’ve been named and the memories are mixed up. One thing people haven’t mentioned about alcoholism is the fact that alcoholics lose their memories then conflate new memories where the time is black. That is something I wish people would discuss. 

Now, as to the reason I’m here. To correct a few errors in memory.  We moved back to Michigan in 2001 for 2 reasons. The first, we were paying a 1000 bucks a month on a house that hadn’t sold yet - so it seemed like a good idea to move back to it since Dean lost his job. The other is that we found out 2 weeks before Dean lost his job that my father was DYING OF CANCER. 

We moved back on July 1st and my daddy died in November.  When we moved back - I immediately started working at a bar full time and overtime to earn money, while Dean collected unemployment and started college.  It wasn’t full time college  because  he was unemployed and at best he was taking 6 credit hours.  Dean stayed home with Jake, I worked and then came home and did the home chores and cooking. I’m sick and tired of the impression that I was just home on my ass while Dean killed himself working. That’s correction number 2.

I had health problems(asthma) but my massive weight loss helped curb. I did almost die from complications of a massive hernia operation. That was a couple years later and working 40+ hours hauling kegs and working in a kitchen added to the already present hernia. That hernia was a result of snow shoveling before I completely healed from a massive stomach surgery in 2000. Correction #3. 

I "helped" with that college degree to take off the pressure and help you get the damn thing. But the thought that earning it ruined our family is ridiculous. The drinking was a bigger problem and it was also the reason you lost time with our younger son. You had that damn degree before Draco was even 1.  Enough of this crap. Correction #4 

If you don’t want me here typing responses, don’t talk about your life and use me and our family as a reason why you became a drunk.   That degree got you a couple jobs - including the one you lost last year. It was a good investment and saying otherwise is just flat wrong.  Your drinking and actions while drinking caused the estrangement with your wife and elder son. Not school. Saying otherwise is dishonest and I thought this was supposed to be an honest post. So, keep t real or stop bringing me and our kids up to explain your drinking.


  In comment 46, Esmay replies, with tail between his legs, although he does slip in this gem:

My usual pattern then (alcoholism is progressive) was anywhere from a six pack of beer a night to a couple of 40 ouncers, although when I worked at night I would often come home at midnight, 1 am and have two or occasionally three 40 ouncers of Mickey’s and/or Budweiser and watch Star Trek: Voyager, then go to sleep and get up with Jake while his mom went to work. I also had job opportunities during that period that she discouraged me from pursuing because they didn’t pay enough. The only reason I bring this up, since personal stuff is being brought up now, is I don’t like the impression being that all I did during that brief 6 month stint was sit around the house drinking while his mom worked. We were both struggling hard to make ends meet in very difficult times.

  Note the section I bolded and underlined. Even as he’s pretending to defend his wife, and declaims his ‘rigorous honesty,’ Esmay still tries to fob off blame on others. Yet, it was he who made the very post that brings up personal things that involves others. And, if you look back on my earlier posts on Esmay (see links above), you’ll see this is exactly the sort of dialectic narcissism and dishonesty he has always employed; and which the majority of bloggers always employ (as I will show, in a bit). Not coincidentally, it is a very similar form of personal dishonesty to that displayed by Lyle Daggett that I denuded in the first essay in this series.

  Also, Esmay has taken on a new co-blogger, one Glenn Sacks; a pro-male advocate who has about one good post for every two or three silly ones; but who often gives Esmay solace in his loneliness. It seems to be doing Esmay little good in his war on his own sociopathy, as this list of Esmay’s Amazon reviews proves. Note, especially this title, and his ongoing defense of the quackery of AIDS Denialists. So, let me wrap up this foray into the Internet’s underbelly with probably the most depressing words I’ve ever typed: for all of his psychological ills and emotional immaturities, from his exhibitionism to his sociopathic rants against those he does not like, to sending out viruses to those who ‘trespass against him;’ for all of that, I can state this: Dean Esmay is one of the more intelligent and stable individuals online. Yes, that’s right. Despite my pointing out his sociopathic tendencies, his admitted addictions to alcoholism and obesity, his constant excuse-making for his behaviors online and off, and his warped sense of self-importance and intellectual ability, I stick by my above stated claim. No, Esmay’s not particularly intelligent nor stable, but compared with all of those folks on the id-loosing device known as the Internet, where anonymity grants all sorts of idiocy credence, from the deluded ideological assholes who cyberstalk people on Wikipedia (a subject I will return to later in this series) to the idiots who post and troll on blogs, such as this deluded soul, who posts on Esmay’s blog (which has a terrible new layout and color scheme, as well as changing its name from the well branded Dean’s World to the generic DeanEsmay.com) about his wanting to be a writer, Esmay actually has potential to be a good writer. Not a great one, mind you, but a solid, passable one- at least in the essay format. Even if his opinions are weird, stupid, or flat out wrong, he presents arguments well. His fictive prose, however, posted in installments of a sci fi novel he co-wrote with another guy who blogs for him, is utterly atrocious. So, despite all the shit he’s foisted my way over the years, let me end this installment with the hope that Esmay can do what Lyle Daggett (and millions of others online) is incapable of doing, and that’s maturing into a person and writer. I will pick up this theme and run with it a bit in the next installment of this series on Good Faith, Stupidity, And The Internet, when I evaluate other online personalities, blogs, and websites.


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