Fragile men are an epidemic

(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at:, or follow me on Twitter.


The most remarkable thing about most of these men and their Fabergé-egg-like egos is they’re often the first to gripe about the ills of “political correctness.”

Take Mr. Stephens, a conservative columnist who has railed against “safe spaces,” saying in a 2017 commencement address at Hampden-Sydney College that worrying about hurting other’s feelings might lead to stifling all speech: “If we want to accommodate the sensitivities of our fellow students, shouldn’t that accommodation extend not only to what we say around them, but also to what we say anywhere — or what we allow to be said anywhere?”

He continued: “In the name of being ‘safe,’ the job security of professors and administrators has been put at increasing risk — lest they espouse, teach or merely fail to denounce a point of view that contradicts the political certitudes of the moment.”

Stephens apparently forgot those concerns when, following news there was an outbreak of bedbugs in the New York Times newsroom, David Karpf, an associate professor of media and public affairs at George Washington University, jokingly tweeted: “The bedbugs are a metaphor. The bedbugs are Bret Stephens.”

Hardly anyone saw the tweet, as the professor at that point had few Twitter followers. But Stephens saw it — and it hurt his feelings. So much so that he sent an email to Karpf and the university’s provost, writing: “I would welcome the opportunity for you to come to my home, meet my wife and kids, talk to us for a few minutes, and then call me a ‘bedbug’ to my face.”

Stephens was clearly trying to leverage his status as a Times columnist to get Karpf in trouble, all because he was mad the professor called him a bedbug. So much for Stephens’ worries about “the job security of professors.”

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