Sometimes something which should be a non-news, non-story becomes a huge story solely because of the ridiculously over-the-top reaction which it generates, a phenomenon which seems to be magnified by the instant networked communication made possible by the internet.
Such is the case with a recent Playboy article by Guy Cimbalo which was basically a "hate fuck" list of conservative women with commentary on why he found them physically attractive despite finding their views intellectually abhorrent. The article was clearly written as satire and has some intentionally offensive descriptions of the women and acts he'd like to perform, but nothing one wouldn't have expected to see in similar satirical articles in outlets like National Lampoon when I was in college.
Cimbalo's remarkable achievement is that his weak attempt at biting sarcasm was rapidly transformed into something so toxic that not only was the article removed from the Playboy website, but other articles discussing it or even highly critical of it have been purged from the internet. One site which posted snapshots of the article seems to have been taken completely offline, and an AOL writer who covered it was fired by AOL.
The progress of events was that the Playboy website published Cimbalo's article "So Wrong It's Right" on the Monday. Almost immediately two normally antithetical groups — right wing moralists and left wing feminists — began twittering and blogging about it. Pretty soon, the internet was ringing with complaints that it objectified women, that it advocated rape, that it was grossly sexist, that it was politically biased (duh), and so on. But the second generation of bitching about it really passed over into the surreal, as feminists complained that fellow feminist Anne Schroeder Mullins of Politico was a thought criminal just for reprinting the names from Cimbalo's list with none of the commentary. And then the reaction went beyond ridiculous when AOL's Politics Daily fired Tommy Christopher for writing an article highly critical of Cimbalo's work, and possibly also for his role in blowing up the whole situation on Twitter. By Thursday, sites which quoted or even referred to the article were being shut down and articles were being taken offline, though for the time being the content of the article is still cached on Google.
Cimbalo has achieved a sort of trifecta of online journalism. He offended liberals and conservatives, he wrote something you could get slagged on for supporting or criticizing, and he managed to create a discussion so provocative it became toxic and started tumbling web pages like dominoes. Even if he's not particularly good at satire, Cimbalo proved that he was a master of creating controversy, though he certainly had a lot of help from self-righteous twitterheads and moralistic buffoons all over the net.