Ellis & Birmingham Go Toe to Toe

The recent very public stoush between Bob Ellis and John Birmingham has provided for some compelling reading. It’s always risky for an author to respond to public criticism. The background: Bob Ellis wrote an opinion piece about the Dominique Strauss-Kahn affair, asking if feminism had gone too far. John Birmingham replied with a polemic of his own, asking if Bob Ellis had gone too far. Bob Ellis left a comment below Birmingham’s piece (at 2:49pm on 6 July). Birmingham replied. Then Ellis had another go. Then another. Then another…

It was a heated exchange, and others joined in too. Then it degenerated into a bit of a brawl, with 325 comments, not all of which, it must be said, were complimentary to the human capacity for rational thought. But we’ve seen worse: here’s the textbook example of how an author should not reply to criticism.