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Rosie DiManno spews insults, but can't take 'em

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Rosie DiManno spews insults, but can't take 'em

My fab email exchange with the Toronto Star writer
I love the Toronto Star. I love their crisp, colourful pictures, their wide range of diverting topics, and the fact that their print doesn't come off on my fingers. I do, however, tend to avoid some of the loonier commentators and stick to hard news with a sprinkling of the brilliant Antonia Zerbisias.

But a three-hour train ride and the seductive lure of Camilla in a truly hideous coat (her stylist should be investigated for fraud) led me to a column by the infamously grouchy Rosie DiManno. Now, for those not in the know, Rosie has crafted a long career out of insults, outrage and controversy. Granted, she's had to work harder over the last few years, as her increasingly tiresome routine wears thin.

But the diminished DiManno still plugs gamely along, sniping here and there, dutifully trying to pump her online comments up with reader outrage. Her piece on Camilla and Charles was a pretty half-assed effort at this, with the inevitable focus on poor Diana, nasty infidelities and all the things that were so outrageous back in 1987.

Halfway down, though, Rosie made a puzzling choice in her description of an innocent onlooker, overjoyed at spotting his idols. She characterized this man as a "hermaphrodite-in-waiting," and sneered at how he "cooed" when speaking of the royal couple. She then printed his full name.

Now, I have to admit that sometimes my gut response to these sorts of remarks can be unfairly tainted by ghosts of homophobes past, so I thought I'd best be a tad circumspect in my query to Rosie and her editor. I popped off an email, asking what precisely she meant by this gender-based comment, and expressing my hope that it wasn't a crack on the man's possible effeminacy.

"Take the 2-by-4 out of your arse," Rosie wrote in response. "The guy looked like a male impersonator."

Well that answers that. Haunted by the memory of many in-person sightings, I couldn't help but respond: "Honey, I've seen you in person and trust me, so do you."

Now that might seem pretty mean — and, in fact it was. Additionally, it was sexist, ageist and all sorts of political no-nos that I generally avoid. But it was also quite calculated. I wanted to see if the fuel for Rosie's bigotry was in fact caused by a toxic leak from her own fractured self-esteem. And kablamo! I struck pay dirt.

"Your sexism is showing," wrote Rosie. "Hugs and kisses."

Interesting. I decided to up the ante with my own victim buzz-word. "And your effeminaphobia is outshining your ignorance," I typed back. "It's almost beautiful. Eternally, serafin."

Rosie's response was a little puzzling to me: "What a little man, and I suspect with a little penis," said she. "My sympathies. But you've used up your allotment of my time for wee dicks. I'm afraid this is where we must part."

Huh. Setting aside the irony that my exit from the closet was pretty much predicated on my disinterest in what the fairer sex thought of my genitals, I wondered just how much bait this dainty trout would swallow. Carefully studying her articles and the rabid invectives squatting in my inbox, I sketched out a series of responses mirroring the tone and structure of Rosie's tantrums.

What followed was a thoroughly entertaining hour or so of playacting as I attempted to parry DiManno's thrusts with her own scathing style. Could the lady take what she so gleefully dishes out from behind the safety of her computer screen? Apparently not.

I'm still quite amazed it worked. With each of my responses I was certain that the big R would spot my pedagogical sleight-of-hand, but nope, DiManno kept slinging the phallic insults and dramatic kiss-offs. This gal indulges in more final farewells than Cher on yet another retirement tour.

Finally, I decided to 'fess up. I let go of the charade and spoke about this incidental bystander, undefended and unrepresented, whose appearance, mannerism and full legal name she had held up for ridicule. I pointed out that my missives had been based on her own apparent ground rules for acceptable commentary on one's physical attributes (or shortcomings). I talked about the absurdity of treating others with contempt, and then expressing outrage when our bitter pigeons come home to roost — all the while believing that the lady had finally washed her hands of the conversation and would certainly not respond.

If only. More insults. Another final farewell, that I decided to let lie. I'm still not sure who won our little skirmish, but if this is losing I can't help thinking that I wouldn't still be so damned amused.

>> Read the email exchange between Serafin LaRiviere and Rosie DiManno
(PDF)
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Comments

Rosie
I'm a gay man, and I love Rosie Dimanno. She's edgy, fearless and writes with a sense of wit that other papers lack. This whole article is just silly. Lighten up, people. Stop being so damn sensitive!
The Star's better than this
It's been mysterious for years (and years!) why a self-proclaimed liberal media outlet gives space to a columnist whose stock in trade seems to be limited to insulting and marginalizing others -- an act that reached its best-before date back in the 80s. What's more disturbing in this case is that a simple inquiry ("I'm curious as to what DiManno is implying...") is met with a sputtering wave of dismissal and insult from the columnist herself.

The Star's Atkinson principles speak of social justice, compassion, the rights of individuals and especially minorities.... "a firm and principled foundation on which analysis and reasoning can take place." (http://www.torstar.com/about_atkinson.php)

When a question about what looked like a case of "covert homophobia" is met with "take the 2-by-4 out of your arse," we're not exactly heading for the high ground of sensitivity to the concerns of minorities or readers. I'd like to think the Star is a place where that sort of inquiry is met with honest reflection ("did we run something homophobic?") by the editors, and not by more of the same from the paper's resident rage-a-holic.
Uh huh...
Well Biff, I can congratulate you on one thing, which is your remarkably similar style of writing, sentence structure, content and tone to Rosie in her emails to me. What a fascinating coincidence.

I'll reiterate to you what I said to Rosie this afternoon (perhaps you remember?). The article is based on DiManno's usage of the word hermaphrodite as an insult, and her ensuing emails to me.

If the identity of the person upon which she heaped her scorn is in question, then I would ask you to subsitute any name and still argue that it's acceptable to insult someone in that transphobic, effeminaphobic manner.

Rosie certainly had ample opportunity to clarify any identity misunderstandings (which I had asked for initially, as you can see in the email) in her dozen or so email tantrums. She chose to eschew real conversation and justify her bigoted remarks with insults based on the man's appearance (and, again, please refer to the first email from her in which she states his gender) and - hilariously - my genitals.

Thank you for replying Rosi... er... "Biff." I've thoroughly enjoyed our conversations.
Oh dear
There was no indication in Dimanno's piece of the gender of the "hermaphrodite" in waiting as you suggest. It did not exist. You created it.
The cooing was not by an onlooker as you suggest. Dimanno said it was by the shopkeeper. That fact too was created by you.
The only thing that came close to an insult was with the verb "cooing."
So, the two "facts"on which you base your attack on Dimanno are demonstrably false.
Accept the criticism.
Hermaphrodite-in-waiting?
I might be missing something, but has not the term hermaphrodite been replaced by the term intersexed? And how exactly does one become, as opposed to being born, whichever term you choose to apply?

(my partner has Klinefelter syndrome so I've learned more in the last six months about this stuff than I had in my entire life)

And what exactly is a male impersonator anyway? I've only ever heard of female impersonators.
Thanks "Biff"
Thanks for the comment "Biff". Setting aside the striking similarity of your comment to a private email I received from the lady herself today, I can say that my initial email was asking for clarification in regards to what precisely Rosie had meant when referring to a man as a "hermaphrodite."

If you read closely, you'll notice that the subject of this article is actually about the ensuing email exchange, and the transphobic, effeminaphobic remarks.

She could have called Charlie himself a hermaphrodite and it wouldn't have mattered; the fact that this is apparently an acceptable way to insult someone is what concerns me.

But thank you for reading, "Biff." I'm sure you normally look at the world through very "Rosie" coloured glasses.
Learn to read
My dear God,
a whole column and subsequent email diatribe that comes about simply because someone can't read.
So someone was described as cooing. Get over it.
The so-called onlooker was in fact a shopkeeper where Camilla had gone to buy something.
And, the hermaphrodite-in-waiting crack was not aimed at the shopkeeper. It was aimed at one of Camilla's staff.
A good column is based on facts. The fact one can't read critically is not the basis for a column.
SHE GIVES ROSES A BAD NAME
I hate this woman and everything she writes. I continue to be amazed that she is part of the Toronto Star staff, their biggest thorn for sure.
@ Rich
@ Rich in TO:

Rich wrote: "I guess those who are prone to insults really do have thin skins themselves, perhaps constantly insulting others is just a way for some to cover their own human weaknesses by lashing out at others instead of actually dealing with their own issues."

Hmmm... you think maybe "Ron in Vancouver" is REALLY that disgusting troll, Rosie DiManno? 'Coz that certainly seems to fit both of them (if they really ARE two different people, that is.)
well done
I quite enjoyed your email exchange with Rosie, I find it amusing too to treat those who spew hateful comments and insults to their own medicine and then watch them work themselves up into a lather of righteous indignation about being talked to the same way they talk to others, I guess those who are prone to insults really do have thin skins themselves, perhaps constantly insulting others is just a way for some to cover their own human weaknesses by lashing out at others instead of actually dealing with their own issues.

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