4 min read

My Favorite Insults from Commenters

If you're going to take a swipe at someone, at least be clever about it
Large metal sign in a field reading U N I T Y
Can’t we all just get along? | Image James Bellerjeau

Greetings friends!

The best insults make their point but don’t make the recipient see red. Just like the best articles leave you emotional without leaving you wrung out. I engender outraged responses regularly. It’s not that I try to do it (well, not usually). It’s just a talent I have.

There’s a lot we can learn about storytelling from a good insult. And there are pitfalls for the unwary. Let’s separate the masters from the mere mudslingers, shall we?

The Setup

Over 30 years as a corporate lawyer, I learned to be profoundly effective. My two secrets to success? Setting the right priorities and being able to spot bullshit.

I needed these skills more than I could have imagined when I started running our global Sustainability program. I already knew well the damage people with good intentions could cause. The climate change movement attracts these zealots like fried chicken does sticky fingers.

I’ve written a series of articles offering perspectives on climate change, including identifying what’s working, what’s not, and why. Cue the outrage. Using comments from a few of these stories, here are some bombs and beauties, with my explanation of what distinguishes insults.

It’s an Insult To Be Insulted Like This

what a load of fossil fuel funded apologist bullshit. [long rant] Only question then is who is funding you for writing this

My cheeky answer: “I guess you are funding me to write this, with the amount of time you spent reading it.” When a commenter attacks the person and not the substance, you may respond in kind.

This message brought to you by the Exxon corporation.

If someone makes me laugh, I will give them a substantive answer: “That’s funny, Rachel, but not very constructive. I understand that asking people to think for themselves is a big ask, but the discussion here shows that good faith, substantive discussion is absolutely possible. What never changed anyone’s mind is vilifying one’s conversational partner.”

Unfortunately, science doesn’t support what you are saying which is very much like saying fevers are good for you.

Oh dear. When the commenter refutes themselves, they’ve saved you time.

Maybe Bellerjeau could be persuaded to read: The Heat Will Kill You First: Life and Death on a Scorched Planet by Jeff Goodell (Author)

If only I drank the same Kool-aid, I’d surely think the same as you.

Enraged? By this kind of smug twit pose?

Kinda seems like it.

Thanks James, for putting your probably paid for thoughts down in Internet Stone, so that a vengeful future, looking for those auditioning for the role of scapegoat today will have something to work with.

Nasty, calling for a direct rebuke: “Nice, Norm. Nothing like an explicit threat of future violence to stifle potential dissenting views.”

… it’s not what an individual would put up with, it’s what an entitled capitalist who thinks by virtue of wealth they have the right to do whatever they want would put up with (which is very little). The sooner that class is up against the wall and no longer a going concern, the better for the planet and it’s people.

It is alarming how many people seem ready to resort to mass murder to get their way.

I Appreciate the Effort, If Not the Sentiment

Your grandchildren will curse you one day for this.

Rather personal and a little dark, but at least vivid and memorable.

Men have been executed on the basis of less rigorous evidence.

Yowza, that got scary fast, but I suppose it’s not a direct threat.

[This publication] needs a ‘thumbs down’ reaction.

Made me think.

If they write in a patronising tone — I’ll leave it to you to decide whether Bellerjeau’s tone is patronising — you are dealing with someone who is being deliberately disingenuous, intent on scoring rhetorical points rather than addressing real issues.

If I had to choose a single bucket to contain the most off-target commenters, it would be “Accusing others of what you are presently doing.”

I really am not sure if your article has a point.

My answer: “Hi Chip. You are demonstrating my article’s point by largely missing it.”

A bit of a nothing burger — in long form. … It ain’t complicated.

Dismissive and arrogant at the same time. The truth is so obvious that we don’t even need to engage.

You would be helped by reading Herman Daly’s book…

Unlike the earlier book recommendation, this commenter is assuming missing information, not malice.

A fool and his planet are soon parted.

Not bad. A personal insult, but trending towards witty.

Now THESE Are Insults

The title of this piece should set off mental alarms. It means the article you are about to read is almost certainly flapdoodle.

Kudos just for the word flapdoodle.

Don’t forget that humans are bigger and smarter than nature. We have been here for longer than the universe.

Short, funny, effective. I approve. My response: “That is an excellent point. With that attitude, why there’s nothing we can’t do if we set our minds to it.”

And I include the next commenter’s reply to my response because it is so deliciously oblivious:

Your mental illness prevents you from noticing that you are being mocked. … See help for your clinical paranoia. You are a danger to yourself and others.

I’ll just leave you magic tinfoil hat right over here.

While this is also an attack on the person, not the substance, the commenter is light and funny. Thus, a light response is warranted:

“David, the tinfoil is surprisingly useful for blocking those harmful UV rays that are increasingly baking the planet. And when you line an otherwise comfortable hat with it, one can remain fashionable.”

I don’t know what to say that wouldn’t be cynical, but apparently you welcome snark and facetiousness. Therefore I am defeated either way. Thanks for fukin’ with my head like that!

Just brilliant. Handily accuses me of manipulation in a disarmingly self-deprecatory manner.


It is possible to disagree without being disagreeable. While resorting to insults should be low on your list, when you do, insult with panache.

A clever dig can turn an enemy friendly, and foster discussion where none would otherwise be had.

Be well.

If you’d like to see me get insulted in real time, read more of my stories.