Sunday, July 17, 2005

Using to fisk as a verb

I have just discovered what could be the earliest use of the the word fisk as a verb. On December 24, 2001, Glenn Reynolds wrote on Instapundit,
STEPHANIE SALTER WAS CHANNELING JESUS, and I was going to write something about it, but the holiday season afflicted me with too much charity and cheerfulness to give her the sound Fisking that she so richly deserved.
If anyone knows of an earlier use of the word, please let me know. (Note that Reynolds uses the term casually, as if it would already be known to his readers; so there could well be an earlier citation somewhere. But I cannot find one.)

Note that an Andrew Sullivan piece entitled "The Pathology of Robert Fisk" and posted December 9, 2001, is credited by Wikipedia as being the birth of fisking, even though the term itself is not used. In the piece, Sullivan refutes line by line (that is, he engages in the practice that would become known as fisking) an article by Fisk, a British journalist. In the target article, Fisk describes being set upon by an Afghan mob. But notably, Fisk writes that not does he not blame the mob, but he would have done the same in their place. Here is an excerpt from Fisk's piece:
They started by shaking hands. We said "Salaam aleikum" – peace be upon you – then the first pebbles flew past my face. A small boy tried to grab my bag. Then another. Then someone punched me in the back. Then young men broke my glasses, began smashing stones into my face and head. I couldn't see for the blood pouring down my forehead and swamping my eyes. And even then, I understood. I couldn't blame them for what they were doing. In fact, if I were the Afghan refugees of Kila Abdullah, close to the Afghan-Pakistan border, I would have done just the same to Robert Fisk. Or any other Westerner I could find.
Related post on the history of fisking here.