Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Edwards two bloggers quit after much ado about something

I've been following the story of Amanda Marcotte's firing, rehiring and subsequent resignation (and her soul sistah- Melissa McEwan) on both sides of the political aisle over the last few days. Liberals are crying foul - that the "christofascist machine" is martyring those liberals who have the courage of their convictions and potty-mouths to broadcast their views into the blogosphere and the right-wing is shouting that the "true" religious (aka, those who hold doctrines as sacred, not as points of offensive ridicule) believe that finally the left is showing who it really is and why it must be "silenced." (CultureKitchen discusses from a leftwing viewpoint what "silenced" means to her.)

My interest in this topic goes in these directions:
  1. I find it fascinating that the conservative religious voice trumps the liberal voice in politics. Why should that be? Why can't a non-religious, atheist, religion-critiquing person have a chance at winning an election? Why is it that having a potty-mouth and hurling insults is considered an unforgiveable sin when conducted by left-wing religious critics but is perfectly acceptable when Rush, for instance, calls feminists, "FemiNazis," or environmentalists, "Wackos," or when Michael Savage charges liberals with being immoral, godless, idiots?

  2. I wonder if there is a correlation between women having unpopular, vulgar opinions and the need to expose and "silence" them as opposed to the run-of-the-mill male political blogger.

  3. I wonder about the future of politics related to blogging.

  4. I wonder about how important every freakin' word typed on a keypad or uttered into a microphone is and whether we should be held to infallible standards of communication so as to never offend anyone who has power or influence. Several bloggers I read are considering quitting the whole blog-thingy. They are weary from the risk to their careers, relationships. They have anxiety about being who they really are. How well can I relate to that feeling? Yet is this how we must now live when our words are taken as irretrievable evidence of immovable beliefs or positions that must be defended unto death, pay raises or election-time? Can no one change her mind, soften the tone or even stand for old posts perhaps having matured or tailoring her new posts for a new audience?

  5. Is blogging too dependent on shock value to retain readership? Not that I think anything can be done about it, but I'm wondering how blog-style writing impacts things like political cutlure.
Having been a conservative and having elbowed with liberals for these last four years, I've grown in sympathy to the left's cry that the rightwing media machine is more effective at crying foul and making it stick than the left is or has been. And I do think that's a problem. What do you make of all this?

I've responded to comments with a few more of my opinions, such as they are, and it probably makes for awkward dialog, but I'm interested in your thoughts.

26 comments:

SusansPlace said...

I'm bamboozled. This is the first I have heard of this firestorm. Just read the article from "CultureKitchen". I have visions of witch hunts and burning at the stakes, when I read the word "Silenced". Why would Donohue take it upon himself to say who should speak for Edwards? Let the smear campaign begin.

I'll be looking into this more and adding my voice somewhere and it won't be in Donohue's or Tucker's camp.

Susan

carrie said...

1. Rush Limbaugh wasn't running for office. If he had, he wouldn't have had a chance. He is offensive. Just like Howard Stern, he has his audience and they love him. And also, like Stern, he has his critics and they hate him. Having a potty-mouth is simply offensive no matter who has it, and insults are to be shunned no matter who's doing the insulting. Left, right, don't matter. And I disagree....I don't think the right trumps the left on this at all.

2. I thought one of the persons involved was a man. It doesn't matter to me if their women or men. They are entitled to their opinions, but they don't need to cry "foul" if someone takes offense. That's life when you shoot your mouth off and insult people.

3. I have no idea. But this goes back to my post on the blogger's uncertainty princuiple. When we make our opinions about people known in such a public way, we're going to get a reaction. Why is anyone surprised? No one promised privacy on the web.

4. Seems like they want a double standard here. ;-) "I get to offend you but you can't say anything about it or you are even more of a Christofacist than I thought!" The internet is not private. No one has EVER been able to shoot their mouth off and not have it effect their private lives (or their jobs)! The only thing that's changed is that instead of shooting your mouth off in a letter or to one or two people in the office, bloggers are shooting their mouths off to millions of people. The only thing that has changed is the number of people who hear the unfettered (and often unwise) words.

There is such a thing as politeness. Disregard the civilities in discourse and you'll deal with the consequences, whether you're right, left or center. That's life. Do we really want our public life to be a free-for-all? Or more of one than it already is? Why is this freedom to insult so precious?

5. In some cases, yes. I think we love to watch reality shows, see people squirm and get insulted, See anger and conflict and vicariously live it in the safety of our little familiy rooms. This is one of the reasons I hate reality shows or agressive talk-radio...even American Idol. It's rude, insulting, and puts people down, and makes shaming and embarrassing people an entertainment. Sort of an emotional coliseum sport.

When we have to resort to potty-mouths and slurs to get our point across, whether we are Limbaugh or Amanda Marcotte, we've lowered our collective IQ significantly. And, for me, they've lowered their credibility to zero.
But to think that things we say in "private" don't effect our public life of the get out, is to ignore hundreds of years of political history.

Carrie

Dalissa 365 said...

1. Could it be that the majority, even if it is small, of Americans in this country believe in some form of "God" as opposed to no God and therefore, don't take kindly to those who don't, who criticize? Or, could it be that the majority of people in this country don't like extremism on either side and would rather everyone play nice and not be critical at all? I definitely was part of one of the first generations of kids being taught "political correctness" in school, so I wonder how that philosophy effects voters or the majority of the population? And, as my generation and those younger than me age and voting becomes more important to those within this demographic, will there be a shift? What will that shift be?

2. I'd say gender probably figures into part of this fiasco.

3. What disappointed me about Edwards is that I'd much rather read what the man himself blogs than what someone he hires blogs. Can you imagine if the actual candidates kept public blogs? Of course, they'd probably sound the same as the canned political speeches you hear on tv but what if they didn't? Eventually, within our lifetime, I'd think there will have to be a candidate who at one point in his/her life kept a blog seeing how many kids have one these days. I wonder what that will be like.

4. Number 4 is a biggie for me right now. I really want to start keeping a written blog on blogger but I am weary of doing so. There are at least a few people in the world who are internet savvy who I don't want reading my personal thoughts or having access to anything related to me. If I start a blog on here, I either have to do it with restricted access which is no fun or I have to make it completely public. I liked Livejournal because each time you write a post you have the option of making that post private, public, viewable by only those listed as friends, or viewable to a custom list of people. And, yet again, as you pointed out when you write a post and change your mind 3 years later is someone going to challenge you? Do you realize if you type my name into google my 365 journal is the #1 listing? It's crazy. Already someone I was trying to keep out of that part of my life has found it.

5. I'd say shock value is huge. Who wants to read a boring blog? And, what about the pressure to be the ever entertaining and exciting blog hostess? I have a friend who had a blog like that and she finally abandoned the blog after she decided what was important to her.

Dave said...

I like this topic, even though I haven't followed the story very closely. I was aware of it last week though, it just didn't draw me in all that strongly.

Responding to your points:

1. Political conservatives, despite recent setbacks, still set the tone for the status quo. They are the group that has most recently enjoyed positive political success (i.e., the ability to promote an agenda) whereas the liberals more recent "victories" have been mainly in terms of seeing conservatives thwarted rather than in accomplishing much in the way of positive gains for their cause. Thus, the "traditional values" conservatives are able to adopt the role of the outraged and disappointed "parent" while the liberals still have the affect of "rebellious children." That dynamic probably won't change unless liberals are able to put their own agenda into effect, which may well be the case after 2008, depending on how the presidential race turns out. Vulgar speech unfortunately just plays into those stereotypes.

2. I think you are on to something here.

3. I think any politician has to be aware of what kind of potential baggage/liabilities her or his spokespeople bring with them. I don't know Amanda Marcotte's blog at all - though I'd likely not take much offense at her writing, I don't think we're at a point where simple appeals to "freedom of speech" are enough to offset a potential backlash from comments that are likely to be seen as insults, mockery or sacrilege. I guess I just see this as "how our society is" and we need to factor that into our thinking.

4. Was Marcotte pilloried for a few isolated comments or for a harder-to-defend on-going style? I think that if a person can develop a deeper, more expansive range of expression, it will become easier to fend off these kinds of attacks.

5. Re: blogging and shock value, I've actually gotten pretty tired of political blogs and their incessant reactivity to every stupid little thing that the "other side" does. And I'm mainly thinking of political blogs that I agree with. The smugness and sense of superiority, along with the striving to level the most withering blast possible at our opponents, no longer seems as amusing or satisfying as it once did. I'd like to think that we're on the verge of transitioning to something better but I'm not able to feel confident about that quite yet.

Ampersand said...

Well, I don't really listen to right wing or left wing talk -- via blogs or radio, but I have the perception that it is more acceptable for the religious right to assail the secular left.

If true, perhaps this is becuase the right is standing on religious grounds, which are deemed sacred and untouchable in a politically correct world. And, for all practical purposes, a cordial if not cozy relationship with the religious right may well be responsible for the election of the next president.

Perhaps my perception is clouded, as a secular voter, by my own desire to see the right get powned by the left this election. Just on principle, of course. The longer we go on with politics courting this relationship with the religious right the worse it will get for our values as a pluralistic society. IMO, of course.

Why claim foul when the opposing side has a negative assessment of the other? Of course we each think the other side is wrong, that is why there are sides to this battle.

Is Edwards not a liberal? Would he not hire liberals? Would they not consider right-wing conservatives the enemy?

I know we say, in polite company, that we respect each other and that we need to cooperate and be inclusive, etc. But, that never really happens, it is just a facade.

I'd like to think that the secular left would be tolerant and inclusive if it enjoyed the same political clout as the right, but I'm not sure. Until then, I'm not above a little name calling to make some noise.

Again, all just my opinion and based on my perceptions. But, I'd like to feel free to state it without any self-editing. Just like I think those bloggers should be able to without any shame whatsoever.

Rob A. said...

Good stuff. I love the conundrum that rises from points 4 and 5, because on the one hand we only get attention by slashing away with our swords, and, well, we then die by our own swords. As Warren Bennis said, we are sentenced by our sentences.

Blogs actually allow more room to survive a misstatement, because it's easier to repent the next day instead of in your next book. But the political game isn't about grace and repentance, of course....

Rob A. said...

Good stuff. I love the conundrum that rises from points 4 and 5, because on the one hand we only get attention by slashing away with our swords, and, well, we then die by our own swords. As Warren Bennis said, we are sentenced by our sentences.

Blogs actually allow more room to survive a misstatement, because it's easier to repent the next day instead of in your next book. But the political game isn't about grace and repentance, of course....

Cheryl said...

Ditto to everything Carrie said! I'm pretty danged liberal, and even I was offended at the things they wrote.

Although, they were both women, I think gender doesn't matter one whit in a political campaign. One misstep and the other side will be on it like ducks on a June bug.

I just read today about Senator Robert Ford (D) from South Carolina who said that Obama's run for president would sink the election for Democrats if he won the nomination. Why? Because Obama's black. He was jumped on by both sides and later issued an apology. It wasn't a slam (the senator is black himself), he was just calling it as he sees it playing out. But under the political microscope, you can't say anything that in any way, shape, form, or fashion looks like you might have labelled someone and then drawn conclusions.

These women went far beyond what this senator did, and now, they are reaping the consequences—and in my opinion, rightly so. They are free to continue blogging and spouting their opinions, but they should not expect to remain in the campaign of someone who is supposedly represents and is respectful of all points of view...even the "Christofascists."

julieunplugged said...

Lots of good comments here. What I want to clarify is that I'm no fan of vulgarity or potty-mouth blogging. Otoh, what I don't understand is why personal blogging and the statements made on them is used as a reason to judge Edwards' campaign. In other words, these two hadn't even written ONE word on his behalf yet and they were slammed for the things they wrote in their own blogs.

It's quite possible that they would do a fabulous job of writing for him, managing the campaign in the campaign blogs and would have not been offensive in those same ways since personal blogging is totally different than running for office.

If they had made those statements on behalf of Edwards, I'd agree with calling Edwards out and asking if he endorsed those views. But since these women were not ever given the chance to blog for the campaign but were taken out at the knees (and rec'd death and rape threats to boot which is why they quit the campaign even after being rehired), I find that disturbing and dangerous for both blogging and politics.

And one thing about Rush, Savage, Dr. Laura, Sean Hannity et al.... These guys campaign HARD for their candidates without any official status within those campaigns. They do use the slurs they use in direct connection with the candidates they seek to see reelected.

These women bloggers never even rec'd the chance to campaign... yet were already considered beyond scandalous and dangerous and needed to be "silenced." I think this is a horrible trend.

julieunplugged said...

Carrie: Rush Limbaugh wasn't running for office. If he had, he wouldn't have had a chance. Neither of these gals was running for office either. That was my pt. Edwards is running and hired bloggers to write for his campaign. They never wrote a single word on his behalf. The archives of their personal blogs were mined for controversial, disgusting, meant-to-outrage statements and those were held up as evidence that they were unfit to be his bloggers.

What do you think of that?

julieunplugged said...

Dave, I think this comment is insightful: Thus, the "traditional values" conservatives are able to adopt the role of the outraged and disappointed "parent" while the liberals still have the affect of "rebellious children."

This is just how it all reads, honestly.

It's one reason I have determined not to be outraged by rhetoric on either side. Underneath the vituperous writing and broadcasting on both sides is a set of hunches that lead each side to conclude that their point of view is easy to follow and right for the country.

It's just amazing to me how the blogs that discuss this issue for the left feel as reasonable in their outrage as the blogs and op-eds on the right who deal with their tsk, tsking (as in, well, if you're going to use such foul language, you can't expect anyone to listen to you).

Amazing.

julieunplugged said...

Rob A., you are right about slashing and dying. :) I really wonder if generationally there will be changes in the future. The younger kids let it all hang out on their live journals in ways that the adults I know never would. Even Obama's running in front of the train letting everyone know he's snorted coke, etc. is an attempt to stop the dirt digging/finding machine.

Will future candidates have published so much personal stuff ot the Internet that it will no longer be possible to call them on their early words? I wonder.

Anonymous said...

Julie- here is what I think of it. If Mit Romney hired someone who hadn't yet done one thing on his campaign, yet was found out to be a racist, or a holocaust denier or (insert whatever) and had written disgusting things about it, would you really not see that as pertinent to the campaign?

My first thought, in the case of Edwards and in any theoretical case, is, you don't hire people you don't feel comfortable with. You wouldn't feel comfortable hiring someone to work on your business who was a homophobe and wrote vulgar things on their blogs, right? You wouldn't want to be in any way associated with that person's private views, even if they were the world's greatest writing instructor and didn't bring those views to work.

Hiring someone with outspoken, vulgar and controversial views is showing tacit agreement with those views. I just can't stress enough that if Edwards is truely offended by what the bloggers said and believed, he would not want them on his campaign staff, not just for reasons of expediency, but for reasons of personal integrity. Just as you would not want someone on your staff who blogged material that you deemed offensive. You wouldn't want to do business with them, and neither should Edwards if he truely found the material offensive. And I think for someone to judge Edward's beliefs by his association with the bloggers is not out-of-line.

The fact that he hired them back makes me wonder if his reaction to the mess was only one of political expediency and not one of personal revulsion.

Carrie (blogger won't let me sign in!)

julieunplugged said...

Okay Carrie, this makes some sense to me. I see what you are saying - that if the views are ones you can't endorse, then it makes it difficult to do business with that person or to hire them to work for you, particularly in a campaign.

I guess what I wonder in this regard, then, is the role of personal blogging in anyone's life. Is it not okay to write personal anti-religious views if you ever have political ambitions?

julieunplugged said...

One more thing: Is critique of religious beliefs the same thing as racism or homophobia?

I don't think so. To make a slur about how Mary became pregnant by the HS (to me) is not in the same category as making a racist attack on a person. The former is attacking a doctrine, while the latter is attacking a person.

carrie said...

As far as blogging and any future politcal career...I agree with the one journalist who said, "It's a ready-made car wreck." It's going to have far reaching implication...kinda like "I tried marijuana but I didn't inhale." When you want a public life, you open your private actions to scrutiny and nothing is more publically "private" than thoughts posted in cyberspace. I think it will have a huge impact on politcal campaigns in the future.

And by-the-by, people have been fired by businesses for things posted on personal blogs, so it is more than just political campaigns. I can see a lot of future jobs affected by what someone has blogged in the past.

Now on to the question of attacking a doctrine being different from attacking a person. I think the difference is very slim when it come to this kind of case..the idea of wanting to associate (or not associate) yourself and your name with persons holding these views. But this is a very blurry line. Where does the "doctine" that homosexuality is a sin cross over into insulting the individual? From what I've read, these two are seen as the same in most liberal circles. Even the idea that someone can be "cured" of homosexuality is seen as homophobic and even called hate speech. So, depending on your point of view, issues that involved "beliefs" can be very, very personal as well.

A holocaust denier may only talk about the "doctrines" he believes in...that the holocaust is a great big jewish hoax. He could call the perpetrators of the hoax motherf***'s and such without insulting an ethnic group per se. Would you be offended if one of the conservative candidates hired such a person? Would you not automatically assume the candidate was comfortable with the thoughts expressed by this staffer in private?

I do see what your saying when you compare racial slurs with slams aimed towards a person's religious beliefs. One is definitely more "acceptable" if it is seen as only attacking the beliefs and not the eprson. So this bloggers comments, however vulgar, about the virgin birth may be seen as simply her opinions. However, herself-proclaimed war on Christofacists is aimed at a group of people and therefore brings it closer to the catagory of racial insult.

But neither of those things answers the original question...should people looking at Edwards consider who he surrounds himself with as an indication of his own beliefs? And if yes, should he have fired these two staffers for their private opinions? I think people should look at who a candidate surrounds himself with as an indication of what values and beliefs s/he is comfortable with, and if that candidate (or business person) finds they have hired someone whose personal beliefs are repugnant to them, they have a right to dismiss them.

Ampersand said...

I've been thinking about this more today.

For me, there is a big difference between what I would say about or how I would judge an individual and what I would say about or how I would judge an idea or even moreso an ideological movement.

While I would try heartily to never slander a person (except Peyton Manning, of course) or judge them soley on the basis of belief, or dismiss them over difference in belief, I would readily slander a movement or an idea. Particularly if I feel that the idea is a threat to life and well being for me.

There is also a difference between how I would express an opinion in a ranty blog post, and how I would dialogue with a person of a differing opinion. The blog is an expression of me. The dialogue is an aspect of human relationship.

I realize it is not quite that cut-and-dry, if someone reads me trashing an idea on my blog and they hold that idea to be true, then they can feel hurt by it, not knowing me and my honor and respect for the right for individual belief.

I do think I can have disdain for an idea and still love and honor the person that believes it.

I mean, I feel both of those things all the time.

carrie said...

There is also a difference between how I would express an opinion in a ranty blog post, and how I would dialogue with a person of a differing opinion. The blog is an expression of me. The dialogue is an aspect of human relationship.

Ampersand, this is a very good point, and I certainly undersand it. On one level I even agree with it. But on another level I think that anytime we bring a discussion down to a rant, we are disrespecting other people. We may see them as faceless masses, but within the masses are real people who should be respected. I think it is unfortunate when any subject is brought down to the level of abusive language. How can I trust that someone "respects" me as an individual if they feel free to use abusive language to describe me as part of a community? This seems a like a false distinction.

Constructive criticism and dialog is welcome and useful. Even vehement disagreements should be allowed and encouraged. It's difficult for me, but I am trying to embrace this idea of listening to different beliefs and practices while not feeling threated in my own. I admit I do it only partly successfully, but I'm trying. Passionate dialog can be winsome, however. We can express thoughts and convictions without resorting to name calling and vulgar language. Once someone resorts to that level of dialog, they no longer have my respect or my ear.

Vulgarity and abuse are the results of small minds and people who either don't know or don't care enough to use a more intelligent form of communication.

Ampersand said...

On some level, I can agree with you too. But still, I have the urge to press my points further :-0.

Ampersand, this is a very good point, and I certainly undersand it. On one level I even agree with it. But on another level I think that anytime we bring a discussion down to a rant, we are disrespecting other people. We may see them as faceless masses, but within the masses are real people who should be respected.

But this is not discussion, this is the blogoshpere.

And again, I think that to rant directly to someone I that know disagrees or holds a different passion, is in a whole different category of insensitivity and lack of respect. To rant in a blog post is to express general angst at the universe and the ideas contained within. Personalize that rant at your own peril.

I think it is unfortunate when any subject is brought down to the level of abusive language. How can I trust that someone "respects" me as an individual if they feel free to use abusive language to describe me as part of a community? This seems a like a false distinction.

When I read rants, however abusive, that slander ideas or groups that I hold dear, I take it as an indicator of the emotional fervor, desperation, and helplessness that the ranter feels. Even if I disagree, I am sympathetic to their plight. I don’t project their opinions on to myself directly. And the more abusive the rant, the more desparate the ranter.

In this case, I wonder if the religious right knows how marginalized the secular left feels in this country. For that matter, I wonder if the left ever considers the same for the right.

But, I get how that desperation brings about an escalated language and expression. That’s all it means to me.

Constructive criticism and dialog is welcome and useful. Even vehement disagreements should be allowed and encouraged. It's difficult for me, but I am trying to embrace this idea of listening to different beliefs and practices while not feeling threated in my own. I admit I do it only partly successfully, but I'm trying. Passionate dialog can be winsome, however.

I think dialogue is wonderful and valuable at the individual level – one on one, or in small groups. I think individual dialogue can change individual minds and bring shared understanding and respect, if not agreement. I think that can spill up to the global level. But, I still think rants and name calling are tools for the larger ideological wars we find ourselves in. I think both sides use them. I think Martin Luther used them against the Catholic church.
We can express thoughts and convictions without resorting to name calling and vulgar language. Once someone resorts to that level of dialog, they no longer have my respect or my ear.

Here, again, I will defer to my idea that these are symptomatic of the powerlessness that the expressers of the vulgarity feel. They, really, really, really want someone to hear them.

Vulgarity and abuse are the results of small minds and people who either don't know or don't care enough to use a more intelligent form of communication.

This is fantastic example of my principle at work: since I am vulgar and sometimes abusive in my language should I take your assessment as critical of me or as your expression of how much you dislike vulgarity?

Thanks for responding to me. I am enjoying the spirited exchange of ideas.

carrie said...

I'm glad you feel the urge to press your point!

And again, I think that to rant directly to someone I that know disagrees or holds a different passion, is in a whole different category of insensitivity and lack of respect. To rant in a blog post is to express general angst at the universe and the ideas contained within. Personalize that rant at your own peril.

This quote, and others in your response, open up a new area of thought for me. You are saying there are people who feel so marginalized they are using shock tactics to get attention, right?

I need to think about this angle some more. I think this makes sense. On the other hand I think it reduces the problem to one that can be more easily dismissed by the other side. When someone resorts to vulgarity and shock, that person invites distain and dismissal. The impression that one can dismiss the ideas without deeper thought is reinforced. I'd like to think about this some more.

The left/right, Christian/"anti-Christian" conflicts are tough problems and I see few ways to depolarize them. I appreciated your saying you wonder if the right knows how much the left feels maginalized. I'm sorry to say I only have an inkling. But I do think that that lowering the level of the discourse contributes to both extremes being ignored and marginalized. Like I said, it is easier to dismiss someone's view under these conditions.

This is fantastic example of my principle at work: since I am vulgar and sometimes abusive in my language should I take your assessment as critical of me or as your expression of how much you dislike vulgarity?

:-) Since I haven't read any of your rants that attack something I believe in a vulgar way, I am happy to give you the benefit of the doubt that you are respectful of me. I will admit, however, that if I were to read something that you posted that I found as offensive as I did the bloggers in question, then I would might feel differently. And in that case, I think it would be safe to assume that I felt that your stated feeling of respect for me were suspect. Does that make sense? It would be difficult for me to approach any discussion with you without some personal defenses up. In fact, I may chose not to dialog at all because I would feel that your attitude about my beliefs made that futile. So I guess I am saying (boy this is difficult) that I would possibly respect you less for resorting to vulgarity. I am open to the possibility that this is a failing in me, not you.

Please don't get me wrong. Your disagreeing with my views don't bother me a bit!! I read your blog almost daily and enjoy it. But if you called people who believed like I do M-F'ers I might be less inclined to want to trot my views out for you to privately or publically ridicule.

I hope I haven't crossed any lines here. This is a great dialog! You've given me a lot to think about. Thank you.

Ampersand said...

When someone resorts to vulgarity and shock, that person invites distain and dismissal.

So true. But, sadly, they are already being dismissed even without the theatrics.


Amp: This is fantastic example of my principle at work: since I am vulgar and sometimes abusive in my language should I take your assessment as critical of me or as your expression of how much you dislike vulgarity?

Carrie: :-) Since I haven't read any of your rants that attack something I believe in a vulgar way, I am happy to give you the benefit of the doubt that you are respectful of me. I will admit, however, that if I were to read something that you posted that I found as offensive as I did the bloggers in question, then I would might feel differently.


Well, I will happily receive the benefit if the doubt. And I seriously doubt I would be as offensive as the bloggers in question on my blog as I am fairly considerate of my potential readers, even though I do like to rant and am quite profane and vulgar IRL.

But, my point was more abstract. I was not wondering if you would be critical of a specific action of mine.

I was trying to illustrate that just because you are critical of vulgar people, and I am one, I don't have to personalize that. I can, instead see it as something that is important to you: you don't like vulgarity. Then, out of respect, I can refrain from that with you. And I can still be happy with vulgar old self. It's about hearing you, not necessarily extrapolating your opinion of me.

That perspective enables each of us to endure the others opinions with an understanding of what the opinions say about the holder rather than ourselves.

I'm not sure I'm getting this any clearer this go round.

I read your blog almost daily and enjoy it.

Well knock my socks off. I had no idea. That makes me very happy. Please feel free to use the comments to call me on it as you see it. I love for people to press me on my ideas, opinions, and rants. It's how I learn.

Oh, and I pretty sure I would not call people who believe like you M-Fers. I might, however, resort to that word for some idealogical right-wingers. Sorry, but it is true. But, turn around is fairplay and anyone is welcome to slander the ideological camp that I fall in the same fashion, or worse!! I guess I just don't see that as slandering me, personally.

I hope I haven't crossed any lines here. This is a great dialog! You've given me a lot to think about. Thank you.

No, lines crossed for me. I am thrilled at the dialog and interest -- both ways. You have given me things to think about too.

julieunplugged said...

When I read rants, however abusive, that slander ideas or groups that I hold dear, I take it as an indicator of the emotional fervor, desperation, and helplessness that the ranter feels.

What a terrific way to view ranting! I do tend to think that ranting is designed for insiders, not for outsiders. It's why there is often such a feeling of shock by those who might feel targeted by the rant. "We had no idea!" is the feeling. And, "But let me explain - it's not like that at all..."

For insiders who feel that they are struggling with a cause that is righteous, they often resort to caricature, slander, reductionist tactics, and vitriole in order to "rally the troops" and to frame the cause in "underdog" status.

Both sides do this equally well. It was shocking to me to leave the right and discover that the left thought the right was "highly funded, well-organized, much larger, had the ear of the politicians and especially congress, and efficiently effective." Why did this startle me? Because Dr. Dobson has been telling me the same thing about the left versus the right for fifteen years - it's the left that has deep pockets, that has access to power, that controls the judiciary, that is efficiently organized, that has effective leadership and motivated constituents...

So ironic to flip over to the other side and see the same line-up of adjectives and descriptors by the left about how much of an underdog they are.

To me, they each own about half the country... as evidenced by 50-50 elections. So they can each claim that victimized status but it doesn't really ring true for me.

And this is why the rhetoric sounds outrageous no matter which side you read. They can't BOTH be victims, they can't both be underdogs.

Anyway, off topic a bit, but Kim and Carrie, thanks so much for developing this line of thinking. It was wonderful reading your conversation last night!

carrie said...

And this is why the rhetoric sounds outrageous no matter which side you read. They can't BOTH be victims, they can't both be underdogs.

I'm thinking that maybe both sides can be marginalized, each by the other. It depends on what arena you're in whether the group marginalized is right or left. There are certainly good examples of expressions of religious beliefs being hampered and that gets a lot of press in conservative religious news. The examples are often in higher education or the biases of the mainstream news media. For example, it struck me as biased that NPR chose to present what the lady blogger said as simply, "I don't believe in the virgin birth," when in fact she was vulgar and abusive in her language. If they didn't include that, then they gave their entire audience the impression that the uproar had less than no foundation. As it was, there were at least some reasonable objections to ehr continuing on the staff of a major presidential candidate.

On the other hand, I'm sure you could come up with several examples of ways in which the right are marginalizing the view of the left and making it seem like a big left-wing conspiracy to deny pious believers their right of expression. Both sides are using war-like language, too. My mom used to call this the siege mentality, or the fortress mentality. You don't get to know much about the other side if you wall yourself up in fortress and hurl stones.

I don't know the answer. I am much more familiar with the injuries suffered by conservatives, but it sounds like both sides have some very valid injuries to present. It's like in any "war," rarely is there any side who's blameless in their motives or actions. Atrocities are inflicted by, and on, all sides.

carrie said...

I was trying to illustrate that just because you are critical of vulgar people, and I am one, I don't have to personalize that. I can, instead see it as something that is important to you: you don't like vulgarity. Then, out of respect, I can refrain from that with you. And I can still be happy with vulgar old self. It's about hearing you, not necessarily extrapolating your opinion of me.

I think I'm getting it. I'm trying to tie up all these loose ends I'm feeling about "respect," "private," and "public." I had started a blog on respect a week or so ago and dropped it. Maybe I need to go back to that topic and try to get my mind around what respect means to me and how it applies to groups of people vs individuals. Because to me, this has all come down to respecting others on some level. It's just a lot more complex than I ahd thought.

Oh, and thanks for making it about "hearing" me (and others). I appreciate that I can explore my feeling without offending or alienating you. I'm not always good at that, as you've probably seen in the past. So when I'm not good at "hearing" instead of "judging," feel free to poke me and help me get back on track. I sometimes react emotionally, but usually once I calm down I can discuss things rationally. ;-)

Ampersand said...

Maybe I need to go back to that topic and try to get my mind around what respect means to me and how it applies to groups of people vs individuals. Because to me, this has all come down to respecting others on some level. It's just a lot more complex than I ahd thought.

It is complex! And I think it does come down to respect too. But what do we do when one man's respect is another's scorn? I know that is exaggerated, but we all have such different standards. I guess my default is to try to give the other person respect by their standards, to the degree to which I know them.

The blogosphere, and groups vs. individuals, is another whole layer of complexity.

Oh, and thanks for making it about "hearing" me (and others). I appreciate that I can explore my feeling without offending or alienating you. I'm not always good at that, as you've probably seen in the past.

I'm not always good at it either. But, being heard seems to be such a felt need amongst us humans, and therefore such a demonstrable way to show love and care. And I really do like being influenced by others, so it is not a burden -- just something that I don't always get right.

I sometimes react emotionally, but usually once I calm down I can discuss things rationally. ;-)

I think we are all this way to an extent, and grace abounds.

Ampersand said...

Julie: To me, they each own about half the country... as evidenced by 50-50 elections. So they can each claim that victimized status but it doesn't really ring true for me.

And this is why the rhetoric sounds outrageous no matter which side you read. They can't BOTH be victims, they can't both be underdogs.

Carrie: I'm thinking that maybe both sides can be marginalized, each by the other. It depends on what arena you're in whether the group marginalized is right or left.


Julie, I have to agree with you that certainly both sides cannot legitimately take the minority/underdog position. And to do so is nothing more than a political tactic to rally the troops.

Carrie, I agree that both sides can feel marginalized and not just by the promotion of the underdog status or media characterizations.

I think we can feel marginalized by each other's ideologies. The secular left does not want to be characterized as spiritually lacking, or made a project by the religious right. They (we) don't want to be dismissed because they don't share the same beliefs or values as the ones that are sanctioned by the religious right. They don't want their values marginalized. And they want some freedoms that they right simply thinks should never be allowed.

The religious right (from my perspective only -- and I used to be one) does not want to lose their religious freedoms or live in a country where the values and choices of others go against their sacred beliefs of what is holy and unholy. They don't want their values marginalized either.

This is hard stuff. How do we co-exist. How do we give the most freedom to the most people without the other group feeling marginalized by the values and desired rights of the other?