Tuesday, February 22, 2005
When Right is Wrong, Left is Still Wrong
So, if you'll remember a few days I back, I wrote here about the blog of the year, Powerline, attempting to smear the entire left side of the blogosphere as writing only a certain type of email to them, namely inarticulate and mean-spirited. In my post, I reprinted the open letter I had previously written to Powerline, which was civil and articulate.
Later in the post, I updated to a story in which Powerline's Hindrocket had written a pretty incendiary email of his own to a lefty who had also written a civil email. Hindrocket, yesterday, wrote this:
He was the one who's civility lapsed.... but it was the lefties fault, because they started it. Again I say, this is obviously written by someone who has isolated himself in the right side of the blogosphere, and obviously pays not attention to the vile filth that so often comes the way of lefty blogs from the right.
We have received relatively little hate mail in the two-and-a half
years that we have been writing for this site. One reason is that we
rarely choose to engage left-wing sites like Daily Kos and Atrios in
their brand of argument. Around a week ago, however, both of those
sites sicced their readers on us, with the result that hate mail
started pouring in. When I wrote about the Guckert/Gannon controversy,
the hate mail intensified; we were inundated with email messages from
their readers, many of them inexpressibly vulgar and vile.
These are not nice people. In addition to emailing us at our
feedback address with every manner of invective, they called my office.
My secretary stopped answering my telephone because callers swore at
her. The telephone campaign reached a new low this morning, when
someone purporting to be a reporter at a gay newspaper in Los Angeles
called my office and asked me to comment on a "rumor" to the effect
that there are photos floating around of me in a "tryst" with Jeff Gannon. Suffice it to say that these people are beneath contempt.
So that's the context in which I was reading emails a couple of days
ago. I read about ten in a row that were vulgar and abusive in varying
degrees; most were unprintable. At that point I snapped and lost my
temper. I sent irate and intemperate replies to the last couple of
emails I read--unfortunately, not the most abusive ones, but the ones I
read after losing my temper.
The next day, one of these emailers responded that he thought my
reply was disproportionate to the offensiveness of his email; I agreed
and apologized for having reacted inappropriately. I would have done
the same with the "Minnesota Politics" guy if he had contacted me
rather than posting my email--which obviously wasn't intended for
publication--on his site.
Incivility is not exclusive to either side. It is pervasive on the internet in general, as anonymity lends itself to feelings of security, and there for invincibility. The immediacy of it allows for people to fire off any little snarky comment they want, with no cause for alarm about the consequences, because there are none.
It is why I'm glad I decided to write this blog with my identity revealed, and not pseudonymously. It holds me accountable for the things I say. While blogging allows for a certain casualness in writing which can contribute to a little less thoughtfulness in what one writes, the fact that everything I write is attached to my name serves as a sort self-editing tool.
The blogs are such an interesting mechanism for real conversation and intelligent dialog between peoples who disagree with each other. Powerline is just the latest blog, from both sides, to diminish themselves and to lower the dialog.
Margaret Chow published the vicious emails she got and DU just posted their version of monkey mail. The mail they recieved are atrocius as the grammar of the missives sent.
I would love to see what these thin- skinned righties consider hate mail...