Friday, December 12, 2003

local blogs unearthed, and a thought

Turns out the Bill of Rights Defense Committee has a blog, as do (did? they're stale) Jim Weir (our former Supe, who ran a valiant campaign for Calif. governor against Arnold Schwarzenegger this past fall) and his wife Gail.

Here's the thought- very rough -

The press in all its forms, be it newspaper or weblog or radio or TV, should encourage fairness, freedom of speech, and the airing of a diversity of viewpoints.

And in a civilized society, in order to help the reader to best see the truth, they should encourage those with opposing views to discuss the issues in a civil manner, with no threats, namecalling, or other smearing.

But what do you do when these goals conflict? When a particular political viewpoint is classically held by a personality type that _doesn't_ easily toe the straight-and-rational, that gets hot under the collar, someone who's inherently more a fighter than a thinker? For example, Roger Ebert said this:
There's an interesting pattern going on. When I write a political column for the Chicago Sun-Times, when [X]s disagree with me, they send in long, logical e-mails explaining all my errors. I hardly ever get well-reasoned articles from the [Ys]. People just tell me to shut up. That's the message: "Shut up. Don't write anymore about this. Who do you think you are?"
In browsing the blogosphere you become struck by how there's a distinct confrontational tone that some weblogs, and presumably their authors, have, that _is_ correlated with a political view - there's a joy in putting down other people, a rejoicing in the incredible, pathetic foolishness of The Other, to the extent that - well, you get the feeling that they'd miss it, if they couldn't experience it. Then there's another class of blogs whose authors seem equally oppositional but don't seem to have a good time with it at all, it's more like they're enslaved by their anger.

So, is it fair to insist that, when these classes of people wish to participate in a forum that's in neutral territory, they must constrain their behavior in ways that are unnatural to them? In a way it's like requiring a literacy test for voter registration, or making them express themselves in a foreign language.

on the other hand, the alternative is to allow the street fighters into the drawing-room(1), with predictable results.

[added Oct 04]
1: Joshua Micah Marshall:
...the niceties of conflict resolution are hardly appropriate or sensible if you're trapped in a dark alley with a couple mafia goons