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July 13, 2006

Yikes! We Call Blogospheric Time Out

western_wildfires2.jpg For nearly three years now the half-vast editorial staff have watched blogospheric dustups with growing bemusement and what we can only describe as helpless frustration.

Though we had better reason than many to Pile On to the last Deb Frisch vs. The Entire B-Sphere WWE Exxxxtravaganza, somehow we managed to restrain the entirely understandable desire to wade into the muck. We know this confused a lot of people. But we've never been able to work up a great, steaming wad of bile and maintain it for any appreciable period of time. Life is too short and the Internet too imprecise a medium. It makes communication far too easy and too faceless. You think you're getting a picture of who people are, but like the moon, you see just one side of them: the one they allow you to see. There is always so much more.

And so we shoot off - and react to - thoughtless comments in haste and repent them at leisure, often too late. For the damage has been done. Our harsh words cannot be called back to us as though they were erring children. They continue to irritate and burn the recipients long after we ourselves have forgotten them. It's not called flaming for nothing.

We've been in love with words since we were just a rosy-cheeked Editorette in red canvas Keds with white rubber toes. We choose them with infinite care, yet so often they fail to convey what we try so hard to put into them. We know what we intended to say - what delicate shades of nuance we crammed into each syllable. But once we hit that "Publish" button or "Post comment", we lose all control over how they will be interpreted. We - all of us - forget this.

We say things, and discuss topics, online that we would never dare to in our own living rooms: sex, politics, race, religion - with people we very likely would never associate with in real life. The convenience, anonymity, and buffering effect of the Internet foster odd friendships. And so tempers fray, and flare, and occasionally boil over. And for some reason we will never understand, some people delight in tormenting other people; in provoking extreme reactions from them. This seems to gratify them, to satisfy their preconceived notions about what lousy human beings their opponents, aka the "Other", are. You see, it was always safe to dismiss Them. Their very overreactions prove how unreasonable they are. Call their husbands baby killers and they have the bloody nerve to ban you from the site they pay hosting fees for! Call La Malkin nothing better than a filthy Jap-loving whore who deserves to be gang-raped, and the dirty gutter-snipe siccs the FBI on you! Can you imagine? Some people simply cannot take a joke these days.

These are general observations. This is - and we want to stress this most emphatically - NOT aimed at Deb, or anyone else, whether on the Right or the Left. We are sick and tired of finger pointing.

It seems this Deb thing got way out of hand. We did not get involved because it seemed the participants were doing a dandy job of condemning and taking sides all on their own. We rather assumed people already knew what we thought, given our past experience and conduct in the matter. The last thing we thought was needed was more heat, or more words.

Now one of our least favorite folks, Glenn Greenwald, seems to be cranking it up again:

If your only source for news was reading right-wing blogs, you would have thought that the most significant world event in the last few days was that some crazy woman who nobody ever heard of before (someone by the name of "Deb Frisch") left some vile comments on Jeff Goldstein's blog, a venue which itself is devoted to some of the most vile, deranged and psychosexually disturbed commentary that can be found on the Internet. Virtually every right-wing blogger spent the weekend focused on this solemn and grave matter, milking it for all it was worth. Many implied that this unknown commenter was some sort of towering figure of great significance among liberals, and exploited the drama to argue that the "Left" must approve of these comments because they didn't denounce the comments enough times or with enough vigor.

First of all, let us point out that if you're going to get on your high horse, you might try seizing the moral high ground first. And it's pretty damned hard to do that if you begin by lumping all your intellectual opponents into one bag and vilifying them, isn't it?

This is why Glenn annoys us. He is not, by any means, a stupid man. Far from it. But we can rarely get past the hyperbolic, insult-laden, partisan rhetoric in his posts to the meat of his argument, which more often than not contains at least something worth reading. And that is a damned shame. Please, please, please do your readers and the right a favor and tone it down a bit. We'd be far more receptive to your points, and you might foster some really interesting (and respectful) exchanges between the two halves of the 'sphere.

A long time ago James Joyner weighed in on why there are so few female pundits. He thought it had something to do with the "food fight" nature of opinion writing. Well, we always find James' opinions of interest, but we think that's bunk. Many women simply aren't interested in the topics we write about: law, the GWOT, politics. We certainly have no problem speaking up when we disagree with someone - and we don't particularly care whether that person is a "two-bit" blogger or a heavyweight. If we think they've said something particularly dimwitted we'll say so and they're free (like they even notice what we say) to refute us on the merits. No one is right all the time and it's all about the exchange of ideas. And anyone who doesn't think women do mean should try crossing swords with Jane Hamsher.

To get back to Glenn, Mr. Greenwald is himself no stranger to exaggeration or hyperbole. Interestingly enough, on his political site he makes free of the use of hyperbole to deliberately misinterpret what most people realize is a hackneyed cliche (we've all heard this one before):

Try doing anything to those mutilating darlings of the Supremes in order to extract life-saving intel from them, and then wait for the Supreme Whores to decide that you were “humiliating” them in doing so.

Five ropes, five robes, five trees.

Some assembly required.

He's advocating that the five Supreme Court Justices in the Hamdan majority be hanged from the neck until they're dead. His homicidal formulation is a play on the more standard call of the Right for American journalists to be hanged -- "Journalists. Rope. Tree. Some assembly required" -- another death call which, it just so happens, Misha also issued just a few days ago.

To which we can only say, "Oh... come...on, Mr. Greenwald. Are you pulling our leg?"

To make a very long story short (we'll leave you to read the rest of his post), Greenwald goes on to accuse the entire Reich side of the blogosphere of hypocrisy for piling onto Ms. Frisch and not condemning Mischa.

As Dan observes here in a post that caused me to spit a sizable portion of my midday coffee all over my monitor yesterday and spawned several frantic emails, this requires cojones. Mr. Greenwald, you see, is a lawyer who defended a man accused of soliciting the murder of a federal judge; an act he termed a defensible form of "political advocacy", much akin to the threatening of harmless toddlers over the Internet.

Come on people. The world has turned topsy-turvy when we begin to loses the distinction between dark humor aimed at the principals in a political drama (using, I might add, a old, old joke that everyone knows isn't serious) and a faceless personal remark aimed at someone's children, who, it must be said, are not participants. The thing about trolls is this: most are harmless, but they are people who come to you. Mischa didn't go to the Supreme Court and make a threat - he never left his site. Deb went to Jeff's site and threatened his children. That alone makes it more immediate and more invasive. And more scary, because Jeff's kids have nothing to do with it. Why should they be dragged into any argument between them? That personalizes a political argument in a particularly menacing way. It puts Jeff on notice that his opponent has suddenly stopped thinking about politics and taken a personal interest in him.

WE are not saying Deb would hurt his kids. But we would never in a million years think to even find out personal details about someone we were arguing politics with on the 'Net. That is creepy. And she admits she did it to creep him out. To frighten him. It worked. She got what she wanted, which is not surprising since she is a psychology prof.

Glenn couldn't let it drop there - he quickly hied it over to Patterico's and started flinging feces. Rather than wasting a whole lot of time telling you what I think of Glenn's accusations, you can read McQ's cogent and calm analysis, which I could have written myself. All I can say is, "what he said: every word of it". And then if you needed any more, there is Ace, who in my estimation has written the definitive Glenn Greenwald post, though if you're offended by strong language you shouldn't go there. I'm not, so as Lil' Kim Il would say, I amused my reverse side away extremely.

The bottom line is this: this isn't a Righty or Lefty thing. It's a human thing. There are jerks everywhere, and people overreact in entirely predictable ways, and even the nicest guy or gal in the world can turn into a flaming jerk if provoked. When you add the faceless nature of the Internet to that, you have all the makings of a digital Molotov cocktail.

So maybe, just maybe, a little extra care should be taken with our words... a sentiment an old, and very dear-to-me friend would no doubt agree with :)

We live in an uncertain world, and moreover one in which time is short and events seem to have been speeded up almost unbearably. No one, it seems, has any patience anymore. Add to this mix the uniquely human problems which are as old as Adam and Eve, in a world in which Man is slowly unravelling the very fabric which has veiled our darker impulses since man (and woman) first took a bite out of that Apple:

For now we see through a glass, darkly;
but then face to face:
now I know in part;
but then shall I know
even as also I am known.

We can't always know what lies beyond those typed up words. So maybe extend the benefit of the doubt the next time someone whacks you off.

Maybe they didn't mean what you think they did. Or maybe they did. There really is no way for you to know, so in that context, politeness makes even more sense, doesn't it? Or perhaps a well-timed apology. Even if you don't mean it. Perhaps especially if you don't mean it.

Just put the keyboard down, and back away sloooooow-ly.

Posted by Cassandra at July 13, 2006 08:09 AM


Cassandra - well said! I think because of the anonymity of the internet, people have used that as an excuse to 'push the envelope' in their rhetoric.

If it is something that wouldn't fly in real-time, verbage like the recent explosion certainly shouldn't fly over the internet, I don't care what side of any aisle someone is on!

That is one thing I enjoy about your site, Powerline's and many others - you consciously work to set a continual higher standard for yourselves, and the comments by readers support that!

Thanks again for an excellent post!

Posted by: Nina at July 13, 2006 12:22 PM

Your words pricked my politically hardened heart. I lean towards sarcasm in my postings and often regret our internet technology doesn't contain a Roseanne Rosana-Dana "Never mind" function for recalling thoughtless remarks. I'm convicted I do not always perceive the potential gem while responding to the two-dimensional facet
pushing my "righteous" buttons.

It's said a true test of one's character is what one does when no one is around. In our private fortress (cubicle) of solitude, the faceless, flattened world of the internet invites us to share our character. And so many of us, absent V-C word-picture writing gifts, can only hurl our barbs in drive-by fashion, totally distorting civil discourse and revealing graceless character.

Thank you again, Cass, for nudging us towards grace-filled blogging. I'm a recent new fan. I so appreciate the clarity of thought, the passion for words, and the mirth revealed from someone who clearly enjoys life.

Posted by: Ziobuck at July 13, 2006 12:26 PM

Ziebuck, I too love the nicely turned bit o' sarcasm...ferinstance, I read 'grace filled flogging' instead of blogging. 'Twas ever thus with me, a bit of dyslexia goes a long way.

However, Cass is a classy dame, and so I behave with relative propriety and aplomb when I visit VC. However, if you want to have some fun with twisted thoughts and words, hie thee over to Liberal Larry for a round of Bush bashing. It is all his fault and very therapeutic too.

She's right of course...
Dang it.

Posted by: Cricket at July 13, 2006 12:39 PM

The dyslexia and a myopic keyboard...I apologize, Ziobuck...
*retreat with flaming cheeks*

Posted by: Cricket at July 13, 2006 12:42 PM

I agree. From now on, when I type something mean, I'll whisper it.

Posted by: KJ at July 13, 2006 12:47 PM

I was going to say: Well said, thank you, but I see it has already been done. Well, thanks anyway.

Posted by: Roger at July 13, 2006 12:51 PM

I for one refuse to be any nicer.

Posted by: Grim at July 13, 2006 12:54 PM

Grim, you could hardly *be* any nicer.

And I am not a very nice person at all. I guess that's why I think it's so important to try.

If you could hear the stuff that runs through my mind all the time, it would sound pretty much like that John Gielgud character in the movie "Arthur". He had a kind heart too, but pretty much every word that came out of his mouth was sarcastic and snarky. I loved that movie, and I really identified with that character b/c he saw the world the same way I do. I get upset at a lot of things, but my response is to make fun of them, and often people. I don't tend to do it out loud, though. Mostly I just make fun of myself. But there are very few things I won't poke fun at, no matter how painful they are. That is how I deal with them.

But sometimes I need to remember that that's not how other people deal with things. They get upset if you make light of them. For me, it's not that I don't care. It's that I care too much.

But you have to be careful over the Internet.

The saddest thing to me about the Deb Frisch thing is that people lost sight of the fact that there was still a person behind those words she couldn't take back once she'd said them. And she really, really shouldn't have said them. But still I've seen the humorous side of Deb too. I can condemn the remark, but not the person. If that makes me a sap, so be it.

I'm tired of all the feces-flinging and the right vs. left infighting. I like some of the participants far more than others. I think some of them are in the right, and others I think have some soul searching to do. I know this will piss some people off, but I really don't think we all need to line up and do battle for our respective sides.

I guess what I'm saying is, take a step back. Let it settle, because things often seem different with the passage of time.

More light. Less heat. This is getting out of hand.

Posted by: Cassandra at July 13, 2006 01:12 PM

I just enjoy c*ckslapping trolls. But I do feel a bit hung over today. And yeah, I'm a moron.

Posted by: Dan Collins at July 13, 2006 01:35 PM

If I didn't know better, I would say that Judeo-Christian Schizoid thing is creeping out...dislike the action/words without holding it against the persyn.

However, and this is what grates on me, is that Deb Frisch never needed to be this nasty to begin with.
And that reflects on something we have to change within ourselves. It is called growing up.

I remember a certain young insect firing away with the daily insult at one Hairy balled *anbutan over on Scrappleface. I quit because I realized p*ssing contests don't work and while I really paid no to little attention to him after that,
he didn't really change either; but he did go away.

Some things don't, and while Ms. Frisch went over the edge in her comments, she has also tried to be the victim and accused Jeff of changing her comments into the threats she actually did make.
That is sick, serious and scary.

Lesson here for me is that it doesn't hurt to be polite, on target on the facts and avoid the messenger. That is the mistake I see being perpetrated by both sides of the discussion/debate

Posted by: Cricket at July 13, 2006 02:09 PM

Here, you said this:

This is why Glenn annoys us. He is not, by any means, a stupid man. Far from it. But we can rarely get past the hyperbolic, insult-laden, partisan rhetoric in his posts to the meat of his argument, which more often than not contains at least something worth reading. And that is a damned shame. Please, please, please do your readers and the right a favor and tone it down a bit. We'd be far more receptive to your points, and you might foster some really interesting (and respectful) exchanges between the two halves of the 'sphere.

Then you went over to Ace's blog and said this:

If this whack job is spending time staring at his site meter and it gets his rocks off getting hits from the likes of me, that alone is revenge enough.

I'm not asking this rhetorically, but seriously - how can your brain allow you to write these two paragraphs - on the same day, no less?

Isn't there something in your mental processes that stops you from sermonizing against "insult-laden" rhetoric on the same day that you call someone a "wackjob" - something that say: "hey, you just wrong a long sermon urging that someone stop writing insults and inflammatory posts, so maybe you shouldn't then go and call that person a "whack job" against whom you desire revenge while he gets "his rocks off," because doing that would be to engage in the exact behavior that you just flamboyantly said that you oppose?

To be sure, you're not the only hypocrite around. I'd say that all of us - especially those who post on a daily basis with no editor - at some point will advocate behavioral standards which, at some other point, we will violate with our behavior. But this is so blatant, to obvious - and your standard-violating behavior was engaged in on the very same day that you advocated the standards.

How does that happen? What happens in your brain that lets you rail against insults and then, moments later, call someone a "whack job"? Is it that you forget that you sermonized against insults when you call someone a "whack job"? Or do you invent some sort of rationalization as to why what you're doing is not really the same thing that you're sermonizing against? Or does something else go on in your brain that enables you to engage in the very behavior that you claim to detest?

Again, these are not rhetorical questions. It'd be really interesting and informative to know how it is that you get around what ought to be your brain's detection of this quite glaring hypocrisy.

Posted by: Glenn Greenwald at July 13, 2006 02:13 PM

Not that this has *anything* to do with this thread, but absolutely my favorite line from "Arthur":

Hobson (the butler) "Shall I draw your bath?....Would you like me to wash your dick for you, sir?"

Posted by: Cassandra at July 13, 2006 02:15 PM

Glenn, you are absolutely right.

I should not have called you a whack job, and I am sorry. I apologize. Let me make a few observations, however:

I should not have said what I said. So stipulated. And if you cared to read the comment right above yours, I have already said I do not claim to be all that nice a person - IOW, I'm not perfect either. I do try not to flame people, however, in my posts. I'm not sure I manage that level of perfection 24/7, so if you're going to track me all over the Internets hoping to find feet of clay, have at it. You're not exposing anything I haven't already admitted.

That said, the point of my sardonic comment was that:

1. if Ace was correct and the only reason you write the insulting things you write is to generate traffic (and every time I've ever gone to your site, you start one of your posts by being over-the-top insulting to your opponent) is to generate traffic, then perhaps the term 'whack job' isn't really all that far off the mark?

2. Again, I don't spend my days tracking down instances where people have insulted me and then confronting them. Let. It. Go.

There is a bit of obsessiveness here that worries me. It was a careless and obviously to you humorless remark that I should not have made. But you do, frankly, annoy me. You are, frankly, insulting.

And I do not, frankly, claim to be perfect. Or a saint.

I have apologized. I wonder whether you will ever do the same, Glenn?

Posted by: Cassandra at July 13, 2006 02:25 PM

What's the attribution for that bit of verse? Sounds a bit Rummy-esque.

Posted by: jeff at July 13, 2006 02:25 PM

And Glenn, in utterly serious answer to your question, I am human.

I get angry when my friends are attacked. I want, like everyone else does, to start flinging mud. But I sit back and try really, really hard not to take part. As I noted in my post, I had much much more reason than most to go at Deb with hammer and tongs.

I didn't.

No one gains from the escalation. No one. I have nothing against her, nor anything to gain from trashing her. I don't think she has anything against me either.

I am, truly, sorry for calling you a whack job. I doubt you are personally hurt by it, but all the same you do have my apology. But what bothers me about this is that I will abide by my own rules, and you will hold me to them, yet you will not reciprocate.

And that is what makes many people on the Right not want to play nice. However, external considerations are just that: external. And if we threw up our hands every time we didn't live up to some idea of perfection... well, no one would try any longer, would they?

I'm not going to beat myself up, if that's what you are hoping for. It's just not that big a deal in the grand scheme of things. You can't 'morally equivocate' a flip 'if he's doing this he's a whack job" in a personal comment to a desire for people not to escalate disputes in the blogosphere, especially when you appear to be chasing me over here to pick another left vs. right argument :)

Posted by: Cassandra at July 13, 2006 02:37 PM

In my post? It's from the bible. Don't know where - I don't read it much.

Posted by: Cassandra at July 13, 2006 02:38 PM

St. Paul, for sure. Corinthians?

Posted by: Dan Collins at July 13, 2006 02:51 PM

I appreciate your candid and forthright response. As I said in my comment, nobody is perfect in this regard and everyone - including me - will eventually, at some point, violate the standards they advocate. But yours was so blatant, and with so little time separating the sermon and the violation, that I really was genuinely interested in knowing what explained it, how that could happen.

I'm not following you around the Internet and don't intend to. I saw your comment quite by accident, right after I read your post.

It may be that my posts are aggressive or even insulting, but I think you will find that virtually always, they are directed towards the arguments being made, the ideas that are being advocated. By contrast, your "friends" spent the last few days writing posts with titles such as "Glenn Greenwald: Douchebag" and calling me a "twit," a "liar," etc. etc. I simply don't engage in behavior like that. I don't write posts using childish insults of that sort, because I just don't need to. It's the sign of someone who has lost control over their emotions and has nothing of substance to say.

That's why I found it odd that you chose to direct your lengthy post about the need for evelated tone and fewer insults at me, rather than at your friends whose ad hominems over the last few days could have filled a book. I don't dispute your central point - that I could alienate the targets of my posts less by modulating the tenor of them (whether that's a worthwhile objective is a separate matter). But I think you will find that it is very rare - if it happens at all - for me to include actual personal insults in a post - meaning some sort of name-calling insult directed at the person rather than at what they wrote (i.e., douchebag, whackjob, twit, idiot, etc). That isn't because I'm more moral, but because I just think it's an ineffective and weak way to write and debate.

Your friends, however, do that with great frequency. If you have doubts about that, just click on some of the links I provided in my last post in which I compiled their ad hominem responses to my argument. That sort of name-calling is a staple of the right-wing blogosphere, and admittedly, it occurs with great frequency on the left, too. But it doesn't occur on my blog.

Posted by: Glenn Greenwald at July 13, 2006 03:15 PM


You don't even know who my friends are! How can you say that?

To be honest, I didn't click on any of the links in your post. My intent was not to get drawn into yet another stupid blog war. That's why I only addressed Misha's excerpt, which I could easily look at by reading only your post.

I don't even read most right-wing blogs. If you ever spend any time at all reading my site, you'll quickly notice I spend very little time linking to other bloggers. Frankly, that's probably one of the reasons I don't get more traffic, but I'm more interested in ideas than people, as much as I like them. And blogging sometimes starts to resemble, for lack of a more refined term, a Cosmic Circle Jerk. Who has time? I don't. I don't want to get into personalities.

If another blogger says something I'm interested in, THEN I'll link. Or if I'm crediting for something I found through them. But only then.

I saw Dan's post on you yesterday, but I didn't link even though, being human, I laughed. I linked today because I needed it to make the point about your defending the guy who threatened the judge. I didn't link to insult you, though. In my book, that would have been inflammatory and gratuitous. And I linked Ace, though I realize I didn't make my point well, because I think he made a good philosophical point in a very humorous and backhanded way: EVERYBODY STOP GETTING YOUR PANTYHOSE IN A KNOT: THIS IS REALLY ALL ABOUT TRAFFIC.

Now you may not agree, Glenn, but you have to admit that that is EXACTLY what these flame wars do :) I would not have linked Ace's provocative post, had it not made a very intelligent point. And I trusted my very smart readers to get that point without my belaboring it. Sometimes we all need to be smacked about the head and shoulders a bit - it's a wakeup call.

Posted by: Cassandra at July 13, 2006 03:29 PM

I think it has been established that ...

5 ropes, 5 trees and 5 robes

.. is in poor taste and that some "may have interpreted this protected speech as a threat against a federal judge, but it's probably nothing more than some heated rhetoric".

While I condemn all those who seem to be in a hurry to condemn others for their use of protected speech while obfuscating, but I will retract my condemnation insofar as those condemnations are also protected speech.

Obviously, there hasn't been a proper protocol established on exactly who does and who doesn’t get condemned and when ? As if we need one.

Posted by: Neo at July 13, 2006 03:33 PM


A few interesting things I'd like to respond to:

....that I could alienate the targets of my posts less by modulating the tenor of them (whether that's a worthwhile objective is a separate matter).

Glenn, I happen to think it is. You have no idea how hard I search to find *reasonable* lefties to match wits with. It gets incestuous always debating with people who agree with you. But you know, I get tired of combatting rabid BDS all the time. Bush is simply not the Anti-Christ, or the anti-Gaia, or whatever. You can disagree with someone politically without painting horns and a forked tail on them. For Pete's sake. I lived 8 years under Clinton and you have no idea how much we in the military loathed that man and his policies (and we thought our reasons as valid as you think yours), yet we were respectful to him. And I still have the Democrat friends I debated with then to prove it.

We still have to live in the same country after Bush. Think about that some time.

But I think you will find that it is very rare - if it happens at all - for me to include actual personal insults in a post - meaning some sort of name-calling insult directed at the person rather than at what they wrote

This is, really, a matter of interpretation Glenn.

One of the most distressing things I see folks on the left do is a tactic I call "mischaracterization". It's the wilful misstatement or exaggeration of what someone else has said to discredit or demonize them. And it's wrong. Debate what they actually said, not some exaggerated version. Be fair.

I, like Patterico, don't read Mischa. I don't even know him. At all. He might be a stand-up guy, he might not. I really couldn't say. But I read that excerpt and NO WAY could I get what you did out of it, unless I willfully and maliciously TRIED to by putting the WORST POSSIBLE construction on it. And only someone who is determined to pick a fight does that, Glenn, not someone who wants honest debate.

Posted by: Cassandra at July 13, 2006 03:40 PM

I can't believe it, Cassandra. You just threatened Glenn's life. Shame on you.

Posted by: Left Wing Interpretations R Us (not U.S., but "us") at July 13, 2006 03:52 PM


I think, from the small bit I've seen of Mischa's site, good taste isn't high up on his list :) I'm not insulting him. He's not everyone's cup of tea, but I think over-the-top humor of the sardonic kind is the bill of fare over there. I checked it out. So you take the comments - humorous - in that vein.

Glenn's site, OTOH, is a more serious site, so you interpret comments differently there. Mine is mixed - some humor, not always in good taste, some serious commentary.

Ace's is pretty over the top too - hence my "whack job" comment, which was in character over there.

We seem to be losing the ability to detect nuance.

Posted by: Cassandra at July 13, 2006 04:05 PM

The most unfortunate part of of this is that the Frisch woman isn't worth the electric ink.

Posted by: spd rdr at July 13, 2006 04:35 PM

I think you make some excellent points, Cassandra, and I particularly like your 4:05 p.m. comment about nuance. That's always how I've viewed The Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler, at least--as a place where the more outrageous you are, the better. Of course, since I'm not good at sustaining outrage for long periods of time, it's not really my cuppa, so I don't hang out there. But I know if I do read something over there to put my Howard Stern filters on: Of COURSE someone's going to say something beyond the pale, because going beyond the pale is 90% of the objective over there.

So I think Greenwald's choice of a blogger to represent "the Right" was quite poor.

Here's the problem I have: As good as this post is, it depends, like nearly every other post on this subject I've seen from the right-leaning blogs, on a shifted (and thus deceptive) timeline. Greenwald wasn't the first to hurl blanket accusations in this matter--that would be one Confederate Yankee. And then the Sadly, No! bloggers took offense to that, as I firmly believe most right-wing bloggers would themselves, because who wants to be held responsible for every stray nut on the internet who happens to share your politics?

If the situations had been reversed and a lefty blog had started bellowing "CRICKETS!" at the right side of the blogosphere for not denouncing fast enough, you want to tell me no one on the right would have any outrage about that at all? Bullshit. I'd probably have been one of them.

I can object to the way the S,N! guys handled it (I think they spent too much of the post dredging up some of Jeff's choicer moments, personally), but I can't object to their resentment at having some self-righteous dorkblogger paint their entire side as being soft on child molestation. Or:

First of all, let us point out that if you're going to get on your high horse, you might try seizing the moral high ground first. And it's pretty damned hard to do that if you begin by lumping all your intellectual opponents into one bag and vilifying them, isn't it?

Ding, ding, ding.

Anyway, it's after THAT that Greenwald waded in with his what-about-Misha stuff. Under the circumstances, I'm not sure I blame him. I think he's puffing up Misha's importance in the right-wing blogging community and misrepresenting the seriousness of what you correctly note to be an old, old joke, but judging from the all-out-of-proportion outrage his post generated from Patterico, Ace, etc., I'd say he's proved the point that lately the right is better at dishing out the judgment than we are at taking it.

Posted by: ilyka at July 13, 2006 04:37 PM

I would be the first to admit that I did not wade into all the minutae on this Ilyka. I just couldn't handle it.

I was already upset last night and this morning and I couldn't handle more angst on top of that. But Glenn's Virtually every right-wing blogger was so hyperbolic as to defy belief, and when I read stuff like that, it doesn't exactly make me want to swallow anything else he says too willingly.

Come on. Do you have any idea how many right wing bloggers there are? I knew this was going on ferchrissakes and I didn't spend ANY of my weekend on it! Neither, quite frankly, did any of my "friends", though Glenn seems to assume on no acquaintance that he knows who they are. That's exactly the kind of blanket condemnation Glenn claims *he* was condemning, yet he starts out his own post with a real whopper, then comes on over here and calls me a hypocrite for a comment I made on another site.

That kind of nitpicking kind of chaps my ass a bit, if you'll pardon my Phrench.

I don't want to fight. I've had a migraine for over a week, I haven't been sleeping, I've got other things on my mind, and I just don't need the distraction. It's an interesting idea, so I wrote about it. And you raise some good points, as always Ilyka :) So did Glenn, though I don't agree with all of his. But they are worth thinking about.

Posted by: Cassandra at July 13, 2006 05:07 PM

I don't wanna fight neither. There's been too much of that as it is.

Also, my bad for not realizing Glenn was giving you grief right here in these comments. The attention deficit disorder, I have left it untreated, with tragic results.

If this whole thing demonstrates anything, I think it's that calling for widescale denunciations in order to prove one's credibility is a fool's game that can be escalated indefinitely by both sides. Which is why I'd rather Confederate Yankee hadn't started it with "A Proud Member of the Toddler-Threatening Community," and gone on to use Frisch's example as reinforcement of his tagline that "liberalism is a persistent vegetative state."

But I'm not surprised, either. I think it was maybe all of two minutes after Deb Frisch exploded onto the internet in all her crazed and murderous glory that I figured this was bound to turn into an extended game of political football. It's depressing and awful that it played out that way, because the point should be only that you don't make threats against anyone's children, ever. Turning it into right vs. left, left vs. right diminishes that.

Feel better soon. Migraines are a bitch, I know.

Posted by: ilyka at July 13, 2006 05:40 PM


Posted by: Migranes at July 13, 2006 06:09 PM

Headline: "Glenn Greenwald: Douchebag"

It's funny because it's true.

Thanks for the suggestion Glenn.

Posted by: Regret at July 13, 2006 06:11 PM

Leave it to me to spell "migraines" wrong.

Posted by: spd rdr at July 13, 2006 06:12 PM

I don't know what it is. I went off my meds (shut up boys) cold turkey for about a month. Then I changed doctors and started back up again. Every time I've done that I've gotten slammed 2 weeks AFTER I restarted the medication. No make-a the sense.

My doctors just LOVE me. But then the reason I stopped is that I was getting them all the time anyway despite tons of medication, so whatever.

Posted by: Cassandra at July 13, 2006 06:24 PM

Cass, if you aren't careful, you will shame us into behaving like grown ups. Contrary to your self efacing comment to the contrary, you are a very nice person and a very humane one, who dislikes cruelty and partisan nonsense. I share some of your concerns about the 'net and mad dog posting, because words mean things - they can even have legal consequences. Words and their meaning vary in impact from lawn darts to ICBMs when put in writing and zinged off to the ethernet. Often all we know of a person is what they write. It is an expression that cannot represent the whole person, nor is it intended to, but the writer is responsible for his post. Blogs all have their own different personna and ambience, ranging from the net equivalent of a five star restaurant to a lowlife biker bar, and anything in between. Discussion ranges from serious to ridiculous and meaningful to gratuitous insults. Many bloggers are like fish chasing a shiny lure or moths drawn to flame. People love a good controversy and especially a good flame war, once in a while. This can get out of hand and take on all the cruelty of dog fighting - group blogs have divorces and some really hateful, even legally actionable things are said. Typically the some of the partisan third party comments are worse than those from the original spat. I really hate it when people I like go after each others' throats and draw blood.

In the Deb Frisch/Jeff Goldstein WWF Event (I know you are wearing Red Keds and mocking me, Cass!) things got out of hand. Mob behavior and gladiatorial combat are not my cup of tea. I do not want to see DF dead, nor do I like her. I would consider her lemming march, or Kamikaze attack, on Goldstein to be an argument between consenting adults. It turned out to be a serious mismatch in abilities ala Bambi meets Godzilla, with Frisch becoming an internet verb. A lot can be forgiven, but threatening an opponent's family is beyond the pale. Apologies help, but not when they are hypocritically renounced with supplemental insults. I don't want to put this on a partisan basis, but Deb just couldn't quit when she was behind and trounced - make an apology and exit as gracefully as possible. Most of the left was furious with her 'net molestation antics and threats. Some of the right behaved execrably.

Actually, most people just had fun. I admit to egging Goldstein on after "Count C*ckula Rules!" got a rise - pun intended. Dan Collins and I probably both have to see the principal after class for this naughtiness. It is one of the funniest things I have seen on a blog in years. Goldstein's manic personna as the "Count" is a classic and irrepressable. Deb was so chagrinned at Jeff turning her Parthian shot at him, she took the Photoshop image off her site. I am still laughing thinking about it.

In fact, I am still laughing at Glenn Who? When I first heard "Glenn" a few days ago, I thought, "This can't be Reynolds it's so badly written." Enter Greeny, for Greenwald, whom I would imagine is short. It is a fact he cannot write as well as a half-bright highschool senior, is impervious to humor, and would castrate himself before apologizing for anything (unless maybe there was a buck in it). Having nearly collapsed a lung laughing at your post in re: Greeny, Geez Cass, I really don't want to become one of "our least favorite folks." It is a masterpiece. I guess Greeny is dense as depleted uranium, judging by his post, or maybe he's litigating. You do not owe this clown an apology; he's coasting in the wake of Villainous Company. The links are brutally true.

Cricket, hide Cassandra's hair shirt!

Grim, you are a priceless.

Posted by: Mark at July 13, 2006 07:02 PM

Everyone seems to be missing the point. The important thing is that Cass didn't Pile On.

That would have been so wrong.

Posted by: Pile On® at July 13, 2006 09:29 PM


I don't know who is worse: you, or spd :) I sure had to wait for that one.

A wise perSun once said:

"I think that when the last tally is done, my greatest cross to bear in life will have been maintaining my otherwise zen-like patience in the company of Men".

Another wise perSun once said:

"Damn. Men are a slow crop."

Posted by: Cassandra at July 13, 2006 09:39 PM

"I don't know who is worse: you, or spd :) I sure had to wait for that one."--Cassandra

It's okay Cass, you don't have to decide right away.

Posted by: Pile On® at July 13, 2006 09:53 PM

Sooooooo... dead.

Start running longhorn boy.

Posted by: Cassandra at July 13, 2006 09:57 PM

Oh Cass.....don't.

Someday I will explain to you the difference between a crop of bamboo, and that of fine mahogany.

Posted by: Pile On® at July 13, 2006 10:16 PM

I don't mind being something,"worse" than Pile On so long as it doesn't label me "deranged and psychosexually disturbed" like some other people mentioned around here. I am not deranged.

Posted by: spd rdr at July 13, 2006 10:25 PM

so long as it doesn't label me "deranged and psychosexually disturbed" like some other people mentioned around here...I am not deranged.

Oh spd honey! You *do* trust me, don't you!

Posted by: Cassandra at July 14, 2006 05:41 AM

*dusting off hands*

Well, now that that is settled, anyone for a spot of something?

My mama always taught me "The least said is the easiest mended."

Cass, you are a gem...

Posted by: Cricket at July 14, 2006 11:26 AM

> We say things, and discuss topics, online that we would never dare to in our own living rooms: sex, politics, race, religion

In political blogs?

If I say it, I pretty much mean it.

Why the heck would you waste time commenting in a poliblog if you didn't think you were speaking The God's Honest Truth?

Now, over on that blog for Men Who Love Sheep Who Love Women... ahem, well, NOTHING I say is something I would say in my living room. As a matter of fact, I've never been there, and you can't prove anything. (8oD

Posted by: OhBloodyHell at July 15, 2006 03:08 PM

> And anyone who doesn't think women do mean should try crossing swords with Jane Hamsher.

Cass, women as a class are generally loath to do full-frontal mean.

In-Your-Face-And-What-Are-You-Gonna-Do-About-It? mean.

Women are much better at infighting and political backstabbing.

(I don't mean that as a criticism, it's a net result of being typically the smaller of the species -- you have to work on effective techniques for getting your way that don't involve size and direct applications of power -- esp. in context of sitting around campfires wondering when the tribe would get another mastodon and if you'd have enough to eat until then -- screw all the modern trappings placed upon those creatures)

THAT is one reason so few women are pundits.

Posted by: OhBloodyHell at July 15, 2006 03:14 PM

> No one gains from the escalation. No one.

Cass, in some ways, I'd point to you that this CAN be incorrect. Not much so in the Blogosphere, but in real life -- yeah, it can.

Heinlein put it simply: "Sometimes the best way to deal with a bully is to step on his toes until he apologizes."

There is no equivalent for that, really, in print when the only "top end" is:

Well, #^&*%&$%^#$!!!
Why don't you %^&%^&%&%$^%$!!!!!!!

So, in the sense you were thinking, it is accurate -- but it's like that old "War never settled anything." chestnut: While containing a strong grain of Essential Truth, it needs to be carefully qualified.

Posted by: OhBloodyHell at July 15, 2006 03:31 PM

> Glenn, I happen to think it is. You have no idea how hard I search to find *reasonable* lefties to match wits with.

Moved. Seconded.
Any nays out there?
Motion Carried.

Next item?

"Reasonable lefties" are kinda like "rational believers of Islam". They do exist, but you have to hunt real hard to find 'em. If you don't, sooner or later you're gonna think they don't exist.

Posted by: OhBloodyHell at July 15, 2006 03:48 PM

Reasonable lefties are like WMD. We've seen them in the past, they were used in the past. We just can't find them right now.

Posted by: KJ at July 15, 2006 06:04 PM

By contrast, your "friends" spent the last few days writing posts with titles such as "Glenn Greenwald: Douchebag" and calling me a "twit," a "liar," etc. etc. I simply don't engage in behavior like that. I don't write posts using childish insults of that sort, because I just don't need to.

Glenn, "liar" is not a childish insult. "Liar" is a matter of fact which, once established, paves the way for the more ad hominem insults. You don't need to engage in it because you simply lie to get your ya ya's out.

So, Misha vs. Matt Hale. Discuss. Extra points for working ADX Florence in.

Posted by: Pablo at July 15, 2006 06:05 PM

Oh, hey, don't mind me. Just checking what time your timestamp shows here.

Posted by: Patterico at July 23, 2006 01:35 PM

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