May 02, 2006

No, that's not a typo.

I have recently been taken to task by a reader for the use of certain language in my writing that expresses more anger than reason, and which provides more smoke than light. I hope that fairly characterizes the criticism (which, by the way, I regard as constructive, not malicious).

I mention that because not long ago, I had an unfortunate experience with my own criticism of some language I found on a website that I regard, for the most part, as an ideological ally, (hence, my little twist in the headline).

I wrote a comment on, criticizing one of their leading writers on his use of the words "media whores" to describe certain people working for CNN, the Washington Post, the NY Times and a few other leading news outlets. I suggested that we might find more defined and detailed ways to criticize each and every one of those writers than the generalized use of such a phrase as "media whores." I felt that it was insufficient to simply throw those words at them. I suggested that we actually show (notice the use of the word "we") how they have prostituted themselves to corporate interests with specific examples. I was offering what I thought was a different tactical approach. Well, that was not the right thing to do.

The opprobrium that descended upon me was absolute (with one small exception). I was basically scolded, told that I had alot of gall "attacking" one of the founders of the site, that who was I (an ignorant outlander, I presume) to be so bold as to criticize anything offered by the President and a Moderator of It was really pretty amazing stuff from people I thought were allies. I responded to one person who acted as if I didn't have a clue as to what I was talking about, and who lectured me, with specifics (no less), about bad journalists and media personalities and how they have prostituted their profession. I lauded this fellow for saying exactly what I had proposed. I told him that was exactly what I had suggested and complimented him on his examples. But then I received more piling on, and I responded again about being less strident and about the use of generalizations. Can you guess what happened?

I was banned from

No, seriously, stop laughing or choking. I was banned.

I simply had no idea that was a website for an exclusive elite of the Democrats, an elite which claims to oppose the close-minded, recalcitrant, and wrongheaded strategy of the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), but which allows no room for disagreement on its own site. The one exception I mentioned above was one wise commentator who suggested that perhaps the leaders of should chill just a bit. He says: "We are fellow travellers. Let's quit eating our young, and marginalising our feisty old curmudgeons." I think he was referring to me, a feisty old curmudgeon?

Are these people so brittle they prefer to associate only with a group of people who worship at their feet and offer no criticism whatsoever?

Now what group of people does that remind me of? Hmmmm, let me think.

You can read the entire exchange that did make it onto the site here if you want to wade through it all. The "media whore" discussion was part of an overall discussion of the Samuel Alito process in the Senate. So, just scroll down until you see my comment entitled "Language."


Matthew Katinsky said...

Looks like I took the wrong writer to task.

The irony kills me. And frightens me.

I read the exchange. They really didn't bother to understand you at all. Or more likely, they really did, and they truly considered your critique a dangerous, dissenting threat. Note Bill Harding's response to you: [you] imply that we have no tolerance for dissenting views... and then in the very next paragraph This is a private community of like-minded traditional, activist, and for the most part, Liberal Democrats. Membership is by invitation, and this blog is moderated. In other words, we are tolerant of every dissenting opinion that agrees with our own narrow like-minded opinions. It's no different at all than Bush's statement on bipartisanship at the beginning of his second term when he said he was ready to work with any representation, Republican or Democrat, who supported his ideology.

Then there's the irony of any political group demanding ideological purity and at the same time claiming to represent the true voice of the people (didn't the communists already try this?). In effect they do neither. Did they stop Alito? Have they censured Bush, much less impeached him? These were all great causes and we worked our tails off trying to achieve them, but if we can't be inclusive of other democrats, much less the population as a whole, of course we are going to fail.

I think there is a strong current of "the ends justifies the means" in all spectrums of both major political parties. Since the Republicans are currently more successful at this game, Democrats feel righteous indignation and then justify crude power politics as "tit for tat". I find this approach to politics alarming and misguided. Should these "Demicrats" find themselves in charge someday, they will no doubt alienate an equally large segment of the population and wonder what happened when their approval ratings drop.

I don't think for a moment we should dilute the progressive message, but if we cannot persuade a majority of Americans that it is a worthwhile agenda, we certainly aren't going to succeed by shoving it down their throats.

Kevin from NYC said...

I read this Orwell blog. What's is this you speak of? It is a plant? or a mineral?

Is it of any use as fertilizer? Is it full of excrement?