Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Icy waters?

I hadn’t noticed until today that Alan Jacobs compared NLT to the Daily Kos in his essay critical of blogs. Here’s the passage and its context:

I think first of the extraordinary anger that seems to be more present in the blogosphere than in everyday life. Debate after debate—on almost every site I visit, including the ones devoted to Christianity—either escalates from rational discourse into sneering and name-calling or just bypasses reason altogether and starts with the abuse.


Partly this derives from the anonymity of blog comments: people rarely identify themselves by their real names, and the email addresses that they sometimes provide rarely give clues about their identity: a person who is safe from substantive reprisals is probably more easily tempted to express rage. Also—and this is a problem especially on the political blogs—commenters can find themselves confronted with very different beliefs than the ones they encounter in everyday life, where they often are able to select their own society. A right-winger wandering into a comment thread on Dailykos.com is likely to get a serious douse of vitriol for his or her trouble; ditto a liberal who plunges into the icy waters of No Left Turns. And the anonymous habitués of a given site are unlikely to show much courtesy to the uninvited guest. (This is one reason why sites like the two just mentioned get more rhetorically, and substantively, extreme over time: everyone is pulling in one direction, and scarcely anyone shows up to exert counter-pressure.)

Wow! I wouldn’t have thought of comparing the level of vitriol at NLT to that I’ve seen at Daily Kos, and I’m not certain that NLT has gotten "more rhetorically, and substantively extreme," in the years that I’ve read and contributed to it. I know that there are a few anonymous commenters who are over the top at least some of the time, but even they, often as not, make substantive arguments. We are, for better (I think), not in the Daily Kos’s league when it comes to venom, vitriol, and extremism. And it’s not something to which I’d aspire.

So I ask NLT readers, liberal and conservative alike, what they think of Jacobs’s observations.

And for gosh’s sake, keep it civil.

Update: You should, of course, read the whole of Jacobs’s provocative essay, which makes a number of telling points, like this one:

Blogs remain great for news: political, technological, artistic, whatever. And they provide a very rich environment in which news (or rather "news") can be tested and evaluated and revised, as we have seen repeatedly, from cnn’s firing of Eason Jordan to the discrediting of Dan Rather’s story on President Bush’s National Guard service. But as vehicles for the development of ideas they are woefully deficient and will necessarily remain so unless they develop an architecture that is less bound by the demands of urgency—or unless more smart people refuse the dominant architecture. Even on a site with the brainpower of Crooked Timber, what happens more often than not—indeed, what happens so often that I’ve taken the site from my rss reader and only check it once or twice a month—is the conversion of really good scholars into really lousy journalists. With few exceptions, posts at the "academic" or "intellectual" blogs I used to frequent have become the brief and cursory announcement of opinions, not the free explorations of new and dynamic thinking.

So, yes, read, the whole thing, even if you don’t agree with it.

Discussions - 44 Comments

For all your efforts to distance yourself from Ann Coulter, who it seems you can hardly mention without a noted hurumph, without an habitual tut tut, for all your efforts, you’re STILL lumped with wildeyed lunatics. Perhaps you might learn from this little episode that for all your efforts to toss Coulter into the gutter of the marginalized, you’ve garnered nothing, no respect, no appreciation, no praise, and lastly, no love from your political opponents.

Its different.

The Right goes to the left sites to engage in healthy debate, and are shouted down.

The Left goes to right sites to troll, spew "bush lied troops died", etc. and are shouted down.

The writer is trying to draw equivalence, "both sides are just as bad", to gain with his audience for being "fair and impartial". Its an old trick.

As Bob Dole had to learn the hard way, it never works to whine that your record has been distorted. You can SHOW that you’re morally superior to the other guy on the Socratic dialogue front, but nobody who’s not already with you believes it when you SAY it.

It’s a strange comparison, for me, since I use you guys as a home page partly because you seem much more rational than the vitriolic screamers like Kos, who I only know by reputation. But there are conservative moonbats (nevermind which ones) and I wouldn’t lump NLT in with any of them. Maybe the fellow was up against a deadline and hadn’t done his homework and was grasping for straw men.

A friendly amendment to Professor Lawler’s observation: Persuasion is best, but often impossible.

It is usually better to speak the truth than to remain silent, even if circumstances are such that it sounds like whining. Conservatives’ biggest problem isn’t whining; it’s silence.

sorry, Jacobs shows his own inability to deal with reality if he thinks NLT is "vitriolic"....
I read NLT because it’s the MOST rational page out there.
as for his analysis - "even a blind squirrel finds a nut sometimes ".
he missed on this particular nut - the dems are all about emotion and image. that’s why their commentary runs so much to the "tinfoil hat party line". Not that there aren’t instances on the right, but the right tends to want to get the facts. Calling NLT "names" just cements his position in the liberal camp.

An aside about the decline in civil discourse; it’s a part of a natural cycle if you have studied elliot wave. try http://www.socionomics.net/films/history/default.aspx for an intro.

according to EWI , it will only get worse over the next few years(perhaps generations ).

Agreed...I like NLT because, occasionally, I get some serious discussion. Evidence is (generally) respected, and the issues matter. It’s true that I curse the trolls now and then (OK, maybe a bit too often), but honestly I’m here to pursue reasoned discussion. The guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about...I bet he’s never even been on the blog (just makes assumptions based on the name).

I just sent the following e-mail to Professor Jacobs:

Hello Professor:

I am an avid reader of, and frequent commenter to, the blog "No Left Turns." There is an article in today’s edition entitled "Icy waters?" here http://noleftturns.ashbrook.org/default.asp?archiveID=8722 which links to your article entitled "Good Bye Blog." Reading your article, I see that you had this to say about NLT:

A right-winger wandering into a comment thread on Dailykos.com is likely to get a serious douse of vitriol for his or her trouble; ditto a liberal who plunges into the icy waters of No Left Turns. And the anonymous habitués of a given site are unlikely to show much courtesy to the uninvited guest. (This is one reason why sites like the two just mentioned get more rhetorically, and substantively, extreme over time: everyone is pulling in one direction, and scarcely anyone shows up to exert counter-pressure.)

I would very much appreciate it if you would go to the comments section of the "Icy waters?" article and discuss your article with us. I think you will be very pleasently surprised to find out that you are mistaken in your opinion of the vast majority of commenters at NLT.

Sincerely,

Uncle Guido

Let’s see if he responds.

One of the chief characteristics of the Rockerfeller Republican wing, is thier noted distaste for actually responding to criticism.

Review GW for instance. Has he ever branded Murtha and Kerry the defeatists they truly are? Of course not, such a characterization might intrude on the glorious dawn of the new tone, which is just over the horizon. Have you ever heard GW criticize the NYT for "treasonous" behavior? Of course not, they might take a little too much gumption. The type of gumption that GW only finds when he needs motivation for working out.

BUT, segue now to bizarre outbursts against his own base. Those that suggested that Meirs was a naked careerist, hardly suited for secretarial tasks, let alone policy decisions up on the Supreme Court, they were branded "sexists," "elitists." What was GW’s first response when queried over the Minutemen? "VIGILATNES!" Just picture it! Senior citizens, in lawn chairs, armed with nothing more than radios, canteens and binocolars. And to his fevered imagination, they were the stuff of vigilantes. And he’s a Texan no less, {or supposedly a Texan, one can’t help but wonder if his attitude is more consistent with the Bay area...}. And what was GW’s take on those who against his "comprehensive" immigration reform, which is nothing more than the legal codification of the status quo, open borders plus? They were all "RACISTS!"

There is only one word to describe his weird, creepy behavior. Really only one word that simultaneously encompasses the painful way in which he stumbles and bumbles through the English language.

I’m tempted to resort to a Dennis Learyism.... But I’ll spare you.

Well, judging from these comments, I think he’s got a point about a lack of counter-pressure.



As for his other assertions . . . I don’t think that, as a liberal who posts here on occasion, I have been verbally abused more than the next conservative guy. I mean, I’ve seen some pretty mean posts in my two years of visiting this blog, and a lot of the abuse goes on between conservatives (usually, in the past, a hardcore libertarian and a Republican will get in a fight over spending limits or government regulations on the personal rights of Americans, or a religious righter and a conservative who is not so religious will fight about whether or not encouraging religion is constitutional). If I had the time and energy I would search the archives, because I’m pretty sure the most mean things I’ve read here have been directed toward conservatives by conservatives.



But, personally, I’ve had some excellent conversations (and arguments) with the commenters here. You are all usually extremely reasonable and polite. I don’t know what Alan Jacobs read on this site to decide that NLT was submerged in "icy waters", but I’d certainly be interested to find out. I’m hoping Uncle Guido’s email persuades him to drop by . . .

And the BBC says that Bush, this Bush is creating a "climate of fear." Un-fricken-believable! The only fear in this country is that regnant among the ranks of Conservatives. We fear the next question a reporter might pose to the President, for his responses are so embarassing, that they drag the entire intellectual legacy of American Conservatism into disrepute.

I put it to you, one and all, entre nous! Was his performance on the hustings acceptable? Were his stump speeches anything other than a wasted opportunity? And what judgement are we to reserve for his debate performances?

His behavior during the campaign was so bad, that he almost dragged Kerry back into the race. If it wasn’t for the GOP Convention, which just absolutely BLASTED AWAY at the entire Dem record over the last couple decades, especially that Zell Miller speech, which is exactly the type of speech that Americans crave, but Rockefeller Republicans don’t have the stomach to deliver, if it wasn’t for that Convention, the traitor Kerry might be Commander in Chief.

Jacobs: "A right-winger wandering into a comment thread on Dailykos.com is likely to get a serious douse of vitriol for his or her trouble; ditto a liberal who plunges into the icy waters of No Left Turns."

Knippenberg: "Wow! I wouldn’t have thought of comparing the level of vitriol at NLT to that I’ve seen at Daily Kos..."

Let’s not forget the primary reason why this is not an appropriate comparison: DailyKos is a much, much more popular site. Let’s take a look at the numbers, from Alexa.com:

DailyKos’s traffic rank: 1,804


NLT’s traffic rank: 276,178

Daily Kos’s daily reach: consistently between 500-1000 per million


NLT’s daily reach: less than 20 per million

DailyKos’s daily page views: 20-40 per million


NLT’s daily page views: less than 2 per million

I think a site that’s so well-known - and popular - as DailyKos is will have noticeably different comment dynamics than one as relatively obscure as NoLeftTurns, but still, at the very least, I would bet that, with a daily reach 25-50 times greater than that of NLT, you may well see 25-50 times more left-wing equivalents to Dain, jessefan, Uncle Guido, David Frisk, TexasDude/Dale M., etc.

It’s just silly to try to say that one end of the sociopolitical spectrum has a monopoly on civility, politeness, dignity or their opposites.

Perhaps one reason why Jacobs may have compared DailyKos to NLT is that, from my observation (but it’s hardly a scientific study), few Big League right-wing blogs even ALLOW comments (I know, I know, it’s to prevent the inevitable onslaught of rude, nasty, evil Lefties), so he had to move into the Minor Leagues (I’m not saying that as an insult - it’s just a fact that, popularity-wise, sites such as this do not have a significant presence) to find comment sections. PowerLine (the liberal-biased media/Time’s "Blog of the Year," what was it, last year?) won’t have them. Neither will National Review Online’s "The Corner" or Claremont’s "The Remedy." Nor Michelle Malkin, nor Instapundit. Am I missing any Major League right-wing bloggers? A quick check of NLT’s "favorite bloggers" list shows that much less than half of those blogs accept comments. Little Green Footballs will only accept comments from registered commenters, and registration is closed (sounds like a set-up that David Frisk would appreciate!), however if Jacobs wanted to see some right-wing vitriol, LGF would be the ideal place to find it (scroll down for a fun quiz).

There’s plenty of vitriol here, though. Between a handful of commenters and those grotesque Ramirez cartoons that get passed along, there’s more than enough. "Icy waters" seems about right.

Jacobs is wrong.
A good example of a Leftist on a Rightie blog has recently been confudeforeigner on neo-neocon: the man’s illogical, steadfastly insisting 1+1=3, making reasoned dialogue impossible. There’s the crux: reasoned dialogue with the Left is no longer possible. With a Lieberman, yes, but not with the Kos crowd.

No comparison and most definately not about right.

While it may seem silly to assert that one side/party is more civil than the other, it appears that the assertion is true.

I am reminded of a couple of examples that we often use in Social Psychology regarding the effect of of membership on perception of events. First was the Kennedy-Nixon debates, after which people were asked for their reactions. Kennedy fans thought that Kennedy demolished Nixon, while Nixon fans felt the same: Their boy handed Kennedy his hat!

Second example, fans of two soccer teams during a particularly dirty game. Each side was highly sensitive to officials’ calls that went against their own team, and particular INSENSITIVE to infractions by their own team.

And so I should not be surprised at the level of self-congratulation and insensitivity to NLT-generated name-calling, stereotyping, gloating, and "why-don’t-you-leave our - (web-site, country, realm of the living, fill-in-the-blank")-ing.

And so, for what it is worth, I would point out that we lefties (so far, I recognize Craig Scanlon) perceive a great deal more vitriol than most of you NLT-ers seem to. At the same time, I also recognize a real effort by most bloggers on this site to maintain, or to return to, a civil, reasonable tone. But, the Daily Kos only SEEMS more vitriolic to many of you because you disagree. The comments of a Dain, or a Davey Frisk, or a Fung, can equal the vitriol of the worst Kos-ite on any given day.

Maybe it would be instructive to review the terminology use here when you all refer to Jimmy Carter, or Cindy Sheehan, or your support of Ann Coulter, and all that she stands for. Or, maybe some of you should consider what it actually implies to call a person a traitor. How much more vitriolic can you get than to suggest a person deserves execution for disagreeing with you?

What is silly is judging a blog on the basis of its comments rather than its posts. Any moron can add a comment, using any name he/she/it wants. Want to make a perfectly respectable conservative blog sound like a haven for neo-Nazis? Why, all you need to do is post a few hate-mongering messages under a pseudonym. Craig Scanlon knows this as well as anyone--although I notice that he didn’t include his own creations Mack Sandpaper or Fat Mike in his list of offensive commenters at NLT.

This, in my mind, is why Powerline and other blogs are absolutely right not to invite comments. If I were running NLT I’d get rid of them altogether.

Yeah Fung but you no doubt also will contend that the major news organs of this country are not liberally biased either. So you saying Kos is not vitriolic, probably says more about you that it does about the assertion.

I also love how you insert Ann Coulter into the discussion. Exactly who on NLT is a Coulter supporter? where have you seen this support in evidence? She and Patrick Buchanan are two that get little support in many many blogs I visit, but man do I hear about Coulter, dispite the fact that I think she is way over the top in her rhetoric.

John, you would really disallow comments if you ran NLT? That would be very unwise...I suspect it would cut your readership in half (if not worse). Although I realize that the Ashbrook/Claremont Axis thinks it’s God’s gift to conservativism, I often find the brand of conservativism being pushed is muddled. No commentary would simply mean you Ohio folks would be talking to you California folks...the rest of us would be "flyover country." Sadly inbred, don’t you think?

I agree with Fung that we can get nasty, but I disagree that it ever reaches the level of DailyKos...come on, that blog gets downright obscene and inhuman at times. I’ve never seen a thread-argument descend that far at NLT, and these arguments are also redeemable by reason.

As for "Craig," he has a point about size, but that’s precisely why I like NLT...it’s a high-quality backwater. This is why Alan Jacobs had no business comparing NLT with the Kosmos...apples and oranges in terms of quality and quantity.

What is silly is judging a blog on the basis of its comments rather than its posts. Any moron can add a comment, using any name he/she/it wants.

...Very true! And any...ahem...PERSON (note the absence of name-calling) can have a blog.

Craig Scanlon knows this as well as anyone--although I notice that he didn’t include his own creations Mack Sandpaper or Fat Mike in his list of offensive commenters at NLT

I haven’t heard from Mack in ages, and I’ve never even met Fat Mike (careful now!), so I felt that the list of other liberal creations (I applaud the guy who went to the trouble of getting a Claremont e-mail address for David Frisk; hope he doesn’t have to pay admission! - how thorough!) would suffice. So are you actually conceding that those whom were listed by me are, indeed, "offensive commenters"? Even I didn’t call them "offensive"!

This, in my mind, is why Powerline and other blogs are absolutely right not to invite comments. If I were running NLT I’d get rid of them altogether.

Wow, well, it’s one of those exceedingly rare instances when I actually agree with Dain! Yes, I think you’d lose a sizeable part of your readership - and from the looks of it, you don’t have a whole lot to spare. As Dain said (I can’t believe I’m doing this!) "No commentary would simply mean you Ohio folks would be talking to you California folks..." That’s pretty much right - the Ashland-Claremont-Atlanta-Hayward in DC echo chamber, occasionally visited by an outsider, but not often. I think No Left Turns is pretty much at the same extreme end (well, close to the end) of the socipolitical spectrum as PowerLine, but the PowerLine fraternity is even slightly more condescending and arrogant, and I suspect the fact that no dissent is ever seen, allowed, at their site only exacerbates their more unseemly traits. Or am I giving them too much credit?

So, I don’t think a site should be judged by its commenters, but I do judge blogs, left and right, by their willingness to accept comments or not. I respect people more if they’re willing to listen to what others have to say, including those outside of elite academic circles. If you’ve got a blog, if you’re claiming to be seeking the Truth and truthful analyses of current events, then how could your blog posts possibly be harmed by any outside comment? Heck, someone reading NLT doesn’t even have to see the comments if they don’t want to - you’ve got to seek them out to even read them!

Jacobs’ article was interesting; there’s actually a lot in it that I agree with. I think blogs are a contributing factor to heightened social and political polarization (Only read news analyses that make you feel comfortable, sign up for a dating service so you’ll only meet people who agree with you on most everything, etc.), and blogs that do not allow comments contribute to this even more, in my view. The absence of a comment section turns a blog (like Powerline, Malkin, etc.) into little more than a virtual private chat club where the "discussion" is dominated by head-nodding, mutual affirmations, and reassuring back-slaps. In other words, boring.

To "Gmax" - you wanted an example of an NLT blogger supporting Coulter. Well, while I understand that agreeing with one article might not be the same as being an overall fan & supporter, here’s an NLT blogger applauding Coulter for "hit(ting) it out of the park."

OK Craig

So what was offensive about the Coulter article that Ponzi linked? The bit about advising folks not to douse themselves with gasoline and then strike a match?

Is your beef with what was said, or simply who said it? Seems to me this is a Coulter piece of the extremely tame variety. She loves to tweek liberals nose’s and cant resist a little jab even here, but for the most part its "take responsibility for your own actions" piece. Not very offensive, to me. How about you?

I read blogs to learn. I read blog comments to learn. Although I read LGF and CQ everyday, I rarely read their comments anymore. There is an occasional exception where an individual, who has demonstrable expertise in a particular field, adds tremendous insight and expands upon an article to the benefit of all. Wading through 500 comments to find such nuggets, however, is too tedious for me.

NLT is different. The comments here are usually as thought provoking as the articles upon which they are based.

Well, I admit, I do enjoy contributions from some commenters, and I’ve learned quite a bit from online conversations with them. I suppose the best way to go would be to institute what the History News Network does--they allow comments, but require that commenters register. They can still use a pseudonym publicly (I understand that there are individuals who post here who would be in professional danger--or members of their family might be--if their identities were known to the general public), but their identities are known to the site’s administrators, and they can easily be blocked if they habitually make statements that are abusive or obscene.

Dear Joe, a bit late getting to this, hence weighing in. First things first, what you, Peter, et al. post [for our consideration] are most welcome contributions to my stock of information and on-going reflections. Thanks a million on that - most important - front.
As for the comments and commentators, Mr. Jacobs has much too high expectations and refined sensibilities for the blogosphere. IMHO.
I learn regularly from certain commentators who post here pretty regularly, mainly people I know from venues other than the blogosphere, but a few that I’ve only encountered here, and I take the others as the price of doing business here.

Happy Independence Day!

Craig , thanks for info. This also seems a good point to thank the NLT blog-masters for allowing comments, and for their work to maintain the site generally. I understand why many blogs don’t allow them, or only for registered commenters--the sad fact is that when it comes to internet exchanges, #14 is right four times out of five. If traffic increases here and enough trolls or just plain ol’ angry bastards start commenting, NLT might have to make a similar decision. The danger of fake-posts to discredit NLT or any individual poster is a real one, and I hope there is a plan in place to deal with such problems if they do arise. I would still visit NLT w/o comments, though. Happy Independence Day, all!

I agree with Mr. Seaton. I get many great articles/essays from this website I would never even hear of otherwise. The one on the make-up of Liberal thought and Conservative thought, for instance, was a great read that helped clarify things in a seemingly unbiased manner. The comments, though, I usually view just read for fun. Sometimes there will be some insightful ones, but the real meat comes from the posts. However, I think Mr. Jacobs, being an English professor, either doesn’t realize or is not comfortable with the fact that, when discussing politics, a "civil" discussion on politics might be different from one discussing literature. Even when discussing NLT’s subject matter in a relaxed environment with close friends who dissagree, people will get upset and make troll-ish comments, but that is the nature of the subject. I mean, we’re talking about war and peace and the good and bad (or possibly even a lack thereof) and things are going to get hairy from time to time, but so long as we steer clear of "God hates fags" and "Bush is Hitler" type stuff we’re doing alright.

And Happy Independence Day!

I suppose the best way to go would be to institute what the History News Network does--they allow comments, but require that commenters register.



I don’t know why NLT doesn’t do this . . . I think that Dr. Moser is right to assume that such a registration process on this site would deter obscene or abusive comments.

I agree with Matt. It might also cut down on the huge amount of spam NLT has been getting lately.

So, Mr. Moser, is it possible that I made some small point that you agree with?

"Gmax" - You simply wanted an example of an NLT blogger showing support for Coulter. I provided one. That is a very old thread, but if you want to know my take on that particular Coulter article, do read through the comments in that thread. I made a few.

Carl - You’re welcome (for the info). Also, you expressed concern that "If traffic increases here and enough trolls or just plain ol’ angry bastards start commenting, NLT might have to make a similar decision."

Well, I’d have no qualms at all with an HNN comments format (HNN is a great site, btw), but at this point, that’s a pretty big "if" that you’re expressing, seeing that NLT has seen a 23% decrease in its reach (per million users) and a 12% decrease in page views per user in the last 3 months. NLT’s gonna have to give away more than coffee mugs for your concerns about traffic to materialize.

Craig

Well first off the post was not directed at you. But you stepped in with a response so I asked for some support. You are correct in pointing out its a old post. Not exactly a strong comment in favor of your larger point of there being Coulter supporters here now is it. " Well their here but they dont show it very much. kinda of a closet support thing I guess.

Most importantly I asked who was a "supporter" of Coulter. And I asked for evidence of support. Its certainly debatable if linking is evidence of anything. Could not linking be as much to stimulate discussion? If you did not agree with the article you could use it as a jumping off point for a discussion, eh wot?

Happy 4th.

Leave it the way it is, please. I agree with Dain in 18, Uncle Guido in 22 and Andrew in 25. Even if from time to time some harsh words are spoken this is the nature of the game. There are two kinds of people in the world. There are hammers and there are anvils. A liberal poster may feel himself an anvil here as a conservative may feel himself one on the Daily Kos...but this does not mean he may not strike back. There are two other subdivisions possible...those with thick skin and those with thin skin...one could suppose that most anvils feel that they have thicker skin than the hammers they provoke...and what can be worse than a thin-skinned hammer? As Andrew points out, anyone who wrestles with questions of importance enters a different sort of "civil" discussion...considering what some people think hangs in the ballance, I wonder if civility is not often a vice...

Is it possible to have a civil conversation questioning if disinhibition is a good or bad thing? I think so...even if those on one side of the question are of necessity less than civil in certain respects.

I always use my name, and in the end the consistent posters end up revealing a wealth of information about themselves. In a sense the commenters build up a sort of brand or window into a line of thinking which shows both a consistency and an authenticity unavailable in other media outlets...that have none of this give and take introspective element about them. There is no such thing as a really good scholar who is a lousy journalist...all this means is that in a more enclosed environment someone is able to "sound" intelligent...but if you can’t translate your thinking from the ivory tower to the people it isn’t worth much...and it is probably not clear thinking. If blogs show us that thinkers devolve into announcers of opinion...then perhaps we arrive at an understanding of truth that is more real. People start out opinionated...moved by an issue that has, dare I say it...existential import to them...and then latter on couch this in academic thinking. I suggest that what the writter bemoans is not so much disinhibition as the unravelling of "objective" thought and the showing of its roots in "subjective" interest. Of course this goes to prove Fung correct in his contribution in 16. We see our side clearest...our memory obscures the wrongs we do...and preserves in memory the wrongs done to us. Since I am partial to poker I would say that we remmember the bad beats but we forget the times we got lucky. This is all to human...and knowledge and self-awareness of this is better preserved in a blog format with comments, rather than a simple reading of an article. Certainly Fung has shown self-awareness of times he posted things he latter on disliked...we all have, and perhaps latter on I will cringe to see the reply...if I don’t defend my rants by making them too long to be read.

Thus somewhat paradoxically I believe that blogs because of the effects of "subjectification" or "disinhibition" allow us to maintain a level of innoculation against our own human nature...that would otherwise be hidden in more academic presentations of "objective" thought. If blogging can convert a really good academic into a really lousy journalist...the blame doesn’t or shouldn’t fall to blogging. If a person shows you who he is...you would be a fool to demand he returns to his trappings, you might also be a fool to believe your own. I would simply say that a good academic who is a lousy journalist is also a lousy poker player.

Wow, John, you wax philosophic! But I concur with much of what you say...blogging isn’t for the faint of heart, and those with weak convictions quickly drop out. And I like to think that there is a kind of dialectic involved...strong opposing opinions place things in contrast, ultimately helping us reach a more reasonable compromise.

Or maybe not...and that’s OK too. I’ve learned things from others and also things about myself while blogging. It’s a good activity, but also an intellectual one that won’t be most people’s cup o’ tea.

Now...one lump or two?

On a simple test, I’d be much less likely to ban a child from the dinner table for using the critical language used at NLT than used at Kos.

I have commented on various websites for years.

For a long time I was 3M_TA3 at Lucianne. I posted on that site before 2000 and continued for several years after.

In posting there, I was forced to actually flesh out my opinions. OK, forced isn’t the right word, but I felt compelled to since I didn’t want to be dismissed as just another crank.

I spent hours defending Israel, defending the Union (Civil War debates), and, in general, defending America.

I don’t consider myself an intellectual, yet I know I can, at times, take on supposed intellectuals and do rather well.

I never took debate in high school or in college, yet posting on blog sites has helped me when I do engage in live debates, non-formal that is.

Can blogging and responding on blogs lead to you being in an echo chamber whereby all you hear is what you and others like you want to hear?

Sure, but that can easily happen when folks watch their favorite news channel or go to live events that support their own views.

No difference.

The vitriol displayed on this site, though, is much less than what I have seen on Lucianne, LGF, Polipunidit, DailyKos, and many others. I tend to find more intelligent posts and responses on this site than most others, which is why I outed myself and why I almost exclusively respond to this site alone.

I applaud those with differing opinions that continually respond on this site. While I disagree with them, generally, they at least are willing to risk being slammed and, for the most part, those that risk that on this site are not cranks or trolls.

When you go over to the other side to comment, your treatment is generally dictated by the tone you take. You can walk into a pool hall and say "all pool players suck!" and get a predictable reaction, or you can say "what do y’all like about pool?" and you’ll be treated much better.
The country is polararized right now and it’s hard to resist the urge to assume that your opponents are misguided sub-humans; but obviously they’re just people like you. I don’t think anybody will make any real progress until that’s widely acknowleged.

By the way, I’d compare Daily Kos more to Little Green Footballs.

I happen to like little green footballs...they make good use of the Cox and Forkum cartoons...of course when you create something like black and white world you are attempting to draw sharp distinctions. When you draw sharp distinctions you take a side and box yourself into a vantage point...from this vantage point things become clearer yet at the same time more polarized. I don’t think polarization or even its attending manifestations as "disinhibition" are bad per se...they are simply the result of brutal consistency yielding a clear picture or right and wrong. People are more likely to act upon an idea when its consequences seem clear. That these sites are capable of inspiring polarizing rhetoric and mobilizing action is no suprise. Political action requires that a judgement be reached. These sites reach judgements, they make ethical claims. In politics the idea that one can uphold civility no matter what must be intrisically connected to a sort of skepticism about foundational thinking... While a good Political scientist of the academic sort would shrink from most normative pronouncements and seek to veil himself in polysylables, a political actor be he a crass activist or a true statesman realizes that a need for action often times requires reaching a judgement upon things...and then delivering this judgement in the strongest, clearest, simplist language possible...so as to act based upon this judgement. The one must not pick sides...the other must. The one must not avail himself of rhetoric, the other finds it most necessary. In politics there can be no such vice as being "over the top"...Perseverence and tenacity are virtues...polarization is intrinsic...and disinhibition itself is a means of poignant delivery. What would Allan Jacobs of necessity say about the outlandish behavior/thinking/rhetoric of a Winston Churchill?

After reading the article I have to admit that I agree with him.

Perhaps the fact that I just now read the article makes his case all the stronger.

In any case I read this blog more for the comments than anything else.

In his article he says "Deep and subtle questions found their way into the popular press and were immediately transformed into caricatures and cheap slogans."

If he is to hold to this view...then he does not need to speak of structure...he is simply noteing that mass consumption of an idea perverts it. If Blogs are made up of ordinary if somewhat opinionated people...it would seem that the opinions or framework that these people operate off of would dictate the ways in which the deep and the subtle would be translated...but then he is speaking ill of politics altogether...because if politicians do anything then what they do is attempt to caricature the subtle and sloganize the deep. But they do this because they are men of action...arguments concerning the subtle or deep can just as easily be designated as attempts at obfuscation or the shrinking from judgement due to a metaphysical attachement to relativism.

So what you ultimately have is a battle between those who are worried about saying the right thing and those you are worried about being able to say something about what the right is...and this isn’t just confined to Bloging or politics but belongs to the nature of thought given the actual restrictions and contraints of life and the intrisic lack of time accompanied by the necessity to make distinctions and decisions.

As a Liberal, I don’t think you can compare NLT to DailyKos - Free Republic and Daily Kos might be better to compare. I have found many Conservatives on this site to be willing to discuss, usually it isn’t made personal, a level of civility is used. I also don’t get kicked off the site for having opposing views on issues. DKOS and FR are much louder than NLT.

I do agree with the point that we are getting too polarized in our society. Sometimes I wonder if one has a view on issues and it influences their party affiliation or if their party affiliation influences their view on issues.

But, hey - for NLT readership - maybe any press is good press...

These are icy waters.

Great blog, always provide new and fresh information,i usually visit it to check some new stuff and discussion
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