Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Blogging and disinhibition

Daniel Henninger wonders if blogging has become a form of, or substitute for, therapy for the unhinged. What was once repressed, or exposed in the confines of a psychiatrist’s office, is now on display for all to see on the web.

To the extent that this "empowers" folks who probably shouldn’t be empowered, this is not a good thing. To the extent that it hastens the coarsening of our culture and our political discourse, this is not a good thing.

While some of you might argue that I’m a prime example of what Henninger thinks is wrong, I would respond that the fact that we’ve found inexpensive ways around editors, whose own not altogether or always transparent agendas have been exposed, is a good thing. But like all goods, it’s not unalloyed. Credit Henninger with reminding us of the price we pay and of our responsibilities as we post on-line.

Discussions - 12 Comments

I suspect that most of the "unhinged" are probably just bothering their neighbors a lot less. Now "crazy Joe" can spout off on Kos or FreeRepublic and leave everyone else on the street alone...unless, of course, he has their email addresses....

I really appreciated this article (and in the WSJ, of all places! I am impressed!).

As a blogger using a pseudonym, I have been aware of the effects of my own disinhibition a few times on this very blog.

A while ago, I was engaged in a
debate" and caught myself writing things that seemed distasteful when my opponent’s comments caused me to view my words from the perspective of a student. I didn’t like what "Fung" had written. More precisely, I didn’t like the way Fung had written it.

I have also observed similar effects among my students, who will email requests and accusations that (I assume) they would inhibit if we were face-to-face or even on the phone.

Interestingly, I think that the self-inhibition on this particular blog is generally admirable, and my perception is that the "administrators" do relatively little censoring. Is that the case?


How the @#$%^&* should I know?

But seriously, I think a blog’s tone is set at the top, in this case by the gentlemanly (and manly) Peter Schramm. In our culture, we too often identify manliness and coarseness, which then would seem to justify a "war" on manliness. Peter and HCM offer the appropriate and exemplary counterpoison to this attack.

Clever how Henninger contrasts the Huffington Post and Daily Kos with "highly intellectual blogs" such as the Becker-Posner blog. Surprise, surprise, that’s a blog of conservative, although very dry and bland, economists. And of course, there are no serious, thoughtful blogs on the left (because if you’re angry - especially during the administration of a Republican - then you’re automatically not intellectual or serious!).

I guess something like this from the editorial page of the WSJ shouldn’t surprise me:

"Then there’s politics. On the Huffington Post yesterday, there were more than 600 "comments" on Karl Rove and the White House staff shake-up. ’Demoted my --- the snake is still in the grass.’ ’He should be demoted to Leavenworth.’ ’Rove is Bush’s Brain, and without him, our Decider-in-Chief wouldn’t know how to wipe his own ----.’

From a primary post on the same subject on the Daily Kos, widely regarded as one of the most influential blogging sites in Democratic politics now: ’I don’t give a ----. Karl Rove belongs in shackles.’ ’A group of village whores have taken a day off to do laundry.’

Intense language like this used to be confined to construction sites and corner bars. Now it is normal discourse on Web sites, the most popular forums for political discussion. Much of this is new. Politics is a social endeavor. The Web is nothing if not "social." But the blogosphere is also the product not of people meeting, but venting alone at a keyboard with all the uninhibited, bat-out-of-hell hyperbole of thinking, suggestion and expression that this new technology seems to release."

But since he’s taken the step of characterizing the quality/worth of blogs based on the comments that their readers post - here, conveniently a liberal blog - then why not take a look at some of the lovely stuff that Dain or David Frisk have written here? Trains for the Others and only future Republicans need apply for entry across U.S. borders! Or, for slightly (only slightly) more insanity, try the comments section at LittleGreenFootballs (one of NLT’s "favorite bloggers"!). If, as Mr. Knippenberg claims, "a blog’s tone is set at the top," then I must wonder what kind of tone Mr. Johnson has set to inspire some of the genocide-cheering comments made there. Aren’t these a tad worse than the Leavenworth and butt-wiping remarks? Of course, it’s hard to know how polite, crass, hate-filled, or filled-with-homicidal-rage the commenters at some right-wing sites - like the much-touted NRO, PowerLine, Michelle Malkin, or Hugh Hewitt - might be, as those blogs don’t allow comments at all. Well, there’s ONE thing I can give NLT some credit for...

Can’t stop it now...My Space owns my generation and it will only grow... want to talk to real soilders over in Iraq? Get on MySpace... albeit if you are a "hot" are more likely to get a reply.

Interestingly, I think that the self-inhibition on this particular blog is generally admirable, and my perception is that the "administrators" do relatively little censoring. Is that the case?

That is the case. I’ve posted in lots of places, but this is really one of the best sites to have an actual discourse.

I disagree with 90% of the views held by the typical posters here, but the interaction tends, nonetheless, to be largely civil ... with the occasional mild departure:-)

I don’t know if anyone stated that only future Republicans should be allowed to immigrate or not, but I do know of one person on this website who stated that he that he would prefer that immigrants follow or accept the "true", as he puts it, principles of the Republican party.

That is a far cry from saying that only future Republicans be allowed in.

Re: Comment 6 by Brian Coughlan

Hey Brian,

What’s the Swedish word for inhibition?...

Just as I thought. There isn’t one.

God morgon and Maidin mhaith to you. Happy weekend.

we’ll have you celebrating May day yet:-) Comment 9 by Brian Coughlan

This May Day will be my youngest son’s 10th birthday. We’ll be celebrating it, and blowing a fortune, at that great capitalist bastion, Disneyland.

This May Day will be my youngest son’s 10th birthday. We’ll be celebrating it, and blowing a fortune, at that great capitalist bastion, Disneyland.

If you like that kind of thing, and you are ever in Sweden, you should try Liseberg :

Not quite Disneyland, but a blast none the less.

...ever in Sweden...Comment 11 by Brian Coughlan

Only if you’ll be our guide.

Only if you’ll be our guide.

Sure, we’d have to steer clear of politics though, and that includes the kids:-)

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