There's something about zealots. They have the worst manners.
I've run across this two or three times in the three years I've been running this blog. Twice, I ran afoul of Atrios and Oliver Willis; small packs of their readers came over and befouled my comment section with a bunch of half-reasoned, but fully inflammatory, drivel. And once, a local
activist obsessive self-promoter publicized my email address to a batch of gay email discussion forums, bombarding my comment section with inflammatory tripe, and clogging my inbox not only with what I'd have to call "hate mail", but also putting me on every spam mailing list in the western world; my daily spam count jumped from about five a day to between 300-500 spam emails a day over the course of two weeks. I had to change email addresses; not a technical probem - I administer my own email - but a pain in the ass notifying my dozens of family and friend contacts.
And all for what? So a bunch of mental/emotional midgets can get their fairly feeble rhetorical rocks off doing the intellectual equivalent of monkeys flinging poo in their zoo cages.
It goes with having a blog, even a mid-sized one like mine, I guess.
Powerline, Daily Kos and Minnesota Politics are not mid-sized blogs.
Powerline is, of course, the biggest overtly-conservative blog in the business. I know the guys involved; we're all part of the Northern Alliance of Blogs, and we all co-host the Northern Alliance Radio Network. I'm not going to say they're bosom buddies of mine - but I've spent some time with them. John, Scott and Paul are among the genuinely best guys I've met in the past few years. Naturally, being the biggest stars in the right-wing blogosphere, they're also the biggest lighting rods.
I have not met Markos "Kos" Moulitsas Zuniga, although I did write for "Political State Report", a spinoff project of his, two years ago. Gapingly obvious point: I disagree with him. No biggie. But the part I find interesting is that there is no way to compare Kos (or the other "heavyweight" leftybloggers, Duncan "Atrios" Black, Oliver Willis or the giggly fratboys at Pandagon) with Powerline in terms of writing skill, research ability, intellectual firepower, or the breadth and comprehensiveness of their network of contacts. Kos recites talking points...no, that's unfair, he's big enough that he dictates the talking points to a fair chunk of the Mad How wing of the party. Atrios specializes in terse, smug snarks wrapped around links, sort of like Glenn Reynolds via Maxine Waters.
What Kos and Atrios (and to a lesser extent Willis and the giggly fratboys) bring to the table, though, is their vast hordes of commenters; generally half-literate intellectual droogs whose reasoning stops at reciting harping points delivered wrapped in scatological packages. But oy, are they dedicated.
On the other hand, Minnesota Politics, a one-man blog run by the anonymous "Minnesota Politics Guru", is unknown. Before last weekend, judging by his sitemeter, MP averaged under 100 visitors a day, probably much less.
Kos and Atrios ran a piece last week, essentially yelling "And your dog, too!" at the Powerguys, sending the hordes of flying monkeys to their keyboards to inundate the Powerguys' inboxes with...well, garbage.
What kind of garbage? I talked with John earlier today - and he summed up most of the points that he brings up in this posting today.
In addition to emailing us at our feedback address with every manner of invective, they called my office. My secretary stopped answering my telephone because callers swore at her. The telephone campaign reached a new low this morning, when someone purporting to be a reporter at a gay newspaper in Los Angeles called my office and asked me to comment on a "rumor" to the effect that there are photos floating around of me in a "tryst" with Jeff Gannon. Suffice it to say that these people are beyond unpleasant.John, like any human, has his limits:
So that's the context in which I was reading emails a couple of days ago. I read about ten in a row that were vulgar and abusive in varying degrees; most were unprintable. At that point I snapped and lost my temper. I sent irate and intemperate replies to the last couple of emails I read--unfortunately, not the most abusive ones, but the ones I read after losing my temper.One of them, of course, was the email from Mr. Guru, which I cited earlier today. The message was full of chuzzlewitted twaddle, not merely debunked but laughed out of rational conversation - but, as John admits in his mea culpa, by no means the worst he received. Mr. Guru was in the wrong place with the wrong email at the wrong time - or, given that his traffic spiked from the dozens into the thousands over the weekend, maybe the right box, message and time.
Rocket Man's email was out of order - he admits as much - but understandable; the droogs of the left are doing more than flirting with Nick Coleman's petty defamations, they're getting into some serious business, with their rumors and their verbal assaults on Hinderaker's secretary. I'm hoping somebody goes to jail or gets sued back to the Stone Age, honestly. I've been on the wrong end of a petit mal droog attack; I can't imagine what the entire, barking, scratching, poo-flinging Legion of the Invincibly Ignorant must be like. By the way, I've gotten a few comments and emails saying "if you can't stand the heat...", yadda yadda. I'd be interested in hearing if Nick Coleman covers this story (although not interested enough to listen to his show again), considering the, er, interesting phone and email responses I got from him earlier in the winter, answering my thoroughtly professional request for an interview. So to answer the commenters - do we all need thick skin? Sure. But having read, seen and heard the rants of the likes of everyone from Dan Rather (walking off camera) to Al Franken (his little tantrum at the convention) to Kos' downright dishonest, dishonorable reaction to the uproar over his his "screw 'em" comment, it's fairly clear that thick skin is rarer than one might think, and even after decades in the public eye (or months of one-sided adoration by legions of poo-flinging monkeys) develops some gaps.
By the way, Mr. Guru; your big "break" in the blogosphere came about due to a serious ethical indiscretion of your own. You published an email which, however intemperate, was intended as private communication, sent with a presumption of confidentiality. Publishing it is the sort of violation of confidence should earn you a solid non grata label, whoever you are. It won't matter to the lefty blogswarm, of course - to them, ethics is a four letter word.
But among the non-aligned and among those with whom you disagree, what you did should earn you a sound shunning.
Although at a couple dozen visits a day, that'd probably be overkill.
Mistakes happen. Yes, even if you're an unaccountable, unknown, anonymous leftyblogger.Posted by Mitch at February 21, 2005 05:57 PM | TrackBack