The author of the post at TMV, Shaun Mullen, chose -- immoderately -- to lash out at me, calling me names, in a way that was just weirdly out of line. (Details below, at "Let me just remind you about how Shaun acted.")
Co-blogger Greg Piper wrote:
Shaun's post on the coming media circus surrounding Mitt Romney's likely run for president as the first serious Mormon (properly speaking, "LDS") candidate is generating some upset comments from the LDS faithful who appear to not like the posting of people in the temple underwear....Thanks, Greg. And let me add that Shaun's invented nickname for me is sexist. He needs to be called on that. I know there are some folks who seem to think sexism doesn't count when aimed in a rightward direction -- you should see some of the things they said in the comments -- but it does, and I'm keeping score.
But I'd remind those that consider the shot offensive that it indeed illustrates (literally) what is coming in 2008 - if Romney keeps hinting he'll run, a slew of stories for the next 2 years about the LDS church, its history, controversies and role in America and abroad, including its rather secretive leadership structure....
Yes, a bit crude - but the underwear shot gets attention, and is something that a lot of folks like myself never even heard of. Let's also consider the difficulty of describing temple underwear without something visual. If "South Park" can make fun of Latinos selling "Native American" tampons made from their hair to a gullible, progressive audience, and secular and faithful alike can pillory the Christian merchandising trend of the past decade, I don't see how LDS temple underwear is off limits. LDSers could take a page from certain Middle Easterners that self-identify as Muslims (the efforts I make to be PC!) and start killing people that highlight temple underwear, but they're too civilized for that. I happen to agree with the commenter in Shaun's post that implied this was a side issue as long as people were dying over offense.
That said, I found Shaun's three responses to Ann Althouse's criticism to be in poor taste, especially patronizing a serious, intelligent blogger as "Annie Pooh." A public apology from Shaun, many of whose readers at TMV probably didn't see his responses at Althouse's blog, wouldn't be inapt.
Co-blogger Andrew Quinn writes:
In short, I'm shocked.... When I came back to blog here after a recent and extended leave of absence, I quickly and easily noticed a less moderate tone. Every coblogger that posts with any regularity offers an extensively left-wing viewpoint, and (here's the real offense) often stooping to ridiculous levels to claw at the knees of the Republicans....Thanks, Andrew.
I'm appalled. This site is too rapidly becoming an echo chamber like those we once were proudly able to sneer down at.
I guess we shouldn't be surprised to see religious bigotry from a new coblogger who wrote on his own blog the following gem of "moderation" :Just do me a favor: If someone tells you how proud they are to be an American this Thanksgiving, don't bother to get tangled up in some long winded discussion about what The Decider has wrought. Just ask to have the cranberry sauce passed to you and throw it at them.Well, Shaun, the Moderate Voice once used to stand for civil debate ("long-winded discussion") and not so much for throwing of food. But I guess acting like children is in vogue now - it just doesn't seem so moderate to me.
Okay. Let's post pictures of what others consider sacred for a cheap laugh because "it was coming anyways." Let's be ashamed of being Americans. And let's devolve our debate to the point where we're arguing that the Administration plans for the maximum casualties.
I love this site and what it has stood for. I really do, and that's why it sickens me to see us take this path. Because if we continue along our current trajectory, a name change will be in order....
I'd like to preempt any criticism or calling me a "neocon," a Halliburton puppet or anything similar by saying that I supported Kerry in 2004, supported mostly Republicans in 2006, and that this post was not based on any specific opinions but rather a yearning for the educated and civil debate we used to have here. Not a forum where cobloggers respond to intelligent criticisms of their work by calling respected lawblogger Ann Althouse "Annie Pooh." Is this a joke?
Joe Gandelman, the founder of TMV, writes a post, ostensibly for new readers, where he explains his site, what moderation means, and what the co-bloggers are:
We are adding some new cobloggers. Each has a different perspective and style. This weekend passions ran high, even among our cobloggers. I have asked everyone who writes on this site to email their concerns to me in the future about the site and we can discuss it privately.Nothing specifically about me there. And Joe has a second post, a short one, where he links back to Shaun's original post and to Greg's post, the one that suggests Shaun should apologize to me, but again, Joe says nothing about me.
I think Joe had a nice blog going, one that lived up to its title. Maybe it's not a good idea to have a blog title that makes such a distinct claim, but anyhow, I think Shaun Mullen is hurting Joe's reputation. I don't know why Joe hasn't addressed the way Shaun treated me.
Let me just remind you about how Shaun acted. Here's his first appearance in the comments to my blog:
Hi Annie Pooh:As several readers immediately pointed out, my post did link to his post. I mistook his comment for private email and wrote back:
Thanks for the drive-by-hit hit on The Moderate Voice post. I wrote it. You took it out of context to suit your own ends.
While I'm not surprised, I'm kinda sad. But it is so much easier to flail than think something through.
Your readers can judge for themselves:
What "ends" are you referring to? Preserving civility and opposingMy email prompted Shaun to comment in the post thread again:
bigotry? Yes, I did. You should be glad I wasn't harsher to you as I
believe was justifiable.
And why are you acting like I didn't link to your post? People can go
over there and see how far you went. You went seriously wrong when you posted the photograph.
You really don't sound too moderate. You sound insulting and
mocking... and unconcerned about religious persecution.
Ann has replied to be me privately, but has not posted her response to me in the comments section of her own blog. Or maybe Blogger is acting up again. Oh, well.When I saw that, I added this comment:
Anyhow, my advice for Ann remains the same: Stop flailing.
I discussed some of the issues that Mitt Romney will draw, most of them frivolous and unworthy of discussion, in the context as a preview of Things to Come, not a knock on the Church of Latter Day Saints or their underwear.
Chill, Ann, chill. Go play with that squirrel in your yard.
Shaun: You really don't come across as moderate at all. As for replying to you privately rather than here, I saw your private email to me first and didn't yet see that it was also a comment here. What I responded privately was:Shaun then commented:[Text of email omitted.]Does Joe know you're screwing up his blog?
Annie Pooh:I commented again to say that I really mistook Shaun's comment for private email. (The comments on the blog come to me as email, allowing me to keep track of things.) I don't think Shaun returned. But what a strange performance! What was it about my original post that even arguably called for his attitude? I think it's truly weird, especially for someone who is given the stage of a blog someone else created and built up under the name "The Moderate Voice."
I did not send you a private email. Somebody copied me in on your screed.
It is a beautifully sunny day here on the East Coast. I have just come in from a bike ride.
Do you have a bike? If so, I'd suggest you get on it and pedal away your demons.
But Joe's later posts demonstrate that Joe knows Shaun is "screwing up his blog" or has the basis to know that but has drawn a different conclusion. Frankly, Joe's failure to call Shaun on his ridiculous abuse or to reach out to me in any way really says something. I haven't been keeping track of his blog that well, and I really don't know why he's loaded it up with co-bloggers after creating such a distinctive persona for himself. But something is awry.
I suppose I should say something like: These people who call themselves moderates are usually playing some game. They really are partisan -- otherwise why are they writing about politics? -- and they're just posing under the label "moderate" to try to pull you in and put one over on you. Be very suspicious.
But then that's what people keep saying about me.