December 11, 2006

Annoying... is that a bad thing?

John Hawkins has the "5th Annual Warblogger Awards." I'm just going to highlight my favorite part:
Most Annoying Left-Of-Center Blogger

2) Unclaimed Territory/Glenn Greenwald (6)
2) Andrew Sullivan (6)
1) Daily Kos/Kos (18)

Most Annoying Right-Of-Center Blogger

3) Michelle Malkin (3)
2) Stop the ACLU4)
1) Andrew Sullivan (11)
Actually, if I were Andrew Sullivan, I'd be damned pleased with that.

32 comments:

Pogo said...

But one suspects that Sullivan will be screeching:
"See? See?"

The Drill SGT said...

the posted linked failed for me

Edward said...
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Edward said...

Pogo: Sullivan doesn't "screech" about anything.

It's really disappointing how people who disagree with Andrew Sullivan often stoop to personal attacks against him. These personal attacks usually amount to homophobia disguised to varying degrees.

Knowing how to disagree with someone while respecting them as people (including their innate characteristics) is an important lesson that everyone in a democracy needs to learn.

Pogo clearly needs a refresher course.

Gahrie said...

Edward:

Do you actually read Sullivan?

Knowing how to disagree with someone while respecting them as people

Sullivan usually doesn't even respect people enough to read the works he's attacking!

I almost never see his critics refer to his homosexuality in a negative sense, but he is trying to claim credit for coining a term to refer to people's religious beliefs in a negative light.

And if you are at all familiar with Sullivan it is entirely appropriate to refer to much of his writing as "screeching", if not his verbalizations.

Anonymous said...

Writing as one of the people who voted him Most Annoying Left-Of-Center Blogger with the express, humorous(?) intention of calling him "left-of-center," I don't think he should be too quick to feel pleased.

I would imagine that the other five people who voted for him in the left category are also well-aware that he's generally classified as a right-of-center blogger.

Edward said...

Religions are very large and very complex belief systems. These large belief systems evolve over time, at least on the margins, and they usually contain a fair amount of unresolved internal contradictions.

While it is proper to show respect for someone’s religion, religious belief is not an innate characteristic, and it should not be above criticism.

In fact, religious people disagree among themselves and criticize each other all the time.

Sullivan merely criticizes the recent politicization of religion. I think he always shows respect in the way he frames this criticism. The term “Christianist” is convenient shorthand to name this recent phenomenon in America.

Sullivan states openly that most American Christians are not Christianists, and so his use of the term is not bigoted.

And none of this deserves to be characterized as “screeching.”

Anonymous said...

I agree with Ann - Sullivan must be pleased. Any publicity is good publicity and it gives him yet another opportunity to flog his pitifully over-wrought book.

tjl said...

"And none of this deserves to be characterized as “screeching."

Edward, you must not be a regular reader of Sullivan's site. If you were, "screeching" is the least of the perjoratives you'd use to describe the shrill, peevish tone of Sullivan's writing.

I used to be a regular Sullivan reader until both the incoherence and the decibel level reached their present heights.

Edward said...

Tjl: I read Sullivan’s blog all the time, so trust me, I know what I’m talking about when I comment on his writing.

I will admit that Sullivan is repetitive at times. And his occasional repetitiveness may seem like screeching, especially to people who disagree with his basic opinions.

But repetitiveness is not the same thing as screeching.

Sullivan also tends to bring his academic training in political philosophy to bear in his commentary on present-day political debates. His tendency to relate today’s issues to political first principles may seem like gross exaggeration at times, but it’s really a sign of his intellectual depth.

I think there are very few other bloggers who consistently demonstrate more respect for the people they disagree with than does Andrew Sullivan.

Having said all that, I must add that I disagree with Sullivan on a number of things, but I don’t think his consistently clear and elegant prose deserves to be called “screeching.”

Balfegor said...

Re: Edward:

His tendency to relate today’s issues to political first principles may seem like gross exaggeration at times, but it’s really a sign of his intellectual depth.

Political first principles? I haven't read him regularly for the past few years, but I thought his new thing was the so-called "conservatism of doubt," rejecting complex intellectual constructs reasoned from abstract first principles, in favour of more skeptical, pragmatic, and concrete solutions. Not that I would claim I've seen any evidence of that in the arguments of his I've read -- he seems as much taken with the grandiose and the sweeping as he ever was. But, at least rhetorically, that's what I thought he was advocating.

Edward said...

Balfegor: I understand your last point, and I think that you and I actually agree in our interpretation of Sullivan. We’re just defining terms like “first principles” differently.

For Sullivan, skepticism, pragmatism and a preference for concrete solutions actually count among the most important first principles of politics. He arrives at this position through a reading of political philosophy.

Sullivan thus uses his own set of political first principles – or rather ones that he obtains from his favorite political philosophers – to promote a politics of moderation that finds its antithesis in the absolutism of the Christianists.

Edward said...

Internet ronin: Have you actually read Sullivan’s book “The Conservative Soul”?

If so, could you tell me which sections you find “pitifully overwrought”?

I’m asking this question with the utmost sincerity. I haven’t read the book. I know Sullivan’s latest opinions only from reading his blog every day.

I’d be interested in having a dialogue with someone who’s actually read “The Conservative Soul”, even if that person disagrees with it.

Anonymous said...

Edward:

Internet ronin: Have you actually read Sullivan’s book “The Conservative Soul”?


Unfortunately, yes. A forwarded copy. I would never pay for one.

If so, could you tell me which sections you find “pitifully overwrought”?

From beginning to end.

I’m asking this question with the utmost sincerity. I haven’t read the book. I know Sullivan’s latest opinions only from reading his blog every day.

I'm sure that you are sincere. I do not, however, recommend the book.

I’d be interested in having a dialogue with someone who’s actually read “The Conservative Soul”, even if that person disagrees with it.

I'm sorry, but I am not. With regard to Andrew Sullivan, I earnestly believe that the best policy is silence, or failing that, ridicule.

Edward said...

Internet ronin: I’m sure Sullivan’s book must be better (probably a whole lot better) than you claim.

Even though I haven’t read it, I did read Sullivan’s blog almost every day during the months when he was developing the ideas that later became the foundation of his book.

Those ideas were a lot more interesting than you’re making them out to be.

Paddy O. said...

one problem I have with the term "Christianist" is that is tries to argue Sullivan is merely criticizing the recent politicization of religion.

In doing this it entirely avoids the centuries long conversation about politics and Christian involvement. It seeks to describe something as new that isn't new, except for the particular issues at hand.

The very word "Evangelical" is a lot more appropriate as it describes fundamentalists who sought more intellectual, cultural, and political involvement.

But using that word would be to direct, not allow a slippery form of arguing that makes the user of a new word always, and only, able to define the word as he sees fit. It also would mean that politics and religion are nothing new at all, that as citizens even Christians have a right to choose issues and vote in similar patterns, and have done so whenever they are giving such a right.

It is an attempt to define for oneself the "right" form of a religion by using newly formed categories and is merely a not-so-subtle attempt to hold onto a religion that happens to disagree with presently held opinions.

He's trying to reshape the religion and the history rather than let that history and religion shape his views. That he does this for many topics besides religion is a big reason why he's disliked.

My alma mater was formed on two principles -- a strong conservative Christianity and an absolute passion for the overthrow of slavery in this country. The first president saw abolition by whatever means were available as his primary Christian mission.

He was, according to Sullivan's definition, a Christianist I suppose -- but I would guess a fight against slavery wouldn't get this label as does a fight against, well, whatever topic Sullivan thinks is most important now.

Anonymous said...

Paddy: If you dare to disagree with the man, you are by definition a "Christianist." (You could be a practicing Orthodox Jew but that's a minor niggling and unimportant detail. Distortion and intentional misrepresentation has become his stock-in-trade.)

Christy said...

Andrew Sullivan introduced me to the blogosphere. I'd enthusiastically read him in Slate and other venues and followed him to his blog. I stopped reading him a few years ago when his blog for a time became all-gay-all-the-time. I didn't need convincing and I found his single-mindedness boring. Perhaps I found it tiresome because it wasn't my issue, but I've never been interested in reading polemics with which I already agree. Whenever I've checked back in to see what he is saying, I have, I confess, found him screechy. Defensiveness does sometimes get that way, don't you think? Just the opinion of someone who has greatly admired the man.

tjl said...

"Perhaps I found it tiresome because it wasn't my issue"

Christy, it's just as boring if you're gay and it is your issue. All gay marriage, all the time -- and judging every other issue solely on its impact on gay marriage -- would be tedious and shrill to any reader.

Anonymous said...

would be tedious and shrill to any reader.

Unless it is their one and only issue, their reason for being as it were ;-)

And with that crack my play-time ends.

Edward said...

Sullivan blogs about many issues other than gay marriage.

He just thinks that the gay marriage debate, while important in itself, also illustrates the attempt by religious fundamentalists to impose a narrow view of religion on the rest of America through a takeover of the political process.

America has always been a religious nation, but Sullivan believes that the attempt to control a major political party (the Republicans) and then to control the entire government in the name of one narrow interpretation of religion is unprecedented in American history.

Many responsible, intelligent Americans agree with him and appreciate his insights into the finer points of the gay marriage debate. They know the debate is illustrative of the political culture that we now live in.

By the way, Ann Althouse also blogs frequently on gay issues. Why don’t you take offense when she does it?

Balfegor said...

the entire government in the name of one narrow interpretation of religion is unprecedented in American history.

I don't know -- I kind of grew up under the impression that the American colonies were founded primarily by bankrupts, criminals, and religious fanatics. Pilgrims and Puritans and suchlike. Wasn't Rhode Island founded as a result of some sort of obscure doctrinal schism in Massachusetts? Certainly not unprecedented in American history.

Well, unless you take the narrow view of things, and restrict "American history" to history post-1776 (or post-1789). And even then, although I am not an historian, my sense is that the claim is a bit of an ahistorical stretch, given the religious zeal underpinning the abolitionist movement.

JimK said...

Sullivan doesn't "screech" about anything.

Wow. I tried to imagine a sentence that was more fundamentally wrong and easily disproved. I tried "The sky is a blend of fuschia and that off-brown color I left in the little boy's room this morning." Then I came up with "George W. Bush is the greatest President America has ever had."

Lastly, my brain coughed up "Microsoft Windows 95 was the most stable, useful and powerful operating system in the history of computing."

None of them compare to the disturbingly sycophantic sentence you came up with, or, what is clearly worse, the dozens of paragraphs you wrote to further defend the undefendable.

JimK said...

These personal attacks usually amount to homophobia disguised to varying degrees.

You know, the more I look at this the more it disgusts me.

You should be shamed of yourself to classify people who can't stand Sullivan's hysterical, screech-filled nonsense anymore as homophobic.

Interestingly, no one here is using Sullivan's sexuality as an argument at all...except you. The complaints here are perfectly valid and are about the tone and repetitiveness of his content over the last 2.5 years. He could be a straight man, a purple woman or a friggin Martian with three sexes, and if he posted non-stop about gay marriage and abu ghraib - and labeled all those who disagree with him on *any* issue as homophobes as you have - the complaints would still be valid.

tjl said...

"Ann Althouse also blogs frequently on gay issues. Why don’t you take offense when she does it?"

Because that's not the only thing Ann's interested in. Edward, it's like hanging out in a gay bar -- as we both know, it can be highly stimulating on occasion, but if you had to be there 24/7, you'd long for the exit.

Edward said...

People are perfectly free to criticize Sullivan all they want, and that doesn’t automatically make them homophobic.

I’ve never said anything to the contrary of that.

I just don’t think that he’s anywhere near as hysterical and screechy as most of you seem to think he is. Most major pro-Bush bloggers strike me as a lot more hysterical and screechy than Sullivan.

I also think that most of you view Sullivan as hysterical and screechy simply because you disagree with his opinions.

Maybe I shouldn’t have thrown the word “homophobic” into my earlier post. When I used it, I was thinking primarily of Pogo. I’ve been debating Pogo here for months and I have reason to doubt his motives at times.

in_the_middle said...
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in_the_middle said...

Methinks Internet Ronin has indeed NOT read Andrew Sullivan's book, as the request to point out what in the book he found to be pitifully overwrought, to use his terms, was left unanswered. Yet the blanket bombs are still thrown.

It's okay to vehemently disagree with Sullivan. In fact, I think the awards should mention who has given Andrew Sullivan a ton of traffic just by being a bit over-concerned with him? I'd say #1 is Glenn Reynolds, #2 is Ann Althouse, and #3 is anyone from the Evangelical/Mormon movement. His advertisers need to send you guys gifts this holiday season.

And, Gahrie, Andrew has not as far as I know ever claimed credit for the word "Christianist". In fact, he pointed out where it had been used before.

More and more I see all this frothing at the mouth over one single blogger who himself doesn't deserve all this attention, and I wonder if it's just reflexive hatred of someone because they said something with which someone disagreed.

To which I'd respond it would be better to have a dialog and debate like Althouse and Reynolds at least do rather than claim you've read their books, or make false statements altogether.

And I heard he writes occasionally on torture. :)

Revenant said...

Methinks Internet Ronin has indeed NOT read Andrew Sullivan's book

Kind of like how Sullivan condemned "Party of Death" without reading it?

Anonymous said...

Methinks Internet Ronin has indeed NOT read Andrew Sullivan's book

You'd be wrong. Very wrong, indeed. Not for the first time, I'm sure, nor the last.

Anonymous said...

So, Internet Ronin, you'd never buy anything written by AS, and you found The Conservative Soul overwrought from the very beginning--so why the hell did you read all of it? Why do you spend valuable time reading books you find poor and unworthy of detailed discussion by writers you dislike?

Anonymous said...

Not that it is any business of yours, Jarz, but the answer to your question is that my well-intentioned brother purchased the book to give to me to read while caring for my parents, one of whom left the hospital on Thanksgiving, and the other who, until recently his primary caregiver, lies paralyzed in the hospital.

As I spent many hours sitting in emergency rooms on three separate occasions within a single week, and countless hours at both bedsides depending on the time of day, I trudged through Sullivan's purple prose because it was important to my brother for private reasons that I have not and will not discussed here or elsewhere, unlike my parent's condition.

I do appreciate your concern that I would willingly waste time reading such twaddle, however. I don't make a habit of it, but have done it on occasion for various reasons, just as I occasionally answer impertinent queries by those who have no genuine interest in a reply.