August 25, 2009

"As the writer Katha Pollitt (who is also my ex-wife) puts it: 'I get a ton of hostile, misogynous, idiotic comments from anonymous trolls...'"

"'...when I blog at The Nation. Sometimes I feel like I am dancing on the table for an audience of drunks. Not only is it dispiriting — and let’s not forget that women writers on the Internet receive vastly more hateful comments than male writers — it has nothing to do with the brisk and vigorous exchange of ideas often said to be the reason for anonymity. Because there are no ideas and no exchange.'"

Oh, no?

50 comments:

chuck b. said...

I tend to think a lot of anonymous (pseudonymous) commenters start out with an attitude problem. And then there are all those people who resist commenting altogether. Self-restraint!

I have no comment on the gender target of hostility. But without some supporting evidence, I am skeptical.

Jason (the commenter) said...

If they can't handle the marketplace of ideas maybe they should stick to reading the New York Times.

rhhardin said...

But those who offer not argument but invective discourage others from speaking.

Asshole.

Penny said...

"Here is a guideline. The effects of anonymous posting have become so baleful that it should be forsworn unless there is a reasonable fear of retribution. By posting openly, we support the conditions in which honest conversation can flourish."

YOU, sir or madam, are accused of "doublespeak".

Not against the current law, as far as I can tell. ;)

blake said...

I think women get more attention in general, at least in male-dominated areas? No idea if it balances out.

Probably not. Life's a bitch, then your commenters call you one.

Kensington said...

I think you're missing something that might be important here.

Cohen, who bills himself as the "Ethicist", is railing in favor of transparency, and quotes Ms. Pollitt generously on the matter, but didn't bother to identify Ms. Pollitt as his ex-wife when he initially published the blog article.

That phrase in your quote, "(who is also my ex-wife)", was only added after the objection of a blogger here.

On top of that, he makes no acknowledgment on the blog about this revision.

I think lazy "journalism" is a much bigger menace than anonymous comments.

daubiere said...

k pollitt who lived near the wtc on 9.11.01 wouldn't allow her daughter to put an american flag in their window...

Dusty Fog said...

Life is not a bitch.

Katha Pollitt is one for sure.

Dusty Fog said...

You would have to be real drunk to want to see her dance.

Maguro said...

"The Ethicist" is one of the bigger douchebags writing for the NYT, which is saying something.

David said...

Yeah, but she keeps gettin' up on that table and dancing.

What does that tell you?

David said...

As to the trolls, you learn a lot from trolls and how they speak.

Same with Mr. Cohen. He sure is a high-falutin' guy.

Humble too. Imagine, actually touting yourself as an ethicist.

Be humble before God, Sir Ethicist. Start now and avoid the rush.

traditionalguy said...

They need to attract better class of commenters.

AJ Lynch said...

Dusty Fog said:
"You would have to be real drunk to want to see her dance."

Haha - obviously you've seen her picture too.

John Hawks said...

The linked post has a comment that captures the absurdity:

I teach graduate level students. I’m convinced the younger that they are, the less able they are to learn in a constructive manner. Many of these young grad students who have never worked a day in their lives feel entitled and invincible (perhaps this will change now…). They get a bad grade and the things they write anonymously in evaluations are crude and crass. During class there is no civilized discussion about how they’re not engaged in the learning process; about how a bad idea doesn’t necessarily have to be rewarded because it is an idea per se. They just offend, make accusations and sulk all within the safe confines of anonymity. I walk a fine line between continuing to teach and running out the door, never to return.

Lem said...

The effects of anonymous posting have become so baleful that it should be forsworn unless there is a reasonable fear of retribution.

The remedy this guy is proposing is so out of proportion, is so wrong I don't know where to beguine.
What this guy is essentially saying is we should trow our hands up and give in to the dark side.

Take national security, now that is back in the headlines. Early on after 9/11 we made up our minds that we where not going to profile people either because they looked Arab or they had an Arab sounding name.

We said that would be tantamount to letting the terrorist change our way of life. I was for profiling btw (for the record ;)

If I have this story correct everything that was supposed to happen happened. Somebody sought remedy for an "injury" and the thing made its way thru the courts. Thats what they are there for.

This guy is saying we should have less freedom so we don't get our feeling hurt.

Clearly this guy has not been out there in the wild ;)

Penny said...

Lest any of us forget, we all have the option, same as it ever was...

"ON"

"OFF"

NKVD said...

I was going to post some hateful shit, as is my wont, but then decided against it. Then thought - hey, I could make a joke, or at least poke fun at those leftists. Came up with nothing. Then I checked my verification word - could not believe it - gorrag! Seriously! WV - going where even I won't, at least right this moment...

AJ Lynch said...

The ethicist and Pollitt are MSM insiders.This BS about commenters is all about the MSM insiders fear of losing their grip on and control of the community megaphone.

At one time,the only feedback they got was positive affirmation from like-minded folks at their Manhattan parties.

Boo frickety hoo!

richard said...

o.k. lets have transparencey. let msm start using names when quoting sources. something i'm sure mr. cohen does all the time.

AJ Lynch said...

BTW this is exactly how Obama and other pols react when they get upstaged by their lessers like Joe The Plumber or some intelligent-sounding, lucid & reasonable Town Hall attendee.

I say why don't you learn to deal with it prez Obama and Mr. Specter and Mr. McCain and Mr. Barney Frank.

wv= saystul

Lem said...

The idea that people are going to do what they are asked when they clearly don't want to is ..

Well, here.

bagoh20 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bagoh20 said...

It is pathetic how female commenters become instant targets for misogynist attacks. My experience is that this is much stronger from the left, but far too present on both sides.

I think it is mostly the immaturity of young men enthralled with the ability to degrade women without retribution.

I also venture to suggest this is partly born of a frustration in young men having their male identity constantly derided in modern culture, especially in education settings. This is much more accepted in left circles, and I think explains it stronger presence there.

I have never read anything as vile as attacks on women of the right by men and women of the left. It's pathological.

And I don't accept it as just part of the local flavor on line anymore than I would in person.

Colorful is fine, but too much color just comes out brown and smells it.

dick said...

I keep thinking of how ready the reporters of the NYT are to report material from anonymous sources and will go to jail rather than reveal the names. These reporters are quite willing to write these stories that ruin the lives of people and endanger the country based on these anonymous sources. Yet how dare someone do the same thing to them. They are right on the spot with lawyers and judges trying to force the release of the names. Pot, meet kettle.

Reminds me of Ray O'Donnell during the Reagan era. News reports from anonymous sources ruined his reputation. He ended up in court winning the whole thing. His quote afterwards was where do I go to get my reputation back. Cohen and Pollitt would be first in line writing the stories.

Lem said...

The argument for this major change is so poor he ends up arguing against his own cause.

We are a nation founded on anonymous postings, or their 18th-century equivalent, pseudononymous pamphlets. The authors of the Federalist Papers, including Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, published under the name Publius. Among Benjamin Franklin’s many pen names are Silence Dogood, Harry Meanwell, Alice Addertongue and, most famously, Richard Saunders, better known as Poor Richard. Justice Clarence Thomas, concurring with the majority in a 1995 case, wrote a celebration of anonymous publication in 18th-century America.

I'm all for civility, but I rather be free not to be civil if civility comes at the price of that freedom.

wv - blisedul = a blissedly dull suggestion.

I got really lucky with the wv

Jason (the commenter) said...

bagoh2o : I think it is mostly the immaturity of young men enthralled with the ability to degrade women without retribution.

Don't forget, the person making the misogynistic comments about the model mentioned in the article was a woman.

Lem said...

Web site hosts should not allow it.

Free speech is too important to be left up to 'network administrators' (btw Althouse is doing a fine job) (a little brown nose ;)

I have nothing against NA, my own brother is a NA.

But the idea of.. a SPEECH PANEL .. this guy is recommending SPEECH PANELS.

What is wrong with these people!!

IS A GOOD THING THE SOX WON! or I would be loosing it right now ;)

rcocean said...

After seeing Ms. Pollitt, the sight of her dancing naked would scare off any troll.

BTW, she wrote an award winning essay "Why Do We Romanticize the Fetus?" - so she's obviously one of America's best and brightest.

Except she has a glass jaw.

John Lynch said...

Yup. That's my experience, too. Most people aren't worth the time to read.

Women DO get more internet hate. Ask HC and SP.

Joe said...

Because there are no ideas and no exchange.

Is usually translated as "because nobody agrees with me and kisses my ass."

Jason (the commenter) said...

For an article written under the moniker, "The Ethicist," I found the entire thing rather short on ethics. His entire argument seems to be: he doesn't like being called names and therefore no one should be allowed to call him names.

Did anyone come away with anything else or is he really this shallow?

Lem said...

Did anyone come away with anything else or is he really this shallow?

Huummingbirds are more ethical than this bozo.

Ralph L said...

Did anyone come away with anything else or is he really this shallow?
I actually bought and read his book several years ago. I can't remember a thing about it. Several of his columns I've seen (my brother gets the NYT) were so stupidly PC I quit reading him.

Lem said...

..impersonations, incoherence and SHOUTING.

We are out of order.

We should not be surprised. It is usually the people with the loudest megaphones that call for others to quiet theirs.

Remember that scene from Justice for all (1979) go up to 7:40

It is you Mr ethicist who is out of order!

Penny said...

See, see! It's all about ME!

Well OK, I'm empathetic. I can squeeze myself into your shoes, but why is it that you can't seem to understand that my feet hurt?

Oh geez. :(

Why didn't you tell me you had no feet?

What? You have no feet AND no tongue?

Let me guess? Blind too?

Ha ha ha! Great gig you got going there, Merlin!

So now, about my feet...

Sir Archy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lem said...

Penny you are beign incoherent ;)

rcocean said...

I think woman bloggers get several kinds of trolls that male bloggers don't:

1) The creepy stalker troll who has an obsessive interest in the female blogger and her looks/private life.

2) The woman-hater who can't stand a strong woman offering opinions. You usually see this on the left, as they think its OK - since Lefties can't be sexists.

3) Commentators who dislike them make cracks about their age, looks, kids, marital status, etc.

David said...

Speaking of anonymous authors, how about the Old Testament.

Sir Archy said...

To Professor Althouse.

Dear Madam,

Pray, forgive the long Absence or your old ghostly Correspondent, dead these 260 years and more. I have been attending to much negelct'd Business upon the Astral Plane; having at once an Infinity, and, at the same Moment, too little Time for its Completion.

As to an Author's Anonymity, I cannot improve on Addison, writing thus in the 451st Number of his Spectator, viz.:—

"THERE is nothing so scandalous to a Government, and
"detestable in the Eyes of all good Men, as defamatory
"Papers and Pamphlets; but at the same time there is nothing
"so difficult to tame, as a Satyrical Author. An angry Writer,
"who cannot appear in Print, naturally vents his Spleen in Libels
"and Lampoons. A gay old Woman, says the Fable, seeing all
"her Wrinkles represented in a large Looking-glass, threw it upon
"the Ground in a Passion, and broke it into a thousand Pieces,
"but as she was afterwards surveying the Fragments with a spite-
"ful kind of Pleasure, she could not forbear uttering her self in
"the following Soliloquy: What have I got by this revengeful
"Blow of mine, I have only multiplied my Deformity, and see an
"Hundred ugly Faces, where before I saw but One.

"It has been proposed, to oblige every Person that writes a Book,
"or a Paper, to swear himself the Author of it, and enter dawn in
"a publick Register his Name and Place of Abode.


"This, indeed, would have effectually suppressed all printed
"Scandal, which generally appears under borrow'd Names, or
"under none at all. But it is to be feared, that such an
"Expedient would not only destroy Scandal, but Learning. It
"would operate promiscuously, and root up the Corn and Tares
"together. Not to mention some of the most celebrated Works
"of Piety, which have proceeded from Anonymous Authors, who have
"made it their Merit to convey to us so great a Charity in secret:
"There are few Works of Genius that come out at first with the
"Author's Name. The Writer generally makes a Tryal of them
"in the World before he owns them; and, I believe, very few,
"who are capable of Writing, would set Pen to Paper, if they
"knew, before-hand, that they must not publish their Productions
"but on such Conditions. For my own part, I must declare, the
"Papers I present the Publick are like Fairy Favours, which shall
"last no longer than while the Author is conceal'd."

There is much more, Madam, in this Paper, which touches upon the Worries of Mr. Cohen, and, I must say, in an higher Style and greater Depth than the hapless Mr. Cohen seems capable of.

In closing, Madam, I beg your Forgiveness of my pointing to a Letter, which you may see here, and which I wrote to Mr. Boehm, regarding the Dangers to a Tradesman who should be an Author under nearly his own name, whilst not knowing that those who would pay him Custom should be anonymous Authors themselves.

I pray you consider that, as one who is dead, I should have no further Need to cloak my Identity; yet, I must have a Care to not besmirch my living Family's Name with such Fripperies I may write from the Grave. 'Tis thus as one half-conceal'd that I have the Honour to tell you that I am,

Madam,

Your most humble & obt. Servant,

Sir Archy

Lem said...

Thanks Sir Archi (for reposting) .. You are a credit to your kind ;)

Seven Machos said...

Where are Jana and Freeman Hunt on this issue? They are both totally hot.

Penny said...

"Penny you are beign incoherent ;)"

I know, honey.

Perhaps you would prefer I were an evil genius dabbling in watercolors?

Revenant said...

I thought the printing of hostile, idiotic comments was the reason The Nation existed in the first place.

But enough about their writing staff.

The Crack Emcee said...

"As the writer Katha Pollitt (who is also my ex-wife) puts it,..."

Spoken like a true douchebag.

rhhardin said...

Uh oh, Kennedy died.

An insufferable news day is coming up.

Already "Praise for Kennedy is pouring in from around the world."

Selective reporting favors the no-tune-away demographic but doesn't help the political risk-reward equation.

AJ Lynch said...

Fripperies is one of Sir Archy's best words!

Maureen said...

It's unfortunate that many female bloggers get trolls that male bloggers don't. But then, male bloggers get screaming meemie female trolls that female bloggers don't. Said trolls don't seem to worry the male bloggers much -- or if they do, the male bloggers don't let on. Admittedly, the fear of implied physical threat, but the legal threat is probably more....

Personally, I like it when a troll sticks around long enough to become a sort of guardian troll, well-spoken and incisive. That's when you know you've got a real forum in place.

raf said...

Perhaps if female bloggers weren't so *upset* by rude comments, they wouldn't get quite so many. The reward for rudeness is the reaction of the target. Totally ignoring it is almost as bad as busting into tears. Humor seems to be the most effective response. See any playground (or junior high hallway) for supporting data.


andema: who is andy and why is he doing this to me?