October 20, 2009

"Deleting crude or offensive statements may make everything neat and tidy, but it also obscures unpleasant realities and prevents enlightened readers from addressing them in bold and creative ways."

Earlier this month, Andrew Sullivan attacked me because of some comments that appeared on a post I wrote. (My post tweaked him for his obsession with Sarah Palin's womb, and a few commenters said some mean things about him.) Today, Capital Times editor John Nichols defends me. (Why is he defending me now? I suspect it's because the Isthmus article, siding with Sullivan, is still ranking on that newssite's "most popular articles" list. That is, here in Madison, Wisconsin, it's still an issue.)

Nichols writes:
If a forum is truly open, it will attract its share of blustering bigots....

My view, for what it's worth, is that those of us who used to buy ink by the barrel but now discourse digitally should offer our views and then step out of the way and let our friends and foes have at it. As such, I've enjoyed more than my share of nasty comments about my sexuality, my mental health and my penchant for using the word "penchant." But what strikes me is that the crude comments invariably attract responses that check and balance them. Deleting crude or offensive statements may make everything neat and tidy, but it also obscures unpleasant realities and prevents enlightened readers from addressing them in bold and creative ways.
I appreciate Nichols's support for free speech... and for me, even as he says that I "tend[] toward the right edge of the ideological spectrum." Tend toward the right edge? I hope he means side. But if he really means edge, chalk it up to Madison, Wisconsin, where conservatism is right-wing extremism.

49 comments:

Issob Morocco said...

Gives new meaning to "being Right on the edge".

Pogo said...

Good for him.

The President thinks otherwise, however. They refuse to talk with FOX News. Of course, the Obama administration's primary aim is to obscure unpleasant realities.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Maybe Sully should come to the realization that his unhealthy obsession with Palin's vagina is going to result in some 'mean' things to be said about him.

The Crack Emcee said...

Everybody's learning something now, girlfriend. Believe it or not, I'm feeling better these days. Hold your ground. Watch:

Reality's making a comeback.

Henry said...

Maybe "spectrum" is the word that Nichols misuses. Althouse is toward the right edge of the ideological line (Hoosier Daddy -- you're somewhere off the continental shelf). That's mathematically impossible, but works in pencil (always know which side of the line you're measuring).

I live in New England. I know an ideological line when I see one.

BTW, the Nichols article is here.

chickenlittle said...

But if he really means edge, chalk it up to Madison, Wisconsin, where conservatism is right-wing extremism.

Now wait just one gosh-darned minute- I thought Madison was the second best place on earth to bring up kids?
Oh wait! I guess you have to have them in the first place.

rhhardin said...

Wm. Empson's distillation of the performance of Rough and Rude

ROUGH: 1 (Dominant) not smooth. (Metaphorical) without enough care, feeling, "polish" (r. soldier). 2. violent, not quiet or kind. 3. (1. intruding) not complete, (r. copy, first attempt at a bit of writing; incomplete copy.).

RUDE: 1 (Primary) in natural first condition (without education, art); cf. rough 3. 2 (Dominant) Unpleasing in behaviour, probably on purpose. 3 (1, 2 intruding) r. health, strong, having force.

_The Structure of Complex Words_ p.402

in a chapter on what a dictionary ought to look like.

traditionalguy said...

The logic of Religions is to severly attack their own members who express free thoughts differing from that of the Prophet/Leader. They do this by a Shunning Ritual unless assasination is not to dangerous.(Think Malcolm X and Trotsky) The reason is always to frighten the other members who have invested their lives and identity into the cult that they too have lots to lose for expressing free thoughts. So it is these heresy charges enforced by an Inquisition of certain targeted iconoclasts that erupts whenever the Ruling Religion wants to keep its membership from straying. That is how I see the drumbeat of the Fox News heresy charges coming from Prophet Obama's Church this week; and that is also how I see the Liberals of the Church of Humanism attempting a shunning ritual upon Althouse for her supposedly harboring a mean commenter or two; but more probably for her withholding obeisance to the Prophet/King's style of leadership by deception since August.

Stan said...

In the world where journalists live, liberal is middle of the road. The American electorate is a strange bird where 40% of the voters are extreme right-wingers, 20% of the voters are moderately on the right, 39% of the voters are down the middle and 1% of the voters are left-wing. Of course, journalists never use the label left-wing, but I'm giving the benefit of the doubt in assuming that there are a few journalists who are willing to put somebody on their left. Maybe they consider left-wing to be too extreme a label for Marxists or people like Ayers and Dohrn who once used terrorism and are still proponents of communist revolution, but perhaps there are others even further to the left who might qualify. Like I said, since they don't use "left-wing" to describe anyone, I'm just guessing.

miller said...

Mean nasty things against Sarah Palin. Par for the course.

Mean nasty things against him?

THE APOCALYPSE!

downtownlad said...

75,000 tea party protesters at an event hyped for weeks by one of the major networks. Ann has about 15 blog posts on it and raves about how its a major turning point in American history.

75,000 gay rights marchers at an event the media didn't even cover beforehand- and Ann ignores it.

If that's not contempt for gay people, I don't know what is.

Henry said...

Millions of Americans ate cold cereal this morning and Althouse didn't blog about that either. She blogged about an animated rock.

downtownlad said...

And it's funny - Ann thinks that it's perfectly reasonable to have a gazillion posts about how global warming is a hoax. Even though not one peer reviewed scientific article has disagreed with global warming in the last 10 years. And that's fine with Ann.

But one lone blogger says he's not certain if Sarah Palin faked her pregnancy (said he could be swayed one way or the other and would like some very basic questions answered) and Ann goes ballistic, and thinks it's fine and dandy to post comments about how all faggots must have AIDS dementia.

And let's get this straight - Ann has still not disagreed or even rubuked the comments.

Telling.

Michael Hasenstab said...

Sullivan's obsession with Sarah Palin's vagina is just Sully trying to get in touch with his inner lesbian.

downtownlad said...

That's right, she blogged about an animated rock from a commenter (Chip Ahoy) who has said that can't stand gay people, and deliberately avoids gay people - and that his life is much better off since he started ostracizing gay people.

And no - that is not an exaggeration.

dbp said...

"Althouse tends toward the right edge of the ideological spectrum..."

Beyond the Althouse frontier there be monsters.

RobertL said...

I'm surprised that in Madison, you are not considered guilty of thought crime.... That's where all this (especially poor, put-upon Andrew) is headed, and you know it.

Michael Hasenstab said...

@dtl - It's always about your penis, isn't it?

Here's a surprise for you - not everyone's world revolves around your penis. Sorry to have to tell you that.

And if it really mattered to you, you wouldn't have fled overseas, but rather would have stayed and fought.

ricpic said...

Back in the heyday of the Republic straight talk was considered to be the hallmark of a republican (small r) man. It was a virtue to be "rude." What chance does such a virtue have in a sea of the tripwire offended? None.

downtownlad said...

Stayed and fought?

And how exactly are you supposed to "fight"?

Oh - right like Andrew Sullivan. He fights.

And when he does, Ann's commenters call him a faggot and says he has AIDS Dementia. And Ann herself calls for him to be deported.

Sorry - not interested in living a country with assholes like that.

Pogo said...

MSM shunning of dissenters has been very effective until the widespread use of the internet and then the inception of FOX news.

Their shunning efforts still work to a degree (e.g. Palin), but the very fact that the White house has to remind the MSM out loud that the shunning is going on exposes the decline in effectiveness.

Michael Hasenstab said...

Sorry - not interested in living a country with assholes like that.

Right. Let others do the heavy lifting of working through the political system for gay marriage while you abandon the fight for safe retreat overseas, from where you comfortably piss about restraining speech with which you disagree.

Whoop de doo.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Sorry - not interested in living a country with assholes like that.

Well, bye.

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

Sorry - not interested in reading the opinions of a person who abandons their country rather than staying and fighting for what they believe.

rocketeer67 said...

Sorry - not interested in living a country with assholes like that.

Living in a country that - for the time being at least - still allows the unvarnished raw exchange of free speech to flourish makes you uncomfortable. You've essentially openly admitted you're too effete to take it. That's completely unsurprising, but duly noted.

Bissage said...

At some point, addressing unpleasant realities in bold and creative ways starts to look an awful lot like feeding the trolls.

Michael Hasenstab said...

@Bissage

10-4.

wv: ganks Ganks. Yer Velcome.

careen said...

"Free Speech" as an ideal was practical as well as moral. It was designed to provide a safety valve similar to the "natural checks and balances" that you describe. The idea was that there was safety in transparency - that "treasonous" ideas or citizen pushback only becomes destabilizing to the greater whole when there isn't an outlet for expression.

There's got to be a vent for all the hot air.

Ann Althouse said...

"And Ann herself calls for him to be deported."

DTL, that is a lie. I've never said anything even close to that.

In fact, do I ever "call for" anything around here?

DTL is a liar.

elHombre said...

dtl: 75,000 tea party protesters at an event hyped for weeks by one of the major networks.

75,000? Another CNN dupe heard from.

elHombre said...

Thanks for the clarification, Professor, but everyone who posts here regularly already knows dtl is a liar.

WV "cognishe" = "Capiche", more eloquently.

MadisonMan said...

Come on althouse, you haven't actively told people not to agitate for Sullivan's deportation! Isn't that the same thing as supporting it!?

(end sarcasm)

Some day my eyes will roll and get stuck like that. Then what will I do?

vw: rexanuky : Someone who thinks Nuclear Plants rule!

Michael Hasenstab said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael Hasenstab said...

In fact, do I ever "call for" anything around here?

You called upstairs for Meade that one time. He came a-runnin', probably because you were wearing that apron with the big bunny-ears bow on the back.

At least that's what he told me. And I know Meade to be an honest man, so I believe him.

Balfegor said...

Come on althouse, you haven't actively told people not to agitate for Sullivan's deportation! Isn't that the same thing as supporting it!?

As Andrew Sullivan might say, you're "objectively pro-deportation!"

I would put a snarky link back to his writings from 2002 and 2003, but unfortunately, they're all broken, since he moved to the Atlantic.

traditionalguy said...

Do you suppose that our very own DTL was also the source of Rush Limbaugh's "racist" quotes? Maybe he studied at the Dan Rather School of faked but accurate facts.

Roger J. said...

It seems to me that there may be a tendency to mistake blogs for peer reviewed academic writing. I have participated on blogs where I make really egregious, totally unsupported assertions, that I would never make were I doing them in an academic context.

Blogs to me are the equivalent of letters to the editor where the editor(s) write back. They are not bastions of truth or academic excellence. They are simply a forum for me to spout off things that I never could in academe.

Those that demand "cites" from wikipedia (what a farce) to support their assertions are faux academics who think that a blog is in fact the equivalent of a peer reviewed academic journal.

Blogs and journals are two entirely different things and we do not do ourselves any favors by confusing them.

(BTW: "peer review" aint all its cracked up to be--some lousy shit gets in peer reviewed journals as well)

Frank Lee said...

Because Althouse does not care what other people think about her, she posts again and again and again about something Andrew Sullivan said about her.

Yeah, right.

Quayle said...
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Quayle said...
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Father Martin Fox said...

No offense, but: Althouse is not a right-winger.

> Pro-legal abortion
> Pro-gay marriage
> Voted for Obama
> On the left when it comes to judicial nominees and philosophy (or so I read your comments)

Whereas, to be a conservative is to be for:

> traditional social mores, hence no gay marriage, no abortion;
> limited government, fiscal conservatism and low taxes (not sure where Ann is on this)
> strong national defense (ditto)
> pro-individual rights, hence pro-gun (I'm guessing this is where Ann seems more on the right)
> pro-free market, not so fond of union power (no idea where Ann is on this).

In reality, Ann is not a doctrinaire, down-the-line liberal; call her a moderate, call her a left-libertarian, call her a cab, but as much as I like her blog, she is not a conservative.

Quayle said...

Even though not one peer reviewed scientific article has disagreed with global warming in the last 10 years. And that's fine with Ann.

Peer review generally produces better work than without it, but it doesn't do squat when all the peers are all blinded by some prevailing paradigm.

How many peers would have accepted a young Einstein's aesthetic musings on the Lorenz equations before the Michelson–Morley debacle?

And how many peers would have, and did, happily accept and praise the latest writings on the chemical properties of phlogiston?

And how did that work out for the vaunted "peers of science"?

Frank Lee said...

If you actually believe the quote that constitutes the title of this post, then why do YOU delete crude or offensive statements about you?

Ah, those are different, right? If they are about Andrew Sullivan, they are part of the great First Amendment. If they are about you, they are "trolls" who must be deleted!

You are inconsistent and lame. Dare I say a lameass. Or will you delete this?

Chickenshit.

Henry said...

@Father Fox --

Just don't call her late to dinner.

Pogo said...

Good God, Frank, what a bore you are.

daubiere said...

"Good God, Frank, what a bore you are."

Well, into the comments ran Frankie Lee
With a soulful, bounding leap,
And, foaming at the mouth,
He began to act like a creep.
For sixteen minutes and seconds he raved,
But on the seventeenth he burst
Into the arms of the Althouse blog,
Which is where he died of thirst.

sorry bob...

rhhardin said...

Drama queen takes on a double meaning.

Triangle Man said...

I think Frank Lee should put up or shut up. Give us links to these crude or offensive posts about Althouse that have been deleted.