December 28, 2005

"Bloggers are the bloodthirsty masses slavering for a public flogging."

"Incivility is their weapon and humanity their victim."


Jacques Cuze said...

I suppose it would be considered lacking in nuance to nuke the Sunni Triangle. Kathleen Parker, Clownhall

Steve said...

"I wanna kill. I wanna see blood and guts and gore and veins in my teeth... I wanna kill!" (With apologies to Arlo.)

Jonathan said...

Parker is usually better than this. Her column is all generalizations without specifics. What about bloggers who lack the flaws that she attributes to bloggers in general? -- i.e., if good journalists are untarnished by the bad apples among them, why isn't the same true of bloggers? The column feels like casually written holiday filler. Ironically it fails to point out a major advantage that bloggers have over syndicated columnists: no need to come up with material when you have nothing to say.

The Mechanical Eye said...

A lot of Kathleen Parker's arguments were made against the first mass newspapers in the 1800s - that they wielded "unearned" power, they were lacking in "civilitiy," that they were for the hordes, etc.

Not to say there aren't hordeblogs whose authors appeal to the darker assholes of our spirit (like Kos).

This columnist is intentionally blurring the line between blogs like this or Instapundit with the blogs whose posts regularly get 200 comments, most of which are single-line quips or put-downs.

No one would confuse the New York Times with the National Enquierer, even though both use the same medium. Yet this author does the same in lumping every blog together.

I expect more from a highly trained elite expert in the sacred art of journalism. Her arguments are indulgent.

HaloJonesFan said...

Jonathan: A classic blogger's argument. If the person speaks in generalities, claim that their argument is invalied because they ought to have been specific. If they speak specifically, claim that their examples do not apply to the generality.

grumps said...

Go back and reread her column. She was careful to make a separation between the behaviors she is deploring and thoughtful blogging.

A lot of this rings true to me. There are in fact a metric ton of slavering fools out here right now. Some are merely misguided or narrow minded (right or left) some are calculatingly crafted to manipulate the cross-posting frenzy.

Blogs give voice to those who feel powerless but it also gives a lectern to those who SHOULD be powerless, the raving loons of all stripes who would subvert government to their narrow world view.

There are an awful lot of thoughtful political blogs on both sides. There are wonderful online journals and blogs devoted to specific topics. Parker's diatribe seems aimed at the KTF, take no prisoners, make no common ground rabble that make all of our time a little less tolerable and all of our blogging a little less credible to those unfamiliar with it.

Jake said...

"Newspapers are filled with carpal-tunneled wretches, overworked and underpaid, who suffer near-pathological allegiance to getting it right".

If that is true, how can she explain why reporters' stories are so wrong so often. Reporters are so bad they deserve public flogging at least once a week.

James d. said...

I think Parker probably does the best she can possibly do in a small space, although she really consulted the thesaurus while writing. It's like an adjective convention.
Obviously, most newspaper types don't get blogs. But she doesn't seem hostile to them on the whole, just to a specific type -- the worst of the worst. And by not mentioning specific blogs, she doesn't give in to ideological bias and keeps to her theme that incivility, not viewpoints, is her gripe.
I'm inclined to give her the benefit of the doubt on her intentions, only because if bloggers can go after the MSM, the MSM (or in this case, its columnists) should get the same opportunity.

Dave said...

Ann: I think the same can be said of some of your less genial commenters.

Jack Roy said...

"Darker assholes"? Classy.

Boy, I sure enjoy this ongoing conversation.

A: "Blogs are terrible."
B: "Blogs aren't terrible! Sure, blogs are just self-indulgent wankfests, like Kos, but the real ones like Instapundit are great!"
C: "Blogs aren't terrible! Sure, some blogs are just self-indulgent wankfests, like Instapundit, but the real ones like Kos are great!"
A: "Sigh."

tiggeril said...

I mean no disrespect to the many brilliant people out there - professors, lawyers, doctors, philosophers, scientists and other journalists who also happen to blog. Again, they know who they are. But we should beware and resist the rest of the ego-gratifying rabble who contribute only snark, sass and destruction.

That struck me as the key paragraph. Snark in moderation is a good thing, but it can quickly turn into assholism.

On another note, it seems like Townhall has grown increasingly humorless as time goes on. I used to read stuff their fairly often, but I skip it these days lest I be drowned in the waves of priggishness coming off my screen.

John(classic) said...

Demonstrably untrue.

When bloggers write, they are usually in a hyperexcited adrenaline rush, particularly when gripped by the excesses of emotion prompted by the nearness of the kill. It is elementary that adrenalin, among other physical responses, dries the mouth.

Consequently, they do not slaver.

DEC said...

I hate the word "blog." I have a French surname, and the word "blog" rhymes with the word "Frog."

bill said...

Apparently she hates unsuitably edumacated people publishing their unfiltered views and thoughts. If I'd read this in a Usenet group 10 years ago, I'd dismiss it as obvious trolling from a bored writer.

And by trolling, I mean "let's throw a bucket of chum in the water, sit back, and watch the fish have at it."

So, when james d says "I think Parker probably does the best she can possibly do in a small space," I can only respond in my best ego-gratifying voice full of snark, sass and destruction, and ask, You mean the space between her ears?

dammit, where's the html code for a rimshot?

paulfrommpls said...

As someone falling more on the non-left side of things on the questions that most consume political blogs these days, I am fairly confident that the behavior she describes is more common among prominent left blogs than right blogs.

Stated another way, I believe prominent and rational right-leaning blogs are more in number than are such left-leaning blogs. The biggest left blog of all is exactly what she describes.

I also am fairly confident that Kathleen Parker agrees with this, and is making this case the way she is making it for somewhat strategic reasons. It's a fair decision because what she says does also fairly apply to some right-leanng blogs and episodes; but the charge if taken seriously more swings attention to the left than to the right.

I do regret her implication that Eason Jordan was treated unfairly. I suspect she doesn't really believe that, given what I've read of her other writing.

quxxo's first response is interesting, in that it represents one knee-jerk anti-war tactic on any debate: try to undermine the moral credibility of writers who oppose them. It's done very commonly with Victor Davis Hanson. It's best to read comments like that the way Soviet citizens learned to read Pravda: if some US or Western statement or action gets denounced, it might be worth checking out.

The blog world in general is people talking, and is somewhat self-correcting. The first days are the hardest days, too.

The Florida Masochist said...

Parker's column is priceless and I thought I liked her up till now.

She says were uncivillike but compares us to savages. What's wrong with this picture? Look in the mirror.

Maybe I should give her tomorrow's Knucklehead of the Day award at my blog. Oh the savagery! LOL

Steve Donohue said...

I think we can all agree that much (a majority?) of the blogosphere on either the left or right is a vast blathering wasteland and can therefore be dismissed. Just think about the vast minor-league system the blogosphere has developed, with hundreds of thousands of devoted, if somewhat unable, pseudo-Coulters and quasi-Moores parroting away their respective party lines. Honestly, most blogs you can easily predict without ever setting one eye upon the screen. That's not to say all low traffic blogs are horrible. I'm as low-traffic of a blogger as they come, and I'd like the think I'm doing a few original things (and thinking a few original thoughts).

On the other hand, a lot of the major-league bloggers absolutely buck that trend; maybe that's why they're major-league bloggers, because they don't merely regurgitate talking points. Althouse is a great example of that, but there are many others. I think the main key is, "can I predict what is going to be said based purely upon a respective party line?" The best blogs on the right and left- Kevin Drum, Mickey Kaus, Volokh Conspiracy, Insty, Lileks, just to name a few- aren't pure party-led attack blogs.

It's always tough to get specific about which major blogs are truly the shark tank, trolling for bloody meat on the internet. But reasonible people know them when we see them; they just can't always agree on the outer parameters of what is good or acceptable blogging.

The worst part of articles like this is that it takes the worst of its kind as an example for the entirety. As in every area of life, there are good and bad. Avoid the latter and taste the former; as Sam-I-Am said, "try them, try them, you will see!"

Kev said...

"dammit, where's the html code for a rimshot?"

I don't know about HTML, but you could always do what we musicians would probably do and just write "ba-DOOM-chick" or something like that. ;-)

Jonathan said...


I responded to the argument that Parker made. Should I have responded to a different argument?

Parker's points are valid as applied to particular bloggers. Certainly most blogs are crap. But the best blogs are not only worth reading, they are often so much more informative about specific issues than is anything in the MSM that one can't be well informed without reading them. By tarring all blogs with her broad brush, Parker misses the point about how blogs are now big net contributors to the media culture.

XWL said...

Asking journalist to comment on bloggers is sort of like asking elevator operators in the 50s what they thought about those new fangled operatorless elevators.

(Bad Idea, who would ask everyone 'Hot enough for you?')

The marketplace of ideas will winnow away at the bloggers who don't offer anything but red meat for rabid dogs.

And right now the marketplace isn't too happy with the way traditional newspapers are performing.

The playing field is more level than it has been in a couple of centuries, that's frightening to those that enjoyed their 'gatekeeping' function, and they should be frightened.

They will adapt and improve, or remain the same and fade away.

Bloggers, good and bad, are warm blooded, fast, tiny mammals stealing the eggs away from the MSM dinosaurs.

MD said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
MD said...

Actually, I don't like my prior ranting comment. What she wrote really, really bothered me, and I finally put my finger on why: it's beyond elitist. It's dismissive. I can think of some blogs that I have read and immediately judging the person because they ranted or mispelled or sounded, well, not very smart. And then I would continue to click through and find some little gem, some spark of humanity and realize that I was being a complete and utter snob. Yes, there are nasty blogs and nasty comments and nasty people. Not all of it is pure nastiness, some part of it is theater, the excitement and fun of of being open and free and expressing yourself without restraint. Maybe some people carry that too far, but, oh! The impulse! To live freely in writing, as the good Dr. Althouse says.....

el_Cid said...

strike 1: "blog."

strike 2: "blogosphere."

strike 3: rampant abuse of the font "Georgia."

strike 4: thinking the Internet is a place that could actually foster rational and edifing debates.

harsh truth: 99% of people _don't_ have anything to say. We now have undisputable proof in (a) Journalism, (b) the blogosphere (I puked twice), (c), and (d) this comment.

In summa: What is a blog? A MySpace for soccer moms and over-serious n00bs driving ford taurus' and trying too hard on the Internet. It was amusing in the early 90s to troll a bbs and have flame wars, but now its just lame; journalists are stains and so are bloggers.

remember when "all your base are belong to us" was cool?????

p.s. confession: I am a hot hot hot female hooker irl and have a blog and post **HOT NUDES** and live a very interesting life which you should all read about on my blog, just dont forget to click the ad banners and keep visiting my site so it can be the #1 kewlest with the most vis itsEVAR.

You can visit it at

Theo Boehm said...

I agree entirely with steve donohue. I also agree with Sam-I-Am. I've taken a taste, and I like it. But you do have to cut away the sour bits. While the blogosphere has lots of rotten spots, just trim them from your portion and enjoy the green eggs and ham.

The meal is a bit rich, however. There is so much good writing and insightful comment that I'm frankly overwhelmed. I've long harbored an ambition to write opinion pieces, columnist-envy, if you will. The explosion of the blogosphere has not emboldened me.

The quality of work on many blogs has had just the opposite effect. What can I add when so many bloggers and commenters are better informed and better writers on the topics that interest me than I am? Any self-critical person should come to similar conclusions.

Perhaps this speaks to an underlying reason for the explosion of Bad Bloggging. We seem to have lost much of the capacity for self-awareness and criticism. Is this an effect of too much self-esteem oozing through our culture in past 30 years?

I don't know. I will only say that the unfashionable concept of Original Sin might be a useful object of reflection for more bloggers. Just as we are all born sinners, so we are all naturally trolls and idiots, and need to work hard to overcome these tendancies.

Some have more talent/virtue than others, and some even seem to have been granted their portion of Grace. But in general it takes will and effort to struggle with Sin. What sins committed on the blogosphere might be added to the traditional seven?

Another reflection for proto-trolls: Everyone's voice should be heard in a democracy, perhaps just not yours.

Pat Patterson said...

Did the Hindenberg crash again?

el_Cid said...

haha she spelled mic wrong. nnnnrrrr

"Spoiled and undisciplined, they have grabbed the mike and seized the stage, a privilege granted not by years in the trenches, but by virtue of a three-pronged plug and the miracle of WiFi." (emphasis mine)

DEC said...

Theo Boehm: "What can I add when so many bloggers and commenters are better informed and better writers on the topics that interest me than I am?"

Nearly every person has a bestseller in him (or her) because of his personal experiences. You can write a good story with misspelled words and bad grammar, using toilet paper, and if the story is interesting, people with read it.

The key is to write about things you know. And dig deep--below the surface--in your mind. When you do that, your work will be very interesting.

Theo Boehm said...

Thank you, DEC for the very nice words. Your blog is a perfect example of what is right with the blogosphere: It's informative and interesting, conveying content that would be very hard to come by otherwise. It's also well-edited and perfectly suited to the medium. Great work!

As we know, Ann does her best here to keep out the "bloodthirsty masses." Her choice of topics, her own writing, and the high quality of the commentors here have done quite a reasonable job of keeping out the trolls, especially given her high traffic. The intelligent and generally civil atmosphere have kept me lurking here for over a year.

I have a little time on my hands this week, ergo my first attempts at commenting. Who knows, maybe I too will join the masses? I promise, though, to resist bloodthirst.

EddieP said...

The great thing about the blogosphere is that no matter what your opinion or perspective on any given issue or debate there are people who absolutely agree with you and people who hate you. There has never been a richer place for the average bear to traverse. If you want serious, introspective viewpoints they are available. If you to live your life as a leftie troll and piss people off, there is a lifetime of reward. If you want to become better informed about almost any topic, you can do it with a few clicks.

Parker is way off base because she tries to synthesize blogs as they relate to her interests or something she and her friends would like to discuss. I bet she's never field stripped a deer or overhauled a GM Turbo Hydra-Matic 350 transmission, or replaced a sliding glass door, but there are thousands of people who do it everyday and they like to talk to each other. She probably does enjoy peeking at porn from time to time. Humbug on her.

DEC said...

Theo Boehm, thank you for the kind review.

Theo Boehm said...

DEC, you're very welcome. Again, nice work.

eddiep, I agree completely. I should say, "Amen, brother," but I don't want to inject unwanted religious controversy. ;->

TWM said...

You mean she was serious? I assumed her whole column was satire when I read this paragraph:

Say what you will about the so-called mainstream media, but no industry agonizes more about how to improve its product, police its own members and better serve its communities. Newspapers are filled with carpal-tunneled wretches, overworked and underpaid, who suffer near-pathological allegiance to getting it right.

How could she write that with a straight face?