Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Rev. Fartwell Checks Out (And the Left's Self-Police Check In)

After weighing all the mindbending bullshit spewed from his greasy maw and the rank hypocrisy in which he enshrouded himself, it's safe to say that Jerry Falwell was the enemy of everything I hold to be true, evident and dear on this planet. My first thought upon seeing the headline about his passing this morning was, "Good Fucking Riddance," which I then shouted out loud.

Normal Internet news stop Crooks and Liars was on my drive-by list after getting to work and ignoring that big stack of paperwork. Their Falwell entry contained a caveat about posting respectfully in the comments section. Of course that's an invitation for some fireworks so I spent some time there, eventually getting involved in some of the back and forths.

What piqued my interest was the battle within a group of more or less likeminded people about what the tenor of the comments oughta be. As if the comment board wasn't supposed to be a kind of dialogue.

And it usually is on the C&L site. Not like the lockstep you'll find at the DailyKos or 99% of pro-Republican sites. That's part of what I like about it. But today was different.

They know that Right wing internetters and even some prominent columnists troll the boards just waiting to sink their teeth into an off-color comment and hold it up as an oh-so-typical example of Lefty values or whatever. Thus the initial warning.

What was acceptable to post became far more interesting that what folk actually had to say about Fartwell himself. And before long the site moderators kicked up the policing a few notches. Which was very interesting. Pruning the more explicit comments and keeping the conversation on topic is their usual MO and the folks at C&L do that better than anyone, usually. What started out as a plea to keep things respectful and reasonably civil turned in to, for me, a lesson on where the American Left stands in relation to its critics and detractors.

How? Well, the crux of the discussion alluded to the fact the certain Right wing journalists and web site dwellers will gleefully be taking the worst of the comments and running all the way to the polls with them, so we oughta be good little boys and girls and show those jerks what upstanding citizens we could be and not post anything too angry or mean. And that's a sentiment that's chapped my ass severely lately.

For me, it smacks of pandering. Of branding. Of performance. It's a corner that we (as Left America, as progressives, whatever) have allowed ourselves to be painted in to by the think tanks and strategists of the Right. It's Karl Rove's way of grabbing our arm and saying, "stop hitting yourself," as he repeatedly smacks us upside the head with it.

I posted the following on another site's board after being holla'd at by someone of like mind who saw me get into a tiff with another commenter and a site moderator/writer of the Falwell post over on C&L earlier.

It’s like they’re [C&L mods] a little tweaked at the idea that someone from outside the clubhouse might peek in and see everyone running around in their underwear or something.

The Reich-wingers will certainly troll for the more turd-colored comments about this death, and use em to point the finger, sure. But so what. If no one said any of it, they’d just make it up anyway.

All that “bad for the brand” bullshit. I can understand where they’re coming from, but I don’t care for it. Nope

And whatsmore……

To stoop to hyper-policing the comment section content or to even bitch about that content on the grounds of, “lets show them how upright we can be about this and not post anything boorish” is to play the exact game they want us to play.

Notice how the Right-ists have, over the last couple years as Bush’s glory has faded, increasingly painted the Left as hypocrites in our approach to “tolerance” and “diversity”? It’s a cheap-shot, purposeful mis-understanding of the concepts. To paint us as intolerant of their “right” to bigotry, homophobia, etc…

To try and over police ourselves is to not only play the game by their rules, it’s to play their game, period. It’s called “controlling the message” and why the FUCK would we let them control our message?


To put it another way, I just feel that now that blogs have begun to become scrutinized by the big boys in the MSM and some of us feel the pressure of the world watching as our readership rises and our voice gets louder, there's no flippin' reason to buy in to the same relationship that the mainstream left-ish press has with the world at large. To overly self-censor because an "enemy" might be watching or to tailor your output to fit someone else's idea of how you oughta think is completely blasphemous to me. It's why the Democrats have had their ass handed to them for 40 some years by the Republicans. They let the other guys define the terms of play. And if that attitude doesn't change, the victories won in the wake of GWB's abject failures will be decidedly short-lived.

Ahhh... crap. Is that even any clearer? It's been a long day and I think it's just about Miller time.

BTW: If anyone happens to arrive at this post via the C&L comments, I sincerely do hope I've clarified myself to some degree as I was asked not to post any more about this issue over there. I don't relish starting arguments and certainly don't enjoy poo-pooing on someone who works as hard as that particular author/mod.

(Additionally, I feel it's worth pointing out that nothing I posted had anything to do with trying to grab a spotlight and grandstand. Those were some very cheap shots. Very cheap shots.)

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