Two bloggers hired by John Edwards to reach out to liberals in the online world have landed his presidential campaign in hot water for doing what bloggers do — expressing their opinions in provocative and often crude language.
“Often crude”. There’s an understatement — but while a number of people have idled away the last week or so blasting these specific two bloggers, they really are nothing more than a reflection of the larger online world.
Polimom has absolutely nothing against these folks personally, nor do I take offense at their politics, and frankly, I think the Catholic League is confused about who is actually running for president…
The Catholic League, a conservative religious group, is demanding that Mr. Edwards dismiss the two, Amanda Marcotte of the Pandagon blog site and Melissa McEwan, who writes on her blog, Shakespeare’s Sister, for expressing anti-Catholic opinions.
Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, said in a statement on Tuesday, “John Edwards is a decent man who has had his campaign tarnished by two anti-Catholic vulgar trash-talking bigots.”
…but that’s not what has me irked.
My fun-meter got pegged long ago by the blogosphere’s inability to control its virtual potty mouth, and while everybody’s busy picking on these two specifically, it could have been any one of thousands that they were talking about.
James Joyner at Outside the Beltway writes this morning:
Having top bloggers on the staff makes sense, because these people have demonstrated not only that they have the ability to express themselves in writing but that they “get” blogging.
I think he’s defined completely separate concepts… because someone can “get” blogging, but if that person has to resort to crude, graphic vulgarity, then I don’t think that qualifies as being able to express him/herself.
Three-year-olds in the midst of a foot-stomping, red-faced squall can express themselves at this level… but they’re not seen as masters of communication skills. So why do the foul and virulent hit the top of the dizzying political-blogger charts? And more to the specific case in point — why would a presidential campaign see someone who writes in this fashion as a leader in the blogosphere?
Mr. Edwards’s spokeswoman, Jennifer Palmieri, said Tuesday night that the campaign was weighing the fate of the two bloggers.
They no doubt chose them because they’re prolific and popular — and they’re not the candidate, after all, are they? They’re merely the online blogging face for the campaign, and Edwards’ staff probably saw these two bloggers as pretty typical of the genre.
They were right, and this says a lot more about the wider blogosphere itself than about Amanda Marcotte or Melissa McEwan.
It’s not as if there aren’t bloggers who can write without resorting to gutter-speak, on both sides of the political aisle. Ed Morrissey come to mind; he writes eloquently, passionately, and sometimes provocatively, but I never hesitate to link or quote him. Unfortunately, there are many more that I come across as primary opinion writers from… say… memeorandum, where I recoil and hit the browser’s back button, wishing for my click back.
And where do all those trash-talking commenters come from?
It’s the absolute nadir of public discourse, and if it was taking place in a bar, this level of behavior would provoke a brawl every time. There’s no point in pointing fingers at these two, as if they’re somehow exceptions; they’re the rule.
Am I the only one who feels as if the internet has become a bile-invoking cesspool?
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Added: Glenn Greenwald weighs in with examples from the right who have left a trail of vulgarity in their wakes, and says:
One does not need to agree with the Marcotte or McEwan’s comments in order to realize the absurdity here, but if this is going to be the standard that is applied, I don’t think there are many bloggers, if there are any, who will be able to be affiliated with political campaigns in the future. Whatever is the case, the standards should be applied equally, not driven by the hysterical lynch-mob behavior that is the fuel of the right-wing blogosphere.
I don’t think either side of the spectrum has any high ground here, and trying to separate the marbles by blue and red would take a lifetime.