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PART II. THE MOST DANGEROUS PLACE ON EARTH?
A BRIEF LOOK AT SOME BEASTIES OF THE BLOGOSPHERE
Ancient Rome had its Forum; where people met, conducted business and debated the issues of the day. How fitting then that modern Rome has its own Forum...the Internet!
Transform yourself into a being of pure energy, pure thought, void of face and form, and travel electronically to a meeting place of ideas and expressions. What a marvelous opportunity, to have one's ideas expressed in a way that allows both criticism and support, while eliminating the potential for judgment based on the messenger; appearance and gender masked if you desire. Age? Not a factor. Fifteen or fifty, it's your thoughts and your ability to express them that matter, and nothing else. Race? Who cares? Ethnicity? Non-factor. If you come up with the solution to the crisis in Israel you can post it anonymously for the world, without being dismissed for being a 14 year old Guamanian girl.
Even those Bloggers fortunate enough to not need an assumed name are still little more then names (and sometimes faces) to the vast majority of their readers, with no real connection as corporate human beings. Proof? Those readers will say things to them via their comments or their own Blogs that they would never dare utter to a neighbor over the fence or a co-worker at an office party.
I fall into the category of "anonymous blogger." Strangely enough the reason I do this is so that I can give my real and honest opinion. I wish I didn't have to, and some day I won't, but for now such is life. You can, however, get a pretty accurate general depiction of who I am by reading my posts for a while. Many other Bloggers fall into this same category for much the same reason.
Unfortunately, the anonymity of the Blogosphere opens the door for the Troll, annoying creatures who move through this system attacking and spreading hate. Anonymity in some cases foments viciousness, perhaps a trait suppressed in their corporal existence. "Troll" is just too cute a word for some of them. Read every Blog and it's comments posted on a given day (admittedly impossible) and you may swear that a significant number are written by people actually diametrically opposed to what they espouse; leading one to consider they exist merely to generate contempt for their subject matter. (Do note, however, the vast majority of Blogs and comments can be taken at face value.)
Who knows what inspires a Troll? A thrill at being annoying? A response to being ignored in the real world? Perhaps, I like to believe, though, that The Troll returns to the real world, having acted out their fantasy life in the Blogosphere, perhaps a little happier and better adjusted for having vented their frustrations here. Good for them. Maybe they won't kill coworkers now.
Of course, even the Troll can't ruin the Blogosphere as a great place to "meet" people. The desire of many in this regard is twofold; 1) to embrace those of like mind, to reinforce that you are not alone in thoughts and opinions and thus not the last sane person on earth; or 2) to understand those of differing opinion; to get some grasp, if you will, of what exactly went wrong in their developmental process, without having to offend a "real" person. Child abuse? Jilted at the Altar? What is the fundamental defect in your nature?!
(Of course, never to my knowledge has anyone in the Blogosphere convinced another to shout "Eureka! I was wrong!" on any issue of any merit. Even in the post-Iraq-war light of day the doomsayers, the "quagmire crowd," the "prophets of jihad" and the "WWIII tin foil hat brigade" are still claiming they were right all along, that there never were any WMDs!)
Ahhh...but find those like-minded individuals, your spiritual soul mates, and fly! The only people who think like me are other geniuses, don't you know?
Thus, the Blog reader is forced to become a thorough critic of new products and persona in the Blogosphere. Does this person bring something new to discuss? If not, does this person have something new and useful to add to the discussion? Does this person have a fresh perspective, an interesting voice?
Because we are all singers, after all. Some of Opera, some of Rock, some Jazz, some the Blues. Some are Rappers, and some Country. I respect the best artists of all genres. I have no time for the talentless, unless they have potential. I despise pretenders. Sing only that which is true to your heart. And practice developing that voice! Your thoughts on a topic are pointless if your voice is Roseanne's and your song is the National Anthem.
The counterpoint to this of course, is the beautiful voice that spews hate. Like the Siren calling to all to come and crash on the rocks of bigoted or hateful ideologies. The Siren, then, is a nastier creature then a mere Troll. Of course, succumbing briefly to such a voice does no permanent harm to an individual, especially in the virtual forum. Perhaps the experience leaves them a bit wiser for future events, events that matter in the real world.
So what? Why care? Because the presence of the Siren, and the Troll, and the myriad of other less then savory characters that populate the Blogosphere, while providing half the "fun" are also the reason that the majority of the Blogosphere is still not ready for prime time.
Let's listen briefly then, to a Siren's song together.
The Siren, of course, can be a person or an idea, or both. An example? The Santorum case.
Many Bloggers from all over the political spectrum were quick to line up and denounce Santorum for what appeared to be a rabid anti-gay viewpoint. Santorum provided right-leaning Bloggers a chance to demonstrate their Libertarian, moderate views (since most are Republican on most other issues) and enabled them to express their unequivocal support for human rights. For Santorum bashers, however, there are three facts that are convenient to ignore.
1. At face value Santorum wasn't speaking directly about Gay Rights, he was addressing a larger legal point within the specific case. Attaching additional meaning and arguing against it is not valid debate. In fact, it's counter productive as it's just a way to avoid the real issue. This tactic is transparent to all but a few practitioners, and is unfortunately all too commonly seen here.
2, Ashcroft and Santorum are not leading death squads into peoples' bedrooms and hauling them off for unacceptable behavior.
From a Houston TV News site:
The case began in 1998, when a neighbor tricked police with a false report of a black man "going crazy" in John Geddes Lawrence's apartment. Police pushed their way in and found Lawrence having anal sex with another man, Tyron Garner.
Although Texas rarely enforced its antisodomy law, officers decided to book the two men and jail them overnight on charges of "deviate sexual intercourse with another individual of the same sex." They were each fined $200 plus court costs.
3. The entire attack on Santorum was orchestrated by the wife of John Kerry's campaign manager, and Kerry was the first to denounce his fellow Senator, thus demonstrating his unequivocal support for human rights. The last paragraph of the Fox story linked above:
Some Republican sources were quietly raising questions about the reporter who first quoted Santorum and who continued to report on the conflict it created. Lara Jakes Jordan is married to Jim Jordan, a former DSCC official who now manages Kerry's presidential campaign.
Now one would expect the left to lap this attack stuff up without question. When "centrists" or "moderates" do this it's disappointing, and leads one to question their "moderation". Expressing open mindedness by condemning people who think differently then you based on unquestioning acceptance of biased news reports is hardly the hallmark of intelligent public debate. Regardless of who's right or wrong, the questions I raised were not addressed by any of Santorum's many attackers in the Blogosphere. The shots taken at him came from the hip.
The Supreme Court, of course, is being called to consider its position on interfering with State laws as much as with the specific issue. By the way, quiz question for those who are outraged by any aspect of this case. How did the Supreme Court rule?
(Those who expressed great and terrible outrage at the behavior of a US Senator for speaking his mind can now contemplate their real motives. I give you a minute to shout Eureka! and then I'll accept your thanks.)
In spite of much effort the Blogosphere did not bring down Senator Santorum. Shooting from the hip is rarely effective. A tempest in a teapot, and a perfect counter to those who claim Trent Lott's head is mounted on their wall. The voters of Pennsylvania will rightfully have the final say on the Senator's fate. All those Bloggers who are registered to vote there are encouraged to do so.
TO BE CONTINUED>>>
This was a great post and I only wish that I didn't have to wait for the sequel. Some fantastic writing here, Greyhawk.Posted by serenity at June 16, 2003 12:56 AM
Not a long wait, I promise.Posted by Greyhawk at June 16, 2003 03:47 AM Hide Comments | Show/Add Comments in Popup Window(2) | (Note: You must refresh main page to view newly posted comments here)