Sunday, April 06, 2008

The Joy of Blogging

"I think.... Well, I think that it would be swell,
If I could win the Nobel
For the books I've read,
When, instead of getting up,
I've stayed in bed."
Emma Wallace
"Come Here To Me (The Ice Cream Man)"

It occurred to me again this morning that the real benefit in blogging comes, not from what we write, but in what we read.

On a good Sunday morning (and this is a good one), I read through my favorites list of about twenty-two blogs, large and small. Many are political blogs, and that has become my favorite topic for most of my own posts.

And, of course, I read and weep each day as I read the blogs and posts from Darfur. I remain appalled that one after another our world leaders lament past genocides and demand that we must "never let it happen again." Then those same leaders find dozens of reasons to fail to intervene in Darfur, effectively enabling today's on-going genocide.

But I digress.... I also read several blogs on other topics like sports, music and movies. And I love blogs of general interest written by really talented and clever writers, a group to which I will never belong.

When a blog entry makes you stop dead in your tracks and think, that is a great moment. Rachel Lucas did that to me this morning with her blog entry "Conservatives are nicer than Liberals"

Her post stopped me in my tracks. Not only have I found that she is 100% correct, I've often intended to write the same thing. Leave it to Rachel to beat me to the punch.

Since I read a reasonably even number of liberal or progressive blogs and conservative blogs and I enter my comments on both, I think my experiences might be typical. And I do run the gamut from The Daily Kos to Michelle Malkin. While my experience in only anecdotal, I've done no studies, I've found this to be true nearly 100% of the time. If you really want to read death threats, vile and x-rated mudslinging, and demeaning insults aimed at an entire class of people (usually based on their religion or geographic residence), look no further than the comments sections of the progressive blogs.

It's not that such insults don't exist on conservative blogs, it's simply that they are rare. So rare I've virtually never read any.

So it was an eye-opener to read that Lucas has had the same experience. Rachel writes:

    "Liberals are so much kinder. I know this because they are the only ones who ever send me hate mail, and are the only ones who link to me with statements like, “Rachel Lucas and her commenter's prove that there’s no need to dumb America down any further, they’ve already taken care of it.” They’re definitely the only ones with enough open-mindedness and love in their hearts to leave comments about how I’m a stupid Texan who needs to get laid and/or shot with my own gun. See, they’re all about hope! and change! It emanates from them."

If Lucas started me thinking , Susan Jacoby put my brain into overdrive. As I drove to my office to pick up a gift for my grandson, I was listening to a program called To the Best of Our Knowledge on National Public Radio this morning about the really pathetic state of public education in this country.

Susan Jacoby, the author of The Age of American Unreason, was quoting some alarming statistics that indicated, among other things, that most 15 year old's do not know that the American Revolutionary War preceded the American Civil War. When asked by the program host, Steve Paulson, why this is, Jacoby answered confidently that it was because we (the United States) have "too many" Christian fundamentalists who take the Bible literally.

She stated with supreme confidence that there were no fundamentalists in western European countries ( I guess she was excluding Islamic fundamentalists) and, therefore Europeans are much better educated.

Now we've all watched enough Jay Leno's "Jaywalking" segments to realize that a significant number of people are clueless about history. But I'm seriously doubting that Christian fundamentalists have a corner of poor history knowledge. If Jacoby had any statistics to prove her highly prejudiced viewpoint, she failed to discuss them.

The key to my "ah ha" moment was the incredibly condescending tone of Ms. Jacoby's commentary. She clearly looked down upon those who didn't hold her "reasonable" views.

Had similar remarks been aimed at blacks or Hispanics or gays, Jacoby would have been summarily dismissed. But her comments garnered no objections from the host, who seems to agree with her every word.

So what does this all mean? I'd be forced to guess. But my observation is that conservatives are actually more open minded, they don't lump progressives into some "brain dead" group. Lucas observations in her blog this morning makes the same point:

    "As you know if you’ve been reading this blog for long enough, I’m on the record as NOT being either a conservative or a Christian. I’ve openly expressed disbelief in the Bible, total rejection of organized religion, serious beefs with Christian thought processes, a desire to legalize marijuana, no problem with gay marriage, loathing of children, and now even support for teenage girls being given contraception without their parents’ knowledge. Also, I cuss a lot and take the name of your Lord in vain on a near-daily basis."

    "So how mean and intolerant are the right? I’ll tell you."

    "The vast bulk of regular “traffic floods” to this site comes from none other than Conservative Grapevine and Right Wing News, both run by John Hawkins, a Christian who probably disagrees with at least a third of what I write, who’s also the only blogger to ever interview me and was the first blogger to ever link me. He sponsored me for BlogAds and has given me priceless advice."

    "What a jerk! You just can’t reason with conservatives can you? If you don’t toe their line and share all their beliefs, why, they’ll….they’ll…do you huge favors on a regular basis. If that’s not intolerant and hateful, I don’t know what is."

There are large number of excellent liberal and progressive blogs that are every bit as open-minded and tolerant and helpful as the conservative blog Lucas mentioned. I frequent those blogs often and love the conversation and ideas and dialog.

But we all ought to be careful not to group people into stereotypes and dehumanize them or their writings based on ideology.


Utah Savage said...

My post, so off the beaten track, is not my usual fare, but I am tired of waiting for the dems to get their sh!t together, so I must do something to entertain myself. Your kind comments are greatly appreciated. Thank you for dropping by.

Utah Savage said...

Oh, Bye the way, you wow me with the elegance of your lovely page and post. You are a generous and thoughtful writer. I'm a bit snarky at times, which probably masks a lack of depth, or mere laziness, so I do appreciate having such good sources for more than inspiration from which to learn.

Vigilante said...

Thanks for your thoughtful comments on Coleen's post today, Wizard.

I followed the conservative links in your post above. Unfortunately, both sites require membership & passwords. Those amount to a time-consuming overhead my scarce amount of discretionary time cannot afford. Consequently, I cannot include them in my stops. (I have many conservative blogs which I endeavor to check out on a regular basis.)

By the way, I would greatly appreciate it if you would set aside some time in the near future to read through an over-long piece I anticipate posting about NOT confusing Liberalism and Progressivism. It is a work-in-progress. I'm not confident it will pass your muster. But I will value your reactions.

K McKiernan said...

I am just not sure, Wizard. I mean... can there be any person, conservative or liberal, more mean than Ann Coulter?

Funny, usually people call liberals "pussies" because they are unable to fight and piss on people the way conservatives do. This is a new concept for me. I must sit and think about it some, for the only place I have ever heard liberals get so blessed mean to one another is of late on Utah's blog.

I appreciate the food for thought!

J McKiernan said...

I think there is a lot of truth to what you are saying here. For me, it is not so much that liberals/progressives are meaner *in general*, but damn if they aren't more willing to rip into each other on a daily--make that hourly--basis. The Republicans, for better or worse, stick together thick as thieves...and it's why they can win so often. Their coalition is already built while the Dems are still reading the instructions. I read yesterday that the RNC has about $30 banked for the upcoming election compared to...just over $5 million for the DNC.

All the infighting drives me nuts, yet when I feel that even a presumably like-minded liberal is calling what I say wrong--or even worse, despicable garbage--I feel the need to defend my side...and on and on the infighting goes.

I can't stand most Republicans (maybe because I'm just another mean liberal)...but I can't help but stand back and admire (read: envy) their togetherness...and their effectiveness.

J McKiernan said...

Oh yeah...the RNC has $30 MILLION...not just $30.

Off I go to hit myself for not getting it right the first time.