Thursday, November 30, 2006

Irony-Rich Bloodletting

Okay, I have spent waaaaay too much time tonight and last night catching up with the 836 846 comments on the Tom Watson and FDL posts about language and liberal anti-feminism. Or at least that's what they nominally started out as, but to me both threads ultimately turned into discussions of power: Mainstream media and political establishment vs. blogs; large blogs vs. small blogs; front-pagers/moderators vs. ordinary commenters.

There are two threads of discussion that I want to focus on, because I'm intrigued by their symmetry:

On the one hand, the FDL front-pagers and loyalists argue that Tom and the FDL dissenters' pleas for them to use less sexually offensive language are part of, or of a piece with, the establishment's desire to use the club of "civility" to neuter them of their rebellious, subversive, sometimes even transgressive passion and anger.

On the other hand (and this is not a counterargument to the first hand, merely a different hand pointing in roughly the opposite direction), the FDL dissenters argue that the FDL community, led by the front-pagers, brutally suppresses dissenting opinions with derision, abuse, and outright censorship. (Full disclosure: I made some comments on FDL which put me closer to this camp, although they're not as strongly-worded as my composite summary here.
UPDATE: I may have not been entirely clear. I meant that I was closer to the dissenter camp in this debate, not one of the dissent-suppressing loyalists. Which is not to say that I never piled on or accused someone of trolling. I did, but hopefully not very savagely or often.)

So, in other words, each side of the debate believes that their right to express themselves is under attack by a more powerful adversary who finds them threatening. I'm wondering if this is simply human nature, or if it's an insecurity inherent to the progressive internets. The Republicans and the corporate media have tried to marginalize and demonize liberal bloggers for at least two or three years now, so we're all a little hypersensitive.

The thing is - and this is why I'm more sympathetic to the dissenters - the power that the FDL front-pagers, moderators, and loyalists have over other commenters is far more immediate. Most non-trolls want to fit in. They want to be accepted by the community, so an attack by a front-pager speaking in The Voice Of God (whether they mean to or not, as Pach has realized, and Jane is coming around to), or by a bunch of regulars, can be a very chilling prospect. The end result is that many of the less thick-skinned commenters, myself included, will either self-censor to avoid another('s) beatdown, and/or become increasingly uncomfortable and embarrassed by the disagreements that escalate into screaming matches, until they finally just leave the room. Granted, the latter is not exactly a direct result of intimidation, but it is an indirect and undesirable outcome.

The corporate media and political establishment's power over the blogosphere is similar, in the sense that it can only pressure and not compel, but it is also more tenuous. I really don't think there are very many liberal bloggers who give a rat's ass about whether the media or politicians like them - quite the contrary. But while they may not crave approval, I believe that many do crave credibility, which the establishment is loathe to bestow upon Dirty Unwashed Hippie Bloggers. This allows them to be manipulated with the Carrot Of Civility: the media myth that the only reason no-one takes liberal bloggers seriously is that they use bad words and say mean things, and if they just behave themselves they will attain respectability. I could probably count the number of liberal bloggers this has worked out for on my nose... if I had tertiary syphilis.

Jane, to her credit, sees right through this bullshit, and has pledged never to jump through civility hoops for The Man. I absolutely have no problem with that philosophy, and I say Rock on, sister. Where it gets a little dicey is when Jane and her loyalists project this onto their commenters who take offense to some of the stronger language (or imagery), and treat them as agents of that hostile establishment. They are not. Sure, some of the criticism comes from opportunistic trolls, but most of it comes from regular commenters who, for example, find the "c-word" offensive. But they are friends, speaking on their own behalf, expressing their own personal feelings, and they deserve more respectful treatment than, say, Deborah Howell or Mark Halperin. And with that in mind, viewing honest criticism from a lowly commenter as a form of oppression to be vehemently opposed simply does not make sense. [Warning: Unsolicited advice follows. You may wish to avert your eyes.] Far better to direct the justifiable rage where it belongs, while listening to and nurturing the community of commenters. If a large number of commenters (and some front-pagers, for that matter) are uncomfortable with the c-word, it's okay to retire it. Really. It doesn't mean the bad guys won and you lost. It just means FDL is more welcoming to the people who love it, and that's a net positive.

Yes, you can take this too far and end up declawing yourself, but I think it is possible to weigh a word's utility against its unpopularity or offensiveness. The c-word is very offensive to many people, and it doesn't really convey much beyond hostility. "Whore", on the other hand, does not provoke the same level of visceral reaction in most people, and it conveys an image of someone who has chosen money and power over principle. I would hate to see "whore" go away; it encapsulates the essence of the Republican party and all its enablers, including the Democratic ones. But I would venture to say that there are very few thoughts which are effectively illuminated by the c-word.

But this is veering into an entirely different debate, the one about what language is acceptable and what language should be tossed overboard. There was a lot of juicy, interesting discussion about this, but I don't think I'm qualified to add much to it, so I'm just going to leave that side of it alone and mumble about imbalance of power. I've probably made a big enough fool of myself as it is.


four legs good said...

Damn. I knew there was a reason I didn't hang out in the Firedoglake comments.

Too much drama.

Anonymous said...

Not foolish at all, you hit it: "I am not your fucking ideas of me, examine that", which not many are willing to hear, yet.

karmic said...

The Word man! I read all of it and very well written.

Anonymous said...

Greetings from Old Sow.

Thoughtful post, Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Good insights, Eli. I appreciated your disclosure of having participated in dissenter surpression yourself at FDL - I am ashamed to have been a much worse offender than you in that regard. FDL brings out the best in people in terms of promoting activism, but I believe their strict message management also brings out the worst of people in fostering bullying and holier-than-thou-ism.

FDL management apparently aspires to be the Limbaugh of the left (my characterization, not theirs, of course) by aiming at their audience's guts as much as their heads, marginalizing their political targets by planting standard memes that belittle them into popular currency.

Problem is, when you feed that diet to a bunch of smart lefties, who don't have the authoritarian follower gene that Rush's fans do, they don't have a high tolerance for the cognitive dissonance generated by using the same slimy tactics on opponents as you deplore coming from your opponents. Eventually, critical thinking and a sense of fair play, hallmarks of progressives, will win out over the human instinct to belong to a pack, and people will walk off.

This is happening before FDL's eyes (look at their sitemeter - you have to stand on your head to see any evidence of traffic soaring, as Jane contends), and they are resisting substantive changes to stem that tide. I fear that eventually, all that will be left is a pack of mean-spirited lefty dittoheads.

spork_incident said...

Well said.

As I've said before, I rarely go to FDL since Jane decided to turn it into an empire; it's simply become less interesting (and less fun).


Anonymous said...

Eli – this is a well-written post; thanks for writing it.

I am another “dissenter” who left FDL of my own accord about a month or so ago. As much as I enjoyed the dissection of the Plame case, and many of the other issues plaguing us, I had become disenchanted with the increasing intolerance for views that strayed too far off the reservation, and felt that it had turned into an echo chamber. And that’s before we get into the issue of the Pach and TRex, and sometimes, the Jane, posts.

My issue with posts like Pach’s or TRex’s is not the language in and of itself; it is the apparent need to attack in areas that are irrelevant to the issues. What anyone looks like, how well or how poorly he or she is aging, how fat he or she is, and how they dress themselves, is beside the point, if the point is to question their actions or political positions.

The response to being questioned about this hurling of gratuitous slurs was almost always equally and unnecessarily rude and crude, and provided TRex with another target for attack. Time and again, Jane went out of her way to defend both the front page and the treatment of commenters.

It should be noted that, after some 600 comments in a post that purported to “open up” the lines of communication and foster debate, TRex’s Late Night post last night was a complete rejection of pretty much all of the criticism, and a totally in-your-face “fuck you” to all the people who took the time and effort to express positions that ran counter to the TRex playbook. If anyone needed any evidence that nothing is going to change, that dissenters will continue to be treated like trash, they need look no further than Thursday’s Late Nite post.

They are irony-proof, for sure.

(oh, and, sorry things are not going well for your NY Giants…I’m still nursing my wounds from a terrible Ravens game against Cincinnati)


HopeSpringsATurtle said... was a pleasure to see you over at the lake, it is the measured tones of voices like yours that I miss there, which is why I am no longer there. I think the "Civil War" (NBC is now describing the Lake using that term)is less about "civility" per se, and more about shitting where you eat. Taucher is a corporate-whore, Laura is a c-word; but picking on Democrats who haven't yet taken over the chambers, and calling any woman the c-word soils ALL OF US PROGRESSIVES. And they do suppress debate over there at fdl. Pach and TWrecks just keep digging themselves deeper, Jane hands them shovels, and Christy gets her pom-poms. The stories and links there are still good but the tone has become shrill and for me, difficult to listen/read/participate in. There is an essential difference to me between being "in your face" and mean-spirited. I guess you can guess which side of the line I think they fall on. My .02.

Really great to see you, Eli.

Anonymous said...

Eli, thank you so much for this insightful, crisp analysis (same goes to all commenters so far, since you've made the points I'd want to -- and more -- far better than I could).

How good it is you "see" you old friends again! YOU are what I miss, not FDL. I'm fine (my smooshed petals have perked up nicely again) and hope you all are too.

Eli said...

Thank you all for the comments and the kind words; it's an unexpected surprise to see all of these great FDexiles here.

op99 - I think you're on to something with the failure of the authoritarian model when used on lefties.

Also, I think maybe I wasn't clear with my disclosure comment - I meant that I was in the dissenter camp in the recent debate. Which is not to say that my hands are totally clean.

spork - What do you mean by empire? What changed?

Anne - I refrained from piling on TRex when the debate was going on, but I do have a lot of problems with his attitude and writing style, and I think his urge to escalate and attack does FDL a huge disservice. I remember the night of the darkblackface incident, he put up a post so confrontational and inflammatory that Jane made him yank it, and now this fuck-all-you-haters post in the wake of the big self-examination-fest.

Along with the usual in-your-face comments, there was another that I found especially interesting (sorry for not linking, but I'm on my Treo and there's just no way). Someone was commiserating with him over all the abuse he had taken, and he said something like "Yeah, it was hard to keep my mouth shut, but it's all just PR." So was he jus sayting that Jane's plea for feedback was just calculated bullshit to defuse a controversy, or am I missing something?

Hope - As you can maybe tell from my post, the difference between edgy, in-your-face punk rock and just plain meanness is direction. When the vitriol is directed at someone misusing a position of power and influence, I absolutely have no problem with that. But when that gets turned on commenters or smaller bloggers ON THE SAME SIDE for offering a sincere criticism, I think that goes beyond the pale, and *that's* what I have a problem with.

BTW, I wanted to leave a comment on your blog last night, but I couldn't think of anything to say.

lotus - I know what you mean; it's nice to have a little enclave of some of the sweethearts from FDL (yes, even you, spork) right here on my own wee blog, however briefly. Y'all are of course welcome to stay, but I probably won't be offering up anywhere near as much insight and analysis, especially now that the election's over. But if you like the Weekly World News and bizarre videos, then I'm your guy.

I think this comment may be longer than the original post...

(Heh - my verification word starts with FD)

Anonymous said...

Eli, this is a really thoughtful, intelligent and measured post. The issues you raise are universal and that is why this particular kerfluffle is so interesting to people who are interested in human nature, be it left, right or center. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with all of us. They are so valuable.

And hi, everyone!

Anonymous said...

It's especially nice to see the long-lost JennyFromTheBlog again!

Anonymous said...

JENNY! Hey, dahlin'! It's particularly fine to see you again. Howya been keepin'?

Drop a line at lotuslanderATcflDOTrrDOTcom, and catch me up on you, if you like. (Same to you other ol' pals!)

Heh. Y'all won't believe this, but guess what just happened (it didn't on my first comment). When I went to sign in and typed "l," the Name box turned the same poodle-pee yellow I used to get at FDL. Anybody know what's widdat?

HopeSpringsATurtle said...

Old home week...eli what a service you have done to get us all in one spot. There are some silver linings in life.
I'm putting you on my blogroll eli. Sometimes I forget to check blogs that aren't on it. This was an excellent reminder. Thanks.

Jenny from the Blog said...

shoephone and lotus... so nice to see you both! and the wonderful Anne, and sanjay, op99, spork, hopie, and of course my all-time favorite, the centaur.

Well it looks like multi-medium is the new hot spot, eh?

See you soon. I'll be visiting Eli's place for good open discussion of lots of issues, for sure. It's kinda comfy here.

ciao for now. ;)

Anonymous said...

HOPESTER! Hey, babe, how's ever' li'l thang? Yippee, it really IS Old Home Week!

spork_incident said...

Jenny - Heya!

Eli -

I mean by expanding the site with I-don't-know-how-many front pagers, moving into book publishing, hosting the famous and well-connected, and probably other things that don't spring immediately to mind. And, more subjectively, the "feel" of the place is less friendly, maybe even more corporate (again, this is subjective).

It seems pretty clear that Jane wants to be a "player" and to attract the powerful to the site. With that comes the urge to control the discussion; we wouldn't want to scare off John Dean or Keith Olbermann. (see also, Kos.) (I thiink, also, that the "Blackface Incident" scared the bejeebus out of her.)

Mind you, I don't begrudge Jane her success; I think her heart is in the right place and she wants to advance the progressive agenda. As I wrote above, to me it's just less fun and less interesting.

My personality likes things to be more free-wheeling, more unpredictable, which is why I prefer Atrios' place (though sometimes that place is *too* free-wheeling).

Or maybe I'm just hard to please :-D

Anyway, my $0.02.


Anonymous said...

Eli at 12:40:
Along with the usual in-your-face comments, there was another that I found especially interesting (sorry for not linking, but I'm on my Treo and there's just no way). Someone was commiserating with him over all the abuse he had taken, and he said something like "Yeah, it was hard to keep my mouth shut, but it's all just PR." So was he jus sayting that Jane's plea for feedback was just calculated bullshit to defuse a controversy, or am I missing something?

The charitable interpretation would be that Tom Watson attacked TRex (and Pach) for PR purposes. (If you're in a charitable mood.)

Anonymous said...

Finding all of you here is making me think I should buy a Mega Millions lottery ticket - what are the chances of all of us landing here like this?

Whatever the chances, I'm just glad to see all of you, and hope all is well.

Lotus - maybe you get that color-thing because you just can't help coloring whatever "room" you're in...*g*

Here's where it kind of begins and ends for me: I have enough dysfunction in my life without trying to tie myself in knots to accommodate someone's else's. Once you've been in and ended a co-dependent relationship, you find them easier to recognize, and yourself less willing to live like that.

I'm sure some of the people who came out of retirement to express themselves did so out of an acknowledgment of and respect for all that FDL has done that is good, with the hope that their views would actually be heard. And while anyone can say, "I'm listening," the proof of whether one was heard or not will come later. It is clear that TRex had his earplugs in, and Pach was trying to be Dr. Phil, and since the writings of those two - although primarily TRex, seem to be the sinkhole in an otherwise fairly well-constructed road, it remains to be seen whether people will seek other avenues altogether, will continue to drive that road and just try to avoid the sinkhole, and whether the road's owner will take her chances that the sinkhole doesn't end up swallowing the entire thing, and change nothing.

We all have the choice and I made mine; all roads do not run through FDL.


Anonymous said...

I wouldn't say you've made a fool of yourself at all, Eli. In fact, I think your consideration of the "balance of power" aspect adds a dimension to the whole issue of what has happened to FDL - a dimension I hadn’t considered.

I would not be so sure, though, as you suggested, that "I really don't think there are very many liberal bloggers who give a rat's ass about whether the media or politicians like them - quite the contrary."

At YearlyKos I cringed a bit at the rock-star status being accorded rock-star media types like MoDo, even though she's not an overwhelming favorite of the liberal blog world. She spent a lot of time posing for pictures and accepting adoration, which may have colored her view of the event.

Beyond that, the participants clearly were basking in the credibility and prominence that was being given the gathering just by the presence of serious (like ‘em or not) reporters like Dan Balz of the WaPo and Ron Brownstein of the LATimes. It was a signal that the blogosphere had elevated its visibility, regardless of whether it could be said yet to have quite "arrived" in the pantheon of political forces to be reckoned with. I think that was what the reporters were there to try to find out.

It was human nature for the YKosians to marvel and even bask a bit in the limelight. Appropriate, too, IMO.

That's why I think your post is important, and why I think the discussion of language at Tom Watson's and (finally) FDL itself is important. Now that liberal bloggers have a recognizable presence, it's worth paying attention to what that presence is projecting.

At YKos, the main conference hall was "decorated" with projected images of Americana - the flag, the Statue of Liberty, and so forth. Someone was smart enough to see that it was worth projecting that YKos was taking place in the context of Americans taking part in the most American of endeavors - discussion and debate.

On the liberal blogs themselves, I think the content and tenor of what we say (as well as whether opposing viewpoints are tolerated or dismissed out of hand) projects the context in which we wish our words to be viewed and their value weighed. If we are not planning simply on talking endlessly to ourselves, I think the front-pagers and rising stars of the blogs ought to remember that pushing the envelope does not require dynamiting the post office.

Call me a concern troll, but I don’t think Mr. Smith got to Washington by calling people “cunts” and graphically describing blow-jobs. And if we’re not willing to go, even metaphorically, to Washington, then I think we’re not likely to have much effect at all.

Eli said...

The charitable interpretation would be that Tom Watson attacked TRex (and Pach) for PR purposes. (If you're in a charitable mood.)

I suspect you are being very charitable. I butchered the actual quote pretty badly; it really sounded like TRex was saying that PR obligations were what required him to keep his mouth shut. I'll have to dig that quote up when I get home, but that won't be for a while.

Anne, I really don't mind Pach - he may be profane, but to me most of his posts look like the product of careful thought and consideration. TRex's simply seem calculated to shock and provoke simply for the sake of shocking and provoking.

Anonymous said...

Hi there, ole pals o'mine. Good to see youse, too.

Here ya go, Eli, honey.
205 TRex says:

November 30th, 2006 at 9:53 pm *

How ya doing, Trex? You’ve taken a lot of crap lately and it hurt a little bit to watch it happen. I suppose it’ll happen again, sometime. There’s no point in walking the razor’s edge if you don’t catch a nick now and again; but I’m a big, strong he-man (don’t burst my bubble here), sort of individual and it made me cry.

I keep repeating to myself that it’s all just PR, but it has been very, very hard to keep my cool at points. Very hard.

Did I mention that it’s been kind of hard to keep my cool?

Eli said...

Anne, I almost forgot to address your other point, about wanting FDL to return to the good old days, or at least work on improving the atmosphere: I think that's very true. To me, the occasional front-pager I don't like isn't that big a deal - I just skip 'em. But a toxic commenting atmosphere is everywhere. Even when there isn't any verbal violence, the threat is always there, and it sets everyone's nerves on edge. I compared it to being in the same room with a couple who are always fighting. Even when they're not actually fighting, you're still clenched and braced for it.

All of this is a roundabout way of working up to saying that if you simply remove the threat of arbitrary violence, FDL will become a great place to visit again. I know that sounds simplistic, but I think it would work, so I tried to do my part to make it clear that it's hurting the site and driving away people who love it or want to love it.

OlTex, point taken. I myself will confess to acting like Krugman was a rock star when he came to EschaCon, but I mean, well... KRUGMAN!

But even so, I just don't think too many bloggers are thinking "I hope MoDo will like this!" as they're writing.

As for swearing, I'm fairly tolerant of it, even though I use it sparingly myself. I don't think it's a problem in most cases - it's simply how most adults talk. It's when you fall in love with the profanity that you really start to make yourself look unserious. I don't think most of the front-pagers have reached that Howard Stern "Look how naughty and transgressive I am!" stage yet, thankfully.

Eli said...

God bless you, op.

You're right: It *can* be interpreted as referring to PR on Tom W's side, so hopefully that's all there is to it.

Anonymous said...

Hi, everybody:

Just waving "hi" as this is crunch time at our business, but it is so nice to see everybody here.

Anonymous said...

Well, thank you, Anne -- but d'ya suppose they got anything in maybe a lavendar, or a nice little blue?

Ol'Tex, good work, despite the reappearance of That Word that makes me cringe every single time (I know, I know, my problem).

Eli, this is a classy thread that reminds me of old days in old climes -- thanks again for triggering and hosting it.

Anonymous said...

Eli, Pach's posts can be very well-written, but I have seen him lash out at commenters in a way that puts the "aggressive" in "passive-aggressive." Not pretty. lisadawn was, I think, one of the more memorable victims, as I recall.

And when this is the M.O. in the comments section, how willing is anyone to question the conventional wisdom expressed in the post, and how likely is it that the end result of the discussion will be that anyone learned anything, except perhaps, how to get off the eggshells alive and in one piece?

Is that really what FDL is going for?


Anonymous said...

Oh my word -- LITTLE DOG! How welcome is the sight. Lush sales to you, ol' dear!

And what an omen -- the poodle-pee yellow just went away again (thankyouthankyouthankyou).

Jenny from the Blog said...

And when this is the M.O. in the comments section, how willing is anyone to question the conventional wisdom expressed in the post, and how likely is it that the end result of the discussion will be that anyone learned anything, except perhaps, how to get off the eggshells alive and in one piece?

Anne, reading your comment I'm recalling the first time I was shocked by the treatment of commenters by the site-owners at FDL. It was the Marcy Bruner thread, if you remember that one.

The post slammed Marcy's ad with serious passion, which was cool, as it was the site-owner's/poster's opinion, but then as one or two timid commenters raised their hands to voice alternative thoughts about the ad in question they were treated like *traitors to the cause* or something worse than Hitler.

Whoa. I was pretty new to the site and actually had some things I wanted to add to the discussion, since I was in advertising and marketing for many years and had a certain informed opinion. I think my contribution might have been valuable, dunno, but I opted out because I really didn't want to have someone yelling at me and calling me names because I had a different opinion of a 30 second spot, fer chrissakes, really life's too short.

I sat there and thought, well, there goes this *outlet* for thoughtful discussion. I still commented after that but always felt constrained.

So who loses? The whole community of people who gather to chew on ideas and, of course, the site will ultimately lose.

btw, I don't think Pach got into it with lisadawn, I believe it was T-rex but I'm not sure.

Anonymous said...

Anne and Eli, that feeling of unsafeness attached to me at FDL within the first week after YKos (when Jane first kaBOOMed me). I I knew I probably was asking for it the second time (The Kai Incident, as it came to be known) -- though I also knew I didn't deserve what what coming. But for some reason, I didn't see it coming the third and last time (The Freakdaddy Incident) -- maybe because there was such a delay between my exchange with freakdaddy (and our amicable resolution) and Jane's appearance on the scene. Still, by that time, I knew to expect her at any given moment, so it wasn't a shock, either.

Of course, anyone who witnessed any of those incidents -- or the one with lisadawn a couple of days before Freakdaddy -- was on notice from then on that the Lake had hidden pools of acid you could swim into without warning.

Nope, I don't imagine that pollution can be cleaned up now, and the results of this latest marathon analysis apparently support that theory, according to what I've seen imported here from TRex's follow-on thread.

If you'd have forecast any of this six months ago, I wouldn't have believed it possible, let alone credible. But here we are.

Anonymous said...

Jenny FTB:

"Marcy Bruner"

Darcy Burner. She lost by a hair. I'm sure it was the fault of that ad.

Jenny from the Blog said...

Yes, Darcy Burner. Thx, op.

Anonymous said...

Eli - well, yeah, I'd follow Krugman like a puppy myself.

Jenny from the Blog said...

Yeah, I was there at the EschaCon in Phila and after meeting Louise Slaughter and Patrick Murphy I was a wee bit starstruck for at least 30 seconds.

It's understandable if you're a lefty.

Anonymous said...

Jenny, Isn't Louise wonderful? She used to be my congresscritter before the last round of gerrymandering. Her lawn signs just say "Louise."

Jenny from the Blog said...

op99 -

She's an impressive human being, that Louise. Inspiring, great speaker, committed and articulate and strong. Proud to shake her hand.

And the yard sign! That's perfect.

Eli said...

Of course, Krugman and Slaughter and Murphy maybe media and politicians, but they sure as hell aren't Establishment (MoDo sure as hell is, tho).

Oh, and as for the "Louise" signs... Consider the alternative.

If I'd known this was going to happen, I woulda brought my Treo's spare battery.

Also, is anyone other than me nervously looking over their shoulder waiting for the shock troops to arrive? This just seems a little too good to be true, but maybe that's one of the benefits of having a tiny obscure blog.

Anonymous said...

You funny, Eli.

Anonymous said...

Whatcha get for being such a fine host with such discerning and grateful friends, Eli!

spork_incident said...

Eli sez:

Also, is anyone other than me nervously looking over their shoulder waiting for the shock troops to arrive?

Actually, I considered linking to this thread over at my place earlier (because it's an interesting discussion) but it occurred to me that maybe this one didn't need the publicity for the "shock troops" reason. GMTA and all that.


Anonymous said...

Wot's GMTA, sporkie?

Eli said...

I don't typically thank anyone for not linking to me; but thank you, spork.

I keep checking my Sitemeter for signs of "incoming".

BTW, my battery is pretty close to tapped out, and I have a frivolous post I want to put up, so I might not be around much until I get home.

(lotus: Great Minds Think Alike)

Mary said...

Hey Eli - one good thing about the FDL kerfuffle is that I got the link back to your site.

Obesity on the Rise Among Telekinetics


Anonymous said...

D'oh. Thanks, Eli. Oh well, somebody gotta bring up the rear, mought as well be da vedge among us.

HopeSpringsATurtle said...

OMG...Hi Jenny! Eli..I'm so jealous of your 44 comments, but thank God you wrote your take and we all found each other...Lotus, Little Dog, Op, Anne, I'm so happy to you see you all. Anywho Mr Eli, well done.

spork_incident said...

lotus -

What Eli said.

Eli sez:

I don't typically thank anyone for not linking to me; but thank you, spork.



Tom Watson said...

Hey there - I certainly didn't attack anyone for pr reasons, as may have been suggested here.

My post was actually the third in a series that started with a harsh critique of Mo Dowd's fairly obvious sexist writing about Senator Clinton. The posts (as a whole) quoted a bunch of bloggers, including those at FDL, taking on the kind of sexism that pollutes criticism of Speaker Pelosi, for example.

To me, using the coarse phrases that Pach and TRex employed hurts the progressive side and gives the right-wingers ammo when they decry the netroots. So my "attack" - and it was friendly, to be sure - was about the tactic, or lack thereof - and how posts like that are also alienating to plenty of women.

Anonymous said...

Tom W, honey, that comment didn't really have a thing to do with you, at least on our part. Eli opined that TRex's comment "I keep repeating to myself that it’s all just PR" meant that the whole exercise of FDL having its own 'meta' discussion was just a sham. I offered another possible reading of it, that TRex was accusing YOU of critiquing FDL as a PR move. I have an opinion on which it is, but I'll just tick a lock. :)

Tom Watson said...

Ah sure, keep 'em hanging on.

It's funny about FDL, I wasn't a regular, just a reader. The reaction at my place was so swift and so brass-knuckled, it did give pause - but not for long.

The discussion's been great - and yeah, I've taken some hard licks (so have Pach and TRex and others) but probably worth it overall.

Anyway, thanks for getting into it - I hope they appreciate the exterior interconnectedness of the FDL community. That is, that lots of commenters there have blogs themselves and write opinions elsewhere. That they're part of a larger web of things, not a destination.

Anonymous said...

Tom W. said, "... I hope they appreciate the exterior interconnectedness of the FDL community."

I doubt it - how they gonna build the progressive movement single-handedly if they can't shape what input the damned peanut gallery gets? Christy said she thinks there's a freaking conspiracy - disgruntled former commenters are trying to steal their readers. Like they own them or something. From your place, Nov. 28 5:38:

I also know that there has been a concerted effort made by a few disgruntled folks to pull regular readers away from the blog because of this grudge or that (yes, I regularly receive copies of the e-mails that get passed around), and I find that to be backhanded and nasty, and I choose to have no part in that whatsoever.

Karen M said...

I'm a newbie here, but I recognize most of you, either from the past few days of following these threads, or from FDL, where I never got to be a regular contributor, because I got banned or moderated or something almost immediately, and so, commented very seldom.

Anyway, I just left a comment on Lance Mannion's blog that the D in FDL is ready to stand for Disapora.

One of the comments here that particularly struck me was: "...when you feed that diet to a bunch of smart lefties, who don't have the authoritarian follower gene that Rush's fans do, they don't have a high tolerance for the cognitive dissonance generated by using the same slimy tactics on opponents as you deplore coming from your opponents."

That's really what has always bothered me about the criticisms of the Democrats for not having a specific plan or enough message discipline. The really important distinction was the difference in process. After all, the means determine the end, not vice-versa.

Thanks everyone, I've appreciated all of your comments here and elsewhere; the entire discussion has been worthwhile.

Anonymous said...

...the D in FDL is ready to stand for Disapora.


Anonymous said...

Oh, I just noticed, KM, it's "diaspora."

Eli said...


Anonymous said...

Eli, don't make me type a comment just to say BWAHAHA, okay?

Anonymous said...

Eli, come back... come back to Life. The Aspens turn as one... or some such.

I just can't read FDL, don't know why. I like my blogs to have some attitude, some zazz!, I guess. Back in the day, when she was a Nobody, I had Jane on my blogroll, but now... enh... Fame is a harsh mistress, I suppose.

And, frankly, Eli, you're in danger of losing your coveted Z-Lister status. 54 comments on one post! Trust me, there will be some meetings and discussions about this, yes sir, there will be.

Eli said...

Eli, don't make me type a comment just to say BWAHAHA, okay?

Too late.

I just can't read FDL, don't know why. I like my blogs to have some attitude, some zazz!, I guess.

I started seriously commenting on FDL when I needed a refuge from Eschaton. I was kind of expecting it to be dry and serious and wonky, which was kind of what I was looking for at the time - I was kind of burned out on being sociable. But it turned out to be a warm and welcoming community in its own right, at least until things started to go sour. By which time I had sort of eased back into Eschaton.

And, frankly, Eli, you're in danger of losing your coveted Z-Lister status. 54 comments on one post! Trust me, there will be some meetings and discussions about this, yes sir, there will be.

Nah, it won't last. After a few more videos of lovestruck Tusken Raiders and obese telekinetics, the FDexiles will start to realize *why* I'm a Z-lister... Or alternatively, I could feel the pressure to do more serious, wonky political posts and end up spraining my analysis muscle.

Elmo said...


Jenny from the Blog said...

Moderator, cleanup on aisle 45... who is this ELMO person and are his papers in order?

I keed! ;)

Eli said...

He *is* awfully hairy...

Elmo said...

Sorry Jenny, I'm always late. Eli will explain...

Jenny from the Blog said...

And red. Elmo is very red. I demand you arrest this hairy commie agitator at once!!!


Elmo said...

I'm a spy, they only see one color.

Eli said...

No, he must be a Republican! That's even worse!

Elmo said...

Eli, I've read your post over and over and still can't gather my thoughts to give a just response(yes it was that good so kiss yourself)

Maybe it's because the COWBOYS and the giants play this weekend.

Eli said...

Wow, thanks, Elmo!

I don't see how the Giants fail to get totally skunked. Even if they're fired up, even if they have a bunch of defensive guys back, Eli'll make sure to throw just enough interceptions to lose.

Elmo said...

I think it's going to be a dog fight, I love football!

Eli said...

I *hope* it's a dogfight; that would at least mean the Giants competed.

Elmo said...

I never underestimate an NFC east match-up were one team is riding high and the other is pissed off...

Eli said...

Newsday's football columnist basically said the same thing. I just think the Giants have too many problems, too little composure and character, and are basically in a death spiral.

Even if they're fired up enough to win this game, they'll still sleepwalk through the rest of the season.

Elmo said...

I asked for a Romo jersey for Christmas( or for the "holidays" if you want to piss off Bill O'Really

spork_incident said...

On NPR right now they're talking about esting nutria.

Juat sayin'


spork_incident said...


(Preview is my friend, I say.)


Eli said...

Makes sense to me. Gotta make sure you're meeting your nutriational requirements.

Anonymous said...

i don't much visit FDL anymore.

no reason, just lost interest.

but this post could just as well apply to eschaton, which is of course a whole different animal with some of the same disease.

i think it's best when every one trys to be all inclusive. that means people who can't tolerate the c word avert their eyes, and people who use the c word maybe use some restraint. at the very least, no need to pile on.

the c word of course being a metaphor for one commenters interest over anothers.

maybe i'm completly off base as i rarely read FDL anymore. one thing is certain, if more people were a little more easygoing, considerate, and intelligent like Eli is, the world would be better place. but they aren't.

Eli said...

Trust me, charley, you do *not* want a world full of Elis. It would be Bad.

Eschaton has its cliquishness and pileons, to be sure, but the big difference is that Atrios doesn't typically come down from Olympus and attack people. Sometimes he'll banter or engage with regulars a little bit, or swat lazily at one of the trolls, but there really isn't that same dynamic of a front-pager using their power to intimidate or silence dissent. Also, Atrios is more likely to address and refute criticisms calmly and unemotionally, without sounding outraged that someone would question him or want to limit his self-expression.

Eschaton is also very minimally moderated, so comments don't usually get deleted or stuck in a spam filters. It really is a lot easier to dissent at Eschaton, although it's still no picnic.

Eli said...

Put another way; I don't think the commenters are all *that* different between the two blogs, but the style of the leadership that sets the tone is about as opposite as can be.

spork_incident said...

Eli sez:

Eschaton is also very minimally moderated, so comments don't usually get deleted or stuck in a spam filters. It really is a lot easier to dissent at Eschaton, although it's still no picnic.

Explain, please?

Aside from certain trolls I've never seen Atrios ban anyone (WGG being the exception, of course).

Nor, after nearly four years there, have I seen *any* host censorship.

My complaint about Eschaton is that it's *too* free-wheeling. And my complaint is pretty mild.


Eli said...

Atrios has deleted comments on occasions, but as far as I know, they've always been trolls, or maybe the occasional publishing of someone's address or phone number.

When I say minimally, I mean really *really* minimally. More than zero, but not by much. I'm also allowing for the possibility that there may be more going on that I'm not aware of, but I suspect not. Atrios just doesn't have the time *or* the inclination, nor does he have any deputies.

Anonymous said...

OMG -- What an amazing find, all the other former commenters, some of whom carry my favorite handles, like Hope and Jenny! & a big wave to *everyone else* as well, esp Eli!

I bailed on FDL permantly after TRex's mind your betters post in the wake of the Clinton blog-lunch fiasco. But I had been pulling back after Jane's lame apology after the Darkblack blackface kerfuffle. I was really shocked that they were not even open to trying to 'get' why it was such a problematic thing to do on so many levels. And as one of the people who begged and pleaded with Christy to do something about pronto (I KNEW it was going to bite Ned's campaign big-time--it didn't take a PR genius to figure that out) only to be met with admonitions from her to move on and btw, she was already under too much stress because of housepainters and sick peanut (you'd think she was the only mother who ever had to deal with more than one thing at a time) and a barking dog, in my mind I dubbed her Mistress Enabler.

FWIW -- I finally got the time to try to post a thoughtful comment in that long 600+ string over there, and Jane responded by changing the urls to 3 links to posts that I thought examined the Blackface and Mind Your Betters posts in a way which was both critical and thoughtful. So, because I was censored at the end of that thread I would post them here!

BagNewsNotes: Sambo Joe and the Visual Blogosphere

Kai Chang: Blackface Joe: Five Grievances. ("A Chasm Illuminated" is also an excellent read.)

Temple 3: I'm not Racist, you sure about that?

Anonymous said...

Oh, I meant to add that Jane justified censoring my post on a thread that was supposed to be open and uncensored (& I'm wondering if it happened to anyone else's) because she said that she wasn't going to direct traffic to anyone who called Darkblack a white supremicist.

Except for the fact that no one did. Temple 3 made the case, and spelled out quite thoughtfully why he believed that Darkblack seems to generally truck in white supremicist imagery, but BagNewsNotes and Kai wrote nothing of the kind. Which is what she always does, tries to evade discussing the merits of the issue by attacking those who disagree or criticize for "attacking" her and hers.

And what is her obsession with traffic (FDL loosing ad revenue due to the decline in traffic? & thank you for linking to that site meter thinging op99-stat!) -- does she really believe that EVERYONE who starts or comments on a blog is looking for traffic and attention? Or is that a bit of a projection on her part?

Karen M said...

Yikes! Thanks, Opp99 for catching my typo!

Eli, maybe I should have written Disappeared? Just a little bit sharper, no?

Kai said...

Eli, nice post. Your criticism is on the money.

Hullo everyone!

LOL, I'm guessing that "the Kai Incident" which lotus mentioned had something to do with me. ;-)

Personally I stopped visiting or thinking about the Lake when I suddenly realized that it was all Top Dog and no Fire Of Wisdom. Which is to say, when I got tired to listening to folks with their heads up their own asses who cared more about celebrity than meaningful progressive dialogue.

And now I'm going to do something that celebrity-blogs find absolutely intolerable: "blogwhoring", ooooh, bad boy, "stealing traffic"! Among progressives who reject ad revenue and who measure their worth not by the number of flash-bulb clicks they collect on the red cyber-carpet but by the fundamental creative quality of their thought and prose, it's called "sharing your work for the purpose of peer-review and progressive dialogue". So here's my take: The Greatest Cliché: The Unexamined Propaganda of "Political Correctness".


Eli said...

Hi Kai, and welcome! Funny, I literally *just* finished reading that post of yours that timewarp linked to.

You're welcome to blogwhore here, but I warn you that it won't do you much good...

Karen M, I think "diaspora" works a lot better, unless one's perspective does not extend beyond FDL's boundaries. I was just riffing on the typo, is all.

Anonymous said...

HA! This is the thread that keeps on giving! Hey there timewarp and Kai, old friends...

Hey, we're all *pearl-clutchers* now, I guess. bwahahaha.

Funny thing is, one of my main objections to the blackface was not even the obvious stupidity and hurtfulness of the image, but that it was so hackneyed. Gee, what a cutting-edge idea... Let's slap some blackface on a photo and call ourselves an institute!

pearl-clutchers my ass. How about thoughtful people living in the 21st century?

Anonymous said...

oops... that was me. ;)

Anonymous said...

One more try. ;)

spork_incident said...

kai -

Nice place.


Eli said...

*shakes head sadly at Jenny*

I agree, though - if you're going to push the envelope, at least push the envelope with something clever and original. That wasn't it.

Timewarp, I don't think Jane was all that far off in saying that Temple 3 called darkblack a white supremacist (I'm also guessing that she wouldn't have spent a lot of time reading all three posts in their entirety). Of course, she could have put up the comment with just the other two links, but obviously she used that one link as an excuse to bag the entire comment. I'm not entirely sure I bought Temple 3's post, and some more links to specific white supremacist images would have been a big help. As would a larger font and more contrast between print and background...

I liked the other two posts, though, especially Kai's, and not just because he's here...

As for attention, I certainly wouldn't mind more traffic - essentially, I would like to get to the point where if I should ever happen to accidentally post something worthwhile or even useful, it has a chance of getting picked up and spread around. Other than that, I'm content to toil in peaceful obscurity, and I'm very relieved that this post *hasn't* turned into a high traffic blogwar between Multi Medium and the hordes of FDL. Some people are into that sort of thing, but I really can't stand it.

Anonymous said...

Note to self: never, ever comment on multi-medium with a sore throat and a fever. No good can come of it.

Eli said...

Heh. Sorry, Jenny - feel better, okay?

Anonymous said...

Eli, I agree that Temple 3's post comes very near to calling Darkblack a white supremicist, but so what? It was an open thread, people were asked to post their thoughts, and all I asked is that Jane make an attempt to thoughtfully read her critics, rather than just say "I'm right because I say I am"...and to "celebrate" free speech and edgy language while inviting comments and then to censor a particular comment because it links to some criticism worth thinking about...well, it is dishonest. And hypocritical. I mean if her minions can go around insulting people on other blogs as well as her own, you'd think she'd have a little bit of a thicker skin.

As for Temple 3's conclusions, having studied art history a bit, I think I understand where he is coming from, which is basically that there was an illustrative style which was very popular in pre-civil rights USA that tacitly underscores the "superiority" of whites by celebrating a certain normative image of white as not only ideal, but as superior to anything else. He rightly points out that Darkblack traffics almost in these kinds of images, which to me points to a "fault" shared by an awful lot of white people is that they make certain assumptions about what is good or ideal which is inherently racist or sexist without consciously realizing it. I mean ALL of my grandparents and both of my parents are like that though they would never agree with the overt statement that whites are better than all other people. Rather, it comes out in ideas like why can't they act/be more "normal" -- like us.

And I don't think it is farfetched to assume that Darkblack is not terribly clued into his own motivations regarding his "art" -- I mean putting Joe in Blackface was, like Jenny said (waving to Jenny!) pretty slapstick, and not all that well thought out. A lot of his other photoshopping strike me that way as well.

For another humorous (and academic) look at the politics of using blackface in art and to make a political point, I would point you to ebogjonson's brilliant spreadsheet.

Anyway, it is nice to be able to discuss this in a civil manner!

Eli said...

Well, I certainly *hope* I'm not racist, but my antennae are not that great (there's all kinds of stuff I'm oblivious to, not just racial - try hitting on me sometime and see if I even notice), so I could have used a little more handholding through the logic of the post. If you're going to say someone has a white supremacist outlook in their art, you should link to specific white supremacist images and explain what's white supremacist about them.

Whether that's sufficient grounds to suppress the comment, probably not. Now, if you had linked to a site *by* a white supremacist, that would have been something else entirely.

And I agree that darkblack is probably oblivious to what he's doing, with the caveat that he may be clumsily attempting to draw an equivalence between Republican enablers and cartoonishly submissive black people. Not that that makes it any better, just saying that it's an interpretation in which it's deliberate rather than unconscious.

Kai said...

Hi there, Jenny. Hope you feel better.

Thanks for the kind words, Eli.

One of the major sources of confusion in discussions of race seems to be the differing views of the words "racist" and "white supremacist". Most white liberals appear to think that being identified with any words or thoughts or actions that are criticized as "white supremacist" is a withering personal attack on one's liberal virtue. Whereas most people of color aren't concerned so much with the personal virtue of anyone in question, but are interested in noting and analyzing the myriad phenomena that emerge from the cultural and societal institutions of racism and white supremacy, in order to better understand and hopefully gradually dismantle those institutions. For most people of color, racism is not a severe social faux-pas but an experiential fact of daily life that we're interested in attacking wherever we see it regardless of party affiliation.

When I describe something as "white supremacist", I don't mean that its creator secretly attends Klan meetings. I just mean that there's a pattern-match between this cultural construct and the historical constructs of racism or white supremacy. Many times it's advisable to avoid such historically-loaded constructs in the same way that it's advisable to avoid joking about bombs and hijacking in the airport. In both cases, recent history easily justifies such sensible discretion.


Anonymous said...

We can discuss darkblack's subconscious til the cows come home, but I've found him (her?) to be a thoughtful and decent human being in comments. It's quite unfortunate that DB (not to mention Ned) was standing on the curb when Jane's shock-mobile sped through that puddle.

The bad judgement to post that image on a national blog when she was so closely associated with Lamont's campaign was soley Jane's faux pas.

BTW, is DB among the "disappearas"?

Good to see you again, Timewarp.

Anonymous said...

It's quite unfortunate that DB (not to mention Ned) was standing on the curb when Jane's shock-mobile sped through that puddle.

op99 - I agree. As a matter of fact I didn't intend my comment to slam DB, more the decision to post the image. I don't even know if DB was the *art director* or even if it was something from his/her archives and not even produced for the *occasion*. The blame in my mind rests solely with management.

I like the commenter darkblack and I see the humanity there.

Kai said...

Yeah I have to agree darkblack was quite a fine commenter, as far as I remember. I had some good exchanges with him and enjoyed his wit on many occasions.

Anyway, it's been fun hangin' out for old time's sake. Good to see everyone.

Take care out there.

Anonymous said...

I was never really clear who originated the concept of the *art*... and I felt that was intentional, to keep the conversation muddled. DB did defend the work but how it came into being was never explained. It might have been commissioned and DB was too honorable to lay blame, which wouldn't surprise me. Just don't know.

Anonymous said...

Oh fer chrissake. Better hop into bed for reals. Later, all.

anonymous = JftB

Donna said...

I'm adding to what Kai said just to make it clear. When POC (people of color) talk about white supremacy we are not discussing skinheads or klan meetings. You actually described what we are talking about Eli, it's that automatically thinking of white people and their ideas and behaviors as normative and everyone else not only different but inferior.

Blackface was always about caricature; the black man as a sniveling, shifty, stupid, thieving, foolish, etc stereotype. So even those of us who objected to it understood the joke, and agreed that Lieberman has many of these characteristics, but where we disagreed is that black men do NOT, and never have and found the equivalency offensive.

I wanted to say a big thank you to all of you who commented on the FDL language thread. I used to love that site, read it all the time, but only rarely commented. Most of you probably don't remember me at all. I left for many of the same reasons some of you have left, or are uncomfortable with FDL now. TRex's over the top anger and invective, the cliquishness and groupthink, the overblown egos, and the increasing racism and sexism. I knew there were some out there who weren't happy with the direction FDL is headed, but I didn't realize how many. It gives me alot of hope.

Anonymous said...

I would also like to say that I liked DB as a commenter too, and I would also like to say in DB's defense that s/he handled the criticism with quite a lot of grace, for instance DB never once responded to any criticism by launching gratuitous insults. And took pains to explain the rational behind it. But still couldn't seem to "get" why it was such an inflamatory image.

Oh, now that I think of it, DB did on a number of occaisions write that "I take full responsibility for the creation of the image" though of course that does not let Jane off the hook for using it. It was obviously constructed to attack Lieberman for the flyers in the African-American Church parking lots, that is, it wasn't sitting in an archive somewhere.

Also, Eli, I agree that the Temple 3 post could've been constructed so that it was is obvious that he was writing to an audience in which he assumed a certain vocabulary. But I don't think he cares much about traffic!

Nice to see you too Op99! And get well Jenny!

Eli said...

Welcome, Donna! Your name seems familiar to me, but I could have you confused with someone else.

Thanks for the clarification; it's a strain of racism all the same, although perhaps more of an unconscious and therefore insidious one.

Perhaps I'm overindulging in oversimplification (one of my favorite vices), but I think that what has gone awry at FDL could really be summed up with a single word: Anger. Frustration and rage at the Republicans and media and collaborator Democrats is only natural (believe me, I know), but when you start to spew it in *every* direction, and perceive everyone who disagrees with you as an enemy, then you've lost control.

Without the anger, I think most of the other problems go away, or can at least be discussed rationally.

Anonymous said...

a world with only Eli.

of course you know i didn't mean quite that. that would be boring, no offense.

and i agree completely with your comments about eschaton.

i like the the freewheel'n style, but there has been some de-evolution over time. and cliques, that's so fuck'n hi school/group dynamics.

getting along takes effort. bi-partisanship has nothing to do with date rape, which is a crime.

oh, 101st!

Anonymous said...

Kai and Donna, between your two comments, I finally understand the power of blackface as a negative stereotype in a visceral way.

Blackface is to POC as cunt is to woman.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Eli, sorry about your comment count, lol.

Eli said...

No problem. I got nothin' to complain about...

Kai said...

op99: Blackface is to POC as c*** is to woman.

You got it. I also like to say that blackface is the n-word in pictorial form.

Eli, thanks for hosting this little reunion. I'll be back to Multi Medium to keep up with your writing.


Eli said...

Thanks, Kai! It was my (unexpected) pleasure. I look forward to seeing you here again - hopefully my future posts won't suck too horribly...

And not only have I added you to my blogroll, but I passed up "ubbvoo" as a verification word to do so.

Anonymous said...

Ach, wish I hadn't been so busy today and coulda met up with Kai and timewarp here in real time -- anyhow, hi, ol' pals -- wonderful to see you again!

Jenny, I hope you'll feel like yourself again ASAP. Got a handy deli to deliver the chicken soup, I hope? Bon.

Donna, I don't recall whether we've "met," but like op99, I deeply appreciate your and Kai's illuminating comments here (and Kai's always at Zuki).

My eye-petals are about to close for the night, but I'll be back tomorrow to check out your links, timewarp and Kai, and your subsequent posts, Eli.

Now he'p me out here, friends -- I may be hallucinating this, but I'm all but certain that Blackface Joe showed up on FDL (more likely in a DB comment than with a post) a day or two before it hit HufPo. Anybody else remember that? I recall immediately thinking, "OMG! Bad enough back at FDL, but now HERE?!"

Also trying to place who joined me in the initial hollering to get it the fuck down -- imm and meta, for sure ... and littledog, angie, and you, Jenny, I think? Who'm I leaving out?

At any rate, Eli, my thanks again for this world enough and time to have such a welcome reunion and discussion. Dahlin', you should just heah "mensch" in mah accent -- ya git three whole syllables' wuth, heh!

Eli said...

lotus, I have the same recollection of the sequence of events - that the blackface picture was already floating around the comments before it hit HuffPo.

And you're very welcome for the reunion, but I don't know if I can really take any credit for it - it just sorta... happened. All I had to do was not shoo people away.

Donna said...

I recognize you and many others here from FDL Eli. So you may have seen a few of my comments. The last exchange I clearly remember was with zennurse, my sister is also a nurse and worked in the hospice section of her hospital but only lasted 3 months before she had severe anxiety attacks and wound up in the hospital herself, she thought she was having a heart attack. That work is so difficult and the hospice is lucky to have someone like zennurse willing to do it year after year.

I tended to comment on threads that had to do with the economy or labor issues, my husband is a teamster. So if that kind of thing interests you, you probably saw a comment or two from me.

I think that in this society it is difficult for a person not to internalize some racism. That's why I have no animosity towards darkblack for the image. I believe it was unconcious, he clearly understood the type of person that someone in blackface would portray, which is exactly the kind of person Lieberman is, but didn't take into account the historical perspective of black people while making the image. He simply did not completely think it through. As Kai said, it is the pictoral form of the n-word. If darkblack had called a white person that n-word, it would be offensive to black people, even though it was not aimed at them. It really is the same as how many of us women feel about the c-word being used against even detestable women like Ingraham. It catches all women in the crossfire. She isn't detestable because of her body parts, so they do not belong in the conversation.

spork_incident said...

The "Thread That Will Not Die".

Bad movie title.

lotus -

That you were cast-out disturbers me.

But you have friends here.


Anonymous said...

Hiya Lotus!

If you don't mind, my curiosity is getting the best of me, just what happened with Jane kabooming you? And what was the Kai (waving at Kai!) incident?

I knew that there had been some sort of a dust up involving you becuase there were references to *something* off and on, but whatever it was happened on a thread that I missed and I never figured out, but I am really shocked to hear that you had actually been banned. For what on earth??????

I was on the morning thread when the DB graphic showed up on huffpo and repeatedly Christy & *ilson to try do something, anything to get it down--it was hosted on the FDL server (not on huffpo) so I figured that if they could get into the fdl files and delete it... And got piled on a bit for giving it more attention, as if it made any difference after Drudge got his hands on it.

The other interesting thing that happened that day was that at some point it was taken down from huffpo and then it was put up again, until it was finally taken down for good.

Also, I don't know if anyone has seen this rather amusing perspective.

Anyway, what a fun reunion and big thanks to Eli for hosting it!

Eli said...

She isn't detestable because of her body parts, so they do not belong in the conversation.

Nothing below the eyebrows, anyway...

Anonymous said...

Thanks, sporkie and timewarp.

I've worked on my recall of the Blackface Joe timing, so lemme get that outta the way first and then, timewarp, I'll tell you about the banning.

As your McEnroe link clarifies, the context was Jane's going after Lieberman for blanketing windshields in church parking lots with flyers suggesting that Ned's country-club membership was bad news for black voters. In that (very late July?) thread, a DarkBlack snark linked to what would shortly become a famous image. I remember clicking on it and briefly thinking "Aw jeez, I wish he hadn't done that," and going on. Some people yucked it up, but probably most never clicked on it to begin with. I'm assuming that Jane saw it and decided it was just the thing to jazz-up her Aug 2 HufPo piece (which wasn't about the Ned=badracistmeanie flyers, but something else that I still don't recall, probably because I couldn't focus on it very well after the show got so soundly stolen). Anyhow, that's what I remember of the sequence -- this was anything from one to three days pre-HufPo, but probably nearer rather than farther in time.

Now then, the Ballad of the Banning of Lotus:

Between the week immediately following YKos and the 26th of August, Jane responded to me three times (the only three times she ever did). Each time, something I'd said had mightily pissed her off and she wanted everyone to understand that. Each time, what I'd said (and only the first was directed to her) was in one way or another a request that we avoid "friendly fire" between commenters.

KaBOOM #1, The Margaret Incident, was Jane's tearing into a new commenter named Margaret, who'd ID'd herself as a little-old-lady type dismayed by some of the pretty-rough anger being exchanged among the commenters that night. Remember how edgy the whole place was that week? Anyhow, I said something unwise -- something like "I'm sorry to see this happen, Jane, and I hope when you're better rested you'll come to see Margaret as an ally instead of an adversary." And here came Jane, blazing away at me for "hijacking the thread." I did what I could to get offstage ASAP.

KaBOOM #2, The Kai Incident, occurred during a Sunday Morning Talking Heads thread shortly after Blackface Joe (Aug 20, I theeenk), when Kai turned up to introduce and link to his excellent "Blackface Joe: Five Grievances" (which good ol' you linked upthread here). Kai's introductory comment was so graceful and intriguing that I immediately clicked through and read the whole piece, returning to FDL full of wowed respect for this new-to-me voice and mind. But I arrived to an all-out in-full-cry pursuit by Jane's pack of house-hounds. I couldn't stand that and piped up, asking them to please go read the thing -- it was beautifully and powerfully thought out and crafted, and obviously meant to help rather than harm our cause. Oh man, did THAT bring Jane down. Goddam, she'd warned me before about hijacking her goddam threads, etc., etc., and who the fuck did I think I was, blahdy-blah-blah. I thought for sure I was was a goner on the spot. Really, I don't have clear recall of all this (being pretty shocked at the time) but if I'd had any previous doubt, now I knew to a certainty that this woman DID NOT LIKE ME.

KaBOOM #3, The Freakdaddy Incident, came on Aug 26, when I took too-cryptic exception to somebody named freakdaddy's phrase "selling pussy on a troop train." I just said I didn't like that kind of talk, freakdaddy came back on and apologized very sincerely, I accepted sincerely, and we both went on about our gracious bidness. Quite some time passed, but then here came Jane to land on me with everything she had. Freakdaddy wasn't the one outta line, I was. I felt no shock at all this time but was actually surprised when my next comment -- "So am I banned, Jane? If so, I want to thank everybody for having been such good company here" (something very close to that) -- went through. Crickets for a long while. Then punaise came on to try to rephrase what had happened, saying things I couldn't agree to no matter how much I liked him, so I said, "I disagree, and I know that means I must go now." I hushed then, but others -- notably scarecrow and Anne, but several others too -- came on to defend me or otherwise say how bad they felt about this development. Someone signing in as "jd" (new to me), said "Jane, you're cutting the warmth and heart out of the blog without even knowing it." I captured the whole exchange to email to a couple of non-bloggy friends (subject: "Jeez, I just attended my own funeral -- and hit wadn't that bad"). So I've got that "jd" comment to this day, but FDL soon disappeared it.

[This Ballad has become a Saga, and I apologize, but I'm so near the end now, that I'll keep going.] I meant to maintain radio-silence for good then -- didn't want to stir up anything to distract from the campaigns -- but so many people kept bringing up "lotus" for so many days that finally I decided the less distracting thing to do was to show up again.

So I did, but shortly thereafter, everything I said started going directly into moderation and had to be manually freed. Depending on which mod was on duty, that could be instantly or never -- for most of the next three weeks, it was never. Near the end of that time came my birthday, and I was floored by how many people I didn't think knew I existed woohooed it. DarkBlack even put up a lotus "card" for me, etc. As delighted as I was, I knew this wouldn't please Jane a-tall, so I sorta hoped it would peter out soonish.

A day or two later, it finally did, and wonder-of-wonders, suddenly I was free from what ET called my "modgitmo" too. For three whole days, I didn't need moderators to free or friends to post my comments, because the blessed fuchsia bar reappeared. Then, midday Tuesday after my b'day had been Thursday, it was over for good. I submitted a comment and it just disappeared instantly -- no stopping by jail er nuthin, just GONE. Two days later, John Casper emailed that he'd had it from Jane that I'd been banned, I wrote to her for confirmation, and she supplied same. Said I'd been banned for "repeatedly breaking the rules of the site despite having been warned."

And that, dear timewarp, was that. Sorry it took me so perishin' long to tell it.

Eli said...

(which wasn't about the Ned=badracistmeanie flyers, but something else that I still don't recall, probably because I couldn't focus on it very well after the show got so soundly stolen)

Walmart, IIRC.

HopeSpringsATurtle said...

Sorry..I have to pipe in...Lotus being banned had a big effect on me. I saw lotus as the "heart" of fdl. She was the first person to welcome me and make me feel a part of that community. She was obviously liked by people at the site and alway had a kind word and spot-on perspective. Jane's booting of Lotus, was totally out-of-bounds to me. JH was punitive and nasty and publically shamed herself and Lotus for what really appears to be a 'personality' issue. I lost respect for Jane that day watching her pubicly humiliate Lotus. I continued to read at fdl but commented less until finally the tone toward any kind of disent became mean-spirited and to me counter-productive. I won't comment on the personal dynamics that to me seem obvious but eventually I did go elsewhere to read. This latest incident was the "straw" for me and I have removed fdl from my blogroll because I no longer find it's resource a 'good value' for the price one must pay emotionally. I don't mind mistakes, we all make them, but sticky up for bullies and acting as if it's "nothing to see here folks", is too much for my sensibilities.

Anonymous said...

Aw, Hopey, big ol' floway hug to you, my pal. My very valiant pal!

I hope you know I read your site allatime, just rarely comment because I can't ever think of much to add after you've nailed it so well.

Anonymous said...

Lotus, that's a pathetic story, and I do remember some of it happening real-time. Just ridiculous.

You gave me a big warm welcome as you did for Hope (hi Hope!) and that means everything when you're a new commenter on a blog.

At first I thought FDL was a fantastic place because of the low troll factor but then it became clear it was run by leftytotalitarianfascists (seriously) and that's all she wrote. I can't imagine a new world order with Jane Hamsher in a position of power. Yikes, it would be like Lord of the Flies cubed.

I'm so sorry you were treated in such a cruel and caprcious manner and I'm glad you're OK. I have thought about you.

Meanwhile, I can't believe we're still on this subject. I guess we were slightly traumatized, ha. It's always interesting when something turns out to be the polar opposite of what you expect so it's good to do a post-mortem, to have some closure.

Even though I wasn't there too long I was affected, and I did feel like a fool for succuming to a false premise even for that short time.

Anonymous said...

Jenny, I can't tell you how happy I am to get to talk with you and everybody else again (and to read such good stuff as Eli provides). A pure-d delight, it is!

Yepper, Jane/TRex/the house-hounds messed up badly by running off the likes of us. I saw some names there that I still miss (the thread the other night was the first I'd looked in on in what feels like forever), but most of the folks I was there to hear from apparently aren't available anymore. (You can only guess what that means in terms of equally interesting, possibly influential or powerful, silent readership.) I bet a lot of the internationals who'd started to show up probably aren't around there much anymore, either.

I don't think I was the "heart" of it by any means (though I thank Hopey for that kind mis-description), but WE -- the gathering on this thread -- collectively, we and others like us, were. What's left there now is just venom mistaken for juice.

Donna said...

I just posted a round up on this if anyone is interested. My blog is here, and it's the top post. Took me all day!

I hope you don't mind me jumping in on your conversation, lotus and jenny. In my post I highlighted that margaret confrontation over at Dark Sun. That was so over the top that sunrunner wrote about it in the comments on her Jane Hamsher/Ann Coulter thread.

And what you said, "It's always interesting when something turns out to be the polar opposite of what you expect", jenny. I said that I think alot of my anger over this is because I feel duped. I even nominated and voted for FDL for the Koufax awards last year. It was one of my favorite blogs and I do feel like I have been duped.

Donna said...

I'd like to add this post to my round up Eli, if it's ok with you. I don't have much of a readership, so it's not like it's going to gain alot of attention there, but I'll leave it to you to decide. I know you weren't expecting even the attention you have gotten now. LOL

Eli said...

The Freakdaddy incident was the one I remember most vividly, because the smackdown just seemed to utterly unnecessary from any perspective. The situation was very clearly resolved and settled, and there was no need for anyone to say anything more.

Donna, feel free. Jane already knows about it (and was surprisingly gracious), so I guess the barn door is already open.

Jenny from the Blog said...

Hi Donna -

It's a pleasure to read you and I look forward to having more conversations about things that really matter in the future. You're clearly a fantastic and high quality individual.

Ya know, I think FDL management would like to frame this as the *pearl-clutching squares* vs the *hip retrobates* but that ain't flying.

I'm just an interested person who felt lucky to find a great blog where I could have some good conversations about issues that mattered to me; and also have some fun. Life does have its disappointments. LOL.

Hope to see you soon, Donna!

Eli said...

I think of myself as more of an "unhip reprobate".

Anonymous said...

Me, I'm jes' vedge.

Good show, Donna.

Jenny from the Blog said...

Eli, get offa my lawn!

Anonymous said...

Holy Moly Lotus!!!

The first inkling I had that anything was going on was during your abscence when people kept asking where Lotus was. I was not reading FDL so much at that time, because it was a busy time in my own life, and I was already becoming disillusioned.

But I am shocked, I mean really shocked to hear that it was Jane who was giving you such a hard time. I do remember that when it was mentioned in the comments, I thought it strange that no one said who the culprit was (I mean, who on earth would pile onto the lovely lotus????), well now it makes sense.

And I agree with Hope, you were the heart of FDL.

Well, it is obvious that Jane Hamsher has some serious anger issues, which is sad, because it looks like it is liable to be her undoing. As do many of us, I suppose--it is mainly a problem when one can't admit it is a problem, and thinks that because one thinks that one is right about everything, then it is ok do whatever, however.

She really is reminding me more and more of some of the more unattractive "pundits" on the right.

And thanks for filling in the missing bit about the graphic showing up in the comments...and explains why DB (to his credit) went to so many pains to take full responsibility for it as a piece of "art." He was being genuine in that respect, but it still doesn't excuse Jane for making the decision to use it.

The Colin McEnroe does add interesting perspective doesn't it? It is clear that she was in CT as much to promote herself as to promote Ned, which she could've done just as effectively through the blog from anywhere. And it must've been really awful for here when she had to suddenly drop out of sight (I wonder if the NY Times interview took place before the blackface incident, because it was in the paper the very next day; there usually isn't such a fast turn around on those sorts of articles). And I wonder if on some level she didn't in the end blame "traitorous" FDL commenters for making such a big deal about it, failing to realize that the wingnuts were all over it anyway and that ultimately it was her responsibility--she made a lousy judgement call and paid for it. Adn then there is the paranoia, all the talk about disgruntled types trying to take her down etc.

And on that note, that this is the first time I have had any *personal* contact with other FDL commenters, not one single email with anyone, ever. But even though I was never more than mildly bullied (and John Casper, bless him, did come to my defense) I was not at ease with how much more overt it seemed to be becoming as the summer wore on. I came to my conclusions all by myself and I suspect that is the case with an awful lot of others, who just faded away into the tubes. Also, I did notice there was a group of really brilliant commenters who seemed to dissapear after the Plame controversy died out, which was exactly why I got hooked on FDL in the 1st place...and like Donna felt quite burned when it turned out not to be what it seemed.

Anyway, it is really great to see familiar names that I really did miss. Which is why I didn't just go cold turkey with FDL after the blackface incident.

Eli--Donna is wondering over on Zuky's blog whether you really want all this traffic?

Eli said...

timewarp - I left a note to Donna on her blog in case she doesn't check back here or at Zuky.

Anonymous said...

Lotus, Here's some good material for your archives! ;-)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for that, timewarp.

I hope y'all understand where I'm coming from on this one, and I bet you will. It's taken some real effort to heal from being silenced like that, without a chance to tell my friends goodbye or let them know that I hadn't deserted them by choice. That was by far the worst of it.

But I have gone on down the road and largely healed now, and that matters a lot. I've gone back to paying most of my attention to getting and trying to understand each day's news, not slogging around in the fen that's left of a Lake.

So as deep a pleasure as it's been to visit with you all again -- and as grateful as I am finally to have a place to tell my story to people willing to listen -- now I need to pick up where I left off a few days ago and keep moving on away from it. I don't expect to be back to this thread, but instead wander on "upstairs" here (and elsewhere, for instance's, to Hopey's).

Somewhere upthread I left my email addy, so if any late-arriving old buddies want to contact me, they can and I'll be delighted anew.

I thank you now, every single one.

darkblack said...

Frankly, my commentary comes rather late to this spirited discussion but there appears to be some confusion over the appearance of a certain image.

'Blackface Joe', as others call it, appeared for the first time at HuffPo, with the image resident on FDL's server space.

I never used the image, linked or otherwise, in any 'snark' post or hosted it on server space available to me prior to that time or subsequently.
Please feel free to review FDL posts and commentary in that time frame to verify this.
Racism is not a laughing matter, and the picture was not designed to cause a chuckle.
Also, the image was not commissioned by another, but was an independent creation.
I would also note, en passant, that right wing elements continue to seize on the connotations of that image, yet refuse to address its context. How telling.

While I respect Kai (who made some valid points regarding historical background), I have very little use for the armchair psychoanalysis proffered by others who appear to want for data needed to verify their accusations, and amuse themselves creating hypothetical personaes of others that have no basis in reality.

As for my presence at FDL...Not being an 'employee', I come and go as I choose, as do we all.

Blessings upon you

Anonymous said...

Hi DB, talk about the thread that wouldn't die, eh?

Thanks for the definitive answer to the speculation about the creation of "the image."

I was in FDL comments when everybody's hair caught on fire. At the time, I thought that "the image" was a political stupidity on Jane Hamsher's part, and a matter of personal taste artistically. This thread of Eli's has lead me to many blogs about race by POC (people of color), a whole are of discussion I had never been exposed to before. In addition to "the blackface incident," I read commentary about Burqagate, Clinton-blogger-lunch-gate, many race and gender targeted atrocities by TRex, among other things.

I think the most important point by the POC (and feminists) that has finally sunk into my little noggin, is that whenever one of these kerfluffles erupts, the POC bloggers are generally decrying the thing itself (e.g., there were no blacks at Clinton's blogger lunch, TRex referred to white bloggers as "betters" of a black blogger), while white bloggers are generally defending their intentions. The POC bloggers have brought me around to their position that intentions don't matter, only the results.

Donna at 12/02/2006 5:16 PM said:

Blackface was always about caricature; the black man as a sniveling, shifty, stupid, thieving, foolish, etc stereotype. So even those of us who objected to it understood the joke, and agreed that Lieberman has many of these characteristics, but where we disagreed is that black men do NOT, and never have and found the equivalency offensive.

darkblack said...

"Hi DB, talk about the thread that wouldn't die, eh?

Thanks for the definitive answer to the speculation about the creation of "the image."..."

You're quite welcome, Op99.

For further definitive answers, I would direct interested parties to one of Aztlán's finest, The Unapologetic Mexican.

Respect and salutations to all,