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O Blogosphere!

We’ve got a beautiful thing here, don’t we? And, from my perspective, the greatest thing about it is that it’s a massive, open-ended, and unedited conversation–complete with typos, sleep-deprived grammar, and the occasional ugliness generated by misunderstandings (and, yes, sometimes generated by very clear understandings indeed!)

If we lose this “anything goes” attitude–man, we’ve got nothing left!

Now look. I disagree with Johanna Draper Carlson on almost every point she makes on her blog (even her frequent wheedling of “bigots”–of whom I’m no fan, I assure you–is so censoriously offputting that I find myself wanting to see their side of things!). Her brand of “feminism for women only” seems to me to participate in an essentialization of the feminine that hearkens back to Victorian “separate spheres theory”, and her disavowal of any interest in “sordid” subject matter gives me pause. On top of which, she judges works of art based on their “worth”, which is a far more defensible position than essentialist feminism or a devotion to bourgeois escapism, but still, I think you know where I stand on that question too! So yeah, I don’t think her ideas are helpful ones, and I want to combat them.

But I have never attempted to do anything to interfere with her ability to make her points, and if, as she claims, I have often been guilty of misinterpreting what she has said, I’m just idealistic enough to want to leave the decision on that matter up to the reading public (it’s immaterial what she or I think she is saying, isn’t it?)

Anyway, the latest incident between us is an extremely unpleasant one, and, frankly, I think she ought to be ashamed of herself. If I am wrong, well, too bad for me right? You will be the judges of that, my friends!



Question: is it ever okay to tamper with the comment-threads attached to your posts? I would say no. If you can’t deal with comments, don’t invite them. I will never delete anything that comes up here, I can assure you of that! Perhaps, you might argue, a blogger would be justified in taking this action if the comment in question contained truly objectionable (maybe Johanna would call it “tricky”) material (and you see how this feeds back into the question that spawned the debate, right?) Fine. But what’s objectionable? Threats. I can see that. Swearing? Less justifiable, but I’ll even grant the censors that one, if they want it. How about accusing a blogger of avoiding the issues at hand? Or, even, just being guilty of “mischaracterizing” their arguments?

Apparently, that’s enough for Johanna Draper Carlson. Check it out. What does that look like? That I showed up and threw a crazy fit right? Well, I did nothing of the kind, and hopefully the people who saw what I wrote before she removed it will testify to that fact. It was not a “friendly” post, but it was not threatening or vulgar in any way. If I had ever dreamed that she would stoop to this level, I would’ve kept a copy of the text, just to show you what I mean. If I recall correctly, what I said was that I was not going to apologize for seeing some affinities between her position and good ol’ “dead chicks and mayhem”‘s, because I see the affinities more clearly than ever now, and that if she wanted to change my mind on this subject, she would have to stop browbeating me and attempt to persuade me instead. I also accused her of being ruled by “editorial pique”, and, on that score, it looks like I was more right than I knew!

Anyway, I’m not enjoying writing this entry, I can tell you that! I love debate, and it’s impossible to rile me, unless you start playing these kinds of games. I had nothing “personal” against Johanna Draper Carlson before now–and I still don’t, I suppose… I mean, we’re not actually acquainted, right? We’re just so many words to each other!
Unfortunately, I am now a few less words to her–and her readers!–than I ought to be. And that’s just sad…

Good Night friends!

Dave

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10 comments

  1. Dave,

    I used to have sort of the same attitude you do toward blogs, but I think I’ve moved more lately into thinking that each blog creator gets to define his or her own blog in certain ways. It doesn’t bother me that, say, Jim Henley doesn’t allow comments because I enjoy reading what he says very, very much and would not particularly enjoy the ignorant, uninformed comments political posts seem to draw. This means I miss out on the good comments, too, but Jim keeps a good eye on other blogs and links to people who address his points, so we get a virtual commenting system.

    At Peiratikos we have a minimal comment deletion policy (and I think I’ve only edited to fix people’s html) and have only had to remove spam so far, but I sympathize with people who get more and nastier comments than we do. I’ve seen situations in which a really offensive comment gets deleted because people start talking about that in a hysterical or redundant way, and I don’t know whether that’s useful or not; I think it sometimes is, and I can’t blame people at all for not wanting hatespeech on their blogs.

    I’ve been planning to write about this, actually, about modes of comics blogging and I have some ideas to look into more next year, but I think it’s clear not all comics blogs have the same orientation. And so it makes sense that they don’t all foster the same kinds of conversations, that there are different rules of engagement in different places. I’d be annoyed in Fanboy Rampage posters started making fuck/marry/kill jokes after all my posts, but I expect it on Fanboy Rampage (and whether Graeme is annoyed I couldn’t tell you) and it doesn’t bother me there.

    I guess what I’m saying is that idealistically I agree that deletion without comment is a bad thing, but I also think Johanna had both given you a chance to defend yourself and asked you not to post anymore, so maybe she’s just enforcing that last preference. Ultimately I wouldn’t want comics bloggers being uncomfortable or feeling threatened on their own blogs just because I think not deleting comments is some kind of higher goal, and I think it’s important and really essential that we all get to draw our own lines when it comes to this. There have been times when other bloggers have made choices I wouldn’t, sometimes ones that disappoint me, but I realize that I am not the dictator of the blogosphere (yet!) and what I think is best doesn’t and probably shouldn’t matter to them when they’re making their own decisions. And I think that’s a good thing, really.

    Rose

  2. hmmm…you raise some important points Rose. It’s true, I cannot deny that my comments did nothing to help to build the kind of site that Johanna wants run. Personally, if I were as offended by a person’s comments as she seems to have been by mine, I would’ve let the comments stand without adding further commentof my own about the person’s “behavior”…you know, if she thought I was tying a noose for myself there, why not just follow through and permit the self-hanging?

    I do understand why a blogger wouldn’t want to go to “work” in a threatening comment-environment, and this is precisely why I was upset by her action. The “trace” this editorial flourish has left behind fairly begs people to infer that I actually did threaten Johanna or something–which is the last thing in the world that I would ever do, of course! I probably would not have made much of an issue out of this event if her comments system didn’t have this bug–but it does and so here I am!

    Dave

  3. Dave, you seem to be trying to start a fight here, and it really doesn’t become you. I’ve never gotten the feeling that Johanna believes in “feminism for women only”, or that her judgment of works of art substantially different from most other people’s. (Of course, all I have to go on his what she’s written online, same as you.)

    And I’m sorry, I think it’s very material what she thinks she is saying. I mean, come on.

    As for “tampering” with comment threads — I think so long as you don’t change the intent of anyone else’s post, it’s yours to do what you wish. One person’s “censoring” is another person’s “avoiding a pointless flamewar in my virtual ‘home'”, I’d say. You’ve got your own forum to express and defend yourself, as you seem to be doing in this very post.

    But to me, this just comes across as antagonizing, even if you don’t mean it to. Just let it go.

  4. I’m definitely not trying to start a fight Steve–but I understand that it might look that way. As I have admitted in the post, I do of course have problems with some aspects of Johanna’s approach to criticism, on a philosophical level, but certainly no more so than I have with a number of other people’s, and isn’t that what blogging is all about anyway? I’m not about to get angry with a person over that kind of thing! But this seems different to me, and I could not let it pass without comment. I appreciate your remarks though…and of course I knew I ran the risk of appearing to persecute Johanna by posting this! Rest assured, I won’t be posting any comments at Cognitive Dissonance ever again! Nor will I bring this situation up here in the future. I’ve lodged my protest and that’s all I intend to do about it. Clearly, there’s nothing more that she and I can say to one another, although I’m not exactly sure why that is!

    Dave

  5. Having witnessed your misinterpretations (err … for another thread) from time to time, I’ve also seen that you’re one of the few who can argue without getting all hot under the collar, so Carlson’s way off base. But people aren’t very receptive to others disagreeing always assume the same in whoever their debating with. Anyhow, I’m in agreement with you (if you’ll allow me that possibility, heehee) about this and the dreaded ratings systems. Just another attempt at dumbing us down. Everything is becoming simplistic synopses of meaningful content. I see the day in the not too distant future where all debates will be a matter of looking up the relevant arguments and rebuttals in a series of Dummy books (if your opponent gives argument x from pg. 231, please see pg. 245 for the proper response). The age of syntax is upon us, all behavior, no understanding.

  6. ignore that last one, I’ll just correct here:

    Having witnessed your misinterpretations (err … for another thread) from time to time, I’ve also seen that you’re one of the few who can argue without getting all hot under the collar, so Carlson’s way off base. But people who aren’t very receptive to others disagreeing with them always assume the same in whoever their debating with. Anyhow, I’m in agreement with you about this (if you’ll allow me that possibility, heehee), as well as the dreaded ratings systems. Just another attempt at dumbing us down. Everything is becoming simplistic synopses of meaningful content. I see the day in the not too distant future where all debates will be a matter of looking up the relevant arguments and rebuttals in a series of Dummy books (if your opponent gives argument x from pg. 231, please see pg. 245 for the proper response). The age of syntax is upon us, all behavior, no understanding.

    Charles

  7. there ya go!

    see, for me, this is the bedrock level of agreement that we can build all of our fights on!

    Charles and I have skirmished over just about everything under the sun (or, maybe not, but I’m sure we’ll get aroung to everything, before we’re done!), and I really appreciate the relationship we’ve developed here (and on the TCJ Board!), particularly when he shows up to explain where he believes that I have gone off the deep end! We may never wind up convincing each other of anything either–this isn’t Hegelian dialectic here (thesis; anti-thesis; ta-da!: synthesis!), but it is a dialectic of sorts! I take it for granted that objections to my views are real, and important! I can’t articulate Charles’ views for him (not with the kind of gusto he musters, at any rate; and full-blooded expression is what Motime Like the Present is supposed to be all about!), and this blog would be a less exciting project for me if people like Charles quit hassling me! What the hell am I here for if not to be hassled?

    Dave

  8. Well, while I don’t know the person your particular issue this time is with (or perhaps her particular issues with you, I’m not sure) as someone who’s been blogging in one form or another since April 2000, all I can think to say is this:

    Ignore it.

    Say what you were going to say anyway. If you can’t trust the comments there, say it here. Ignore the distortions if there are any, ignore the sniping, ignore the blog drama and just say whatever you were going to.

    People get so emotional about their perspectives. I know I do. We lose sight of the essential victory in any attempt to communicate a perspective or position, the essential “I wish to make you see what I see” involved. The attempt at communion in communication, fragile and imperfect as it is, can be an endorsement of the essential worth of us all.

    It says “You matter. I wish to reach you.”

    Just keep going as you are, Dave.

    Matt Rossi

  9. Fuck! Shit! Cock! Ass! Titties! Boner! Bitch! Muff! Pussy! Cock! Butthole! Barbra Streisand!

    (so let’s see if Dave deletes this…note that the line is from South Park: Bigger, Longer, Uncut)

    Dave, just ask yourself this: What Would Mark Gruenwald Do? I’d just let this one go. If someone deletes a comment from their blog, it means they are incapable, for either good or bad reasons, of having a decent argument with you. If you pursue this, it’ll all end up like that Monty Python sketch, where you’ll be saying you had five more minutes when the other person says you haven’t.

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