What to make of the blogger brouhaha engulfing the Edwards campaign?
First, I guess I have to backtrack from yesterday’s lament that the media doesn’t pay attention to outrageous comments when they come from the left. The New York Times, the AP, CNN, ABC… they’re all paying attention.
(By the way, Terry Moran, in an updated post, explains why he thinks the bloggers’ comments can be described as ‘hate speech,’ and I think he makes an effective argument:
A couple of points. First, it seems to me that trashing the sacred beliefs of another person in sexually explicit or scatological terms for the purpose of wounding and delegitimizing the other person could fairly be construed as hateful. The gutter is always the comfortable resort of haters. That’s why white supremacists use the word “n*****” and slander all black men by portraying them as sexually predatory beasts; that’s why antisemites repeat the blood libel. For another disgusting example of this kind of discourse, check out what “James” wrote about Islam in response to my post on Edwards and Marcotte (at 2:40:24 PM EDT); pure hatred, in my view.
There are all kinds of ways to dispute what another person says or believes. Sometimes, giving offense is a great way to make a point, to get heard, to break through the unspoken oppression of certain views. But to seek to obliterate the legitimacy of another person’s faith or other allegiances–and wound them in the process with the vilest terminology–isn’t debate. It’s rhetorical gangsterism.
If one gives absolutely no respect to one’s rhetorical opponents, one doesn’t have much of a right to demand respect in return.)
As of this morning, it’s still not quite clear whether the bloggers have been dismissed, or where things stand as Salon updated its report:
Speculation from sources that the two bloggers might be rehired was bolstered by Jennifer Palmieri, a spokeswoman for the Edwards campaign, who said in an e-mail that she would “caution [Salon] against reporting that they have been fired. We will have something to say later.”
Still, you figure if they weren’t fired (or perhaps being disciplined or reassigned) the Edwards campaign would have just come out and said, “They’re not fired, we stand by our staff.”
On paper, Edwards has reached a point where he just about has to minimize the damage by dismissing the bloggers. How would you like to be the head of “Catholics for Edwards”? How do you make the case that John Edwards is the candidate that Catholics ought to vote for, when he’s seen their writing – semen jokes about the Virgin Mary — and responded with a shrug?
Inevitably, some angry lefty out there will read the above and accuse me of stifling free speech. Hey – Marcotte has every right to write her gross-out humor and sneering disdain for the religious beliefs of millions of Americans (although her assertion that the Duke lacrosse players are rapists may run afoul of libel laws). But Edwards has every right to not hire her, and if he deems her a liability to his campaign, fire her.
How does something like this happen? It’s easy to suspect that the professional campaign class largely falls into two groups. The first are old-school, non-Internet oriented types who don’t read the blogs, can’t be bothered to keep up with blogs, and whose attitude is, ‘let’s get the campaign a blogger, I don’t care who, just get me a big name.’ The other are the political die-hard true-believers who read these writings and who aren’t offended because they largely agree with them; they’ve completely lost touch with how offensive, obnoxious, and out-of-the-mainstream those comments sound to the non-blogging world.
By the way, if writing outrageous, furious blog postings can hinder your future career options, this may actually save the blogosphere. I’m not kidding. A wise man once noted that the character of the medium changed once bloggers started appearing on television. Suddenly, writing a blog wasn’t just a hobby or something done for passion; it was a road to fame and fortune! Thus, blogger sought traffic to attract advertisers and other attention, and the dominant style got shriller, angrier, louder, flashier, less thoughtful and more instantaneously reactive.
If using the F-bomb more frequently than punctuation and metaphorically spitting on the beliefs of others can hinder one’s chances at future career opportunities, we may see a politer, more respectful, kindler and gentler blogosphere.
UPDATE: Jonah offers some thoughts over on the Corner.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Danny Glover – the smart one I used to work with, not the former Detective Murtaugh – thinks I’m dreaming.
And in other news, Leon Wolf of RedState is now the new blogger for the Sam Brownback campaign. Lefties, start your searches through the archives…
YET ANOTHER UPDATE: By the way, I have no intention of working as a campaign blogger, but if I ever do in the distant future, I encourage my future employers to practice something like this:
“All of us here at Edwards/Manson 2016 are appalled by the comments of Mr. Geraghty, and vehemently disagree with the tone and content of the remarks that have come to light. However, it is our understanding that when he wrote those comments, Mr. Geraghty was “off his meds”, and we do not expect additional comments that would contradict the views and standards of this campaign. We will be keeping him on as the official campaign blogger.”
Heck, Edwards might as well try playing that card.