On HotAir etiquette (rebuttal to MadisonConservative and commenters)
posted at 6:32 pm on March 30, 2010 by CK MacLeod
(I’d like to thank MadisonConservative for taking Allahpundit’s advice and responding with a post of his own to my original post on Sarah Palin’s endorsement of John McCain. Thanks also to all of the HotAir commenters who took the time to state their views in the comment threads of both posts.
I’m splitting my rebuttal into two parts, rather than put up one long post, because certain claims and accusations were made that had very little to do with the main political topics. This post will address those claims and accusations. The next post will address the endorsement question and why I think it’s worth continuing to discuss.)
DEBATES AT HOTAIR
Unlike several volunteer HotAir etiquette monitors who complained about the “dead horse” “point/counterpoint” between MadisonConservative (MC) and myself yesterday, I think such debate is good for HotAir, and I look forward to more of it – whether on the main page, in the Greenroom, or the comment threads, or all three at once.
Many of my posts are inspired by disagreement, often by disagreement with someone I like and respect. Liking and respecting someone can make disagreements with them a lot more interesting and often more useful as well, though, as in real life, it may also sometimes test a relationship. (That’s life!) A very partial list of bloggers with whom I’ve disagreed in Greenroom posts includes JE Dyer, Doctor Zero, Max Boot, Jonathan Tobin, John Podhoretz, the Other McCain, Insta-Punk… and Ed Morrissey and Allahpundit – great conservative bloggers all. Lest I be accused of only attacking my (supposed) allies, I’ve also based posts on disagreements with such as Andrew Sullivan, Matthew Yglesias, Ezra Klein, Glenn Greenwald, David Neiwert, John Amato, David Frum, and David Brooks. MadisonConservative now joins this ecumenical roster, and I’m looking forward to adding others to the growing list, which also includes many HA and Zombie Contentions commenters with whom I mix it up on a regular basis.
Those who find the resultant discussions uninteresting or disturbing are free… to look or go away. At any time. Like now, for instance. Leave a critical comment or don’t. More likely than not, no one will care what someone who claimed not to be interested felt it necessary to say.
A few commenters on the two threads also objected to my use of remarks by fellow HotAir-users. In the opening remarks of his response post, MadisonConservative addressed an aspect of this issue directly: “I think comments should be responded to with more comments, not with the bullhorn of the Greenroom posting privilege.”
So here’s something for us to disagree about. Excellent!
Let me be Nixon/Obama perfectly and crystal clear: I don’t think you should be commenting in the threads at a high traffic public political forum like HotAir without the expectation that what you say might be used by someone to make a point – for, against, for the fun of it, whatever. In my opinion the only valid complaints about being referenced would be “I have been misquoted” (or misleadingly quoted) and, in some instances, “I haven’t been properly credited!”
Rather than complain about being noticed, why shouldn’t commenters welcome being taken seriously – treated as though their ideas and opinions may actually be significant and worthy of respect, consideration, and response – not just “tears in rain” lost forever to the great internet flood?
As for the two commenters I referred to in my post, some users apparently gained the mistaken impression that I had grouped them with the haters to whom I had earlier referred. That’s neither what I wrote nor what I think.
The paragraph in which they’re mentioned begins with an observation about “many” who seem to hate John McCain so much that they see Palin’s endorsement of him over JD Hayworth as unforgivable simply on that basis. In the next sentence, I describe a second group – “[o]thers” whose feelings and opinions aren’t as strong, but who tend to view the endorsement negatively, possibly on balance in Palin’s interests, or at at worst excusable. It’s in that group that I put the two HotAir commenters. I went on to associate their opinions with those of the Fox News All Stars. Unless you’re a Fox-hater, that’s a compliment.
I happen to think that both of the commenters are stand-up guys. I happened to disagree with them on a political point. That’s it. There is no other responsible and reasonable way to read what I wrote, and I resent on the commenters’ behalf as well as my own the attempts to put a different gloss on the matter. I’m pro-commenter. I was nothing but a commenter at HA, occasionally getting a kick out of it when a big boy blogger noticed my lowly comments, and then when I was eventually invited to become a Greenroomer. My home blog was founded as a refuge for commenters who had been suddenly shut out en masse at another site. I am a man of the commenters!
HATRED vs CRITICISM
Finally, regarding that first group I mentioned above, the haters, I stand by my remarks. We can disagree on the definition of “many,” I suppose, but I think it’s beyond obvious that some people who regularly comment at HotAir dislike John McCain passionately, intensely, and irrepressibly enough for their verbal conduct to qualify under dictionary or common sense definitions of hateful – as in, “So-and-so sure does hate Johnny Mac!” There were a few commenters under my or MadisonConservative’s posts who admitted as much, explicitly, but insisted on their right to hate (because McCain “deserves it so”). Others ignored the argument, and, as usual, exploited the subject of McCain to indulge in the familiar excesses (“idiot backstabbing liar,” “McStain,” etc., etc.).
As hatred goes, this stuff appears more to be of the impotent rage and venting variety than the dangerous and murderous variety, but neither type contributes much to political discussion, in my opinion, or does much credit to the commenter or to HotAir. If people want to go on that way, that’s their concern, within TOS limits. I have as much right to call it what I think it is as those who are into the richly satisfying hateful hatred have to express themselves.
In the meantime, the claim, using MadisonConservative’s words, that I “designat[ed]” all “critics of McCain” as haters is false – and was correctly identified by several commenters as a “straw man” evasion. If you commented to some other effect, then you need to read posts more carefully before commenting on them, or are engaging in the kind of chip-on-shoulder mind-reading extrapolation that’s supposed to characterize the PC left. I fully accept that John McCain can be criticized, that he may even deserve severe criticism. John McCain thinks so, too, I’m pretty sure.
Now, on to the next disagreements.