Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Free Speech, Blogging & Amanda Marcotte Crossing the Line--UPDATED

Update: Iowahawk has a nice sum-up. He uses humor to illustrate the point. Very effectively.

I wrote hastily this morning and want to revisit the Amanda Marcotte affair knowing full well that most of my readers don't give a tinkers dam about this topic but I think it is important from a free speech perspective and since I'm a blogger, free speech is of utmost importance to me and I'm covering it and it's my blog. So there! To demonstrate my view on blogger free speech, here is what I said not too long ago:

OK, today we have an example at the other end of the spectrum. Tech Crunch reports that Apple is "bullying bloggers again" by siccing their lawyers on Bloggers who are reporting about a Skin made for Windows-based phones that looks identical to Apple's new iPhone interface.

The Bloggers are reporting. Let me repeat that. They are reporting about an interface and Apple demands that the reporters censor their reporting. Would the New York Times or Washington Post cave to Apple's cease and desist order? They would not. They should not.

Once again, this brings up the question of blogger's rights. As far as I'm concerned, the writers at TechCrunch, Michael Arrington in this case, are reporters. Not only that, any citizen has the right to free speech last I checked. Arrington says:
I think this is all complete nonsense. If Apple wants to go after the guy that made the Windows Mobile skin that looks like the iPhone, fine. But to bully bloggers who are simply reporting on this is another matter.
I hope they hold their ground.

I also wrote this about the blogger who joked about giving out personal information:
The internet's egalitarian nature caught up with a blogger who threatened to reveal Tucker Carlson's address and phone number. He [the blogger] got fired from his job. Captain Ed succinctly describes the phenomenon: Another Lesson In Not Crapping Where You Eat.

The internet only seems anonymous. It's connected and has a long memory. In the cyber-theater of life, you still can't yell fire. Or, you shouldn't.

Now, this is what I wrote about Ms. Marcotte this morning, and I wasn't precise enough in my opinion:
If you hadn't heard, expletive loving, bilge releasing, Catholic-hating Amanda Marcotte has been loosed on society again. She resigned from the Edwards campaign. Lest you think I exaggerate the danger that such a person would have on the already sewer-like political discourse, here's an example of her writing with me substituting certain letters with exclamation points*:
Worse than imprecise, I was wrong in what I wrote. As you can see above, I firmly believe in a blogger's freedom to write an opinion, any opinion. I also believe a blogger has the right to report news just like the MSM does. I do not however, believe a blogger can threaten criminal acts or actually commit them and hide behind the First Amendment. Of course, I don't believe the press can or should either.

The biggest "danger" that Ms. Marcotte presented isn't her liberal, unimaginative use of the word "fuck" in political discourse, and I write the word "fuck" purposefully, to show solidarity with a fellow blogger who is free to use any word she wants to. The "danger" Ms. Marcotte presented wasn't her blogging for the Edwards campaign, either. I feel that Mr. Edwards believes whole-heartedly in what Ms. Marcotte writes, or someone in his campaign does, otherwise why would someone lawyer-smart hire her? The danger isn't that Ms. Marcotte doesn't like Jesus, or Jesus followers, or Catholics, for that matter. Although, it causes one to pause that a blogger could sweep so many people, fellow Americans into the garbage can of hate, but that is her free speech right.

What is dangerous is for a man with Presidential aspirations to hold Ms. Marcotte's views and pretend that he doesn't. This whole episode was exceedingly instructive about the Edwards campaign. When one reads Ms. Marcotte's freely expressed speech she reveals herself to be bigoted, mean-mouthed, and more than a little unhinged. She reflects Mr. Edwards beliefs, I just have a strong feeling. My evidence? He hired her.

Another thing I find dangerous, and this is what I meant to write this morning, is that we are going there in our political discourse. Crazy-headed extreme blogger speak was going to be the new national dialogue? In some senses, it already is the new dialogue. George Soros, revealed himself to be officially off his rocker at the Davos summit, but I sense that this hyperventilating, irrational, emotion-driven, intellectually empty babbling now passes for "passion" and "commitment" and "speaking out against the man". But what happens when, like Ms. Marcotte, your hope is to become "the man". Spontaneous blogger combustion, evidently.

On some level, Ms. Marcotte understood her word usage and opinions themselves to be offensive (wrong, even?) thus the self-censorship during her short tenure for Mr. Edwards and her site-censorship once she was hired by Mr. Edwards. Suddenly dissent, and her own objectionable opinions were wiped from her site Pandagon. Why? She was free to have her opinion in all its fuck-laden, twat-filled glory, why change it now?

While it troubles me that a presidential candidate would find no problem hiring an Amanda Marcotte, it's good information to have. In fact, I'm sorry that she decided to quit her job. It would have been interesting to see how she maintained her unique voice in a more public arena. It would be interesting to see how closely her views align Mr. Edward's views.

Free speech isn't dangerous. A blogger's free speech shouldn't interfere with a job offer when her opinions reflect the employer's views. As the Anchoress so eloquently said, "We all need to be who we are." (Read her whole post about this affair, it's great fun. I think she takes home the record for the most uses of the word "fuck" in one paragraph.) And, like the Anchoress, I find Ms. Marcotte's ascent to martyrdom for essentially being hung by a rope of her own making nauseating. Her quitting was inevitable, alas, and her victim mentality utterly banal.

Finally, Don Surber sums up this whole tempest in a D-cup quite well:
In her swan song, Marcotte did not apologize for her anti-Catholic spewing. Instead she staked out victimhood like the good little Liberal Trooper she is. How expected. A chunk of it:

“Bill Donohue — anti-Semite, right wing lackey whose entire job is to create non-controversies in order to derail liberal politics — has been running a scorched earth campaign to get me fired for my personal beliefs and my writings on this blog.

“In fact, he’s made no bones about the fact that his intent is to ’silence’ me, as if he — a perfect stranger — should have a right to curtail my freedom of speech. Why? Because I’m a woman? Because I’m pro-choice? Because I’m not religious? All of the above, it seems.”

Curtail her freedom of speech? She can say whatever she wants. It is just that when you sign her on because of her fame as a blogger, you get what she was blogging about.

She was not hired to do TV ads, stuff envelopes or write speeches. She was hired to be John Boy’s Blog Queen.

You are what you blog.

Now she is unemployed.

Politics is like stock-car racing. You don’t just go to see who wins, but who crashes into the wall. Splat!
I still wonder, can a blogger blog effectively and work for a politician?


carol said...

I still wonder, can a blogger blog effectively and work for a politician?

I don't think so. Good blogging is so personal and quirky. Just look at how boring campaign blogs are. Who reads them? Who writes them? Or newspaper blogs. As soon as you *try* to write one way or another, instead of just being yourself and shooting from the hip, it becomes boring.

And if you didn't like some position the candidate was taking, you'd have to keep it to yourself. If he was proposing something lame or unworkable, you'd have to fake enthusiasm over it. Because right away it would be "are with us or against us??" if you stray off the talking points.

Anyway, I still think it was incredibly stupid for Edwards to hire the Pandagon gal to begin with. He obviously didn't have a clue what she was about.

Melissa Clouthier said...

You're right. I'm trying to imagine keeping my blogging voice, however squeaky, and sending it through a politically correct filter. The way I blog, is the way I talk with friends (opinionated, sure-as-shootin'), but I don't think that would go so well in the political arena where bland is beautiful.