Writing about L’Affaire Shirley Sherrod and the $h!tstorms over ideological purity in the American Left and how it’s infected the Right, Tenured Radical then brings it all back to the world we know and love:
I would also observe that this is not just a political problem, it’s a cultural problem. It is the kind of $hit that occurs daily on blogs: blogger writes a six or seven paragraph essay, and some a$$hat latches onto a sentence out of context, gives it a hateful spin, and writes a “comment” that is actually just a personal attack intended to discredit the blogger wholesale. The idea? Who cares about ideas? You would have to read the whole post to grasp the ideas!!!! How much easier just to move on to the next blog, knowing that the writer is exactly the putrid idiot you knew s/he was before you started reading.
Another connection in all of this, as Knitting Clio pointed out in the comments over at Tenured Radical, is how easy it is to demonize women, especially women of color (like those who speak just once hypothetically about wise Latinas, f’rinstance), and discredit them as authority figures, whether they’re merely self-published writers or members of the current Presidential administration. Somehow it’s all too easy to believe that a woman needs to be disciplined or even humiliated for shooting her mouth off again, and it’s all too difficult to believe that she’s deserving of due process, a fair hearing, or even of a complete reading of her professional opinions and accomplishments. Van Jones was canned last summer without delay, and he was a dude. But, Tenured Radical reminded us today about how easy it was during Bill Clinton’s presidency for the Administration to throw an African American woman appointee or would-be appointee under the bus (Lani Guinier and Dr. Jocelyn Elders, for example), especially if and when they dare to write or speak frankly about race or sexuality.
Just imagine if one of them–one of US–went all Dick (“Go f^&k yourself!) Cheney on someone! On YouTube!!!
I’ve been thinking about the limits of blog discourse a lot lately, and the particular scrutiny of women’s words online. I’ll offer some thoughts on this in the December issue of the Journal of Women’s History in a forum on blogging and women’s history edited by Tenured Radical. In addition to my article, it includes a contribution from Marilee Lindemann of Roxie’s World, as well as Jennifer Ho of Mixed Race America; May Friedman, the author of Mothering and Blogging: The Radical Art of Mommyblogging (2009); and Rachel Leow of A Historian’s Craft. I bet you just can’t wait, can you! Me neither.
What in your estimation are the limits of blog conversations? What are the endemic problems, and what (if anything) can we do about them?