Blogwars II

Still not getting in the thick of it, but feel obliged to respond to TNR-er Lee Siegel’s follow-up to his post I mentioned yesterday. Lee’s latest:

Sure enough, fanaticism ruled in the responses to what I wrote yesterday.

"Moron"; "Wanker" (a favorite blogofascist insult, maybe because of the similarity between the most strident blogging and masturbating); and "Asshole" have been the three most common polemical gambits. … All these abusive attempts to autocratically or dictatorially control criticism came about because I said that the blogosphere had the quality of fascism, which my dictionary defines as "any tendency toward or actual exercise of severe autocratic or dictatorial control." The proof, you might say, is in the puddingheads.

I am overwhelmed by the intolerance and rage in the blogosphere. … This truly is the stuff of thuggery and fascism.
Then he goes on to try to prove Kos is a fascist, and in the popular manner of blogosphere critics, implicitly suggest that so is the rest of the blogosphere—because as goes Kos, so go the rest of us.

Let’s presume, for the moment, that Kos is everything his most vociferous critics make him out to be. So what if he were? Kos could be a jack-booted, Kalashnikov-toting ruffian or a polka-dot dress bedecked circus monkey, and neither would provide any beneficial insight into what the rest of the blogosphere looks—or acts—like. In support of the contrarian theory, his prominence in invoked, but his influence and visibility are exactly what makes him perhaps the singularly worst possible exemplar from which to extrapolate details about the rest of us. He is, quite literally, the exception, not the rule—and not all of us aspire to be just like him when we grow up.

The truth is, most of us never will grow up, by an A-list definition. Many bloggers I have devotedly read and admired have fallen away, drifting from their keyboards and onto other pursuits. Many bloggers who, in my estimation, deserve more attention, a bigger audience, fail to get it in spite of their dogged determination and skill. The vast majority of those who have achieved some level of modest success will never be as big as Kos. That’s the blogosphere. DailyKos is one blog. And even there, the blog is separate from its namesake.

Siegel’s post is frustratingly indicative of so many blog critics, who rely almost exclusively on the top echelon of bloggers and the comments and emails they receive from the most aggressive commentariat (which may include those who blog and those who exclusively comment), to draw their conclusions about the blogosphere as a whole. He ignores legions of bloggers and commenters who are neither Kos nor invective-wielding emailers; that we are larger in number appears not to matter. They define us by our fringes, but one does not know a person by looking only at his head and his toes.

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