Qualitative Equivalence

I had exactly the same reaction to this idiotic piece about “Liberal McCarthyism” (which misuses the term McCarthyism, but I digress) as The Rude Pundit:

Why is it that whenever right-wingers wanna criticize the "viciousness" of the left, more often than not, they use e-mails and blog comments instead of, say, the words of writers (bloggy and non-bloggy) and leaders? …Davis writes, "The far right does not have a monopoly on bigotry and hatred and sanctimony. Here are just a few examples (there are many, many more anyone with a search engine can find) of the type of thing the liberal blog sites have been posting about Joe Lieberman" and then quotes the mean meanies of the left, like at Daily Kos. But not, you know, Kos, or Hunter, or McJoan, or DarkSyde, or any of the other posters. Nope, it's commenter "tomjones."

…When the Rude Pundit wants to go trawling for right-wing hate, he doesn't need to look to his hate e-mails, with their occasional threats of violence. He doesn't need to point to the comments on right-wing blogs. He can just point to the blogs themselves, or turn on the goddamn radio or the fuckin' Fox "News," or open the newspaper to read the vomitous rantings of every other conservative columnist talking about liberals despising and destroying America. They can only pick nits; we have to swat hissing cockroaches.
Exactly. As I’ve said before, trying to discern which "side" is "worse" on the basis of content provided by largely anonymous commenters in the blogosphere is futile, and so is any attempt to establish some sort of qualitative equivalence between the content of each side. The quality of discourse is not determined by what anonymous commenters and emailers, but what emanates from the most influential voices.

I’m not suggesting that the comments gathered by Davis aren’t nasty; they are. But if one can’t find a single comparable example in the writing of any major Lefty bloggers, no less a pattern of examples across a selection of blogs, it’s utter horseshit to claim to have evidence that the Left is as vicious as the Right—and it’s mendacious to identify comments as “the type of thing liberal blog sites have been posting.” Does Davis really not know how blogs work, or is it just more useful to make it sound as though comments (and, apparently, emails) are the same thing as posts? I guess “the type of thing people who visit liberal blogs leave in comments” doesn’t have quite the same zip to it, nor the disingenuousness of making commenters and bloggers indistinguishable to a passing reader.

Shakesville is run as a safe space. First-time commenters: Please read Shakesville's Commenting Policy and Feminism 101 Section before commenting. We also do lots of in-thread moderation, so we ask that everyone read the entirety of any thread before commenting, to ensure compliance with any in-thread moderation. Thank you.

blog comments powered by Disqus