Friday, January 11, 2008

Swift Reactions 8

Drinking Liberally in New Milford and Mike the Mad Biologist have reminded me that this February 3 is the first anniversary of one of the darkest days in the blogosphere, Blogroll Amnesty Day, the day that Atrios of Eschaton intitiated his bloody blogroll massacre, cutting a number of fine smaller blogs from his blogroll, including my good friend skippy, and a number of other big bloggers followed his lead. But a funny thing happened on the way to the bloodletting. A number of smaller bloggers decided they were tired of being pushed around by the A-Listers and decided to fight back by banding together and making their own blogrolls more inclusive instead of more exclusive. So I hope you will all join me, skippy, Barefoot Bum and anyone else who wants to get on board in remembering this great and terrible day and turn the weekend of February 1-3 into a celebration of the power of all the little blogs out there who deserve our support.

I am always eager to help smaller blogs so when I was asked by Pamela Leavey at The Democratic Daily to run an ad whose purpose was to generate some traffic to smaller liberal blogs, I agreed whole-heartedly, despite these bloggers' very misguided politics. (You can see the ad on my sidebar this month. Be sure to click on the links to some of the blogs listed there. And while you're at it, take a look at some of my other sponsors, who have the good taste to advertise here.) Originally, the ad had no picture and I knew that an ad with a picture would attract more attention and get more people to click on it, especially if the picture was eye-catching and even a little provocative, so I added a picture of one of the adorable LOLcats I created for my piece on Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism. Ms. Leavey liked the picture and asked for my permission to incorporate it into all of the ads that were running, which I happily granted.

Markos Moulitsas at Daily Kos, to his great credit, generously agreed to run the ad as well. I can't tell you how proud I was to see my depiction of a liberal fascist cat in full Nazi regalia captioned with the words "I is a librul" running on the world's biggest liberal blog. I was sure it would be very popular with the readers of the Daily Kos, who are renowned for their great senses of humor and their remarkable ability to laugh at themselves. Unfortunately, I was mistaken.

Almost as soon as the ad began running a Kossack named CMFoster began a campaign to have the ad removed entirely. "All I am asking is that for once we get rid of the offensive material and make the advertiser realize they need to be more responsible for the content they place on this or any other site. To make a cat look like Hitler just make Liberals look worse than we are sometimes already portrayed to be," wrote CMFoster. He was soon joined by a Kossack named Man is 5, who wrote, " Ummm -- what the hell is that "Support Liberal Blogs" ad on the front page? Did you just not notice that the cat looks like Hitler? Am I missing something here? Seems to me Hitler was a fairly conservative individual. And I'm not so sure that promoting liberal blogs with his image, even in adorable kitty form, is such a good idea. What concepts did the client reject?" You might think that they would be in favor of supporting small liberal blogs or that they might have had better causes to put their energy into but instead they decided to hound poor Ms. Leavey, who put a lot of very hard work into this campaign, until she decided that she had no other recourse than to remove the offending graphic. Eventually, she replaced it with another, less provocative picture, my "Librul Treehugger" LOLcat and the Kossacks turned their attention to more pressing matters like whether the New Hampshire primary was rigged by Hillary Clinton and Diebold.

I had heard that Markos was angry about the controversy and so I wrote him to explain the point behind the ad and ask him to express some appreciation for Ms. Leavey's efforts, but it turned out those rumors were false. "Did someone say I was angry? I'm not," he wrote to me in an email. "I'm too swamped with election-related work to feel very strongly one way or another about this." I understand he also wrote a very nice note to Ms. Leavey. Perhaps not all the terrible things they say about Markos are true after all.

But Daily Kos readers are fairly laid back compared with "Ron Paul" supporters, who were not very happy when I wrote that I had never heard of "Ron Paul" and doubted that he even existed since the media never mentioned him. Although someone named Davecore (who may not be a real person either) insisted that "Ron Paul" exists, many of my commenters were skeptical. "I think if Ron Paul was a real person, we would have heard about him by now," said Autumnal Harvest. Yojimbo thought it was suspicious that anyone would have two first names. But new day, who is one of my more informed commenters, said that "Ron Paul" did in fact exist and had a "plan to have the whole country move towards a Wyoming style of government. That is, the law stays out of the way and people settle things by running over one another with their pick-up trucks." Dave Latchaw also believes that "Ron Paul" exists, claiming quite improbably that while "Ron Paul" does not have a website, he does have a blimp, but I'm not quite so gullible as to believe something as ridiculous as that.

I soon attracted the attention of a "Ron Paul" message board and not only did they insult me, calling me an "idiot," they attacked my readers as well. "Read the comments, they are clueless!" wrote Dave Wood. But others took my post and the comments more seriously, believing that they were cause for concern. "Damn... that is not good... What part of the internet we are missing?" wondered frasu haplessly. Pinkmandy, who perhaps was giving us a little too much information when she recounted that she "converted" her gynecologist to "Ron Paul" during a pap smear, answered, "We are missing A LOT of people. We need to organize online and start patrolling the net where "others" are because they obviously aren't finding us. We must find them!" I am not sure what tactics they might come up with to to "find" us "others," but my advice is that if you get a mysterious package in the mail containing a strange pod, whatever you do, don't fall asleep next to it.

Unfortunately, because of the holidays and all of the work I did on my end-of-the-year piece of what bloggers thought were their best posts of 2007, I did not get a chance to write about the response to my Jamie Leigh Jones post, which produced some of the most heated discussion this blog has ever seen. I urge you to take a look at the discussion in its entirety, but I will highlight one interesting exchange. Autumn Harvest (not to be confused with "Autumnal Harvest" mentioned above) had mixed feelings about my post, beginning his comment with an "Ugh," which is never a good sign. "It's a little too much making light of a gang rape," he wrote. "I know this criticism can be leveled at half your posts---making light of torture, making light of the Kafkaesque legal black hole at Guantanamo, etc. . . So I'm not sure I have a good rationale for my dislike, but this post really just doesn't sit with me right somehow." I must say that I am not sure what Mr. Harvest meant by the phrase "making light." Did he mean making something heavy easier to pick up or illuminating something dark?

Mr. Harvest's comment elicited a long response from someone named kulkinator, who wrote, "How DARE we question a rape-accuser???? A FEMALE New York City prosecutor stated that 40% of rape accusations are PROVEN false. A study by Purdue University showed that 40% of rape accusations are later recanted. Now, with those two statistics in mind, depending on what the overlap is between proven-false accusations, and recanted accusations, the false accusation rate for rape is somewhere between 40% and 80%." Ferd applauded kulkinator's skill with arithmetic, writing, "The additive function of your numbers (40% of A + 40% of B = 80% of AB) demonstrates skills that bode well for your ability to carefully analyse the data, evidence and proof in this case" though he took issue with the accuracy of his statistics. L-girl from We Move to Canada was even more pointed in her criticism: "This is a lie," wrote L-girl, who is not one to mince words. "I've worked with Linda Fairstein, the female prosecutor to whom this refers. 40% of the rape charges in her office had to be downgraded to things like 'aggravated sexual assault' and 'sexual misconduct with assault and battery' in order to ensure conviction…. The charges in these 40% of cases were NOT proven false." But my most frequent commenter, Anonymous, offered another statistic based on his very scientific "gut feeling": "The probability of this being a well-planned hoax is over 98%."

I must say that while I appreciate the attempt to bring scientifically rigorous statistical analysis to the subject, all this mathematics makes my head spin and I believe that is true for many of my commenters as well. In fact, I would estimate conservatively that 50% of liberal commenters are bad at mathematics and 50% of my conservative commenters are bad at mathematics, which means that the percentage of commenters here that are bad at mathematics is potentially 100%. So it is possible that none of us is capable of understanding what kulkinator or Anonymous are talking about, including themselves.

Kulkinator was not able to provide an exact statistic for his next claim. "I've lost count of the number of times I've heard a woman say, "I'll scream rape" as a threat to opposing her," he wrote. Though kamakula was able to imagine some scenarios where kulkinator might have heard those words, other commenters found this statement puzzling. "What kind of life you would have to have led to have heard it so many times you have 'lost count' is beyond my imagination," wrote Splendid One, a 60-year-old Vietnam Vet. "There's probably a reason that commenter has heard it over and over again," speculated Carl of Simply Left Behind.

But the attacks leveled at kulkinator were mild compared with some of the criticism directed toward this modest blogger, which often included characterizations of my mental health. "You describe yourself as reasonable. This post, however, proves you're insane," said Anonymous. "You are an ass, and a perfect example of what is wrong with this country. You make me sick," said Patrick. Someone calling himself "You are a brainwashed schill" wrote, "Do you realize how insane you sound?" Proud Vet said, "You got to be the biggest ass I've ever heard. You make me sick thinking you and I are of the same gender."

If commenters are not attacking me for new posts, they are delving deep into my archives to add new attacks to my old ones. Jellsbury recently left a new comment on my post "50 More Conservative Rock Songs" that was not at all complimentary: "Is this a joke?" he wrote. "'Imagine no religion...' quoth John Lennon. As for Randy Newman, "Lord, if you won't take care of us, won't you please just let us be?" His song "Political Science" is SATIRE. And "Born in the USA" is an anti-Vietnam song. Listen to the songs carefully next time before you make a fool of yourself."

Finally, while it is indeed hurtful to receive such criticism from strangers, you cannot imagine the pain I feel when one of my friends launches an unprovoked and scurrilous attack on me. The only explanation I can come up with is that he resorted to such a tactic out of desperation for traffic. Perhaps if I link to his post, and give him the attention he clearly craves, it will shame him into not engaging in such blatant blogwhoring again. But I will forgive him because ultimately, I just want to give peace a chance in the blogosphere, to quote that famous conservative musician John Lennon.

Carnivals: Carnival of the Insanities, Bringing More Traffic to Your Blog Carnival


gtomkins said...

Ron Paul doesn't exist?

I guess that next you'll try to convince us that there's no such person as Isaac Bickerstaff.

Simon Owens said...

Ah, you missed your chance to make a Joe Klein crack while discussing the statistics issue:

"I have neither the time nor math background to figure out who's right"

kathleenmaher said...

Those who dare to tell the truth are invariably criticized, Jon--and sometimes worse.

Temperance said...

You might disagree with him about classic rock but – after reading his blog “From the Front Lines of Life” – I’m 80% sure that Jellsbury is a reasonable conservative like yourself. I base 40% of that opinion on his plan to end the scourge of illegal immigration: “. . . instead of welcoming them into Democratic sanctuaries where they mooch off our tax dollars, offenders would be caught, impaled, and their rotting corpses could be displayed as a ghastly deterrent to would-be invaders. . . . Of course modern Americans have an aversion to such savagery, but as Ockham's Razor shows, the simplest method is best, and reality necessitates realistic solutions. Life is rarely fair, and it's never kind.” I base the other 50% of my opinion on his realism: “simplicity beckons, and the most realistic option is to have rednecks of the American South sit in lawn chairs drinking beer and shooting illegals as they come out of the river.” Dude doesn’t have time to properly appreciate classic rock -- he’s too busy thinking of creative solutions to the immigration issue. I'm, like, 170% sure of it.

Jim said...

Dear Sir,

You are getting closer and closer to the truth.

It is becoming increasingly clear that Ron Paul is not a "real" person; he is clearly part of an ingenious advertising campaign for Google, much like "Herb" for Burger King, or "Chuck Norris" for Mike Huckabee.

The Truth Is Out There, brave sir.

liquiddaddy said...

Mr. Swift,

You are an ubbermensch in all things, and you deserve the highest praise in all things blogger.

Sometimes these consolidations amount to forming a gated community of souls loath to mix it up with the ragged unttermensch. "They came into my yard and drank right out of my water hose! Why, I never..when I threatened to call the police, they laughed and demanded hand outs!"

I wonder what the level of traffic on my site would make me feel entitled to electronically thwart weirdos by making them become "members"?


Connecticut Man1 said...

I welcome, and am thankful for, getting linkage consideration to my humble and nazi-tree-hugging Blog from one of the most reasonable conservative Bloggers on the net. Thanks Jon Swift!

I am certain that Barefoot Bum, Mike that Mad Biologist and Skippy the Bush Kangaroo will all feel somewhat similarly amused, if not indifferently bemused, upon reading this post.

Fade said...

Believe me, us Real Rednecks down south are drinking beer with the Mexicans. It's those damn small business owners that hate Mexicans because they are only ones that cant hire them because they cant afford to flaunt current immigration law like the corporations. And those East Texas fuckers that just love to shoot shit.

Glad to clear that up, ya'll... now back to the cerveza. Odelay!

Distributorcap said...

i thought being small was good

and who is ron paul?


geezer said...

"and who is ron paul?"
I think he markets frozen seafood.

He has a blimp now? Oh! The humanity!

Chuck Butcher said...

In honor of your reaction to Feb 3 and "Best of" post "Chuck for..." (me) went through the the post and pulled links to ones I judged would most please my readers from the self-selected piece as well as their home site. So the post is:

As my Post notes inclusion or not isn't a critique, only a judgement that my readers would like the work. Thanks, Jon - and all the non-A listers.

Bretwalda Edwin-Higham said...

Love that opening paragraph - good stuff, Jon.

Autumnal Harvest said...

Thanks for not confusing me with Autumn Harvest---he seems like a real lunatic.

I have to admit, I didn't realize that you were the author of the Hiter-cat ad, and when I first saw it, stared at in confusion for a minute or two, trying to figure out what the intended message was.

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Mark said...

We have not heard of Ron Paul because he lives in the shadow of his wife's fish sticks and perhaps has been relagated to rather thankless tartar sauce duty. Mmmm!

Nate said...

If Ron Paul's campaign is in a sealed blimp with a randomly triggered Fox News camera, is it dead or alive?

I'm in ur thread, eatin ur serious

melior said...

After thorough research, I have confirmed Doctor Professor Goldberg's claim that "Nazi" originally stood for "Nationalist Socialist" and therefore that Liberals are indeed Fascists. This should lay the discussion to rest.

In a shocking followup, however, well-placed sources have recently revealed to me that Communist China is named the People's Republic of China. The only possible conclusion is that Republicans are actually Communists. I trust you will safeguard this dangerous fact closely, so that liberal readers of your blog do not attempt to use it against us.

Buck Batard said...

I have decided to create my best post for 2008 and get my entry in early. As everyone know, the early bird gets the worm. Was that the prize for the 2007 winners?

Anyway, here's my entry for this year's award.

There's a lot more that I have to say about this down below. I will use the new method outlined in my entry. Now follow along closely please:


Saskboy said...

In honour of the Blogroll A-Day, I'll be removing one blog from my blogroll, for each time that Ron Paul says the word "liberty" in the next week.

The Barefoot Bum said...

February 3 is the first anniversary of one of the darkest days in the blogosphere, Blogroll Amnesty Day

skippy sets the date at February 5th.

Any chance we can all settle on a single date?

Jon Swift said...

Though it pains me to say it, skippy is wrong. Atrios announced last year that Blogroll Amnesty Day was on February 3 and since he invented it, we must bow to his wisdom. Not to mention the fact that February 5 is Super Tuesday and bloggers will probably have other things to write about.

skippy said...

perhaps not all the terrible things they say about markos are true after all.

yeah. they are.

Micgar said...

Converted her gynecologist to Ron Paul during a pap smear!? bwa ha hah!

Grandpa Moses said...

Could you link to my new blog. I write at another blog that you know very well, actually we go a long way back, but the local newspaper forum is causing me problems and I need help. I justed started building it last night but I suspect it will be a long term project.

To give you a clue who I am, which might baffle you but probably won't, let's just say I've Bucked up a notch. And I'm still the same old Bastard.

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