Thursday, March 09, 2006

Return of the..Does It Even Amount to Repressed?

When I first started my own blog, after lurking and carefully commenting here and there, I had a couple of nightmares about being harassed and ridiculed by bloggers or followers of bloggers whom I linked to. I got over that fear rather quickly because of course in the scale of influences to be countered, I'm not particularly important. The quasi-anonymity combined with the lack of actual but always potential audience felt liberating.

So, it's almost fantastical to see Tacticus even bother to be an asshole on my other site, in this thread. More annoyance below the fold.

Despite his unpleasant sorties into Obsidian Wings, I really had thought he was above entering into random blogs linking his entries; I had almost begun thinking of him as a quasi-serious journalist, albeit one with whom I have disagreed with and been annoyed by for years.

If he were comfortably above our criticisms, as I really had thought he should consider himself to be, why the hell would he descend into a comment thread (found via Technorati) about his most recent article to bash about critics with the crassest USENET rhetoric?

As obscure as my sites are, I've on occasion used Technorati or Google to find people who disagreed with my postings. When it's looked as though it wasn't worth being an asshole to defend myself and my positions on foreign turf, I haven't bothered to leave a comment.

I'm in no respects a professional blogger and have no machismo to maintain. Maybe if I picked fights with random people I found via Technorati, it might make sense to look into BlogAds, but as for now, that's really not what I'm about.

Oh, and a year-old evaluation of Tacitus's schlocky style does not an obession make. Still, on reconsideration, his style is schlocky. It's almost interestingly so, given the schlock of our times. Given that he has accused me of being an "unhealthy obsessive, would he care to defend himself against my charge that he has an asinine and schlockly prose style?

What seems most useful to me in the recent dust-up is the contrast in visions for blogging. Tacitus's projects seem to be curiously top-down, bordering on ad-hoc astroturf. Some of those projects have managed to develop into actual communities, despite Tacitus's vaunted diplomatic style.

However, those whom Tacitus currently denounces as "splinter, inner-faction" groups apparently managed to set up non-mission-statement-organized groups. ObWi is a more complex group than is Tacitus.org (are there *any* women posting at Tacitus now?). Liberal bloggers seem rather more accepting and encouraging when former commenters set up other power structures. HoCB really isn't confined to hating on Charles Bird. I'm astonished that I have to spell this out to a conservative, but then, perhaps it's only liberal academics who read Burke carefully.

Cathartic questions to Tacitus to which I don't expect to get meaningful answers:
--What the hell is wrong with a group of commenters setting up a parallel blog?
--Why should that threaten you?
--Why you think that blogs should have a singular mission?
--If you post an essay, why the hell shouldn't you expect it to be criticized?
--Why should you be an asshole towards people talking about it?
--Would you really rather that those who disagree with you shun you, as appears to be the consensus after your appearance on that thread?
Maybe Tacitus has gotten the wrong idea from the title of the blog. I'm actually rather fond of Charles Bird, who's been short with his detractors and sparse with acknowledgement of his defenders, but a decent sport, for which I'm pretty damned grateful. I'd much sooner vote for Bird than I would for Trevino, or any campaign he was involved in, seeing as I now do how pettily vindictive the latter is.

18 Comments:

Blogger James:

I'd much sooner vote for Bird than I would for Trevino

Seconded. Viva Chuck Oiseau!

3/09/2006 11:36:00 PM  
Blogger Jackmormon:

To put it more strongly, if Bird and Trevino were running against each other in a primary, I would register Republican to vote for Bird. I disagree with Bird, but I'm afraid of Trevino--though, seeing how petty he's willing to be when he descends from his magnificent schlock, perhaps I needn't so be worried about his demogogic style.

If you follow us here, Tac, it's your style I'm really concerned about. Not you, personally--we're all inconsequential--but what your style enables and gives expression to. It's one thing delivered from above and another when challenged; neither do justice to your opinions, which, curiously, I have some respect for. In other words, why are you so unnecessarily assholish?

3/10/2006 12:21:00 AM  
Blogger liberal japonicus:

In every bad, there's some good (well, I know that's not true, but bear with me) After this bout of Tacitus ex machina, I really appreciate the qualities Charles brings to the table. Fear? Nah, more like pity.

3/10/2006 12:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Josh:

I disagree with Bird, but I'm afraid of Trevino

Whence the fear? Are you afraid that people respond too well to his rhetoric?

3/10/2006 01:54:00 AM  
Blogger rilkefan:

'Given that he has accused me of being an "unhealthy obsessive"'

I don't think he's expressing an opinion when he does this kind of thing - I think it's a kind of a joke to him, one playing on people's willingness to be offended or annoyed.

3/10/2006 02:01:00 AM  
Blogger liberal japonicus:

I think it's a kind of a joke to him, one playing on people's willingness to be offended or annoyed.

Well, that's a lot more pathetic than anything I could have thought up.

3/10/2006 03:02:00 AM  
Blogger James:

I just find that the majority of JT's writings are subject to the same criticism that has been levelled at CB’s: Those posts on subjects that stray from their narrow expertise, if placed under the critical eye, are ultimately substanceless. And even those pieces on subjects he can speak with some authority, such as the Spot-on article on "The Netherlands 25" mentioned by JM are undermined, again a la Bird, by unnecessary and baseless potshots. In this particular case, I had a hard time getting past the venom expressed in the first paragraphs because of JT’s bizarre loathing of all things Dutch, outdoing even Austin Power’s father. Reading on it had, yes, a pretty solid and interesting argument behind it.

Take the first line of the Enchiridon Militis post “The Dead Hand” (I won’t link to it to spare us another visitation):

“Multiculturalism is dead. It was always dead, in the sense that an untruth has no life, but the energies of a vigorous fraud are enough to deceive many for much time.”

Well, that’s a pretty heavy-duty statement. But nothing is offered, beyond handwringing over the Danish cartoon crisis, as evidence. It’s just empty assertion, and one I find particularily offensive. I mean, I live in a city that is one of the most culturally mixed in the world (for all extents and purposes Vancouver is a 50-50 split Asian/Non-Asian) and funnily enough “multiculturalism” doesn’t seem dead to me. And that’s, you know, kind of a broad topic. A thoughtful writer might explore what is meant by “multiculturalism” – Danish multiculturalism being different from Canadian multiculturalism being different from (insert endless list)

I do agree that there is something redeeming about CB – that perhaps his greatest fault as a blogger was simply having bad teachers and role models.

3/10/2006 01:54:00 PM  
Blogger James:

And I don't mean rolemodels in regards to politics, but in terms of writing.

A recurring theme I've detected is a yearning for a solid and thoughtful conservative in which to carry on dialogue.

3/10/2006 02:14:00 PM  
Blogger dutchmarbel:

And even those pieces on subjects he can speak with some authority, such as the Spot-on article on "The Netherlands 25" mentioned by JM are undermined, again a la Bird, by unnecessary and baseless potshots. In this particular case, I had a hard time getting past the venom expressed in the first paragraphs because of JT’s bizarre loathing of all things Dutch, outdoing even Austin Power’s father. Reading on it had, yes, a pretty solid and interesting argument behind it.

He is wrong in more or less any comment he makes about the Netherlands, twisting his viewpoint into facts. To be blunt, I don't know how he even DARES to comment about our euthanasia laws when he has never protested the Texan law to kill people against their will, because they cannot pay the medical bills. It feels comparable to a Saoudi-Arabia citizen critizing the US about the lack of free speech in America, because that is what his media tell him.

His viewpoints about the 25 bloggers are kind of comical. But maybe that is because I used to be a marketeer :)
Our touristboard is not really a political entity - they try to attract tourists by making people aware that we exist and have nice things to offer. Most of the comments in the US blogs have been about the killing of van Gogh and such, so people may have a slightly distorted view. For a small price they have a years long advertisement on popular blogs, they might have some free publicity because the visiting bloggers liked their visit (they might hate it too, februari is not the best month to visit anyway) but that was not demanded - and they actually got a lot more publicity than they dared to hope for :)

It was not all leftwing blogs (unless "outside the beltway" is scorned by the conservatives now) but I hope the majority was more leftleaning. Rightwing people have less passports and are less likely to travel outside the States - and especially the Netherlands. Maybe we should promote our bible belt more to them, as a more appealing bit of the country :)

3/10/2006 08:50:00 PM  
Blogger dutchmarbel:

That should be 'have passports less often' I think - I don't want to give the impression that I think lefty's have multiple passports :)

3/10/2006 08:52:00 PM  
Anonymous DaveL:

Simple explanation: Tac is an asshole with a large ego and a chip on his shoulder who's reasonably bright, but not nearly as bright as he thinks he is. Such types are pretty common among lawyers, and I'm pretty sure they're not unknown in the politics business either. IIRC, Tac's a twofer.

3/10/2006 09:13:00 PM  
Blogger liberal japonicus:

dutchmarbel,
I should point out that Tacitus is iirc an ardent death penalty opponent, so I'm sure his argument is that he is just being consistent when he complains about euthanasia. In fact, that rigor is what made me compare him to Chomsky in the first place, which doesn't seem to allow any doubt or acknowledgement of others arguments, except in a sneering sort of way. In fact, I've found as a general rule, people often complain about the things that they find bothersome within themselves, and Tac's parting shot of

that seize your consciousness with such profound and disturbing rigor.

reinforces that viewpoint.

3/10/2006 09:33:00 PM  
Blogger dutchmarbel:

Liberal Japonicus:

I wasn't referring to capital punishment, I was referring to cases like Tirhas Habtegiris. Who was taken of the breathing tube, against her will, and had to choke to death in 15 or 16 minutes because actually administering drugs to ease the induced death that is caused is against the law in Texas.

I do agree with you about the chomsky analogies. But I find fanatics of either wing rather similar to each other :)

3/11/2006 04:10:00 AM  
Blogger Jackmormon:

I know I invited the debate here with this post, but I've decided not to waste any more time thinking about Tacitus.

Since I disagree with his positions and find his argumentation absurd, the only reasons to continue debating his positions would be either his influence on others or the general thinking that his arguments represent.

In the former case, if I were to engage Tacitus's because I were concerned about his influence, I would be propagating an influence I thought pernicious. Better to ignore it, particularly as it seems to be retreating to ever more specialized outlets.

In the latter case, if I were to take Tacitus's arguments as representative of a trend of thinking, I could surely chose more representative and influential conservatives who would not be so likely be show up in threads, insult everyone, and--based on past experience*--disclose proper names.

There are many spokespeople for the conservative movement to argue against. Most of us have some history with Tacitus, passive, aggressive, whatever, so we might feel some interest in what he's up to--but we should forget all of that, as he was never really interested in using debate to reconsider his opinions.

Plenty of conservatives online provide foils for argument; Charles Bird and John Cole, for example, are willing to stand up for themselves without issuing gratuitous insults, or, not too many. Most writers of the mainstream conservative blogs won't bother to refute/insult liberal discussions of their posts.

It's probably time for all the liberal readers of Tacitus to cut the lines and sail away. He was usually wrong, he was always a dick, and so why should we wonder about what he's become?

Obsidian Wings, which he would prefer to consider a "splinter group," has become an open, vibrant group; that he doesn't recognize the reach that ObWi's posts have had (particularly with its liberal posters) only shows how cramped a vision he has of the online world.

So if he can glimmer a fourth-degree proprietary interest in this blog, a third degree in HoCB (etc.), then I say cut all lines, and let's demonstrate how bloodly inessential he is.

No links, no mentions. He's inconsequential, and let's make his Technorati score show it.

This is my last word on the subject. Suddenly, you know, I violently don't care about the man.

3/12/2006 10:15:00 PM  
Blogger dutchmarbel:

Suddenly, you know, I violently don't care about the man.

As a closing statement on my part: Since your apt description of his style as "schlocky" I msut admit that I cannot see him mentioned anymore without thinking "the crying clown", which counts as the prime example of schlocky in the Netherlands :)

3/13/2006 04:12:00 AM  
Blogger liberal japonicus:

Tacitus as Zwarte Piet? Better than Krampus, I guess.

3/13/2006 06:23:00 AM  
Blogger James:

It's probably time for all the liberal readers of Tacitus to cut the lines and sail away.

Excellent advice.

3/13/2006 12:34:00 PM  
Blogger dutchmarbel:

Liberal Japonicus: nonono, black peter is a kiddy friend and always laughing these days. My kids are dresses up like one most of december :)

I was more thinking of something like this. Quit often it is a little gypsy boy with a tear too, choose whichever one you feel most appropriate.

3/13/2006 03:28:00 PM  

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