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March 25, 2006

Comments

hilzoy - I agree wholeheartedly. In many cases, doing the right thing is both morally and ethically correct and also tactically wise. You're right, though, that one's motivation for 'doing right' ultimately becomes the sticking point. I think my piece was mostly motivated by the endless spiral of 'They fought dirty, so we had to' that continues ad infitum, with no one ever remembering how the dirty fighting even started...

Jeff, I resent your insinuations against the Cthulu Reform Ticket.

First of all, it's the "Cthulhu Reform Party." Please. Spell our Elder God's name correctly, at least.

Furthermore, why vote for a lesser evil?

Jeff: yes; it bothers me a lot too. I just find myself protesting both of the mistaken assumptions.

I mean: just to change the subject entirely, I ask myself why on earth we had to end up having the Cold War spill over into the third world. (Our being rivals with the USSR: probably inevitable; the Cold War being fought in Europe: ditto. But Africa? Asia?) We had every imaginable advantage over the USSR: a better ideology, for starters, and the financial and military resources to ensure that no one ended up siding with the USSR just because they HAD to.

What if we had just made it our policy to really try to help any country who wanted to become a democracy to do so, without insisting on their taking orders from us, helping our our commercial interests, and so forth. No helping our ex-allies to keep their colonies (though it's not as though we weren't helping them in lots of other ways, like, oh, the Marshall plan); no coups in Guatemala and so forth: just a serious attempt to stick to our values and put some resources behind the attempt.

I think this would have been enormously in our interests. And I suspect that part of the reason we didn't do anything like that was because there were people saying: hey, we have to be hard-headed realists now, and play serious realpolitik.

Hah.

Spell our Elder God's name correctly, at least.

Gary, I'd be reeeeeeal careful spelling out those Names. I mean, damn, next you'll be typing out H-st-r, and the world will come to an end.

Jeff's caution is admirable.

Michael, when I said this site is "about" civil discourse, I meant that that's what commenters practice -- or try to practice -- here. I did not mean that the site was about ridding the world, or the US political scene, or anything else, of incivility. If Ben Domenech came to the site and posted in comments some of the things he's posted on his blogs, he would receive a much harsher welcome than you did. But he hasn't.

It's quite possible to discuss lying and propaganda and attacks on science and whatever else might be the Obviously Most Important Topic That Must Be Discussed Right This Moment to the Exclusion of Anything Else without engaging in incivility oneself. The theory of our hosts here is that maintaining some level of politeness leads to more productive discussions rather than shouting matches in which no one is ever convinced of anything or experiences a new thought. That may or may not be the best way of doing things, but it's the way things are here.

Try it. You might like it. If not, there are plenty of other blogs out there to vent on.

"And I suspect that part of the reason we didn't do anything like that was because there were people saying: hey, we have to be hard-headed realists now, and play serious realpolitik."

Paul Berman calls this "the romance of the ruthless." (I just posted a link to this on the little used open thread, but here's another opening.)

And yet Tacitus seized upon an opportunity to use a few blog comments to smear the entire liberal movement. It's just cheap of him . . .

Trevino? Pshaw. It's de rigeur.

Well, fair enough. Margaret Cho's dog and all. But Trevino makes enough intellectually honest comments that you really feel like he should be capable of better.

But Trevino makes enough intellectually honest comments that you really feel like he should be capable of better.

Yeah, that's exactly what p.o.'s me about him, now that you put it like that. He is clearly capable of doing better, he just chooses not to.

His contempt for ObWi is telling in that respect--he would do so much better amidst a mix of ideas, but confines himself to echo chambers & ends up adopting that us/them crap.

Morning all, and thanks for the update, Von. I would suggest that when you make an update, if you would just put a short note in the comments at the same time, it might be A Good Thing. I suspect that this thread (and threads like this) get heated because people go to the last comment and then back up. I'd like to think that knowing about the update might cool things off a bit.

"I'd like to think that knowing about the update might cool things off a bit."

I'd like to think that people might feel cooler about Von if he'd actually revise what he said about most people on the left.

It would also be useful if Von would bother to show enough interest in his own blog to show up for discussions in it, and actually respond to people more than once or twice with a dozen or two dozen words.

A lot of people take an interest in ObWi. A shame that most of the actual blog-owners don't seem to take a tenth as much interest. (I'm not saying they have to be obsessive; I'm saying that more than 2 posts and 6 comments, or so, a month, isn't very much, and that's all; but my starting point was that one defuses conversations by bothering to participate in them.)

To my enemies: I take enormous solace in the fact that you spent this week bashing me, instead of America.

Just a reminder of the guy who von can't wait to see get a second shot.

The plagiarism, I can easily forgive. This comment, not so much.

Well, I say we get back to bashing America! Who's with me?

Haha. By his standards that actually his how I'm spending my weekend. (Reading through hundreds of pages of CSRT transcripts from Guantanamo.)

Gary, I tend to agree with your point here, but jumping up and down on von is clearly not working, so it might be better if we let this one go, if only to give some newcomers the swinging room they seem to require. Of course, everyone is cordially invited to HoCB if they still have some snark to get out of their system.

But I do have to add, when I saw this

Gay science teachers in Appalachia might take issue with that cheerful sentiment.

I had the overwhelming urge to say 'name two'. That is all.

I managed never to have looked at this and wow does it make me not happy.

Anarch: I was not asserting moral equivalence, just preemptively acknowledging that hilzoy's law of large numbers applies, and thus that if someone wants to produce an example of some totally offensive comment from the left, I won't be surprised.

Oh, I know. I wasn't criticizing you, just airing a particular pet peeve of mine: letting the existence proof stand in for something meaningful (pace ral's pithier formulation).

I managed never to have looked at this and wow does it make me not happy.

I'm still managing not to look at this, and apparently this is making me happy by comparison.

Gary: "It would also be useful if Von would bother to show enough interest in his own blog to show up for discussions in it, and actually respond to people more than once or twice with a dozen or two dozen words."

von just had his first child. Rumor has it that takes a lot of time. I think it might be a good time to cut him some slack -- at least until his child starts sleeping through the night.

"Gary, I tend to agree with your point here, but jumping up and down on von is clearly not working...."

Apparently not, though I retain some mild hope for the future. But obviously I was having an Irritable Moment.

I do wish that when Mr. Domenech cut and pastes, he'd at least learn to paragraph. But we already knew he knew how to cut and paste; at least that time he linked to what he was quoting.

"von just had his first child. Rumor has it that takes a lot of time. I think it might be a good time to cut him some slack -- at least until his child starts sleeping through the night."

Fair enough. And congrats to him for all that, of course.

Speaking as a man, I imagine it WOULD take a lot of time for one of us to have a child.

Note that the paragraphing, lack thereof rather, comes from the (execrable, unless I'm entirely confused) source he links.

Hey everyone, it's a beautiful day in the neighborhood! Or it is here in Japan, anyhow. How about an open thread on books, or travel, or movies, or recipes, or something, to divert our eyes from this train wreck for a while?

Tim Rutten covers the BD story. It's a pretty decent summary.

"How about an open thread on books, or travel, or movies, or recipes, or something, to divert our eyes from this train wreck for a while?"

There's one right here.

Von, here is a piece on Domenech from a conservative with a different approach then yours. Unsurprisingly, I think Surber has a better grasp of the matter (and the facts).

it is here in Japan, anyhow

!!!

You in Tokyo or Nagoya? It's raining down here in beartown

Skimming quickly through the comments about Clinton's lie, I don't see this point mentioned (and I'm sorry but at the moment I don't have the time to research it, either on google or wikipedia): didn't the trial judge rule that Clinton's lie was not germane to the suit and therefore did not rise to the level of perjury?

If this is so, does it affect the quality of apology Clinton needed to deliver?

LJ: Karatsu, Saga Prefecture, actually. Teaching with JET.

Now I need to take a shower.

Now, so do I.

Jeebus.

Geez, small world, mc. Drop a line to my gmail and if you are ever in Kumamoto, let me know.

Now, so do I.

Jeebus.

Three words for him: anger management class.

Though the blogosphere really desperately needs self-righteousness managment classes. And I'm not saying I don't need some myself on occasion. But I do like to think that I manage to remember most of the time that self-righteousness doesn't justify just saying and doing anything and everything, just because the Cause Is Just. I prefer to think that I tend to restrain my own self-righteousness mostly to actual *ssh*les. Though, of course, sometimes I don't, and that's my bad.

If Ben wants to be a journalist, he should probably give up his Regnery job, and go back to WaPo, on bended knee and with hat in hand, and beg for a job on the city desk.

Real reporting on daily events, that would bring him into contact with regular people, not important GOP friends-of-Dad.

If he does well, and stays within the bounds of professionalism, I think he'd get his cred back.

Eventually, he could get back into the column-writing biz, and at that point, I suspect his time reporting the hard-luck stories of the plebes would give him depth and credibility that his pampered peers lack.

On the other hand, if he just wants to score political points for his GOP elders, he can stay at Regnery and RedState.

"But I do like to think that I manage to remember most of the time that self-righteousness doesn't justify just saying and doing anything and everything, just because the Cause Is Just."

My lesson from comments like the 'if they all died today' thing on redstate.com is that you can do what is good for your cause or you can have a public fit of self-righteous anger but often you can't do both.

Seb: yes.

Though I think that anger, properly deployed, can be extremely useful. Some of the posts I've written that I like best were written in anger. (For instance, 'Hatred Is A Poison', 'Another Response To A Letter At Horsefeathers', and more or less everything I've written about torture and the Graham amendment.)

The trick is to use it: to govern it instead of letting it govern you. My anger, at least, tends to get a bit testy when I don;t make myself stop and ask: who, exactly, is the appropriate target of this anger, if there is one? What, exactly, am I angry about, really? And why? -- and then try to shape an appropriate response. "Wait", it says when I'm tempted to be more sloppy: "I am your anger, damn it, and I deserve more respect than that! I shouldn't just be deployed indiscriminately!" Whenever I ignore its warnings, I find myself regretting it later.

This is lucky, since it means I don't have to ignore my anger itself, either, or pretend that everything is all OK when it isn't. But it would be an equal mistake not to figure out what, exactly, the problem really is, and just get mad at whatever occurred to me first.

(In a way, I think emotions are like young kids: their first idea of what they want is often wrong, and they will not thank you for giving in to, for instance, their demands for all the candy in the store.)

I think it's crazily indiscriminate to say that you wouldn't mind if all the left dropped dead -- unless Thomas really believes, as a lot of the commenters at RedState say they do, that everyone on the left is a nihilistic howling pack of hyenas out for blood -- an especially scary thought since a lot of them also seem to think that the world of moonbats is large enough to include Michelle Malkin. If he doesn't believe that, though, he needs to think a lot harder about who he's mad at, in particular, and what he actually wishes on them.

It's not that he wrote while he was angry; it's that he didn't respect his anger enough to govern it.

OT: We have been linked to by, of all people, Roger Ebert. First Malkin, then Domenech, now this. Yikes.

"The trick is to use it: to govern it instead of letting it govern you."

This is what made Mace Windu so powerful, you see.

(I'm kidding, but half-serious, in that I spent a few hours on a couple of occasions poking around the Star Wars websites reading trivial crap back when the last movie came out; supposedly Windu's flavor of Jedi practice pushed him up towards the edge of the Dark Side, in using anger, but not over the edge; this made his style a bit questionable in the eyes of other Jedi, said the article, but also made him Powerful.)

"...since a lot of them also seem to think that the world of moonbats is large enough to include Michelle Malkin."

She is, but not in the way they think she is. But I think you're a very impressive -- for a certain value of the word sort of "conservative" when Michelle Malkin isn't conservative and passionate and loyal enough for you.

Although, in fairness, I think a lot of them (at RedState) simply don't "get" plagiarism at all, and that it wasn't, in all cases at all times, just loyalty to Domenech; I'm willing to grant that there was a considerable amount of simple ignorance and stupidity involved, as well -- see how generous I am?

The whole endless reiteration of "I have my finger on the trigger, and I'm ready to blam/ban you any minute now!" stuff also tends to suggest an immense amount of getting carried away with The Mighty Power Of Control; it's ugly stuff, but I'm willing to grant that a teeny bit of it is just inexperience -- but not very much, because any sane and reasonable person simply wouldn't go there, no matter that the whole experience is brand new to them -- sane and reasonable people can analogize from other experiences to new experiences in figuring out what's actually righteous behavior, versus self-righteous behavior.

Frankly, most of those people just don't seem either very bright or very grown-up. And I don't say that as an ideological thing; I've seen more than my share of idiotic leftists, certainly.

But I'm afraid I'm something of an intellectual elitist, even if I'm a poor imitation of a pseudo-intellectual, myself; I don't let that get in the way of my elitism, or as other call it, my snottiness. I like people who can use their words, and, like, spell, 'n everything.

It's going to take me a while to absorb the notion of Michelle Malkin as a wimp seeking the approval of leftists, I must confess. I'm still rather stunny about it (this would be the equivalent of "shocky," if it were, you know, a word).

That's not under Ebert's byline, I think, just his brand.

"OT: We have been linked to by, of all people, Roger Ebert."

You will now be the 9th person I've pointed out to in the last year that Jim Emerson is not Roger Ebert.

To expand slightly: the blog is not obscurely entitled "Emerson blog." Right there at the top, in big letters. And on the main page: "Emerson Blog." And on every piece, at the top: "Jim Emerson."

Jim has been a film critic for longer than thirty years. He was an old hand when I first encountered him writing for the Seattle alternative weekly in 1978, and then when he moved to the Seattle Times a year or two later. I've been reading him that long.

Roger hired Jim to run the website when the website started a year and 3/4s, or two years, or such, ago. There are only two people on the site: Jim, and Roger.

I know it's the "Roger Ebert" website, but Jim's blog is clearly labeled, and everything he writes is signed and bylined, and not in small letters or at the bottom of the articles, and I don't quite understand why so many people make this mistake, although I guess it's just because it's "rogerebert.com," and there's an expectation.

Anyway, Jim is a good writer, himself, and often does political commentary related to film on the blog. I've linked to him on a number of occasions, most recently, gee, way back the day before yesterday, and also last month.

But, what the hell, a month doesn't go by that someone doesn't link to the "amygdalagf blog," too.

Oops; sorry. Emerson it is.

No amount of odious comments, however odious detract from:

1) There were substantive criticisms of Domenech's opinion writing on RedState and their qualifications re: Red America re:Blog an WaPo prior to charges of plagiarism.

2) Charges of plagiarism accentuated the existing case of Ben's lack of qualification for a prestigious position at WaPo online.

3) Charges of plagiarism were met with denial and false accusations of wrongdoing of others.

4) A post titled "Contrition" was not even passably contrite, and it acted as if the blatant lies and smears were merely "obfuscation".

You have got to be kidding. How can we even have a debate about something so obvious and black and white? He has not a leg to stand on, and now we are talking about others civility? And decorum?

"the blog is not obscurely entitled "Emerson blog." Right there at the top, in big letters."

Gary, click the link. "Not obscurely" applies, as does "not".

Pinko Punko: it's sort of amazing, even taking into account the grief those who knew him, or even had the sort of I've-never-met-them-but-if-someone-tried-to-harm-them-I-would-get-really-mad-and-try-to-kick-out-that-person's-kneecaps relationship I have with my co-bloggers, must have felt. -- I mean, in my world the left and right have some awful commenters, but some of the prominent right-wing bloggers have a level of venom that their left-wing analogs (in terms of size) do not begin to match. (I mean: who, exactly, is the left's analog to Hindrocket?)

There probably is some Hindrocket doppelganger out there, but he toils in obscurity because no online Dem would take seriously a blog that said things like "This is yet another masterstroke by Harry Reid, the greatest Senate Minority Leader of the last two centuries, long may he reign..."

There probably is some Hindrocket doppelganger out there

Probably a guy with the goatee.

lj- Hey, what are you trying to imply?

Sorry, should have tossed in the link, but it came up a week or so ago. No insult to facial hair intended ;^)

lj- How could I have forgotten! None taken. :)

That link is hilarious, but how could the wiki community have forgotten the "evil twin" episode of Green Acres...

I'm not so impressed with this Wikipedia entry; I think the emphasis on science fiction is way overdone; I can't think of any real science fiction that has used the trope. TV stuff isn't real science fiction, save with a few exceptions, and Star Trek is hardly representative of science fiction.

Off-hand, I can't think of a single major sf book or story that has an "evil twin" trope. Not before Star Trek and not afterwards.

Writing as if Star Trek was serious sf and representative of the field is just ludicrous, even if that's what it means in the mind of some casual Wikipedia writers, or much of the general public.

Soap operas: that's where you'll find your real history of evil twins.

Not that I'm objecting at all the use of "bearded Spock" as a shorthand for the concept -- not at all.

I'm just arguing with the Wikipedia entry's phrasing "An evil twin is the concept in fiction (especially science fiction and fantasy)," since that's really misleading in implying that it's used in real science fiction, say, the way travel to other solar systems is, or cloning, or meeting aliens, or time travel, or any of the actually much-used tropes in science fiction.

But "bearded Spock" is a perfectly reasonable and useful popular shorthand.

Just to really beat the horse: that's a long Wikipedia piece, and it provides a zillion examples of "evil twin" in pop culture, and not a single one, other than "Star Trek" is a science fiction story. No books, or written stories: nada, let alone any prominent ones. No other forms of sf, either; it's all fantasy or superhero comics or children's animation, or whatever. (No, Knight Rider is not serious science fiction.)

The first sentence just isn't remotely supported by the article.

Easy, Gary. Maybe one of Ben Domenech's editors inserted that line into the wiki...

Well, I'm not going to defend the article to the death, but it is fun to see all those different evil twin examples. I mean, the whole evil twin thing might go back to Plato's Phaedrus (with the analogy of the two horses) or the Danaïdes (where the 50 sons of the evil twin descend on Argos to marry the 50 daughters and the daughters, to protect themselves, are ordered by the good twin to kill their husbands, which all but one of them does) or the explanation Plato has Aristophanes give, that men and women are actually two separated halves which are condemned to search for their missing half, or the whole Apollo/Dionysias split.

If you are interested, I'll discuss my theory that the first template for literature was the buddy movie...

Ouch! Poor von.

Ouch! Poor von.

It's gotta make contact to leave a welt. This one whiffed (i.e., I frankly don't understand it).

This one whiffed (i.e., I frankly don't understand it).

It's that irony thing. You know: you going all "poor Ben, he's suffered such odious and baseless attacks" after a series of odious and baseless attacks by Ben Domenech himself.

"(i.e., I frankly don't understand it)."

The point is that you're going (I paraphrase) "poor good old Ben, what a shame such awful things have been said about such a nice guy," when others read his string of vicious fact-free attacks on others and see "a lot of truly baseless — and truly odious — attacks."

The man is a master of hate rhetoric, and an overwhelming hypocrite, and that's before we get to the plagiarism, and his lying smears of his former colleagues, and his other attempts to lie his way out of the situation until he was nailed.

This doesn't make good old Ben appear terribly sympathetic to those who have read Ben's attitudes of non-generosity towards others.

Have you read Domenech on plagiarists? On plagiarists who don't show signs of guilt and shame and repetence? (And a last minute forced plea aren't such signs.)

Ben Domenech:

« The Parental Government | Main | All is Right With the World »
May 15, 2003
The Rundown

Jayson Blair sells his story, a fact that upsets me even more than Stephen Glass’s return through The Fabulist. Glass at least served a period of penance, like Marv Albert or something. Blair wants to go straight from getting shredded in the NYTimes to climbing the NYTimes bestseller list. While I’m not quite on the same level as Goldberg's righteous anger, I do feel that there should be no quarter given to Blair's vile lies.

He wants no quarter given to such people.

Fair enough. And what else?


« The Democratic Center | Main | One More Reason to Despise Janet Reno »
May 21, 2003
Jayson Does Not Apologize

Jayson Blair refuses to have any sense of guilt over his actions at the New York Times. He says he received no preferential treatment. He says he deserves to be hailed as a genius for his elaborate lies. He says he laughed at the sheer inaccuracy of his cliched description of Jessica Lynch's West Virginia family home.

Jayson Blair is just one more journalistic pezzonovante amidst a crowd of his peers. The only difference is, he's unashamed of his pretty little lies. In fact, he's proud of them.

The ultimate insult that we could pay towards this wretch would be to forget him. He deserves no more of our time.

Okey-dokey.

And I shouldn't leave out that The Editors chose to highlight this: "there aren’t a lot on the left who should walk away from this one feeling proud."

Unsurprisingly, Von -- and I think I can read The Editors' mind here -- we on the left feel personally slandered by you.

Some of us still have hopes you'll do the right thing, and withdraw and revise your slur on us; an apology would also be a nice sign of recognition of your un-called-for, untrue, slur.

I feel perfectly proud of everything I said about Domenech until the plagiarism issue, since I said nothing whatever. I ask again: please withdraw your slander against me and all the rest of us, and apologize. If you have people you want to castigate, name them and quote them.

Then we will stop being pissed off at you. Not before.

Here's a clue: people who are lied about and insulted tend to not find it acceptable just because the person making the untrue slander thinks it's fine because lots of his friends take it for granted that it's true and already said it.

Would you be copacetic if I declared that "few on the Right aren't vicious liars"?

Notice that I've never said any such thing. Or not.

You know: you going all "poor Ben, he's suffered such odious and baseless attacks" after a series of odious and baseless attacks by Ben Domenech himself.

Ahh. Perhaps I didn't emphasize the following enough (from my comment at 9:32 a.m. [EST] on 3/25):

Third, although part of my dispute with Domenech's worldview is that he has too much faith in the rightness of his own beliefs (aka, pride), I don't judge him by the standards he might have set for others (or me). It matters not to me whether there is irony (or not) in this particular fall.

Or, to distill it further: Two wrongs do not make a right. (It doesn't matter that Domenech might not have extended the same courtesy to me. I try to live up to my own standards, not the standards of another.)

Unsurprisingly, Von -- and I think I can read The Editors' mind here -- we on the left feel personally slandered by you.

I intended no slur, personal or otherwise.

von: since, having been exempted, I can speak with some detachment, when you say: "there aren't a lot on the left who should walk away from this one feeling proud", I'm not sure how that could possibly not count as a slur on those people who should not feel proud. (I mean: presumably they should not feel proud for a reason. And what could that reason be if not that they had done something wrong? And how could saying that they had not be a slur?)

And, just to wrap that up, had you said "there are some on the left who should not feel proud", I think most people would say: sure. That's almost always true. But to say it about everyone on the left except for a small number ("not a lot") is different.

OK, last last addition: I also think (mindreading) that people wouldn't be bothered by this if, say, Thomas had said it. Ho hum, we'd say; what else is new? That people are bothered by it when you say it is, I think, due to respect for you.

"I intended no slur, personal or otherwise."

I'm sure you didn't. But you've made one, and you've yet to withdraw it. Do you really continue to not get this?

Would it be so hard to write something along the lines of "I shouldn't have written 'there aren't a lot on the left who should walk away from this one feeling proud,' and made such a generalization about the left; I realize that I have no idea what most people on the left have said and written about Ben Domenech, and now that I think about it, I realize that most people on the left said nothing whatever about him; they have nothing to regret, and I apologize that I implied that they did; I gathered an impression that there were some people on the left who said terrible things about Ben, but I was trusting the assertions of friends there, and didn't take the time to actually look into who said what myself -- I'm pretty busy these days with more important things than blog kerfuffles; I also nonetheless regret that I didn't make myself familiar with the true range of what those on the left said about Domenech; here are examples of comments from leftists I do think were out of line; I condemn those people, but I don't condemn anyone else simply for being on the left, any more than I want to be judged by the writings of Ben Domenech's, even though Ben remains my friend, and I believe he is redeemable and will in future do good work that makes up for his youthful errors."

Something like that?

But slurring people, and then saying "I didn't mean to slur you [but I stand by my slurs]" doesn't cut it, I'm afraid.

Notice that I'm still trying to work with you here. I believe you're a responsible person who will, sooner or later, think about what he said, and take responsibility for it. I don't think you're anything like a Ben Domenech. But help me out here, please.

"That people are bothered by it when you say it is, I think, due to respect for you."

Absolutely, and to the rest of what Hilzoy said (though she's emphasizing for herself points already made).

I'm not trying to ride your ass to be obnoxious; I'm trying to get you to withdraw your slur. That you didn't realize you were slurring people, I'm willing to give you the benefit of the doubt on. But intent and acts are, as you know, different things.

When you wrong someone or someones, not having intended to doesn't make up for the wrong. When the wrong is with words, saying you didn't mean the words to mean what they mean is good, but doesn't change that they mean what they mean; if you want to not stand by the words, you have to say so. You have to specifically say you don't mean those words; you can't just say a variant of "you shouldn't take them to mean what they mean, since that's not what I meant." You get to speak to what you meant in your heart and head; you don't get to change the meaning of the words you wrote; those you can only withdraw or modify.

Please withdraw or modify them. Thanks.

Hilzoy (and Gary, by extension): This is getting really silly. I expressed an opinion. It happens in the blogosphere. Others disagreed. That happens too. Now, you're telling me that you disagree so strongly with my opinion that you feel that it's a personal slur. That wasn't my intent, but fine; I can't keep you from feeling what you feel. You then demand an apology. If my opinion changed, I would offer one. But it hasn't, and so I can't.

A lot of the pre-plagiarism attacks were policy disagreements made as personal assaults: e.g., you supported policy X and, therefore, you are a racist. Such an attack is not only inaccurate -- e.g., supporting votor ID does not mean that one is a racist -- and is not helpful to bridging the political divide.*

I don't know whether Gary made such an attack because I haven't read his site; since I neither did nor intended to single him out, I didn't need to.** Again, not a lot on the left is not the same as everyone on the left or everyone on the left but Hilzoy. Please read the damn words and assume that they carry their ordinary meaning. Moreover, saying that one should not feel proud about something is not the same as saying that one is evil, or even that one should feel ashamed. It is saying that one should not feel proud.

In any event, Domenech's career and personal reputation are in tatters -- and deservedly so.

von

*It shouldn't matter to this point, but, for clarity, I opposed voter ID on the ground that it had a disproportionate impact on African Americans with much corresponding anti-fraud benefit.)

**Nor am I going to, Gary.

That first footnote should be:

It shouldn't matter to this point, but, for clarity, I opposed voter ID on the ground that it had a disproportionate impact on African Americans without much corresponding anti-fraud benefit.)

"Now, you're telling me that you disagree so strongly with my opinion that you feel that it's a personal slur."

Not at all. No one is disagreeing with any of your opinions -- not on this issue. You made a statement that is either fact-based, or not.

"...there aren't a lot on the left who should walk away from this one feeling proud."

Now, "who should walk away from this one feeling proud" is the opinion part. That's not at issue.

The fact-based (or needs to be) part: "there aren't a lot."

Either this is true, or it isn't. Either most people on the left -- those left when you subtract "not a lot," which "a lot," which is "most" -- are people you are referring to, or not.

But that's indisputable. It's what you said.

You referred to the majority of people on the left; you said we "don't have a lot to be proud of."

You can't claim that you weren't referring to us with that phrasing. You can only claim that it was poor phrasing that didn't reflect what you meant to say; that's what I keep inviting you to correct and make clear.

"Again, not a lot on the left is not the same as everyone on the left or everyone on the left but Hilzoy."

Correct. It's the same as "most people on the left." This simply isn't deniable.

"Please read the damn words and assume that they carry their ordinary meaning."

Indeed.

"If my opinion changed, I would offer one. But it hasn't, and so I can't."

Is it still your opinion that "there aren't a lot on the left who should walk away from this one feeling proud"?

If so, why? What's the evidence you submit that those of us who are not in the few and the proud have done something to not be proud of?

It's that simple. You've made a claim about the majority of leftists: what's the evidence in support of your claim?

Please read the damn words and assume that they carry their ordinary meaning.

Well I read your words and assumed they carried their ordinary meaning, and I came to conclusion Gary and Hilzoy did too.

von: Please read the damn words and assume that they carry their ordinary meaning.

What Gary, hilzoy and spartikus said.

[I debated a more complete version of this post, but fortunately Gary beat me to it.]

von: In any event, Domenech's career and personal reputation are in tatters -- and deservedly so.

For the moment, yes. How long this lasts, and whether it will be accompanied by anything like redemption (or even atonement), is something that is still very open to question.

Wow Von that actually is starting to make some sense in my head. If you meant "proud" in the sense of feeling pride at the specific accomplishment of exposing Ben as a plagarist, then I can see where you thought many here wouldn't be offended. I have to say I didn't see that as a possibility until now.

For what it's worth, I agree with Gary, Hilzoy, Spartikus, and Anarch. When you inspect a hurricane-damaged house and say "There isn't a lot of this house that can be saved", it doesn't mean there's only a little that needs to be demolished. It means most of the house needs to be torn down. That's the "ordinary meaning" of the words.

If you didn't mean your comment to apply to the vast majority of people on the left, then it would seem appropriate to have an update explaining what you did intend it to mean.

I intended no slur, personal or otherwise.

Well it's nice to have it confirmed that you weren't referring to any actual living breathing lefties, but only dispassionately describing some abstract archetype with no discernible members.

All the same, this is troubling. If the kitten has a mens rea clause, does that mean it's safe for me to observe that most Republicans are facilitating a violent criminal enterprise bent on subverting the constitution?

Because, to be blunt, one of good things about this site is that saying stuff like that is frowned upon (cf. recent convos with Walter Concrete) even when they're demonstrably true. And yet, here you are, not only saying stuff like that, but defending it. And -- pardon me for mentioning this out loud because I'm sure it's one of those things that we should all politely ignore -- you are defending not by demonstrating something which you have asserted is demonstrably true, but by calling into question the reading comprehension of your audience. Which is occasionally a legitimate defense, but always a reason to be suspicious.

Of course if you're using the actus non facit reum si republicus defense that I hear so much about lately, maybe I should just give up now...

Let me try one last time to make something clear here: I'm harassing you, Von, as an act of friendship. I'm trying to help you out, here.

I'm trying to get you on record as revising your unintentionally offensive statement to something inoffensive.

I'm trying to get you -- though the quicker this could have been done, the better it would have been -- to close this out so that those of us who are friends of yours can respond, when you're mocked for having said an unjustifiable slur, "no, he revised his hasty words, which he wrote over-quickly."

We'd prefer to be able to make that sort of statement about you when you're mocked by people such as The Editors, simply by quoting your remarks.

We can't do that if you don't revise your remark.

We'd prefer to not have you thought of as "that asshole, Von," though at this point we have to settle for "that hasty writer, Von, who is a bit slower to revise his errors than would be ideal."

But we're still working on it. I'm still trying to help you out.

(Similarly, Domenech was best helped by Malkin saying he needed to apologize and resign, not by the people who told him he had nothing to apologize for; I'm telling you you need to revise your remark; I know it hurts, but it's doing you a favor as a friend, not to try to "get" you, much as I'm sure it seems otherwise to you just now.)

Me too

Moreover, saying that one should not feel proud about something is not the same as saying that one is evil, or even that one should feel ashamed. It is saying that one should not feel proud.

This seems a silly (dare I say lawyerly?) distinction that I sincerely doubt would occur to anyone reading the sentence in question. If we shouln't be proud, but also shouldn't feel shame, what should we feel? A general sense of ennui? When you complain about the (unspecified) baseless and odious attacks suffered by Ben, and immediately follow that up with an admonition that the left take no pride in their actions, the ordinary meaning of that is that they should instead be ashamed, not that they should just feel nothing in particular.

My last comment on this (I think): von wrote: "Now, you're telling me that you disagree so strongly with my opinion that you feel that it's a personal slur."

It's not the strength of anyone's disagreement that makes them think it's a personal slur. You could have said that 2+2=5, and no one, not even Anarch (who works on this stuff), would have taken that as a personal slur, no matter how strongly they disagreed.

What makes it a personal slur is that the opinion you expressed was about "a lot" of "the Left". As I'm exempted, I don't take it personally, but lots of other people might quite reasonably take it that they might be included. Since 'not a lot' is normally a minority, odds are that they are.

And when you say that they "should not be proud", that is a personal insult, whether or not it's equivalent to "they are evil bad people". It may be a justified insult. (Which, I take it, is why people are wondering what the basis for it was.) But it is surely an insult.

That people take it that way isn't due to the 'strength of their disagreement'; it's due to the ordinary meaning of the words.

We seem to have gone from being outraged to being outraged by the outrage and are now on the verge of being outraged by the outrage to the outrage. This is all getting a little too meta- for me, folks.

Gary, I appreciate that you're trying to be helpful. I also reciprocate the respect and friendship you offer in your comment. However, I still don't think you're really reading what I wrote, and I can't give the response that you think is appropriate.

This seems a silly (dare I say lawyerly?) distinction that I sincerely doubt would occur to anyone reading the sentence in question.

However it seems, there is a difference between not feeling proud about an event and feeling ashamed of it. I'm neither proud nor ashamed of Clinton's actions during the L'affaire Lewinsky, for instance.

Would it be okay to say "There are not a lot on the right who are very intelligent"? By the literal meaning of the words, that's perfectly true, isn't it? After all, surely "very intelligent" must refer to a small subset, which is not a lot. How could anyone take offense?

Hilzoy, I respectfully suggest (again) that you're missing the point. But let's end it here.

However it seems, there is a difference between not feeling proud about an event and feeling ashamed of it. I'm neither proud nor ashamed of Clinton's actions during the L'affaire Lewinsky, for instance.

Sure, von, but if you were commenting on it and said that Clinton shouldn't feel proud of his actions, what do you think the implication would be?

Von, your post consisted of two points.

1. You feel sorry for Ben, because most of the left attacked him unfairly.

2. You look forward to Ben's return.

That's it.

The Poorman took your post and assumed you were serious. You yourself said that you didn't want the occasion to pass without making these two points.

Presumably, the Poorman, Hilzoy, Gary and the rest of us are galled that you would choose to emphasize these two points for a man who deserves no such sympathy.

Let's be clear: Ben himself has slandered the left far worse than the left has slandered Ben. Yet you choose to feel sorry for Ben.

Again, Ben has said that the left, minus Hilzoy, are uniformly harboring rapist fantasies. Yet, it is the left who you feel should not be proud and that Ben is deserving of sympathy.

That is galling.

von, Saying that you are neither proud nor ashamed of Clinton's behavior is a non-sequitur. It's YOUR behavior during l'affaire Lewinsky, or during some case, or whatever, that is germane.

When YOU take some action, and somebody suggests that you have no reason to be proud of that action, it is absolutely nonsensical to suggest that the ordinary reading of that suggestion is that you should feel nothing in particular.

This is the sort of thing that makes it possible for people -- The Editors in this case -- to make jokes about you without you even realizing what the joke is. If you want to drop it you are entitled, but be advised that several people on this thread, most of whom care about you far more than I do, think that this is an important thing for you to understand, and you are basically telling them to get lost.

p.s. for history. I see that I was unclear. I didn't mean that von had asserted that it was demonstrably true that "not many...left...proud" I meant the "odious and baseless" part, on which his opinion that "not many...left...proud" was based. Opinions are inherently legitimate (though not necessarily noteworthy). But negative opinions offerred without basis are, as Gary points out, slurs. Whether intended or not.

"However, I still don't think you're really reading what I wrote, and I can't give the response that you think is appropriate."
few on the right have anything to be
Well, von, either in time you'll reconsider what are reasonable interpretations that, as it happens, are pretty universally how everyone is understanding what you meant, or you can go with the idea that you are correct in best understanding the interpretation of what you said, and most everyone else is wrong, and darn them for it.

From there, I don't know if you will decide that most all of the left is filled with people willfully determined to misunderstand your entirely reasonable statement that most of them having nothing to be proud of in their behavior re Ben Domenech, or what, but it's all up to you.

All I can do is urge you to do, since you won't reconsider immediately, is to back away, and consider this in the fullness of time later in the week, when you've had a bit more distance, and imagine how you might view it from the other side.

Imagine that I had said "there aren't a lot on the right who should walk away from this Domenech defense feeling proud."

Not the worst accusation in the world, certainly. But do you feel you said anything to be ashamed of? Do you think that most people on the right said anything to be ashamed of, to be not proud of, or acted in some way to be not proud of?

If someone at RedState complained about such a statement, would you post to tell them they were wrong?

Please consider this.

"Moreover, saying that one should not feel proud about something is not the same as saying that one is evil, or even that one should feel ashamed. It is saying that one should not feel proud."

Ah, but von, you did suggest that the left should be ashamed. How else to take your first point: that you feel sorry for Ben, because the left has maligned him unfairly with "truly baseless -- and truly odious -- attacks". Save for Hilzoy, of course.

Is it really your contention one shouldn't feel ashamed for "truly baseless -- and truly odious -- attacks"?

This thread just flies too fast-

On evil twins: I liked the use of the twin Ferrante in Eco's "Island of the Day Before" a book I enjoyed immensely but can be considered slow going.

There are plenty of wackos on the left, but there just is not a Hinderaker or a Malkin among them- the large part of the criticism of certain bloggers on the left is that they use rough language or are mean, the substantive criticism are much less applicable to them than they are to the bizarro universe that Hinderaker inhabits.

von, you made one of those nebulous "some people..." and these are viewed rightly as the langauge of slurring, because in our pathetic bloggo medium, that is how they are usually used. Context matters, just like Jeff Goldstein claiming he denounces plagiarism in no uncertain terms, but then proceeds to love love love the sinner. At what point does the love for the sinner really make it seem like there was no sin?

I think this post is the height of partisanship. You have taken what appears to be an extreme devil's advocacy approach to the entire crime, the "plagiarism is bad, it goes without saying, therefore let me accept a terrible apology and move on to focus on the crimes of the other side."

Seriously, the Red State guys sharpened their knives for Charles who played it as straight as could be imagined. Nothing whatsoever about their behavior is defensible, cloaked as it be in "friendship".

There will always be a "somebody said something offensive in a comment at Eschaton" get out of jail free card for these guys- when do you stop accepting it as valid currency?

People, we have a failure to communicate here. I didn't like the sentence in question when I read it, but von has said a number of times he didn't intend a slur against the left, and I take him at his word. I think it's well past time to move on.

Von, when one person seems to be misunderstanding what you wrote, it may be a problem with that one person's reading comprehension. When everyone who has a comment has understood what you wrote to mean A, it does no good to say "but I meant B!" - you need to rewrite what you wrote so that you are clearly saying B, not A. Or, as this is a blogpost, you need to insert an update explaining you meant B, nor A.

I think this would have been enormously in our interests.

A lot depends on who the "our" is in that sentence. Hilzoy, your comment puts you firmly on the liberal side of the liberal/left divide, which is where I'm sure you want to be. But there are some good reasons why history didn't happen that way, and they have at least as much to do with who owns and rules in this country as with modes of argument.

clarifying, I'm quoting from and responding to Hilzoy's comment at March 25 5:30 PM. And my point is completely tangential to the thread, so I'm fine with it being completely ignored, including by Hilzoy.

I don't particularly feel sorry for Ben except in a very general bad things are bad for people even when they sow the seeds of their own destruction kind of way.

1. He was a constant participant in the ugly LGF/WashingtonMonthly Comments/DemocraticUnderground internet pseudo-discourse.

2. He was hired on the WaPo blog for that and perhaps 'connections' (the latter part being rather unsurprising in the world of politics and/or journalism).

3. He was immediately and unfairly attacked for racism.

4. He was immediately and unfairly attacked for homophobia.

5. He was soon after correctly attacked for plagiarism.

6. His initial reaction to the charge in #5 was ridiculous and stupid.

7. His current apology is barely serviceable.


There is a lot not to like in that story. Starting with the very prevalance of his style of 'debate' all over the internet as mentioned in point 1. But it certainly is true that there was an appearance of "let's sling mud and hope some sticks". The fact that some justifiably stuck doesn't transform that attitude into something laudable The fact that hilzoy was not such a person does not mean that such people did not exist, nor does it mean that there weren't a fairly large number of them.

All that said, I agree with Gary's statement "there aren't a lot on the right who should walk away from this Domenech defense feeling proud" even though he meant it as an example of something that isn't correct. There aren't a lot on the right who should walk away from this Demenech defense feeling proud. I don't, and I didn't defend him at all. The knee-jerk defense that many exhibited without getting the facts was not a good thing, and the fact that it was done by people somewhat on 'my side' makes me cringe.

Save for [Von] there aren't a lot on the [right] who should walk away from this one feeling proud.

possible values for "this one":

the impeachment of Pres. Clinton,
the Belleisles affair,
John Lott's continuing employment at AEI,
Rush Limbaugh's treatment of Hilary Clinton,
Rush Limbaugh's continuing employment following drug abuse problems,
the Swift Boat affair.

do you see yet, Von, that, by including people WHO TOOK NO ACTION on the scandal in your condemnation, you have insulted them?

Both sides have long since played the politics of personal destruction. If you want the monolithic "left" to stop, then you go first.

And that means that people who engage in the politics of personal destruction, like Ben D., are NOT welcome back.

1. He was a constant participant in the ugly LGF/WashingtonMonthly Comments/DemocraticUnderground internet pseudo-discourse.

Think you're missing the most important site in the pseudo-discourse there, Sebastian: RedState. It's not exempt just because he founded it.

And as an aside, I wasn't aware that DU was referred to outside conservative circles. I've certainly never seen it linked by any liberal, progressive or even left-wing blogger; in fact, if it weren't for the relentless drumming by conservatives, I'd never have heard of it, period.* LGF, by contrast, was for many a year not just linked, but linked approvingly, by its conservative brethren -- and I'm fairly sure it still is.

* That includes a fairly close read of the Calpundit/WashMo threads, fyi, which reminds me: I know you've been unfairly slammed in there from time to time, but to equate them with LGF or DU is just silly. They're not even vaguely comparable.

'scuse me: the most relevant site (to the present conversation), not most important site overall.

And that means that people who engage in the politics of personal destruction, like Ben D., are NOT welcome back.

They should never have been welcomed in the first place, especially by the Washington Post.

But sadly this is the state of things in 2006. Until journalism and the major media outlets refuse to play patty-cake with the propagandists and script-reciters (e.g., the Karl Roves, Ken Mehlmans and Brit Humes of the world) we aren't going to get anywere.

The thing I find most puzzling about all of this is the that people are shocked, shocked i tell you about the attacks on him and his character. This IS politics people, character attacks, and for that matter attacks of all sorts are common and generally seen as fair game by both sides. To pretend otherwise is disingenuous. It seems no one on the right or even leaning right can write about this without throwing something in about these attacks on him, as if they are an entirely new and surprising development in the sphere of politics. They aren't it's business as usual, since the revolution, and our founding fathers even engaged in it against eachother. Spare me the outrage.

Sebastian: WYMM?

A newcomer's perspective...

At this point I'd be inclined to say of any left/right dispute that "the usual suspects behaved disgracefully." Because I'm sure I can find commenters at Washington Monthly, dailyKos, Eschaton, and the like spewing forth the most amazing vile crap, and at least one or a few Kos diarists, someone at Firedoglake in an intemperate moment, or someone like that making a main blog post that's also vile. Likewise when it comes to the right--posters and commenters at Red State, Little Green Footballs, and the like spewing forth the matching crap. (Is there a multi-dimensional crap symmetry? New frontiers of physics.)

But the thing is, that doesn't have anything to do with the topic at hand. Because they'll get that way about anything, including the absence of developments in a story, Pultizer and Oscar nominees, you name it. There are people who've rotted their souls into ravening pit bulls, and any actual information or worthwhile commentary they may have will be kind of accidental.

The question for any issue is what the people who aren't automatically in attack mode say. Von, I think this is what some of the liberal commenters are trying to say here. Lumping all flavors of the left together makes as much logical sense as looking for right-wing responses to an issue from Pat Buchanan, Lyndon Larouche, and someone from the Libertarian Party, and using that as the basis for a statement of "a lot of the right"--it wouldnt' be fair to you, or Charles Bird, or John Cole, or anyone else who's trying to look at the issue and deal with it as it is, rather than merely as a launching platform for the stock noise.

It seems to me that any assessment of what "the left" or "the right" are saying about an issue has to begin by factoring out the people who always say the same things. The rest of us can't control them and shouldn't be held liable for them.

For someone who "isn't a racist," Domenech has sure said some racist things.

I'm not talking about his CSK=Commie comment; that was merely vile and stupid.

I'm referring to a rather long post of his which said black people commit most of the crimes in this country, said anti-poverty programs which helped black people were a drag on the country, and expressed approval for the idea that aborting black babies would improve matters.

How is that not racist?

Regarding the charges of homophobia - well, I hadn't heard about those, and I'm sure not going to dive into Domenech's oeuvre to look for homophobic essays, so I can't say anything about them.

CaseyL, do you mean this diary? He's quoting that stuff. Whether approvingly or not, your guess is as good as mine.

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