Saturday, July 08, 2006

Tone

The original plan was to tell the story about initially not calling Scott Pullins a douchebag as a lead to this essay to advance the argument that maintaining a mature tone has value. Of course, Pullins himself ruined all that by eventually acting a douchebag, but the point remains.

While I don’t exactly regret the Pullins post, two misgivings remain. First off, I have since decided that responding to someone else’s blog on my blog without notice is a crummy way to do business. I don’t like it when I have to discover a counterargument through a Technorati search and I’m sure no one else does. From now on any argument here against someone else’s blog will be accompanied by a referral comment on the post at issue. (Doing that in the Pullins case would have been interesting; “Hey Scott, I’ve called you a douchebag over on the Pages.”)

The more fundamental misgiving is that the post was more about an exception without much discussion of the rule. As a whole, the Ohio blogosphere on both sides of the aisle exemplifies high-toned debate. I’ve been consistently impressed with the intelligence and civility of the right side of the blogosphere, and we do pretty well on this side of the divide.

This is not to say that all is sweet fluffiness. On both sides, bloggers argue passionately and sometimes harshly for their positions. Elbows get thrown, pols are called out and invective is in heavy supply. But namecalling across the blogosphere is rare as is sleazy rumormongering. There are exceptions, but I’m not in the mood to drop comments on other blogs about it, so they will remain nameless. They know who they are.

So like I said, my original intent in telling the Pullins story was to demostrate the virtues of maintaining a civil tone. Instead, I have Exhibit B. Last week NixGuy took up my post on why Ken Blackwells Godsmack scares me, wrote respectfully and taught me a couple things about his point of view. I chimed in with a comment and a question and he wrote another excellent post about that. It's one of the best things that has happened to me as a result of blogging. It gives me hope that we are headed somewhere other than protracted sectarian strife of one intensity or another.

This isn't a plea to be all lovey-dovey. I expect both sides to argue forcefully and it won't always be pretty. But we can keep it from being personal. We can make the posts about issues and not sleazy innuendo. It'll be a great blogosphere if we can be better at disagreeing in a civilized way than our leaders. One can hope.

Meanwhile, I'm ready to make another call. NixGuy: Not a douchebag.

6 comments:

Jill said...

Fun post. I'm on the same page - well - you know, I mean, I still can't always understand what you write (above me thing, you know?), but the civility thing and hope? I get that too.

Jason Sonenshein said...

I don't buy Dave's "poor persecuted Christian" schtick. Dave wrote, "If you mention God, this is tantamount to theocracy, if you don’t, your reinforcing atheism."

This is not true. The lack of any mention of religion does not reinforce atheism. What would reinforce atheism would be to state that there is no god. I do not know of any atheists that are asking governments to replace religious displays with atheist displays. They are simply asking for government neutrality on the matter.

Dave goes on to pretend that conservatives are federalists:
-Push all government decisions to the lowest level of government possible. This means no federal government involvement when it is not necessary. And in education, it certainly isn’t.

-Let the lowest level of community decide their own values. If Warren County voters want ten commandments in their courthouse, why the heck is some DC ACLU lawyer getting involved?


Conservatives might, at one time, have been federalists. However, the Bush administration has tried to use the federal government to negate Oregon's legalization of assisted suicide and has successfully used the federal government to negate several states' legalization of medical marijuana. Here in Ohio, the Republican-controlled General Assembly has attacked municipal home rule in such areas as predatory lending, gas-well regulation, municipal-employee residency, and municipal building codes. So, when Dave says that conservatives want to "[p]ush all government decisions to the lowest level of government possible," I'm going to have to call bull$#!+.

One other, minor point: an ACLU lawyer involved in a Warren County, Ohio case would probably come from Cleveland and not, as Dave states, D.C.

Pho said...

Jill:

I couldn't help noticing that in the midst of my calling out Pullins you very pointedly remained silent, then complimented my zoo piece with something like "Now this is a good post." Which I just loved. A great way to remind me to keep it out of the gutter.

Jason:

There's a reason I called the post "Tone" and not "Argument." I pretty much agree with everything you say. But this is real core stuff and for his effort to keep the debate on a high plateau, I thought Dave deserved a shoutout. Indeed, he deserved a "Not a douchebag" shoutout.

NixGuy said...

Well shoot, thanks for the note.

A while back (a few years ago) I was on another board where just for fun, I tried the Ann Coulter Pit Bull approach.

Couldn't keep it up, Apparently it's just easier for me to dialogue civilly.

I think there's a place for the witty pit bull approach (Ann Coulter and Joe Conason cage match anyone?) but it's not my style I guess. And I do think it's better for everyone than the constant shoutfest.

Maybe the problem is that I'm just not angry enough.

jason: thanks for the input and responded back at the original.

Jason Sonenshein said...

"Indeed, he deserved a "Not a douchebag" shoutout."

Pho, I certainly agree with you on that point.

Dave, thanks for your response.

STTD said...

While I respect your rise-above-it philosophy, I don't think you should fret too hard about being mean to Scott Pullins.

Partly because you just weren't all that mean. And partly cause he deserved it.

But also because I believe the man is so pathetically desperate for attention that he's incapable of distinguishing between good attention and bad attention.

"You're a douchebag," and "You're so cool, I love you," sound exactly the same to his ears.