The Perpetual Three-Dot Column
The Perpetual Three-Dot Column
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by Jesse Walker

Monday, September 16, 2002
TOO MANY VODKAS: The heckling style that mars so many weblogs has reached a
nadir over on VodkaPundit, with a smug series of "answers" to Rep. Ron Paul's questions about the pending war with Iraq. I won't argue with the substance of Stephen Green's post, since Charles Oliver has already done so quite capably in Shoutin' Across the Pacific. Instead, I'll ask why it is that so many people who love to fact-check self-important lefties who talk without thinking are suddenly indulgent towards the same behavior when it comes from their own ideological tribe.

You want specifics? OK. If someone poses a serious question about the costs of war, and gets as his answer "Scare tactics might work against gullible Texans in your district, but don’t try that crap in Manhattan," why should he regard his heckler as anything but a boor? I mean no offense to Green, who perhaps was having an off day -- I don't read his website very often, so I can't say for sure. But what would possess so many people to write, in Green's comments section, that this was a "great post"? Why would generally thoughtful people link to the piece without any critical commentary?

I wouldn't get so bent out of shape if this weren't typical of so many warblog rants. The point-by-point response format seems to bring out the worst in most writers, perhaps because of its origins as a weapon in the Usenet flame-wars. It becomes easy to criticize someone, not for getting his facts wrong or for deploying faulty logic, but for not sharing the critic's starting assumptions; it becomes easy to reply, not with a data point or an argument, but with a witless one-liner. The result may be cathartic for the writer, but it is neither persuasive nor entertaining for the reader. Not this reader, anyway.


posted by Jesse 5:31 PM
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