In discussing the political dustup following David Broder's criticism of Harry Reid, Kathleen Parker makes some interesting observations about the blogosphere. While I disagree with her suggestion that anonymity is usually bad, I do agree that restraint is usually good:

Part of this devolution in discourse has been brought about, no doubt, by the volcanic explosion of the blogosphere, which has democratized free speech in a way that is not always positive or pretty. Everybody can type, but not everyone can write. Everyone has an opinion, but not everyone comes equipped with the same skills and experience.

The disinhibiting effect of anonymity, meanwhile, has unleashed something dark in the human spirit that seems to have infected the broader culture. It isn't enough to say that Broder is all wet; instead he's ``foaming at the mouth,'' a ``gasbag" and a ``venomous'' bloviator,'' borrowing again from Begala.

I think some of her comments, though, hint at a bit of journalistic arrogance. In other words, I have read plenty of outrage in the mainstream media, and not all of it was genuine either.


Allan said...

Although she admits it in a passing fashion, Parker's argument is weakened by the fact that the most egregious statements she quotes come not from an anonymous blogger with no communications credentials, but an established Democratic operative with extensive media experience. She then uses his statements to rant about "Aunt Sadie" and her lack of professional experience.

While I accept the notion that an army of pissy Davids doesn't necessarily help in propagating civil discourse, I can't help but wonder what her opinion would be of this screed by an anonymous, professionally inexperienced, angry blogger.

And no, I'm not comparing myself or my "works," nor those of any other blogger, to that example; I'm simply pointing out that it's a tad stupid to dismiss an entire group of individuals with a soapbox because they didn't apply for that soapbox according to the unspoken rules of the Soapbox Guild of America.

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