Saturday, December 23, 2006

Bravo Waldo!

Recently, in a conversation with an art professor friend I mentioned Waldo Jaquith’s name. My friend had asked me about political bloggers and what’s going on with that. This guy generally doesn’t read blogs, but he’s seen SLANTblog, so he asked.

As I get questioned about blogging often enough, I can now deliver a spiel that gives a person with no knowledge of the subject an overview of sorts. But this time I added something -- I told him that the aggregators, such as Jaquith’s Virginia Political Blogs, are a hybrid form of editing, publishing and broadcasting that is fascinating.

Then I went on to say that in my view some of the smartest aggregators are soon going to become important political players, just as a handful of political bloggers have done in the last three years.

Last night Waldo (pictured left) was tested. For the first time he found himself in the role of being an editor/censor who had to say “no,” and he didn’t like it a bit.

Well, let me say up front that my take on this simmering brouhaha is that he acted as a responsible editor/publisher should. He decided to remove some sicko material from the VPB page that his sense of decency told him he wanted no part of promulgating.

Even though Waldo doesn’t oversee the material presented on his aggregator -- as it appears there automatically -- once he has knowledge of the nature of such material, he is morally responsible for what it presents, if not legally.

When I first saw the offensive material at VPB -- graphic decapitation pictures and other trash posted supposedly in support of Goode’s recent attack on Muslims -- I immediately knew it would test Waldo’s limits in a new way. As I wrote something about how crazy it is getting in the old blogosphere, once again, I wondered what he would do about the stuff -- it was rough!

Then I saw that the posts with the above-mentioned material had been removed from the aggregator. I was glad. (If you want to see what was removed click here; then click on some of the previous posts. But be warned -- it is unpleasant to view.)

Now Waldo is wondering whether to just shut down the VPB site (click here to read his thoughts on this), rather than continue to have to deal with such vexations. Well, I don’t blame him for considering it.

Then again, this uncouth blogger who forced his hand would probably like to be known as the ultra-conservative virtual terrorist/prankster who blew Waldo Jaquith’s Virginia Political Blogs to smithereens. Furthermore, I don’t doubt that some rightwingers, in some dark corners of the blogosphere now view VPB as having helped the left more than the right, because they think lefty bloggers defeated George Allen.

However, it would be a sad end to this episode to see a sleazy tactic which mimics terrorism in its spirit succeed by making Waldo pull the plug on his much-appreciated creation. My hope is that he will see this as a bump in the road and just drive around it.

Virginia Political Blogs is an asset to Virginians, and a boon to free speech.

*

Update: There’s an effort afoot in the blogosphere -- coming from rightwing bloggers who apparently want to do injury to an aggregating web site they now see as their enemy -- to sell the idea that Waldo removed the GGD site from his aggregator’s blogs-to-be-presented list because the propaganda being used by GGD was just so damn effective. That it had one-upped some lefty bloggers, so it had to go.

That is a cheap and dirty effort to create an instant myth out of thin air.

Rather than continue to have their asses kicked at Virginia Political Blogs, a forum that presents whole arguments in a left vs. right vs. whatever, freewheeling format, they have decided to try to undermine that forum’s influence.

Thus, Virginia Political Blog’s editor/publisher should not overlook the possibility that he is being conned by some opportunistic/bitter-about-defeat bloggers who, among other petty grievances, are envious of his well-deserved position in the blogging world.
Photo: Sorensen Institute

34 comments:

Dave said...

Don't you think comparing a blog post to the deliberate slaughter of civilians is a little over the top?

F.T. Rea said...

Dave,

Who did that?

Dave said...

Uh, you.

"a sleazy tactic which mimics terrorism in its spirit."

spankthatdonkey said...

Terry:
This is bull and you know it!

Waldo has put forward a medium for bloggers to aggregate...

GGD got into an escalating blogging match with other left of center bloggers, which ultimately ended up with him posting what will happen to all.. to include me and you infidels which deny Allah is the ulitimate God which you will submit, or you will end up being beheaded...

I would hope that you will not disagree with this outcome.... You and I can sit down and have a beer to discuss God and politics, but at the end of what could be a disagreement, we will not vow to behead one another....

Evidence, after the last Webb Vs, Allen Match, how many beheaded bodies were found in Richmond?

The Islamofascists will, and have proven their ability to slay us!

I am afraid my friend, you guys have stepped over the line... and yes, Waldo has stepped over the line in editing out a very, very true arguement that GGD graphically displayed.

Triscula said...

What line has been stepped over? You're talking about a person deleting something they found offensive from the aggregate that he runs. Get over it. If it hurt your feelings so badly then start an aggregate of your own where you can make the judgment call on whether or not to be a part of promoting the violent acts of villains by providing a medium for them to display their 'work'.

"...you guys have stepped over the line.."
Oh the DRAMA!!!

Waldo Jaquith said...

GGD got into an escalating blogging match with other left of center bloggers, which ultimately ended up with him posting what will happen to all.

I don't know anything about an "escalating blogging match," Chris. This is the first I've heard of any such thing. I've never seen any blog other than "SWAC Girl" link to or mention "General Grievous' Dog." I've been far too busy on this new project (the one I e-mailed you about) to follow any of the dramas that often embroil political blogs.

F.T. Rea said...

Dave,

When I wrote the “spirit” of terrorism that was not meant to be a reference to 9/11, or any other particular event. Terror is an old tool that has been used by many promoters of causes over the years.

I think the blog post we are discussing was a “sleazy tactic which mimics terrorism in its spirit” for a couple of reasons, off the top of my head:

1. It hijacked Waldo’s aggregator to use it for a nefarious purpose no blogger had previously presumed they could do -- to cruelly deliver graphic images of violence to any number of people who would never have chosen to see them.

I don’t know how many of them will have nightmares about those images. Neither do you.

I do know this: Lots of people don’t want to be on the receiving end of vile propaganda created by terrorists trying to gross them out and wither America‘s spirit to fight them.

The blogger who used their propaganda for his own purpose showed an appreciation for the power of such terrifying images when he appropriated them to bolster his defense of Virgil Goode. But in doing so he also became either an accomplice, or the dupe, of the beheading terrorists.

2. It has caused such an upheaval that Waldo Jaquith is considering shutting down Virginia Political blogs. He is getting comments at his site from rightwingers who say his aggregator has hurt them, hits-wise. What a shame...

So, I’m beginning to think there’s a little movement underway to drive Waldo out of the aggregator business and thereby diminish his influence. And, I think those beheading posts might have even been put there, in the first place, in order to provoke this whole brouhaha.

Of course Waldo would get complaints ... of course he’d consider removing material he wanted no part of promulgating. Hmm...

So, this stunt has been a brand of media terror. The cheeky blogger, whoever he or she really is, threw a bomb of a sort into Waldo’s aggregator.

Now Waldo -- irked to distraction by this incident -- may shut down a service that I’m sure some Virginia Republicans think hurt them in the last election, and would like to see disappear.

Still, I say that if he thought the material posted was over-the-top on the offensive chart, Waldo was right to banish the blogger from his aggregator.

Hey, I once watched rabid right-to-lifers brandish huge pictures of bloody fetuses at Justice Lewis Powell’s family at his funeral in my neighborhood.

It sent a message to future justices -- we will punish you and yours forever if you get on our shit list.

Powell’s shocked friends and colleagues tried to shield the family from the placards being waved at them. People were both stunned and upset. It was quite a scene.

In its way, that was using terror as a political tool.

That's what I meant.

F.T. Rea said...

Spank,

I’m a Richmonder who is proud of the fact that his home town was the site for the establishment of religious freedom in America. And, I am more than a little disappointed/embarrassed by Virgil Goode’s much-publicized betrayal of that concept.

Those posts by the blogger you are supporting were wretched. That was a mean stunt.

By the way, I read on Waldo’s site’s comments that you think the establishment of a rightwing only aggregator might be the result of this episode. Hmm...

I’m starting to think that’s what this monkey business is all about -- orchestrating a wider schism in the Virginia blogosphere.

Joe said...

I just wanted to say in regards to this whole fiasco that I only started reading your blog because of the aggregator, and that it has quickly become one of my favorites. Keep up the great work.

On a sidenote, while I hesitate to call this whole situation a right-wing conspiracy, I do fear the result of the large influx of partisan blogs is going to cause likewise partisan aggregators by the end of this. And thus, the mechanism of self-reinforcement wins again.

spankthatdonkey said...

Terry:
This is not a right wing plot to bring down the aggregator... If Waldo had not banished GGD, then the what... one or two hours that a post lasts on the aggregator, would have been the life of that post...

Instead, (and this is my personal take), Waldo was pressured by other Left of Center bloggers who were taking heat from GGD to make this an "incident".

Waldo is in effect becoming an editor (which you pointed out) just like the current MSM editors with a left of center bent. I believe you guys like railin on the RTD?

To top it off, Waldo is now saying that he may shut down the aggregator because of it being abused? That is a joke! I pointed out in his comments regarding shutting it down that he has far worse liabilities in my opinion on propagating actual libel posted by a blogger....

That is more of a reality... This is all overblown. I think one side effect of all this is that Waldo (who is a very good blogger) has "unmasked" himself to a lot of people who thought he might not really be a partisan, as his writing suggests.

You and I clearly title our blogs as to what you should expect, but a lot of bloggers do not....

and btw, How many people blew off Hitler when he said and wrote what he did in the 30's? The exact same way they are blowing off the current Iranian Leader, who does not yet have a nuclear weapon....

Doesn't it phase you that Hitler didn't quite yet have a nuclear weapon?

Dave said...

F.T.,

I guess you have a subtler command of the English language than I. I fail to understand how the perfectly legal exercise of a constitutional right in a way you disaprove of can be likened in any way to a war crime.

And I sure hope this disagreement doesn't lead to partisan aggregators. Something Waldo and I agree on is the value of having a common ground where all sides can meet.

Having that common ground is worth the danger of being offended from time to time.

Triscula said...

Spank That Donkey:

Your two assertions about Waldo Jaquith's motives appear to be pure invention, manufactured in your own imagination. Nothing that Waldo has said regarding this matter supports them at all. What is YOUR motive in continuing to attribute these fabricated motives to him? You seem to be trying to ignite a partisan conflict where one need not exist.

And furthermore, I'm not sure how Hitler or Ahmedinejad figure into a discussion about Virgil Goode and his statements regarding a natural born, democratically elected senator excercising his rights to practice his religion, but you must realize that by invoking Adolf Hilter, you have triggered Godwin's Law, which automatically forfeits the argument anyway.
:-)

Joe said...

@Dave

Without having consulted F.T., I'll try to explain why at least I personally agree with his assessment of the impact of this picture.

Terrorism does not kill as a goal. This is simply the means of terrorism, the action through which it produces it's goal. That goal, as the name suggests, is terror or recognition. In this specific case, the beheadings were an action intended to digust and terrorize the American public, so that they would push to leave Iraq.

The picture posted on the offending blog was produced the following: Disgust and a reminder of exactly what the terrorists wanted. He did this in an attempt to defend Virgil Goode, which is in effect a political goal.

What the blogger did was use fear to motivate his audience toward his intended policy (i.e. support of Virgil Goode). This is the exact same as terrorism, only in that he chose a different action to reach his goal. However, that doesn't change what it is defined as.

Dave said...

Joe,

There are plenty of perfectly good words to describe people who do legal things to inspire fear. Demogogues (sp?), fear-mongers, the AARP ...

Terrorists do illegal things to inspire fear. Kill people. Kidnap people.

To deny the distinction between words and actions is to completely undermine the 1st Amendment. It is the road that leads to speech codes, FBI monitoring of dissident groups, prior restraint and a million other things that are the exact opposite of what blogging is about.

Let me also make clear, that I don't think Waldo has done anything like "censorship." I see nothing wrong with Waldo establishing standards for the use of Vapoliticalblogs.

I just object to the abuse of plain English in order to denigrate the Dog, particularly when FT is smart enough to come up with much better was the criticise the canine trouble maker.

Joe said...

@Dave

Terrorism is an idea, and a method. When a fearmonger or demogogue uses fear to persuade, then they are terrorizing. Hence, they are a terrorist. This wouldn't have been an exercise in vocabulary ten years ago in America, but due to the war on terror, we now have a specific idea of who we are thinking of when we hear the word "terrorist." What we are really thinking of are radical Islamic fundamentalists who are using terrorism to achieve their objectives. It is a fine distinction, but an important one.

I agree illegal actions should have consequences, but your definition of terrorism is much more narrowed than my own. By no means does that make it inferior to my own, because the FBI and CIA's official definitions conform to yours. However, that by no means suggest F.T. is wrong in applying a possibly wider definition (one I personally learned while studying foreign policy) to what has occurred.

On a side note, I do find it indicative of the times that I have seen some people refer to posting the image as patriotic, since it is reminding us of 9/11 and what the terrorists are willing to do us, while at the same time, seeing the act labeled as a form of terrorism.

F.T. Rea said...

Joe,

Yes, you get it.

Terrorism is a tactic. In the terrorist’s view -- whether he’s Irish or Iraqi -- the victims are props in creating a statement that is designed to function as propaganda.

Thanks for covering my back while I played Frisbee-golf.

Dave,

We totally agree on the value of aggregators which present all sides. I applaud the efforts of both you and Waldo. But I have to think every aggregator’s limits will be tested by some radically inflammatory material, if they stay in the biz for very long. Then each will make his own call.

Then there’s this: If an aggregator allows/facilitates a fraud to be pulled off, or a libel to be perpetrated -- and he knows it, but allows it anyway -- I wouldn't like his chances in a law suit, maybe even a prosecution.

Waldo Jaquith said...

Waldo was pressured by other Left of Center bloggers who were taking heat from GGD to make this an "incident".

Chris, your continued insistence on this point is really insulting. This statement assume me to be a liar, which that is the single worst thing that you could possibly say about me. You have never known me to be anything less than honest with you about anything, ever. That is because I have never lied to you.

So, let me say this one more time, and be as straightforward in my language as I possibly can. I was barely aware of the existence of this site before the image in question was posted, having only seen Lynn Mitchell ("SWAC Girl") link to it. Nobody had ever mentioned the site to me before. There was no pressure, no campaign, no nothing. I received several complaints about the image (perhaps a half dozen), and while they were e-mailed before I saw the image, I did not check my e-mail until after I'd decided to remove the blog in order to remove the offending image.

There was no campaign. This blog is (or, was) perhaps the least-known, most irrelevant blog in all of Virginia politics, to my mind, given that I simply didn't know the first thing about it.

Please stop saying that I'm a liar, which is what you implicitly do every time you claim that this is a part of something larger. It's a part of nothing larger. Such conspiracy theories do not become you, Chris.

I think one side effect of all this is that Waldo (who is a very good blogger) has "unmasked" himself to a lot of people who thought he might not really be a partisan, as his writing suggests.

Not partisan? I cannot imagine why anybody would possibly claim that. Certainly not me. I've never heard anybody say any such thing about me. I'm a liberal Democrat, Chris, as you are a conservative Republican. Why would anybody pretend otherwise?

Dave said...

Damn Virginia, it is just no right to be able to play frisbee golf on christmas Eve.

spankthatdonkey said...

Waldo:
So you were contacted by a half dozen Left of Center bloggers who may have been feeling or their fellow bloggers felt the 'bite' of GGD?

Alton hit this on the head, when he said that you should have just deleted the post and warned GGD in his comments section.

If GGD is so insignificant, 'like a child', maybe just a little admonishment would have done, but instead you struck down GGD in all your might as Editor, and protector of the aforementioned half dozen whining bloggers...

That Sir is a fair statement, and I believe neutral parties would agree....

Now please quit insisting that I am calling you a liar... I am not, I am saying there is always more to the story than meets the eye. Maybe you should consult your half dozen complaining bloggers, and ask why they were after GGD?

Terry:
You might notice I have vented my frustrations at Allens loss at he and his Team... Every now and again I like to remind those of you of your tactics used against Allen... My posts pale to many of the things ya'll threw my candidate.

Triscula:
Are you just in denial of the threat or did your study of world history end in high school?

Look up Neville Chamberlein, I think that may help.

Triscula said...

Spank That Donkey,

"Triscula:
Are you just in denial of the threat or did your study of world history end in high school?"

Is this supposed to be a response to my question about how Hitler and Ahmedinejad figure into a discussion about a democratically elected US senator and Virgil Goode's snipe at him for wanting to use the Koran in his swearing in photo-op?

If so, I have to say I'm still mystified as to the connection. Are you suggesting that the senator's religion is a threat to the US? If so, what's do you propose as a remedy to this 'threat'?

In my opinion there are a number of threats in play these days. Certainly violent religious extremists are one of them. I also consider xenophobic intolerance arising in response to that threat to be a serious concern that serves to undermine some of our most basic and core values as Americans.

As far as I'm concerned, Ahmedinejad, or Hitler have absolutely nothing to do with this particular issue. Are you trying to suggest that any and all Muslims are fanatical extremists who are bent on destroying us?

F.T. Rea said...

Spank,

You write, "Every now and again I like to remind those of you of your tactics used against Allen..."

Please note: I have never been a part of any organized group of bloggers trying to promote an agenda.

Actually, I think you already know that, but still you pretend not to. Furthermore, I have no apologies about my posts during the Webb vs. Allen race.

So, please take that "you and your tactics" baloney somewhere else.

Kevin said...

STD's vociferous defense of GGD makes me think that he is GGD.

I'm Not Emeril said...

Terry,
I think most of us have as a final goal the ethical promotion of the Virginia blog community.

I first met Waldo on Friday night at the Sorensen Conference this summer. I was impressed. I truly enjoyed spending time with him and having a reasonable discussion of Virginia politics and Virginia political blogs.

I have since come to realize that the Waldo I spent time with that evening is not the Waldo that produces the website of the same name, or the Waldo you put forth as the ethical ideal in Virginia. If you were not quite so partisan minded you would have realized this truth yourself before now.

The same man you hold up as a shining example to us all has had his very bad moments, yet no one but me has ever seriously called him on them. Certainly no one from the left side has or most likely will.

Some examples can be found amongst my most recent posts at my site.

Thank you for listening,
Alton

spankthatdonkey said...

Triscula:
I guess the ability to reason is lost upon you?
Let me help. I asked that you look up Neville Chamberlein, which should have been a big hint. Even after Mein Kempf was published, where Hilter laid out exactly what he was going to do, and then continued the threats openly and nuanced in speeches... The British didn't get it until Nazi and Soviet Tanks were in Poland....

Can you possibly somehow draw the connection to the Current Iranian President's intentions, and the fact that Iran is a Shia Nation, that is vowing to wipe Israel and it's USA supporter from the face of the earth?

Now since you are geo-strategically challenged. All of Europe is afraid of confronting Islam (and admitting a predominantly Muslim Turkey from to the EU) because so many Muslims live in Europe! They allowed them to come for cheap labor, but low and behold their extremist religion came with them... You may have noticed the rioting in France, no, maybe, yes? How about the Dutch artist killed for merely critcizing Allah?

Virgil Goode is saying, hey, let's not be like Europe... Can you somehow, finally understand that connection? Or are you so blinded by partisan politics that that connection can not be made? This concludes Current Geo-Political 101 lesson....

Terry:
The evidence is clear, Waldo is silencing GGD, and he points to Jim Hoeft's comments that he is not about to 'promote' such views on his aggregator... Now, when we all get together as bloggers, it's oh, let's promote this, and that, and all get along.... That is not the case here, He moves to silence GGD. That is the agenda my friend, and believe me, I was quite happy to be left alone on sabbatical until Waldo decided to start all this.

Kevin:
Sorry Bub, not me, I never post anonymously.... I see where it can have its usefulness, but that's 'just not my style'. If I got a gripe with someone like Waldo, Terry, Ben, Vince, MC, the Conservative establishment, I sign my name to it....

Triscula said...

SPD:

Of course I'm aware of the events that you have described. Again, how are they connected to the particular issue at hand? The dispute is regarding Goode's comments about a 10th generation American who happens to be Muslim. I felt a bit embarrassed for Goode as he attempted to link this senator and his faith to a larger issue of Muslim immigration....but I see that he's not the only one who is confused.

Waldo Jaquith said...

So you were contacted by a half dozen Left of Center bloggers who may have been feeling or their fellow bloggers felt the 'bite' of GGD? [...] Maybe you should consult your half dozen complaining bloggers, and ask why they were after GGD?

Chris, I cannot make this any more clear than I already have, so I'm going to say it one more time, in bold.

I received several complaints about the image (perhaps a half dozen), and while they were e-mailed before I saw the image, I did not check my e-mail until after I'd decided to remove the blog in order to remove the offending image.

These individuals had nothing to do with my decision because they contacted me after I removed the post. Nobody else had any input into the decision. They complained about the image, not the site.

If you cannot understand this point, I cannot help you.

F.T. Rea said...

I'm Not Emeril,

You wrote: “I think most of us have as a final goal the ethical promotion of the Virginia blog community.”

No, my “final” or ultimate goal, as an artist/writer, is to communicate. I began that quest long ago, way before I became a blogger. Now, as a blogger, my final goal is the same.

So, I see blogging as a tool, not as a way of life, a cause, or a religion.

Moreover, I don’t know what you’re alluding to, what it is I should know about Waldo Jaquith that would change my opinion of him.

Whatever it is I would have seen, but can’t, because I’m blinded by my “partisan minded” handicap, well ... I guess I just can’t see it.

As far as SLANTblog putting Waldo forth as the “ethical ideal in Virginia,” I don’t know what you mean. Please refresh my memory. When did I do that?

I'm Not Emeril said...

Waldo,
Why do you keep ignoring my comments? You ignored them last night on your site, you are ignoring them now here.

If you can't defend your past transgressions then please admit as much.

Thank you,
Alton

I'm Not Emeril said...

Uhh, Terry, please read the post we are all responding to now.

F.T. Rea said...

I'm Not Emeril,

Sorry, after looking over the allegations you make in the most recent presentation at your blog, I’m unmoved. I see you have some bones to pick with Waldo and others, mostly over gossip.

And, you’ve picked them. So what?

Those bones have nothing to do with Waldo’s decision to not promulgate material on HIS aggregator web site that he saw as beyond the pale.

You may not know this, but I don’t spend much time following the celebrity gossip world. Truth be told, if you read SLANTblog more regularly you will find that I consistently use no space whatsoever to deal with divorces, he-said/she-said scandals, etc.

spankthatdonkey said...

Waldo:
Maybe you should enlighten us as to who were the complaining bloggers?

Triscula:
I am going to be nice... Stick to watching TV... You are not contributing here :-)

Kevin said...

"Kevin:
Sorry Bub, not me, I never post anonymously.... I see where it can have its usefulness, but that's 'just not my style'. If I got a gripe with someone like Waldo, Terry, Ben, Vince, MC, the Conservative establishment, I sign my name to it...."

Nope...I think it's you. You went on your "sabatical" at about the same time GDD went online. Funny coincidence.

Triscula said...

Spank That Donkey:

No, I think I'll await your post where you connect Hitler, Ahmedinejad and Muslim immigration with the American born US senator from Minnesota. That has been the heart of the issue to begin with.

spankthatdonkey said...

Kevin:
GGD is a master of intergalatic travel... GGD started back in the summer sometime in a galaxy far, far away....

GGD does use the tactic of pulling down all the posts... it's like a cloaking thing, but that is kinda a Klingon thing, which really doesn't stick with the storyline, but like I said, I'm not in charge of that stuff....

Terry is going to start having to pay me to come over here and put up with you people :-) (just be glad these are vacation days, and I have time to devote to debate)