One does one’s best. Regulars will know I have exercised my powers of moderation and deleted mean comments about John in the past. I smiled over the last few weeks as I’ve heard his recent diatribes against Bloggers. Well, partly he’s right and partly he’s just playing silly buggers. Blogs are a ripe environment for anonymous invective, but hey, I got this letter last week, in the post:
“Dear Bitch, Why don’t you fuck off permanently to New York? You anti-Irish Bitch, Paddy”
Paddy did not need the internet to provide him with the cloak of anonymity nor to hurl invective at me. The letter really didn’t bother me and my husband and I had a laugh about it (See, he said, this is what you should expect when you deliberately alienate the shop assistant community with time on their hands cos their shops are empty). And John’s remarks that bloggers are stupid (em, Brad de Long?) and incapable of stringing 3 words together (me? 😉 ) are just factually incorrect (perhaps there are many bloggers who are stupid and many who can’t speak fluently, but saying ALL bloggers are so, is setting one’s argument up for pretty quick demolition.
ANYWAY, it looks like he his willfully and wonderfully determined to pursue his line and create another area of speciality for himself (single fathers and God having run their course apparently). In today’s column about Pope Benedict he says
“It was widely reported last week that Pope Benedict cancelled a visit to Rome’s oldest university, La Sapienza, after a number of academics and students accused him of despising science and defending the Inquisition’s condemnation of Galileo.
The Vatican said it was considered opportune to postpone the visit due to a lack of the “prerequisites for a dignified and tranquil welcome” following a sit-in by 50 students and a letter signed by 67 professors, including several allegedly eminent scientists.
The signatories said Benedict’s presence would be “incongruous” because of a speech he made at La Sapienza in 1990, as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, in which he quoted the judgment of an Austrian philosopher, Paul Feyerabend, that the church’s trial of Galileo was “reasonable and fair”. The letter declared: “These words offend and humiliate us.” This episode is emblematic of our latter-day blogosphere culture in embracing both ideological spite and indifference to truth, manifesting the classic symptoms of a whirlwind created on the internet by neurotics exchanging bites of information by way of stoking each other’s narcissistic obsession with expressing their democratic right to make fools of themselves.
Now em, the talk was cancelled after a sit-in and a letter signed by 67 professors. The blogosphere and the internet had no part whatsoever to play in the cancellation.
At the end of the column his argument addresses the ACTUAL issue at hand
“No effort was made by the media to uncover what Ratzinger actually said in 1990, but the protesters received universal publicity for their obscurantism, not because of the intellectual content of their criticisms, which were specious, but because of the status of their chosen target as an object of ideological spite. The stupidity of the protest was obligingly fudged by journalists with similar agendas, and another lie added to the Ratzinger file.”
So the real villains in the piece are the media/journalists for not doing their job, not the blogs who had no hand act or part, as Albert would say, in any of the events. In fact, if blogs have a “role”, other than social network and relishing in the joys and outrages of free speech, they have done a fantastic job in calling just such lazy journalism to account. The funny thing is, I can bet you anything, that there are blogs out there who did uncover Benedict’s speech and did place his argument (whatever it was) in some kind of context. Just as there are blogs who probably argued he’s a right wing, conservative creep. Either way, how ironic, that John in his column condemns those who make arguments not based on intellectual content but by simply selecting a target of spite. By including bloggers and “the internet” in the piece about Benedict, he’s done precisely that. What a shame.
Of course, John is no fool. This recent campaign is not the result of rage and passion bubbling over – he understands quite well the mechanics of issue creation. There are intellectually rigorous arguments to be made “against” blogging (and many in favour) but he’s not making them. He’s simply creating a new enemy for himself, urging them on (who will oblige him by establishing him as a hate figure of the online community) so he can write columns citing their remarks as proof of his thesis. Radio producers are no doubt relieved – cue up the calls for the many “debates” John will have with bloggers.
This disappoints me greatly. I like him. I’m not in his league. But this is just so..superficial….uuugh.