The leftward and other blatherings of Span (now with Snaps!)

Sunday, May 29, 2005

play the ball please

An Age ago I posted about the nastiness of some on the Right that seems all out of proportion to the offence they have taken. I used the example of Margaret Wilson and how she is frequently labelled as a bitch, or a witch, or a she devil, and then of course there was my post about the irrelevance of Clark's childlessness. I really do find this level of personal abuse in political discourse abhorrent. (Remembering of course that I am a self-confessed softie.)

In the last week or so I have been struck by how many Right bloggers have begun totally savaging Jordan Carter in a similar fashion.

Now I will be upfront - Jordan is a friend in real life; I like him very much, and in one particular way he has changed my life for the better. Politically we disagree often, but I do find his posts interesting and well written, even though I find myself generally opposed to his ultimate conclusions (probably because I am more idealistic than he is).

All in all my view is that Jordan is a) a human being and b) quite a good one at that. He has never murdered anyone, he has never molested anyone, he has never stolen an elderly lady's life-savings. And yet from the way some on the Right write about him you would think JTC was responsible for everything that is Wrong in the World.

So why the nastiness folks? I'm not talking about the critiques - go for it, I sure do - I'm talking about the completely unnecessary venom that is getting sprayed around far too often for the health of our little political blogging sphere.

I'm not a Christian, but how about a little bit of Do Unto Others?


Graham Watson said...

When you say do unto others are you assuming Jordan hasn't been personal to others?

If indeed he has than surely he invites this in return?

span said...

there is personal and then there is a personal attack - Jordan is human and thus, like you and me, nor perfect, but the level of savagery amongst some towards him is in my book pretty unacceptable.

I think he is attacked personally because he is often an effective debater for the Govt that so many Right bloggers have a passionate hatred for. If you can't argue properly you go for ad hominem.

stephen said...

I don't think it's a righty thing. We on the left, for example, suffer from the "help" of people like Millsy.

It's the Greater Internet Fuckwad principle at work.

What narks me the most is the happy tossing about of political terms that are completely disproportionate to their target. Helen Clark? Stalinist! Don Brash? Fascist! And so on.

But as you say, why debate when you can just shout at people?

Jordan said...

I have found it rather surreal, to be honest.

The only conclusion I can come to is that becoming a target indicates I am seen as a threat, and I suppose I should be grateful for that.

The other vibe in the last couple of weeks has been the budget, which the right have really got quite excited about.

What it has done is make me reconsider what influence I thought political blogs might have. Given the tone of the "debate" it is, I think, less than it could be.

Maramatanga said...

The nastiness of some comments I've seen is one of the reasons I'm trying to keep "non-partisan". I'm quite interested in political debate, but there's a difference between debate and trading insults. Too many people seem throw insults around when the sentence "I disagree with you" would accomplish exactly the same thing - probably more. I honestly don't get why so many people seem to think that holding a certain opinion is some sort of sin - there are many politicians out there who I disagree with, but I don't claim that they're somehow bad people. I just think that they're just mistaken.

Craig Ranapia said...

Stephen -

Indeed. I know Jordan and am rather fond of him as well, but I think the whole 'play the ball' meme works both ways.

I'm lucky to the extent that most of the crazy-mail is fairly deleted (your freedom of speech don't oblige me to give you a pulpit), but there's been a couple of rounds of rather spooky and threatening stuff sent to my private addy I've sent on to the relevant ISP.

millsy said...

Hey - I call things as I see it..

Sometimes, there are things worth fighting for, and sometimes, people who suggest things such as abolishing pensions deserve the crap they get, as it betrays their inhumane nature..

span said...

calling things as you see them does not need to involve calling Deborah Coddington a slut. That's just a very very silly argument when trying to refute her politics - I fight for things frequently, but I try not to do it from the gutter these days, you get a lot less dirty and you often achieve more (and manage to alienate less of your natural supporters).

stephen said...

millsy, I know your heart's in the right place, 'cause you wear it on your sleeve.

You'd be a much better advocate for your cause if you didn't go apeshit at people for things they haven't actually said and don't believe. Or calling people evil because they disagree about the best way to make the world a better place.

Sorry to call you out personally, you just happen to be a particularly fine example among many.

Craig Ranapia said...

And may I say some of the most interesting - and provocative, in a positive sense - comments I've had on NZPundit have come from rational, temperate lefties. It's wretchedly boring, if wonderful for the ego, when everyone agrees with you. But constant flaming is just as boring on a blog as it is on an discussion list.

And I know of a few bloggers who've quit becuase they don't have the time or the emotional energy to deal with the flamers. I think we all lose out when that happens.

span said...

i tend to take a time out when that happens - not so much on here, but on other blogs where i might post something in refutation or whatever and then the commenters all ignore it and continue flaming each other. very depressing for the state of our democracy if this is how those in the political elite act :-(