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Jennifer

I agree with 99% of what you say. I agreed with Tom W., I agreed with Shakes and I absolutely loved Neddie's post. Here is what I don't agree with and it has nothing to do with the point of your post, yet you bring it up often in your posts:

"I believe that, as with any art, if you haven't got the talent, you shouldn't try to do it or you'll just make a fool of yourself."

Your post's point aside... I think there are many people who enjoy many things they are not that *good* at. Not everyone can be an expert, tapped on the shoulder by God, in order to get enjoyment from something they're never going to make a living at. Sometimes we discover wonderful things by being willing to make a fool of ourselves. Maybe you should give needlepoint one more try. :)

Other than that... in the words of Neddie, I would say your post is "Rat Own"!!!

Mary
At any rate, the upshot of the debate for the second bananas is that they revealed themselves as a pair of vain, shallow, egotistical twits who for some reason think they are responsible for the reputation Jane and Christy have worked hard to build for Firedoglake and also that this reputation ought to protect them from any and all criticisms from the likes of little people and riff-raff like Tom.
This would be the Jane Hamsher who not only thought that blackface jokes were funny, but the same Jane Hamsher who wrote this in the comments of Tom's post, right?
The day I have to make the blog a slave to the PC language police who want to mau-mau it into sterility by throwing around loaded and innacurate race- and gender-baiting accusations is the day I shut it down. Nothing either author has ever written has been even slightly mysoginistic; both have gone to extraordinary lengths to support choice, registration of women voters, and the elevation of female voices and leadership both in the blogosphere and the Democratic party. This attack is hyperbolic and erected on straw. A few words you find ill-chosen and suddenly they work for Karl Rove? I'm all for colorful forms of expression, but the lack of context here renders the critique rather shallow.
I like a fiery blogger as much as anyone else. I live for the days when the Poor Man or Neddie Jingo go on a tear. But I gave up on FDL ages ago because of the smug, vituperative tone. I don't think those two men damaged FDL's reputation: they just reflect it pretty damn well.
doghouse riley

First because Traditional Media types use all the cuss words as an excuse to dismiss us as foul-mouthed, rage-addled, hate-filled, rabble-rousing hippies.

I do write just to see my words on a page, so maybe this is too facile, but I'm reminded of Bob Knight's complaint (justified, in my book) after his infamous interview with Connie Chung. Knight noted that Chung had sworn like a sailor during the interview, but when it ran her swearing was all edited out while his was left in and bleeped.

In other words, I doubt very much whether clean-living changes the pundit equation in the mass media, or stops the easy dismissals. On the other hand, I agree that people who aspire to change politics with their blogs, or who want to turn up as teevee touts, need to demonstrate some seriousness about such matters. Leading with your chin doesn't qualify you as a brave amateur rule breaker so much as it gets you knocked the f**k out.

In the end that stuff may or may not have been misogynistic, but it clearly was insensitive to charges of misogynism, which is almost as bad, and the stuff about Ellen Tauscher was childish petulance and should have been disowned on those grounds alone, if no other.

blue girl

Mannion, what in the hell are you talking about?

Kidding! I would've used the F-word, but it's so obviously not my style and I didn't want to look, um, foolish.

Tom's main point in his post, as you reiterated above, was so correct. And you could've forgiven the second bananas for their knee jerk defense of their language, but then they got just a tad pompous.

This from the one second banana...

I have seen previous rounds of this kind of criticism
of us, offered more for traffic and in the service of
hidden personal agendas, agendas which sometimes we
have held private so as not to embarrass our attackers
(and then, at some point, we lose our patience).

Then it became apparent they were somewhat clueless on top of it. Here's a response to Tom about why FDL didn't post one of his comments at their site...

As far as your comments, Tom, as I understand it, you
got caught in the automod due top the word cunt, which
historically was hurled in the comments as an epithet
and insult to Jane, so it got put in automod for
review before posting.

Add to that a little more cluelessness from another second banana...

By coincidence, I'm also the moderator who left your comment, which was caught by the spam filter before we changed it, in moderation because of your tone. Your comment didn't sound like a constructive criticism, it sounded like a personal attack. We try very hard to keep the discussion free of thread hi-jackers and mean-spirited flame throwers. They usually serve no purpose in furthering discussions.

I hardly ever click over to FDL. But I sure won't go over there now! I mean ... wrong pompous AND clueless?

Doesn't that pretty much sum up everything we've been trying to get rid of for the past six years?! Heavens to Betsy!

Kevin Wolf

BG: "Heavens to Betsy!" made me laugh. Darn, you're good.

Re the rough language, I admit to indulging both verbally and on my blog but I've definitely learned to temper it. Not just because it can muddy the waters in a post that - let's face it - should, like all writing, be striving for clarity. Really, the main reason was because it made for boring writing. I was even boring myself.

It's like porn, frankly. You probably would not follow the movie recommendations of a porn collector. Likewise, you probably shouldn't heed the political rantings of someone whose every observation is laced with bad language and name calling.

Tom W.

I'm surprised "Heavens to Betsy! didn't get caught in Lance's high-tech automod.

Neddie Jingo

I watched the rerun of "Eyes on the Prize" a few weeks ago -- anybody else catch it?

One of the things that struck me quite hard was that the people crossing the bridge at Selma were wearing their best Sunday-go-to-meeting clabber: men in suits and ties and hats, women in dresses, gloves, pearls. Over and over again, you'd see it, Jacksonville, Mongomery, Washington. Look how Rosa Parks dressed the day she got on the bus.

This wasn't done out of some sense of sartorial obligation -- it was a tactic. The clothes said, "I am just as good as you." You may have made us your slaves, but we are not beaten. We are proud.

And they did it because they knew The Whole World Was Watching. What better way to gain sympathy for your cause than to force Bull Connor to set the dogs, hoses and truncheons on dignified people?

Adults.

We've come a very long way from those days, of course, a lot of water under the bridge, and we find ourselves now in a place where slovenliness -- not only of dress, but also of speech, prose, and thought -- is considered the norm, the baseline, and anything tending toward elegance, or style, or grace, is slapped at as pretentious and "uncool." God knows, I'm as guilty of this as anybody -- I own exactly one suit and I don't even know if it fits anymore (probably doesn't). This is why I conclude that the true nonconformist would wear a nice suit -- the new army-surplus coat and ripped jeans.

And get a haircut, fer crissakes.

Kara

"And, I'm sorry, Fuck them if they can't take a joke isn't the right response here"

Geez, you're right, you aren't a Swearmeister.

(for the record, it should be "Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke" ;)

Neddie Jingo

English Is Fun:

Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke.

Fuck them if they can't take a joke.

If they can't take a joke, fuck them.

Universes apart, those three sentences... Tee hee!

Jennifer

What about "they must be fucked if they can't take a joke"?
Or "one must take a joke or be fucked"?

Neddie Jingo

Not a bad pickup line, actually: "Hello there, tall, dark and handsome -- I can't take a joke..."

Jennifer

Okay, I admit it... being able to type *fuck* in the squeaky clean comments of Lance Mannion is kind of fun...

I have and do drop the occasional F-bomb, but am also known for *Holy Smokes* and *Geezo Pete" and his sister, "Geeze Louise".

Jennifer

Thou shalt be fucked if thou canst take a joke.
Okay... I'll stop.

Neddie Jingo

Well, this is high-minded, isn't it...

Argh! Can't stop!

A big red sign on the wall: "Failure to Take a Joke Will Result in Fucking."

Yikes. A thought occurs... What if they can take a joke? Celibacy? I'm in big trouble...

Jennifer

Maybe they'll start handing out jokes in church.

Neddie Jingo

being able to type *fuck* in the squeaky clean comments of Lance Mannion is kind of fun...

Yeah, I'd like to see Lance try to come down hard on this thread...

Jennifer

Lance opened the doors and is now fucked.

Jennifer

... of course he probably thought the grown-ups would be the ones commenting... I am, however, wearing a suit.

KC45s

You can argue against using the word "whore" on a lot of levels, but it seems to me there's a perfectly apolitical reason: it's gotten old. Ever since the glory days of Media Whores Online, the w-word has been driven into the ground, particularly in its application to media members (and to a lesser extent politicians).

Really, "whore" is the blog equivalent of George Will's "axiomatic," something so laughably predictable it's less an expression of outrage/authority/cred and more a good topic for a drinking game. ("Another use of 'whore' in comments! Down the hatch!")

And Neddie makes a good point with the adult remark. If I ever switch to political blogging, I swear, I'd be tempted to use the Times style of addressing people as Mr., Ms., and what-have-you. Not because Ms. Coulter deserves the respect, not because I'm opposed to cuss-filled rave-outs (I like them, too), and not even because I'm Mr. Politeness (I'm not)--but, man, it'd sure be distinctive. The written equivalent of a white shirt and tie.

Shakespeare's Sister

Yeah, I'd like to see Lance try to come down hard on this thread...

If there were ever a thread in which he could come down and hard...

Mary

Hey, if we're now going to clutch our pearls, just where the heck are they coming from?

Neddie Jingo

If there were ever a thread in which he could come down and hard...

You kiddin'? The irony would make his head explode.

Linkmeister

Mikimoto. That's where all the culture comes from. ;)

Jennifer

Wait.. we've now gone from fucking to pearl necklaces???

Neddie Jingo

Wait.. we've now gone from fucking to pearl necklaces???

I am not touching it! I am not touching it! God help me, a straight line like that, and I'm leaving it alone!

(See? I'm a grownup! I can restrain myself!)

Jennifer

Oh, but Neddie... it was not a straight line at all m'dear...

Jennifer

...and, I was counting on your to do the dirty work after I left that set-up...

Jennifer

Why do I suddenly feel like I'm going to be grounded? Lance, you can take a joke, right??? ;)

Kiosan

I tend to agree with the language as clothing metaphor. And while the rebels and punks and flower children certainly have their place in moving the dialog, it is difficult to have that dialog seriously evaluated by the mainstream until someone in a suit (preferably three pieces, with tie and cuff-links) picks it up and tries it on for size.

Whatever the venue may be, there is likely an entrance code already established and if one seeks not only free and unfettered entry, but also social acknowledgement and engagement, then one must adapt to that code. This does not necessarily translate into uniform conformity - many still appreciate a new and unique voice - but it often does require both a little accommodation and a little tailoring.

There is, of course, almost always an exception to any rule. However, in a world where the clothes may not *make* the person, but certainly contribute to that person's public persona and perception (and that's the world we currently inhabit), then language, on the internet, must matter - as much as clothing in the boardroom, or even at CBGB's.

To be heard by any audience, we must first learn to speak to them.

David Parsons

The esteemed Mr. Jingo wrote:

«One of the things that struck me quite hard was that the people crossing the bridge at Selma were wearing their best Sunday-go-to-meeting clabber: men in suits and ties and hats, women in dresses, gloves, pearls. Over and over again, you'd see it, Jacksonville, Mongomery, Washington. Look how Rosa Parks dressed the day she got on the bus.

«This wasn't done out of some sense of sartorial obligation -- it was a tactic. The clothes said, "I am just as good as you." You may have made us your slaves, but we are not beaten. We are proud.»

It may have been a tactic, but it was also the way a lot of people dressed. Railfan photography often shows other railfans, and in the photos I've seen (I'm an electric railroad fanatic, so most of the pictures I've seen date from 1960 and earlier) they're all dressed in suits and ties as they clamber around the filthy railroad yards to get their pictures. By 1970, this was dying -- by the time the Milwaukee Road yanked their electrification, pictures of photographers included a significant number of people dressed in some variant of dockeralikes and button down shirts (and by the time I was an adult, the denim+teeshirt crowd was starting to muscle in.)

To abruptly change the subject away from trainspotting:
I started reading FDL when it was just Jane and she was getting approximately 20 pageviews a day, but fame has not been good to that website. She's hollywood, so FDL was pretty much destined to be dramatic, but it's the literary equivalent of a bunch of lager louts these days. I kept her on my bookmarks list for a long time, but reading it just got more and more depressing as it became it's own little bit of Show Business.

Chris the Cop

Interesting post, Lance. By the way, is it my imagination or have there been a dearth of Chris the Cop stories lately?

Karen M

Hooray! A new post and comment thread related to the FDL brouhaha. I'm thinking of drawing a map. Thanks for this post, and for the very entertaining comment thread. This has been the only one that inspired sincere laughter.

So power really does corrupt... and FDL's (perception of their) power has gone to their heads.

Along the same lines as the clothing symbolism... I'd like to make them all (and everyone else, too, for good measure) read Frederick Douglass's narrative of his life as a slave. He selected the best models he could at each stage of his life to learn from, especially when it came to language. His writing is so eloquent, and yet grounded.

Because of some other recent stories about language, I was curious and went back recently because I didn't remember exactly how he used the n-word. I discovered that it was only when he was quoting someone else using it. He was definitely not trying to reclaim it, but was merely exposing its use and meaning.

Lizzy

"Heavens to Betsy!"

That is what my mom would say to me - whenever she was surprised at something I did.

Tom W.

Karen, I'd love the see the map. Would be very instructive.

Karen M

Tom, I actually went to Technorati to see how much was there. I think I might need some org.chart software or something, but I'm thinking about it. Maybe a tree or timeline...

sfmike

Mary nailed it with: "But I gave up on FDL ages ago because of the smug, vituperative tone. I don't think those two men damaged FDL's reputation: they just reflect it pretty damn well."

And Lance, because of your usual "Heavens to Betsy" written demeanor, that dirty talk in your essay was genuinely shocking.

harry near indy

a few comments.

i remember a hanna-barbera cartoon character say "heavens to murgatroyd!" i think it was snaggletooth tiger. if i'm wrong, then please correct me.

if a male congressperson was bought by, say, the tobacco or pharmaceutical industries, would you call him a prostitute as a figure of speech? what if it was a female congressperson, would you call her a prostitute as a figure of speech?

it doesn't surprise me that the righists get up in arms about off-color language. i bet many of them have that mental taboo in their heads from the commandment that says you should not take the lord their god's name in vain. and they are the ones who got all up in arms about an act of fellatio instead of a terrible, worthless war.


Jennifer

harry- it was Snagglepuss! "Exit stage left even... runnin' all the way!" :)

TC

I left a longish Serious Pants post about this over at 3Bulls. The gist of it is that in many fields of artistry, there are tactics and approaches that, in the hands of a few very talented individuals, look effortless. This inspires the less-talented to adopt this approach, with... umm, unfortunate results.

salty language is like that. The Rude Pundit, or Ol' Doc Thompson are so adept at using foul language with a surgeon's precision. In normal hands, it is more of a blunt instrument, and like all blunt instruments, if you wield it energetically, eventually the lamp goes down and the dog is hiding.

Complicating this is the etymology of many of those words, especially the ones in question in this case. I didn't particularly object to the original use of the word whore, I thought it was an appropriate use to describe the politican's actions, and obviously used in a way that really applied to those actions and not as a derogatory. The use of the word c**t, though, was much more out of limit; not only was it used just to belittle, the history of the word is patently offensive to at least half of the readers.

and I say this as someone who uses a fair amount of nasty words, usually more along the lines of a relief vavle, to keep the boiler from just blowing.

And just to keep the foul language flowing, visit STITP for a Big Lebowski remix: http://robola.wordpress.com/2006/11/29/fck/

Kiosan

It isn't rightists "up in arms" about this episode, but progressives attempting a dialog regarding the appropriateness of certain language in certain situations, its connotations, implications, and whether either are worth the expense of a few cheap shots.

My father in law was a Marine for thirty years before he died; I am one of two women of my tier in my division in a southern manufacturing company. Believe me, I am well acquainted with "salty" language, and am difficult to offend with it.

See, that's actually not the point.

Consider, if you will, Rush Limbaugh aping the symptoms of advanced Parkinson's when making fun of Michael J. Fox. It persuaded no one but his choir of anything but Limbaugh's utter and irredeemable sycophancy and lack of imagination. In fact, for a number of people it effected the opposite of his intention - turning them away from his opinion rather than drawing them in and convincing them of the rightness of his argument.

While the writers at FDL are absolutely free to compose as they wish, and may post whatever frothing paeons they might like, they must - like anyone else - accept the consequences of their composition. They do not get a pass on their mistakes simply because they espouse similar political aims. To give them one would make us no better than the automatons who let this administration off of every hook because Bush claims to hear the voice of God.

I read the original post. It was all sound and fury, whipping and reeling and spitting and, in the end, accomplishing nothing. The choir still sat, rapt, while the congregation gave second thought to sitting through the sermon. Perhaps this was the author's intention, perhaps not; I do not claim to know his mind.

But I do know my own. And, the nuts and bolts of the inherent sexism of the words involved aside (and sexism is extant in those words, whatever the FDL pedigree might otherwise mean), though I sing in a very similar choir, that song is dissonance to me, and unsingable to an audience not already predisposed to it. Given that I want to convert more than sermonize, that score is worse than useless. It is counterproductive, turning people away at the porch before they've even had a chance to approach the door.

Moreover, as Mr. Jingo noted, it was the weakest, easiest of insults to aim at a woman. Anyone can say that Cyrano has a big nose. It is a bit more interesting to have your cat measure it off in the number of lunches he might enjoy.

Kiosan

(Continued, and I apologize for the lengthiness...)

But I do know my own. And, the nuts and bolts of the inherent sexism of the words involved aside (and sexism is extant in those words, whatever the FDL pedigree might otherwise mean), though I sing in a very similar choir, that song is dissonance to me, and unsingable to an audience not already predisposed to it. Given that I want to convert more than sermonize, that score is worse than useless. It is counterproductive, turning people away at the porch before they've even had a chance to approach the door.

Moreover, as Mr. Jingo noted, it was the weakest, easiest of insults to aim at a woman. Anyone can say that Cyrano has a big nose. It is a bit more interesting to have your cat measure it off in the number of lunches he might enjoy.

Kiosan

Ah. Well, the original posting only showed part of it. Now I apologize for the multiple posts. 'Twould have been much more effective just the once.

harry near indy

thank you for the correction,jennifer.

Pinko Punko

1. So now I know where the cool kids hang out.

2. So now I know where the cool kids hang out.

3. So now I know where the cool kids hang out.

4. So now I know where the cool kids hang out.

5. So now I know where the cool kids hang out.

2,3,4, and a little of 5.

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