Tuesday, February 13, 2007
There have been some rancorous British blog wars recently. Iain Dale has been abused, Guido has been outed as Paul Staines and the Westminster wonks with their curiously deformed hindquarters have been having fun. This is entertaining but lacks depth. Current American blog wars are, however, gripping. Amanda Marcotte of the Pandagon blog was taken on by Democrat contender John Edwards. I posted on this earlier. Both Marcotte and another blogger, Melissa McEwan were then savagely attacked by the right as being anti-Catholic. 'Vulgar, trash-talking bigots,' said Bill Donohue, of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights. Other Catholics dissociated themselves from these attacks, but the damage seems to have been done. Marcotte has now announced her resignation from the Edwards campaign. She had, indeed, been critical of the Catholic Church. The terms of her attacks were, in blog terms, unremarkable. (And, I should add, very badly written. Why do so many American bloggers ramble interminably? British political blogs may be less momentous, but at least they are usually kept short.) But, in the arena of mainstream politics and media, Marcotte's views were unacceptable. Edwards miscalculated. Blogs, he thought, are groovy, so let's get the bloggers on board. But the old mainstream still has a functioning immune system and the bloggers have been rejected. Old, big battalion democracy and new individualised, technophile democracy don't mix. Something similar has happened here with the government's embarrassment over the online road pricing petition. Letting the people speak - through blogs or petitions - seems like a good idea but can it ever work?
Posted by Bryan Appleyard at 5:35 am