Thursday, March 22, 2007

Blue Mass Group

Let me preface this with the fact that I never wanted to write a blog about this. David, Charley and Bob have created a great website that has been an asset for a very long time now. It isn't a big blog in Massachusetts; it's the blog in Massachusetts. Sadly, that isn't a good thing. It's been the epicenter of a lot of new traffic that old users aren't exactly thrilled about - and not everyone is so good at ignoring those voices as I am (if anyone could call me good at doing that). A lot of people have been complaining about it to me lately - almost imploring me to do or say something about it. I guess it's time that I do - so here's Ryan's Take:

I recently read that two of my favorite commenters over at BMG have left - apparently forever. Some have applauded their decision; some understand, while others disagree profusely. Here's Bob's take, an Editor of Blue Mass Group:

People shouldn't be so tender they can't bear to listen to opposing arguments.
In a way, he's actually right. People should be a little more thick-skinned in life. It's so very easy to offend anyone and everyone that suddenly we have to be careful about what we say, for example, calling someone an ass (even if they are). However, even though we don't want people to be too tender, calling someone an "ass" is not okay. Swearing is wrong. The very next line of Bob's reply:

They also shouldn't resort to swearing and name-calling.
Is name calling childish and sophomoric? Sure, but sometimes that's the best way to greet certain trollish posts - after all, trolls only troll to get people to waste their time and piss 'em off. That's the nature of a troll. So, if two of my favorite commenters occasionally dabbled in flinging an ass across the table (and let's not forget, they're both probably registered Democrats), is it really all that bad?

Certainly, BMG has been seeing a few trolls around these days - often under the guise of serious thinkers (/sarcasm off). Sometimes, they're a bit more obvious. A troll here and there wouldn't be a problem - but suddenly, these trolls are having their dairies on the recommended list and a third or more of replies of some posts are far more offensive to many people than name-calling. After all, what's worse - being called an ass or being told you're a fornicating homo who shouldn't be allowed to have children - and should be subject to citizen's arrest if and when marriage equality is repealed.

Which leads me to my next point: the intentions of the website. David, Charley and Bob never intended Blue Mass Group to be a "progressive website." In other words, they've always sought out the thoughts and opinions of people of all stripes. Finally, after a lot of hard work, their efforts have paid off: Republican Rock Radio Machine has 129 comments since the beginning of February. Sadly, that's not necessarily a bad thing. How can the editors of BMG avoid the Rock Radios, when they say they want people of all stripes? Certainly, there's room in the blogosphere for "reality-based commentary" that has fantastical replies and isn't always progressive in nature - which gets me to my final point, the last snippet of that Bob reply reads thusly,

How seriously can one take someone who won't engage in debate and spikes their comments with invective? Not very.
True enough, but like I say, some people have confused the purpose of Blue Mass Group, in a way that doesn't line up with the editors' intentions. Many progressive, liberal and moderate readers coming to Blue Mass Group have come with the intentions of developing progressive ideas and strategies - BMG has benefited tremendously from their presence, especially when these people were the bulk of who comprised Blue Mass Group from the beginning through recent days.

However, a certain frustration has brewed under the pretenses that BMG is a progressive website when it clearly is not. Even well-intentioned conservative commenters (who I personally like), such as Peter Porcupine, piss off those people - especially when their dairies are being promoted and the editors routinely praise their contributions.

Finally, a lot of people have had it - and we've seen that in several ways. People have stopped commenting at BMG. People have come to Ryan's Take to frequently complain about BMG, even when the specific blog isn't about anything related to BMG at all. Still, I know of two efforts to create unified websites that would - in some way - serve as an alternative to Blue Mass Group.

It's at this time I'm reminded that "preaching to the choir is wrong." I'm reminded of an acquaintance of mine, a fellow UMASS Dartmouth student who also writes at BMG, JoeTS. He wrote an important dairy about why he writes at Blue Mass Group - when he's an active College Republican and conservative in nature. Essentially, if all he did was go to Hub Politics - scary red territory if there was any - then he'd be doing himself a disservice. He wouldn't be pushing his ideas on the most hostile minds, who would poke every conceivable hole. He wouldn't be listening to people with alternative viewpoints. Truly, he's one of the good-guy conservatives I typically get along with.

However, there are many reasons to write at a particular website. We all have different purposes. Sometimes, an insulated environment can be a bonus - fully develop your idea before a million people come to try to rip it to shreds. Alternately, it can be about organizing and building a movement locally. Or, seeking out the opinions of progressives who may not necessarily agree with an idea - when people like Sens. Jon Tester and Jim Webb are considered part of the movement, clearly we don't all think alike. A progressive website, geared toward the progressive movement, may well be better served by catering to a progressive audience. It's not being soft-skinned, unwilling to debate or even preaching to the choir; it's developing your ideas and building your movement.

BMG isn't that website and isn't that movement. It's editors may be a part of that movement, but their website is all-encompassing and different. Ultimately, there's room for more active websites in Massachusetts like Blue Mass Group, but obviously different in its intentions. Clearly, Blue Mass Group - as it's become more and more successful - is becoming the general Massachusetts blog. Progressive people have come to find out that it isn't a progressive website - a fact I learned at least as early as this past summer, when David told me that directly. It's not a bad thing, it's just different than what some people have come to expect. Other websites - communities - will emerge and the Massachusetts section of the blogosphere will become a more diverse, better place. Until then, I leave my Final Take: I understand - and share - in the frustrations of certain readers and commenters, but sadly Blue Mass Group has become the place its editors always wanted it to be.

57 comments:

Charley on the MTA said...

Ryan, it's late (for me) and I can't respond to all this at once. But let's take a couple of things:

First of all, we plainly intended and still intend BMG to be a progressive website. That should be obvious from our writing. We think we can do that without making a firewall to keep out conservative ideas. One of the reasons we want to keep those folks is so that they'll *listen to us.* And I think it works. Aside from that, I learn a lot from some of our conservatives. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day, after all -- and especially on local, nuts and bolts issues, people agree across ideological lines.

Two: Trolling. I agree it's a problem, and unfortunately due to the volume of comments the three of us can't really monitor it the way that we'd like. We've decided to mostly leave that to the community to police itself. I can't say we've done that totally consistently, because we don't see everything that goes on. There's a system, and it doesn't work perfectly, and the editors don't even agree with each other on how to enforce it sometimes. So it goes.

Three: Steverino and lightiris left of their own accord. We didn't kick them out. For all their considerable talents, Steverino was constantly insulting people, and lightiris didn't have good self-control in that regard either -- famously in one particularly gratuitous exchange with my dad. (Oops.) They didn't leave b/c we're "not progressive enough." They left because they didn't like being told they were being rude when they were being rude. Frankly, I think without steverino in particular, fewer threads have gone off the rails lately.

Four: By all means, I hope very much for more and different blogs with considerable readership and clout. We shouldn't be one-stop shopping, since there is a diversity of voices and emphases in the progressive movement.

I say this again and again -- civility is a big deal to us, because it's right, but also because we think *it's good for progressive politics.*

Anonymous said...

My dear boy, you have stepped in it now. I'm always moved by the foolish bravery of the young; it's like watching a Shropshire lad run off to volunteer for the King's Own in the Great War.

In any case, I must touch on this:

People shouldn't be so tender they can't bear to listen to opposing arguments.

Typical of the smug hectoring that drives so many off the site.

Those who leave are not refugees seeking protection from big mean conservatives. To the contrary, they are the very sort most vigorously engaged in refuting them. That, in fact, is the real reason they are being pushed out.

And pushed out they are. Conservatives have full impunity to write call-out diaries, threaten to arrest same-sex married couples, or use the word "faggot" without repercussion. Only progressives are called out.

So, no: BMG is not a progressive blog. If the owners don't want it to be, it's their prerogative. However, there is something called truth in advertising. If they don't want to be a blue blog, they shouldn't call themselves one, or accept the label when the media so frequently bestows it on them.

However, as you may have learned by now, process levels are amazingly selective about following process.

Anonymous said...

The thing that makes me laugh teh most is "you can't handle opposing viewpoints." LOL Um, no, see that's not it. The thing is, I live in America. I'm exposed to opposing viewpoints on a constant basis. You know, most of teh federal governemnt, most of the media, tv, print, radio, ranging from far right to ultra right? That's fine, but I'm not going to the internet to talk to some guy who's making the same argument that I can hear, constantly, everywhere, and that's been made by conseratives since 1492. I literally have never encountered a right wing argument that I haven't hear 9 million times before even though the guy making teh argument thinks he's coming up with something brilliant that's never been thought of before (which is weird because he's repeating teh same talking points from Fox News, Tony Snow, George Will, O'Reilly, etc--the exact same arguments over and over and over), because I have relatives, I live in America, I'm exposed to popular culutre.

I go to the internet and to teh boards because I want to learn things. I actually want to hear soemthing new I haven't heard 10 million times before. There's no where you can go in American and not be constantly exposed to conservatives views, but there are millions of places you can grown up in America and never be exposed to other ideas, progressive ideas. I want to hear them and I want to discuss them and I wnat to learn from them. And well, that kind of gets lost when you log on, read through twenty seven thousand bumper sticker slogans (stop e if you've heard this before, Adam and Eve not Adam and now how does that go again?) It's boring and I don't have time to waste wading through all the dreck trying to find some actual food for thought.

But yes, I'm threatened by opposing ideas, and if only I can find a way to develop a hyperbolic chamber and seced from Planet earth, I won't have to be exposed to any anymore! I'd just like one place on Earth to go where I can learn new things from some very intelligent people who don't get much of a hearing in media or society generally without having every discussion sidetracked by some idiotic aside that derails rather than adds to teh discussion.

Carpathian said...

hlcxz"or use the word 'faggot'"

It would be extremely uncivil to call out Well Beloved House Trolls for using homophobic slurs, after all, they're the good people, not you, and anything that makes them happy is a good thing. Why are you so intolerant? The Democrats lose because of incivility. The good Republicans of the heartland are, unlike you, kind hearted, hard working, decent, wonderful folks, and while they don't mind Purple Heart Bandaids, racial slurs, or hatefests of any kind, it breaks their hearts when bigots are told to be quiet in less than temperate language. Why do you hate America, you commie tool? :)

Anonymous said...

Well, see, progressives can only win by providing the best possible bullhorn for Republicans. Because, you know, Republicans in Massachusetts are such a powerful force we have to compromise with them.

News flash: Check the map, we're not in Kansas anymore. In this state, Republicans are only slightly more relevant than the infamous knit/pearl controversy at the 2002 Dog Sweater Olympics. A huge portion of this state is independent: socially liberal, fiscally responsible, and generally pissed off at the insider culture on Beacon Hill. Those are the people to talk to, not Republican party officials who openly admit to using the blog as a focus group to test messages.

Anonymous said...

Level of Discourse

Thank you, Ryan, for raising this. I like what you said and I kind of like PP and JoeTS.

The putative goals of BMG's rules of the road of were to raise the level of discourse. What do we see when we get a raised level of discourse?

1. People take pains to understand one another, e.g., they ask questions of clarification of one another.

2. People express curiosity about one another's views.

3. The discussion is characterized by changes of perspectives and the introduction of new facts.

4. Participants develop a fuller understanding of one another's views.

5. At least a few people actually change how they think about something as a result of discussing it.

If I look at the articles front paged right now and their discussions, I see little of what I might describe as a high level of discourse. The most consistent sign of a high level of discourse I see is #3, especially for exchanges of fact. The liberal-conservative, left-right exchanges tend toward boring, the ConCon/Murray thread seems like a waste of time. The postings about the tax loopholes and Chapter 70 are excellent.

Tentative conclusion: On exchanges of fact, the BMG Rules of the Road work; on exchanges of views, they fail.

What should we do to get a place where we can fruitfully exchange views?

-KBusch

Ryan Adams said...

Charley, I can't speak for you, but I plainly remember David informing me that BMG wasn't a progressive website - but instead a reality-based website.

I am trying to find that specific post, but I'm 1000 posts in and barely hitting his December comments.

However, we basically agree - and I thought we would - which was one of the reasons I wasn't quite so terrified out of my mind to actually post this. I value your posts, BMG's contribution to this state and the blogger comradery we've shared as part of a unique community.

Furthermore, the trolling problem isn't your fault and I'd never try to pin it on you either. However, the fact that your site encourages people of all viewpoints certainly would have a magnetic force to the kinds of people who's discourse neither of us would appreciate - at least since it's become extremely popular. While I've never once censored a comment, part of that reason is because I simply haven't attracted the worst kinds of trolls around.

Whether we like it or not, trollish posts have turned people away from BMG (clearly not me though, as I've been posting as frequently as ever lately). Some people don't appreciate the views of these posters - even the well-intentioned ones, even the good ones - and, for their benefit, I wanted to mention the fact that BMG is the website you guys want: a place where anyone can go and have discourse, even if you view it as a progressive site. It may not be perfect in your eyes, but I think it's fair to say you're mostly happy with it (and you should be, it's a fantastic site).

Now, I'm going to spend another 10-15 minutes trying to find that post that David wrote a long, long time ago that sparked this whole thing... before I give up. Watch it be Bob who said this way back then, because wouldn't that be my luck =p

Ryan Adams said...

KBusch, interesting analysis as always. The answer, however, I do not know. Yet, if this blog spawns the thought that leads to an answer, I'll be ecstatic.

Anonymous said...

The best thing I can say is that it's a big snoozefest, trying to fit a (changeable to suit their needs) definition of safe, predictable, insider, school marmish, and dedicated to the proposition that the problem with Democrats is that they don't appeal strongly enough to their core group of supporters, Republicans and especially Republican elected officials. A powerful and influential voting block.

The worst I can say about BMG is that some of the worst trolls seem to be in the clique and are given a free ride for a little bit worse than incivility with the "smug hectoring" directed, um, elsewhere, while "well intentioned" Republicans cheer.

Sorry, but lightiris is a reasonable person, I've seen her ignore provocation in the past, and if she's finally gotten fed up, you know there's a problem.

Look, I'm sure that Peter Porcupine is a really nice lady. So's my aunt. And frankly, if I want to hear their schtick, I know where to find both of them (yes, read her articles, visited her blog, found nothing compelling, no offense). To be honest, my aunt spends a lot of time trying to goad me into discussions, and I spend a lot of time changing the subject because I don't want to get into it and potentially hurt the feelings of a nice old lady.

Kinda like I suspect some of the guys are going to have to vote Republican, because, well, they wouldn't want PP to think she did a bad job of focus group message testing, plus they wouldn't want to hurt her feelings, and well, also too many Dems are just too incivil, stinky, and yep, you know, anyway. Ick. (Don't worry, though, nobody laughs at you guys at the RSC. No, really.)

The point is, inviting everybody in for a no holes barred donnybrook is fine, but not if the donnybrook is only allowed to flow in one direction, because that gets old fast. Not that it isn't enjoyable to see the gang do everything in their power to advance Republican frames about the big meanie Democrats who only invite them in and offer them cookies but don't spoil and pet them enough, and how a stray "ass" hurts so much more than coming home in a body bag (don't talk about that, it makes people uncomfortable and leads to cussing and clucking), but they can find their own enforcers, probably.

It's their blog and their business, but if they're billing themselves as Democrats then it all seems a bit counterproductive. With friends like these.

Anonymous said...

"stevereno was constantly insulting people, and lightiris didn't have good self-control in that regard either"

And the one thing we can't forget is how this started. Peter Porcupine helpfully pointed out, constructive criticism, that the military is filled only with conservatives, and that's because liberals, especially teachers, hate the military and denegrate service and shun and harass soldiers, referring to them as lying butchers. WELL, then lightiris (who, you know, is a veteran and a teacher and the person to whom, it seems, PP was most directing her nontrollish and noninsulting comments) had the nerve to SAY THAT WASN'T TRUE. That's right folks, she disagreed with PP and her perpetual good intentions. Why, that's almost the same thing as saying PP was WRONG. Can you believe that? What's wrong with lightiris? No wonder civility has gone out the window. Lightiris is crazy and obviously has horrible intentions and was just trolling and trying to start something by being an obvious dick. It's shameful, and I'm just sick to my stomach thinking of this episode.

We all owe it to PP to send her a dozen roses and make a $500 contrbution to compensate for the atrocious way she was treated. (And you know what, my father, grandfather, aunt, uncles and sisters just disagreed with PP too, so I beat them up, and since they're all either vets or currently serving, that means I beat up on members of the military just like she said (OTOH, they're also according to Bob anti-military because they're against recruiting on campus, so in addititon to beating up on memebers of the military I also beat up on anti-military, unAmerican comsymps--go me! What a day!), thus proving both her rightness and good intentions. Take that, lightiris!)

Anonymous said...

@1:00 a.m. LOL!

The key rules of the road passage:

Robust debate is an important means to that end. We welcome bold, constructive observations. To us, this means commentary typical of thoughtful discussion between acquaintances who may hold differing views on important issues, but who debate those issues in a respectful manner. Insults, personal attacks, rudeness, and blanket unsupported statements reduce the level of discourse, interfere with our basic objective, and are not permitted.

Operationally, this means Lightiris may not call someone else an ass, but it is okay for someone to assert Democrats are idiots or gays are slimy. The former is "personal", the latter is "robust debate". It is kind of like saying that you cannot insult your hosts personally at a Seder but you are free to make non-specific anti-semitic comments. Such behavior will not earn you an invitation next year.

I don't have enough data here, so the following suspicion could be wrong: I suspect that conservatives are being called out privately by email whereas overstepping liberals are being more publicly reprimmanded as in the exchange Ryan referenced. For example, I detected a significant moderation in EaBoClipper's tone which seemed to suggest an offline exchange had occurred. Even Demolisher has been a bit more careful.

But really, if one is going to build a community, one takes especial pains to be nice when one criticizes. Anyone in a relationship knows that people are at their most vulnerable when being criticized -- even productively. One never tells one's partner, those are the rules, follow them, don't whine.

-KBusch

Anonymous said...

I read this blog fairly often. I'm a Libertarian and enjoy the expression of ideas I find here. I'll occasionally comment but that was because I thought the discussion open to all. If this is only a progressive blog I'd stop coming by.

lightiris said...

Charley,

If I insulted your father, I had no idea it was your father. I've seen that comment made several times. I think I know what comment it is, but, the name of the poster gave me no indication that he was your father. I clearly mistook him for a troll.

Which, I must say, is fairly ironic given the state of affairs over there.

At any rate, my apologies as I would never have "gratuitously" insulted your father; the notion is just silly. There really are two sides to every story.

Anonymous said...

Um, earth to Ryan, preaching to the choir is not wrong. Preaching to the choir is a waste of time. Why? Because presumably the choir already agrees with that to which they are being preached--because they are members of the choir. That is the point of the "preaching to the choir" comment.

Regarding BMG, I cut my Web presence eye-teeth about a decade ago as an openly gay person on more than a few conservative web sites, some of which no longer exist. (I would actually be quite conservative, although in the classical sense, not the perverted sense of modern-day American pseudo-conservatives.) One learns to get a very thick skin as a result. One also learns to develop strategies to tweak them. The jousting was actually quite fun--but, as I've mentioned, I'm a lawyer, and arguing is fun. I also learned not to take anything they wrote personally--after all, what could they do to me? Absolutely nothing. I actually got one poster on FreeRepublic.com to freely admit that what he posted there, he would never actually say in public. That made it clear to me that the people there didn't want to do anything more than kvetch (German: Quatsch) a/k/a "bitch and moan."

I have carried that forward to this day, and that is one reason why I do not hesitate to be quite acerbic anywhere I comment, including BMG.

--raj

Anonymous said...

raj, you’re missing the point. No one ran crying from mean conservative posters. That’s a Charlie/Bob talking point. Everyone here can take care of himself.

People stopped posting because it wasn’t worth their time.

First, despite the landlords’ fantasies, the blog isn’t a place where Democrats “reach out” to others. Genuine disaffected independents are scarce on the site, in part because, by definition, they don’t participate in politics, much less political blogs. Instead, you have progressives battling it out with diehard Republicans who are never going to change their stripes, with a few of the latter posing as independents (and doing a might poor job of it). Anybody who thinks Democrats are going to capture independents by compromising with the Republican faithful hasn’t been watching the past few election cycles.

Second, it’s extremely difficult to have a logical debate over there, as you may have noticed. Every day, Republican trolls toss bombs to derail threads, and they do it quite successfully, in part thanks to the sharply different rules that apply to progressives and conservatives. The conservatives aren’t looking for debate, so they don’t adhere to the rules of debate. Facts are ignored, logical gaps brushed away, and losing arguments saved with accusations of “incivility.” They’re just trying to push talking points, and it is a waste of time trying to argue with a propagandist on a mission.

Finally, the site does a lot of harm, giving additional airtime to right-wing messages that already surround us on cable and radio. None of these messages are genuine “concerns” or “arguments”—they’re just focus-group-tested speeches that confuse and damage the truth every time they are heard. Why would anybody want to give them a bigger audience?

Preaching to the choir does some good, you know. It motivates the choir, and gets them organized. What’s really a waste of time is preaching to somebody else’s choir.

Mass Marrier said...

LOL

Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!

joe said...

Thanks for the kind words, Ryan. I have to say, there has even been some light encouragement from the editors for us to have some conservative discourse. It's healthy. Hopefully community-self-policing will eliminate trolls.

10:26 anon, I was the one on BMG who used the word "faggot". I was responding to someone who used the Catholic slur "mackarel-snapper". I was pointing out that one should remember that doors open both ways. I did apologize, knowing that mayhaps I could have been more tactful in my approach. What happend to that comment? It got deleted by the community along with the one that had "mackerel snapper".

Some people like Steverino have said they don't want conservative discourse, that they're only interested in progressive and moderate democratic strategy and agenda-setting. I think that's a bad setting for good ideas. Hopefully, as BMG evolves, these problems will dissapate, the community will be better at dealing with discourse, minds will be changed (from either aisle to the other, i mean, one side can't always be correct) and we'll all be the better for it.

lightiris said...

People stopped posting because it wasn’t worth their time.

In a nutshell, yes. I agree with everything this anonymous individual wrote as it expresses exactly how I feel and think about the situation. And no, I didn't write it. lol.

I would like to specifically comment on this, as well:

...sharply different rules that apply to progressives and conservatives.

While conveniently dismissed as whining by some, this comment, I think, is spot-on. Several times I'd been admonished by one of the owners about my tone, but that individual's tone, at times, was clearly over the top not to mention the fact conservatives rarely had their knuckles rapped. The double standard, I suppose, is fine given he is one of the owners, but I couldn't help but point it out specifically once--to silence. I don't mind admitting that I think the "ass" chastisement coming my way was more of a reflection of a personal dislike than a fair and appropriate reminder to be polite.

I don't have a thin skin, but I do believe people should be held accountable for what they say. I was offended by the comments by PP and said so. Had someone not interefered, I suspect, PP and I would have worked it out and I would have apologized for being rude. Like I said, I spend enough time in high school; I don't need a detention for saying a "swear."

At any rate, I do feel rather validated knowing that others also note that the standards of civil discourse on that site appear to apply to only one side of the political spectrum.

Ryan Adams said...

Raj,

My point about preaching to the choir could be made thusly: Just like a choir has its baritones, bases (1&2), tenors (1&2), altos (1&2) and sapranos (1&2), the progressive movement is comprised of people who make up a wide assortment of people and positions. If Michael Moore and Jim Webb are both considered progressives - and I think that would be a fair assessment - then truly there's a diversity there and it isn't really "preaching to the choir" at all. Suddenly, it's community building, message refinement and the sharing of news.

However, it was never a problem that there were conservatives and progressives over at BMG - the problems are recent, by and large. Something has changed. KBusch actually made the point best:

"Operationally, this means Lightiris may not call someone else an ass, but it is okay for someone to assert Democrats are idiots or gays are slimy. The former is "personal", the latter is "robust debate". It is kind of like saying that you cannot insult your hosts personally at a Seder but you are free to make non-specific anti-semitic comments."

If there is a problem, that's the one that needs to be addressed. That's the kind of discourse that likely got Lightiris so riled up. It's morally offensive to have to listen to someone address me as a "fornicating" homo who should never be able to raise kids, never mind be married. That person shouldn't just be called an ass, but should be called out by the entire preachy, progressive choir for what they truly are. That would be letting the community deal with it.

Anonymous said...

The progressiveness of progressive blogs

(I started writing this before Ryan posted above. I like the Webb-Moore comment a lot.)

I don't think any progressive blog anywhere would be eager to block out conservatives. Progressives are just too goddammed empathetic. Further, there have been useful occasions on BMG World Wrestling where conservatives have pointed out interesting or useful or even inconvenient stuff about which I hadn't thought. That's all fine.

It's like certain social occasions and what it means to be polite. Since it's that time of year, the presence of conservatives on progressive sites might be compared to Christians being invited to a Passover Seder. There is a tradition of inviting non-Jews to Seders. (That's how I've gotten in.) Such an invitation does not include freedom to proselytize. (Similarly, I suppose, Christians inviting Jewish friends to Advent celebrations.) It requires a delicate ear and lots of hesitation before one jumps in to discuss Israeli-Palestinian relations.

The problem at BMG is that it is flooding with conservatives who do not respect progressive ways of thinking. Contrast PP. A visit to PP's site will quickly convince you her Republicanism is not very moderate. I found I was two clicks away from pro-Confederacy sites, for example. PP, though, is really interested in understanding liberals because she wants to win elections and she wants to know the enemy well. She has said as much. Even if occasionally annoying and infrequently baiting, she still has fundamental respect.

That's profoundly different, though, from trying to debate JK who is new to the world of liberalism, or Demolisher who has 10 things he hates about us, or E. B. Clipper who just thinks were stupid. The presence of such folks makes it very difficult to discuss to the most delicate issues, e.g., taxation and gun control.

-KBusch

Anonymous said...

For anyone looking for examples, one has only to glance at the messages currently posted in the Murray thread by that offensive little shit, Republican Rock Radio:

And You have to admit......you are nervous though aren't you???

he says, for once gleefully distracted from his own urges to rub one out to a Tom Brady poster.

Where, pray tell, are the guardians of civility in that thread?

Chirp, chirp.

Anonymous said...

Ryan, you apparently misunderstand the reference to "preaching to the choir."

Preaching to the choir means that the preacher is preaching to those who already are persuaded to agree with that which is being preached. That's why they are in the choir.

Don't try to over-analyze it. That's what it means.

The point of the aphorism is that the choir doesn't need to be preached to. It is others who need to be preached to. The question is, are those others listening?

--raj

eddie said...

KBusch, I disagree about PP.

PP isn't sincere imo, so much as she's manipulative and passive-aggressive.

You said she was baiting, yeah she is, to the extent that a lot of the time she's so obviously trying to start something (and the rest of the time she's so obviously trying to suck up so blatantly--it's a sad spectacle). If she wants to know "the
enemy," I'd suggest the best strategy would be to sit quietly and listen because her derails probably don't cause her to learn all that much about philosophy or how they think (an awful lot about how the site is run, though).

None of which would be a problem, if people were allowed to respond to her game playing. But they're not. If you look at the thread about the veterans, it's not like poor innocent PP was alone, out on a limb. She had as many if not more people supportinhg her position (including one of the site owners) as lightiris did. So why the hell wasn't lightiris allowed to respond? Let's take a poll and find out who most people outside of Fox News and the BMG brain trust were more insulted by, if BMG is supposed to be the Democratic power broker site (or fancies itself that way), it's relevant.

You've got to be kidding me that on the state's supposed "Democratic" (sorry, Bob, sorry, david, don't freak out, I was just kidding) blog, PP gets free reign to gratuitously lie and insult and the only acceptable response is supposed to be, "You're right. Can you help me switch parties? I want to be true decent American!" It's ridiculous. Good thing PP is a Republican and not a Green, she couldn't get away with the exact same nonsense if she were.

Ryan, I know you like PP and you met her and she was very nice to you. I'm sorry, I'm not trying to insult her for the purpose of being a jerk. The thing is, have you noticed that a lot of people come on here really upset about stuff PP has said to them? Many times people will say and do things on the internet that they would never say or do in real life, for example I know one of BMG's most prolific commentators and while yes, he really is that much of a pompous jerk IRL, he says lots of things on there he'd never dare say to your face. And I don't think PP is sincere at BMG so much as she's deliberately stirring the pot trying to see how much she can get away with. Which is all well and good, but why can't someone respond? I don't have a problem with PP so much, yes her comments are ignorant and offenseive but noting I've never hear before. I'm fully capable of responding--if I'm allowed. I can ever respond without "bad words," but that wouldn't be allowed either, too harsh for dear PP. It creates a hierarchy of commenters who can say whatever they want and other commentors who have to walk on eggshells, I don't see the point.

Anonymous said...

In the hierarchy of posters at BMG, the lowest rung is reserved for those who see through PP's game. She wants to play at fair discourse, and we're all supposed to play along.

She is passive-aggressive and manipulative. Anyone who restates others' positions so inaccurately in almost every post is either a liar, or dumb as a day-old dog turd. I don't think PP is dumb.

The landlords blithley walk into every trap she sets. My favorite: Do you remember her promotion of that movie (sorry, forget the name) about the British MP who ended slavery, motivated by his religious faith? Could be a good movie. However, it is currently being used on the right-wing circuit to "prove" that Christians ended slavery (never mind the Bible-thumping plantation owners) and therefore they must also rally to end abortion (remember, the wingers famously use "Dred Scott" as a codeword for Roe v. Wade).

Did the landlords recognize they were getting played? Don't make me laugh.

eddie said...

"Anyone who restates others' positions so inaccurately in almost every post is either a liar, or dumb as a day-old dog turd."

Precisely. That's why I think it's inaccurate to conceptualize PP as some sincere and respectful person seeking knowledge. If I go over to some conservative blog ostensibly seeking knowledge and say, "Hey, you godbags know you're cold hearted murderers who rejoice in the spilled blood of our martyred troops from the depths of your pathological hearts," well, I don't think that would be taken as a respectful attempt to be accepted by the community. It would be regarded as trolling. I doubt I'd be sharing gentle concern troll laughs and head shakings over the unreasonable, irrational suckiness of conservatives who have a problem with me with the site owners. Call me crazy.

Anonymous said...

For the moment I'm staying on BMG, for the following reason: thousands of people read that site daily, and many (some? all? few? - no way to know!) will not be well versed in the subject matter they read. So I see BMG as an opportunity not to preach to the choir, but to be a chorister to a curious audience who might actually like the tune they happen to be hearing. Posters like PP and RRR may actually help by making social conservatives look like the hate mongers they are. It is then easy to show the conservatives almost total lack of logic on so many issues.

KBusch, any chance you could start a true progressives blog. While I enjoy BMG for what I've mentioned above and also conversing with some conservatives who have their ears open and brains engaged (Joe, for example), I would love to be able to communicate with other progressives in a place where PP type trolls are not allowed to roam.

Ryan Adams said...

Just for the sake of pointing this out, Anon 6:14, by no way am I actually suggesting people should stop reading BMG. I probably have at least 4-5 comments there today, myself - and I wrote a diary.

I just wrote this piece because I've noticed a lot of frustration and some of that frustration has been valid. I figure if I write about it, the communication can start and hopefully it'll get better. Or, for people who haven't been around for a long time and just remember BMG as the one and only real Massachusetts blog, to let people know there are lots of options out there and that the blogging community in Massachusetts is only starting to grow. And that's a good thing - even Charley recognizes that.

Anonymous said...

Ryan doesn't want people to stop posting there, but there might be good reasons to consider it.

For the moment I'm staying on BMG, for the following reason: thousands of people read that site daily, and many (some? all? few? - no way to know!) will not be well versed in the subject matter they read. So I see BMG as an opportunity not to preach to the choir, but to be a chorister to a curious audience who might actually like the tune they happen to be hearing.

The tune they're hearing today is a deceitful ditty called "let the people vote" (i.e., let's hold gay people to a different standard than anybody else), penned by a Republican and performed not in the wings but on the front page. If they come away humming it, they will believe, falsely, that it is the universal anthem of Massachusetts Democrats.

That's just one example of more harm than good.

Anyway, I do want to add to the chorus of people calling for KB to start a blog.

Anonymous said...

Proposed Name: My Blue Heaven

Well it might be fun to start a blog. However much I might have ideas about how to moderate a blog, I'm just not well enough informed to keep a steady stream of diaries on the front page. D., C., and B. really do keep atop lots of events. My favorite diaries at BMG are the ones I know too little about to comment on. Our excellent host here, for example, knows much more about Massachusetts issues than I do. When I discuss education, I blubber.

Just for comparison: Red Mass Group has a lot of diaries on it. Some of its contributors -- though disagreeable -- are quite well-informed. But RMG's contributors still put out a lot less than BMG.

As a result, RMG doesn't even keep the attention of its main contributors. (Part of that, of course, is that BMG offers a larger audience and almost identical hosting, so why stay on RMG?) For My Blue Heaven (proposed) to work, it would have to have many more contributions than RMG.

How deep is our bench? Who else would be interested in getting it going? Maybe it's time to find a way to collect email addresses.

-KBusch

Anonymous said...

quality v quantity. i don't agree, KBusch, that a blog needs tons of contributors to be good. RMG, as you say, has lots of diarists, but look at the crao most of them are writing on. On the flip side, look at MassMarrier. He put sup probably an average of one diary per day, almost always on the same subject, and I rank it as one of the best blogs around. I think a steady stream of well-written diaries will get people there and interacting just fine. The stream need not be the Mississippi.

Anonymous said...

KBusch, all you probably need is a little help. Look at a website like Pandagon, Pam's House Blend, Booman Tribune. There are only a handful of front pagers, but people flock there. If you could find a half dozen or so bloggers to contribute, it will take off. And that shouldn't be too hard with all the tremendous bloggers we have in MA. If you create an atmosphere that's more welcoming to non-Republicans than BMG, where they're not going to be Othered and declared outside the mainstream and not allowed to say anything when they're attacked, then they'll come. What about, say, Susan? She runs websites for issues outside of Boston, if she could crosspost her stuff in a more central location then it would get a discussion going. What we need is basically a warehouse where we can view interesting, informative posts without having to search through 27 smaller websites, and that has a very different atmosphere and culture from BMG.

Anonymous said...

Let's understand something about Ms. Porkupine (yes, I know the correct spelling--but Republicans are really into their pork). She is apparently a Republican party appartchick (I know the correct spelling of that, too) who sees it in her position of being an apparatchick the obligation to post her Republican party's position on the BlueMassGroup.

Get over it. As long as BMG is a limited public forum and the proprietors allow her to comment there, she will. It's a mistake to become incensed by her comments*. Quite frankly, by paying close attention to her comments, you might learn something about what the Republicans are "thinking," and develop counter-arguments.

That's what I did when I was posting on FreeRepublic.com. It is a mistake to try to ban the enemy. You might learn from them. You might not be persuaded by their arguments, but you might learn how to counter them.

*Except when she miss-characterizes a comment that she is reponding to. I have noticed that she has done that with more than a few of my comments. And I call her on it when she does.

--raj

bostonph said...

I think the core of the problem is this snippet from David Kravitz:

http://www.thephoenix.com/TalkingPolitics/CommentView.aspx?guid=ea859f8d-2626-4d90-a088-88592c3ecccd#commentstart

Fortunately for us at BlueMassGroup.com, Peter Porcupine and gary, among several other regular participants, keep us honest with their right-of-center perspectives. So, ironically, one place you can find good conservative blogging is at our (mostly) liberal blog!

To PP's credit, she herself says she's on BMG to give the REPUBLICAN spin and to learn how the enemy thinks.

That she doesn't play fair (misrepresenting viewpoints, repeating falsehoods, calling names when challenged, disrupting conversations, etc.) is annoying, but the bigger issue is David et al pretending she's an honest conservative commentator rather than a Republican State Comittee member using their blog to sockpuppet.

When you combine that with their tolerating behavior from her and other "conservatives" that would get liberals spanked, you've got a recipe for boredom.

Anon9:30am said it best: "People stopped posting because it wasn’t worth their time."

I have no fear of arguing with conservatives (or liberals for that matter). I just have no interest in kicking around rehashed Limbaugh talking points or wading through post after post of spin.

Maybe if the site had a concept like the old net news "kill file." There's a lot to wade through and I would gladly go the rest of my life without reading another post dissing "faggots." Enjoying arguing with conservatives doesn't mean I'll ever embrace homophobia as a viable viewpoint.

Anonymous said...

bostonph

Listen up and listen well...

Maybe if the site had a concept like the old net news "kill file." There's a lot to wade through and I would gladly go the rest of my life without reading another post dissing "faggots."

If you don't know what the enemy is saying or doing, you won't be in a position to counter it, will you?

One question. How are the proprietors of a website supposed to go about the business of determining whether a comment disses "faggots" without basically filtering out all comments with the word "faggot" (or "fag") in them. I--a faggot--oftentimes use "faggot" as sarcasm in response to the right wingnut nincompoops who post on various websites. Should I be prevented from doing so? Words have, not only meanings, but emotive connotations. And, it seems to me that we should be able to throw those emotive connotations back at them, in the harshest way possible. Playing nicey-nice with them is not going to work.

--raj

Anonymous said...

We listen. We listen.

Hey Raj. You're disagreeing with bostonph the same way you disagree with me, but you just keep repeating your point over and over.

1. We know what the "enemy" says. Don't you hear us? Raj, we've heard it before.

2. Even if we had not, we could turn on an acutal Republican radio and listen to it! It's better debate preparation if you go to the primary source. Limbaugh can even write in full paragraphs that are graced with standard punctuation.

3. Someone has got to figure out what Democrats stand for. The answer does not consist of pointing at PP and saying "not that!"

-KBusch

Anonymous said...

KBusch

I am not, and have never been, a Democrat. And I haven't been a Republican either, although I over my voting lifetime, it's probable that I've cast more ballots for Republicans than for Democrats. Note that I did not write "vote for."

Irrespective of that, you ignored the possibly rather obscure point that I was making in my last paragraph. It's a logistical problem. Unless a blogger forbids every use of an emotive word like "faggot," even if in sarcasm, s/he will have to scan the comments to determine whether they are being used in hate, or being used in sarcasm.

--raj

bostonph said...

Raj,

1) To extend on what KB said a bit, I'm perfectly capable of finding out what the "enemy" thinks on my own. Part of the point of my post is that's not what you're getting on BMG.

What PP says on BMG ain't nothing like what she says on RMG or on the more conservative blogs she haunts. I'd much rather read that kind of stuff at the source.

More to the point, I want be able to get beyond "global warming is a creation of the liberal media" on a progressive blog.

2) Kill files were END USER based. For example, I could personally ignore every post from PP, or every post containing the word faggot, sarcastic or otherwise. You in turn could ignore say, John Howard or discussions of chocolate chip cookies. It's a much better method than letting people vote to delete content.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kill_file

3) Your response to me was not only condescending, it completely missed the gist of what I was saying.

Frankly, I think your posts have become considerably less interesting as they've become more frequent and strident.

It's too bad, since I actually agree with a lot of what you write.

-Paul

Anonymous said...

"If you don't know what the enemy is saying or doing, you won't be in a position to counter it, will you?"

Groan. First off, the "enemy" in Massachusetts that needs to be countered, if you're talking about Democrats, would have to be the Greens. The Republicans are pathetically irrelevant. Yet somehow I doubt Davey and Bob are going to turn over their page to the Greens, even though the Greens could actually use the bandwith and the exposure more so than the Republicans, who have a buck or two and access to, oh a few things. Greens are even ickier than Democrats (especially since many Green voters have voted Democratic and could actually be persuaded to do so again, ewww). If BMG is going to be the mouthpiece of the state's major opposition party, where are all the state Greens on the front page?

Second, as has already been mentioned, there are a few, oh well, yes maybe a few (is there such a thing as a bazillion gajillion) other places in the world to be exposed to conservative thought. (No, really.) Somehow, I think we might still hear just a bit about what the conservatives are thinking and doing. Although, if there's a place on Earth where that's not true, let me know, I want to vacation there. As Boston PhD says, I'm sick of reading the same rehashed arguments over and over and over. Okay, I get it, gays are evil, it's good to vote on marriage as long as it's not your marriage, etc. Repeating the same thing 5,000 times isn't the same thing as making 5,000 separate arguments. You say "get over it," we are over it. Yawn. Different people are going to go spend their time going to a site called "Republican Talking Points Central, Get Your Endless Repetition of Limbaugh On," than are going to go to a site called "Blue mass group," but in this case if you go to one you'll find you're at the other.

And raj, you're playing into BMG spin by implying we want Republican apparaciks banned. We don't, we'd just like the freedom to respond to them as we've said repeatedly. We have no problem countering their arguments and handling it ourselves, it's just that we're strongly constrained in what we can say and how much we're allowed to challenge the lies and spin. We're asking for an equal playing field, and frankly if they weren't coddled and petted and encouraged to derail every thread to get out their spin, they'd go away of their own accord anyway because it's not in their interests to do otherwise, therefore ending the need to reinvent the wheel. Like bostonphd says, it'd be a lot easier to discuss strategies to combat global warming (which is the kind of thing many people are looking for with their limited free time) if you didn't have to wade through 345 posts debating whether or not the Earth was created by fire breathing fairies in 1492.

Anonymous said...

A few random thoughts on the two comments above

What PP says on BMG ain't nothing like what she says on RMG or on the more conservative blogs she haunts.

Then, when she posts a rather "benign" comment relevant to the topic on BMG, that has a different content that she posted elsewhere, call her on it. I have done that in other contexts, particularly on conservative blogs. Before I was banned, of course.

More to the point, I want be able to get beyond "global warming is a creation of the liberal media" on a progressive blog.

If you wish to discuss global warming (which I do, but I don't know why*) do it on a climate change blog, and then link to that blog.

*Actually, I do know why. For the same reason that I'm interested in the evolution nay-sayers--they're anti-science.

Kill files were END USER based.

It sound like kill files are similar to the NYTImes message board's "ignore" list, which allowed users to ignore comments posted by various users, by user handle. When I was on dial-up, I made judicious use of the ignore list, because it would take up precious bandwidth. Since we've moved to fiber optic, bandwidth has become less an issue.

The problem with the "iggy list" (ignore list) is that that doesn't prevent other people from responding to the trolls that one has on an iggy list. So, it's still a bandwidth waster, but you are seeing only one side of the discussion. Unless the responder copies part of the comment into his comment, which is oftentimes the case.

Frankly, I think your posts have become considerably less interesting as they've become more frequent and strident.

Just to let you know, I frankly don't care about your reviews of my commenting style. As I have pointed out at BMG, you, like everyone else, has a scroll bar, and you have the option of scrolling past my comments. I do not have the capability of gluing your eyeballs to your computer's monitor, and I wouldn't do that even if I did. I don't know how much plainer to put it. Make judicious use of your scroll bar. I certainly do.

Groan. First off, the "enemy" in Massachusetts that needs to be countered, if you're talking about Democrats, would have to be the Greens.

Hardly. The Greens in MA politics are barely on the radar screen.

Get out of your "party" box. The enemy for "progressives" are socially-conservative Democrats. It is probable that almost as many Democrats voted in favor of the anti-same-sex marriage amendment as Republicans. And the Democratic party is unwilling to take a stand on the issue. That's one reason why I have no use for Democrats, merely because they are Democrats.

And raj, you're playing into BMG spin by implying we want Republican apparaciks banned.

Um, I sincerely don't know where this came from. If you want an "equal playing field" (I don't know where the playing field at BMG was unequal) take it up with the website's proprietors. I'm not one of them.

--raj

Anonymous said...

"Hardly. The Greens in MA politics are barely on the radar screen."

Um, okay. The Greens fielded more candidates in MA than the Republicans, thus basically making them the major opposition party in the state (unless you count all the divisions in the Democratic Party). Frankly, they have a better chance of becoming a force in the state than the Republicans (of course, that's also true of a two week old cheese sandwich) in part because if you don't run a candidate, it really tends to limit your chances of winning that office. There have been studies, it's a clear cause and effect realtionship, surprising but true. Are you a Green? If not, they'd *better* be on your radar screen because you really have to know what "the enemy" is saying ad nauseum. Call David and tell him to get on this immediately.


"Get out of your "party" box. The enemy for "progressives" are socially-conservative Democrats. It is probable that almost as many Democrats voted in favor of the anti-same-sex marriage amendment as Republicans. And the Democratic party is unwilling to take a stand on the issue. That's one reason why I have no use for Democrats, merely because they are Democrats."

Um, again okay. I'm not in a party box. I'm not a Democrat (or a Green, for that matter). I completely agree with what you've said there, and you get triple bonus points for pointing out the obvious as if it's some secret only you've figured out, I just don't see how it relates to anything else you've said. Are there any connections to be made here?

"Um, I sincerely don't know where this came from....take it up with the website's proprietors. I'm not one of them."

Um, once again, okay. It came from the fact that when you hit keys on the computer, letters form and these letters ,in turn, can, in some cases, form words. When your words appear to be in English, people reading the words will give them their standard English meanings, not realizing you're apparently engaging in some post modernist exercise in pointless blather aperpos of nothing. Nobody ever thought you were a proprietor of BMG (see, I'll help you out, if you jump into a discussion and say something about BMG, then someone else will respond by saying, perhaps, something else about BMG, again that's called a discussion in call and response format, and in no way does it suggest that you're a proprietor of BMG, even if you are engaged in a discussion about BMG! What am amazing world we live in!), so if you'll stop mischaracterizing people's arguments and attributing things to them that they never said, then perhaps you won't feel forced to engage in injecting these cryptograms, it can get draining I imagine.

Anonymous said...

And in an attempt to head off Let's Go Around in a Circle With Further Riddles of the Sphinx, let me quote your statement, "It is a mistake to try and ban the enemy." That's one of the things that might lead some poor misguided souls who believe that words have intrinsic meaning and can be read for comprehension to think that you might be suggesting we're trying to get Republican Party officials banned from BMG, and indeed, it's even possible to see how such a suggestion might lead to further discussion about the subject and why that's an erroneous suggestion, it's The Great and Amazing Circle of Life.

Carpathian said...

raj, visit boards about climate change?

Thanks for the helpful advice. I don't know what boston phd's degree is in, but mine's in political science, not climatology. I don't have the time or the base of knowledge to participate in a scientific community, and that's not where my principal interests lie, anyway. I'd like to discuss climate change in terms of public policy in concert with a whole range of other issues in a convenient location.

Are you in law school? I ask because you are reminding me of certain 1L's who continually want to engage in pointless debate about nothing. I don't see what the problem is here. You like BMG, don't mind being called a faggot, and seem to want to spend most of your time debating conservatives on Free Republic. You think that will accomplish something, and maybe it will. You also apparently think that anyone who doesn't enjoy having slurs dired at them should suck it up, and wouldn't the world be a better place if everyone was as strong and tough and sensible as you. Perhaps it would. Great. Nobody's trying to stop you.

Others, on the other hand, don't have 24 hours a day to continually correct the same factual errors only to face the same uncorrected argument/slur again 3 minutes later, are sick of BMG and would like to try and start a new community with different rules (in other words, no double standards) that brings together a wider range of viewpoints and information in one space.

You've pointed out over and over again that you're not a Democrat, but some of us are and we're looking for a place to hash things out and discuss them in detail and try and expand the Democratic coalition beyond the limits of what David and Bob think is acceptable (unbounded on the right, barely a whisker to the left, don't say that, don't make us look bad). So?

What you're looking for isn't the same thing everyone in the world is looking for, why is this such a problem for you? If you really think you're going to get the homophobes of the world to admit defeat in some online chat and that's actually going to change their behavior in the real or political world, more power to you, and if you feel you learn a lot that way, wonderful, but to some of us it's a big waste of time.

Personally, I know a lot about the arguments of the other side, I get them around the water cooler and the family dinner table, and I spend a lot of time in government buildings where every TV is tuned to Fox. I'm a hell of a lot more interested in discussing strategies and reading diaries about political topics I don't know very much about and never hear about in my life, and I don't see why there isn't room in the world for people like you and people like me. Someday everyone will be more like you and we'll all be better off, but until that time you can go your way, someone else can go another way, everything's great, what's the problem?

joe said...

While you guys are crying about double standards, do you realize that you're having a breakdown over me saying "faggot" at BMG while completely ignoring the Catholic slur that was used? Of course not, you don't care about that, you don't like Catholics.

I mean, honestly, is ANYONE HOME?

bostonph said...

Just to let you know, I frankly don't care about your reviews of my commenting style. As I have pointed out at BMG, you, like everyone else, has a scroll bar, and you have the option of scrolling past my comments.

Raj,

You're free to make as big an ass of yourself as you desire. However, when you presume to lecture me and completely misrepresent my position in the process, yes, I do have the right to call you on it.

To take this back to the original conversation: Your response pretty much makes my point. We can chastize the trolls on BMG until we turn blue. It's not going to make the conversation any more interesting. They don't care anymore than you do.

Anonymous said...

Joe, why don't you write a diary about the almost unendurable potential for persecution we face as Massachusetts Catholics. This is a story that needs to be told, there may only be 3 non-Catholics in the state, but they hold so much power that I'm pretty sure soon we won't be allowed to marry, own a house, rent an apartment, or hold a job. They just don't like us! They're organizing and the Legislature (100% Catholic, wouldja say?) is bound to an up-or-down vote, and well, I can't disagree with that even if it is my life on the line. Toujours process.

Look, you using the word "faggot" is the verbal equivalent of throwing a bomb. We don't get to use that word ever, under any circumstances. Mackerel sniffer is also wrong and it was zeroed and I'm sure if you wanted to just start a discussion of how wrong it was, you would have found lots of support. But you couldn't just be satisfied with that? So most people would assume either you just did it to be a dick and to get payback on the guy who used the other slur, even though he's not going to care and you're immaturely upsetting a lot more innocent bystanders in the process, or you're actually trying to make a point. In which case your communication strategy needs a lot of work, because once you use that word nobody's going to listen to anything else you have to say. All you're going to do is piss off everyone, gay and straight and all about 99% Catholic. You cede the moral high ground. If you wanted to bring attention and condemnation to the anti-Catholic slur, you went about it exactly the wrong way because the minute you opened your mouth you did something so aggressively obnoxious that nobody was going to even remember the other thing. Not because we're self hating, but because we have a sense of proportion and balance and don't think the world revolves around us or that our non-existant persecution is the most serious thing to be discussed at all times. I mean, ask someone who's gay and Catholic if they feel more threatened/hurt/upset/likely to be beat up/likely to be denied basic rights by being called "mackerel sniffer" or "faggot." If you want, I'll fight the mackerel sniffer guy, but if I'm fighting him and I hear someone being called a faggot, I'm dropping that fight and going over there. Just because something's important to me doesn't make it the most important thing in the history of the world. My hangnail isn't as important as someone else's amputated limb, even though it hurts. This isn't rocket science. Here's a tip, don't call anyone the n-word to bring attention to how wrong it is to use the word "honkey" because your point will get lost.

bostonph said...

Anon8:12 -- I can speak to that. I'm gay and Catholic. I even went to a Catholic college.

To be honest, I've never heard the phrase "mackerel snapper" in my life. I just came from dinner at my father-in-law's house (also Catholic). No one had in my extended family had heard it either. We're not even sure what it means.

As you say, if I still read BMG, I probably would have had a few words with the "mackerel snapper" guy... right up until someone threw faggot in the mix. And that's NOT because I consider myself more gay than Catholic.

Anonymous said...

Invitation

Since I would like to read one, maybe I should try to organize one. I would like to see a soapbox-type blog for Democrats (moderate to leftist) to discuss issues of policy, organizing, and politics. The focus would be on Massachusetts but not exclusively.

So let me provide an email address. If you delete the asterisks in the following you will get my email address. Write me if you want to be part of such an effort. I promise to treat all names and addresses I get in strict confidence.

ke*nj*oe*bu@y*aho*o.com

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:57pm = KBusch

Anonymous said...

Anonymous @ 2:32 PM wrote

The Greens fielded more candidates in MA than the Republicans, thus basically making them the major opposition party in the state (unless you count all the divisions in the Democratic Party).

It is irrelevant whether the Greens fielded more candidates in MA than the Republicans. And, by the way, you are changing the topic of discussion. The topic of discussion was not Democrats vs. others, it was progressives vs. others. Not all Democrats are what you would consider progressives. As should be obvious.

The Green party isn't going to be anything other than a spoiler in the US. The Green party has apparently gained a hold in only one country--Germany. And that was because of Germany's rather unique electoral system. In Germany, in the Bundestag elections, voters cast two ballots, one for the "direkt Mandat" (the district representative) an one for the party. Half (or so) of the Bundestag are the direkt Mandaten, and the other half the party representatives. It was only because of the "party representatives" part of the election that the Green party had any representation in German politics at all, notwithstanding the fact that the Green Joschka Fischer was the most popular politician in Germany. The Gruene Partei in Germany did not achieve the election of a direkt Mandat until--the last election.

The Green party is going nowhere anywhere in the US. They are not an electoral force. They are certainly not a force in Massachusetts, regardless of the number of candidates they put up. As I pretty much said, the only opposition to a "progressive" agenda is going to come from the conservative Democrats. It appears that the progressive Democrats don't want to acknowledge that.

Carpathian @ 3:36 PM said...

raj, visit boards about climate change?

Thanks for the helpful advice. I don't know what boston phd's degree is in, but mine's in political science, not climatology.


My graduate degree is in physics, which may temper my accessibility to climate chang blogs, but it seems to me that most of them are accessible to the general public. Try Realclimate or Wunderground ("weather underground"). There are others. I don't go there to discuss political implications of climate change, just to educate myself as to the climactic implications of climate change.

bostonph @ 4:23 PM

You're free to make as big an ass of yourself as you desire. However, when you presume to lecture me and completely misrepresent my position in the process, yes, I do have the right to call you on it.

As to the first, you have a scroll bar. You would be well advised to make judicious use of it. I do.

As to the second, if you believe that I have misrepresented your position, you are also free to post chapter and verse as to how I have misrepresented your position. Be advised that we will be leaving for Germany in a few hours, and it will be unlikely that I would be able to respond to you before we return--April 25.

--raj

Anonymous said...

Raj and the scrollbar

If you want the disinterested to scroll past your stuff, you might title it "Raj sez". Otherwise, you're asking those disinterested in you to scroll to the bottom of every comment before they read it and then, if necessary, to scroll back to the top if they do. "Raj Ahead!" "Duck! Incoming Raj!" etc. might all help.

-KBusch
who uses the scroll wheel on the mouse in preference to scrollbars

bostonph said...

As to the second, if you believe that I have misrepresented your position, you are also free to post chapter and verse as to how I have misrepresented your position.

See, that's the problem. I did. So did KBusch and a very witty anonymous poster. You ignored it.

KBusch's suggestion of putting your name at the top so we know to scroll past is a good one.

Anonymous said...

a quick glance at the "users online" link at BMG at any given time will reveal upwards of a 1/3 to 1/2 of the users active are the conservatives. the "recommended posts" are mostly concocted by the conservative rabble, as well.

who wants to play whack the batshit conservative around all day long on a site that's supposed to be about, well, who knows what it's supposed to be about. if the trio over there only knew how much they're being played. oh well. can you say hijacked? i knew you could. i bet you can spell naive with the cute little dots over the "i," too.

Ryan Adams said...

I would just like to point out that just because a party can field a lot of candidates, doesn't make it a credible opposition party. Truth be told, there really isn't any major opposition party to the Dems in Massachusetts right now, however - if I had to pick one, it would be the Republicans. Why? A guy like Charley Baker could decide to run for US Senator or even Governor tommorow and have a very good shot as a Republican. No one could say the same as a green.

The republicans in this state are in shambles, but there's at least 50% of this state that wouldn't even consider voting for a green candidate on a local ballot or at the top of the ticket. As great as the greens did this past election, I can't think of any who got more than 25% of the vote. To put it in perspective, two Republicans ran for Governor this past election and both of them did better than their green opponent - who was leaps and bounds a more compelling candidate and even outright won some debates, as far as I'm concerned.

I hate to harp on the 3rd party candidates, but the fact remains true.

Anonymous said...

who wants to play whack the batshit conservative around all day long on a site that's supposed to be about, well, who knows what it's supposed to be about. if the trio over there only knew how much they're being played. oh well. can you say hijacked? i knew you could. i bet you can spell naive with the cute little dots over the "i," too.

You bet ya, Sal.

Anonymous said...

While I hesitate to interrupt this gripping episode of Inside the Actors Studio featuring raj, may I timidly suggest we return to the question at hand: What is to be done?

KB, I'd suspect the bench is deeper than your inbox might suggest. Many will hang back to see what shakes out before making a commitment.

Oh, and Ryan, don't feel left out. Your site could've been the platform we're looking for, but for the software. Despite the technical migraines they cause, Soapblox and scoop are just more community-friendly.

Anonymous said...

My Empty Inbox

@6:12 p.m. You might be right. I could just put out the shingle, comment sixty times on BMG with the URL in my signature, and we'd have so many progressives eager to post stuff that one front page alone wouldn't be enough.

Or it could turn into a sort of daily KBusch reluctantly reads the Globe with a stray comment here or there from the egg and sperm guy.

The only risk, I suppose, is exposing myself to public humiliation.

I did post my email upthread and if anyone else wants to assume the awesome duties of Co-Moderator or at least read the Globe two days a week, I'd feel more comfortable about this idea.

-KBusch

lightiris said...

...with a stray comment here or there from the egg and sperm guy.

The only risk, I suppose, is exposing myself to public humiliation.


A word of advice for successful blogging in the future: don't use the words "exposing myself" in such close proximity to "egg and sperm guy," Ken.

Seriously, I think I recognize a voice or two posting anonymously on this site, which is kind of fun, a sort of "What's My Username" for the hip blogging set. (Who the hell was Arlene Francis anyway?)

At any rate, I do have a point. I have heard some chatter about a new blog hitting the streets soon, so don't despair if you have solo performance anxiety. I think you'll find a new home without much difficulty.

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