Thursday, February 20, 2003

Another good post on Atrios' message boards about Jane's advocacy of violence:

Since her statements are based on a preemptive attack, that's a distinction that effectively makes no difference and reveals how incredibly problematic any preemptive attack is. First, if the "goon squad" were to have attacked the protesters preemptively they would have never seen whether the protesters intended to wreak havok. The goon squad would have acted regardless of whether the scenario would have turned into a "Seattle-like" one or remained completely peaceful.

Second, a preemptive attack is only as good as the information on which it relies. In this case, and assuming Galt actually believed violence was a possibility (as opposed to a facetious excuse for encouraging protesters to be beaten in any case) it turns out the information was false and she was encouraing preemptive violence on what turned out to be a peaceful demonstration.
Personally, I don't think that Jane was actually advocating violence against peaceful protesters, but I do think that she did not believe that protesters could remain peaceful, and wanted others to act on that assumption. Thus the distinction drawn between "peaceful" and "violent" protesters is an invented one, because the former doesn't (in Jane's mind) actually exist. She realized that was a fallacious assumption later, hence the spectacle of her eating her words in her comments section; but since the distinction can exist, Pejman (and Mark Kleiman) get to go off on Atrios for misinterpreting what she said. And they do; in Mark's case because he doesn't want to see Atrios fall prey to the same kind of generalizations and "I don't necessarily believe this but this guy does wink" games that plague Instapundit's credibility, and in Pejman's case because Atrios is a high profile left-wing blogger and Pejman is (or at least appears to be) utterly desperate to find that one great example that will finally prove to the world that the left is discredited and should exist only as a neutered, fearful, pathetic punching bag for Pejman and the rest of the right.

(I could be wrong about Jane's state of mind at the time, of course, but there's no real way of finding out; she'd deny it now, and the only evidence we have of what she thought then was what she wrote then. Such is post-modernity.)

Anybody who actually bothers to do a little research will no doubt discover that Atrios has written metric assloads of brilliant insight, and has also written assloads of weak, off, or ill-thought-out postings. Which makes him just like every other blogger (including Jane), and especially high-volume ones like him that write at least dozen entries a day. More importantly, it reveals the tendentious nature of those of his critics whom, like Pejman, ignore the one to favor the other. Perhaps it isn't the left that's dead.

Edit More good stuff. Pejman quoted Atrios as saying this:
. . . Jane has deliberately left an exaggerated impression of the number and content of the emails to turn martyr. Some sympathetic paternalistic lefties fell for her little game, and Jane no longer has to talk about her calls for pre-emptive violence and instead she can go on lying about Brad DeLong or making up "facts" and being incredibly rude to Nathan Newman in debates.
Notice those dots at the front? I didn't either, at first. I'm sure you're curious, so let's go to the actual thread, shall we? It's the same one I've been quoting in this entry. Here's the real quote:

No of course you're right. Jane has deliberately left an exaggerated impression of the number and content of the emails to turn martyr. Some sympathetic paternalistic lefties fell for her little game, and Jane no longer has to talk about her calls for pre-emptive violence and instead she can go on lying about Brad DeLong or making up "facts" and being incredibly rude to Nathan Newman in debates.
Hrm... so Atrios was agreeing with someone else. Who is this "dsq", though? Let's run through the last few postings, and see what prompted this comment:

Give over guys, "I'm getting lots of email from lurkers" is the oldest gambit on discussion boards. Am I the only sceptic left?

Aah, so Atrios was merely agreeing with "dsquared" ("dsq", I presume), who was citing a truism as valid as "you're going to get flamed" and as old as Usenet. He was not presuming to know exactly how many people Jane had received email from, but was agreeing with someone else who smelled a rat. Since Pejman's entire article argues that a reaction to a post is the fault of the original poster, Atrios is not at fault, dsquared is. Heck, even if the blame is to be shared equally Pejman is being deliberately dishonest, because he's ignoring dsquared's responsibility in order to heap blame on Atrios.

Then again, is it dsquared that is really responsible? Let's check this post by Jeff Hauser:

I want to agree with Thumb about the strong likelihood Galt is lying about the number and nature of e-mails. I wrote a bunch of posts during a six week span I spent checking out right wing blogs to see if they were as bad as I had thought they would be (e.g., ), and what is ironic in retrospect is that I found Galt's commenters among the most rabid and venemous people imaginable. If she can condone Patrick Sullivan (the site's #1 frothing freeper commenter) on her own site, then how can she condemn angry e-mail? The reality is that its okay to let Sullivan have his voice heard, and likewise I imagine she got few if any truly over the line e-mails, and those she should just either delete or mock (or both).

Jeff Hauser
So, the doubt was cast before Dsquared pushed a single key. Hauser, however, referred to a guy named "thumb". Thumb wrote a pair of lengthy posts in which he said:

I can believe she got a couple hateful emails, she advocated violence against the protesters and someone threw a brick at children, tensions are obviously raw, but I regularly read the comments at Atrios' and know of only one suspect that would write something like that (I also know of several who I would not put past pretending to be a lefty and assailing Jane to make the Left look bad). I understand enough about the laws of marketing and return (and have built some very successful businesses around that knowledge) to know that Jane is probably grossly exaggerating the number and is using this to go into Wounded Martyr Mode. For her to get "several hundred" of Atrios' readers to actually take the time to find her email and compose a response at all tells me that there had to be many thousands of people who read the link, thought similarly about Jane, and didn't email. If only 10% of Atrios' readers bother to even hit the link to any given full text I find it extremely difficult to fathom that so many, who never post in the comments section in the first place, would suddenly, in mass, email Jane in the kind of semi-coherent diatribe she describes.

1) Atrios is too much of a target rich environment for Jane's single post to stand out for that kind of incredible response, and 2) using Atrios' commenters as a sampling of his readers also suggests that the responses she claims to have received are not typical to the average Atrios reader, which seems to be stacked mostly with professionals. This leads to my next issue; how does she know that these were people who got the story from Atrios? How many hundreds of blogs post links they found at Atrios, and did one of them, a kind of Lucianne/freerepublic/newsmax of the left (of which Atrios isn't) put out a call to mass email Jane? Even then I have my doubts that so many would take the time to email such a response. I'm sorry, but she makes a statement regarding using "a two-by-four and giv[ing] a demonstration of the value of pre-emptive violence" in reference to the protesters, and then someone throws a brick from a moving car into a group of children protesting. Her mea culpa may have been sincere, if short of an actual apology, but her reaction seems a disingenuous twofer, a convenient excuse for a break while at the same time using the fallout to score a few generic jabs at both the left ("made me remember the reasons I quit the Left in the first place") and the popular Atrios for the gall to point out, by her own words, a "not a very-well considered thing to say". I would say so, especially considering the timing.
Ahh... so now we get the complete picture. Atrios was agreeing with dsquared. Dsquared was making a pithy comment based on the arguments of Hauser and Thumb, whom both cast very legitimate doubt on Jane's martyr act and pointed out several key ideas that completely contradicted Pejman's assertions. Pejman MUST have seen these posts, because they preceded Atrios' own post, which Pejman quoted.

Therefore there's only one explanation: Pejman must have deliberately ignored said posts that Atrios would have read as influences on Atrios' comment, ignores the clear contradictions they present to his own arguments about the left's ability to be civil and about the intelligence of Atrios' readership, and asserts that Atrios is responsible for the actions of his readers, despite the clear (and ignored) chain of commentary here.

So which is it, Pej? Should we look at the inspiration for the action, or should we let people be responsible for their own words and own actions? I'm deeply curious, because right now, the only answer I'm seeing is "pick whichever happens to be convenient".

That can't be the answer, can it?

No comments:

Post a Comment