Thursday, November 16, 2006

A public note to Mark Shea.


You don't have the moral high ground in criticizing this blog, as you not only continue to insult us, you are now consistently deleting from the comments at your blog even our most civil attempts to defend ourselves.

I'm mentioning this here because you seem unwilling even to note that you're doing this, to say nothing of an explanation why.

You do however bring up an argument that deserves a response:
The thing is, in cyberspace, the punches don't really land. So Dreher just goes on doing his thing. The only thing they succeed in doing, by their sheer nastiness, is making sure that he will never hear whatever good ideas they might have.

Compare them to, say, Disputations. Now *that's* a substantive critique. And yet nowhere does Kreitzberg feel the need to write stupid doggerel, nor to pore over Dreher's writings looking for damning details that prove him a liar, nor to make fun of his trauma on 9/11. Just a nice, clear critique of some of the problems with Dreher's presentation of CC ideas.

As an aside, I would contend that much of the substance of John da Fiesole's critique can also be found here, if a little less obvious amidst the parodies and digressions. I would argue that one of his central points -- the incoherence of Rod's belief systems -- is one of our central themes. We also have other substantive criticisms about Rod's writing, particularly around the midterm elections; I posted a comment detailing those critiques at your blog, and you deleted it, but the comment was (thankfully) copied here.

Anyway, you seem to think that our rather frequent barbs at Mr. Dreher is making a substantive response less likley: "The only thing they succeed in doing, by their sheer nastiness, is making sure that he will never hear whatever good ideas they might have."

Thing is, I don't think I've ever seen Rod offer a substantive response to John da Fiesole and his "nice, clear critique." Or to Jonah Goldberg, Kevin Holtsberry, Gilbert Meilaender, anyone else who's raised substantive objections at Rod's blog, or even to you.

The most I've seen him do is point to other people's responses to the criticisms, as he did here, in citing Daniel Larison's response to Meilaender. If you know of a more substantive response than this, I welcome you to point it out.

But if no such response exists, what then? Is satire and ridicule really too terrible a response to a political writer and newspaper editor who apparently has a pretty nasty habit of deliberately avoiding the tough but necessary job of responding personally to substantive criticism even from his peers?

If you think so, I'd love to hear you say so.



Blogger kathleen said...

let's not forget that in addition to selective deletion of comments, Shea also *bans* those whose writing he would rather his acolytes not compare and contrast to his own.

7:51 PM  
Blogger kathleen said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8:46 PM  
Blogger kathleen said...

hey, i just pulled a mark shea and deleted a comment of mine! it makes me feel very potent indeed.

9:28 PM  
Blogger kathleen said...

one more thing, mr. shea. we've been doing this for a while. earlier in the year, we provided benedict with some substantial, pointed criticism, and we did so in a civilized manner. first the criticism was ignored, then it was ridiculed, then it was insulted. maybe it's time for *you* to do a little homework and read the stuff we wrote earlier in the year. the stuff that was ignored by dreher, utterly.

dreher and his friends, you among them, demonstrate repeatedly, ad nauseaum, a dishonest and cowardly way of dealing people. it's a way of being that *deserves* mockery and derision. so eat up.

9:40 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

The main thing that burns me is that Mark lectures and hectors y'all (and I guess moi aussi) about alleged juvenile behavior---and all the while he calls y'all (among others) every nasty name in the book. What is more juvenile, vicious, and un-Christian than namecalling?

As one gentleman commented at his blog, the ContraCrunchy blog (which this fellow had never visited until today) is far less "pissy and vitriolic" than Mark's blog routinely is. Quelle ironie!

And then there's the RodMeister's penchant for vicious namecalling, which overshadows even Mark's.

Mark argues that Rod is essentially a decent chap. OK, maybe so; I don't know the guy personally. But, in all my online interactions with him, I have seen none of this alleged decency. Rather, I've seen that, whenever anyone disagrees with him or challenges him, Rod reacts with puerile, nasty namecalling. He calls his opponents everything from hotheads and knotheads (that's when he's feeling charitable, I guess) to jerks, losers, gollums, sickos, weirdos, and far worse.

If this is "decency," well, spare me. :p I'd sure hate to see INdecency.

Mark sure has a highly selective gauge of decent, moral behavior. He glosses right over Rod's nasty namecalling (preferring to task him only with incoherency and emotionalism)...while giving Kathleen grief for her doggerel.

Good grief. What on earth was Kathleen supposed to do, after being called gollum, satan, a harpy, and a witch-queen? Why is her response considered over the top, while Mark's own exceedingly nasty namecalling isn't?

ISTM Mark's blog attack on the ConCrunchies was pretty much unprovoked--they hadn't been dissing Mark or anything. Yet he tasks them for defending themselves...? Wha'?

Mark, do you even listen to yourself? Do you read your own words?


At a loss....


9:44 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Another thing. Mark asks us to consider Rod's feelings and all...but he utters not one syllable re the feelings of all those who have been at the receiving end of Rod's nasty namecalling.

Sheesh, Rod was calling me names before I really even knew who he was. It was at Amy's blog, some time ago. Seems I had the effrontery to find Garrison Keillor Not Funny. A number of other folks felt the same way. Rod then jumped in and called us all philistine ideologues who obviously didn't like Keillor because he skewered our mindless Republican values or sumpin'. We responded, "No, we just don't think he's funny." (Honestly, I didn't even KNOW anything about Keillor's politics, much less care.) Mark jumped into the fray, too, backing Rod up like a good 'un. To his credit, Mark eventually backed down and admitted that perhaps we Non-Keillor Fans were entitled to our opinions--and that said opinions might even be held in good faith. But Rod wouldn't let it go. And yes, the namecalling and insults got nasty.

Apparently, only Rod has feelings. Those countless folks whom he has viciously insulted do not. Or, leastwise, their feelings don't count. Not compared with El Rodmeister's.

Hoo-boy. Talk about your double standard.

Re Rod's tender feelings: I'm sorry, but anyone who resorts to insult and namecalling the instant one of his comboxers dares to disagree with him (and that's Rod's trademark, friends) does not merit such solicitous consideration. If Rod does not want to receive it, he should not dish it out.

(That's largely moot, anyway, since this blog is ContraCrunchy, not ContraRoddy, and the bulk of its posts address the wonky IDEAS of the Crunchy Crowd, not the person of Rod himself.)

10:01 PM  
Blogger Pauli said...

I've said it before; if people actually come over to this site from the man's links they are going to really have a hard time finding the hatred or nastiness or whatever they were supposed to find. They'll find scorn and derision for certain ideas, granted. Maybe some disdain for snobbery; that's just American, isn't it? In the case of my posts they will no doubt rightly detect unabashed buffoonery and possibly congenital laziness, underachievement and drunkenness.

But hate? (hiccup)

Maybe they'll assume there was a bunch of hate stuff and we deleted it? Hey, what's this delete key do..........

10:56 PM  
Blogger pikkumatti said...

I'll weigh in as one who was not around at the founding of this blog (this blog which now, apparently, is so influential as to be attacked -- good work!!). But this back-and-forth caused me to wonder just what in the wide world of sports is going on, and why do I stop by here.

As has been previously noted here many times, I (like the others) at first thought that there was something to the Crunchy ideas -- enjoy the little things of life, and work the land, in the face of this fast-paced Modern World. But after reading CrunchyBlog over some time, I soon realized that it wasn't quite like this. Many things that are simply a matter of taste began to take on a much larger meaning. according to Rod. We can all recite examples of our favorites, I'm sure.

It became clear to me that the true undercurrent of CrunchyCon-ism was: If you do not agree with the Crunchy One on matters of taste (e.g., not sufficiently hating ugly Churches and '70s songs to walk out of Mass), then somehow your faith is not authentic. If you do not understand that Bush is a Bad President and that Rumsfeld is Evil, then you are not really a conservative.

The Conversion Story was the Big Bang. Those of us left behind in the Church are stoopid rubes singing bad music with our heads in the sand, and the buildings are ugly, too.

Them's fightin' words. Nobody attacks my faith based on what I eat for breakfast. If CrunchyCon were a blog that had the occasional post to discuss whether Roberto Beningni is funny, that is cool and fun. But because that Manifesto by the Beloved Leader lurks in the background, one gets the feeling that it is counter-revolutionary to not think like Rod. And when there is name-dropping by Rod and the Gang along the lines of "as if one is on the wrong side of Voegelin's divide", one gets the sense that it is not only inauthentic but ignorant to disagree.

That kind of pomposity and elitism is just begging to be popped. And Rod and the Gang are always willing to hand out needles to do it with.

So I end up here, hanging out with the like-minded (scary). The people are nice, I get a few laughs, and the beer is cold. I don't go back to CrunchyBlog, because all I get is mad (plus the comboxes are just so UGLY over there now).

Now to the other question: Why do Mark Shea, Larison, and Rod Hisownself care about this blog? And why does MarkShea attack it? If the opinions here are wrong or ill-informed or misusing the tenets of New Agrarianism, then take them apart -- but that doesn't happen, does it? Instead, we are called haters and A**holes for Christ and the Church Of Rod Is Bad or whatever.

Why do they do that?

Must be because there is something true in the criticism. The Defending Elites can't take the heat, I guess.

Carry on, y'all.

5:58 AM  
Blogger Tom said...

Compare them to, say, Disputations. Now *that's* a substantive critique.

Yeah, that was a bit like being called up to the podium at a teetotallers convention just as you're knocking back a pint.

I would say that the inference of "hatred" is based on two things. First, some comments here really do cross a line of, call it civility; Cubeland Mystic is pretty good, I think, at gently pointing these out.

More obviously, though, the whole thrust of this website is, by design, antagonistic. The line about being Contra-Crunchy, not Contra-Roddy, doesn't really work, in large part because, as I've argued before, "Crunchy Conservatism" is little more than a set of Rod's current opinions.

The result is a website that is effectively directed at opposing the opinions of one man, and though that doesn't imply hatred it does strike the outside observer as peculiar, given the relative obscurity of the one man being opposed.

The natural question -- which, of course, folks here have been asking themselves for months -- is, "Why bother?" Several Contras have included in their answer something along the lines of, "He's got it coming." Again, that needn't amount to outright hatred, to wanting evil things for him, but I don't think anyone can reasonably deny that personal antipathy toward Rod is expressed on this website. (Even if it's nowhere near the only thing expressed.)

6:18 AM  
Blogger kathleen said...

tom, As Cube has *also* pointed out, indisputably in favor of the contras, dreher cloaks his wannabe cult in the mantle of politics, namely conservatism. that opens the debate wide up, much to benedict's chagrin, maybe this is was an unintended consequence of his sloppy use of words (exquisite writer my foot), but too bad for him. he'll have to learn to be more careful.

6:47 AM  
Blogger kathleen said...

" I don't think anyone can reasonably deny that personal antipathy toward Rod is expressed on this website."

so what? we're adults. shea and dreher express "personal antipathy" toward us continuously, often unprovoked, and we don't give a hoot.
(expressed personal antipathy is positively celebrated when directed at bush). the problem is its often unfunny and unpersuasive, whereas the contras are funny and are good at persuasion -- *that's* what bothers people, not the personal antipathy.

7:10 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

That kind of pomposity and elitism is just begging to be popped.


I think of this blog as sort of the 21st-century counterpart to Pope's Dunciad. ;)

No, not really. It's just a blog, after all. We're just writers....

OK, I'm getting silly. Just wanted to point out, though, that I've never seen any ContraCrunchy call anyone a satan, gollum, or witch-queen,. I still don't get tthe Sheaite tolerance for vicious namecalling. Sorry to keep harping on that...but sheesh, isn't namecalling what went on during recess in 7th grade? And Mark c alls us juvenile?

Some people have very sleective noses when it comes to smelling sulfur.

OK, sorry for beating that dead horse.

Pikku--your post was a keeper.

Tom--I agree that oit gets personal (sometimes too personal) around here. (Although, when it comes to personal invective and insult, we could take Mark's and Rod's correspondence course.) But, as you point out, Crunchyism has turned out to be little more than a projection of Rod Hisself. But how were we to know that? As Pikku says, it took a while for mpst of us to catch on to the fact that this alleged Movement was really just Rod's Whim Du Jour elevated to the status of a blinkin' religion.

Oh well. :)

Now I'm done beebling...


8:00 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

Yipes, sorry for all those typos. This Witch-Queen didn't do a spell-check--sorry!

8:01 AM  
Blogger Cubeland Mystic said...

At this point Rod has moved on from the wine post, perhaps you have too. But I don’t think everyone has realized the extent of the wound that that exchange self-inflicted. Those of us who are trying to simplify our lives take these things very seriously. Over at the wine post Joining her voice to Bubba's Watsy asks, “Is it a Crunchy thing to drink cheap wine from France?”

It may seem trivial to you all, but to me it is not. To see a big pile of Duboeuf in the middle of the floor at the grocery store really makes me pause to consider if anyone really has a visceral lasting attachment to an imported French tradition? Like next year if a the crop is wiped out by terrorists in France is anyone here in the states going to tragically miss the Beaujolais Nouveau? It’s a big load of marketing crap.

Perhaps that wine exchanged caused a lot of folks to see that this book and blog is not really a serious effort in building a pro-life culture. If you are really really into lasting and local then Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé means nothing!

Why this is important? Culture aids in helping kids make the right choices. I was hopeful back in the spring because I see a role for simplicity to help a young couple say no to abortion or abstain in the first place. The pace at which the state runs little kids from the time they are five is horrible. For what? Explain to an obstinate five year old that if we are late one more time to school the government is going to come down hard on us. He's not going to get into the right schools if we don't drive him into the ground from age five.

It is important to address these topics because we change our life’s direction based on the culture. A boy may go to law school when he really should be a carpenter. Helping to change the culture of death to a culture of life is a goal of my blog.

I would not underestimate yesterday’s post and the effect it would have on people like me who take this stuff seriously. You may not see the power of simple things but we do. And when a major proponent of simplicity and tradition advocates for a phony contrived marketing gimmick people like me are going to notice. Then we begin to see that the book was really a cynical ploy to use us to make money. No answer yet to Watsy’s question.

8:51 AM  
Blogger kathleen said...

"Gosh, Mark is friends with Rod; why do you suppose he's not mean to him?"
-- tom's comment on shea's blog

Uh tom, i'm not interested that mark is friends with rod. i'm interested in intellectual consistency, civility and maturity. i'm interested in healthy debate. the fact that they aren't -- that they are going to behave as a gang rather than as individual thinkers, sacrificing intelligent thinking and debating in the process -- means THEY are the ones setting the playground tone, not us.

maybe you should discuss your problems with us on our blog. discussing them on shea's blog is pretty inefficient, considering we're either banned or deleted at every turn.

8:53 AM  
Blogger Tom said...


Actually, I have written maybe two or three comments here to the effect that I thought people were proposing "dark motives and designs, on the part of the crunchies and others," (to quote more from my comment at CAEI!) when more direct and pedestrian motives would explain their actions.

9:43 AM  
Blogger kathleen said...

i see, so there's nothing dark about shea inventing weird, over the top insults like the "witch queen of angmar" and then linking to my personal blog profile. it's just "pedestrian" -- it's what good catholic/ex catholic friends do for each other. the dreher-shea relationship is a beacon for us all. would that i had friends like that. (actually i did have a friend like that in high school -- he wrote weird stories about me licking wine off my lips, kinda like what dreher wrote yesterday -- he ended up calling my house five times a day and i almost called the police)

10:01 AM  
Blogger SiliconValleySteve said...

"Crunchy Conservatism is little more than a set of Rod's current opinions."

If Rod is at all serious, that is the most damning criticism of all. The people here who tangle with Rod actually take him seriously on some level. If Tom is right, they are foolish for doing so.

1:16 PM  
Blogger kathleen said...

yeah, and we ask ourselves daily whether we are foolish for doing so. no joke. here's the problem: benedict and his friends keep parading in front of us with "kick me, kick me, please!" signs taped to their backs, fronts, sides and foreheads. i mean ... OKAY. WE WILL.

3:01 PM  
Blogger kathleen said...

hey, i was musing on the phenomenon that is mark shea (reading some early coalition for fog entires, which is pretty fun). i clicked shea's november 20 podcast -- wow! the man is expounding upon the improbability of extraterrestrial life. you see, he read a book about it, and he's catholic (though crucially not of the "tribal" variety, shea's pet name for cradles), so i guess he feels he has special insight into whether or not there is extraterrestrial life in the 400 billion stars of the milky way, our little galaxy, or for that matter the 80 billion galaxies detected by Hubble. man! I too would really "enjoy" being catholic on a whole 'nother level if it meant it gave me answers about every possible problem under the sun -- foreign policy, realpolitik, and now .... SPAAAACE.

seriously, this podcast sounds exactly like the sort of thing that's a knee slapper for audiences a hundred years later. those silly scientists behind SETI -- if only Shea had been blogging 20 years ago, he would have been able to set them straight.

3:19 PM  

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