Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Gaming the Table.

I believe that, in addressing those who comment at their blogs for the supposed sake of civility, both Rod Dreher and Mark Shea are creating the opportunity to change the rules of the debate so as to discount the most credible criticisms against them.

Rod supports "disagreeing agreeably," by which he means, in part, preventing in the comments threads an atmosphere "polluted by personal vitriol or dragging old disputes constantly into new threads, and in an inflammatory way."
But those who cannot disagree agreeably -- those who cannot limit their critical remarks to a person's ideas, and not that person -- are not welcome here to spoil things for those who can. And they will have their posts deleted.
Notice that criticism of Rod's hypocrisy could now plausibly be censored out of existence. If Rod mentions that Ted Kennedy's foreign policy positions aren't good for the country, bringing up the fact that he supported the Democrats in Congress this past November could constitute an "old dispute" and criticism about Rod as a person rather than his ideas -- or rather, the idea du jour.

This same week, it appears that Mark Shea has left open the possibility of banning from his comment threads those who dare to accuse him of dishonesty.
I try to run fairly loose comboxes where people can speak their minds. My basic request is civility. I also try to be honest. That is, I think lying is a sin and I try to tell the truth as best I can. That means that errors I may emit on this blog are due to a) intellectual mistakes on my part (i.e., I got my facts wrong) or b) miscommunication (among other things, my informal tone and tendency to make jokes or hyperbolize are being misread). In point of fact, I think lying a sin and think the charge of lying a very serious one. I do not make it against others unless I think there is serious reason to do so. I tend to assume that it is better to attribute falsehoods to stupidity than malice unless the likelihood of stupidity is so grossly improbably that it becomes preposterous to do so. (Hence my reluctant conclusion that the Prez is lying when he tells us he has never authorized torture: I don't think him so stupid as to not know that cold cells, strappado and waterboarding are not torture.)

Why do I mention this? Because I find that some of my guests have this nasty habit of accusing me lying or dishonesty, often at the drop of a hat. There are few things that will more quickly convince me of *your* malice than that, and thereby persuade me to ban you as a Person I Can Do Without Who Never Will Be Missed. [emphasis mine]
Will Mark ban people who accuse him of lying "at the drop of a hat" or any such accusation? Will he even admit that he -- like everyone else, myself included -- sometimes lies? He only attributes errors that he "may" make are due to intellectual mistakes and miscommunication.

I even asked the question myself, but was accused of creating a Catch 22.

"Let me put it to you this way: If you appoint yourself as one of my Combox Star Chamber judges whose task shall henceforth be to catch me in my words and prove me a liar, I shall appoint myself somebody who finds you to be a Person I Can Do Without Who Never Will be Missed."

Will any criticism about Shea's honesty count as acting as a "Combox Star Chamber judge"? He never says.

I hope I'm wrong in both cases, that the opportunities Rod and Mark are creating were unintended and will not be seized. That remains to be seen; but what can be seen right now is that, if they did want to create a plausible mechanism by which to justify their crushing of dissent to create a coccoon of sycophantic ego-stroking, they're doing the right things to accomplish it.

And as a final note, they're also doing the right things to extend that bubble beyond their own domains: it's not enough to delete dissenters from your own blog, you have to discredit as "obsessostalkers" those who create arenas, however modest, to offer their opposing views.

EDIT: On the other hand, Mark just recently displayed a tremendous amount of class in criticizing a brazen attempt to threaten our Diane.

I was overly harsh to Mark in the original version of this blog entry, and I've deleted the most egregious comment.

It may be that my worst fears for Rod and Mark with the recent announcements will prove to be unfounded.

I sincerely hope so.


Blogger kathleen said...

I believe I can safely conclude from perusing mark shea's latest blog installments that not only is he fat (as he claims), but his blood pressure is freaking sky high.

2:39 PM  
Blogger kathleen said...

PS Shea needs a little guillotine emoticon (right word?) he can ban people with, like gawker.com has. Josiah, hope your head rolls over this way.

2:40 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Given the fact that Rod has vindictively and pettily had me banned (guillotined? where's that bagel-slicer when you need it?) because I had the temerity to object oh so nicely to being called a messed-up pig, I think I can safely say that Bubba's worst fears are confirmed. Leastwise in Rod's case.

Diane, overriding bans with the agility of a nerdy teenager

2:56 PM  
Blogger kathleen said...

getting to the substance of this post, bubba, there is a strange and amazing symmetry going on here. why is shea having this particular hissy fit this the same week as dreher?

clearly we have got them nailed -- they are desperate enough to know that they are pinned to the wall, and their only recourse is to behave like tyrants and find excuses for doing so. clearly moves of desperation on both their parts. even the acolytes don't seem to buying it. who will be left to comment on either of their blogs that can offer something more than the supportively anodyne?

3:08 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Carpenter said...

The following is a comment I posted to Mr. Shea's blog as Thomas a'Becket. I did this because I did not want him to discount my views outright as he always has.

Mr. Shea:

Let us say we follow your advice and move on. Who holds Mr. Dreher and his colleagues in the MSM accountable for what they say or do? They are great about holding Bishop X or Cardinal Y accountable for their actions. Why cant they hold the same standard for themselves? For instance, last year CNN aired video of Iraqi Snipers killing American soldiers which they obtained from the Insurgents. Talk about an advertisement for Liberal media bias. Do you know what Mr. Dreher and his colleagues said about that? Nada! Also, why is it no one covered the ethical lapses in the Democratic congress? Examples would be John Murtha of Abscam or how William Jefferson of Louisiana was elected even with $90,000 in his freezer? Yes people get carried away on the blog. However, people would not have the need if some balanced coverage was applied to the media.
Thomas a' Becket


Your stupid fake names are a pain in the ass, as are you. Feel free to hold Dreher accountable all you like. But for cryin' out loud, use your real name and learn how to separate the wheat from the chaff. Also, try getting some perspective. You give me (and others) the creeps with your Dreher obsession.

Yes, this man sounds like a "Catholic and Enjoying It" doesn't he?

3:21 PM  
Blogger kathleen said...

oh, that's a charming new thread on mark shea's blog, i see. still obsessing about us mark? obsessostalking in fact?

whatever beef you have with the quoted exchange between myself and demoslider is most certainly in the eye of the beholder. apparently, you too have some suspicions about dreher, or else you would wonder what the heck we are talking about. a soul as pure as the driven snow, clearly you are not.

talk about obsessostalkers getting "creepy".

3:52 PM  
Blogger kathleen said...

hey mark shea, why do you have such a big problem with me personally? why do men who make (even more explicit) suggestions about rod's psychological makeup not get the full name treatment on your blogposts -- repeatedly?

smart women. skeery. soooooo skeery.

3:58 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Carpenter said...


It is not just smart women he does not like. It is more people who do not role in his same clique. It is like in High School if you are not with the "Cool Kids" (Mark, Rod, Dom B etc) you are a nobody.

4:30 PM  
Blogger Bubba said...

Off-topic, but if the Saddam verdict was timed to help Bush, I wonder if Rod thinks the Libby trial is timed to hurt him.

5:43 PM  
Blogger Mark said...


Thanks for the edit. It is much appreciated.

5:59 PM  
Blogger kathleen said...

Bubba, Shea displays a "tremendous amount of class"? tremendous? not quite. sorry, but i disagree. his tone and vitriol create the kind of atmosphere that egg-on sycophantic comboxers to make such threats in the first place. when it's a toss up whether or not Shea will approve of, tacitly approve of, or reject, such threats, then one has to put part of the blame on his blog-hosting.

he is simply not as bad as he could be. shea still ain't that great. i think you are playing too nice, bubba.

6:32 PM  
Blogger Andy Nowicki said...

For whatever it's worth, Bubba (I know I'm not a regular around here), I tend to agree with Kathleen. I think you might just rue the day you ever decided to be concilatory towards Shea.

7:01 PM  
Blogger Pauli said...

I think that Bubba did the right thing in ultimately letting it go (i.e., the "That said, note again the presupposition of malice...." line). The point I take is that when 2 people actually communicate in a dialogue even if (gasp) YES, it's in a blog combox then the outcome is better than the shouting.

Of course, Bubba is always willing to have a dialogue unlike some other folks, and to Andy and Kathleen's point, we weren't the ones doing the shouting at the first.

Furthermore, Bubba's edit is just more evidence on the pile that we're not over here seething with rage, unable to control our supposed hatred, etc.

On that note, everybody here should read Andy's great piece on hist own "banishment" -- if you haven't already. It's well-written; sadly it will sound pretty familiar to some here.

7:51 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Whew. The Nowicki piece is indeed illuminating. Apparently reason and nuance count for nothing; one is condemned merely for suggesting that a whackjob may not be utterly evil, even if one does not personally share the whackjob's wacky views. Whew.

I will never understand people who hate, despise, insult, name-call, and take petty vengeance upon others in the name of opposing "hate." E.g., this lovely line: "Your stupid fake names are a pain in the ass, as are you." Gosh. I can just feel the love.

I can't take any more of this. Time for beddy-bye.

10:26 PM  
Blogger Mark said...


Unfortunately for you, your blogmates are illustrating the adage, "Cursed are the peacemakers." But I do appreciate it nonetheless. Good luck trying to be a voice of reason here. God help you if you ever cross these guys in a serious way. They'll eat you alive.

10:37 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Carpenter said...

Mark said:

Unfortunately for you, your blogmates are illustrating the adage, "Cursed are the peacemakers." But I do appreciate it nonetheless. Good luck trying to be a voice of reason here. God help you if you ever cross these guys in a serious way. They'll eat you alive.

I guess Mark if we where "sycophantic comboxers" to Marky-Mark Shea we would be more to your liking wouldn't we?

1:28 AM  
Blogger Andy Nowicki said...

Thanks for the plug, Paulie.

Meantime, everyone should note Shea's triangulation efforts here in his last message to Bubba. Typical.

5:22 AM  
Blogger kathleen said...

Mark, you just couldn't stop yourself, could you? pathetic.

it's interesting to me that your most conciliatory tone is to the non-catholic on this blog. very interesting indeed.

5:25 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

Good grief, Mark Shea. I have never been known to eat anyone alive. I am a perfect pussycat. :)

But Mark, may I ask you one simple question? I asked it of Rod, too, and he responded by banning me. But I truly believe you are a far nicer person than he. I have seen copious evidence of your Christian charity, e.g., your willingness to apologize. So, I trust that you will actually answer my question rather than respond with Rod-like venom and vituperation. So, here goes:

Can you honestly not see why someone might object to being called nasty names?

I repeat:

Can you honestly not see why someone might object to being called nasty names?

For me, this is the main issue. The name-calling. Others here may have other beefs with Rod. I don't, so much. I could not care less whether someone prefers organic sprouts to Burger King. But I do care a lot when said someone vilifies and demonizes everyone who dares to express a persistent preference for Burger King.

Does Rod (or even you sometimes) require provocation before letting loose with the epithets? No. Especially in Rod's case, all that's required is that the comboxer Dare to Disagree. Then the gloves come off, the Marquess of Queensbury Rules are abandoned, and the nasty name-calling begins.

Please try to understand, Mark. You may feel like name-calling's justified, but I assure you it isn't. It is unChristian. When wielded against women, it is also ungentlemanly and unchivalrous. It is also potentially deeply hurtful (not everyone on the Internet is thick-skinned). And it is immature. It is the favorite tactic employed by playground bullies in middle school.

Why, why, why is this so hard to understand? Why does Rod deflect everything onto everyone but himself, refusing to so much as acknowledge that his vicious name-calling may be Not Exactly a Good Thing? Why do you also, lately, do nothing but accuse and vilify, refusing to acknowledge that perhaps Jonathan Carpenter is a human being and not merely a whipping-boy object of your insults and name-calling?

Why can you, Mark, and Rod not see what is so obvious to so many (and not just to some of the comboxers here): The name-calling is the issue.

5:51 AM  
Blogger kathleen said...


so funny, Shea popping up on this blog to say, "thanks, good show" to the one contra who could least unreasonably (but still not reasonably) be accused of "obsessostalking" dreher. (in that bubba is almost singlehandedly keeping this blog going, at least post-wise) What's your real issue with us, shea? that we haven't invited you into our clubhouse?

6:21 AM  
Blogger Pauli said...

I'm going to be blogging at a new site, dedicated to criticizing one person: me. Personal attacks welcome.

9:27 AM  
Blogger Jonathan Carpenter said...

Thanks for the support Diane!

5:26 PM  

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