Internet Polemics

Please read these two articles:

1. Taibbi has a good nose for BS and the rot underlying received wisdom. If you feel uncomfortable with cop-blaming, focus on the parts of this article that cover the statistical flim-flammery that’s been inflicted on the police by city politicians and the legal trickery used to con people who are arrested out of their rights to redress. This stuff doesn’t help the police stay safe and do their jobs any more than it helps the communities they’re serving.

2. Taibbi’s coverage of financial market mayhem in 2009 was influential. And there’s the Kwak article. Which isn’t as satisfying but illustrates the lack of effort being made to punish Taibbi’s “vampire squids.”

3. I understand that a “Wire” reference is obligatory in any commentary about Baltimore and policing, but somehow it also wound up in the Kwak article.

4. Speaking of which, reading Terrell Starr reminds me to point out that “The Wire” was not a documentary. Matt Taibbi is a good reporter but he’s not telling the story from the inside either. Not that he has to be, but it would be nice if major media outlets were hiring more people who could.

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The Public Sphere

One of my Howard County blogpals went home Monday night to find an anonymous nasty-gram full of unpleasant personal remarks and parenting commentary waiting for her. I don’t know what to say except how sorry I am for her and her family. That kind of personal intrusion is creepy and inappropriate and frightening.

It’s hard to keep the personal and public separate in blogging about public matters and their impact on personal life (or personal matters and their impact on one’s views on the public issues of the day). In my case that’s mostly meant trying to strike a balance between my desire for self-expression and the desire of those I care about not to be quoted or characterized for blog-matic effect or blog-medic relief. I also have to be mindful of commenting on matters of official interest for professional purposes. This means I self-censor a fair amount, and it kind of dampens my blogging zeal.

Homegirl’s blog is much newsier than mine ever was and has a higher profile than mine; she posts every day and comments on issues in the public sphere, plus she ran for local office a couple of years ago. I admire her bravery and her commitment to public engagement for putting herself and her opinions out there. I wish I had her courage. I hope this anonymous letter crap does not dissuade her from continuing to do her thing. It’s bad enough to leave anonymous blog comments or troll someone on social media, but that’s at least a public reaction in a public forum. Scoping out a woman’s family and sending an anonymous letter to their home as a reaction to what she writes is invasive and, to put it mildly, disproportionate; dude (or dudette), she doesn’t owe you anything, what the hell?