: I’m officially bored with the Easterbrook flap now. Nonetheless, there are some more interesting links here and there.
And in my comments below, Anil fires a scud against warbloggers over this, launching from my suggestion that we need to meter our response to blog missteps:
“Why don’t we try a little forgiveness?” Well, I wish people would, but I think there’s a sad/broken dynamic in the political part of the blogosphere (mostly warbloggers) where everyone wants to participate in groupthink. There’s a lot of reasons, ranging from the human and understandable want to participate in a larger trend, to the ego-driven (and also understandable) hope that talking about the topic du jour will result in a link from Instapundit.
The unfortunate result of such things, and I’ve been on Easterbrook’s side of it, though fortunately never to the extent of having it cost me my job, is that people pile on before they’ve thought critically about something without realizing the repercussions of all their ranting. I worry about Easterbrook, not for his career, but for the personal impact it has to have a lot of people impugning his motives even before they’ve even stopped to really read his words and understood them.
Warbloggers, heal thyselves!
Being a warblogger, I return fire with a Patriot missile:
Anil: You’re dabbling in a bit of blogger bigotry yourself. You’re lumping people together under a label for more convenient attack. That’s lazy and rather unsophisticated.
I started as a warblogger. But I write about many other things now. And I did not jump on the Easterbrook pile-on until it was time to comment on ESPN’s action. Many other
webwarbloggers had nothing to say about this. But you’re attacking everyone as if we were a lock-step army, though you know better: We’re hardly that. And I think you should be happy about all these “warbloggers,” for they are what made the whole of the blogosphere much bigger — and a much better business.
: Meanwhile, Leon Wieseltier, literary editor of The New Republic and a fine essayist, says in the LA Times:
“…insofar as Gregg’s comments impute Jewish motives for everything that Jews do, insofar as they suggest that everything any Jew does is intrinsically a Jewish thing, they are objectively anti-Semitic. But Gregg Easterbrook is not an anti-Semite and the suggestion that the New Republic is in any way receptive to anti-Semitism is the most ludicrous thing I’ve heard since the election of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Gregg typed his way into a wildly offensive formulation, into classic anti-Semitic code.”
Part of that, said Wieseltier, can be attributed “to the hubris of this whole blogging enterprise. There is no such thing as instant thought, which is why reflection and editing are part of serious writing and thinking, as Gregg has now discovered.”
To which Andrew Sullivan replies:
Hubris? I think it would be hubris if one believed that somehow blogging is a superior form of writing to all others, or somehow revealing of the truth in ways that other writing isn’t. But I know of no bloggers who would argue that. It’s a different way of writing, one that acknowledges that it is imperfect and provisional and subject to revision. In that sense, it makes far fewer claims than, say, a lengthy essay published in the literary press. But, by acknowledging its limitations, it is also, I’d argue, sometimes more honest than other forms of writing, in which the writer pretends to finality, to studied perfection, to considered and re-considered nuance or argument, when he is often winging it nonetheless…. Blogging is now a part of literature. And it deserves to be understood rather than simply dismissed.
Note this trend: The flap is now not just Easterbrook’s. Some want to make it weblogs’ flap.
Those who have problems with this new form are using this to point to its weakness. Well, newspapers, magazines, TV, radio, and books all have weaknesses and all have flawed products, but that doesn’t negate their value. Weblogs are new. And weblogs’ flaws are an essential part of their very definition. I agree with Sullivan that their immediacy yields greater honesty. But their dialogue also yields correction and reconsideration (more than any other medium). If speed is our disadvantage, it is also our advantage: Easterbrook was criticized in this medium faster than he would have been in any other and he apologized far faster than any institution of media would have.
I call that a strength of weblogs.
: Yes, everybody’s using this incident to beat their own drums. Surprise, surprise: Larry Lessig is using it to beat Disney.