: I’m officially bored with the Easterbrook flap now. Nonetheless, there are some more interesting links here and there.
Jay Rosen got Killing the Buddha‘s Jeff Sharlett to write about it; he’s pissed.
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.
Bored with it, are you? Sorry, you cannot help to start a fire and then say that you are bored when a building burns down.
I am not bored with it. I am appalled, disgusted and revolted by it. Although you think this is something of no consequence, there are always consequences.
What Easterbrook wrote was not anti-Semitic. He said nothing that rabbis have not said for ages. That the human brain is receptive to suggestion, and that constant violent imagery is corrupting. He said that all movie executives are greedy. He said that Jewish movie executives have reason to be particularly concerned that the violent garbage they sell might have deleterious consequences for Jews.
This is not anti-Semitism, it’s the truth. And it hit a nerve. That’s why people screamed.
What’s really appalling is to see that Easterbrook caved in and apologized to one of the chief arsonists, Meryl Yourish, in public. Thus undercutting the moral position of the silent majority of the Jewish community who don’t think that he owed anyone an apology. We stand by silent and appalled. She gets traffic.
No one will forget about this. You, Wieseltier (who Yourish called a “fucking idiot” in another post, but who seems to have metamorphosed into a quotable sage for expedient purposes), Yourish, Totten, and others have contributed to the poisoning of easy communication between Christians and Jews.
Friends don’t stand on ceremony. They speak freely, and to paraphrase George Eliot, separate the wheat from the chaff with a breath of kindness. Instead of saying, “Hey Easterbrook, let’s talk about this as friends,” a lynch mob practically asked his Jewish boss to fire him. The inevitable happened and now they are sorry. They are arsonists, childish arsonists. And like children, they have no shame.
Admit it Jeff, you will not express yourself freely on a subject having to do with Jews, because the Easterbrook example is in the back of your mind. The lynch mob has introduced an “us” v. “them” where there wasn’t before.
PS Easterbrook may not be an anti-Semite. But for apologizing to a Jewish Al Sharpton (Meryl Yourish) he has publicly revealed himself as a coward.
One point about the blogging form, and it’s been raised elsewhere I believe, Easterbrook, for whatever reasons, decided to NOT take advantage of the form and did NOT take advantage of the speed of blogging as the complaints started rolling in. A day and a half, two days before the apology was made.
He should have engaged his critics immediately. That’s not just blogging smart, that’s standard PR damage control.
I understand the big-name bloggers get a lot of readers and are wary of comments sections filling up quickly or being trolled, but sometimes it might make sense to have comments. I’m much less likely to write huge screeds about another blogger on my own site if he or she has a comment section where I can mouth off immediately.
Lessig wrote that he thought that a boss firing an employee for making a critical remark is an “offense to society.”
What planet is Lessig living on?
I just wrote on his blog:
“Bosses have a right to fire employees for good reason, bad reason–or no reason.
That’s the free market system, isn’t it?”
The only employees who have freedom of speech on the job are members of bargaining units, and only under certain circumstances.
This whole situation is getting crazier & crazier. An employee can be fired for almost any reason by a boss (except for immutable characteristics like race). No one has ever said that a workplace is a free speech environment. The arsonists should have known that before they threw their incendiary bombs.
Isn’t it funny how the silent majority always seems to agree with whatever Diana says?
MANIFESTO OF THE BLOGGERS
A spectre is haunting journalism — the spectre of Bloggers. All the powers of old reactionaries have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this spectre.
Where are the Bloggers in opposition that have not been decried as troublemakers by their opponents in power? Where are the Bloggers in opposition that have not hurled back the branding reproach of troublemaker, against the more advanced pundits, as well as against its reactionary adversaries?
Two things result from this fact:
I. Bloggers are already acknowledged by all journalists to be a power.
II. It is high time that Bloggers should openly, in the face of the whole world, publish their views, their aims, their tendencies, and meet this nursery tale of the spectre of Bloggers with a manifesto of their own.
To this end, Bloggers of various personalities have assembled in Harvard Law School and sketched the following manifesto, to be published in the Typepad, Movable Type and Blogger.
– – snipped for brevity – –
In short, Bloggers everywhere support every revolutionary blog against the existing journalistic order of things.
In all these blogs, they bring to the front, as the leading question in each, the accountability question, no matter what its degree of development at the time.
Finally, they labour everywhere for fisking of all op-eds.
The Bloggers disdain to conceal their views and aims. They openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the scrutiny of all existing journalistic endeavours. Let the journalists tremble at a Blogger revolution. The Bloggers have nothing to lose but their modems. They have a world to win.
Bloggers of all specialisations, unite!
Tongue in cheek apologies to
Karl Marx and Frederick Engels
Here’s an irony in the whole flap, which has not been noticed to my knoweldge: “Big Bad Eisner” apparently didn’t like Kill Bill’s violence and was annoyed with Weinstein for making it. I don’t know their contractual agreement, but I am certain Weinstein has greenlight power over Miramax films up to a certain number (maybe any number–who knows?). So it was Harvey’s movie that Easterbrook attacked Eisner about, implying Michael was a greedy Jew. It’s no surprise Gregg got fired for that. In my initial post, I said Easterbrook didn’t know anything about how movies were made. Evidently he didn’t look into the question at all. This is par for the course for people when making racial stereotypes.
Another point: about Weinstein. He is greedy but much more for Oscars than for money. As most know, he has more of them than any studio executive in recent memory, some via Tarantino. To think he wouldn’t greenlight a Tarantino movie is ridiculous. He would have been accused of censorship (at least by Quentin).
If you think that Easterbrook is engaging in “racial stereotypes” do you think that The New Republic should fire him, given that he engaged in “racial stereotyping” there, and not on ESPN?
If not, why not?
I don’t know why Mr. Simon should want TNR to fire him when he didn’t make any indications that he wanted ESPN (or anyone else Easterbrook worked for) to fire the writer.
Given that Easterbrook engaged in “racial stereotyping” I’d like to know whether Simon thinks that Easterbrook should be fired from the place where he actually engaged in the “racial stereotyping.”
Thanks for the answer but I asked Simon. My question stands. I’m curious.
Watch out, Roger, she’s loaded for bear!
Sorry, Diana, I don’t do firings. THat’s not my gig. I directed a couple of movies and couldn’t fire people who screwed up a lot worse than Easterbrook. Firing is not on my personal emotional brain scan. CEOs on the other hand… they do firings.
I know that you don’t run TNR. Your answer was an evasion, a transparent and not-too-clever one at that.
I asked whether you would be in favor of firing someone who engages in “racial stereotyping” from the magazine where he engaged in same. Are you?
If you don’t answer, then I’ll take it that silence indicates assent, and that you are in favor of firing Easterbrook.
And now it turns out that Michael Eisner is organizing a behind-the-scenes campaign to destroy Easterbrook’s to-be-published book. It’s easy to kill a book. You call this “so yesterday”, Jeff? Oh, no, it hasn’t even begun.
I suggest that everyone who smeared Easterbrook buy his book. And don’t put it on your wish-list, Ms. Sharpton. Buy it yourself. It’s the least you could do.
See Easterbrook’s email at:
“Friends don’t stand on ceremony. They speak freely, and to paraphrase George Eliot, separate the wheat from the chaff with a breath of kindness.”
I await the day, Diane, when you take your own advice. You are one of the most vitriolic commenters in the blogosphere, and can also be very cutting and contemptuous in person.
If we’re talking personal responsibility, Diana, let’s talk personal responsibility. I didn’t write the words that got Easterbrook fired. He did.
Parse that any way you like, it still comes out that Easterbrook wrote the offensive paragraph. If he hadn’t written it, there would have been no subsequent controversy.
If you’re going to be honest about things, admit that up front. Otherwise, don’t talk to me about honesty, responsibility, or anything else, for that matter.
I won’t hold my breath waiting.
Ha! High five, Diana!
By the way, THIS:
“I await the day, Diane, when you take your own advice. You are one of the most vitriolic commenters in the blogosphere, and can also be very cutting and contemptuous in person.”
…coming from Judith Weiss/Yehudit, who’s gotten herself kicked off of multiple blogs (including Bill Quick’s) for vicious and cutting and uncalled-for comments, has got to be just about the most ironic thing I’ve ever seen anywhere.
Judith, you and Meryl are the two biggest female bullies of the blogosphere. You use typical female bullying tactics too: catty comments, freighted silences, name-calling, talking behind a person’s back–it’s really rather pathetic. You’re both great writers, but the two of you both need to grow the hell up, and learn something about common human decency.
Oh, did I add humiliation, isolation, and weaselly attacks that can’t be defended against?
Yeesh. This entire Easterbrook affair has exposed an ugly side to Judaism: a hypersensitivity to anything that remotely even looks anti-semitic so bad that you can’t even say “Jew” without giving someone somewhere offense–and a mentality that fosters a near witch-hunt atmosphere.
I’m quite busy nowadays with personal responsibilities, so I just don’t have time other than a few offhand comments on other folks’ blogs, but while we are on the subject….
I don’t believe you got Easterbrook fired. Because I don
Speaking of ugly sides… oh, hello, Dean.
Jeff, sorry to foul up your comments with this chldish garbage. I’ll stop now, no doubt to be met by taunts of running away by the cool kids who won’t let me eat lunch with them.
“This entire Easterbrook affair has exposed an ugly side to Judaism: a hypersensitivity to anything that remotely even looks anti-semitic so bad that you can’t even say “Jew” without giving someone somewhere offense–and a mentality that fosters a near witch-hunt atmosphere.” Dean Esmay
Wow Dean, now that’s a great example of rational Christian thought. I guess after crying over Yehudit & Meryl no longer talking to you, you’re now at the rage stage. Good to see you don’t take you emotional difficulties out on all Jews.
I’m not a Christian, EBG. But I am saying what a whole lot of other people have said, including more than a few Jews I know, thanks very much.
And I’m not crying about anything, thanks. In fact, I couldn’t be happier these days. :-)
“…coming from Judith Weiss/Yehudit, who’s gotten herself kicked off of multiple blogs (including Bill Quick’s) for vicious and cutting and uncalled-for comments, has got to be just about the most ironic thing I’ve ever seen anywhere.”
This is simply slander. I stopped reading and commenting at Bill Quick about a year ago, but was never “kicked off.” I await Dean’s list of other blogs I have been “kicked off ” of. But I’m not going to hold my breath, because he won’t be able to find any.
Dean Esmay has been spreading slander about me on his own blog and comment threads for several months now, and it has to stop. I am not talking about insults, I am talking about spreading lies.
Slander, Dean – get it? That’s actionable.
Meanwhile I would appreciate it if Jeff would note when blog banter and disagreement slides into libel.
“Judith, you and Meryl are the two biggest female bullies of the blogosphere. You use typical female bullying tactics too: catty comments, freighted silences, name-calling, talking behind a person’s back–it’s really rather pathetic. You’re both great writers, but the two of you both need to grow the hell up, and learn something about common human decency.”
This characterization would surprise every blogger I know, and would really surprise the vast reaches of the blogosphere which never heard of either of us. Earth to Dean: the blogosphere is a lot bigger than thee or me – let’s have some perspective here.
Behave, people. I will not have people making personal attacks here, on my weblog. You’re all making this look like a night at Liza Minelli’s. Have some respect for each other and me or at least take your fight elsewhere. This is adding nothing, but nothing to a mature and intelligent debate on serious issues. It’s childish and stupid. So stop, please. You all should know better.
“You have followed me from one comment line to another, not to disagree with my points in an intellectual fashion, but to say ugly things about me. You did it on
Sorry, Jeff, your most recent post crossed mine. I’m done.
My apologies to the host. May I suggest that the entire thread be nuked?
(For the record, I fear no lawsuits, for I have said nothing actionable.)
I’m not apologizing for anything, since I did not make one personal comment. And I don’t like being lumped in with people who do.
I would suggest that you remove comments that follow the one posted by Yehudit at October 22, 2003 12:27 AM, since it was that one that initiated the slide towards the gutter.
“I would suggest that you remove comments that follow the one posted by Yehudit at October 22, 2003 12:27 AM, since it was that one that initiated the slide towards the gutter.”
You’re sure it wasn’t this one?
“PS Easterbrook may not be an anti-Semite. But for apologizing to a Jewish Al Sharpton (Meryl Yourish) he has publicly revealed himself as a coward.”
Sorry, couldn’t resist. Okay, I’ll stop now.
We’re all very silly people at times, aren’t we?
All of us, I mean.
Those whose paths are not the same do not consult one another.
Suits and religions rupture if you force them on.