Populism and the mob

Populism and the mob
: In the most lively discussion on the Reagan mini cancellation below, some folks think they’re tweaking me, the self-proclaimed populist, because I’m complaining about the mob that went after the network to get this show killed.

No gotcha here, guys.

Populism in weblogs is about everyone having a voice now, about listening to many viewpoints and having the opportunity to answer, about having the platform from which correct mistakes, about having the opportunity to convince an audience, about having a choice.

But this mob was about shutting somebody up, killing a voice, not listening, not allowing others to hear. That is dangerous.

I have not seen the Reagan movie so — unlike so many others — I will not comment on its quality or veracity because I cannot credibly comment. But knowing its venue and its source, I have little doubt that it’s a stinker.

I’m not afraid of that stinker. Let it air. Let the bloggers and critics and columnists and talk-show hosts — all of whom will add up to a much larger audience — have their say in response. Let them use this as an opportunity to saint Reagan faster than Mother Theresa. Fine. I’m not scared of that, either.

But I am scared of pressure groups — mobs — triumphally stopping somebody from saying something because they don’t like what will be said.

That is antithetical to free speech in a democracy.

But more to the point, it is — or it should be — abhorrent in this weblog world, where we believe in the value of all viewpoints having their opportunity to be heard, where we believe in the power of publishing now in the hands of the people and the equal power of linking (or not) and responding to what is said.

This time you kill the cheesey Reagan movie. OK. But what about the next time, when an opposing mob sees what happened here and manages to kill, say, an anti-Clinton movie; I can hear you now screaming “censorship” and “media bias.” Or what if people try to shut you up, blogger, because they don’t like what you say or how you say it? Argue: Yes! Absolutely! Muzzle? No!

That’s not what democracy is about. That’s not what weblogs are about. That’s what mobs are about.