One of the greatest disappointments I have had about blogging is that after putting time and thought into a serious post which I hope will generate serious discussion, some reader will comment and dwell on some particular in the post while ignoring my argument altogether or attack me for something I didn’t say or bring up some beef he has with the Bush Administration, the GOP, or conservatives in general. And in some cases, either our defenders (or even Bruce or myself) will take issue with that critic and then lead the discussion away from the subject of the post. The conversation that I had hoped to engender would, alas, not come to pass.
Not until 75 hours after I had asked for examples of Log Cabin criticizing Democrats when a reader, 59 comments into the thread, provided one. This is not to say that we haven’t had good discussions without ad hominems which have gone off topic (from the post to which they’re attached) because we have, even in the thread to that post on Log Cabin. It’s just to lament that we don’t always generate the kind of discussion this medium can and (in my mind) should inspire.
Earlier today, I deleted a comment where the critic refused to address the substance of the post, misrepresented my position in a recent post and then smirkingly recited a list of Democratic talking points. That wasn’t the only thing he misrepresented. Clearly, like a number of our critics, this reader, who hides behind his anonymity, is more interested in attacking us than in engaging us. I have always wondered at those readers who spend so much time on this blog only to pay so little attention to the points we raise, wondering instead (as did that reader) why we didn’t talk about what he wants us to talk about.
If he doesn’t like what we have to say and prefers we blog about something else, there are other countless blogs he can read which may address items of his concern. Not only that. The very tone of some of these critics is not one of argument but of animosity.
In my recent post on Ken Blackwell, I raise, what I believe, is one of the most pressing issues for gay Republicans — what do we do when our party nominates a candidate with whom we agree on the issues, but who publicly attacks gays. Even if Michigan-Matt is right (that Blackwell’s “comments were taken out of context . . . and misconstrued“) and that question doesn’t apply to Ohio’s gubernatorial nominee this year, the dilemma remains. Only a handful (Matt among them) chose to take my point seriously. Alas, that others used the post as an excuse to bait rather than as a means to understand gay Republicans.
To be sure, many of our critics — and our defenders — have used the comments thread to promote a serious discussion of a great variety of issues, not always limited to the issue addressed in the post. Perhaps I go on too much about this, but there are few things I enjoy more than a good conversation, particularly with those who have different views than my own. As an undergraduate, my favorite Political Science professor was a Marxist whom I visit whenever I return to Williamstown. In my last semester in law school, I chose a course with my second favorite law professor (one of the most liberal members of the U-VA Law faculty) over one (which met at the same hour) with my favorite professor (a conservative) because I thought I could learn more from teacher with whom I frequently disagreed.
I would hope that our critics who visit this blog regularly would come here for a similar education. And while there are a handful who do — and who raise thoughtful objections to our ideas — all too many would rather attack us than understand us. And that is truly unfortunate. An unhappy sign of a decline in civil discourse.
-Dan (AKA GayPatriotWest): GayPatriotWest@aol.com