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Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Out of control

In his last comment about whether blogging is an ephemeral phenomenon or whether it's here to stay, wafflestomper, a regular WS commenter, made an interesting point, almost in passing, about "over-controlling governments" staying out of the net. His point was that blogging will remain popular, if outside forces, especially the government, don’t stifle the web with regulation.

Knowing stomper is a conservative, this drips with loaded meaning for me -- but when it comes to the internet (and media in general), I definitely agree.

It's too bad then, that the consensus in both parties seems to be for more censorship across the board. The Republicans want to tell me what my morality ought to be, and they want to keep smut away from my children -- regardless of how I decide to raise them or what I consider smut.

Partly because most vocal Hollywood personalities happen to be of a different political persuasion than Republicans, partly because of their fundamentalist Christian supporters, and partly because they've got bugs up their asses, Republicans are constantly decrying the evils of Hollywood. They'd have us believe that every movie portraying a criminal in anything but a damning light is a threat to the fiber of American morality and culture. We've already heard some GOP-ers readily support putting restrictions on similar types of content (or worse – porn!) found on the net.

And in a disturbing turn, the Democrats seem to agree. Lately DLC bloggers like Ed Kilgore and Bull Moose have been singing the praises of "economic progressives" who are also "social conservatives" – what Bull Moose calls "progressive traditionalists". They believe that in order to get in touch with Red America, Dems are going to have to get more socially conservative – starting with supporting the war in Iraq, and then clinging despererately to phrases like "marriage is between a man and a woman" and then supporting initiatives which would finally put a muzzle on Hollywood.

Take, for example, this Kilgore line I’ve been stewing over for the past two and a half months:

[Some Democrats claim] that any effort to promote some self-regulation of entertainment products amounts to censorship or even repression, as though the utterances of Paris Hilton, as opposed to those of Joe Camel, merit judicial protection.

Promote self-regulation? What exactly does that entail? – yelling at Hollywood until every film they release doesn't disgust Bill O'Reilly? That will be very effective, I'm sure. Then all us Dems can lie in our beds with calm hearts that we've satisfied the repressed Right, and now maybe some of them will vote for our side. Funny how "promoting self-regulation" often very quickly turns into just "regulation".

By the way, Joe Camel is a cartoon character who sells cigarettes to children, while Paris Hilton is an flesh-and-blood American citizen. So yes, I would argue that Paris Hilton’s utterances merit judicial protection, whereas Joe Camel's do not.

Used to be, the DLC promoted economic moderacy and social progressiveness. They believed in fiscal responsibility, business and global trade, but also in traditional Democratic social values, such as making education better and easier to obtain, equality for minorities, the strong separation of Church and State, and an unwavering defense of the First Amendment – Joe Lieberman nonwithstanding. Has the DLC finally transformed then into just another group of moderate Republicans?

I hope not. The "Democratic Wing" is no better. They’d censor the Fox News Channel if they got the chance.

Is this what America wants then? While all of us have found something distasteful on our radios, TVs or internet, are we all really so horrified that we are willing to smother our own creativity and slow the pace of technological advancement with government regulation?

And why is it so hard to find a "progressive realist?" socially progressive, economically moderate. Am I the only one?


Blogger David Charginghawk said...

Great post, gus.

You have correctly identified the dichotomy in this country. As you might have guessed, I agree with some parts and not others. :)

I object a great deal to people who complain about the society that we live and then continue to support it financially. That, as you correctly pointed out, seems to occur with those on the right than on the left. If you don't like what's on TV, TURN IT OFF. Get rid of your cable. The answer is not to ban it or 'regulate' it, which I am against, the answer is to not partake. Same with movies, clothes, and TV personalities. If you object to what a 'star' thinks, don't support them so that they are an icon with a platform to be able to do that.

But I do object to the idea that there are not or should not be standards; ie the idea that no one's 'morality' is superior to another. Now before you go accusing me of censorship, etc, I'm just saying that we establish arbitrary standards all the time, for everything. The ultimate endpoint of the pervasive idea that all moralities and standards are equal is Soviet Russia, and anyone can see the result of that: "No power, authority, or morality exists above that of the state, so if the state decides that it should.....I don't know....starve, imprison, or kill a few million of you....well....."

In addition, I also reject the idea that there is not a sect of our population that should be protected from deceitful or predatory practices that allow exposure of minors to adult or illegal practices. Go to whitehouse.com and you'll see what I mean. I don't want my kid who stumbling into a porn site or an S&M chat room because he's trying to do a report on Congress.

Believe it or not, most of us "conservatives" would prefer to keep government out of those kinds of decisions. Don't read too much into what the media tells you about what "morals" and "values" of the 'right'.

And the left's perception of how they should mimic that electoral success is not a good guide, either.

3/09/2005 07:33:00 PM  

Blogger Redneck Texan said...

Ive said before Blogging might be the CB radio of the 00s. Everybody that had to keep their opinion to themselves all their lives are currently intoxicated by the ease of self-publishing. If the media and government really wanted to stifle bloggers they somewhat could with regulations, over- advertising and pricing hosting above market value. The fact that it is free now should make it unsustainable in the long run.

It appears to me that you are starting to show the early signs of Blogger burnout as well.

I have been spreading my bullshit opinions in the blogosphere for over a year now, and when I started I could easily generate new material every night, and had a several posts backlog in my head that I wanted to get to in the future. But at a certain point you have already said pretty much everything you had on your mind, then you risk being overly repetitive. People can only hear me say so many times how I want to wage the war on terror and win the cultural holy war, then it becomes less shocking every time. Everybody at my blog knows my opinion on a subject before I even give it now.

I think thats why Steven Den Beste (The only Blogger I have ever really faithfully read) abandoned his blog. I think he had said all he had to say and now he is prepared to let his archives stand as a snapshot of his brilliant mind during a war.

Since I have been blogging I have watched many people abandon theirs, after coming to the realization of what a monumental waste of time keeping an online diary is. Like you said, surfing the "next blog" will show you how much abandoned trash is out there, with people that quickly realized they had nothing to say, and better things to waste their time on.

I on the other hand was a geo-political news junky way before I discovered blogs, and another excuse to keep my lazy ass in the recliner just makes it too easy to blog. The format at my blog allows me to go indefinitely without having to generate new indigenous material, and the addition of additional contributors eases the burden even further, while at the same time broadens the scope of material there. And the daily news itself provides a new talkin point everyday. I really preferred just commenting on the news more than Blogging anyway, and now I get to do that on stories I didn't already read before I posted them, and that makes it even more enjoyable. Plus its always nice to be the King ;-), and not having to moderate my opinions to fit into someone else's posting policy frees me to be as vulgar as my guest will tolerate.

Thats also a liability as well though. I cant be as combative as I used to be at the CP, for fear of alienating an otherwise like minded guest or appearing to side with one over the other in a heated discussion. I'm sure you have noticed your wingman has dis-engaged recently. You have to dance with the ones that brung you, while also being accommodating to the newbie. Sometimes in balancing those concerns your message gets moderated or dropped altogther in the name of stat watching.

I think geo-political blogging is here for the long run, but I think the total number of active blogs will decline when most normal people move on to the next killer app. However if my readership dried up, I think I could "hang it up" as Pass did pretty easy, and get back to more productive wastes of time myself.

3/10/2005 04:56:00 AM  

Blogger wafflestomper said...

sorry gustav, no loaded meanings. i was pretty one-dimensional on that post. i hope your sitting down gustav, because although i was thinking about controls that, say, the chinese government imposes on the information superhighway, i was also thinking about the republicans and the religous right. i may be a card-carrying member of each group, but i gotta say that for many of the same reasons d.c. stated above, i break step with the regulation wing (the more vocal bug-up-the-ass crowd - i think they thrive on the notoriety they get from their incendiary speech) . obviously everyone would sooner have society willfully reject the things they find distasteful than having to deny those offending. but if they won't reject those things which don't hurt me, i'll generally fall in the 'let em be' category (and, yes, i have exceptions where it amounts to poking my nose into others' business). i wore my seatbelt long before it was a law, but i think seatbelt laws are wrong. i'm not a smoker and don't particularly enjoy the smell of cigs, but i think many smoking laws are wrong (such as forcing businesses to be smoke-free). i don't mind steps taken to protect children, but i think adults shouldn't be denied in order to provide this protection.

voluntary restriction. hrc recently that the pro-choice crowd has got to stop getting so many damn abortions. on this particular issue i'm in favor of a lot more regulation, but the senator has staked a position similar to where i am on so many others. just because i believe that pornography is protected by the first amendment doesn't mean i have to watch x-rated movies lest my right be taken away.

i thought of over-controlling dems as well, but i thought they would find a way to tax blogging into submission. or avoid all regulation such that blogging becomes impractical - like not restricting spam because of a free speech argument or some such thing.

3/10/2005 06:11:00 AM  

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