Tuesday, March 16, 2010


That would be the antic collection of Stalinists ruling the roost over at Babble. I guess my ears were burning. The fools are once again giving us progressives a bad name.

Intelligent right-wingers should take no comfort from this. Surely they must squirm uncontrollably when mudfish like Canadian Sentinel, Patrick Ross, Maria Nunes ("Dodo Can Spell") and other lackwits venture forth into the public arena sporting conservative colours. No surprise, then, that there are folks on the Left who make me writhe in similar pain.

The recent eruption at Babble concerned Ontario NDP MPP Cheri DiNovo, a colourful character who supported a Progressive Conservative motion in the legislature denouncing Israel Apartheid Week. She came in for some slanging for that, and had a kind of meltdown on Facebook. Other Facebook groups sprang up, of those whom DiNovo had "defriended" over all this, but they mysteriously disappeared, one by one.

Needless to say, the bulk of the Babblers (and they do come in bulk) was highly critical of DiNovo. Hey, count me in. But readers will know that this kind of Stalinist claptrap isn't my style, nor to my taste:

I'm content to just see her dismissed with contempt wherever she shows her face - unless, and until, she does the right thing, recants, and asks forgiveness.

(Shades of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. Pictured above,
the staff of the Heilongjiang Daily merrily roasting Luo Zicheng, the leader of the committee work group of the provincial Communist Party, for allegedly following "the capitalist line" and "opposing the revolutionary mass movement." His dunce cap spells out his crimes against the people. It almost, but somehow not quite, makes me nostalgic.)

Now, one intrepid Babbler, calling himself "synthome," ventured an opposing opinion. He may not have been the most tactful individual, but tact is a rather rare commodity over there in any case: it's no doubt considered a sign of bourgeois weakness. His point, in any event, was that DiNovo had some impressive anti-poverty street cred, and shouldn't be thrown on the dustheap of history for her views on IAW--views which, to a large extent, he shared.

The results were entirely predictable. First came a torrent of abuse: then a "moderator" stepped in, and banned him for "pomposity." Here, let the outcast wretch speak for himself.

The poor man seems to have suffered the same even-handed treatment that I once received over at Babble (M-L), better known as EnMasse. I had ventured to defend Green leader Elizabeth May against bogus charges that she was "anti-choice." Same deal: I was exposed to a withering barrage of insults and denunciations, and when I told the most repulsive of my antagonists--the same self-styled "Unionist" who authored the quotation above--to go forth in fornicating fashion, it was only then a "moderator" stepped out from the shadows and proceeded to lecture me about politesse.

EnMasse didn't have to ban me. I banned myself forthwith.

This "Unionist," in fact, is quite the Grand Inquisitor. He subsequently criticized an EnMasse participant for daring to link to a post of mine, referring to me as a "creep" (an obscure political category he often employs), and "anti-choice," even suggesting that I was anti-Semitic--this time for my defence of a memorial in Berlin to the gay victims of Nazism. He effectively runs the show at Babble, quick to denounce all and sundry who do not adhere to his version of the General Line. The "moderators" step out of his way. Perhaps they're afraid of him. The regulars adore him.

In any case, I ventured over to "synthome"'s blogsite, Spurs, to commiserate. I also let him know that I didn't happen to agree with his defence of the Ontario NDP (re IAW). He said he'd be curious to "read my thoughts" about the latter, so I suggested for efficiency's sake that he search on "apartheid" at my place.

The Babblers were soon all over this. My brief response to "synthome"'s question, at his own site, was termed "self-promotion." Commissar "Unionist" agreed, and he went on to refer to me as an "individual using 20-syllable words," proving that he's innumerate as well as politically illiterate. I think he meant it as a criticism.

"Synthome" came back, thinly-disguised, to defend himself. A regular known as "Stargazer" quickly spotted him and duly denounced him as a "creep." But "Unionist" displayed a rare sense of humour:

I disagreed with synthome's banning at the time, and I still do, although obviously I understood the rationale. He should be allowed to post here, as long as he follows babble policy and desists from his personal attacks. I believe that if we reinstate his privileges and invite him to just post on questions of substance, he will respond in kind. He obviously has something to offer, but he can't spit it out while he's busy attacking me, babble, and "rabid Leftists" as he puts it.

I guess what I'm proposing is that we give him the opportunity to correct his ways. [emphasis laughingly added]

"Frustrated Mess" casts no further light on the arcane political meaning of "creep," which is obviously not considered to be one of those "personal attack" thingies. He or she prefers tautology to analysis:

Creep seems such an appropriate characterization for someone who would sign up to babble just to expose themselves as ... well, a creep.

And then we have that stock figure, the policeman's friend:

It takes a fair amount of contempt for an on-line community to repeatedly hack your way back into a discussion board that you have been explicitly banned from participating in. It's quite the precedent, too. I suppose you're okay with every other person who has been banned for violating the terms of use doing the same. After all, if you don't respect the authority of the moderators, why should they?

He would prefer, obviously, "just enough people for half a dialogue." And he's far from alone.

Something about Usenet-style boards seems to encourage this sort of thing.
I don't think politics is the key issue, actually--it's something about the design of these sites in the first place, and the people they attract. Bread and Roses is one progressive board that, thankfully, seems to have escaped the trend: at the risk of being flip, I suggest that might have something to do with the woman's touch. But most of these sites soon become dominated by in-groupy regulars who behave like particularly surly customs and immigration officials and police their turf with all the zeal of the KGB.

Thank goodness the blogosphere isn't like that at all. :)

UPDATE: Follow the Babble thread. Do these folks ever use their indoor voices?


TS. said...

Hi Dawg, I am one of the current moderators at enMasse, or as you put it, babble (M-L.). At the time (2006), you suggested that Elizabeth May was pro-choice but anti-abortion. I must admit that it seems strange to me that you would think a politician could agree with a woman's right to choose what happens with her own body, and yet oppose the existence of one of the principal modes of doing exactly that, namely abortion. I must confess that to me, one has to support the existence of, and access to, safe and legal abortion to be pro-choice. To question the validity of resort to abortion makes one, in my view, anti-choice.

At the time at EM you argued for a principled distinction between choice and abortion. I'm afraid I can't see one. If a woman is to have full choice, and full control over her body, abortion is a necessary part of that, and as such is a good in and of itself as it facilitates a woman's right to choose.

psa said...

kazoo, you're just so precious when you dissemble. and while i'm vaguely flattered to have become your personification of all things wicked and liberal, you still don't make a lick of sense.

Dr.Dawg said...

I linked in my update.

And yes, I was thinking of that comment when I put up the link. :)

Peter O'Donnell said...

Dawg, you're going to wake up one day and realize that conservatives have been right all along -- and the people who celebrate "Israeli Apartheid Week" should be left behind.

Mike Smith said...

Why on earth are you trying to drag a flame war onto your site? Why not leave it where it belongs? For serious!

fern hill said...

I'm not going to say more than this: Bread and Roses has insiders and party lines and bannings and back-channel nastiness too. Notice how few people post there?