Thursday, February 03, 2005

Mugged by the blogosphere

I honestly can't remember how I ended up checking out a website called
Althouse, Maybe she made the Daypop 40. Whatever.

You can read the story at her blog, but the basic story is that she checked The New York Times to see how they were reporting on the election in Iraq. She noticed and mentioned something she found very curious: the Times online edition kept changing the headline on the story without changing a word in the actual story.

The contents of the story were fairly balanced: it reported both joyous partying in some parts of Iraq and deadly attacks in other parts of Iraq. The headline, however, changed from happy news early in the day to more and more dire headlines as the day progressed.

Her post got picked up and rocketed around the blogosphere to the point at which she was the subject of vicious attacks and insults. Her post was a topic of discussion on popular news blogs such as Kevin Drum at the Washington Monthly and Howard Kurtz at the Washington Post.

Althouse posted updates on the story and came to the conclusion that the most vicious attacks were coming from leftists. As a moderate, she often disagreed with both lefties and righties. But her treatment by the right wing had never been quite so vicious.

Which brings me to the point of this post: are extreme left wingers more vicious, self-righteous and mean-spirited than extreme right wingers?

My guess is that, for the time being, the venom from the left will win the championship for vitriol. Many lefty liberals suffered extreme disappointment as a result of losing the presidential election by such a small margin. Hopes were raised and hopes were smashed. Leftists are licking their wounds while rightists are glorying in their victory.

I do not mean to commit psychology and accuse leftists of suffering from a medical disease. I believe Kerry created the "malaise" by slipping off to whatever cave he hid in after the election and turning his back on all those people who had worked for him. What a rotten looser he turned out to be! I never liked the guy, so I'm not an impartial judge. Nevertheless, I believe his supporters deserved better.

I've been lucky to have experienced political activism that included people from vastly different viewpoints. My earliest activism, involving Central America in the early 1980s, brought me in touch with activists from communist organizations as well as activists from the liberation theology movement within Catholicism, to mention a couple of extremes.

We had many opportunities to discuss the things about which we agreed and disagreed. Over time, we learned to respect each other and the value we brought to the movement. We learned to agree on things we could and to set aside the issues on which we could not agree. We learned what wonderful things were possible by working together. And we learned what activities we would have to engage in on our own -- without asking those who disagreed to compromise their beliefs.

I think we are at a time in which agreeing to disagree with each other is proving far too difficult for the majority of U.S. citizens. World events seem to demand that we take a stand and we do it right now! I am going to have to be patient and wait for the time when we come together again.


And now for something completely differentÖ.

Last Saturday I was working at the bookstore when I got a phone call. The man's voice was unfamiliar. He asked to speak to one of my co-workers. When I mentioned that the co-worker had gone to Mexico on vacation, the caller rambled on drunkenly about how miserable he was. He asked my name and I told him. He asked if I was "the evil one". I laughed and said, "Sure, that's me."

He marveled that my voice did not sound familiar but he wouldn't tell me his name. I asked him if I could help him find a book, and he went on to whine and complain in an obnoxious, profanity-laden way. It was closing time so I told him he should call back during business hours. He started swearing and I said something like, "Have a good day" and hung up.

It took be quite a while after I hung up to realize I had been talking to my ex! This is a man with whom I shared a particularly brutal relationship more than 20 years ago. I was in a very bad place emotionally and he was losing an epic battle with alcohol. The relationship ended in a vicious manner and neither one of us should be proud about the way we treated each other during those break-up months.

What astonishes me is how I apparently continue to exist in his mind. To him, I am "the evil one" who did him wrong and he continues to experience that victimization 20 years later. The man my ex called the store to talk to was the only friend I had left after the break-up. Although my ex called the store asking to speak to this man, he spewed venomous attacks on the man he wanted to talk to for "betraying him with his ex-girlfriend."

I don't know what to conclude from this experience other than this: Alcohol Sucks! It is a brutal enemy that fights dirty and destroys without remorse. I am, once again, in awe of its power over certain people.