Recovered from the Wayback Machine.
The comments that made me so angry yesterday were attached to a posting Doc Searls wrote.
It would seem that a weblogger who works for Microsoft was being parodied, and not in good, gentle fun, either. This bit of school yard bullying was further compounded by an article by Andrew Orlowski in the Guardian. He wrote:
Of course, you’ll argue: we’re just being mean. Online journals give a billion people who can’t write and who have nothing to say the means to publish. It’s good!
To which I reply: here’s a mechanism which allows a billion people who can’t sing, can’t write a song or make an original beep, and have nothing to express, the means to deafen me with their tuneless, boring cacophony.
There is nothing I dislike more than some elitist who thinks to him or herself, “I am hot shit”, and proceeds to prove it by dumping the cold, icy water of disdain and disparagement on anyone that might, just might, prove that what they really are is a wet match rather than a blazing torch.
Doc defended Beth, a move that wasn’t easy because he knows both Beth and Andrew. I admire him for taking a stand as a professional journalist taking another professional journalist to account for using his position within a professional publication to attack what is nothing more than a personal weblog. Sure Beth may have talked about her job at Microsoft, but most of us talk about our jobs. And our cats. And the TV shows we watched last night. No call for this behavior. None at all.
However, lest you think I was so angry because of the article and the parody, I was a bit, but not enough to send me out of the house. What really made me angry was the following, written by Dave Winer in the comments:
Why such a chivalrous defense of Beth?
What did Orlowski say that was so terrible?
Does it or did it matter to you that this is about a woman?
As one who gets it every day, I gotta say it’s not cool that Doc stands up for her, when the criticism was so mild, and when she used blogs for her marketing work at MS. For crying out loud, where is the offense?
Where does sex enter into this? If we’re only allowed to defend those of the same sex, or our defense of another human being is questioned because of their sex, then this medium is truly become a sexist one, in the worst way.
Today, when I was calmer, I wrote the following:
Sorry, Doc. You’re right — this posting wasn’t meant to be objective, and my anger got away with me in my original response.
Defending another person is a noble thing to do. But bringing that person’s sex into this, out of the blue, was totally out of line. As I tried to say in my original email (and was angry, as you can tell by my use of Sullivan), if we’re going to introduce ‘sex’ into discussions such as these, then this medium has become a sexist medium.
I don’t know this person and I wanted to defend her, and not because of her sex. It was because she had a personal weblog where she talked about her company, true, but where she also talked about her cat, and her thoughts, and just stuff. A weblog. And this so-called journalist invoked an extreme elitist attitude and made fun of her, in the worst school yard bully manner. And there is nothing I despise more than a bully.
Your defense was appropriate if you think he was being mean, and personal. There was never an issue of sex in this.
By introducing Beth’s sex, Dave demoted this issue to one of ‘boys and girls’, and that was wrong, very wrong. To Beth, to Andrew, to you, to your readers.
If we introduce sex into this story, then could we also say that if Beth hadn’t been a woman, the parody site wouldn’t have been created? Or could we say if Beth hadn’t been a woman, Andrew wouldn’t have written the article, or been so cutting?
But there was no evidence that Beth’s sex had anything to do with the parody site, or Andrew’s article. So why introduce her sex when it came to her defense?
And because the issue of sex was raised, will you be more hesitant to defend a woman in the future? Will you question your motives for defending a woman? Will you ask yourself, “Am I doing this because the person deserves my defense? Or am I doing it because she’s a woman?”
I saw your defense as a professional journalist taking another to account for attacking what is nothing more than a personal journal. Sex had nothing to do with it. Well, not until it was introduced, and then it shadowed everything that occurred before and after.
We all have strength enough to fight our own battles. But if we all do so alone, then what’s the point of reaching out, with connecting with each other? When we defend another, we’re not helping just the person we’re defending — we’re helping ourselves.
Sorry for comments, and comment length. I think you were right to defend Beth and I think well of you for the act. And I agree, I hope she does get another weblog, and continues writing exactly like she does.
Dave responded immediately with a comment that said, I have to quote from memory, that Doc’s response had “everything to do with her being a woman”, and that I was out of line, and owed him a retraction and an apology for my statement yesterday. I would quote it, but the comment was pulled. Instead, a new one was added containing the following*:
Shelley, thank god you’re not the final arbiter of right and wrong.
Further, I went to the trouble of talking with Doc and asking questions and listening to the answers. We’ve been friends for fifteen years. For you to presume you know what’s right and wrong between Doc and myself is the height of arrogance.
Why don’t you ask some women what they think, if you’re full of it or not. The comments you make about me, here and elsewhere are so off the wall. I was going to demand an apology, but changed my mind. No one takes you seriously Shelley, you might want to check that out. You’ve got a few syncophants who post in your comments, but people cut you a wide path because you’re so abusive and so unfair in your criticism. I can tell you I do that, and I’ve heard it from a bunch of other people. For what it’s worth.
I do owe an apology, but it was to Doc for flaming him yesterday. That was wrong, and uncalled for, and I apologize. And I do owe Doc and Dave an apology for questioning Doc’s objectivity when it comes to their friendship and communication with each other. That was out of line.
As for the rest:
Dave, this isn’t a school yard, but I recognize another bully when I see one. The playground may be bigger, and you may be using a keyboard instead of dirt and fists, but you’re still a bully. You call people names and then cry ‘foul’ when they respond. You demand courtesy and give none. You expect fair play, and then hit below the belt. You have power, and you’re not afraid to use it to hurt others. You say the nastiest things and then you delete them after the damage has been done. When people take you to account for outrageous statements, you start clutching your chest and say, “I’m still a sick man”.
Out of curiosity, I went to your weblog, Dave, and used Google to search on “sorry” and “apologize” within your weblog postings. What an interesting experience. Have you ever apologized for anything you’ve said?
Dave, you don’t have to worry about any of my ‘sycophants’ defending me, me being a woman and all. I can handle my own battles with the likes of you. And I won’t fight my battles by lurking in others comments, either.
*Note: the comments I quoted of Dave’s have been edited. Again.