Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Confessions of a Blogger

Kathryn Lopez expressed thanks for being a Times Select suscriber when she saw the one-line description of Maureen Dowd's latest screed. In the back of my mind I was prepared to run over to my company's library to dig out the print edition of the Times to see what Dowd had to say, just so I could have the opportunity to mock her. But then I thought, "why bother?" What is the point of even wasting three minutes of my life reading a woman who is one of the dumbest and least engaging writers of our time? She contributes nothing to the political discourse, and really no one takes her seriously.

This is part of a larger issue I have been struggling with for some time. Pssst. More after the fold. Hit read more. I have been struggling with the question of how to deal with or respond to, if at all, to people who really are not worth wasting one's time dealing with. Now, this is not about arguing with people whom I simply disagree with. After all, this blog is dedicated to thoughtful discourse between people of varying ideological beliefs. We have upheld, for the most part, a pretty high standard. Both my co-bloggers and the commenters consistently offer thoughtful, intelligent comments. So I have no problem engaging in debate, even if it sometimes gets heated. And I enjoy, for lack of a better term, picking apart other writings. The most notoriety I have received in a year and a half of blogging was my Confirm Them rebuttal to Hugh Hewitt. But what made that piece, and in fact that whole month of blogging, more worthwhile was the knowledge that I was engaged in debate with people whose opinion I deeply respected. It's much more stimulating analyzing a column or debating another individual when there's a high measure of intelligence coming from the other side, or when the other person is clearly a reasonable and thoughtful individual.

But what of people who are clearly lacking in intelligence, or who are generally unreasonable, or who are simply crude and idiotic. For example, Francis Beckwith linked to a story about a college professor who linked to a "Benny Hill" version of the "Passion of the Christ." Now, the professor in question deserves scorn for said action, but I also wonder what's the point in even drawing attention to such idiocy. Another example is the Toynbee article DS linked to last night. I saw this some time ago, have seen it mentioned on other blogs and have briefly commented on it, but never linked to it myself (I believe) on this site. Why? Because I wondered about the propriety of linking to such malicious drivel. Similarly, I never linked to a Phil Pullman critique of Narnia because his observations were so obtuse that I could not take his argument seriously. And, most infamously, is the case of Andrew Sullivan. His religious writings have become so unhinged that any trace of logic and reason has seemed to have vanished. He has libeled the Pope, and seems to lament the fact that the Pope is actually Catholic in belief and doctrine. The conservative and Catholic blogosphere has exploded in response to his writings, but I haven't really bothered. Why not? Because, again, what's the point?

Sometimes the idiocy reaches a higher level. Howard Dean has become a caricature. I have posted more than a few links to Dean's brand of lunacy, and have commented on why I believe he is destructive to the Democratic Party. But I didn't comment when he declared the Iraq War to be essentially unwinnable. Frankly, I have grown tired of writing about an individual who seems to be dumber than a post. On the other hand, he is the Chairman of one of the two major political parties, so he does have the potential to indirectly influence policy. And Andrew Sullivan has a daily readership of some 100,000. Kos approaches 1,000,000 hits a day, as does Democratic Underground. So it might be reasoned that these people merit responses simply because so many others listen to them, and there needs to be a voice offering a rebuttal. But it also seems that their idiotic blustering speaks for itself.

So I guess I am fairly conflicted. Blogging is a form of venting, and frankly it feels good to let loose with a nice little rant. But at what cost to my own sense of sanity? Is it really worth the headache to sift through the noise? Is it really worth it to read a Maureen Dowd or Eugene Robinson column just so I can snarkily comment on its insipidness? It seems my efforts can be better put to use elsewhere.

Just thinking out loud I guess.


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