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The Official Blogcritics Perspective

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There is none.

Dawn and I had to attend a memorial service for the minister who married us yesterday – we were busy and sad – so I was unable to give Blogcritics the full attention it deserves. Interesting that on this particular day my pal Charles Johnson would choose to note the wildly divergent points of view on the site, in particular mike larkin’s satirical piece of creative writing on the – shall we say – symbiotic relationship between GW Bush and Osama bin Laden.

While the satire is quite black, it is satire nonetheless and nothing different from what you might see on Saturday Night Live. It isn’t anything I would consider censoring. I have only ever censored one post here, and that was in response to multiple complaints about the nature of a personal attack by one Blogcritic upon another, and I probably overreacted by doing so. By the way, the person attacked was not one of those complaining, much to his credit.

Is mike’s post effective? If you are inclined to the point of view that the entire War on Terror is a political scam, then you might think it so. Whether or not it is effective, I disagree with its message and will now say so.

I am an independent and have never – as of now – voted for a Republican for president. I am socially liberal, am an environmentalist (in a moderate way), want to see some form of universal health care for all Americans (again, in a moderate way), but I am also all for welfare reform, am a fiscal conservative (throwing money at problems only works sometimes), am strongly pro-Israel, and am very staunchly in favor of the War on Terror and Bush’s handling of the matter since 9/11.

Even more important than his specific handling of any given aspect of the post-9/11 world – which has inevitably suffered missteps along the way – I am philosophically in agreement with Bush’s response to the attacks of 9/11 and what they (the attacks) say about our world, America’s role in that world, and the mindset required to improve this world for ourselves and mankind in general.

Ultimately, my current support for Bush (if I had to vote today, I would vote for him, with a number of caveats including his pronunciation of the word “nuclear,” which causes my flesh to crawl) stems from his apprehension that the War on Terror is the most critical matter facing us (Americans, the West, the world) and that ALL other policies must reflect a mindfulness of this, which Bush has very shrewdly and consistently done. I fear NO other candidate would attach such focus and attention upon this gravest threat to our health, safety, way of life, and the critical issue of the rights of the individual and his priority over the collective as this has played out over large swaths of our beautiful but benighted world.

Specifically, should we have taken military action in Iraq? Absolutely, the War on Terror is much broader than the “what does this have to do with al Qaeda” literalists perceive it. Somewhat ironically, the American people see this, as reflected in their conflation of Iraq and 9/11 as expressed in the opinion polls the anti-war hardliners see as a reflection of Bush’s dishonesty, control over the media, powers of mind-control, and who knows what else.

I see it as a form of wise shorthand on the part of the American public, who keenly perceive the danger we are in if we do not keep pressing forward, taking the fight to the terrorists and those who hate us and are not afraid to act upon that hatred.

9/11 proved we cannot appease, deflect, buy off or otherwise mollify those who hate what we stand for, what we believe including the primacy of the individual over the collective (this is the philosophical link between Saddam and bin Laden – both completely reject the individual as the foundation of moral and political judgment), freedom vs oppression, openness and creativity vs constraint and timidity, reverence for life vs worship of death.

It is deeply regrettable that the violence, death and destruction of military action is required to move this fight forward, to eliminate those committed to terror and to dissuade the many more who might sympathize with some of the aims or perspectives of the terrorists. But necessary it was, is, and will continue to be.

Hand in hand with the violence must be the desire to aid, lend a hand, and give material support for the rebuilding that is the second half of our efforts: if it costs $87 to usher Iraq onto the path of civil society, democracy, free expression, individual rights, and set an example for the entire Muslim/Arab world, I consider it a bargain.

I am also not in least concerned about the “real” reason we invaded Iraq: WMD, Bush’s filial vendetta against the man who tried to kill his father, oil, political deflection, etc – all of these perspectives point to an irrational animus toward Bush, paranoia, are irrelevant or beside the point, or fail to appreciate the genuine epiphany I believe GW Bush had in the wake of 9/11.

Opponents can’t have it both ways: either Bush is a simple man or he is not. I believe he is essentially uncomplicated and that he is essentially as he presents himself. He believes what he appears to believe, what he claims to believe, for good or for ill, and as long as he acts upon his central, virtually religious belief that fighting the War on Terror is his TRUE CALLING, he will have my support and indulgence.

As with all other points of view expressed on Blogcritics, this is representative of the writer’s perspective only – in this case mine. There is no “official Blogcritic position” on anything as we are a collective of autonomous actors who express themselves and post those expressions as they see fit, and I am thankful for it.

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About Eric Olsen

  • http://w6daily.winn.com/ Phillip Winn

    You Nazi sympathizer, you!

  • Eric Olsen

    Begone, comment defiler – I am the most liberal of “small l” liberals and the free flow of edifying iterations shant be staunched by your invocations!

  • http://w6daily.winn.com/ Phillip Winn

    I hear your post came too late to do anything for the hive mind over at LGF, sadly. Some of those commenters give us semi-regretfully-pro-Bush folks a bad reputation…

  • Eric Olsen

    Oh well, it’s never really “too late.” I am surprised by the group think expressed by many there, but I am also surprised by the misperception of how Blogcritics is run, as if I am pasing judgment as to the acceptability of given posts. I am merely the involved moderator – each writer must take responsibility of his/her own writing, although I do copy-edit, but that’s about it.

  • http://w6daily.winn.com/ Phillip Winn

    As Yackum’s comment on Mike’s thread shows, the hive mind apparently doesn’t read very well, or very thoroughly. I suspect most people tune out the “sinister cabal” part and the “over 250/300 bloggers” parts and assume what they want to assume. Of course, this reinforces their existing notions, which makes them feel more confident when they misapproach the next site and on and on it goes.

    Also, I don’t think that there are many sites run like Blogcritics, with truly opposing viewpoints sharing the same pages. Metafilter, maybe? Others?

  • Eric Olsen

    Slashdot and Fark maybe? Not too many.

  • http://mcfrank.blogspot.com Chris Arabia

    BB — flattery will get you… everywhere.

    People’s capacity for missing satire is always interesting.

    Anyway, I am a bit disappointed by LGF’s characterization of Eric.

  • NC

    Chris, no one at LGF mischaracterized Eric. Charles called him a “great guy,” said he’s no idiotarian and pointed out that he’s written lots of great stuff for BC. All true. I posted a comment agreeing with Charles, called Eric the best writer at BC and said he does a terrific job running a generally excellent site. I also noted that Eric’s own positions on the war are very different from those of Mike Larkin. How exactly is this mischaracterizing Eric?

    Furthermore, I explained in my comment that Eric follows an “open forum approach.” Thus there was no misrepresentation about him giving thumbs up or thumbs down to anything posted here. It’s laissez faire all the way. Which is fine, but if you’re going to be laissez faire and allow even bullshit conspiracy theories into the mix, then don’t be surprised when people start associating a little bit of an odor with the otherwise well-respected BC name.

  • Eric Olsen

    NC, I don’t feel personally mischaracterized and I appreciate your and Charles’s very kind words in my personal behalf. My only issue is the perception that something has somehow changed here as though mike larkin’s post somehow slipped through. We have always represented freely the views of all members and I have never turned anyone away due to political views. I would definitely draw a line at “hate speech,” although I think even that would be better dealt with by being held up to scrutiny and refutation rather than outright censorship.

  • http://w6daily.winn.com/ Phillip Winn

    LGF#19: Donna V. wrote “Well, one of Blogcritic’s top referrers is Tom Tomorrow – which tells you something right there.”

    LGF#26: Skeej wrote: “BC is off my blog read list”

    Inasmuch as Blogcritics is Eric’s baby, I consider both of those slight mischaracterizations of Eric, though Charles and NC did stick up for him. Even the first comment, “Oh, how the mighty have fallen…” clearly represents a misunderstanding of what BC is all about.

    Eric #6, neither Slashdot nor Fark are very political. I’m struggling to come up with a #2 after metafilter. ;-)

  • jadester

    indeed, i was under the impression (in fact i still am) that blogcritics.org is one of the few places where you can find a truly diverse collection of different views and stories that are almost completely uncensored, and where for the most part people with differing views can at least remain civil with each other even when being drawn into large arguments (sorry, “debates”)
    I would say blogcritics.org is one of the few places on the ‘net where you can find truly uncensored reporting and discussion
    I think it also is a good refelction on every one of us who posts here that there has only been one post that was deemed necessary to be censored. We do have *some* self-control…

  • JR

    Wait, wasn’t Blogcritics “dominated” by conservative voices just a couple months ago?

  • http://fando.blogs.com Natalie Davis

    Some of us believe that it is. Others disagree.

  • http://fando.blogs.com Natalie Davis

    Oh, Eric: You and Dawn have my deepest condolences and my prayers.

  • Eric Olsen

    Thanks Nat, you have been through farworse of late but it was sad and a time for reflection.

    I really, truly do not believe Blogcritics is dominated by any perspective. Sure, the fact that I write more posts here than anyone else because it is my home site would give me the advantage at least from a volume perspective, but I also think my own range of opinion is pretty broad and not particularly doctrinaire.

    What I truly believe is that since so many stories here are well-written and persuasive, whoever is up at the moment “dominates” the site. As a result the picture at any given moment – the snapshot of the river, so to speak – is never going to reflect anything more than a momentary flavor.

  • http://www.blogbloke.com BB

    Eric, I wish to also extend my condolences. I sensed your sadness the other day in your comments. Yesterday I was advised by a friend that her brother was pushed in front of a taxi and died from head trauma. You know, none of us really know what the other person is going through and we should remember that when we have opposing views. No matter how passionate we may feel or righteous our position may be, respect, courtesy and kindness go a long way.

  • Eric Olsen

    thanks BB, you are of course right, and I need to remember that as much as anyone

  • http://w6daily.winn.com/ Phillip Winn

    Eric, wow, “snapshot of the river,” you have been reflecting! Well put, by the way.

    Natalie and JR, I don’t think you can really peg BC by the number of people who hold one position or another, or even by the number of posts. Certainly various people have at one time or another held sway over the attention of the most active of us blogcritics, from Al Barger to Brian Flemming to Mac Diva to Mike Larkin to Chris Arabia to, well, always Eric Olsen.

    Add on top of that that several of us don’t consider ourselves as easily pigeonholed as others. Eric seems to consider himself a liberal, though he is supportive of the “war on terror.” Al is generally considered by most to be conservative, though he might resist that label himself and certainly there are plenty of conservatives who don’t want to share the label with him. Brian, MD, Mike Larkin and you, Natalie, are all pretty reliably liberal, though I’m sure some of your views differ from the rest of yours. Me, I like to think I’m pretty issue-specific, but on the spectrum of Blocritics, I suppose I’m more conservative than not on a lot of things.

    Anyway, the point is, which group holds sway over Blogcritics seems to be decided more than anything by the news and how much free time a prolific poster has on a given week. ;-)

    Finally, while the “censored” post was removed from Blogcritics by the author when he was asked to do so, it lives on on the author’s own site, so readers can judge for themselves whether or not it should have been censored. Personally, I think it probably says more about the poster than the target of the post, but maybe that’s just me.

    Still, for the record, the only post ever “censored” from Blogcritics.org was from a right-winger personally attacking a left-winger.

  • Dawn

    Well Eric, you can be diplomatic and kind, but after reading Charles’ last response to you over at LGF, I think he still has the impression that somehow you are the thought-police over here and I am pretty mad that someone I would call a friend would be so blatantly trollish.

    Best leave me alone, I am no mood for that kind of bullshit.

  • JR

    “Natalie and JR, I don’t think you can really peg BC by the number of people who hold one position or another, or even by the number of posts. Certainly various people have at one time or another held sway over the attention of the most active of us blogcritics, from Al Barger to Brian Flemming to Mac Diva to Mike Larkin to Chris Arabia to, well, always Eric Olsen.”

    Indeed. I was just trying to point out how arbitrary it is to single out this one post as representative of BC.

    Anyway, I come here for the music reviews. Politics is just an amusing distraction from what’s important.

  • Dawn

    Yes, JR, the music is the most important element – you seem to understand.

  • Eric Olsen

    I appreciate your all coming here in the first place, making this discussion even possible or of any interest. I hope we have clarified our approach and perspective, which is essentially to not have any one perspective.

  • http://www.tude.com/ Hal Pawluk

    Speaking of “hive minds,” I found it interesting that no one addressed the content of your paean to Bush. Actually kind of amusing.

  • http://www.unproductivity.com Tom Johnson

    Hal, maybe it’s because most people understood that it was Eric’s opinion and a statement of his position, felt differently, but realized that the post was about the general persona of Blogcritics.

    Personally, I’d love to see ALL of the political content disappear from Blogcritics. I think most of the people who post political commentary are so misguided and paranoid that their contributions can’t be regarded as anything but delusional and reactionary.

  • http://www.tude.com/ Hal Pawluk

    “I think most of the people who post political commentary are so misguided and paranoid that their contributions can’t be regarded as anything but delusional and reactionary.”

    A smashing bit of paranoia! Bravo!

    :-)

  • mike

    Kurt Cobain: “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not having you.”

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    CLICK HERE to read the only post ever censored by Eric Olsen at Blogcritics referred to with careful vagueness in this post.

    TOO HOT FOR BLOGCRITICS!!!

    The post that dare not speak it’s name!

    What evil villain would write such an unmentionable diatribe? Could it be… SATAN???

    We report, YOU decide.

  • http://fando.blogs.com Natalie Davis

    Eric, I don’t believe in censorship. But if I did, that one would go. I’m glad BC is your site, and not mine.

    Brian Flemming, if you read this, your post (it’s number 18), which precipitated the censored response, was brilliant. A belated well done to you, and thanks.

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    Oh, yes, comment #18 was BRILLIANT. Only a genius with Deep Insight could just spout made up hysterical nonsense, then accuse a musician of being a slobbering homicidal maniac on the basis of his own malicious fantasies. What an amazing display of creative insight!

  • http://www.makeyougohmm.com/ TDavid

    I like the fact that Blogcritics doesn’t have one (or more) heavy handed moderator(s) imposing his/her/their editorial will on the content because IMO it would ruin the atmosphere. In fact, with the exceptions of spam, minor content editing (removing weird characters for example) and illegal stuff of course, I don’t see any value in changing anything posted to this website.

    Especially people who rarely have anything positive to say (like the Resident Troll) deserve the opportunity to speak freely without censoring.

    Censorship is acceptable and welcomed in the vein of keeping a site children-friendly, but I believe the average age of this site is adult, so I see no purpose for that here.

    BTW, if Phillip is around and on a technical note I have a suggestion to prevent visitors to the homepage from occasionally seeing stuff like this:

    Warning: opendir(/home/eolsen/public_html/archives/2003/11/-1/): failed to open dir: No such file or directory in /home/eolsen/public_html/includes/art.php on line 5

    Add a file_exists call like this first:

    if(@file_exists($path)) {
    // include the album art
    } else {
    // get some other album art, display an advertisement, etc
    }

    Hope this helps :)

  • http://multimedea.blogspot.com Dew

    I believe one of BC’s most attractive features is that there is no padding and no patterns. When I joined I wasn’t asked to stick to a certain topic and/or political correctness. I think that’s great.

    Even when opinions are opposing they still need to be heard despite their troll-ish connotations.

    Expression is a divine right to all; the restrictions lie in the mediums we choose as outlets for those expressions. BC works because it does not condense posts to suit an agenda. The only agenda is in the diversity of the uncensored posts themselves. Now that’s what I call ‘fair and balanced’.

  • Eric Olsen

    thanks TD and Dew, I agree entirely with your thoughts on why the site works: it truly is an open forum and a marketplace of ideas.

  • http://www.unproductivity.com Tom Johnson

    I’m glad the site is censor-free, but I would like to see put to an end a particular grammar-nazi’s insulting, demeaning put-downs to writers that this person deems “unworthy.” This is pointless, unproductive, and, in the end, anti-productive because it will turn some less-skilled (but more than thoughtful enough) writers away. There is absolutely no place for that kind of ridiculous crap on this site. No one has a right to do that kind of thing and I think something needs to be done about it. I know I’m tired of seeing it, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. Anyone else who feels the same way should speak now.

  • http://selfaudit.blogspot.com Aaman

    Wow – this is a great post – very insightful