(Author's note: As a preemptive response to any potential vengeful Lizardoids, let's get a few things out of the way:
This blog's owner, Kevin Aylward, had nothing to do with this article. Our agreement is a very simple one: I write whatever the hell I like, whenever I choose to, and try to avoid getting him in too much trouble. (This one might violate that last part a bit.) Likewise, I hereby disavow formally any responsibility for any statements made by any of my co-authors, past and present, commenters, or any other aspect of the site besides my own articles, including the other blogs included in the sidebar. Any attacks on me based on those grounds may be mocked and their authors possibly banned, but only under the most extreme circumstances will comments be deleted.
In general, that is a fair summation of my policy towards comments, and the one I enforced when I was the main page editor of this site (a position I no longer hold and don't really miss). I have always been a staunch believer of the "moving hand has writ" philosophy, and don't believe in "unwriting history" by removing comments except in the most extreme circumstances. When a commenter who goes batshit and slops their filth all over the place, I will cheerfully ban them and, if necessary, remove the worst of it, but I prefer to operate more transparently than some -- I will announce that the person has been banned and leave the evidence of what prompted my actions available for public scrutiny. Let their chosen identity be forever linked to their words; I will not be complicit in helping them escape their statements.
So, if anyone feels like trying a Killgore Trout-type of "experiment" by posting exceptionally offensive remarks and seeing how long they will stay up, don't bother. (If you don't get that reference, read on -- I'll give the full details below.) Your posting privileges will last precisely as long as it takes me to discover your efforts, and your remarks will most likely remain up for as long as the site last. However, I will be tempted to edit them to add "Proud Member of the Little Green Footballs community in good standing" to your comment, and add a link to LGF.
Damn, I hate having to write that kind of thing. It ought to be just plain common sense, but in the world I'm about to dive into, that seems to have gone extinct a long, long time ago.)
There's been a tremendous amount of buzz around the blogosphere of late regarding the ongoing evolution of Little Green Footballs. The tremendously successful site has seemed to have turned in a very different direction, and a lot of people who used to sing it's (and its author, Charles Johnson's) praises have either turned away or been turned upon, and a lot of people have slaughtered a lot of pixels in discussing the whole matter.
Well, I'm going to add to that body count and offer my (highly overpriced) two cents.
LGF was one of the first blogs I discovered (after and thanks to Meryl Yourish), and it was a tremendous influence on me. I never commented there much (I knew I'd get lost in the crowd, so didn't bother), but I read it faithfully. Charles did some tremendous work on terrorism, the overwhelming intertwining of Islam and terrorism, and the dangers of militant Islam. He also did literally historic work on the whole Rathergate mess (of which our humble site also played a sizable role, but that was my co-authors at the time, Kevin and Paul -- I just kept pumping out articles to keep the site fresh while they did the heavy lifting) and exposing the mainstream media (in particular, Reuters) for faking photos in various Mideast contexts.
I lost count of how many times I used LGF as a resource for my own work (not always credited, to my shame), but I know that I've cited Charles' "Palestinian Child Abuse" meme on at least a dozen occasions. For the uninitiated, that's the title he gives pieces that feature Palestinian children being inculcated in the culture of terrorism and death -- giving them weapons (real or fake), dressing them up in terrorist outfits, airing "children's shows" that celebrate martyrdom and dying while killing Jews, and the like.
"Little Green Footballs" isn't the same site it was then, however. Now, there are a new set of foes that take the most prominence in being exposed and denounced. And the damnedest thing is, I agree, basically, with most of those opinions -- but I don't have the same vehemence.
For example, the anti-evolutionists. I think they're just plain wrong. I think that Darwin's theory is pretty much on, and in a scientific context deserves far, far more attention than the "intelligent design" thesis. That argument, no matter how you reshape it or recast it or gussy it up in scientific lingo, is rooted in theology -- and should be argued in a theological context, by those trained in theology. Not in public schools, by teachers who ought to keep their opinions on religious matters out of the classroom.
They are not the real enemy today.
Charles also has no truck with the "President Obama wasn't born in the United States" crowd. The "Nirthers," as he calls them (based on a typo from a scathing e-mail he got from one of their leaders), are, to me, just a bit nutty. There is enough circumstantial evidence on the record that Obama was born in Hawaii, and none that he was born elsewhere. This stupid insistence on continuing to push the issue only allows all Obama critics (such as myself) to be painted with the broad brush and dismissed.
Further, they are fundamentally stupid. They haven't thought this all the way through. If they succeed in getting Obama removed from office, what have they achieved? They've given us President Biden.
They are not the real enemy today.
Charles has also gone on a tear about global warming, mocking and deriding those who have not fully pledged their loyalty to the anthropomorphic global warming argument. I disagree with him on this one, and think that there simply is not enough evidence that 1) the climate has changed significantly, B) that actions by man have been a major factor in any changes, and III) the proposed solutions will actually have any positive effect to counterbalance the tremendous cost of implementing them. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and "our way of life is going to destroy the world" is one of the most extraordinary claims available.
They are not the real enemy today.
Charles has also been tremendously contemptuous of the "tea party" movement. He has found numerous protesters at these events with some truly nutty and whacko signs, and has given them tremendous play.
Well, I attended one, and I saw a few of those myself. But I just sighed and shook my head. These events are open to the public, with no screening, and if nuts show up, there's not a hell of a lot that can be done about them. To use them as the "face" of the movement -- millions and millions of Americans fed up with government's increased taxes and control over more and more of the lives of the citizenry -- is just wrong.
They are not the real enemy today.
And then there's the big one, Charles' newest bete noir: white supremacists, and those who apparently sympathize with them because they don't douse them with gasoline and set them on fire whenever they suspect they're around one. That seems to be the standard these days over at LGF.
Here's a place I find myself nodding along with Charles. I have a deep, personal, abiding loathing of the white supremacist movement, and it comes from a rather odd source.
Ethnically and genetically speaking, I'm a pretty solid member of what those idiots consider "the Master Race." I'm of Scandanavian and English stock (with a bit of French that I don't like to discuss), and these assholes are claiming to be acting in my name and my interests. And I deeply resent that.
Because, among other reasons, that heritage has done far more to fuck me over than help me.
I once made a list of genetic ailments that have occurred just within two steps of me. I had at least one entry for every letter of the alphabet through "g," and quite a few more down the alphabet. And the big one is the one I don't discuss -- genetic, incurable condition that I have that complicates my life already and will make my live virtually unlivable before it eventually kills me. My "pure" heritage has already sentenced me to a very unpleasant death (following an unpleasant life) unless something else gets me first or a medical miracle occurs -- and my money's on the former. (And that is as specific as I'm going to get here.)
So anyone who tries to tell me about the innate, genetic superiority of the white race can expect a few earfuls on the subject from me. And, eventually, I'll likely have a cane or two to beat them with.
They are not the real enemy today.
And just who are "they," anyway? Charles' definition of "white supremacist" is proving tremendously elastic. His latest target of the epithet is the blogger and longtime journalist Robert Stacy McCain, who apparently has known several openly supremacist assholes and belonged to or said nice things about groups that have, on occasion, said something vaguely intemperate.
I never really read "the other McCain" before of late, but he's been getting a lot of attention (good and bad) of late, so I started poking through his stuff. And I came to this conclusion:
The guy is a good blogger. Quite frankly, he's a hell of a better blogger than Charles.
Setting aside politics and issues, McCain is just a better writer. His articles are insightful, his language colorful and entertaining,his anecdotes amusing, and his style a pleasure to read. Charles, on the other hand, is a minimalist writer. He tends to write very brief bits of his own, with variants on inappropriate emphasis -- either deliberate understatement or over-the-top screeds. He's more of a "linker" than a "thinker," usually lets the material he's quoting do his "speaking" for him. There's nothing wrong with that approach (Glenn Reynolds has made a whole blogging career out of it, and Matt Drudge built an empire on it), but it's just not as fun for me to read.
Is McCain a racist and closet white supremacist? Charles says he is, and offers his proof. McCain says he isn't, offers some proof, but mainly mocks the whole concept.
My conclusion? I don't know, but if McCain is, he's one of the worst ones ever. I've read a bunch of his articles, and if anything I have a slightly diminished opinion of my fellow white people. If the white supremacist movement is counting on McCain to push their agenda, they oughta demand their money back.
So, in complete disinterest in the minutiae of the fighting going on between Johnson and McCain, I've pretty much stopped reading Little Green Footballs -- and started reading The Other McCain semi-regularly. I'll still use LGF's archives when appropriate, as Charles hasn't started scrubbing his own articles yet, and they're still tremendously valuable.
And then there's the aforementioned "Killgore Trout" incident.
Trout (his chosen pseudonym) was appalled by comments over at Hot Air that he saw as racist attacks on Michelle Obama, and the site's moderators failure to delete them and chastise the commenters. So he decided to push the boundaries a bit and see what would trigger the response he thought was appropriate.
Between 1:19 a.m. and 2:01 a.m. on September 18, Trout posted 14 separate comments on a Hot Air thread, including seven uses of the word "niggers."
When Ed Morrissey woke up and discovered it, he was more publicly furious than I've ever seen him -- and Ed is normally a very calm fellow. In a flurry of action, he deleted Trout's comments and banned him, amid several very intemperate and uncharacteristic cuss words.
So, what does this have to do with LGF? Well, Trout is a trusted moderator over there. He's one of the readers Charles has empowered to moderate his comment threads, removing those that violate the rules (both written and unwritten).
Charles knew about what Trout was doing almost instantly. (He denies knowing about it beforehand, and there is no proof to show otherwise.) But he did comment on it:
I can't really applaud for doing this -- I wouldn't have done it, and didn't advise him to do it, by the way, to head off the inevitable accusations that I was behind this -- but his point is absolutely valid. They're accepting a disgusting amount of racism and extremism at Hot Air.
I said I don't applaud KT for this, and didn't advise him to do it.
At the same time, I'm finding it a little hard to condemn him for it either, because there's a very real, very serious problem highlighted by what he did.
(Note to self: if I ever see Charles' car or bike parked on the street, be sure to let all the air out of the tires. This petty act will not cause any real damage, but highlight the real security problem he has with his vehicles.)
Long ago, I had registered with LGF. I don't think I'd ever used it before, but I did that night. I railed against Trout, denouncing his act of vandalism and asking why he was still a trusted member of the LGF community. I was also very, very careful to abide by the posted rules -- I'd learned my lesson from my misadventures at Democratic Underground and the late, unlamented Wizbang Blue.
But as in both those cases, I ran acropper of the unpublished rules. First, I was attacked because our site includes McCain on the blogroll. Then, I was "called out" because a commenter used the word "nigger" in response to an article of Kevin's a year before I joined Wizbang, and I didn't delete it.
Finally, Charles came around to the thread, deleted my comments and most of the responses, and banned me. After all, I had politely but firmly disagreed with the Powers That Be, was affiliated by less then seven steps from those Charles has declared The Enemy, and refused to apologize or cave in to their attacks. So I had to go.
My position on Trout's conduct is simple: it is completely and utterly unacceptable. Had someone affiliated with Wizbang had done something even remotely as deliberately offensive as what he did, I'd have been on the phone to Kevin in a heartbeat, informing him of it and telling him in no uncertain terms "he goes or I go." (I speak from experience -- I've done that exactly once, but he talked me down to a removal of the offensive bit and a serious talking-to to the offender.)
Charles, on the other hand, has separate standards for his trusted minions. Trout remains to this day a trusted and valued member of the LGF administration.
Charles, it seems, is reveling in his newfound infamy. He's apparently going on the "when you get the most flak, you're over the target" theory.
It's not a bad principle, but it doesn't really apply here. When you're getting the heaviest flak from what used to be friendly territories, then maybe you're bombing the wrong targets.
One final note: one of Charles' defenders is Kejda Germani, known at LGF as "Medaura." Ms. Germani was, briefly, nominally my "boss" at the end of my tenure at Commentary Magazine's blog. I had very few dealings with her, and my departure had nothing to do with her one way or another. The main factor was the ending of comments over there, and that decision was made before I'd even heard of her. I left a comment on her blog challenging her position and going into detail about the Killgore Trout/Hot Air incident.
It was never approved for publication.
Charles would be proud of her, I think.