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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

hit and run for fun « Previous | |Next »
July 3, 2003

I've noticed a tendency amongst Oz bloggers and their readers to stick to their own political circles. Some do cross the horizon and argue with the other side, but by and large they are content to inhabit their own circle. And when they do cross it is more a hit and run attack than an argument.

So I was interested to read this by Eugene Volokh:

"I think it's a mistake to demand that bloggers be evenhanded in their criticism. Blogging is something that people do for fun. It has to compete with other things -- family, work, reading, sleep. And usually it's more fun to criticize your adversaries than to criticize your friends. I wish this weren't so, but I think that (at least for most people) it is. Sometimes one might do it out of a sense of duty, a feeling that people in each movement should police their own .... Blogging about something -- taking time out of one's day to write something for free -- shouldn't be seen as an obligation. And while I expect each post to be accurate and fair to its subject, I don't expect bloggers to be evenhanded in their choices of which subjects to harp on."

You can on what on what you will and there is obligation to be evenhanded in one's criticism. Daniel Drezner (permalinks screwed, Tuesday June 24, 3.12pm) disagrees. He says that:

"....for scholar-bloggers, I don't think it's that easy to dismiss the notion of obligation altogether. This doesn't affect the choice of what scholar-bloggers write about (Eugene's point), but it should affect the content of their posts. No one can rebut every opposing argument, but the good ones demand acknowledgment and a good intellectual wrestle."

And, adds, Daniel because the scholar bloggers have a higher standing in their blog hierarchy, there is an obligation on them to acknowledge the points made on the other side of the debate.

I would broaden the obligation. An obligation for evenhandedness with one's opponents exists for public policy blogs, due to their explicit connection to democratic citzenship. In contesting the opinions of their opponents, citizens should treat the arguments against their own position with respect, rather than just dismiss them. The obligation for active citizens is to the institutional forum that enables the public conversation, the development of a conversation to ensure that there is shifting and winnowing of our prejudices and to play a role in the formation of public policy.

And whilst we are on the topic an aside. Corporations are not a citizen of the republic .They are an artificial entity created by the state for economic purposes and which are endowed with massive public benefits, from limited liability and perpetual life to bankruptcy protection.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 11:44 PM | | Comments (4)



Each blog has it's own metier.

You are a critic. You do not seek to defend a point of view, but rather you seek to critique what you see as the 'governing' point of view.

Tim Dunlop rather more directly made that point the other day.

You furthermore write in a very arcane style that makes it hard for bloggers like myself (or indeed Gareth, consider the discussion the other day with him) to actually argue with. The problem is that you are debating from starting points that us mere mortals don't really get.

Be that as it may, it takes two to make an arguement.

Furthermore, I reject totally the notion of 'obligation' for a blogger. A bloggers home is his/her castle and the blogger makes the rules. As blogger of "Public Opinion" you can only be true to yourself by writing what you feel the need to write about, rather then worrying about 'obligations' whether to fairness, debate, democracy or whatever.

If you feel those obligations, then you must take them on board. But you have no right to expect other bloggers, serious, semi-serious or otherwise to consider them.

yeah the style still is different --- far too academic.
But the starting point of public opinion is not and its formation through debate,contestation and conversation is not.

Nor was the content with Gareth--talkng about democracy instead of markets; and the tacit accceptance of elitism.

What comes through from comments and non comments (eg. the ABC entries) is that the market is the foreground in any discussion whilst democracy is in the background.

There is a systematic rejection or resistance of democracy when it is bought to the foreground. People resist by talking about the market. That is all that matters. It is the touchstone of everything.

On the other point rights come with obligations.

You keep writing about 'democracy' yet you really struggle to define it.

You seem to be invoking this 'democracy' thing like a catch all phrase to justify what you want to happen- to use your own language, you are using it as a rhetorical device, rather then as a serious device.

For example, you say

There is a systematic rejection or resistance of democracy when it is bought to the foreground. People resist by talking about the market. That is all that matters. It is the touchstone of everything.

What do you mean 'rejection or resistance of democracy'? In what context are you saying that democracy is rejected?

How is it 'rejection of democracy' to advocate liberalisation of media laws or any other policy?

It's not 'rejection of democracy' to wish for the privatisation of the ABC, for example- it's the advocating of a policy.

Rights come with obligations? In the context of blogging, could you please elaborate on that point.

The similarity between Easter and words such as "rights", "tolerance", "liberty", democracy", "equality", etc., is that it moves around, never staying in the one place. A major difference between it and these concepts, is that while Easter moves, it does so in a set and predictable manner.
When it comes to the others, homo sapiens are anazingly versatile in how someone can change his position on any of them, depending upon which of his prejudices he wishes to accommodate. And he usually does it without even knowing it's happening.
The warning, "Buyer beware", like charity, needs to begin at home.