Aug. 16th, 2009

crankynick: (Default)
I haven't been much of a part of the political blogosphere for a long time. I don't post here much on political topics (other than the occasional wtf link-out, I don't comment much on them when others do, and I've tended, recently, to not even read the big political discussion blogs - let alone comment on them.

I've been trying to work out why that is - despite no longer being engaged with the ALP I'm still passionate about political issues, and I don't think I've gotten so bitter and cynical that I don't have anything to contribute anymore.

But there's been something about online political debate recently that's made me want to stay the fuck away - and I think I've finally found an clear example that sums up what it is that keeps me away.

Part 1

Anna Winter described the decision in the WA Supreme Court that a nursing home should not force feed Christian Rossiter as a 'partial win', and took the view that starvation is a pretty unpleasant way to go, and surely there must be a better way, if it's Rossiter's firm view that he wants to end his life.

Part 2

[personal profile] lauredhel steps in and makes an excellent point about the public debate framing the discussion about Rossiter's court battle - namely that we've only been talking about his right to die, and not about the way he has been treated in the lead up to making that decision.

But - and here's where it all goes to shit - she accuses the Anna Winter of supporting death panels wanting to "knock him off" - language that is clearly inflammatory given the state of debate on US health care in the last couple of weeks and which completely mischaracterised Winter's position.

Worse, Winter turned up the in the comments at Hoyden to complain and didn't get the simple retraction and apology which would have settled it - and was told, in fact, that "it's not about you".

Part 3

Winter responds, at length, on LP - and the argument continues.

Part 3.5

While this is going on there's a fair bit of Twitter traffic going on:

I called Lauredhel on the misrepresentation and was told "not to fuck with me on this subject, because it's very personal."

There's also some traffic drawing attention to the discussion - but much of it is bitching about it, deciding what should be said in response on LP, and then dispatching someone off to do it (your classic "Heidi Patrol" behaviour, for those following the BNF analogy).

"Sending in the flying monkeys" is a term coined for the way that right wing bloggers send in their friends and followers to attack people who dare to publicly disagree with them or criticise their behaviour - it's a term that seems to fit this incident very well also, though.

Winter asked the people involved to kindly discuss the matter with her, rather than twittering abusively - and a round of defriendings on Twitter, LJ and other places ensued.

This is why I don't do online political debate anymore, I think, and why I haven't really engaged in most of the issues that have been floating around recently.

These are two fellow travellers - people who fundamentally agree on most things, and previously had a pretty good relationship.

But one ill-judged rhetorical twist, combined with an egotistical refusal to back away from it, and we have a pretty petty blog war and a round of childish defriendings.

There doesn't seem to be room for political discussion that isn't intensely personal at the moment - it seems to me that criticism of a particular position is being conflated with a total lack of good politics - "Well, if you're wrong about this, you must be a terrible person wrong about everything off my list of friends and fellow travellers."

I had much the same reaction to watching [profile] starla80 get worked over on a thread at [profile] mynxii's the other week - a debate again, I should point out, partly fueled by [personal profile] lauredhel's commentary on Twitter (but not on the thread itself, as was the case with Anna's issue).

Full disclosure: while I haven't used proper names here, those people who don't know should probably be aware that I have a close relationship with Anna Winter - it's possible my view of this exchange is highly coloured by that, but I don't think it is, on the whole.

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