Monday, December 15, 2014


People talk about how the anonymity of the Internet permits and possibly encourages some to be uncivil, and that’s true enough. But a related phenomenon is that the Internet encourages social interaction among the like-minded, and the resulting group-think sometimes promotes the kind of discourse that would never happen in a more heterogeneous group.

To wit: author John Scalzi (@scalzi) on Twitter: "As far as I can tell, the Breitbart site is by, and for, people who have drunk lead paint smoothies every single day of their lives."

Now, I don’t read Breitbart religiously, but people do link to it and I’ve seen some good stuff there. Out of curiosity, wondering what might have set off Mr. Scalzi, I looked at the site just now, and here are the top stories:
  • “Oprah Defends Sony Exec Over Racist Comments - But Slammed [L.A. Clippers owner] Sterling"
  • “Police: 3 Dead, Including Gunman, in Sydney Siege"
  • “Aussie Comedian: See? Gun Control Works"
  • “Immigration Activists Bash Boehner at L.A. Amnesty Conference"
(I’m not sure if I should have included Greg Outfield’s “Gutcheck: Why Sony Should Scare You,” so let’s make it five pieces.)

I didn’t bother to read any of the stories. The headlines pretty much speak for themselves. Breitbart is a conservative site, so it’s no surprise the pieces have a conservative slant.

By comparison, let’s look at the first four stories at Daily Kos:
  • “David Koch: ‘I’m a social liberal’"
  • “Lima climate talks: Optimism going in, skepticism coming out"
  • “Vivek Murthy confirmed as Surgeon General"
  • “Fox & Friends uses Australia hostage-taking to justify American torture program"
Seems like a pretty liberal slant. The piece on Koch, for example, notes that he says he’s conservative on economic matters and a social liberal, whereupon the author editorializes
Before you actually seek to take him up on the "social liberal" part, note that he continued by saying "as long as it doesn't interfere with the machinations of Plutus, god of wealth and king of all domains."
Hmm, I’m pretty sure Koch did not actually say those words in quotation marks.

I’m still not sure what Mr. Scalzi was upset about, but I will bet he wouldn’t make the remark he did on Twitter in a general audience - say, to book buyers in Cleveland. On Twitter, however, he felt that this was a perfectly acceptable remark.


Reporting now said...

New to John, I see. But noted is how fast you were able to adopt the snarky tone clueless haters who identify as "Conservative" favor.

Piptkin said...

Gee perhaps if you had actually investigated what John was referring to you, might consider he was spot on with his prior Twitter link and tweet...
"Saying that they've given up on women implies that any sane woman would have had anything to do with them at all."

COD said...

You do realize that his Twitter account is open to the world, right? He did make that comment in a general audience - basically anybody with Internet access.

NickPheas said...

Generally when John's referring to Breitbart there will be Gamergaters involved.

Rhianon Jameson said...

Thanks to everyone for their comments.

@Reporting now: I don't follow Scalzi's Twitter account, no, but I'm familiar with his work. Snarky tone? Perhaps, but you're the one who uses the phrase "clueless haters" when you have no information about me.

@Piptkin: I don't care what he was referring to, it's pretty impolite to refer to everyone who reads a site the way he did.

@COD: yup, I realize anyone can read his Twitter account. That was part of my point: some use Twitter as though the only people reading are like-minded, even though it's out there for all to see. We all make private comments to friends that we wouldn't want to say publicly. Friends know where you're coming from and apply the right filters. ("I want to kill so-and-so" generally isn't taken literally, for example.)

@NickPheas: I've worked hard to avoid Gamergate as much as possible. He may well have been making a Gamergate comment. My problem with it was that he didn't qualify the statement in any way. It wasn't along the lines of "Breitbart readers who support Gamergate are...," he said the entire site is for..." etc. I thought it was fair to look at the last four or five headlines and see whether no reasonable person could agree with them.