Thursday, April 20, 2006

The Goose, The Gander, and The Sauce

I had planned to restrict my political observations on this site and vent my intellectual exhaust fumes from the combustion of the world as it is with my own sense of the world as it should be on the multitude of other sites so thoughtfully provided by others in the blogosphere for just that purpose.

Now one of the most entertaining and best-written of the conservative blogs is The Rightwing Nuthouse, whose proprietor, author, researcher, editor, and general-antic-in-chief just happens to be one of my (many) brothers, the indefatigable Rick Moran, lately seen locking horns (figurative and not demonic) with lefty Taylor Marsh on C-Span's "Washington Journal." Rick acquitted himself nobly, garnering favorable reviews even from Marsh herself.

(Parenthesis: One of the two panel participants was more articulate about the global implications of the policies discussed - and it wasn't Marsh.)

Rick writes with commendable enthusiasm about Fox TV's "24," with great passion about baseball, and with generally good humor about politics from what I'd term a usually conservative (as opposed to strident right wing) perspective that is rather more oblique than opposed to my own classically liberal (as opposed to the Stalinist-politically-correct-formerly-"New Left" bastardization of progressivism current today)stances on issues. It makes for some genial conversations and, as Rick notes in his own profile, some interesting family reunions.

Rick's topic today, as the link above shows, is the unpleasantness related to a recent incident at the University of California at Santa Cruz and the subsequent reaction of Michelle Malkin, the prominent, popular, and often quoted right wing (and NOT conservative) blogger whose readership (and I'm trusting Rick on this) is in the neighborhood of 144,000.

The UCSC incident involved a small number of students harassing, blocking, and physically assaulting military recruiters on campus. From the news reports in the MSM, it certainly looks like the demonstrators' physical interference constituted some kind of crime or other, and the legal system will work that out in its own time. Definitely small potatoes compared to what was happening in a similar vein back in the Sixties, but serious enough in itself.

A number of left-oriented commentators have tried to excuse the students' conduct with the classically Stalinist ethic that the ends (interfering with the prosecution of an immoral war) justify the means (breaking the law and attempting to restrict free political speech on campus).

If the students committed crimes during their protest, then they need to go to jail. Gandhi did; King did; hell, even I did. That's the part of the civil disobedience equation that many seem to have forgotten.

What they do not deserve is to have their "personal information" posted on a website that draws the abovementioned one hundred thousand plus hits - or even on a site that draws a fraction of the same. That's just gratuitous bullying any way you slice it - and justified only by the same illogic of the Stalinists on the other side - that quelling all this nasty progressivism still floating around permits even the most un-civil of public acts.

Malkin justifies her publicizing (from public documents already easily available, to be fair to her) of students' email addresses and phone numbers by writing:

As for SAW, my message is this: You are responsible for your individual actions. Other individuals are responsible for theirs. Grow up and take responsibility.

And indeed they should - in a court of law, and not to Malkin or the reading public at large.

In retaliation against Malkin, though, a number of left-leading websites have published her home address and phone number, which would seem mere poetic justice were it not for:

a) the sad fact of the number of nuts of all and no political stripes wandering the American landscape today, and

b) another old moral saw about two wrongs not making an acceptable sum.

Brother Rick, though, sees the situation in a different light - a dimmer one, I think:

Of course, we’re now beyond the debate about what went on at UCSC and into the bloody aftermath; Malkin’s publishing the press release containing the telephone numbers of those poor, innocent college students. This is something Malkin does quite often. She publishes contact information of school principals, corporate CEO’s, college professors, local elected officials, and anyone and everyone who demonstrates either extraordinary cluelessness or a particular bias against conservatives. It is the fact that she encourages her readers to initiate contact that has lefty blogs up in arms.

Enough said right there, really. As the Jesus notes in Matthew's Gospel "All who take the sword shall perish by the sword." And of course, Hamlet does in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern by figuratively hoisting them with their own petard.

Malkin encourages her readership to "initiate contact." Her opponents turn the technique on her, upping the ante by bringing it all literally closer to home.

So - sorry brother Rick, but if you play with dirt, you're going to get dirty. Or as the Anglo-Saxons put it in their own inimitably pithy way - if you lie down with pigs, you'll wake up smelling like shit.


Rick Moran said...

Congrats on the new blog. And the kind words. To your readers, I'm actually a little more unhinged than Jim lets on...but in a nice sort of way - kinda like an alchoholic uncle who you don't mind visiting as long as the liquor cabinet remains locked.

As for your mostly fair, mostly logical reply to my (and many on the right echo my sentiments) critique of the situation, the fact is that Malkin republished a press release containing those student's contact information. This same information is still available as I write this on at least 3 left-wing websites. It was also posted at the SF Indymedia site which receives in excess of 50,000 visitors a day although my understanding is the kids asked them to take down the press release.

Is there a difference between a widely available (as you point out) press release and information of a personal nature that, while available, takes a modicum of sleuthing to uncover? Does that matter?

Malkin couldn't do anything about the information about her already on the net. Those kids chose to include their phone numbers in the press release. Does that matter?

I guess if you're a radical student (two of the three have ties to a campus socialist group) and issue a release bragging about kicking the army off campus and then wait to bask in the glory of commendation from your left wing allies, the shock that people actually disagree with what you did might be a little much. What they went through can't be much worse than what I or any other conservative blogger has had to endure from time to time - the incoherent rage of people who disagree with you.

Anyway, I hope you get the time to post regularly on a wide variety of topics. And I promise not to write about that arrest you wrote about in the post.

I didn't know you were protesting the war too...?

JK Moran said...

Thanks, Rick. I don't have any readers yet, but let's check back in a few months. As you well know, the writing is in many ways its own end.

My point at the end of the piece was, of course, not in any fundamental disagreement with what you say. Publishing Malkin's personal info did in fact "up the ante" of the hand which your post indicated she had herself already dealt - hence my comments about pigs and dirt.

Neither right nor left seem to me these days to have a corner on either rage or incivility. Your point that the harassment needs to stop at the particular point of publisihing public but harder-to-find personal information strikes me as a bit disingenuous. Malkin encourages her readers to intiate contact; her enemies return the favor with gusto, apparently adhering to the Sean Connery "Malone" character's dictum in "The Untouchables" about how to get Capone: "They pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue."

A sad commentary, no doubt, on the oft-observed polarization of politics in the country. But civility, like charity, begins at home. We all must be the physicians who heal ourselves, first. Stridency and mean-spiritedness will breed the same, and none of us should be surprised when the dogs of war we let slip return to us with bloody fangs and a still-unsatisfied hunger.

Gary said...

I hope we can have more of point counter point from the brothers Moran.
The Malkin discussion reminds me of a close play at first base. Each side can't believe that the other doesn't see it their way. It is too bad that we can't discuss topics without the name calling (I'm trying to think good thoughts and really mean this) without being ultra defensive about everything.

Good luck (and listen to your brother)

Crude said...

I can see the family resemblance in your prose. I have been an avid reader of your brother for some time now and you may have acquired another regular.

Per the topic at hand, I take exception to Michelle Malkin's "outing" of the students but at the same time, as your brother notes in his comment, you can find three blogs depicting the same information. And upon visiting one of the sites, I found that site "encouraging contact."

Now, it seems you and I grew up in the same period. I had great respect for those in our day who stood their ground - Muhammed Ali is a wonderful example. He was a conscientious objector who spent time in prison for his beliefs. I did not have much respect for those who "escaped" to Canada, taking their beliefs with them and even less for these same individuals who came back begging for amnesty.

How does this compare? Either you stand up for your convictions or you shit down and STFU. Either the students knew what they were in for when they passed out the "Press Release" or they did not think it through. In either case, they bought it - whether being "outed" by Michelle Malkin or from their own. Now we see where the power of their convictions actually lie.

Do they stand up and be counted or . . .

Natani Nez said...

Thousands of Jim Moran's former students across the land know him as their teacher of a lifetime. He is brilliant, inspired, and amazingly perceptive. He was heading for the ivory tower and a doctorate by age 23. But he left to teach with his M.A., and has achieved the beloved status of "Mr. Moran." Now, with this blog, those of us who knew him in college and thought of him as "the smartest person in the world--and one of the funniest, too" will get to revisit his genius. Write often, Jim.

Steven said...

I didn't think Malkin was out of line until she reposted the information in the press release after she knew the students were being harassed by (one assumes) her readers. Malkin's intent was certainly to aid in the harassment of the students and for that she should be condemned. The form of the condemnation however is quite out of bounds. This is the Blog version of how most bar fights start--I insult you, your friends defend you, my friends defend me, each time upping the ante, until somebody throws a punch or knocks somebody upside the head with a beer bottle.

flyatnight said...

Are two Moran's better than one?

This should be fun to watch.

Pat said...

I guess I'm one of the few who thinks that there was nothing particularly wrong with Malkin posting the information which the students had posted on the web, or with the other bloggers retaliating by posting her information. It's all about what the readers do with it. Those who used the occasion to level death threats and use obscenity are the ones who did something wrong.

I suspect that now that the flap has died down, the students are very happy to have been a cause celebre among the left, just as they were happy to be identified as a threat by the Pentagon last year.