When bloggers behave badly

In our political culture, we’ve become accustomed to a myth, partly because of the way news is covered. There is a good guy and there is a bad guy. There is white and there is black. There is liberal and there is conservative. There are only two flavors to anything and one flavor per side. Which one flavor are you?

So it’s fascinating — in a slow-down-and-look-at-the-accident sort of way — when a fight erupts within; when there are flavors to the flavors, as a debate among conservative bloggers in Minnesota reminded us this week.

Here’s how it started.

Tracy Eberly, writing on the blog, Anti-Strib, published a piece about the history of Native Americans, that might even make Terri Traen wince.

One of the main reasons that the government dealt so harshly with the tribes was that the tribes had a long record of murder and theft. Today we would call them domestic terrorists. There is nothing noble about stealing and killing at random.

“Dirt-worshipping heathens” is the term describing Native Americans that got the blog posting noticed by other bloggers — OK, they’re liberal bloggers, you got me — who wondered why Michael Brodkorb at Minnesota Democrats Exposed (the blog liberals hate but can’t stop reading), said nothing about it, while continuing to focus on what he said were racist comments by Al Franken.

Further, the Anti-Strib blog is listed in Brodkorb’s list of “daily reads,” indicating that Brodkorb was probably aware of the posting.

The heat got hot for Brodkorb, so on Saturday he eliminated the link on his site and declared the original posting “racist.”

It all sounds a little too left-winger-trying-to-do-damage control to conservative blogger Gary Miller at Truth v. the Machine.

Tracy’s post was unsavory to say the least. Points about cultural differences are often radioactive but sometimes worth making. But the unfortunate use of derisive language undermined the larger point that the liberal welfare state has devastated Native American culture (like nearly every other minority community). That said, Michael’s response — adopting the language and tactics of the Left — was somewhat silly and a bit gratuitous.

Here’s what people are missing: You can’t silence a blogger. That’s the entire “beauty” of blogs in the first place. You can’t do it by removing a link from your page because, let’s face it, nobody navigates by a long list of links anymore. In Brodkorb’s declaration that he is removing Anti-Strib from his list of links, he does what bloggers are supposed to do in matters of reference — he linked the words Anti-Strib, to the Anti-Strib site, in an article about removing a link to Anti-Strib. Say what?

Brodkorb — probably unwittingly — showed why the blogosphere is different from mainstream media. Other media, other people, cannot silence the blogger through shunning. The only person that can silence a voice in the blogosphere, is the person who deletes the feed from his/her RSS reader.

Get it? Each reader gets to make his/her own decision.

Freedom is ugly sometimes.

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