INSITEVIEW- - tom shugart's weblog

Sunday, August 04, 2002

Blogging Or Blood?

OK. I took a few days off from blogging, and the sky did not fall. Frank Paynter now comes along and gives me a boot in the rear end (very gently, of course. He's a peaceful man). So now I'm forced to get off of the bruised posterior and post a reply. Devilishly clever, Frank.

Actually, I can't put the onus on him. When Frank sent me his email in response to my post in which I expressed my negative feelings about personal bloggers turning to warblogging, I emailed back that he deserved a response, and that I would craft the response through a blog post.

However, I took my brief hike from the blog, and the response that Frank was due was not forthcoming. So it's more accurate to say that I was the one forcing him to take the issue public, not the other way around.

Frank concludes his post by telling me:

"You and I can disagree about these matters (in fact we do, since I have a button that says "Barbara Lee Speaks for Me") but we should not let the conversation die."

How can I not respond to that? I may dislike warblogging, but there's no way I can ignore Frank's call for the importance and necessity of conversation. He's absolutely right, of course. One of the rare pieces of good news these days is the convening of the hearings on the contemplated action in Iraq by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. This is a welcome step in the right direction--an empowering act of conversation.

One wonders what might have occurred had such hearings been conducted on Vietnam in 1964. The lack of such hearings left that debate to the acrimony of the streets by default. I was certainly one of those who passionately believed in the necessity of a "conversation" in those days.

I put my belief into action--rallies, demonstrations, marches--I participated in as many as I could. There was no other way to get a conversation going. The older generation had a trust in their government that, thank heavens, doesn’t exist anymore. Their unquestioning attitude, the myopia, and the xenophobia had to be broken through somehow, even though it could get really scary sometimes. I suffered my share of being spit on, screamed at by faces twisted in horrifying rage, snarled at by police dogs, and fired at with tear gas canisters.

So, after all that, I could hardly be the one to say, "screw the conversation." But I do wonder--will blogging make any difference? I wonder--had the internet been available in the '60's--would the power of the protest have been deflected by people taking out their outrage in a flurry of blogposts? Would they have had the illusion--and only the illusion--of empowering themselves and changing history through the act of cross-blogging, when, in actuality, the only force that could have changed anything was the years of dogged determination, blood in the streets and campuses, defections to Canada, banishments from the family, willingness to spend time in the slammer?

Is blogging just pissing in the wind? Sometimes, if you want peace, you may have to be a warrior. Is that just my old 60's mentality talking? Clearly, a lot of conversing is needed to sort this shit out. To the extent that blogging is an amazing tool for conversation, I guess I've partly answered my own questions.

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