Thursday, July 3, 2008

It was the best of the blogosphere, it was the worst of the blogosphere....

What's really intriguing is how different posts get spun at different blogs, even though people usually have the ability to click through and check for themselves.

I've come to believe that probably fewer than 5-10% of readers--especially those who believe in the slant taken by the blog in question--ever click through to determine whether stories are being reported accurately, or if quotations are taken out of context.

Here's my case study for today, based on the interview that occasionally-in-the-public-eye-for-a-few-seconds LP Veep Candidate Wayne Allyn Root gave to Queerty in San Francisco.

Eric Dondero's Libertarian GOPer sandwiches in one Root quotation into this characterization of the interview:

Libertarian VP Candidate Wayne Root blasts Affirmative Action in Interview with Gay Magazine: Calls for Free Market-based diversity

Wayne Root has been accused in the past as having a heluva lot of Chuztpa. He tells it like it is, even if it may not jive with what certain individuals or groups want to hear at the time.

In the latest edition of Queerty, an major on-line magazine for Gay/Lesbian Americans, Root doesn't back down. In response to a question on the issue of special rights for Gays and Minorities, he equates government-forced Affirmative Action to "Big Brother Socialism."...

[Root quotation]

Also in the interview Root outlines the libertarian stance on Gay Marriage, at variance with the liberal Gay Rights Agenda of special rights. Root says, Government should stay the hell out of the issue of Marriage altogether.

That Root must have put it to them queers supporting that liberal Gay Rights Agenda of special rights.

On the other hand, Waldo characterizes the interview like this:

Libertarian veep Wayne Allyn Root, who recently made it onto Bob Barr's website, has surfaced for an interview- of all places- with the blog Queerty. It's worth reading to see how someone acquainted with gay rights asks the right followup questions. Watch Root- like Barr-stake his flag on marriage equality as a states' rights question, reassuring the South they'll never have to deal with it, while oozing his way around why he and Barr don't want a full repeal of DOMA.

Actually, having read Waldo's version first (which leaves Root looking like a faux-Libertarian Dixiecrat), it took me a few minutes to be sure that they were both talking about the same original post.

So how did the Waynster actually deal with gay marriage in the original?

AB: Switching gears here, getting a little more gay, what’s your stance on DOMA?

WR: Well, my stance is pretty simple. First of all, I believe it’s none of the government’s business to decide marriage at all. It’s a private ceremony or a religious ceremony. A church has a right to define it privately and if a church wants to ban - if the Catholic church or the Protestant church wants to say that two people of the same sex can’t get married, they can do that. It’s a free world and it’s a private enterprise. But, then, you have a right as a gay man or a lesbian woman to go and get married in a private ceremony by somebody who will marry you. It’s not a government’s job to license marriage. The government is a busy body. They try to get involved in people’s live and control us. The real answer is that religion shouldn’t in any way be involved in government and the government shouldn’t in any way license or get involved in religion and therefore I would fight to the death for anyone who is religious to practice their religion and I’d fight to the death for anyone who is not religious to not practice their religion. I’m not coming down on anyone’s side. I’m just saying the government should stay out of the process.

AB: Right, but part of DOMA is that the federal government may not recognize same-sex marriages, even if a state like Massachusetts or California does recognize them. What is your stance on that specific part of DOMA?

WR: Well, as much as I’d like government to be out of it completely, I’ve always been a states’ rights person. If you can’t progress on a federal level, at least you can get it inch-by-inch on a state-by-state level. I think it’s basically good for the people, if they have to be decided at all, first of all - like I said, I keep coming down on the side of fewer laws in general and the less government, the better, state or federal - but if it has to be decided, at least let’s get progress on the state level. That’s what I say about gay marriage or medical marijuana or online gambling. If Massachusetts or California and other progressive states legalize gay marriage, I say “great” and you as a gay person may want to go live there and feel more free, that’s great. If someone’s very deeply religious and they don’t want gay marriage and they therefore want therefore to choose to live in Alabama, Georgia or states with a more religious bent who don’t want to legalize it, then I say more power to those people who want to live in Georgia or Alabama.

So does Wayne rebuke that nasty ole queer agenda? Actually, what he seems to do is (a) accept Bob Barr's idea that Libertarianism equates with States-Rights [see Steve Kubby for a thoroughly Libertarian refutation of that particular notion]; (b) and if a state that is progressive [which means not religious to Wayne] wants gay marriage, fine. Just don't come down to good old religious Georgia or Alabama where we keep out negroes ... oops, I mean our faggots ... in line.

So in Wayne Root's America, the majority of voters in any state get to define the rights of American citizens, and if you don't like that decision you can just get the hell out. We'll provide the crosses to light your way.

This, everyone will be pleased to know, is the Libertarian stand on gay marriage--at least according to Eric Dondero, Wayne Allyn Root, and Bob Barr.

So my conclusion from all this (aside from the fact that Wayne should go back to online gambling) is: if Waldo presents a link, you can be pretty sure the original post has been correctly characterized. If Eric Dondero puts up a link--you'd better go check for yourself.


Waldo said...

Thanks for the compliment- I always try to run things back to their best available source and read theme myself. Then I decide what I think about it.

I find the immediacy factor of blogging lends itself to a lot of jumping to conclusions about things. The Mainstream Gay Media is especially prone to this. What tends to happen next is there's a trickle down from those sites to less-read ones. To take one example, if you look at what Pam's House Blend had to say about Judge Alex Kozinski's computer and some of the stuff a hacker found there, and Stanford intellectual property scholar Lawrence Lessig's account, you'd think you were straddling two different planets. But in that instance, it's almost universally the case that Blenders jump to a stock conclusion (Republican judge= perv)without knowing the facts.

As The Delaware Curmudgeon said last week on TV, it's better to be right than to be read.

Brian Miller said...

You seem surprised by Rittberg's ability to mischaracterize the facts, Steve.

Hell, he cannot even be honest about his own last name -- why is he going to tell you the truth about more complex issues? :)

Brad said...

The concept that the majority can vote away the rights of the minority is very dangerous. If Barr and Root really support this approach to government, this is hardly a Libertarian approach and they need to reread the Constitution. What they are proposing equates to mob rule--if enough people vote for something in a state, it should be allowed regardless if someone's freedoms are infringed in the process.