Two things happened last year when we started to get the Sunday Washington Post. One was that I tried to figure out those crossword puzzles. That’s not going so well. The other is that I would read the humor column in the back of the magazine by Gene Weingarten. That’s turned out better. I thus feel compelled to share what is the definitive statement on why blogging does not straightforwardly amount to the democratization of public discourse. Or, I should say, does not straightforwardly elevate the value of the public sphere. “No Comment,” at this link. And pasted in full below the fold.
By Gene Weingarten
Sunday, September 14, 2008; W48
It’s too bad that most of the remaining newspapers in America have boring names like the Times, the Post, the Herald, the Times-Post, the Post-Herald & Times, etc. I miss the old eccentric types of newspaper names: the Bugle-Beeblers, the Chronicle-Complainers, etc.
I started my career at a now-defunct paper called the Knickerbocker News, a fine, weird name that unfortunately sounded like “the Nicaragua News,” which often resulted in phone calls not being returned. My favorite real newspaper name, though, was the Genius of Liberty, which published in Leesburg in the late 1800s.
The name was created on the theory that our nation is great because it runs on the collective wisdom of a free, informed and wise citizenry. This theory was noble and inspiring, but it was probably based on the fact that in the old days, newspaper editors seldom actually got to really know their readers. Alas, today it is obvious that this theory is untrue. I say this because of the contents of the online “Comments” section that accompanies most news articles, the place where readers are encouraged to post their thoughts, free of editorial control.
They tend to read like this:
OLD SYCAMORE SAVED BY NEIGHBORHOOD CRUSADE
by Alicia Rosenblatt
* I posted frist!
* Very good article. Trees should be saved and not cut down and turned into pulp to print your Communist rag WHICH SHOULD BE RENAMED THE HAVANA TIMES.
* You didn’t mention motorcycles in this article at all. Just because motorcycle riders sometimes hit trees doesn’t mean we need a fascist helmet law.
* You are wrong. Old trees must be preserved and not cut down. I am cancelling my subscription.
* You idiot it was all about saveing old trees like you can even read get a life.
* BUSH LIED PEOPLE DIED. NO MCBUSH. VOTE FOR BOROCK OBAMA.
* I noticed the “reporter” on this “story” has a Jewish name. WHAT IS THIS, THE JERUSALEM POST?
* Thank you for this fine article. It made me weep. I am a published poet and your story has inspired me to write an epic poem about trees.
* Can anyone tell me where I can find naked pictures of Brittany before she got fat?
* Okay, I’ve got the first lines. “I weep for you, o lovely sycamore/I don’t want you to be sick anymore.”
* GREAT U SAVE TREES BUT U STILL EAT ANIMALS
* That tree might fall down and crush innocent children without proper care by licensed professionals. Andystreeservice.com.
* I have more lines: “O, handsome tree, have no fears/I will nourish your roots with my tears.”
* So what if the writer is Jewish you are just a bigot I bet you are a muslim you jerk.
* Why Muslim and not Moslem? When did that happen? Is it like Mao when he stopped being Tse Tung and became Zedong?
* Sycamores drool, maples RULE.
* If trees could vote we wouldn’t be drilling offshore.
* I posted first!