South Carolina Blogland or Sludgeland?

I was recently in Manning, talking with a statewide candidate. When I mentioned my blog and discussion of statewide races, he got a little testy and said "I don't read those any more", explaining that he only saw them as forums for cheap shots and personal attacks.

I'm sorry he felt that way, but I have to admit that he had a point.

A number of these blogs, such as ones run by Mike Reese, Mike Reino, Lauren Manning, and Sunny Phillips and myself clearly identify who owns/publishes them. The ones who are most vicious in what they have to say, both blog publishers and comment posters, tend to be anonymous (is anyone surprised?). These attacks have included:

  • One candidate getting in a bar fight with a legislator,
  • A legislator's favorite brand of booze,
  • One candidate making shady deals with video poker,
  • Another candidate is a really a Democrat and "Satan" himself.

One reason I've hesitated to get into discussion of SC politics on my blog is because I didn't want to get drug through the mud, or have my blog used as an attack vehicle. Since I decided to test the waters, personal attacks, threats, and other childishness that had never been part of the discussion on my blog now pop up in the comments regularly. Some of them I approve, some I don't.

There is nothing wrong with speaking clearly on the issues, but if one is willing to make claims, they need to be able to stand behind them. People have more respect for those who make harsh claims and criticisms when they have the cojones to put their names to them. While some may have legitimate reasons for concealing their identity, others use anonymity as a weapon, not a shield, both as bloggers and posters on blogs.

Let's try to clean up our act.

Based on how media figures are tuning in and getting story leads and inputs from SC blogs that deal with politics, in part or whole, we have the potential to have some real influence out there, broaden the dialogue, and bring some valuable perspectives to the table that wouldn't have been included in the political process before. Those are good things - let's not let the rogues ruin them.

7 Response to "South Carolina Blogland or Sludgeland?"

  1. Mike Reino 10/6/06 15:53
    A big "Harrumph" , Earl! Although I must admit, I will sling the mud now and then... But at least they know where it's coming from.
  2. Sunny Philips 10/6/06 22:06
    There's no doubt that its probably easier being anonymous, but when I started my blog, I felt like if I had an opinion, I needed to own up to it.

    You're right, Earl. People are starting to pay attention, and it hurts everyone's credibility when some bloggers resort to petty name-calling and gossip-mongering.
  3. Earl Capps 10/6/06 22:47
    yep - the media is starting to tune into political commentary and tips from the blogs, and if we keep the blogosphere fairly clean, we could help shape what gets covered, and how it gets covered.

    cute pic with the kids, by the way :)
  4. notverybright 14/6/06 07:43
    Even though my blog is anonymous, I actually agree with your point. It's why I go to great lengths not to do the things you rightly complain about. It would be easy. But it's just not my style.
  5. Earl Capps 14/6/06 08:26
    I've seen that. It's ok to be critical, as long as you're fair, and it's ok to be anonymous for the most part - a little mystery can even be fun.

    I think blogs ulimately judged by the content that gets posted on them, not by the identity. So long as you're not using your anonymity to avoid accountability, then you're ok by me.

    Hey, thanks for reading, and for posting too :)
  6. Anonymous 14/6/06 10:16
    you've got quite a bit of sludge to clean up yourself about preaching to yourself for a change you big jerk
  7. Earl Capps 14/6/06 15:19
    Don't worry - with two divorces to my name, I'm sure nobody around here would be so stupid as to presume that yours truly is a candidate for sainthood.

    At least I hope they wouldn't be. I'm sure that has at least a little bit to do with why three years later, the only female companionship I can rely upon is my dog.

    But then again, slinging around personal sludge, instead of talking about ideas and issues, is one of the problems I'm talking about. Thanks for bringing us back to my original point.

    If you really want to, and try hard enough, I'd bet that even you could be part of the solution, and not just part of the problem.

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