Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Warrantless Blogtapping Program

BLOG UNDER SURVEILLANCE: Right Wing News ...
Issue: Some RWN regulars are asking Hawkins to come clean on why he banned me from commenting.


Every other week, John Hawkins, owner of the Right Wing News blog, has a thing he calls "Q&A Friday" in which, via a regular blog posting, he asks his readers to pose questions in the comments section on any subject of their choice and out of which he will choose a select handful to respond to. I have to admit that this "Q&A Friday" idea of Hawkins was a stroke of genius. Seriously. His readers give him interesting ideas for content and he gives his readers a chance to compete for a prime mention on his blog. It's a win-win situation and it undoubtedly helps to keep his blog traffic up, especially on Fridays and over the weekend. And, in fact, he even, on occasion, had selected a couple of my questions to answer. But that was some time ago when I was still in his good graces.

His 69th "Q&A Friday" posting is now up. And, as usual, it is generating a nice round of questions.

It's been more than two weeks now since I was banned from commenting at Right Wing News, and some of the folks that I have come to know at RWN over the years are taking the opportunity in this round of "Q&A Friday" questioning to ask Hawkins why he might have banned me.

I don't think Hawkins will answer, nor do I suspect he will rescind the ban, nor will I ever try to get around the ban; but I appreciate the efforts of those who are trying to find out why it happened.

I should say that I also have no illusions. Eventually, after some time, folks will just stop asking him why, and everyone will move on to debating the current issues of the day, or to other things altogether. Heck, I'm sure even I will find myself distracted by other things and moving on with my life. It's all part of the way life goes. But I take some solace in knowing that some people will remember this as a troubling and uncharacteristic bit of behavior by Hawkins, and that this little bit of cowardice (I don't know how else to describe Hawkins' refusal even to respond) will also always be a part of what Hawkins himself will have to live with. Not that it will prick anyone's conscience all that much, because it is pretty insignificant; but it will always be there for those of us who will remember it.

But, Hawkins may surprise and respond yet! So, I keep a bit of hope alive as long as there are those at RWN who keep asking. And today they are asking. I'll keep you informed if anything comes of it.

Also, if any of my liberal blog-mates decide to check out Hawkins' site, and to leave a comment or two, feel free to be critical of the ideas and the content, but please also be respectful. There are some good folks who patronize that blog who deserve such respect and kindness.

UPDATE: There is an interesting debate going on at RWN about my banning. Since I can't respond there, my only recourse is to do it here. But let me preface my comments by saying that I have not been able to post anything at RWN for the past two weeks or so. Anything that happens at RWN is NOT my doing, except insofar as those who can still post there want to make me part of the discussion. Now, that said, let me try to address some of the comments there.

First, to soberannie: Two weeks ago you complained about my referencing commentary at RWN, wondered if it constituted plagiarism, and then said how uncomfortable you were with my doing this. Yet now you seem to be the mouthpiece of The Huck Upchuck at RWN. Please answer me this: How is what you are doing now with the content of MY blog any different than what you were so uncomfortable with my doing some weeks ago? Not that I mind your mentioning my blog content. I appreciate the traffic it will generate. But it does make me wonder about an apparent double-standard you seem to be practicing.

Second, to kingfisher: I thought my "Warrantless Blogtapping Program" category was clever, even if a bit corny! I'm disappointed you don't like it. But, I'm not going over the top with it, no more than Hawkins does with his somewhat regular "DU Thread of the Week" or his "DailyKos" postings. Why, just over the past day or so, Hawkins saw fit to comment on a Cindy Sheehan posting at DailyKos. It's just that, in my case, the subject of my own gauge of the pulse of right wing blogging is Right Wing News. I guess if the DU or DailyKos can be such a regular source of blog content for Hawkins and RWN on the state of the "lefty" blogosphere, why shouldn't RWN be a regular source of blog content for me on the state of the "rightwing" blogosphere? And I don't exclusively post things about RWN. In fact, most of my postings since I've re-invigorated my blog have had to do with other subjects, most prominently and recently the David Vitter scandal. And for you and others, if you want to know why I reference Right Wing News fairly often, it's really primarily not out of anger at being banned. I've made my peace with that. I've even made peace with the likelihood that I will probably never know why I was banned. Truly, the reason I reference RWN is because it is the only way I know how to try to engage all of you in debate since I can no longer do it at RWN. Hawkins didn't just cut me off from his blog, he cut me off from all of you. But, don't worry. I'm sure that, over time, I will either lose interest in tracking RWN, or will simply not have the time to dedicate my blog to tracking RWN and the engaging discussions that you all are having in the comments.

Third, to trenchraider: It's not so much anger that I was banned (though I was stunned and disappointed at first) as being completely at a loss as to why. In your case, you were able to reach some kind of closure by learning why it was you were banned, otherwise you wouldn't have been able to tell us the story of it. In my case, I simply don't know and remain baffled. And it seems that many of you are baffled, too. Even if Hawkins says: I banned him because I think he's a jerk, or simply because I wanted to, that would be something. It would put it to rest. As of now, there's just nothing. And saying nothing is Hawkins' prerogative, too. But nothing just keeps the mind wondering and seeking some kind of explanation.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Keep your head up, huck. I'll represent for all the level-headed serious liberals.

- Vega

Huck said...

Thanks, D-Vega. I know you will. You always do. And thanks for visiting my humble blog. Hopefully you'll continue to stop by and say hello every now and then.

D-Vega said...

You got it, huck. Don't give up on meaningful discussion with people who greatly disagree with you. It will be a loss for you as well as them. It's the only way we all can become better people.

Huck said...

Don't worry! I come from a big family that is almost evenly split along ideological lines. Makes discussion around the Thanksgiving dinner table quite interesting and almost always heated. But we're a close family, so we know how to argue passionately and hard, but also how to let it go and to still be very fond of one another. One of the reasons I tend to frequent conservative blogs is to show conservatives that liberals are not always how conservatives make them out to be. You're a great asset to liberals in this sense, too. I hope I have the chance to meet you someday and see who is this D-Vega that I respect and admire! Cheers!

Don_cos said...

"I thought my "Warrantless Blogtapping Program" category was clever, even if a bit corny! ~ Huck"

I would call it a bit "snarky

Don_cos said...

Oops - I forgot that " thingy! D'oh!

Kingfisher said...

Second, to kingfisher: I thought my "Warrantless Blogtapping Program" category was clever, even if a bit corny!

Actually, the title was pretty good. What differentiates your comments about RWN from John's comments about DKos is that you were recently banned from RWN and you started focusing a lot about RWN almost immediately after that. From my standpoint that looks a lot like sour grapes but I believe you if you say it isn't. If you were referencing any other rightwing site I wouldn't question your motives.

Simulacre said...

I thought it was a pretty clever title too...almost as cool as C_T's Word around the Net. I like the concept too, because I think there are a lot of folks like us who live in the comment sections of blogs and appreciate the commentary as much as we appreciate the editorials written by the Blog owners that generate the commentary.

It's a good niche and a great segment to have on a blog. That said, I hope John at least gives an answer as to why he banned you and hopefully he'll rescind the ban.

While we don't agree on a lot of issues, it helps us all to hash it out and hone our opinions...our country is based on informed debate and democracies can't survive without it.

President Friedman said...

"Eventually, after some time, folks will just stop asking him why, and everyone will move on to debating the current issues of the day, or to other things altogether."

Perhaps, but this has already affected how much interest I take in entering debates at RWN. I will still comment on trivial or non-controversial items (such as Maledicta's recent request for good fiction books), but I no longer feel like RWN offers a fair forum for discussing serious political debates, so I just avoid them.

Simulacre said...

Perhaps, but this has already affected how much interest I take in entering debates at RWN. I will still comment on trivial or non-controversial items (such as Maledicta's recent request for good fiction books), but I no longer feel like RWN offers a fair forum for discussing serious political debates, so I just avoid them.

P_F, you should have included that in your question...I think that would have added weight to your query and maybe tipped the scale in favor of JH at least answering the question.

Huck said...

Thanks, all. We'll see what happens.

Just a follow-up comment to kingfisher: At first, I was stunned and disappointed. And the "Warrantless Blogtapping Program" idea certainly came out of that. No denying it. I admit as much when I introduced the idea. I don't think I can be blamed too much for that, though. But the reality is that RWN was really my only blog commenting community with such a large range of conservative voices, and it was one that, as a liberal, I had come to really appreciate and enjoy. Moreover, I had been there for such a long time that to wake up one day to find myself banned, without warning, and unable even to explain my absence to all of you was gut-wrenching. I could only think of two things to do to try to keep some contact with all of you: (1) to visit your own blogs if you had one and comment there, or (2) to restart my own blog and hope that some of you would visit and engage me here.

That's really the reason for it.

Huck said...

P_F - Speaking of good fiction, I would recommend anything written by the Canadian, Robertson Davies, especially his last novel before he passed on, entitled "The Cunning Man." Also, my wife, who is a voracious reader, turned me on to a book called "The Time Traveler's Wife," which was superb. I highly recommend it if you haven't already read it.