Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Decline of RWN

One of the conservative blogs that I've been a more-or-less regular visitor to is John Hawkins' Right Wing News.  I started checking out RWN many years ago, when it was just starting out.  At the time, only John Hawkins was writing there, and his blog's look was fairly basic and simple.

John Hawkins himself is a decent writer for the most part.  He has a particular style that I find engaging and easy to respond to.  Now, that's not to say that I agree with Hawkins.  In fact, I vehemently disagree with about 98% of what the man writes.  And sometimes I find his blog incendiary and over-the-top reactionary.  That said, his blog has been a mainstay for my keeping abreast of what this particular rightwing community is saying.  And I've met some really smart and good people in the comment boards over there.

Over the past 6 months or so, I've stopped commenting at that site because of the unabashed censorship of any left-leaning, liberal commenters there.  Maybe it's toned down some since then, but the creep of groupthink there, and the penchant towards growing antipathy towards free expression of opposing viewpoints in comment threads is a shame.  His blog didn't used to be that way.

But that's not the most problematic thing with RWN these days.  I still visit the blog on occasion, though not nearly as regularly as I used to.  Now, John Hawkins maybe writes one or two postings a day.  It's become a kind of rightwing opinion aggregator with a cacophony of voices that make the blog incoherent.

Fewer and fewer people are commenting on the postings there; and, frankly, the blog contributors are not nearly as intellectually interesting and competent as Hawkins was.  If it's not William Teach embarrassing himself with his endless climate change denialist postings on "globull" warming, it's Warner Todd Houston blathering on about the latest obscure incident of some overzealous PC action on the part of some nobody (usually from Illinois).

As the blog's technical and visual structure got more complex and glitzy, the quality of the posting content got weaker and flimsier.  Now it comes across as just a place where rightwing reactionaries can just screech and moan and complain.  There's very little actual provocative thought being generated there by serious intellects.

It's quite a shame, actually.  But so be it.


Eric said...

I actually think things have gotten a lot better over there over the last few months. Van Helsing was one of the bloggers whose posts really made me cringe, and he didn't make the cut in the new line up. Huston is hit and miss, and I actually like most Teach's posts. I miss Melissa Clothiers posts over there, but overall I like the new lineup. I only check a few blogs daily so I enjoy having a few more of the mainstream conservative pundits syndicated at RWN.

As for the comments, there are fewer posters but the discussions have been more substantial the last few months. As much as I liked the guy, since StanW got banned the tone in the comments section has been much less incendiary.

With that said, I've never seen RWN as a good place for debate between liberals and conservatives (though it is a good place for debate between libertarians and conservatives). What I have always enjoyed about the community there is the way ideas get bounced around within the confines of a conservative frame. As you said, it is a good place to check the pulse of mainstream conservatism.

It has been a little frustrating for me lately with everybody picking sides for the primary... these candidates are all so uninspiring I don't see how anyone could get worked up over somebody else's choice. I vehemently oppose Newt as The Candidate but otherwise I'm not too critical of anyone's decision.

Huck said...

I've met StanW in real life. We've gone out to lunch together. He is a very nice guy and doesn't at all come across as a mean-spirited crank. I don't know why he explodes the way he does at RWN's comment boards. I didn't even know he was banned.

I find the aggregator style of blogging to be very unsatisfying. I guess I prefer single-blogger sites (or maybe sites that have just a handful of bloggers) because you really get to understand the way the mind of that blogger works and can better chew over all the ideas it generates. It's also easier to sort through intellectual inconsistencies and longer-term thought evolutions when there's not a cacophony of voices muddling up things.

I did like Melissa Clouthier's writing, too.

As far as commenters go, mightysamurai is an insufferable blowhard; though you and Martin Hale and Bill Dalasio (and usually Christopher Taylor) have really been what's kept my interest.

Do you think I should consider re-engaging RWN? Would I be able to make any contributions to the debate there these days in the comment threads?

Eric said...

Also, one thing to keep in mind about Teach, and I find this to be very interesting, is that in spite of his AGW posts he is more of an environmentalist than most conservatives, voted for Gore in 2000, and is a former believer in AGW.

I think mightysam is a good debater, but he does fly off the handle sometimes for no apparent reason. I would accuse him of being too contrarian at times, but I fear me accusing somebody of being too contrarian could put me in danger of being struck by lightning.

Baoxian is another regular at RWN whose perspective I value.

Regarding Stan, I like stan, agree with him most of the time, and don't think I've ever had a cross word with him... but I remember looking at his post history awhile back and discovering that over the previous 7 days, he literally had a 10-to-1 ratio of angry flames to on-topic posts, and was one of the most prolific posters on the entire site in terms of number of posts... I felt his anger was really hurting the threads moreso than the trolls he was venting it towards. He was also growing increasingly severe with his attacks, especially on Vega, and ending most of them with "Fuck Off And Die". Death wishes (even rhetorical ones) will get somebody banned at RWN in a hearbeat, always have, and Stan got away with it a lot longer than most. I believe it was just such an exchange with Vega that got him banned.

Regarding your return to RWN, I think the atmosphere there is warmer than it was when you quit posting, but Obama's presidency has made conservatives pretty bristly, so it's not the same as it was 4 years ago. As always, I would value your input there!

Huck said...

I beg to differ with you on mightysamurai's debating skills. His refrain towards any argument I make is that I only see what I want to see and hear what I want to hear. He almost never actually engages any points I make. His "debate" strategy is to attack the debater and not the argument. That's not skill, it's bullying and sophistry. It's infantile. And because of that, it's pointless to engage him in any substantive way, so I refuse to do so.

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