When good blogs go bad

Little Green Footballs was one of the first three blogs I read. First came Tim Blair, then Instapundit, then LGF.

I can’t quite put my finger on when Charles Johnson began to lose his mind. I would say it happened shortly after he left Pajamas Media. His tone changed, as did his invective and his targets. Johnson, who once held “mobying” and “sock puppetry” as capital offenses, began dealing in the type of name-calling and derangement his detractors dealt. A site dedicated to shining a light on the net world of jihad suddenly was obsessed with creationism in schools and finding fascists behind every corner.

Not that one can’t debate creationism in schools, or fascism, but Johnson took a tack where it was hard to see where he left room in the world for creationists to even exist. Then came the tea parties, which he quickly tried to link to Ron Paul nuts. When that didn’t work, he attempted to label Glenn Beck and pro-lifers as anti-choice zealots. It culminated in a recent spirited climax when he insisted Van Jones had been wronged by the right and was the victim of lies – quite the split from one who was so integral to the whole Memo-gate exposure. Johnson never answered the question, if Jones was so wronged, why he resigned. A site once dedicated to truth about truthers had finally done the complete flip.

Johnson was never a rock-ribbed conservative – heck, neither is Glenn Reynolds. And there is no problem with that, most of my favorite writers aren’t, a few far from it. But it’s one things to change ideology, another to make a habit of intellectual dishonesty and abusing good will thousands of visitors have paid to your site.

I was a regular visitor on LGF, sometimes commented on the posts and made it a habit to entertain the chat room a couple nights a week. About two months into the creation binge, I commented a seemingly innocuous post about the proclivity of creation nonsense. With that I was banned.

I forgot the site existed until a recent post at Gateway Pundit. A few clicks here and there, some of the banned commenters from LGF decided to petition to other exiles in hopes of coming up with some numbers. All said and done, around a 1,000 commenters had been banned – just from those who found this posting. Lord knows what the actual number is.

Much of this was unnoticed, until LGF began picking fights with Michelle Malkin, Rush Limbaugh, Ace of Spades, Jihad Watch and now R.S. McCain.

At McCain’s post, someone posted an Alexa link to LGF’s web traffic. It’s a dying site. An utter shame, because it didn’t have to be that way.

So a lesson to all bloggers, journalists or those with an audience – respect it. Respect it very much. The net is a big, bad place and people won’t stick around if you won’t.

15 comments to When good blogs go bad

  • Mighty Skip

    I comment at LGF very infrequently. My view is this, like a lot of blogs (even this one, though hard as that to believe with how aweseome it is) you just don’t agree with everything. I still find myself nodding along with some of LGF’s statements and observations and R.S. McCain is not someone I like very much.

    However, I agree, at some point the tone and tenor changed. Much of what used to be intelligent commentary is now sour and blasé.

    • Here’s the thing, though. You might disagree, Republibot 3.0 often disagrees, Barry O sure as hell disagrees.

      I sometimes disagree with Floyd, and very often with Rufus. Wankette and Outlaw I’m afraid to disagree with. Rich is one smart Polack, and I agree with him always. JohnFN and I have such different interests and focuses that I just read and enjoy what he writes, and rarely comment. Eric has no taste in music. CF Kane likes toast, which I also like.

      But none of that matters. What kind of blog bans people for disagreeing? I think the whole point of Threedonia is to throw ideas out there and talk about them. I love disagreements here.

      Remember that open thread a couple of months ago where I threw in a comment about George Tiller’s funeral? We had a six-hour argument that almost—but not quite—got out of hand. That was one of my favorite days here.

      Argue with me, please, if you disagree. I might learn something—not likely, but it’s possible.

      And by the way, I stayed out of the discussion last week, but Ender’s Game is one of the best books I’ve ever read, and Speaker for the Dead was even better. While reading it I dreamed about it. The only other book that’s happened with was Thucydides (Landmark edition, accept no substitutes!)

      • David Marcoe

        There’s a threshold at which someone is no longer a trusted source. I can disagree with someone, still respect their opinion and even see where they’re coming from. I can also disagree with someone and think they’re f***ing nuts. Once you reach that point, even if you occasionally say something coherent, you’re no longer someone I’m going to pay attention to.

        Then there’s the case where someone just become a putz. Allahpundit antics so soured me to the blog I couldn’t stomach it anymore. Besides the digs at the religious right, he went out of his way–abandoning professional decorum–to either stir up the sh** pot or indulge in his constant pessimism. And on top of that, the commenters could be worse than him. At the end of the day, I could get solid analysis elsewhere without the assh***e brigade in tow.

        If Mike disagrees with me, I just grind out one of my numbered posts and then hand the bottle to ease the pain of reading. Either that, or slip Man-Boobs some cash to go over and smack him the face with his tits, which causes Mike to also drink. Sometimes a combination is effective. Mike hasn’t disagreed with me in weeks :-)

        • Mighty Skip

          I have to say I really enjoy Allahpundit. To Mike’s point, I find it good that he challenges certain principles conservatives hold that if you don’t agree with, some label you as an apostate. More however, seem to understand the concept that within an ideaology you have to make room for other opinions. Which is why I love coming here, as it offers viewpoints I do not get elsewhere.

          I should also note, LGF has apparently banned me as of ealier this afternoon for defending HotAir. More likely because I challenged the notion that Charles should never be treated with skeptisim. I’ll never know. Thing is, I still plan on reading the blog. And I still assert that if the conservative movement doesn’t make at least some room for people like the ones at LGF, we are going nowhere.

          • David Marcoe

            I have to say I really enjoy Allahpundit. To Mike’s point, I find it good that he challenges certain principles conservatives hold that if you don’t agree with, some label you as an apostate. More however, seem to understand the concept that within an ideology you have to make room for other opinions. Which is why I love coming here, as it offers viewpoints I do not get elsewhere.

            Which is all well and good, but just as often he wants to pick a fight. It was the picking of fights that did it for me. It was childish and unprofessional. That, some of his headlines and blog became dishonest and intentionally misleading. I could longer trust him and as much of his writing made up the content of Hot Air, it became difficult to continue reading.

            • Jake Was Here

              I still read Hot Air for Captain Ed’s contributions. AP, on the other hand, I try to avoid as much as possible — he likes to pick on the religious right specifically because it’s the religious right.

              And as far as I can tell, the timeline for the downfall of LGF goes something like this.

              1. Gates of Vienna and others make approving posts about a European anti-jihad group called Vlaams Belang
              2. Charles J. posts that VB is a former neo-Nazi and white supremacist group
              3. Gates of Vienna et al. attempt to defend themselves
              4. Charles J. gets on top of them, whips out the guilt-by-association argument, calls Gates of Vienna et al. anti-Semites
              5. Other anti-Islamofascist bloggers, particularly Robert “JihadWatch” Spencer, come to the defense of the blogs Charles is attacking
              6. Charles says to Spencer, in essence, “What are you defending them for? Are you a fucking Jew-hater too?”
              7. Other blogs rise up to defend Spencer
              8. Charles calls them anti-Semites
              9. And so on

              As one wag puts it, I’m just waiting for the day when Charles announces LGF is closing because he’s found a 28-link chain of blogs connecting him to neo-Nazis.

          • JohnFN

            That, my friend, is the big question. I have no problem making room in the tent for them, but what about them making room in the tent for the rest? I think their ban addiction speaks to their lack of interest in that.

      • Floyd

        don’t forget Lolita Mike.

  • Scott M.

    Yeah,like Andrew Sullivan…the Daily Swish

  • Ace had to post a LGF bitch column just to get people to stop hijacking all the other threads with their rants about this.

  • Floyd

    Mighty Skip… what do you mean you don’t agree with everything here???

  • You know, when I was a Jr. High Schooler, going to a private Christian school, they made a point of teaching us evolution. They said “This isn’t true, but you need to know it because it’s important.” That was thirty years ago. That seemed an acceptable compromise to me as a ‘tween, so why in the hell are we still arguing about this a generation later? I don’t pretend to understand.

    Look, when I was in school, I was forced to learn Greco-Roman mythology, too. I wasn’t forced to *believe* it, but I had to lean it for the test, and so I could better appreciate some aspects of literature. Why is evolution any different? No one’s telling you what to believe, it’s just the creation myth of the society we live in. You need to learn it to fit in, you don’t need to believe it, practice it, preach it, or anything like that. What’s the big deal?

  • The big deal is that many public schools are not teaching it as A possibility, it is THE ONLY option for intelligent people to believe and students who question it are being harassed about it. It doesn’t happen everywhere, and it may be reported more than it happens, but it shouldn’t happen at all.

    I got no problem with my child being taught evolution, or even about other world religions. We do it here at home. We read myths, we hear about evolution, and as they age we will read lots of other works that public school children will not because they are banned by the left or the right for all kinds of reasons. My problem with the left isn’t that they have different opinions, it’s that they believe MY opinions are wrong, endanger life as they know it, and must be destroyed. Free speech isn’t on the menu.

    • Yes, Tracy, exactly. It’s about thought control and authoritarianism.

      Kind of like Johnson is exhibiting at LGF, with the wanton banning of commenters (though, I myself haven’t read the site in years).

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